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JBL PartyBox Encore Essential Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Aug 31, 2022 at 11:29 am
JBL PartyBox Encore Essential Picture
7.4
Music
6.6
Videos/Movies
7.5
Podcasts
2.7
Voice Assistant
7.5
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a portable party speaker from JBL's PartyBox lineup. It rocks the same iconic style as other PartyBox speakers like the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go and the JBL PartyBox 110, with an RGB light ring surrounding its driver, though it's much smaller. This portable speaker comes with a handle built into its top so you can easily bring the party with you anywhere you go. Like other PartyBox speakers, it comes with a mic input that's great for karaoke lovers and musicians. It's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app that gives you access to extra party features of the speaker.

Our Verdict

7.4 Music

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is good for listening to music. With its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep', it has a neutral sound profile overall that's good for listening to different music genres. It can produce quite a deep bass for its size, which is great if you're a fan of bass-heavy music genres like hip-hop and EDM. If you want to bump the bass up even more, you can set Bass Boost to 'Punchy'. It's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, so you can access a graphic EQ that lets you customize its sound to your liking. This speaker gets loud enough to fill large spaces with sound, too. However, there's a lot of compression present at max volume that degrades audio quality when you put the volume on blast.

Pros
  • Gets pretty loud.
  • Graphic EQ.
Cons
  • Narrow-sounding soundstage.
  • Compression present at max volume.
6.6 Videos/Movies

While the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is mainly designed to be a party speaker, you can still use it to watch videos and movies. It has low Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices, so there aren't any syncing issues between the audio you hear and the visuals you see on your screen. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, and your experience may vary. It plays stereo content, so you can hear sound effects move from the right side of the speaker to the left when they move on the screen. It can get pretty loud and can produce quite an extended low-bass for its size, which is great for watching action-packed scenes. That said, there's compression present at max volume that degrades audio quality when you blast the volume.

Pros
  • Low Bluetooth latency with iOS and Android devices.
  • Gets pretty loud.
  • Graphic EQ.
Cons
  • Narrow-sounding soundstage.
  • Compression present at max volume.
7.5 Podcasts

While the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential isn't designed for listening to dialogue-centric audio content like podcasts and audiobooks, it's still good for this usage. With its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep', it has a balanced sound profile that ensures voices and dialogue reproduce clearly and accurately in the mix. You can also disable its Bass Boost feature and customize its sound profile using its graphic EQ if you want to reduce the bass. It's incredibly portable with a built-in carrying handle atop it, meaning you can move your podcasts from room to room. It can also get pretty loud, so if you don't feel like carrying it around, you can still hear your podcast from across the room.

Pros
  • Incredibly portable.
  • Gets pretty loud.
  • Graphic EQ.
Cons
  • Narrow-sounding soundstage.
  • Compression present at max volume.
2.7 Voice Assistant

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential doesn't support voice assistants.

7.5 Outdoors

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is good for outdoor use. It has an IPX4 rating for water resistance that certifies it to withstand small splashes of water, so you don't have to worry about it getting a bit wet when you bring the party outside with you. It's very portable in comparison to other party speakers we've tested and comes with a handle built-in, so you can easily transport it wherever you go. It gets loud and can produce a good amount of bass for its size, which is great for fans of bass-heavy music like hip-hop it EDM. That said, there's compression present at max volume that degrades the quality of your audio at louder volume levels.

Pros
  • Incredibly portable.
  • Gets pretty loud.
  • IPX4 rating for water resistance.
  • Mic input.
Cons
  • Narrow-sounding soundstage.
  • Compression present at max volume.
  • 7.4 Music
  • 6.6 Videos/Movies
  • 7.5 Podcasts
  • 2.7 Voice Assistant
  • 7.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Aug 31, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Aug 25, 2022: Early access published.

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Black Partybox Encore Essential
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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a portable party speaker with a similar style to other speakers from JBL's PartyBox lineup, like the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go and the JBL PartyBox 110, though it's smaller in size and is shaped like a cube. It isn't designed to blend in with your home decor but rather to stand out while you party to your favorite tunes. It rocks JBL's iconic PartyBox RGB light ring surrounding its main driver and comes with a built-in carrying handle atop it to help you bring the party with you wherever you go. That said, there's no mounting hole underneath it to mount it to a pole.

8.1
Design
Portability
Volume
1,580 in³ (25,893 cm³)
Weight
13.2 lbs (6.0 kg)
Power Source
AC & Battery
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a very portable party speaker. While it's on the heavier side and is a little bulky, you can easily carry it in one hand thanks to the built-in carrying handle atop it. You also don't need to keep it connected to a power outlet for it to work since it's battery-powered, which gives you the flexibility to bring the speaker with you wherever the party calls you.

