Pro audio on a JBL Charge 2+ speaker?

by Jane is K.O. - 18.11.15

If you’re oftenly traveling as a musician and need to find a listening situation, that doesn’t increase your travel load much – what do you do? (You can answer on comments.)
I am always hassling people to supply me speakers and amps here and there, but at last at my temporary home or hotel i have nothing but a pair of Sennheiser HD650 to trust in. Those headphones are LOVELY, but they are still headphones. No body sound experience in there.
So what to do?
Recently i ran into a JBL Charge 2+ Bluetooth speaker, which now travels with me.
So just let me introduce what i found to you.

Hip 90s style image
JBL Charge 2+

This enticingly small (8×8×19 cms) stereo speaker by JBL has the usual psychoacoustic simulation of “bass” going (75 Hz – 20 kHz/nothing great, but adaptable). This device is actually made by HARMAN International Industries, which is only a problem, when you try to register your product online. Because you’ll get a 404 by .. Infinity Speakers, which is yet more absurd. You’ll feel kind of lost.

not able to register a JBL Charge 2+ speaker

However, there’s a printed quick guide within the package. Unfortunately the letters are very small and i had to go to a convenience store to get even tougher reading glasses. No fun. We’ll there’s a pdf on the JBL website. Got downloaded. But is the same!

On my Mac with stable 10.7.5 since 4 years i just paired the thing over Bluetooth and hoped for the best.

Here’s what i found.

- easy to carry around, just make sure you cover the 1.75” membranes at either end not to damage them. I just use an old t-shirt wrapped around.
- sounds more rocking than those Bose thingies at half the price – but see CONS below.
- battery lasts quite some time – they say at least 4 hours, or up to 10.
4 at almost full volume when it’s new, i’d say.

- despite a “workable” sound – there is no REAL bass. What’s there at 80-120Hz is 3-10 dB to loud in order to compensate for the missing sub bass. Plus there isn’t much real pushing or pulling frequencies, as a kind of multiband compression seems to turn any sound to the same anyways. So beware, when mixing, even if Bose speakers seem much worse!
- stereo field imaging useless for audio production (unless you put your head right before the Charge 2+ .)
- BIG AUDIO DELAY on Bluetooth connection (approx 0.5-0.7 seconds!) – the visible position of your DAW will always be way ahead. Workaround: Use a mini headphone cable to connect instead.
- no proper manual anywhere. There’s a quick start guide (even online).
- battery not exchangeable. See Youtube for hacks, though (yet seem only available for the predecessor model Charge 2.)
- high frequencies above 10k seem missing (despite them saying 75 Hz – 20 kHz). Will have to technically reconfirm with a measurement mic session.
- despite
- Bluetooth connection only stable after boot. Switch the Charge 2+ off or change your audio driver and you’ll need a restart to reliably establish a new connection to the Charge 2+. If ever there are few or many other Bluetooth devices (usually smart phones) in the room, they will try to connect to the JBL, too. The Charge 2+ gets confused then, even if you paired it to your mac before. Not content with that workaround: Use a mini headphone cable to connect instead.

Hope it helps. Let me know, what you found.

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