JBL seem to love a series, and if you’ve been keeping up with the audio giant, you’d know this. The Charge 5 wouldn’t you know is the fifth iteration of their do it all portable Bluetooth speaker, that’s packing more features than its last iteration, but surprisingly with a couple of changes.
The JBL Charge 5 is a portable speaker that stands at 220 x 95 x 93 mm. It’s cylindrical in shape and stands on its side, as there’s a flat rubber plate on the base. It’s covered in a mixture of rubber and fabric, giving it a nice IPX7 rating, meaning it can be submerged in water and is also dustproof this time round. On the front, JBL’s branding has been updated to give it a much nicer finish and looks a lot more modern than just slapping a JBL badge on the front.
It’s complemented by a status light on the front, which lights up when you press one of the buttons on top. Speaking about buttons, they’re quite simple. You’ve got your play/pause button as well as separate volume buttons. The circle-like button to the left is JBL’s PartyBoost button, which is a feature that lets you link up to 100 JBL speakers together to fill your house, or even the beach with sound though you can’t connect a PartyBoost speaker to a Connect+ speaker. Directly in the centre, you’ve got a power button and Bluetooth button which light up, giving a tasteful flair to the speaker.
Round back things have changed slightly with the Charge 5 from older generations. Under the rubberised flap, you can find a USB Type-A port so you can keep your phone charged while playing music, and right next to that you’ve got your USB-C input for charging the speaker itself. Unfortunately, there was no plug in the box, so you’ll have to rely on your mobile phone charger or plugging it into your PC, but that’s no big deal in my opinion. Saving on that plastic wastage. There’s also no 3.5mm aux input for wired music playback either. Is this a problem? Maybe. But in this day and age, if you’re not using Bluetooth for a speaker like this, you’re doing something wrong, of which by the way, it can receive a Bluetooth 5.1 signal. In total, you’ll get around 20 hours worth of playback which is plenty for a day trip to the beach in my opinion, and well into the evening to keep the party going. But of course, this’ll be lessened if you’re charging a phone from it while playing music.
The JBL Charge 5 I’m going to say now, for the size of this speaker sounds absolutely phenomenal, and if you’re looking for something to throw in a bag for your summer holidays, to play music in your hotel room before your big night out, or if you’re chilling down on the beach or at a barbeque in the garden, this hits the spot. It features a 52 x 90 mm for its two 65mm bass radiators that can be found on either side of its barrel shape and literally shake when you begin to turn the volume up and a 20mm dome tweeter, which wasn’t around on the Charge 4 to handle all of those higher frequency sounds. All that mixed together gives this portable speaker such a full sound when playing music.
Now I don’t have Tidal or listen to top-notch uncompressed music, I’m a Spotify guy. I was also impressed at its peak volume and the lack of distortion that came with it. The Charge 5 is an extremely capable speaker, no matter what you throw at it, whether it’s the Prodigy’s deep bass pumping audio or Pavarotti’s vocal-led Nissan Dorma. Is it going to blow audiophiles away? No, it’s not. But I don’t feel like that’s its intention. JBL has produced a fantastic speaker for those wanting a bit of power and some decent quality music for their events.
The JBL Charge 5 can be purchased in a number of colours, including a bright red and cool camo colour. Though I’m not sure why, on JBL’s website, the Blue and Black versions are £20 cheaper. Why? I dunno. But it seems odd.