JBL Charge 5 review: Powerful and waterproof portable speaker

When talking about portable speakers, one of the brands that first come to mind is JBL. And this is so, because in recent years the company has launched very successful products such as the Charge series which is the one we are going to see in this review, the GO series or the Flip series without forgetting the Xtreme series.

In this review, we want to tell you about the Charge 5 series which is the latest released version of this popular speaker. We already reviewed the previous generation Charge 4 and this 5th generation implements some changes and is positioned as one of the best Bluetooth speakers around a price of 120-150€.

If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker, you will have seen that there are several sizes and price ranges to choose from and it is difficult to decide which one best suits your needs. Therefore, in this review, we want to help you find out if this JBL Charge 5 is a good buy or not.

Next, we are going to explain the main features of the JBL Charge 5, as well as give you our opinion about it.

9
Price on Amazon
JBL Charge 5 portable speaker

JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker review

ADVANTAGES
  • High power
  • Excellent bass
  • Good treble response
  • Water and dust resistance
  • Good battery life
  • App to equalize sound
  • Possibility to link more speakers
  • USB to charge another device
  • New, more stable base
DISADVANTAGES
  • No auxiliary connection available
  • Very directional sound
  • No hands-free function
  • Full charge takes quite a long time
JBL Charge 5 main features
  • Power output: 40 W RMS
  • 52 mm x 90 mm loudspeaker + 20 mm tweeters
  • 2 passive radiators
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz-20 kHz
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: > 80 dB
  • JBL PartyBoost
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Multi-device connection
  • Lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Up to 20 hours battery life (at moderate volume)
  • Battery charging time: 4 hours
  • 27 Wh battery (3.6 V/7500 mAh equivalent)
  • Dimensions (w x h x d): 223 x 96.5 x 94 mm
  • Weight: 960 grams
Table of contents – JBL Charge 5 review

Design

JBL has kept in line with the styling that the Charge series has always had and has not wanted to make any major changes. If you already have a Charge speaker of any generation the look will be very familiar.

JBL Charge 5 and Charge 4 DesignDesign JBL Charge 5 and Charge 4

What has changed the most is that there is now a more prominent logo on the front and the battery indicator on the front is like the one found on the latest Flip and Xtreme versions. Another change is in the rubber base on the bottom, but other than these details, little else has changed. The size and weight are almost the same in comparison with the previous version.

But the fact that there have been no major changes is no bad thing. We love the look of Charge speakers and the aesthetics of the series is very recognizable and people recognize the series at first glance.

The button layout at the top remains the same with controls for volume, play/pause, Bluetooth, connect another speaker and on/off. Although it does not have a back button, you can skip to the next song by pressing the play button twice.

In most cases, however, you won’t need them: Your phone, laptop, or other Bluetooth-synced source has remote controls for that source.

There is a USB-C charging port on the back and a USB-A connector for charging other devices, making the speaker a power source in itself. You can recharge your phone if it is low on battery, while listening to the speaker.

For its size, it’s large to carry tucked away in your pocket, but it’s a relatively easy speakerphone to take on a trip or from room to room. It is quite light, weighing 960 grams so it’s very comfortable to carry.

The silicone base on the bottom of the speaker, allows the speaker to stand firmly on flat surfaces and not roll around due to its shape. Compared to the Charge 4, it has been improved and now the speaker remains stable, which was not the case on some surfaces in the previous generation and the speaker would roll.

New rubber base of the JBL Charge 5 that holds it better.New JBL Charge 5 rubber base that holds it better.

The Charge 5 series, is on sale in 8 different colors, to suit all tastes, although as we advanced you before, depending on the color, the price usually varies.

See JBL Charge 5 speaker prices

Resistance

The fabric cover still looks and feels great while being tough, so that no scratches occur making the speaker stay in good condition over time. Rubber bumpers on the sides protect the passive radiators from minor bumps and drops.

Instead of keeping the old IPX7 rating for water resistance, JBL has added good dust resistance, so the rating is an IP67. This includes salt water and sand, so you can use the speaker at the beach, in the pool or in the bathroom.

JBL Charge 5 with IP67 water and dust resistance.JBL Charge 5 with IP67 water and dust resistance.

You can sumerge it into the water for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter but be careful with salt or chlorinated water. Just make sure the charging port cover is closed. The fabric covering the speaker dries fairly quickly as well.

Connectivity

Pairing the Charge 5 is very easy right out of the box, and the connection has improved as it has moved from the Charge 4’s Bluetooth version 4.2 to version 5.1. This change stabilizes the connection and plays an important role so that the sound doesn’t cut out when you move away from the speaker.

With Bluetooth 5.1, connectivity is always reliable and uninterrupted. The new protocol (5.1 vs. 4.2) also results in a higher transmission potential, so playback always remains intact, even over longer distances or, for example, walls in the house or where you are listening.

