In 2019, JBL achieved a milestone.
It reached over 100 million in total portable speaker sales.
However, don’t be fooled by the volume.
Just because many are buying doesn’t mean JBL speakers are great.
In fact, there are several reasons why they’re not.
Keep reading to find out:
- 7 genuine reasons why JBL speakers are actually bad.
- 5 of the best speakers from other brands that are better than JBL products.
- 5 factors that have helped JBL maintain its popularity despite negative reviews.
- And a lot more…
Why JBL speakers are bad – 7 reasons
#1: No built-in microphone
One of the biggest criticisms of JBL speakers is the lack of a built-in microphone. That means you can’t use them for video or phone calls.
And the thing is…
Some of the past JBL speakers actually used to have internal mics. The Flip 4 and the Charge 3 models are some examples of those.
However, JBL removed them in its more recent releases without explanations.
So if you’re looking for speakers with microphones…
You’ll have to look elsewhere.
But if you’d like some recommendations…
Here are a few of the best speakers with built-in microphones:
#2: Too bass-heavy
For better or worse, JBL speakers are very bass-heavy.
Now, there are instances where that can be a good thing.
An enhanced bass is good for hip-hop and electronic dance music. It’s also ideal in a party setting, where music is supposed to be loud and thumping.
However, too much bass can sometimes hurt the overall quality of certain music. At times, it can drown out the rest of the instruments. And that’s not always good.
#3: Other speaker brands have a better warranty
JBL offers a 1-year warranty for its line of speakers. This begins upon purchase. And it mostly covers manufacturing defects.
Now, that’s pretty standard for an electronic device.
But you’ll find other speaker brands that offer a longer warranty period.
One example is Sonos. This California-based company is a direct competitor of JBL. And its speakers come with a 2-year warranty.
Another example is Ultimate Ears (UE). It’s a subsidiary of Swiss-American firm Logitech.
UE also mainly produces speakers and headphones. And like Sonos, its products also have a warranty that lasts 2 years.
#4: Don’t produce high-fidelity sound
High-fidelity or hi-fi refers to audio that’s as close to the original recording as possible. That means there should be little to no distortions. And there should be no modifications to the music’s voice or instruments.
When an audio is high-fidelity…
It’ll be as if the song artist or band is actually performing right in front of you. Every instrument is crisp and clear.
Now, there are speakers that can produce hi-fi sounds. But JBL isn’t among them.
So if you’re a hi-fi enthusiast, I’d recommend that you go with the following brands instead:
#5: Some JBL smart speakers are overpriced
The rise of Alexa and the Amazon Echo Dot in the mid-2015s inspired many copycats.
Soon enough, several brands began releasing their own line of smart speakers.
Not to be outdone, JBL also came up with its own.
And the JBL Link became the company’s answer to the growing popularity of smart speakers.
Now, there are actually several variants of the Link speaker. These include:
- Link 10.
- Link 300.
- Link 500.
- Link Music.
- Link Portable.
They’re decent enough smart speakers. The problem is that some of them are simply overpriced.
For instance, the Link Portable costs around $180. A comparable smart speaker to that is the Google Nest Audio. And it’s only priced at $100.
Another overpriced JBL smart speaker is the Link Music. It’s selling for $120. Meanwhile, the Echo 4th Gen, which is similar to that, only costs $100.
So it’s really hard to justify buying JBL smart speakers over the much cheaper alternatives.
#6: Most JBL speakers don’t have voice control capability
The only JBL speakers with voice control are the Link variants. But all other models don’t.
Now, that may not be a big deal to some.
But in an era where voice control for gadgets has become commonplace…
JBL’s lack of that feature in many of its speakers is definitely a minus.
The thing is, JBL speakers aren’t totally bad. They’re actually pretty decent. Especially when you consider how affordable most of them are.
However, these speakers are also far from the best.
Yet people tend to overrate them because JBL is a wildly popular brand. So many also think JBL speakers are the best ones available out there.
But the truth is, whether it’s sound quality, durability, or warranty…
You’ll find many other brands better than JBL in those aspects.
I’ve actually created a section for that. If you’re looking for the best alternatives to JBL, you’ll find my recommendations in Bonus #2.
BONUS #1: If JBL speakers are bad, why do they remain popular?
So I just went over 7 reasons why JBL speakers aren’t as good as many believe they are.
But the question now is…
If JBL speakers have many negative qualities…
Why are they still so popular?
Well, there are actually several factors for that. And I’ll discuss each one of them.
#1: JBL is an established brand
People tend to gravitate towards well-established brands. We’d rather buy from manufacturers that we’ve already heard plenty about.
And JBL certainly fits that description.
You see, the firm has been around since the mid-1940s. So it has been manufacturing audio devices for several decades now.
And throughout the years…
JBL has done an excellent job promoting its brand.
That’s why whenever people think about buying portable speakers…
It’s almost inevitable that JBL is among the first brands that pop up in their mind.
And proof of that is that JBL has already sold over 100 million portable speakers. That’s more than any other brand in the world.
#2: The success of JBL Pro
Another thing that has helped JBL maintain its popularity is the success of its pro line of products.
JBL actually makes superb audio devices for the music and movie industry. In fact, JBL is among Hollywood studios’ most preferred brands for their sound system.
So even if the consumer-level JBL speakers aren’t exactly that good…
The pro versions are high-quality. And that’s enough for JBL to keep its great reputation in the audio device industry.
#3: Generally affordable
While I did mention that some JBL smart speakers are overpriced…
In general, most of its other products are relatively affordable.
