JBL’s Xtreme line of loudspeakers have proven to be some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market. This has remained the case since the emergence of the original JBL Xtreme in 2015. Not only are they splashproof, but the addition of an AUX input and charging ports makes these speakers excellent pool party companions for long outdoor sessions.
However, it has been over three years since JBL released its most recent loudspeaker, the JBL Xtreme 3. While this speaker hosts up to 19 hours of battery life, JBL’s “signature sound,” an AUX input, USB-C and USB-A charging ports, and loud sound reproduction, there is always room for improvement. Here are all the upgrades I want from the JBL Xtreme 4.
A lighter and more compact design
The JBL Xtreme 3 trades out the small feet found on the Xtreme 2 for a flat, textured area, which is slightly less stable.
The term “portable” must be applied loosely when discussing the JBL Xtreme 3. The size, shape, and weight make transporting it just about manageable. However, it is the least portable of the JBL family and uncomfortable at the best of times. The included shoulder strap helps somewhat, but wearing it for long periods will likely cause irritation and discomfort. This is especially true, given there is little in the way of padding on the strap. We hope the JBL Xtreme 4 will weigh less than its predecessor. It would also be handy if it took on a smaller form factor. This would make it possible to store the speaker in a large backpack. It would also make it easier to wear the shoulder strap when walking.
One of the best features of the JBL Xtreme 2 is the stabilizing feet along its undercarriage. These handy little plastic stands help to rest the speaker on uneven surfaces. Unfortunately, the Xtreme 3 replaced these with a rough-textured under-surface. While this helps to retain the pleasing cylindrical aesthetic, it makes the speaker impractical to place on anything other than flat terrain. JBL could bring the best of both worlds with the JBL Xtreme 4 by including retractable feet. That way, users can choose whether to rest the speaker on the ground or prop it up with the stand.
Support for the aptX and AAC Bluetooth codecs
With more people embracing wireless connectivity than ever before, it seems strange that JBL is yet to support any other Bluetooth codec besides SBC in its Xtreme products. While this works fine as a backstop, it offers little in the way of high-quality wireless audio. We would like to see JBL support AAC and Qualcomm’s aptX Bluetooth codec with the Xtreme 4. With this, users could achieve up to 320kbps, 44.1kHz/ 16-bit and 352kbps, 48kHz/16-bit audio streaming respectively. It also means iPhone and Android users have a broader list of wireless connectivity options. This is helpful, especially when using the speaker in crowded radio environments.
An IP68 water and dust-resistant rating
The JBL Xtreme 3 is a “portable” Bluetooth speaker in that it includes a carrying strap, but it’s heavy and bulky.
Do not get me wrong, products that wear an IP67 water and dust-resistance rating are incredibly welcome. Not only do they protect our hard-earned products from total dust ingress and water immersion between 15cm — 1m, but they also give us peace of mind. You can take music with you poolside and not worry about splashes ruining your precious speakers. We expect the JBL Xtreme 4 will be no different, offering at least an IP67 rating. However, the company could go even further and introduce an IP68 rating. With this, the next-gen speaker could be protected from total dust ingress and long-term immersion under high pressure. That means users could take the JBL Xtreme 4 in the pool or ocean for an afternoon sing-along.
Backward-compatible “Stereo Mode” functionality
JBL’s “Stereo Mode” feature is a solid idea in principle. However, in practice, it is a missed opportunity. As it stands, the feature only works when two JBL speakers of the same generation are paired. So, for example, if you upgraded from the JBL Xtreme 2 to the Xtreme 3, you will not be able to pair the two in “Stereo Mode.” That is unfortunate, especially given you can use these two speakers, and up to 100 other generation JBL speakers, in “PartyBoost” mode. We would like to see JBL turn the tide with the Xtreme 4. Not only would it set the speaker apart from its predecessors, but it would future-proof older JBL Bluetooth speakers. That is good for parties and the environment.
What would you like to see JBL bring to the Xtreme 4?
Will there be a JBL Xtreme 4?
The JBL Xtreme 3 has no feet, so setting it on narrow ledges or sloped surfaces can get tricky.
We fully expect JBL to update its Xtreme line of loudspeakers shortly. We had hoped the company would share some details of the JBL Xtreme 4 alongside unveiling its JBL Authentics Smart Speakers at the IFA convention in Berlin on the 1st – 5th of September this year. However, the company has remained tight-lipped over its eagerly anticipated Xtreme speaker. We may have to wait until the CES event in January 2024 to hear anything specific. This makes it likely that the product will launch in the early months of next year.
Although it has been several years since the JBL Xtreme 3 came to market, the company has been busy. Over the last 12 months, we have seen the Live 770NC and Live 670NC headphones, Tour Pro 2, Tune 125TWS buds, and Soundgear Sense all come to fruition. It is reasonable to assume that JBL will not let its foot off the pedal when refreshing its Xtreme line, though the release date is up in the air.
