We recently took a look at the Flip 3 by JBL, but that wasn’t the only speaker that the company announced at IFA. The other being the much larger and way more expensive JBL Xtreme, aka the Flip 3 on steroids. It shares many of the same features but in a way bigger form factor. Did we mention it’s big? So the big question is (pun intended) is the JBL Xtreme worth three times the asking price of the Flip 3?
What’s in the box?
Opening the signature JBL orange and white box you’ll get the Xtreme speaker, the wall adapter, the warranty information, and something we haven’t seen before: a shoulder strap to carry it around with you.
Build & Design
The best way to describe the JBL Xtreme would be to say that it’s a giant Flip 3 with a few extra perks. The speaker is also wrapped in a splashproof fabric that gives it a really nice feel in the hand, but we doubt you’ll be holding it most of the time because it’s simply too big. That’s where the two metal hooks on either end of the speaker come into play. Simply attach the shoulder strap to them and voila, instant portable party power.
Similar to the Flip 3 both ends of the speaker have external dual passive radiators that, due to the larger size of the Xtreme, do work on the low end. Up top you’ll find all of the buttons including the Bluetooth pairing button, volume down, power button, JBL connect button, volume up, and a play/pause button. If you double tap the play/pause it’ll skip to the next track but there’s still no returning to a previous track.
Besides the overall size, the biggest differences you’ll find in design between the Xtreme and the Flip 3 can be found on the bottom of the speaker where it has a hard plastic stand built into it. Even though I’m sure it can still be oriented vertically, this makes it pretty clear that JBL intends you to place the speaker horizontally while using it. It’s also where you’ll find the small indicator lights that let you know roughly how much battery life is left. Also on the bottom is a bright orange zipper that when peeled back reveals a service button, AUX in, the power input for charging, as well as two USB outputs to charge your devices.
Connectivity on the JBL Xtreme is good, but not great. Though it does have a solid connection and we didn’t experience too much skipping when testing out the range, there was a fair amount of stuttering when there was a wall or two in the way. It was nothing too serious but it happened often enough that we felt it was worth mentioning.
JBL packed an insanely large 10,000 mAH battery into the Xtreme and claim a battery life of 15 hours. In our testing we got closer to 14 hours, but that’s still very good considering how loud this thing can get when you max out the volume.
One thing that was very annoying about the Xtreme was a slight stutter that occurs at the very beginning of a song. It only lasts about a second but it’s enough to ruin more intros than you thought you cared for. Besides that the Xtreme works exactly how we expected it to: pretty damn good. Another cool feature we got to test out is the JBL Connect button which lets you connect and sync multiple JBL speakers together. We paired the Xtreme with the Flip 3 and were very impressed. They were perfectly in sync and you can easily achieve surround sound without needing to go through any app.
The lows sometimes bled into the mids but for the most part the passive external radiators on either end do an amazing job with keeping the low end tight. It could just be the larger size but the bass was easy to distinguish even in songs that don’t have a lot of it. That said, people who prefer songs with tons of bass won’t be disappointed either. The smooth bassline in ‘All I Want Is You’ by Miguel sounded close to perfect to me.
Vocals in the mids were very clear and seemed to coexist peacefully with most guitars and synths. A good example of this is in ‘The Suffering’ by Coheed & Cambria which has fairly heavy and melodic guitar parts throughout that never get in the way of the lead vocals.
Unfortunately not everything is perfect, and the highs do tend to have a good amount of harshness. Luckily the Xtreme gets pretty loud so lowering the volume a bit to get rid of the harshness doesn’t cost you too much in terms of volume. ‘Hate or Glory’ by Gesaffelstein is almost impossible to enjoy fully because the already prominent hi-hats towards the end of the song seem to be given a boost that makes them a little painful to the ears. I’m sure this won’t be an issue if you’re using the speaker outside but if you happen to be in a closed room or standing close to it, it’s not too enjoyable. Great song though.
Overall the JBL Xtreme is great. If you can overlook the stutter at the beginning and have a thing for loud tunes, this might be the one for you. If you get one for yourself chances are it’s main uses are going to be blasting music while having a party or cleaning your room. That is the same thing, isn’t it? If you’re thinking of splurging and dropping $300 on one for yourself it would be good to first consider the real world applications.
For example, one situation I can see the Xtreme being perfect for is tailgating. Football season is finally upon us and the fact that the Xtreme is splashproof and can be carried around with the strap makes it perfect for the occasion, but if you just want a speaker for your room or apartment you might be better off getting three Flip 3’s and connecting them via the JBL connect button. Still, if you already have your heart set on a loud and large Bluetooth speaker this is the way to go.