Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Xtreme 4 is great for mid-sized gatherings, but not a significant upgrade from Xtreme 3.
  • The speaker can get loud for its size, with clear mid-range sound and a visual battery indicator.
  • Consider other options for better sound quality and versatility.


JBL’s Xtreme 4 Bluetooth speaker is loud enough to jump-start a gathering, while still being portable enough to carry it around. It’s a fine speaker choice, but its updates over the previous model are small and hard to recommend that Xtreme 3 owners upgrade.

JBL Xtreme 4 TAG

JBL Xtreme 4

Unleash the power of music with JBL Xtreme 4. Experience unparalleled sound quality, robust durability, and seamless connectivity in this ultimate portable speaker.

Pros

  • Gets loud for its size
  • Visual battery indicator on the front
  • Clear mid-range sound
Cons

  • A little too bulbous to carry one-handed
  • Removable battery requires a tool
  • Mediocre sound profile

Price and Availability

The JBL Xtreme 4 speaker retails for $379.99 and went on sale in early June. It comes in a few different color options.

Specifications

Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.3 with Auracast

Weight
4.6lbs

Battery
24 hours

Ports
USB-C

Colors
Multiple

Buttons
Volume and media controls

Speakers
Two 2.75-inch woofers and two 0.75-inch tweeters

Water and dust resistance
IP67

The Xtreme 4 Is Only Mildly Extreme

JBL Xtreme 4 with accessories
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

I happened to test the Xtreme 4 speaker around the same time I was testing the Bose SoundLink Max. Both of the speakers are in the same class, retailing for $20 apart and close in size. But I much preferred the Bose speaker to JBL’s offering.


When listening back-to-back, the SoundLink Max had a much richer sound that was fuller in lower volumes than the Xtreme 4. For me, this makes Bose’s device more versatile in the different circumstances it may be used. It sounded better at the low and high end of the volume spectrum.

You can muck with the 5-band EQ in JBL’s Portable mobile app to get a slight bass boost at lower volumes, but I generally hate messing with those settings. It can make some songs sound better, sure, but inevitably, other songs sound worse.

When outside, both of the speakers could get loud, raising the volume past 75%, without distorting.

The sound aspect that continually stuck out to me with the Xtreme 4’s default JBL Signature sounds was how treble-heavy it tended to be. Hip-hop and pop songs may be able to thump the speaker’s woofers and passive radiators, but a lot of rock songs sounded uninspired like they weren’t hitting as hard as they were meant to. On the flip side, vocals were always present, and the mids were clear.


While both speakers are close in size, the SoundLink Max is less bulbous. It feels sleeker and slimmer. It’s hard to quantify that specifically other than to say it made it easier to carry the Bose speaker with its cute rope handle along to the community pool, than the bigger Xtreme 4 with its long shoulder strap.

Ports, Auracast, and the Features of It All

JBL Xtreme 4 buttons
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

Interestingly, while Bose included a 3.5mm audio jack, along with its UBS-C port, JBL removed its aux port from the Extreme 4. While the previous Xtreme 3 model had both, the new speaker only features an exposed USB-C port.

That port omission is a little annoying, but in practice, I rarely find myself physically connecting an audio cord to my speakers. I mostly give its removal a pass.


JBL does include an Auracast button on the top that could let you wirelessly link multiple speakers supporting the standard. Again, in practice, the technology is still new and whether it will catch on across device manufacturers is still to be seen.

JBL Xtreme 4 back
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

I pressed the Auracast button on the JBL PartyBox Stage 320 and the Xtreme 4 and both linked up instantly. It was neat. But even experiencing the tech first-hand, I fail to see it being meaningfully used in the real world. You’ll still need to buy multiple speakers to use the wireless connectivity regularly.

One meaningful thing is the Xtreme 4’s 24 hours of battery life. This is a substantial upgrade from the Xtreme 3 but within spitting range of the SoundLink Max’s 20 hours. If you care about it, the Xtreme 4 does have a user-removable battery. That could be beneficial if you plan to spend a lot of time off the grid and want to buy and carry a spare battery or two.


While JBL speakers like the Stage 320 can just pull the removable battery out with a string. The Xtreme 4 requires some

Should You Buy the JBL Xtreme 4?

JBL Xtreme 4 with strap
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

At face value, the JBL Xtreme 4 is a fine speaker that manages to get quite loud for its size. Its media buttons are big and easy to use. It has great battery life. Even its $379.99 retail price undercuts competitors like the Bose SoundLink Max.

Looking a little closer, however, the Xtreme 4 doesn’t have an overabundance of features and I was not overly impressed by its default sound profile. More than anything, I’m just not sure how the Xtreme 4 fits in JBL’s lineup next to its other speakers. It’s one of the newest speakers, but next to the Boombox3 or the JBL Charge 5 it just doesn’t seem like a great deal. Those specifically are in slightly different size classes but are much better values. If you don’t need Auracast and a removable 20+ hour battery, I would probably be more inclined to pick another speaker over this one.


JBL Xtreme 4 TAG

JBL Xtreme 4

Unleash the power of music with JBL Xtreme 4. Experience unparalleled sound quality, robust durability, and seamless connectivity in this ultimate portable speaker.



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By John P.

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