You can connect it to two devices at the same time and can easily switch between them when you want to listen to one of the connected devices or the other.

As has become common in the brand’s speakers, it does not have a wired connection. It is only possible to connect via Bluetooth, which is the most common, but we would have liked to have an auxiliary audio connection to connect the mobile or PC without always using Bluetooth.

Integrated connectionsJBL Charge 5 Speaker Connections

The JBL Portable App (formerly Connect App) for iOS or Android offers limited functionality, but one of the most important features, which was not available when the Charge 5 was released, is a three-band equalizer. Upgrading to the latest software version brings up a new equalizer menu by bass, mid and treble bands. It isn’t an advanced equalizer, but we appreciate that at least allows you to make this small adjustment.

From the app you can also set up the PartyBoost feature, which allows you to connect the Charge 5 with up to 100 compatible speakers that also support JBL PartyBoost so you can listen to music at the same time.

For example, the Flip 6 or Xtreme 3 series are Party Boost compatible, so you could combine multiple speakers from different series. You can also create a stereo system for the left and right channels, but in this case, it will have to be another Charge 5, not another model. Remember that when you activate PartyBoost and connect it to another speaker, you lose the equalization function and the connected speakers return to the default sound profile.

So we highly recommend you to download the app so that you can customize the speakers and download software updates.

Battery life

JBL claims that the battery can last up to 20 hours on a single charge, but don’t expect it to last that long if you use it at maximum volume. That 20-hour figure is only achievable if you use at moderate volume.

If JBL had kept the 3.5mm auxiliary jack, perhaps it might have been possible to achieve this figure at maximum volume, but with Bluetooth, battery consumption increases. In any case, the battery life is sufficient to get you through a day of intensive use, and if you use it at home at lower volumes, you won’t need to charge it for several days.

The speaker has an indicator light that glows white during use. When you connect the Charge 5 to a power source, the indicator light flashes to show the battery charge level. If it flashes white, the battery is full. If the indicator light flashes half white and the rest is dark, it is half full.

Battery level indicator.
JBL Charge 5 battery indicator

A full charge of the battery takes four hours to fully recharge which is a bit long for us. If the battery is discharged, you can also recharge it while playing music through the speaker.

You can use it as if it were an external battery, connecting a device to the USB-A port it has. With this, you can recharge your phone, tablet or MP3 player in case you are out and about and need to charge them.

Sound

We now come to evaluate the sound performance of this JBL Charge 5. In this new generation, some there are several improvements over the Charge 4.

First of all, there is a new dome tweeter that provides clear high tones and a sound richer in nuances. The bass driver is slightly bigger than in the previous version.

Charge 5 vs Charge 4 Integrated SpeakersCharge 5 vs Charge 4 integrated speakers

Secondly, the power has been increased and is now capable of delivering up to 40W. The volume is noticeably increased compared to generation 4. as well as distortion has been reduced. This starts to appear at very high volume levels, but is still controlled enough to entertain a group or crowd.

To understand the construction of this speaker, it is important to note that the woofer and tweeter are located on the front. Both the woofer and tweeter are perfectly sealed internally, allowing vibrations to focus on sound quality.

The woofer is responsible for the low tones and gives them depth. Thus, it is the largest speaker and works with a neodymium magnet. The tweeter is the smallest driver and is responsible for the high tones. Both of them work together with the passive radiators on the sides to make the final sound experience even deeper.

The Charge series never disappoints and the new JBL Charge 5 offers a powerful sound that is amplified in the bass. The best part is that this power does not mask the other frequencies. Therefore, the sound is very deep and the other nuances of sound appear with delicate clarity. The sound power is 30 W RMS per woofer and 10 W RMS per tweeter. The dynamic frequency response is between 65 and 20 kHz.

The Charge 5 is a powerful speaker and its sound travels farther than you might think. In small rooms, you don’t need to turn up the volume much to feel it. The volume is sufficient for almost anything you want to listen to, and although the app’s equalizer is limited, you can set it to your liking.

JBL Charge 5 passive bass radiators.JBL Charge 5 Passive Bass Radiators


Like the Charge 4, the Charge 5 is very loud and produces distortion at maximum volume. Distortion occurs when you use more than 70% of the volume, resulting in somewhat muddy highs. For optimal sound quality, we recommend using 50-70% of capacity.

The sound of the JBL Charge 5 is clear, thanks to the placement of the drivers inside the speaker. It has a bass driver, a new separate dome tweeter and a passive radiator on each side. It reproduces vocals clearly, but without drowning out instruments like guitars. When the drums and bass sound, all instruments and vocals in the song are clearly identifiable.