7.0
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Water-resistant (IPx4)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential has the same solid feel as other JBL speakers in the PartyBox lineup and sits on four rubber feet. It's mostly made of rigid plastic with a grille on its front to protect its drivers. There's a robust handle built into its top to help you transport it. With the flap protecting its inputs tightly sealed, it's rated IPX4 for water resistance, meaning it's certified to withstand small splashes of water, so you don't have to worry about it getting a bit wet from some light rain when you bring the party outside.

7.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential has easy-to-use controls. You double-press its play/pause button to skip tracks and triple-press it to backtrack. There's also a knob around the play/pause button to control its volume, and the RGB light ring adjusts to let you know your chosen volume level. When you max out the volume, the RGB ring flashes and the sound cuts out for a quick second. The speaker chimes and displays a blue indicator light while in Bluetooth pairing mode. There's a battery life indicator light underneath the power button, and the power button itself turns orange when the speaker is off and is charging. You can also use the Bass Boost button to bump up the bass in your audio. You can set it to two levels: Deep or Punchy. Its indicator light changes shade to inform you of your selected Bass Boost setting. You can use the TWS button to connect the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential to another PartyBox Encore speaker to create a stereo pair; you can find its instructions here.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL PartyBox Encore Essential
  • Power cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety Booklet

Sound
7.8
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.15
Std. Err.
2.59 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
39.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.0 kHz

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential's frequency response accuracy is very good. With its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep', it has a neutral sound profile overall, making it great for listening to a wide variety of audio content. If you're a fan of bass-heavy music, this mighty speaker can also produce quite an extended low-bass for its size, which can get deeper than that of the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. If you want to pump up the bass even more, you can set its Bass Boost feature to 'Punchy' too. Unlike the PartyBox On-The-Go, it's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, which features a graphic EQ you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.6
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
6.38 dB
Stereo
Yes

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential's soundstage performance is alright. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, so you can hear sound effects and instruments moving from one side of the speaker to the other. For example, if a song has the guitar on the left and the cymbals on the right, you'll hear the guitar coming from the left side of the JBL Encore Essential and the cymbals from the right. However, it has a narrow and directional-sounding soundstage since it only projects audio from the front side of the speaker, as opposed to speakers with 360-degree designs. As a result, your audio sounds slightly different when listening from different angles, like when you're listening from behind the speaker.

7.0
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
95.0 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.63 dB

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential has a decent dynamics performance. It gets loud enough to fill large spaces with sound, though it doesn't get quite as loud as the JBL PartyBox 110 and the JBL PartyBox 310. That said, much like the other JBL PartyBox speakers we've tested, the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential gets a performance boost of around 3dB when connected to a power outlet, reaching a maximum volume level of around 98dB. The test results above represent the JBL Encore Essential's dynamics performance while operating on battery power.

That said, there's quite a bit of compression present at max volume that affects the quality of your audio at louder volume levels, so your audio doesn't sound as clear when you blast the JBL Encore Essential's volume.

Active Features
7.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
8.6 hrs
Charge Time
2.6 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
AC

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential has a good battery performance. While it's advertised to have a battery life of around six hours, it could reach up to over eight hours in our tests with its RGB lights off and its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep'. It could also reach a complete charge in under three hours, as opposed to the advertised 3.5 hours, which is also great. That said, battery performance varies depending on your usage habits and chosen settings, like if you have the RGB lights on or off or if you use the speaker to charge devices like your phone. There's a power-saving feature that shuts the JBL Encore Essential off following 20 minutes of inactivity.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone
7.9
Active Features
App
App Name
JBL PartyBox
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

Unlike the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go, the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, so you have access to many features like a graphic EQ to tweak its sound, extra DJ sound effects, light show effects, and karaoke effects. If you're far from the speaker, you can also use the app to set its BassBoost feature to 'Deep' or 'Punchy' instead of setting it manually. You can use the app to connect the JBL Encore Essential to another Encore speaker to create a stereo pair, and you can assign each speaker either the left or right channel. You can also connect it to either a JBL PartyBox 110, JBL PartyBox 310, or a JBL PartyBox 710 to amplify your audio in a party mode, though you can't connect it to more than one speaker at a time. You can find the instructions for connecting it to compatible speakers here.

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

Aside from its charging port, the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential comes with an AUX input you can use to wire your devices to the speaker. Like other PartyBox speakers we've tested, it comes with a mic input with its very own gain knob, and you can even control its bass, treble, and echo via its companion app. There's also a USB-A port you can use to charge your devices, like your phone, via the speaker. That said, while this USB-A port can't be used to playback audio directly from your devices like your phone or your laptop, you can still use it to playback your audio from a USB stick.