For instance, the JBL Go 3 only costs about $50. It’s actually among the most affordable entry-level Bluetooth speakers.
Moreover, when you do a price comparison against competitors like Sonos and Bose…
JBL products are almost always cheaper.
Expensive, high-end speakers aren’t really necessary. And JBL’s quality is more than enough.
That’s why people continue to buy JBL speakers, even with their mediocre sound quality.
#4: Even the smallest JBL speakers can produce loud sounds
JBL speakers might be too bass-heavy. And they may not be capable of producing hi-fi sound.
But if there’s 1 good thing about them…
It’s that they’re loud. In fact, there are even those who complain that they’re too loud.
Now, that makes those portable JBL speakers ideal for outdoor events.
And the audio can even get more powerful by connecting JBL speakers together.
It’s yet another reason why many still prefer this brand.
#5: Excellent water resistance rating
Another factor why JBL speakers remain popular is their durability. These devices are built to withstand elements like dust and rain.
In fact, in a measurement of water resistance…
JBL speakers tend to score really high. You can submerge them in water for a good half hour.
And they’ll still work perfectly afterward.
That’s why JBL has also become the go-to brand for those who love outdoor activities.
BONUS #2: 5 Best alternatives to JBL speakers
If you’ve been thinking about buying a JBL Go…
You should strongly consider getting an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 instead.
The Go and the Wonderboom 2 are actually pretty similar in size.
But the Wonderboom 2 beats the Go in almost every other aspect.
For one, the Wonderboom 2 produces a louder and clearer sound.
It also lasts much longer than the JBL Go. You can use the Wonderboom 2 for over 12 hours on a single charge. Meanwhile, Go only runs up to about 5 hours per charge.
And while both have excellent water resistance ratings…
The Wonderboom 2 can actually float in water. The Go, on the other hand, just sinks to the bottom.
Now, granted, the Wonderboom 2 is more expensive. It costs $80 while Go is only selling for $50.
But the difference in quality certainly more than makes up for it.
Now, if you’d like to know more about the UE Wonderboom 2…
You may check out this video:
Now, this is for those who’ve been contemplating getting a JBL Flip 5.
A much better alternative to that is the Bose Soundlink Flex.
Both are almost identical in weight. The Soundlink Flex weighs 1.3 lbs (0.6 kg). The Flip 5, on the other hand, is around 1.2 lbs (0.5 kg) light.
Moreover, the 2 are also dust-proof and water-resistant.
But that’s pretty much where their similarities end.
The Soundlink Flex has a much more balanced sound. It’s not as bass-heavy as the Flip 5. And it can get a bit louder, too.
Also, the Soundlink Flex has a built-in microphone. And it’s voice assistant-compatible.
Meanwhile, the Flip 5 has neither of those features.
In addition, the Soundlink Flex can also last up to 12 hours per charge. That’s 2 hours more than the Flip 5.
Now, as far as the price goes…
Again, JBL is cheaper. You can get a Flip 5 for $100, while the Soundlink Flex costs $120.
But features-wise, it’s a definite win for Bose.
#3: Sony SRS-XB33
The Charge 4 is another popular JBL speaker. But a superior counterpart to that is the Sony SRS-XB33.
The SRS-XB33 is slightly bigger than the Charge 4. It weighs 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg). That’s about half a pound of the Charge 4’s weight.
And like Bose Soundlink Flex, the SRS-XB33 also has a built-in mic and voice assistant. JBL once again comes up empty in those aspects.
Moreover, the SRS-XB33 has an easy-to-use equalizer in its companion app. That means you can quickly adjust its audio settings to match your sound preference.
That’s something you can’t really do with the Charge 4. So you’re stuck with its bass-heavy sound.
Regarding the price…
This Sony speaker is around $15 more expensive than JBL. It costs $125.
But as with the previous comparisons…
Its superiority over JBL is enough to justify the price difference.
Those who want their speakers really loud might go for the JBL Boombox 2. It’s the company’s most powerful portable speaker, after all.
However, a better alternative to that is the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom.
Now, to be fair to JBL…
Its Boombox 2 actually scores higher than the Hyperboom in water resistance. And it’s lighter by 2 pounds. So it’s a bit easier to carry around.
In all other aspects, however, the Hyperboom comes out on top.
As far as sound quality goes…
The Hyperboom can get louder than the Boombox 2.
It also has a better sound projection. That means its audio comes out crisp and clear from every angle.
And while both speakers can last up to 24 hours per charge…
The Hyperboom only takes 2.5 hours to achieve a full charge. The Boombox 2, on the other hand, takes about 4 hours.
Furthermore, the Hyperboom is actually a bit cheaper. It costs $445 while the Boombox 2 is selling at $500.
So, all in all, it’s a no-brainer. The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom trumps the JBL Boombox 2.
Finally, we’ve come to the battle of smart speakers.
I already touched on the price of JBL’s cheapest smart speaker, the Link Music. It’s selling for $120.
That’s $20 more than its better version, the Amazon Echo (4th Gen).
But aside from being cheaper…
The Echo obviously wins in the voice-assistant aspect. It has a built-in Alexa, after all.
Meanwhile, the Link Music relies on a 3rd party voice AI, the Google Assistant.
And while the Echo speakers aren’t known for having the best audio quality…
The 4th Gen Echo can actually produce a strong bass sound like the Link Music.
And when you consider that the Amazon Echo is the original smart speaker brand…
It makes it a much better choice compared to the JBL Link.