The JBL Charge Essential impressed in the test with its good sound, which stands out for its price range. Fortunately, JBL does not limit itself to the “essentials” when it comes to equipment and offers a well-rounded overall picture with water protection, useful functions and a very good Bluetooth range. The battery life can also be impressive, but it takes longer to charge. For its price, the Charge Essential is worth considering, despite its restrained bass. We explain to you what you should look for when buying a Bluetooth speaker.
JBL Charge Essential Review: More than just the essentials
The Flip 5 has already shown the way, now with the JBL Charge Essential, the next “essential” loudspeaker from the audio expert is in the starting blocks. But instead of, as the name suggests, limiting itself to the basic properties of a Bluetooth speaker, JBL has given the Charge a rather extensive range of features. Apart from the long-range Bluetooth connection, the integrated power bank, for example, stands out, with which smartphones and the like can benefit from charging the speaker directly via USB, a very practical feature.
Although the Charge Essential does not have the option of being coupled with additional speakers to form the surround system, it allows two players to be connected at the same time. It is interesting that these can alternate with playback if desired. This automatically switches back and forth between the playlists of the two devices. JBL names a "DJ Battle" as an exemplary application. Should the situation escalate during a music fight and the loudspeaker ends up in the pool, it is IPX7 certified and protected against most water damage.
The play / pause and volume buttons are located directly on the sturdy rubber housing. These regulate the volume via the connected devices. In addition to Bluetooth, the interfaces also include the classic Aux; is charged via microUSB. WLAN and NFC have not been used here, but a hands-free function for incoming calls is integrated.
JBL Charge Essential Test: More than cheap sound
For its price range under 100 euros, the JBL Charge Essential with its two 50mm drivers also does well in the sound check. Our testers especially like the pleasant height presentation, which works out, for example, clicking cymbals without sounding too "toxic" and exhausting. The bass is okay in the medium volume range, but does not reach into the low bass range and is not particularly suitable for parties at higher volumes. In bass-intensive songs, even at room volume, there is sometimes a lack of strength in the lower frequency ranges. Apart from that, the bass blends in very well.
Voices are pleasant and clear podcasts or audio books also sound natural on the mobile speaker. Overall, the Charge Essential turns out to be a balanced and natural-sounding loudspeaker in the test, especially for its price range, no model on our best list delivers better for the price. Even the more expensive Charge 4 does not do better in the sound test.
Good for on the go
With its sturdy rubber cover, water protection and power bank function, the JBL Charge Essential looks like an excellent mobile speaker. In fact, the speaker hardly lags in the other mobility aspects either. Above all, the 6,000 mAh battery can convince with a runtime of 18:33 hours at normal volume, but its charging time of 5:47 hours is quite long. This is partly due to the now outdated microUSB standard, which is used to charge the JBL with a separately available power supply. If the battery runs out, this is communicated in good time via the integrated battery LED.
The physical structure of a loudspeaker is of course also essential for mobility. With a size of 21.3 x 8.7 x 9 centimeters, the Charge Essential doesn't take up too much space in your pocket. With a weight of around 782 grams, it is not too heavy and is also slightly lighter than the 960 gram Charge 4.
JBL Charge Essential Pros:
- Good sound for less than 100 euros
- Surprisingly extensive equipment
- Strong Bluetooth range
- Good battery life
JBL Charge Essential Cons:
- Bass not suitable for parties
- Long battery charging time