Bold and powerful, but with the capacity of great subtlety, the JBL Xtreme needs and then shrink in the bass to become real all-rounder
Full, large-scale sound
Care with dynamics
Bass is just a little heavy on its feet
When you consider the JBL Xtreme, you see something of a brute. Its broad shoulders and barrel chest promise power, and it feels tough, too.
The passive bass radiators at either end of the drum will be the only areas where you’d feel tentative about poking around, the others you feel could possibly be subjected to a great deal of torture.
That heavyweight material adds just a little to its weight (2.1kg), nonetheless it remains a manageable size and there’s a strap in the box for easy carrying.
It is not fussed by rain, either; as usual splashproof doesn’t mean totally waterproof – no submerging – but JBL is pretty pleased with you washing the Xtreme under a running tap.
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You will find a charge point, auxiliary input and two USB outputs for your phone to talk about in a few of the Xtreme’s claimed 15-hour battery life – but they’re not waterproof, so keep them dry.
We’re wanting to put all of this muscle to good use, but focus on something more low key: The Tallest Man On Earth’s Love Is All. The JBL captures the lo-fi recording nicely – your guitar warbles and the area is laid bare – but there’s a richness that keeps the sound from becoming clinical.
The solidity doesn’t compromise dynamics, either. Your guitar strings are permitted to bounce with the rhythm of Kristian Matsson’s finger picking. His vocal is similarly expressive and keeps its charm despite a thin recording.
Then your opening guitar hook of Ryan Adams’s Gimme Somethin’ Good slashes its way through, accompanied by a thumping drum kit.
An excellent wireless speaker is indiscriminate about the music it plays best, so let’s just say the Xtreme feels very comfortable. The vocal is equally bold, and the sound is undeniably big; it’s the power we were expecting initially glimpse.
When there is a criticism to be produced, it is that the reduced end, considerable since it is, doesn’t quite show the agility or lightness of feet we’d enjoy.
The detail demonstrated through the entire remaining frequency range is lacking down there so when we shift to a song where the energy originates from a dancing bass line, such as for example Bedouin Soundclash’s Gyasi Went Home, we want a bit more composure.
To tighten things up, we get one of these selection of tables, a bookcase, speaker stands and the ground. The results vary, but we should never be truly satisfied. A far more practical solution, given the lack of options, is to adapt the EQ on your own phone or very good music player.
We’d certainly recommend you have a listen; you might find the Xtreme’s fortes, which it has many, justify a small amount of your own work to obtain the right balance.