JBL’s Xtreme 3 is made for the outdoors.
It’s a big, sturdy speaker that won’t get damaged by water or dirt. Perfect for a beach day or a picnic.
While it produces a pretty good sound, the Xtreme 3 struggles with bass-heavy tracks and the audio quality suffers at higher volumes. But for a day out, it does a good job.
- Great for the outdoors
- IP67 rating
- Easy to carry
- Decent battery
- Lacks bass capabilities
- App connectivity problems
The JBL Xtreme 3 costs $430.
This puts it in the middle of the price range for a portable speaker. It’s more expensive than the UE Megaboom 3, which costs $380, but it’s cheaper than the UE Hyperboom, which costs $700.
Based on the size of the speaker, the Xtreme 3 is more in line with the Hyperboom, so it’s well priced.
It’s clear that JBL’s Xtreme 3 was designed for outdoor use. It has a sporty aesthetic, and its IP67 resistance rating, the highest you can get for a speaker, makes it great for taking outside.
While it won’t work underwater, due to Bluetooth restraints, you can comfortably wash it off in the sink if it gets covered in sand or dirt. It’s great.
The Xtreme 3 is big, measuring 297.87 x 137.08 x 133.06mm however it’s light, weighing only 1.83kgs. At first glance, it looks like it would be a burden to use as a portable speaker, but it isn’t. The Xtreme 3 comes with two bars built-in and a strap that you can attach to them via carabiners. It makes the speaker easy to carry. It works well.
I also appreciated the flat bottom of the speaker that allowed it to sit horizontally. This stops it from rolling away. On the top of the speaker is where you’ll find the controls. Here you can change the volume, play/pause, skip to the next track (strangely, there isn’t a button for the previous track), and turn Party Boost on, allowing you to sync the speaker with up to 100 other compatible JBL speakers. There’s also a back panel with a USB-C connection, a USB-A output, and a 3.5mm aux input.
All of this gives the speaker an “outdoorsy” look. Its wraparound grille looks good, and it comes in three colours; black, blue, or camouflage. For our review, we were given the black device, and it looks fine.
While it will obviously work indoors, this isn’t the type of speaker I would have sitting in my lounge. It doesn’t have a classy look like other speakers such as the Harmon Kardon Citation 200.
The Xtreme 3 is a big portable speaker, and it has a big sound. However, I was a bit disappointed by its performance.
It has two 25W, 2.8-inch woofers and two 0.8-inch tweeters. It’s compatible with Bluetooth 5.1, and it supports AAC and SBC codecs.
Listening to bass-heavy tracks like What’s Golden by Jurassic 5, sounded good when listening at 45% in my quiet backyard. The bass of the kick drums was present. However, long subwoofer notes were lacking. To try and remedy this, I would turn the volume up; however, once I reached 70% volume, I could easily hear the digital signal processing kicking in, and the audio sounded tinny and shrill as a result.
For a portable speaker, this can be a problem. Listening to a speaker at the beach or on a picnic, usually, you need to have it at high volumes to hear it over the ambient noise. And at high volumes, the Xtreme 3 didn’t perform well.
Bass was really the only area where the Xtreme 3 struggled through. Less “bassy” tracks like Ophelia by The Lumineers sounded great. I could clearly hear the more melodic notes and the lyrics came through clear.
Orchestral tracks like John Williams’ Theme from Jurassic Park also had a good amount of depth. The audio sounded best in the mid-to-high frequency range, and only on a few occasions I found the bass would slightly distort the mix.
In portable speakers, the bass capacity is usually what sorts the great speakers from the not so great ones. Comparing the Xtreme 3 to the Harmon Kardon Citation 200, which I might add is a portable speaker for only $100 more, quickly showed that the Xtreme 3 was lacking in its bass capabilities. The Citation 200 had a much more natural sound and it produced a well-rounded bass tone that didn’t distort the mix.
The JBL portable speaker app comes with an equaliser that may have been able to resolve the bass issues I was coming across. However, I had a lot of trouble getting the Xtreme 3 to communicate with the app. After numerous attempts, I wasn’t able to update the speaker and gain access to the equaliser, which was frustrating.
JBL claims the Xtreme 3 can last up to 15 hours of playback based on the volume at which you’re playing your audio.
This is average for the market. While the Citation 200 boasts only 8-hours of playback, UE’s Hyperboom boasts 24-hours, which is significantly more than the Xtreme 3.
You can charge the Xtreme 3 via the USB-C port and fully charge it in just under 2.5 hours. It’s fine.
For a portable speaker of this size, JBL’s Xtreme 3 is well priced.
It’s a mid-range portable speaker perfectly designed for the outdoors, with it’s IP67 rating, that can produce an okay sound.
The only issue is its bass capabilities. It struggles with bass, especially long drawn out subwoofer notes. And at higher volumes, the audio can sound tinny and false.
With that said, if you’re looking for a portable speaker that can get loud enough to be heard over crashing waves and won’t get damaged, then the Xtreme 3 will definitely do the job.
Just don’t expect ground-shaking bass and expect the sound quality to dip significantly as you raise the volume.