The new tweeter helps the highs have more presence and the vocals are not as masked by the low frequency sounds. The bass is punchy and if you are a fan of bass-heavy music, you will definitely like this speaker.

New dome tweeterNew JBL Charge 5 Tweeter

Yes it is true, that the sound is quite directional and to hear it in all its splendor you need to place yourself in front. There are speakers with 360º sound that emit better sound in all directions, but they tend to give a more limited bass, as is the case with the Bose SoundLink Revolve or the UE Megaboom 3.

This is a good speaker for parties, barbecues and small gatherings of friends. No one expects perfection from a speaker like this, but it’s shocking how loud this speaker is.

The frequency response remains the same and according to the manufacturer ranges from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

Thirdly, there is a new feature in the JBL Portable app that allows you to adjust the bass, midrange and treble, so you get a sound more to your liking. It’s not an advanced equalization, but it does allow you to personalize to a certain degree the audio to your taste.

With the PartyBoost function, you can connect it to other compatible speakers to create an even more powerful sound. As mentioned above, if you want to throw a party, you can connect multiple speakers to sound at the same time.

Veredict and opinion

JBL Charge 5 portable speakerphone analysis and opinion.JBL Charge 5 portable speakerphone review and opinion.

The JBL Charge 5 portable Bluetooth speaker is in our opinion, is one of the best options if not the best if you want quality sound, portability and a price that is not too high. It is a powerful speaker and delivers a high volume that for normal use at home, is more than enough. For outdoor use it also meets your needs, but if you want more power for your parties, you can always pair it with other JBL speakers that are compatible with PartyBoost.

With the new JBL Portable app, you can equalize the sound to adjust it to your liking, whether you want to increase the presence of bass, midrange or treble.

Still, it doesn’t offer enough improvements to make it worth buying if you already have the JBL Charge 4, but if you don’t have the previous model, the Charge 5 is a good option. Its sound quality is very good for a Bluetooth speaker, and I was impressed with its volume. It’s a bit bulky, so if you’re looking for a portable speaker, check out the JBL Flip 6.

What we like least, is that the 3.5mm jack connection has been removed. Although the main use is usually via Bluetooth, sometimes a wired connection comes in handy.

The sound is quite directional and does not offer 360º sound as some of its rivals such as for example the UE Megaboom 3, but in the latter, we cast a greater definition and forcefulness in the low frequencies. There are other alternatives for this price range such as the Bose SoundLink Flex, which also achieves a high quality sound, along with water and dust resistance, but in our opinion, the Charge 5 is superior.

JBL Charge 5 speaker with 40W of power and IP67 resistance.Review JBL Charge 5 speaker with 40W power and IP67 resistance

In summary, the opinions we have about the JBL Charge 5 after testing it, are very good and we consider that it is a speaker that is not going to let you down whether you want to use it indoors or outdoors, thanks to its high power, deep bass and resistance to be able to use it in the bathroom, pool or beach.

For everything it offers, its price seems to us to be fully justified, although depending on the color, there are important differences. Normally the most economical color is black and there is also usually more availability. Here below, you can buy it at the best price on Amazon.

See JBL Charge 5 speaker prices

Frequently answer questions

Can I use the Charge 5 at the pool or beach?

Yes, being IP67 certified, it is water and dust resistant. However, as always be careful and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It can be submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter, but not in salt water and not with chlorine.

Can I use the stereo mode with the JBL Charge 4 and Charge 5 together?

No. For stereo mode to work, the JBL Charge speakers must be of the same generation and it will also not work with two different models of JBL speakers even if they are released in the same year. Therefore, stereo sound is only possible with Charge 5 speakers.

What you can do, is to connect up to 100 speakers that are compatible with JBL PartyBoost to sound at the same time (Flip 6, Xtreme 3…).

How long does it take to charge the battery at 100%?

The estimated time is about 4 hours.

9 Total Score
JBL Charge 5 veredict

The JBL Charge 5 is the latest model of one of the most successful speaker saga and presents some very interesting new features. With the new tweeter, the treble reproduction is improved, achieving a sound richer in nuances. It delivers a high power output of up to 40W, so you won't run short of power outdoors and comes with the new JBL PartyBoost so you can add more speakers. If you already have a Charge 4, we recommend keeping it, but if that's not the case and you want a speaker that's portable, powerful and still affordable enough, the Charge 5 seems to us to be the #1 choice in its segment.

Design
9.8
Sound
9.2
Battery life
9.5
Extras and connectivity
7
Value for money
9.7
PROS
  • High power
  • Excellent bass
  • Good treble response
  • Water and dust resistance
  • Good battery life
  • App to equalize sound
  • Possibility to link more speakers
  • USB to charge another device
  • New, more stable base
CONS
  • No auxiliary connection available
  • Very directional sound
  • No hands-free function
  • Full charge takes quite a long time

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