The JBL Xtreme 2 is a wireless boombox speaker. It’s loud and portable, rather than aiming for the kind of tech seen in smart speakers. Wi-Fi and proper support for a digital assistant are missing, though. Nevertheless, it sounds great, with a far more refined and balanced sound than the original JBL Xtreme.
This is a portable speaker for audio hounds, even though its look may not suggest as much.
Don’t buy a JBL Xtreme 2 expecting the kind of ferocious or cartoonish bass response its name and design suggestions, however.
JBL Xtreme 2 – Design
Available in black, blue, or dark green, the 5.4-by-5.2-by-11.4-inch (HWD) Xtreme 2 has a somewhat cylindrical shape that bulges in the middle.
Rubberized feet on the bottom panel keep the speaker from rolling around, and dual 20mm/20-watt drivers project sound forward, through the grill-covered front section.
They get some help from the dual 2.75-inch passive bass radiators located on both ends of the enclosure.
Two metallic loops allow for the included strap to hook into place with its built-in carabiners for easy toting.
At 5.3 pounds, the Xtreme 2 is heavy for a portable speaker, and its size means it’s not exactly easy to throw in a backpack.
But its IPX7 rating means it’s waterproof and even submersible up to a meter, so what it lacks in easy portability it makes up for in its tough build.
A control panel across the top of the speaker has a central power button, as well as a Connect+ button for connecting to other compatible JBL speakers.
(You can link up to 100 JBL speakers in Party mode, or two speakers in stereo left/right mode).
To the left, there’s a Bluetooth pairing button and a volume down button, and to the right there’s volume up and play/pause, which also doubles as the call management and voice assistance button (when held in for a couple of seconds).
There are no track navigation buttons. On the bottom of the front panel, there’s an LED battery life indicator.
The back panel houses a snap-shut compartment that can be difficult to open, but is essential to the speaker’s IPX7 rating—if it’s open, this thing is far from waterproof.
Inside, there are connections for the included power adapter, a USB charging port, a micro USB service port, and a 3.5mm aux input (audio cable not included).
The mic offers solid intelligibility for speakerphone calls. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we could understand every word recorded.
There was no obvious distortion or fuzziness, just some serious dynamic limiting that made the audio dip here and there, but overall, the Xtreme 2 offers better-than-average clarity.
The free JBL Connect app allows you to download firmware upgrades.
It also lets you assign either play/pause or voice assistant controls to the play button on the speaker, but holding down the play button for a few seconds already summons the voice assistant, so, there’s not much point to doing this.
JBL estimates the Xtreme 2’s battery life to be roughly 15 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels and your mix of wireless and wired playback.
Is the JBL Xtreme 2 Waterproof?
As I mentioned, the Xtreme 2 has an IPX7 fabric covering which makes it completely waterproof.
It’s worth keeping in mind though that this doesn’t mean it can fall to the bottom of a pool and come out okay. There are still limits.
To be considered waterproof a product needs to be able to be submerged in up to a meter of water for a minimum of 30 minutes.
The JBL Xtreme 2 meets that qualification, but if you drop it to the bottom of a 2 meter pool it likely won’t do too well.
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Connectivity & Features
Wireless features have been stripped-back here.
The JBL Xtreme 2 won’t let you talk to Alexa or Google Assistant, just set a button to activate them in the manner of an earphone’s in-line remote.
It doesn’t have wi-fi, and therefore can’t stream directly from Spotify.
JBL Connect+ is the only unusual extra feature of this otherwise standard Bluetooth speaker. This lets you link up to 100 JBL speakers, to make the equivalent of a nightclub PA in your home.
It sounds interesting on paper, but it’s difficult enough to imagine anyone buying two JBL Xtreme 2s, let alone 100.
There’s a five dot LED battery indicator on the speaker’s underside, which allows the Xtreme 2 to function as a power bank for your phone via its USB port.
It has a 10,000mAh battery inside, providing enough charge for up to 15 hours playback.
The JBL Xtreme 2 uses Bluetooth 4.2 and for distances up to a pretty standard 30 feet. And we experienced no stuttering whatsoever.
Unfortunately, there is no compatibility with high-quality audio codecs like aptX and AAC. Therefore, you can certainly expect some latency issues when streaming video content.
Pairing with both an iPhone X and a Galaxy S10 was extremely simple, and the speaker can remain paired to two different devices at the same time.
Calls can be handled as the JBL has a built-in microphone to pick up your voice.
It’s not the smoothest experience ever, but they’re not exactly built for conference calls, so this can be forgiven.
Imagining the JBL Xtreme 2 playing loud tunes to young party-goers is easy. But the sound doesn’t match this picture.
The JBL Xtreme 2 sounds better than it should, with far greater bass refinement and balance than I expected.
It’s the best JBL wireless speaker I’ve heard to date, with a sound character closer to the JBL LSR305 studio monitors I use at home than the original Xtreme.
The predecessor had bass to match the style, with more attention paid to moving air than how coherent it sounds.
In this second attempt, the bass is seamlessly integrated. It’s powerful and deep, lending kick drums and double bass lines realistic weight.
But the “pumped up” and skewed low-end I had considered a near-certainty before hearing the JBL Xtreme 2 just isn’t there.
Here’s the crux of whether you should consider this a 5-star speaker or a 3-star one. The JBL Xtreme 2 has decent bass, but it isn’t “Xtreme” bass.\
The rest of the sound is on a par with the best you’ll hear at the price. Treble is sweet, detailed and fairly smooth.
The mids are well textured; not the scooped vacuum I anticipated, having prejudged the JBL Xtreme 2 before even opening its box.
Its combo of two 2.75-inch woofers, two 20mm drivers, and those passive radiators provides both great sound dispersal across a room and a very involving, big-scale stereo image.
This is a great-sounding wireless speaker. Just make sure you buy one with the right expectations.
As an appreciator of JBL’s sound choices here, I have just one other criticism.
The JBL Xtreme 2 could probably do with an “outdoors” sound mode, since its refined approach to tone won’t necessarily travel as well in wide-open spaces.
The JBL Xtreme 2 is not what it seems. Often that means a product is worse than expected, but this time it’s a pleasant surprise.
This is a portable boombox speaker with JBL’s signature side-loaded passive radiators. Every inch of it screams ‘big bass’, but the sound is far more measured and refined.
The bass is deep, but controlled and balanced, meshing perfectly with clear mids and crisp treble.
If features such as smart assistant support and multi-room audio are not a must, the JBL Xtreme 2 is a top buy.
Frequently Asked Question
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions by Users before making a Purchase. We took our time to answer these questions so you have no need to worry. Check it out!
QUES: Can you use two of these to playback in stereo?
ANS: Yes you can use two JBL Xtreme 2 speakers as a stereo pair via JBL Connect+, and can connect them to up to 100 compatible JBL speakers for an absurdly loud output.
QUES: Does this come with a charger?
ANS: Yes the charger is only 120,( wall charger).
QUES: Can this speaker be hooked to an I-pod, or is it only Bluetooth.
ANS: There is a 3.5mm jack on the back of the unit, where you can plug in devices that do not support Bluetooth.
QUES: Does this have the strap included? Or do you have to buy it separately.
ANS: Yes the strap comes with it! It’s heavy duty.
QUES: Is this stereo? Or mono?
ANS: It is stereo. It is also directional. The red JBL emblem is the front. The sides are the bass.
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