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JBL Xtreme: A Powerful, Portable Speaker

June 17, 2016
Product Comparisons, Shopping
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Bluetooth speakers leave the wires behind to help make music mobile. But some models sacrifice sound quality for portability.

If both of those features are important to you, the JBL Xtreme, one of the most popular Bluetooth models on the market, might be the right choice. We analyzed the Xtreme to help you find out if it’s the speaker for you.

Design

The JBL Xtreme is a cylinder-shaped Bluetooth speaker with vibrating radiators at each end that allow users to “see the bass.”

The speaker is small enough to travel, weighing 4.7 pounds and measuring 5 inches high, 11 inches wide and 4.8 inches deep. It’s also covered with a splashproof fabric, so it’s suitable for use in the rain or by the shower.

The Xtreme is available in black, blue or red.

Features

The JBL Xtreme produces clear, powerful sound and has a few other attractive features as well, such as:

  • Speakerphone. The Xtreme’s built-in microphone, which is designed to cancel out noise and echoes, lets users take calls from their connected device with the press of a button.
  • USB device charging. Connect your device to the speaker’s USB port to charge it while you play.
  • Speaker linking. The Xtreme can pair wirelessly with another compatible JBL speaker to boost your music.
  • Shoulder strap. Attach the included over-the-shoulder strap to the speaker to make it easier to transport.

» MORE: The Jawbone Big Jambox: A compact speaker with big sound

Battery life and connectivity

The JBL Xtreme is equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for long-lasting play. It lasts up to 15 hours on a full charge.

The Xtreme pairs with Bluetooth devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. It can connect to up to three devices at once, making it easier for you and your friends to take turns picking music.

Price

The Xtreme is available to purchase for $299.95 from JBL. If that price is too steep, keep your eye on other retailers that might offer discounts, such as Amazon.

Reviews

The JBL Xtreme boasts that it offers “earth-shaking, powerful stereo sound.” We analyzed reviews of some of the most popular speakers on the market, including the JBL Xtreme, to find out if it lives up to the hype.

We looked at expert opinions from review sites such as The Sweethome and Good Housekeeping and analyzed user reviews to see what buyers had to say about the various attributes of each speaker.

Based on the reviews, the Xtreme offers a solid performance. Certain users praised the speaker’s crisp, high-quality sound and booming bass. Some liked the room-filling volume.

The Xtreme has a few areas of weakness, however. JBL doesn’t give an exact wireless connectivity range, but some users noted that the Bluetooth connection lags a little, even when their device is a short distance away from the speaker. And some say it’s a little large for a portable speaker.

Ready to rock and roll?

With its long-lasting battery, shoulder strap and ability to charge devices, the JBL Xtreme is a strong choice for music lovers who want to make sure their tunes are always ready to go. Just don’t wander too far from the speaker, or your connection may suffer.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly speaker, consider one of JBL’s scaled-down Bluetooth options, such as the Flip 2 or Flip 3.

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Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.