There’s been many a JBL product that we’ve loved over the years. Whether it’s soundbars, speakers or accessories they more often than not seem to produce fun, energetic sounding kit. The original JBL Charge was a neat looking wireless speaker that gained attention for its discreet, practical design and competent sound.
A few years down the line the newest generation is the Charge 2+ and you can clearly see the evolution from the previous models. Still very striking with its cylindrical chassis, if you were to look at it on paper you might think that nothing much has changed since the original. Quoting 2 x 7.5 watts of power, the Charge 2+ is a Bluetooth speaker that can be used for hands free phone calls, charging your device off of USB and can also cater for older bits of kit that only have an analogue output. It weighs 600g which is a fair bit, but the result is a very sturdy feeling and well built little product. Wrapped in a robust rubber finish it features two passive sub drivers on the side and two front facing drivers for the mid and high end frequencies. Along the top are the usual buttons for power, volume, answering calls and “Social Mode” (more on that later). It’s also quoted as being water resistant in the sense of splashes and the like, just don’t fully submerge it according to JBL.
Connecting up your mobile device is the usual no fuss procedure of searching for Bluetooth devices on your phone and choosing the JBL. Once it starts playing it’s pretty obvious from the off that the Charge 2+ is certainly capable of a fair amount of dynamic reach and clarity in the mid and top end frequencies. The bass doesn’t suffer because of the two side mounted passive drivers and you’ll soon spot them literally flexing their muscles as soon as the rhythm kicks in. Like with all small speakers you’re never going to get loads of bass, but what you do get is rhythmical and focussed without being flappy or loose. I started off with the classic “Insomnia” by Faithless and the sweeping synths of the intro remain smooth and clear without being brash. Once the vocals and beat commence you’re treated to an articulate drum track whilst the vocals shine through with just the right amount of bass to add some worth without obscuring the detail. Switching tack to more acoustic tastes with John Gomm’s ever impressive cover of “Ain’t Nobody” and the story remains the same. Lots of detail, warm undercurrents that keep things from being too bright and an impressive amount of scale with little of the usual compression than can happen with small speakers.
Part of the JBL’s charm is the aforementioned feature “Social Mode”. Like various multiroom apps such as Sonos and Yamaha’s MusicCast, this option allows multiple devices to connect to the speaker at the same time. As it’s only Bluetooth you are limited to a maximum of 3 devices but it does mean that you and a couple of friends can all send music to the Charge 2+. You won’t be able to queue music or make playlists like you would with a streaming speaker but it does save you the faff of disconnecting one device and syncing another if you want to share music. Of course, this does mean that you and your friends can constantly boot each other’s tunes off the speaker but the practicality of sharing your tunes outweighs the con of you all being childish!
The Charge 2+ seems to be an exciting bit of kit for the price-point considering its diminutive size and combination of features & sound. Ideal for moving outside into the garden or for taking with you on trips out in the summer, the Charge 2+ gives you excellent value for money. It won’t feel out of place in smaller rooms such as bedrooms or kitchens either. Why not bring your phone or tablet into your local store and try it out yourself? Your guests at your summer BBQ’s in a few weeks will thank you!
Author: Steve, Bristol store