This JBL Xtreme 3 review is aimed at those who spend a lot of their time in the great outdoors, and who want a powerful speaker to take with them.
JBL is the most well-known, affordable brand under Harman International and has a solid reputation for its range of Bluetooth speakers. They cover just about every size and spec you could need, from the tiny JBL Clip up to the huge PartyBoxes. JBL has portable audio covered.
The JBL Xtreme 3 sits amongst T3’s best bluetooth speakers and it's definitely one of the best JBL Bluetooth speakers. It’s their most rugged portable speaker designed for use outdoors, with an IP67 rating making it both waterproof and dustproof. Third in the Xtreme line, this speaker improves on its predecessor with a lighter build, more power and a better Bluetooth connection.
At the time of writing, you can buy the JBL Xtreme 3 for £275 (UK) and AU$399 (Australia). See the widgets on this page for up to date pricing.
JBL Xtreme 3 review: design and battery
A hefty waterproof speaker weighing nearly 2kg and measuring 29.85 x 13.6 x 13.4cm, the JBL Xtreme 3 isn’t the type of portable speaker you slip in your bag just in case. It’s the type of speaker you take to the beach or to the park when you want blaring tunes.
The JBL Xtreme 3 is a cylindrical speaker that looks durable and comes in three colourways, black, blue and camouflage, with a large matching JBL logo across the front. On the top of the JBL Xtreme 3, there are six buttons: the power button, play/pause, volume controls, Bluetooth button and the PartyBoost button. Underneath the logo, there’s a slim bar of light that clearly indicates the battery level.
Included in the JBL Xtreme 3 box is a long shoulder strap with a bottle opener. There’s no handle on the speaker so without the strap it’s a bit awkward to carry. On the underside is the newly redesigned grip which makes it stay stable on a flat surface.
The battery in the JBL Xtreme 3 will last a whole day (about 15 hours of music) and then takes 2.5 hours to recharge. There’s a JBL adaptor with a USB-C power cable in the box.
Setup is easy, it’s just a case of wirelessly pairing your phone to the JBL Xtreme 3 using Bluetooth. JBL has upgraded to Bluetooth 5.1 in the JBL Xtreme 3 and you can also connect two devices to it at once so more than just one person can be in control of the music. You can also play music through the Aux input on the JBL Xtreme 3.
JBL Xtreme 3 review: sound quality and features
The JBL Xtreme 3 has two 25W woofers and two 25W tweeters. In the Xtreme 2, they were 20W, so this speaker is that bit more powerful than its predecessor. Music from the JBL Xtreme 3 sounds punchy and detailed. We were impressed by how loud and crisp it was, especially considering it’s not as big or as expensive as the JBL PartyBox or Boombox speakers. On full volume, there was slight distortion on tracks with very heavy bass, but across most genres, the JBL Xtreme 3's sound was excellent.
If it’s not quite enough, PartyBoost lets you pair two PartyBoost-compatible speakers together to double up on the audio or to create stereo sound. But the JBL Xtreme 3 is definitely loud enough by itself.
After having downloaded the JBL Portable app, it was disappointing to see that there are still no equaliser settings. Instead, the app serves to activate PartyBoost and to check the Xtreme 3's battery level, both of which you can do from the speaker without clogging up space on your smartphone.
Unlike the Xtreme 2, the JBL Xtreme 3 doesn’t have a microphone so you can’t use it as a speakerphone, but we’re not sure anyone would have really made use of that feature anyway. Though you can still use the USB-A and USB-C ports on the back of the JBL Xtreme 3 to charge your phone, a particularly useful feature if you plan to be out and playing music for the whole day.
JBL Xtreme 3 review: verdict
The JBL Xtreme 3 is admittedly bulkier than what most people will be looking for in a portable speaker, and it’s quite pricey too. The big sound might be a little unnecessary for a small family picnic or dinner in the garden. But the JBL Xtreme 3 does have features like smartphone charging and the long strap with a bottle opener, which gives it an edge over smaller options.
So who would this be a good choice for? Party people looking for a big, powerful and rugged waterproof speaker will be the ones most likely to be convinced by the JBL Xtreme 3.
Overall, the JBL Xtreme 3 is an excellent speaker with impressive sound and extra features that are actually quite useful.
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