JBL’s Boombox line is the second-largest in their repertoire of portable Bluetooth speakers, following the behemoth PartyBox models (see my PartyBox 110 vs 310 article).
They’re perfect for outdoor parties on account of their incredible loudness and durability.
In summary, the JBL Boombox 2 offers a slight edge in loudness and clarity over its predecessor, but only when plugged in and cranked up to louder volumes. This is thanks to the extra 20W output power the Boombox 2’s woofers provide. Another notable difference would be the updated Bluetooth in the newer model, which allows for improved range and better syncing in video playback.
Let's get to their nuts and bolts.
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
Room acoustics, particularly room dimensions and speaker positioning, will have an immense effect on sound quality.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is why I'd hiiiiiiighly recommend you to check out this simple, 2D, online speaker placement calculator.
It's GOOOOLLLDDDDD. I've had an Acoustics & Audio PhD build this tool specifically for this purpose:
- Ceiling height: 106 inches or 8 feet 10 inches or 2.70 meters
- Most standard ceiling height
- Listener's height: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Average height of a sitting person
Central heights of speakers (measured from the ground) and examples to them:
- Soundbars: 30 inches or 2 feet 6 inches or 0.75 meters
- 8", 10" or 12" Subwoofers: 8 inches or 0.20 meters
- 360 degree speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Horizontal speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Floor standing speakers: 20 inches or 1 feet 8 inches or 0.50 meters
- Bookshelf speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Center speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
Side note: This tool can and will return inaccurate results for small, portable Bluetooth speakers such as JBL's Go Series. It will, however, deliver just fine for more powerful, packed bluetooth speakers such as this one.
ASAP Science made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (time adjusted video).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But much less.
Did you know you could also virtually hear any speaker online?
Crutchfield had recently created a tool that virtually simulates the sounds of many different speakers; such as those of SVS, Klipsch, KEF and B&W. Nothing will, of course, beat hearing the speakers in reality. But I'd still recommend you to give it a shot.
While you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test them:
If you check out the spec sheet of the JBL Boombox on the manufacturer’s official website, you’ll find that it boasts two 4-inch woofers with a total output of 60W when plugged in and 40W when in battery mode.
As for the JBL Boombox 2, it also features two 4-inch woofers but with a bit of added oomph. In AC mode, you’ll get a cumulative output of 80W, and in battery mode, it’s lowered slightly to 60W.
Both models include two 20mm tweeters for better rendering high-frequency sounds and added sound imaging.
The woofer wattage dictates the overall loudness of the device and can also help audio sound clearer. Since both speakers have the same frequency response of 50 – 20,000 Hz, this means that the sound profiles are essentially the same.
With all that being said, the JBL Boombox 2 has a modest edge in overall sound performance.
Size And Weight
If you’re seeing the JBL Boombox and JBL Boombox 2 for the first time, it can be a little tough to tell them apart. Both speakers share a similar cylindrical shape with a large overarching handle and the trademark JBL logo in the middle. But if you take a close look at the specs, you’ll see that the JBL Boombox has dimensions of 458.5 x 254.5 x 195.5mm, whereas the JBL Boombox 2 sits at 484 x 201 x 256 mm.
This means that the newer model is a fair bit bigger than the original, albeit slightly shorter. It’s also noticeably heavier, as it weighs 13 lbs compared to the JBL Boombox’s 11.57 lbs. That’s a 1.43-pound difference.
How big and heavy a device can matter quite a bit as far as portable speakers are concerned, so if you prefer something a little smaller and lighter, then you may be better off sticking with the original.
One of the improvements the JBL Boombox 2 has over its older sibling is the improved Bluetooth technology. The original came with Bluetooth version 4.2, while its successor sports version 5.1. As a result, the newer model can stay connected to a device up to 50 feet away. The JBL Boombox, on the other hand, only has a range of up to approximately 33 feet.
Bluetooth 5.1 also provides better audio syncing when watching movies, which is exceedingly important if you plan on using your speaker to watch movies and TV shows.
Bluetooth aside, the older model actually features two USB ports that you can use to siphon a charge from the speaker battery. In comparison, the JBL Boombox 2 only has one.
Although it’s not a feature that’s used too often these days, it’s worth noting that the original JBL Boombox has a speakerphone built into it, while its successor does not. This isn’t of much consequence since most of the devices that connect to the speaker have their own speakerphone, but some users may be specifically looking for a portable speaker with a speakerphone feature.
As of writing, the JBL Boombox is priced at $399.99, while the JBL Boombox 2 costs $499.95.
At the end of the day, the JBL Boombox 2 is better than the base model, though not that much. You’ll get a bit more sound output and a more advanced Bluetooth connection, but in return, you’ll need to deal with a slightly bigger and heavier device.
As for value for money, it really isn’t worth upgrading to the JBL Boombox 2 if you already own the original. But if you’re a first-time investor in the JBL Boombox line and you can’t find the original on sale, then you’re better off picking up the JBL Boombox 2.