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JBL Charge 5 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed May 10, 2021 at 10:12 am
JBL Charge 5 Picture
6.3
Music
5.8
Videos/Movies
7.4
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
7.2
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The JBL Charge 5 is the next generation of the JBL Charge 4. This small and lightweight portable speaker has a neutral sound profile, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. It's also very well-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. Unlike the Charge 4, which has a Connect+ function, the Charge 5 comes with a PartyBoost button you can use to connect it to other JBL speakers that feature this function. Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble typically present in bass-heavy music. It also doesn't come with any sound customization features you can use to adjust its sound to your liking.

Our Verdict

6.3 Music

The JBL Charge 5 is acceptable for music. Its neutral sound profile makes it suitable for a variety of music genres. However, it lacks a thumpy and rumbling low-bass which may disappoint fans of bass-heavy music like EDM. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with any sound customization features, so you can't tweak its sound to your liking. It also has to downmix stereo content to mono, so its soundstage doesn't sound as immersive.

Pros
  • Fantastic battery life.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ.
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
5.8 Videos/Movies

The JBL Charge 5 is disappointing for watching videos and movies. Its balanced mid-range makes it suitable for listening to dialogue-heavy content. It also has low latency with iOS and Android devices, so there shouldn't be a noticeable delay between your audio and video. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may differ. It struggles to reproduce low-bass, which makes it difficult to feel the thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It also downmixes stereo content to mono, which doesn't sound as immersive.

Pros
  • Low Bluetooth latency.
  • Balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ.
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
7.4 Podcasts

The JBL Charge 5 is decent for podcasts. This incredibly portable speaker has a well-balanced mid-range that ensures dialogue sounds clear and present in your audio. It also has decent directivity, so your audio should sound clear from most angles. However, there are some compression artifacts at max volume, so your audio may not sound as clean during louder listening sessions.

Pros
  • Incredibly portable.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
2.8 Voice Assistant

The JBL Charge 5 doesn't support voice assistants.

7.2 Outdoors

The JBL Charge 5 is decent for outdoor use. Its long battery life and great build quality make it suitable for long days spent outdoors. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test this. Its neutral sound profile is also good for listening to a wide variety of audio content. That said, it lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in bass-heavy music. It also has to downmix stereo content to mono which doesn't sound as immersive.

Pros
  • Fantastic battery life.
  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ.
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
  • 6.3 Music
  • 5.8 Videos/Movies
  • 7.4 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 7.2 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The JBL Charge 5 is a small speaker that looks similar to the JBL Charge 4. However, the logo on its front is much bigger and looks slightly different than its predecessor. It's meant to sit horizontally on its flat plastic base, and its power, Bluetooth, and battery indicator lights turn on when the speaker is on. This speaker comes in nine different color variants you can choose from, and we tested the 'Black' variant.

9.1
Design
Portability
Volume
121 inยณ (1,982 cmยณ)
Weight
2.0 lbs (0.9 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The JBL Charge 5 is incredibly portable. This small, lightweight speaker can be carried in one hand, making it easy to take when you're on the move. It's also battery-powered, so you can take it outdoors with you without needing to connect it to an outlet.

8.3
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

This speaker has an impressive build quality. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Its made of materials that feel solid, and there are also two bass radiators on either side of the speaker. On its rear, there's a USB-A port in a sealed compartment and a Type-C charging port.

5.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The JBL Charge 5 has disappointing controls. It has + and - buttons you can use to adjust the speaker's volume. While there's some audible feedback to indicate when you reach its max volume, there isn't any for when you reach its minimum volume. Its play and pause button can also be double-pressed to skip to your next track. However, there isn't a way to skip to your previous track. You can pair it to your devices via Bluetooth by pressing its designated button. This should trigger a flashing light when it's in pairing mode and a solid blue light once it's paired.

It also has a PartyBoost button you can press when you want to connect it to other PartyBoost-compatible speakers. You can control this feature in its companion app. Lastly, there are horizontal dots at the bottom of the speaker that light up to indicate the speaker's battery level.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL Charge 5 speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Quick Start guide

Sound
6.7
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.29
Std. Err.
3.90 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
58.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.5 kHz

The JBL Charge 5's frequency response accuracy is alright. It has a fairly neutral sound profile, suitable for a wide range of audio content. However, it lacks low-bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like hip-hop and EDM. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any sound customization features you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.7
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.27 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The JBL Charge 5 has a middling soundstage performance. While it has decent directivity, the overemphasis in the treble range can make it feel uneven. It also has to downmix stereo content to mono, which doesn't sound as immersive. If you're looking for a speaker with a fantastic soundstage, check out the Sony SRS-RA3000.

6.5
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
88.9 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.16 dB

The JBL Charge 5's dynamics are adequate. It doesn't get very loud and has many compression artifacts at max volume, so it isn't very suitable to use in large rooms or at parties.

