JBL Boombox 3 review

This is the best-performing portable speaker in JBL’s lineup, and it doesn’t disappoint. It can get very loud without distorting the sound, has the best bass capabilities in the range, and has an all-day 24-hour battery. But it’s also the biggest speaker physically, meaning it’s heavy at 6.7kgs, and it’s cumbersome to carry around.

Whether or not this speaker is right for you depends on how you’ll use it. If you’re looking for a speaker that’s easy to take with you everywhere you go, the Boombox 3 isn’t the ideal candidate, but if you’re looking for a big speaker with a big sound that you can take with you occasionally, you’re going to love the Boombox 3.

While it doesn’t bring much new to the table – it’s almost identical to its predecessor – this is still a very capable speaker, and if you’re new to the range, you’ll love it.

Pros

  • Crisp, loud audio quality
  • Massive 24-hour battery
  • IP67 resistance rating
  • Easy to use
  • Booming bass

Cons

  • Big/heavy
  • Not very innovative
  • No advanced features

Price

The Boombox 3 is the largest speaker in the JBL Portable range after the Go 3, the Clip 4, the Flip 6, the Charge 5, the Pulse 5, the Xtreme 3 and finally, the Boombox 3. And this size and sound quality comes at a price. The Boombox 3 is $669.95.

As comparisons, the similarly sized Sony Extra Bass XG500 costs $600, the UE HyperBoom costs $548, and the Boombox 3’s predecessor, the Boombox 2, now costs $537.

JBL Boombox 3 review

Design

The Boombox 3 boasts a very similar design to the Boombox 2. The only immediate difference is the handle. It’s now a metal handle with silicone grips that sits on top of the speaker instead of blending into the ends like on the Boombox 2. It looks good.

The handle does add a significant amount of weight to the speaker, though. The Boombox 3 weighs 6.7kg, which is a substantial increase over the 5.9kg Boombox 2.

At 48.2 x 25.7 x 20.0cm, the Boombox 3 is long and combined with its weight; it makes for a relatively cumbersome device. It takes up a lot of space and is heavy to carry. Most of the time, I just left it in one spot. It isn’t designed for taking everywhere and is better suited to the occasional change of position. 

The Boombox 3 boasts an IP67 resistance rating, meaning the speaker is waterproof. It will survive being submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes and is protected from dust. This means you can take it to the beach, use it at a pool party or wash it off in the sink without worrying about it getting damaged. 

On the top of the speaker, there are controls for volume up/down, next song, play/pause, Bluetooth, power and JBL Party Boost. On the back, there are three ports, a port for the AC power charger, a USB-A port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

Like other speakers in the JBL range, there’s a grip on the bottom so you can place it without fear of it rolling or moving. It’s a nice touch.

JBL Boombox 3 review

Sound

The sound capabilities of the Boombox 3 are excellent. With its 2 x tweeters, 2 x midrange speaker and subwoofer setup, this is a speaker that can get loud. It’s the loudest portable speaker JBL offers.

Often when playing a speaker at high volumes, audio can lose quality, but that’s not the case here. The Boombox 3 delivers a very clean and crisp sound, even at full volume. 

The bass capabilities are impressive, delivering powerful and clean lower frequencies without sounding distorted. Midrange and high frequencies also sound clean. A weakness of a lot of portable speakers is the audio starts to sound tinny at higher volumes. The Boombox 3 does an excellent job of keeping the sound well-balanced and precise throughout the volume spectrum.

By default, the Boombox 3 is set to a bass-orientated configuration. You can EQ the sound to your liking within the JBL Portable app, but it’s limited in its capabilities. It’s a 3-band equaliser with one band dedicated to bass, midrange and high frequencies, respectively. While it allows you to adjust the sound to your preference, I would’ve liked more options here. 

To test the sound capabilities of the Boombox 3, I played Uh Uh by Thundercat. This is a complex song, and the speaker gave each element of the mix a natural-sounding amount of space. The subfrequencies came through clearly, and the bass notes hit hard enough to give the song a rhythmic bounce. 

Next, I listened to The National Anthem by Radiohead. This is a good song to test the tonal qualities of the speaker. The Boombox 3 was very good here, also. All the sounds were clear and resonant without muddying each other or becoming overbearing. 

And lastly, I listened to The Battle of the Pelennor Fields by Howard Shore. This is an orchestral track that tests the range of the speaker, and the Boombox 3 sounded very good here as well. 

There wasn’t much the Boombox 3 couldn’t handle. If you’re looking for some of the best sound quality a portable speaker can produce, the Boombox 3 will be right up there with the best. 

JBL Boombox 3 review

JBL Portable App

The JBL Portable App is incredibly barebones compared to other competitors like Sony or Sonos. 

There’s an equaliser, a user guide and a PartyBoost option. PartyBoost is JBL’s software that allows you to connect up to 100 different speakers wirelessly. It’s easy and works well.

It’s important to know that not all JBL speakers work with PartyBoost, though, so it always pays to do some research before buying a load of them. As of now the speakers that are compatible with PartyBoost are the Flip 6, Charge 5, Xtreme 3, Boombox 3 and their predecessors. 

JBL Boombox 3 review

Battery

JBL claims the Boombox 3 has a 24-hour battery. These claims are pretty accurate, and it’s very impressive. 

We managed around 22 hours of use before needing to recharge the speaker. This was close to the maximum volume as well.

The one downside to the Boombox 3’s battery is it takes a long time to charge fully. At 6.5 hours, it’s half the day. If you have an upcoming party or gathering, you’ll need to make sure you charge it the night before.

JBL Boombox 3 review

Verdict

One of the main features of a portable JBL speaker is its simplicity. Turn it on, connect via Bluetooth, and you’re away. 

For some, it may be a bit too simple. There are no advanced features here like WiFi connectivity, automatic equalisation based on the room or smart assistants built-in, and if you have the Boombox 2, it’s not worth upgrading for. For others, the simplicity might be the best thing about the Boombox 3, especially if you’re new to the range.

It’s a portable speaker that can deliver a massive sound, and it delivers it well. The audio is crisp, clean, and precise and the bass booms. The battery lasts a massive 24 hours, and the IP67-resistant design allows you to take the speaker anywhere without worrying about it.

This power comes at a price, though. At $669.95, this is an expensive portable speaker, and it’s big, heavy, long and challenging to manage. 

If you’re looking for a speaker that will go with you everywhere, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a speaker that will mainly stay at home and come out at parties or gatherings, the Boombox 3 doesn’t disappoint, you’ll love it.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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