Other Gadgets

JBL Charge review

Sabyasachi Biswas August 28 | Updated on August 29, 2013

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Remember the time when people used to carry those boomboxes over their shoulders, playing mixed 8-track tapes and got people foot-tapping wherever they went? Seems like those times are back, except that instead of a massive cassette/CD player, you just need a Bluetooth enabled phone, tablet or MP3 player, and this cola-bottle sized Bluetooth speaker from JBL.

We’ve seen a lot of Bluetooth enabled speakers lately, but none in the 10k price segment that could deliver the sound an audiophile wants. So when we got this new JBL Charge, we were enthusiastic about playing the tunes wherever we went – and that included playing Creed, Plain White Tees, White Stripes and Led Zeppelin inside a taxicab, much to the driver’s chagrin.

But first things first, a bit about the JBL Charge’s form factor. It packs two 1-5/8-inch (38mm) drivers, a built-in bass port, 2 x 5 watts of amplification and a 6,000mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery in a tubular structure that is just over 2-inches thick and slightly longer than 6-inches. All this and it weighs just about a kilo. And yes, it’s got rubber padding at the bass so that this little can of awesomeness doesn’t roll away!

But the actually surprise comes when you’re done with the pairing (FYI, that takes just a minute). We thought we’d start out with something mellow and easy on the speakers too, and put on Mark Knopfler’s ‘What It Is’. Now JBL’s smaller products are quite good with producing stringed instruments’ sounds, but it’s always the bass that somehow lacks lustre. But not with the Charge. The bass is so tight and spot on, the only way Knopfler would’ve sounded better if we were listening to him sing in person.

Thanks to the bass port, we could even play some Skrillex, Maroon 5, Iron Maiden and even Rammstein! The best part, however, is that even at its loudest (which is quite a lot, if you play indoors) the bass does not distort. Yes, it doesn’t have the resounding thump of a full-size speaker system or a big dock, but for its size, it’s got more than enough. The sound is nicely balanced, and none of those shrill treble notes we found in some early JBL products are present on the Charge. We did, however, find the signal to drop once or twice after hours of usage.

The 6,000mAh battery gave us roughly 10-11 hours of playback time on max volume, depending on the genre of music we played (bass heavy electronic and metal consumed more charge). At mid-high levels of volume, we could squeeze out 12.5 hours, till the point where the LED battery indicator started flashing red and eventually dying out. And there’s a USB power-out port as well, in case you need to charge your phone from the Charge’s power stock. This small little speaker definitely knows how to keep the party going on.

Rs 9,990

Love – Awesome sound, amazing battery life

Hate – Occasional Bluetooth signal dropping

>sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 28, 2013

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