Tuesday, August 9, 2016

JBL Charge 3 Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker Review by Jeff Roy

We recently reviewed the JBL Xtreme wireless speaker system, which performed extremely well. So when JBL asked us to review their new Charge 3, we naturally jumped on it! The new JBL Charge 3 is much smaller than the Xtreme, and it is also fully waterproof! Naturally we were excited to get it in, and anticipated another high performance.

Features and specs:

Wirelessly connect up to 3 smartphones or tablets to the speaker and take turns playing powerful stereo sound.

Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery supports up to 20 hours of playtime and charges smartphones and tablets via USB.

Take crystal clear calls from your speaker with the touch of a button thanks to the noise and echo-cancelling speakerphone.

No more worrying about rain or spills; you can even submerge Charge 3 in water.

Build your own ecosystem by connecting multiple JBL Connect enabled speakers together to amplify the listening experience.

The durable fabric material and rugged rubber housing allows your speaker to outlast all of your adventures.

Battery type

Lithium-ion Polymer (22.2Wh)

Music playing time

up to 20 hours (varies by volume level and content)

Rated power

2 x 10W

USB charge out

5V / 2A (maximum)


A2DP V1.3, AVRCP V1.5, HFP V1.6, HSP V1.2

Frequency Response


Transducer size (mm)

2 x 50

Signal-to-Noise Ratio


Bluetooth transmitted modulation


Battery charge time

4.5 hrs

Weight (g)


Power supply

5V / 2.3A

The JBL Charge 3 came well protected in a nice printed box with photos and specs printed on the box. It was held securely in place by foam inserts. Construction was mostly plastic, with some rubber, as well as the same cloth as the Xtreme, that wrapped around the exterior. This gave a clean modern look. Also on both sides are passive radiators. Included with the JBL Charge 3 was the power cord, USB cable and owner’s manual.

The design of the Charge 3 is just like the Xtreme, just on a smaller scale. So behind the cloth grill is a pair of full range drivers. Each side has a passive radiator to extend base response. And the built in battery can also be used to charge a smart phone or tablet.  I loved the fact that it’s fully waterproof. The connections on the back are protected by a rubber cover that closes to give a good seal.  The buttons on the top make it easy to use.  I also like the line of LED's on the bottom so you can check on it's charging progress, as well as how much of a charge you currently have.  Getting it to pair with my HTC One M9 smartphone was also xtremely easy. Now let’s see how it sounds.

I started with some of my favorite tracks. Michael Jackson; Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough had really crisp horns. Percussion and drums were very dynamic. Vocals sounded very natural with very good harmonics and timbre. There are a lot of instruments, but the JBL Charge 3 brought them all out very well!   Fresh Aire II: Going to Another Place, the strings were really crisp and clean with very good resolution, being able to hear the contacts with the strings. The flute was smooth with good air. The main theme from Schindlers List revealed very good tone and harmonics of the viola, and it was able to easily make out the other parts as well, such as the violin and cello.  ZZ Top: Gimme All Your Lovin, had not only nice natural sounding vocals with good timbre,  it also showed how well the JBL Charge 3 did with bass response. The bass was tight, and hit well with better than expected depth and output for its small size. The impact and punch was very good for its size, and it actually played with some authority. You could really see the excursion on the passive radiators. They sure were moving, doing their job very well!

With the JBL Charge 3 being waterproof, we naturally had to test that as well.  So in the pool it went. Don’t expect great sound with it floating in the water. But it did play, and it was a bit amusing to watch the two passive radiators splashing in the water to the music. After pulling it out, and letting it dry for a day, it was turned on again. The JBL Charge 3 sounded just as good as it did before taking a dive for about 10 minutes.  It’s obviously waterproof. So you can rest assured that whether you sat it down next to the pool or next to you on your floating lounge chair, if it accidently gets knocked into the pool there’s no need to worry.

JBL has done it again with their Charge 3. It’s an excellent sounding wireless speaker system. Not only does it provide sound bigger than its size, being able to play loud and clear, it also provides that signature JBL sound. The Bluetooth wireless performance was also stellar. Having over 3000 sq ft, I was able to go all around upstairs, downstairs, even all over the outside over 50 feet away and no drip in signal. With an MSRP of $149, the JBL Charge 3 is a bargain. Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the JBL Charge 3 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www. JBL.com.