JBL Charge 5 – The popular JBL Charge 4 is getting a successor
The popular JBL Charge 4 is getting a successor. What the JBL Charge 5 has to offer and whether it is an adequate successor to its successful predecessor, you will find out here in the test.
With the fifth generation, JBL presents its successful Charge model with a decent successor. While it has all the features of its predecessor, the Charge 5 also comes with a successful facelift and an improved sound performance, which, however, sounds more tiring due to its clearly more noticeable trebles.
In the wide range that JBL has in store with its Bluetooth speakers, one of the most popular models is getting an offspring. The best-seller JBL Charge 4 has been on the market since 2018. After two and a half years, the JBL Charge 5 has a visible facelift and some technical innovations.
In our review, we take a closer look and show you whether the new generation is worth buying and what it does better than its predecessor. Does an upgrade to the Charge 5 make sense for owners of the Charge 4? Is the JBL Charge 5 the right entry-level device for the world of Bluetooth speakers?
JBL Charge 5 test: New case, same shape
When you take the new JBL Charge 5 out of the box for the first time, the new facelift is the first big eye-catcher. The new generation has become more belly-shaped, the logo emblazoned on the front has become bigger and is a direct eye-catcher. We also liked several other new design elements in the test, such as the slightly different passive bass radiators and the rubber lip that frames the ends of the speaker.
JBL does not start a design revolution with the JBL Charge 5 compared to its predecessor. Still, they managed to give the newcomer an interesting new touch and differentiate it significantly from the predecessor’s design. For instance, a new battery display is also on board. The battery indicator is now placed more precisely and nicely on the front in the form of a bar. Controls, such as the buttons, remain in the same style as the predecessor. They keep their usual place on the top of the box.
Not surprisingly, the design and craftsmanship still have the same high quality and robustness that JBL is known for, which is also reflected in the technical specifications. While the JBL Charge 4 had to make do with water resistance class IPX7, the new JBL Charge 5 has an IP67 protection grade. While the previous model was “only” waterproof, the new Charge 5 is also dust-proof, so you don’t have to fear a dusty and dry environment with the new Charge 5, in addition to the pool or the sea.
A USB-C port for charging the 7500 mAh battery is located on the back with the included cable. There is also a regular USB port next to it, protected by a rubber strap, which you can use to charge your smartphone or tablet, for example. The new Charge is also equipped with a redesigned base to prevent the round box from rolling away. It is now much easier to grip and also looks good (even though you probably won’t see it very often). Furthermore, the new speaker weighs the same at 2 lbs (960 grams) and the dimensions have barely changed with just a few additional millimeters.
The sound quality of the JBL Charge 5
But it is not only the appearance of the Charge 5 that is new. Something has also changed compared to the predecessor. The update that JBL has given its new generation is much more noticeable than when the Charge 3 was replaced by the fourth generation.
For the first time, a pair of drivers consisting of a 20 mm tweeter and a 52 x 90 mm full-range driver slumber inside the JBL Charge 5, supported by passive bass radiators at the ends of the speaker, as was the case with the predecessor. While the JBL Charge 4 still had to make do with a single full-range driver and bass radiators, the fifth generation brings a tweeter dedicated solely to treble performance.
This additional power is noticeable in the new JBL Charge 5 and makes a big step in terms of sound compared to the already outstanding performance of the Charge 4. The power output has also increased by ten watts. Therefore, a remarkable 40 watts now resound from the speaker tube. During the listening test, we listened to several tracks from different genres via Apple Music. In direct comparison with the predecessor, a clear difference is apparent. The new family member not only sounds rounder and ” cleaner ” in the bass range, but the mids and trebles especially make their way out of the new tweeter much clearer and sharper.
Electronic, bass-driven tracks get a bit more clarity in the low end on the Charge 5 than on the Charge 4. As a result, the new generation manages to produce a clearer bass on some tracks that don’t overlap with the other frequencies as quickly and don’t take control too much. On the contrary – nuances such as hi-hats or shakers only become clearly audible on the new generation.
To get the best performance out of the JBL speaker, positioning plays a significant role. Like previous generations, the Charge 5 feels most comfortable in spacious surroundings or outdoors. Especially at higher volumes, the powerful lows may overshadow the other frequency ranges, particularly in small rooms. As a result, the sound quality becomes a bit fuzzy and undifferentiated here and there.
Under the right conditions, the maximum volume of the Charge 5 is quite impressive. Distortions are barely noticeable up to a volume of about 70%. Only in the last part of the impressive volume level does the sound picture increasingly start to distort. Spoken audio content like podcasts or audiobooks also sounds great over JBL’s newest family member. Voices always sound clear and clean from the Charge 5, whether at low or high volumes. Especially at low volumes, voices do not become a mess of S and Z sounds but remain well understandable.
To guarantee a stable Bluetooth connection even over longer ranges, JBL has equipped the new generation with Bluetooth 5.1. This means a connection across several rooms or even across a large area is no problem. There is no need to worry about stuttering playback, even if you go into another room with your smartphone.
The powerful battery also provides for a continuous listening experience. As with the predecessor, a powerful 7500 mAh battery is hidden inside the JBL Charge 5, which provides the box with a runtime of about 20 hours, which the Charge 5 can easily manage at medium volume.
There is also a practical power bank function, like in the previous version. You can use the USB port on the back to charge your smartphone or tablet. You have to consider the reduced runtime. But, the battery is fully charged again after only four hours at the power outlet via the included USB-C cable. The box does not come with a power adapter, though.
The JBL Portable app
The new Charge generation also gives you full control over your JBL speakers via the JBL Portable app. For instance, the app allows you to pair multiple JBL speakers in stereo mode (for the same models) or synchronous playback (even for different models) with up to 100 speakers.
However, it gets a bit complicated at this point, since not all models are compatible with each other. If you own the predecessor Charge 4, for example, you have no way to pair them with its new successor. JBL’s speakers are currently divided into four different “classes” that indicate which models are compatible with each other. The new Charge 5 is on the “Party Boost” team, and the Charge 4 supports Connect+.
JBL Charge 5 – Conclusion
With the new generation of the popular Charge series, the sound experts from JBL once again bring a great Bluetooth speaker to the market. This new design makes a strong visual impact and looks more dynamic than its predecessor. But the real winning factor is the improved sound. Even though the changes are not mind-blowing compared to the Charge 4, they are clearly noticeable.
It is not only the lows that sound much better than before but also the fine resolution of the high and medium frequencies as well as the overall sound clarity that make the JBL Charge 5 a superb speaker. Pitfalls are the lack of compatibility between different JBL models and the severely limited app.
So if you already have a Charge 4, you should take the opportunity to listen to the new generation beforehand and see if it’s worth an upgrade for you. Finally, for those looking for a new or even their first Bluetooth speaker, the Charge 5 is definitely one of the best in its size range and has everything you need.