“I know what happened out here. You started your campfire, you drank your whiskey, and you cranked that music up until the battery died!” It was a correct assessment by the desert guide who was giving my SUV a needed jump. While his two clients clicked away photos of this high-stakes rescue mission, the guide and my pals laughed at our dilemma…now that our ride home was running again.
That scene played out many years ago, and I’ve avoided any repeat episodes with two simple words: Bluetooth speakers. These little wireless beauties not only allow you to stream hours of audio straight from your phone or computer, but also ensure that you won’t drain the battery on your trusty steed in order to keep the party going. I’ve used an array of speakers over the years- some good, some downright atrocious. This year, I was lucky enough to test the best one I’ve ever laid hands on: The Charge 3 wireless speaker by JBL.
The Charge 3 has some pretty impressive features. I’ll keep the list short, but here are the highlights:
• Wireless Bluetooth streaming (up to 3 devices can connect a a time)
• 20 hours of playback time (6,000mAH powerbank)
• Speakerphone capability
• IPX7 Waterproofing (withstands spills and brief submerging in water)
• JBL Connect (connect multiple speakers together to really rock the place out)
These are all nice features, but the truth is it’s all about the sound. JBL has a pretty good rep in the phonics game, and the Charge 3 carries on the tradition. Bottom line: this speaker bumps! From backyard BBQs to long weekends in the woods, I was impressed by the sound every time. Vocals come in crystal clear, mid-range audio is very balanced, and there is no annoying bass rattle that occurs with other speakers. Simply put, music sounds great out of the JBL Charge no matter if you’re pumping T. Swift or T. Pain.
And those other features, well, they check out as well. The 20 hours of playback time is no embellishment; in fact, I found myself not having to charge this speaker for weeks at a time. It has enough reserve energy to charge a cellphone via lightning cable, which can come in handy if you run out of juice during a weekend getaway. The speakerphone is surprisingly clear and usable. Other speakers offer this feature, but I feel like I may actually use this on the Charge 3 beyond more than just a casual test. As with any outdoor portable speaker, weather/waterproofing is a must, and the Charge 3 is definitely able to take a beating. My unit has endured rain and extreme heat without any ill effects.
Also worth noting is the rugged build of the JBL Charge 3. Chunky rubber housing protects the delicate bits (charging and connection area), while heavyweight fabric near the speakers feel like it is made for the long haul. My hope is that this speaker will last me for quite a while, providing tunes at many future camping spots. Also, my girlfriend absolutely loved the aqua-blue color of the speaker I tested. Kudos for making these in more than just standard-issue black, JBL. At a price of $149, it is a bit spendy, but my opinion is that you get what you pay for with electronic gadgets. The high-quality audio and bomber build on this wireless speaker are worth the dough.
The Good: The Charge 3 sounds great and can take a beating in the outdoors.
The Bad: No complaints!
The Verdict: If you don’t mind dropping some sheckles for top quality audio, the JBL Charge will have you rocking in your campsites for years to come.