8.9
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Bluetooth iOS Latency
57 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
94 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential has excellent Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair up to two devices to the speaker at once, which is great if you want to quickly and easily switch between audio sources. It has an outstanding range, so your paired devices remain paired to the speaker even from far away. Also, unlike the JBL PartyBox 110 and the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go, it has low latency with iOS and Android devices, so the audio you hear remains in sync with the visuals you see on your screen when using the speaker to watch videos and movies.

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

This review represents the test results for the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential variant, which is advertised to have a six-hour battery life that doesn't come with an included microphone. It only comes in one color variant: Black. You can find the label for the model tested here. JBL also announced there will be a JBL PartyBox Encore variant with a longer, 10-hour advertised battery life and with a microphone included in the box. This variant has yet to be released as of writing this review, we'll update it once it's launched.

If you come across any other variants of the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update the review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a portable party speaker from JBL's PartyBox lineup, like the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. While it's the smallest speaker from this lineup that we've tested at the time of the review, the JBL Encore Essential still packs a punch, with a bass that gets as deep as that of the larger JBL PartyBox 110, and it gets pretty loud too. Unlike the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go and the JBL PartyBox 100, it's compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, which lets you access extra party features like sound effects and light show features. There's a graphic EQ to customize its sound to your liking too. That said, unlike other speakers in this lineup, while it has a mic input to wire an external microphone to the speaker, you can't wire an external instrument like a guitar to it.

Check out our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers, the best speakers for parties, and the loudest Bluetooth speakers.

JBL PartyBox 110

The JBL PartyBox 110 is a better speaker than the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential. The 110 can get slightly louder with less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. It has better directivity, resulting in a wider and more open-sounding soundstage. It also has a longer-lasting battery life of almost 15 hours, making it better suited to longer listening sessions. It also comes with mic and guitar inputs. That said, the Encore packs the same amount of bass at a much smaller size and more at a more affordable price point. It still gets quite loud. While it doesn't come with a guitar input, you can still wire a mic to the speaker via its mic input.

JBL Boombox 2

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a better speaker than the JBL Boombox 2 for parties. The Encore Essential can produce a more extended low-bass with its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep', and has party features like a mic input with its own gain knob and a customizable RGB light ring. It's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app you can use to access extra sound effects and light show effects of the speaker. If you're looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker to take outdoors with you, the Boombox 2 is a bit lighter and is better built with an IPX7 rating for water resistance. It also has a significantly longer-lasting battery life of almost 24 hours. It gets a touch louder, with slightly less compression at max volume, and has a slightly wider-sounding soundstage, though these slight differences aren't too noticeable.

JBL PartyBox 100

At a similar price point, the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a slightly better speaker than the JBL PartyBox 100. The Encore is more feature-packed at a smaller and more portable size. It can produce a more extended low-bass with its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep'.  It's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, which features a graphic EQ to customize its sound, party sound effects, and light show effects. That said, since it's larger, the 100 can get louder with much less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volume levels. It has a slightly longer-lasting 10-hour battery life. It also offers a wider and more spacious soundstage and comes with an extra guitar input.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a better speaker than the JBL PartyBox On-The-Go. The Encore offers a better-balanced sound profile with its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep'. It's also compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, which lets you access extra party features like sound effects and light show features. There's a graphic EQ you can use to tweak its sound profile to your liking. It also has a longer-lasting battery life of over 8 hours. The On-The-Go features an extra guitar input and comes with a microphone in the box.

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM

The Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM is a better speaker for music than the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential overall. The Ultimate Ears can get louder with significantly less compression present at max volume, so the audio quality is cleaner when you blast your music. It offers a wider-sounding soundstage too, and its battery life of almost 24 hours makes it much better suited for longer listening sessions. That said, if you're looking for a speaker packed with party features, the JBL is better. The JBL can produce a deeper and thumpier low bass. It comes with a customizable RGB light ring and a mic input. You can use its companion app to access extra sound effects and light show features, and you can customize the sound of your connected microphone.

Sony SRS-XG500

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XG500. The JBL offers a better-balanced sound profile with its Bass Boost feature set to 'Deep' and can produce a deeper and thumpier low-bass at a more affordable price point. That said, while both speakers feature a mic input, you can use the Sony speaker's mic input to wire a guitar to the speaker. It has a longer-lasting battery life of almost 26 hours. It's compatible with Sony's Fiestable app, while the JBL is compatible with the JBL PartyBox app, which lets you access the speaker's extra party features.

SOUNDBOKS Go

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential is a better speaker than the SOUNDBOKS Go. The JBL has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a deeper and thumpier low-bass. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, resulting in a more immersive soundstage. It comes with a mic input whose sound you can customize in its companion app. It's also smaller and better built with an IPX4 rating for water resistance. However, the SOUNDBOKS can get much louder. It also has a longer-lasting battery life of over 35 hours from a single charge, so the speaker doesn't die on you in the middle of the party.

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