Active Features
8.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
14.5 hrs
Charge Time
3.8 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

This speaker has an excellent battery performance. While it's advertised to last around 20 hours from a single 4-hour charge, it lasted over 14 hours in our tests, which is still superb. That said, battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-world experience may vary. It also has a power-saving feature that shuts the speaker off after it's left inactive for a while.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone
6.6
Active Features
App
App Name
JBL Portable
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The JBL Charge 5's companion app is alright. It comes with a Party Mode function you can access by selecting PartyBoost in its main menu, so you can connect it to other PartyBoost-compatible speakers to play music at once. You can also pair two speakers together to create a stereo pair. That said, it doesn't offer a Multi-Room function, so you can't use it to play different content on different speakers in different rooms at once. It also doesn't have any sound customization features like a graphic EQ you can use to tweak the speaker's sound.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

Unlike the JBL Charge 4, the JBL Charge 5 doesn't have an AUX input you can use to wire your devices to it. However, you can use its USB-A port to charge your devices.

8.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Bluetooth iOS Latency
125 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
102 ms
Bluetooth Range
328.1 ft (100.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The JBL Charge 5 has a great Bluetooth performance. You can connect it to two devices at once, which can come in handy when you need to switch between audio sources quickly. It also has low latency with iOS and Android devices, making it suitable for watching movies and videos. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may differ.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL Charge 5 comes in nine color variants: 'Black', 'Red', 'Blue', 'Teal', 'Grey', 'White', 'Pink', 'Khaki' and 'Squad'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can find its label here. We expect all variants to perform similarly.

If you come across any other variants of this speaker, let us know in the discussions and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL Charge 5 is a portable Bluetooth speaker that's similar to the JBL Charge 4. The Charge 5 has a more neutral sound profile than its predecessor and is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test this. It also comes with a PartyBoost button you can use to pair it to other PartyBoost-compatible JBL speakers, as opposed to the Charge 4, which features a Connect+ button.

See also our recommendations for the best JBL speakers, the best Bluetooth speakers, and the best outdoor speakers.

JBL Charge 4

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4 overall. The Charge 5 has a more balanced sound profile. It's also better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test this. That said, while the Charge 5 can connect to PartyBoost-compatible JBL speakers, it can't connect to those with the Connect+ feature like its predecessor. The Charge 4 also has lower latency with iOS and Android devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

JBL FLIP 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the JBL FLIP 5. The Charge 5 has a more neutral sound profile, and longer battery life, though the latter can vary depending on your usage habits. It's also better built and is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. However, while the Charge 5 can get louder with slightly fewer compression artifacts at max volume, the FLIP 5 has a somewhat wider-sounding soundstage.

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 and the JBL Charge 5 are very similar speakers. While they both have very similar designs, the Charge 5 is smaller, lighter, and more portable. It also has a slightly better-balanced sound profile. That said, the Xtreme 3 can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which sounds more immersive. It also uses the JBL Connect app, as opposed to the Charge 5 that uses the JBL Portable app.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam and the JBL Charge 5 are similar speakers, though they have different strengths. The Sonos is smaller and more portable than the JBL. It has outstanding voice assistant performance and comes with bass and treble sliders you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. However, the JBL can get louder than the Sonos with fewer compression artifacts at max volume. It can be paired to two devices at once via Bluetooth and has outstanding battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage habits, so your real-world experience may differ.

JBL Xtreme 2

The JBL Xtreme 2 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. While the Charge 5 has a more balanced sound profile, the Xtreme 2 can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. It can also get louder than the Charge 5, with fewer compression artifacts at max volume, and supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Sony SRS-XB33

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a slightly better speaker than JBL Charge 5. The JBL has a better-balanced sound profile and slightly longer battery life, though battery life can vary depending on usage, so your experience may differ. However, the Sony's companion app comes with a graphic EQ you can use to adjust its sound to your liking. It comes with a ClearAudio+ feature that's advertised to automatically adjust its sound according to your audio. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

Sony SRS-XB43

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. While the JBL has a better-balanced sound profile, the Sony comes with a graphic EQ, so you can customize its sound to better suit your preferences. It has a ClearAudio+ feature advertised to adjust the speaker's sound according to your audio content and can get louder than the JBL. Additionally, it supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't great.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. The Ultimate Ears can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and has an outstanding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. Its companion app features a graphic EQ and presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. The JBL has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. You can also connect it to two devices at once, which can come in handy when you need to switch between two audio sources quickly.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better overall speaker than the JBL Charge 5. The JBL is better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. It also has a better-balanced sound profile than the Anker. However, the Anker features a graphic EQ and presets, so you can adjust its sound to your liking. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. Additionally, it supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though it doesn't do a good job of hearing you from far and in noisy settings.

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. It has a slightly better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and offers a wider-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone. That said, the JBL has a longer battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage habits.

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