- JBL Xtreme — September 1, 2015
- JBL Xtreme 2 — January 18, 2018
- JBL Xtreme 3 — September 2, 2020
As you can see from JBL’s previous release pattern, the company favors bringing its Xtreme speakers to market in the fall. The exception to this rule is the JBL Xtreme 2, which came to shelves on January 18, 2018. Given that we have already surpassed the company’s preferred September window, we could see the JBL Xtreme 4 launch early in 2024.
Previously, JBL has updated its Xtreme speaker line roughly every two years. For example, the JBL Xtreme 2 came to market two years and four months after the original JBL Xtreme debuted. Further, the JBL Xtreme 3 followed roughly two years and seven months after the JBL Xtreme 2. The company has kept its fans waiting unusually long for the updated JBL Xtreme 4. There was no mention of JBL’s anticipated flagship loudspeaker at the IFA convention in September this year. That means users may have to wait until the CES event in January 2024 to hear any detailed information. This indicates the company may release the Xtreme 4 in late January as it did with the JBL Xtreme 2. However, it may be even later.
Should you wait for the JBL Xtreme 4?
The JBL Xtreme 3 survives a plunge into water, making it a good companion for trips to the park.
Considering the JBL Xtreme 3 is still available for ($279 at Amazon), it is fair to question whether the next-gen upgrade is worth it. The Xtreme 3 will also probably feature among more retail sales when the company’s flagship speaker comes to market.
For the price, the JBL Xtreme 3 offers users a loud and reliable audio experience. With an IP67 rating, Bluetooth Multipoint, AUX input, and basic EQ in the JBL Portable app, the Xtreme 3 remains a versatile product. The speakers’ 19 hours of battery life is enough to enjoy a day at the beach and still have juice left for the evening BBQ. The ability to charge devices from the two built-in USB ports is an undoubtedly handy feature. Pairing the Xtreme 3 via JBL’s proprietary “PartyBoost” feature also means users can host even larger parties without anyone missing out on their favorite anthem. If a semi-portable Bluetooth speaker that packs a punch is what you are after, then the JBL Xtreme 3 is for you.
JBL Xtreme 3
IP67 water resistance • Four drivers with dual-passive radiators • Can charge other devices
Take your parties to the beach with JBL’s water resistant speaker
The third edition of JBL’s water resistant speaker packs an IP67 rating, four drivers for loud but accurate sound reproduction, and an aux port for those who prefer wired control of their music. The JBL Xtreme 3 doubles as a power bank, making it a great off-grid gadget for your next camping adventure or backyard party.
Nevertheless, JBL has plenty of competition, not least with itself. Those looking for something a little more portable should consider the JBL Charge 5 ($149 at Amazon). As with the Xtreme 3, this speaker boasts an IP67 rating and the ability to charge your mobile device on the fly. However, the 960g design of the Charge 5 is more than half the weight of the Xtreme 3. It also comes in at 22.3 x 9.65 x 9.4 cm, as opposed to the 29.8 x 13.9 x 13.4 cm size of the Xtreme 3. This makes it much easier to transport without feeling overburdened. Furthermore, the Charge 5 boasts an official battery life of 20 hours, which outperforms that of the JBL Xtreme 3. Unfortunately, without an AUX input or high-quality Bluetooth codecs, users are forced to use SBC connectivity.
If the Charge 5 still is not small enough, then the JBL Flip 6 costs only ($99 at Amazon) and may meet your needs instead. While this speaker struggles to distinguish between instruments quite as well as the Charge 5 and Xtreme 3, it only weighs 544g. It also benefits from a loud sound profile, IP67 rating, compact 17.8 x 6.8 x 7.2 cm form factor, and Bluetooth Multipoint. Bluetooth 5.1 also theoretically provides the speaker with a range of 40 meters, although this is under ideal conditions. Like the Charge 5, the Flip 6 does not benefit from an AUX input. That means users default to streaming over the SBC Bluetooth codec. It also only provides enough battery life for just over nine hours of audio playback.
For something a little outside of the JBL realm, the UE HYPERBOOM ($129 at Amazon) is a similarly loud and bulky loudspeaker. This behemoth weighs a whopping 5.9kg and includes an optical input to connect this semi-portable speaker to your TV. It also features Ultimate Ears’ proprietary “One-Touch Music Control,” which automatically streams your favorite playlist when you long-press the play/pause button. The UE HYPERBOOM also hosts two Bluetooth inputs for seamless audio switching. This runs alongside an AUX input and USB-A port for charging extra devices. The IPX4 rating should keep the speaker safe from splashes, and with 24 hours of battery at 50% volume, this speaker makes for an excellent party companion. However, there is no support for other Bluetooth codecs besides SBC, which is a missed opportunity.