JBL Charge 2+ is made for parties and events. Using Social Mode, you can add up to three devices to connect and choose the music. The splash-proof design, great battery life and device charging ability keeps the music playing no matter the weather. JBL updated the model with the Charge 2, improving the audio quality and adding a speakerphone option.
The speaker continues to improve bit by bit with the Charge 2+, which makes the device splash proof, adds more color choices and tweaks the sound.
For $150, you won’t find a more versatile Bluetooth speaker — or one with more bass.
Design and Features
The Charge 2 retains the cylindrical design of the original Charge, and you can lay it down horizontally or stand it up vertically.
The new model charges via Micro-USB and has a built-in 6,000mAh battery for 12 hours of playback (or charging your portable devices or both).
The Charge 2’s little brother, the JBL Flip 2, has a similar design, but it’s a bit more compact and its battery isn’t as long-lasting.
As noted, there’s a built-in speakerphone — it works well so long as you stay within about 5 to 10 feet of the microphone — and a “social sharing mode” that allows multiple users to connect to speaker with their devices and play tracks alternately.
I had no problem pairing both an iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 with the speaker and re-pairing was automatic when I turned the speaker back on (there’s a dedicated Bluetooth button on the speaker to enable pairing if you get disconnected).
The range is the usual 33 feet/10m, and I managed to hold a steady connection with minimal dropouts so long as I stayed within that range.
Performance of JBL Charge 2+
The Charge 2 represented a big jump in sound quality over the Charge, with bigger bass and crisper treble.
The Charge 2+ refines that sound and provides better overall balance; the previous generation had too much bass in some cases, overwhelming the mix.
On Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” the bass thumped with authority, stronger than on the more expensive $200 UE Boom, though the Boom handled the crisp horns better.
The kick drum on Florence + the Machine’s “What Kind of Man” drove the rhythm with intensity that matched Florence Welch’s vocals, and delivered a much fuller experience than the UE Boom.
The bass boost also helped when listening to acoustic music.
Miles Davis’ muted trumpet sounded crisp on “Summertime,” and the string instruments resonated richly on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major by Joshua Bell.
The Charge 2+ can crank for a small speaker.
I measured peak volume at 95 decibels — most portable Bluetooth speakers top out at 90 — and it didn’t sound significantly distorted until I reached about 90 decibels.
The speakerphone on the Charge 2+ is average at best. People I spoke to said the microphone was about equal in quality to the iPhone’s built-in unit.
However, on my end of the call, I had to turn up the volume considerably to hear the people on the other end of the line, which also meant I had to remember to turn it down after the call so I wouldn’t get a shock the next time I played music.
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We’ll reserve judgement on whether or not you will feel the bass, but wind-up the volume and you certainly can spot the bass radiators flexing their muscles.
Spin something bass-heavy, such as Grace Jones’ smooth take on The Pretenders’ Private Life and the Charge 2+ delivers a big, far-reaching sound.
This rich sonic character soon sends you searching for more low-frequency fun, and it wasn’t long before we were kicking back to Harry J Allstars’ Liquidator.
The speaker is not, though, solely for big-bass duties. Switch to Jason Isbell’s delicate How to Forget and the JBL reveals good levels of detail – that gentle acoustic is apparent – and the former Drive By Truckers member’s vocals are full-bodied and emotional.
Listen longer and you realise that the JBL invariably sounds big and impressive – great for even larger rooms – but also tends to wrap tunes in a (slight) film of audio warmth.
The musical equivalent of wrapping your tunes with sonic bubble wrap. It remains extremely likeable, but the low end is certainly overstated if still agile.
There is no need, though, to check the build quality before you invest. This is a superbly well put-together Bluetooth speaker.
The rubberised finish looks and feels great, plus helps ensure a firm grip when you grab the unit.
The soft-touch control panel is sensibly located and perfectly responsive, while the slightly raised base creates a steady foothold from which the JBL can ladle out rich helpings of music. No complaints here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions we have already answered so you don’t need to worry about the product. We really hope we answered some of your questions!
QUES: Can you charge 2 devices at the same time? Is that what charge 2 stands for?
ANS: Yes, the Charge 2 has an output (USB) port to allow connecting your phone or mp3 player. This allows the Charge 2 to charge your other device while playing music.
QUES: What is the range for this speaker?
ANS: I give it about 35 feet before it struggles with the connection. Also, I find it does fine even if your Bluetooth source is in the next room over from this speaker.
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