JBL Charge 5 BT, IP-rated portable speaker – seriously good (AV review)

The JBL Charge 5 is a Bluetooth, IP67-rated, portable speaker with a superb JBL Original Pro sound signature and up to 20 hours of battery life. It is perfect for parties, the beach, and you can stereo pair, too.

JBL’s comprehensive BT portable speaker range

Before we review this, let’s look at JBL’s BT portable waterproof range – it is the largest of any brand, and there is something for everyone.

Note prices are RRP as of 11 October 2023. There may be discounts for Black Friday and other sales.

  • Go Essential ($49.95), and Go 3 ($59.95). These small, great, IP67 waterproof mono speakers are suitable for personal listening. The Go 3 comes in a range of colours, hits 85dB (loud) and has a mid-centric sound signature with a hint of mid-bass.
  • Clip ($89.95) is much like a Go with a backpack carabine lanyard. Its rugged design is for camping and backpacking. It is mono with decent high-bass, solid flat response to 13kHz and then a gradual drop to 20kHz. It has a slightly warmer sound than the Go series.
  • Flip Essential 2 ($129.95) and Flip 6 ($169.95) are your typical BT portable speakers with decent battery life, the characteristic big passive radiators at each end and rubberised fabric to take knocks. These have some mid-bass from 50Hz (excellent) and a flat (good) response to 18kHz. This is authentic JBL sound, which is hard to do in an IP67-sealed speaker.
  • Charge ($199.95) and Charge 2 Essential ($179.95) add bigger batteries to act as a power bank. It also can use the JBL App for Android and iOS. They can join with up to 100 like-minded JBL speakers using Party Boost, including Xtreme 3, Boombox 2, Pulse 4 and Flip 5. It reaches 85dB, has significant low-to-mid-bass, powerful high-bass and flat to about 8kHz (low treble). It covers all the essential audio characteristics. The top end is a little harsh, but back off a few dB, and that goes. Read JBL Charge 5 BT, IP-rated portable speaker – seriously good
  • Pulse 5 ($379.95). We have not reviewed the Pusle range, which has a 360° light show, IP67, long battery life, PartyBoost, and deep bass.
  • Xtreme 3 ($399.95 – this review) can belt out a stereo, refined yet overloud 90dB from four speakers, two passive radiators delivering terrific low-mid-high bass, and that JBL Original Pro sound signature.
  • PartyBox Encore ($349.95) and PartyBox 310 ($699.95). We have not reviewed the Encore, but previous models had terrific 100W mono party sound, an RGB light show, wired mic input and stereo pairing. Loud and proud.
  • Boombox 3 ($699.95) is the mother of all portable speakers with stereo, 180W, and up to 24 hours of playtime.

Now you know the range, on with the indefatigable JBL Charge 5.

Australian review: JBL Charge 5

WebsiteBluetooth Speaker range page, Product Page and Manual
Price$199.95, but shop around as it has been seen at $159.00
FromJBL Online, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Betta, Bing Lee, Myer, Officeworks
Warranty1-year ACL
Made inChina
CompanyJBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing. (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing.) It is now part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.
MoreCyberShack JBL news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Passable (meets low expectations), Pass (meets expectations), Pass+ (near Exceed but not class-leading) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – so many pretty colours – Pass+

I wish JBL would stop sending Black speakers for review, especially when it has red, pink, teal, blue, forest green and grey colours. There is nothing wrong with Black – it is just so yesterday.

 It has a bold JBL steel grey logo (on our black version), but otherwise, it’s a typical waterproof, rubberised fabric-covered cylinder with a little middle-age spread and a rubber base. It sits in landscape mode – it is not a 360° speaker. Size is 223 x 96.5 x 94mm x .98kg.

Controls are power on/off, BT, +/- volume and fast forward. There is a dedicated PartyBoost button, so you don’t need the app.

It is 223 x 96.5 x 94 mm x .96kg.

BT – Pass

It has BT 5.1, 16-bit/44100Hz, SBC codec. It is supposed to support multi-point (two concurrent devices). We tested with an OPPO FindX5 and Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, and it is not straightforward. It will connect to either device but won’t swap to the other. So it Fails the multi-point test, e.g. seamless swapping without having to re-pair Bluetooth. This is not an issue for most users.

BT distance is a maximum of 30 metres, but we felt that 10-15m was reliable.

JBL Portable App Android and iOS – Basic – Pass

The JBL Portable App is for firmware updates, PartyBoost, shows battery charge, and has a basic EQ. You can also turn off the startup sound and refer to the online guide. It is not necessary to use the App.

JBL PartyBoost or Stereo pair (not tested)

PartyBoost can join with up to 100 like-minded JBL speakers. These include Xtreme 3, Boombox 2, Pulse 4 and Flip 5.

It can stereo pair.

Placement – Pass

It is for landscape use – the front-firing speakers and side-firing radiators don’t work well in corners or bookshelves. Nor should you try portrait mode. While JBL has thoughtfully designed the end caps to lift the speaker off the surface to help disperse the passive bass, it only works moderately well on sound-reflective surfaces.

Battery – Pass or Pass+

JBL claims up to 20 hours of playtime from its 3.6V/7.5A/27W battery. This is (as every other speaker does) a rubbery marketing figure and depends on volume (tested usually at 50%), the Bluetooth host providing a strong -20dBm EIRP signal (Effective Isotropic Radiated Power – lower is better) and placed within one meter and any bass boost or EQ disabled. In short, it is something you cannot achieve.

There is a battery indicator light bar on the front.

We tested a continuous loop from a BT 5.3 host as follows (times rounded to the nearest 15 minutes):

  • 50% volume (55dB)– 16 hours
  • 75% volume (75db) – 12.25 hours
  • 100% volume (85dB) – 6 hours

Charging – Pass

It can charge at 5V/3A/15W but settles to 5V/2A/10W for about a 4-hour charge. No charger is inbox, and you can use any USB-C PD charger.

Power bank – Pass

The USB-A port is capable of 5V/2A/10W charging. To put that in perspective, the 27Wh battery should charge an iPhone about 1.5 times. This reduces playing time. It can charge a USB device while charging, increasing the speaker’s charge time.

IP67 – Pass+

1m for 30 minutes, provided the charge-out socket cover is in place. It does not float.

Missing – no deal breakers

  • No charger. If you use a 5V/2A/10W charger, it will take closer to six hours
  • No mic (it is not a hands-free or Wi-Fi voice assistant speaker
  • Aux-in port – BT only
  • No USB-C data

What is inside? Pass+

It has one 90 x 52mm 30W woofer and one 20mm 10W tweeter. This means claimed coverage from 60Hz (mid-bass) to 20kHz (high treble). In addition, it has passive bass radiators at each end.

How does it sound? Exceed

JBL calls it original Pro Sound, and it is pretty much a neutral sound signature (the best) with added bass. This speaker produces excellent sound, especially as it is IP67-rated.

Low bass cuts in from 40Hz (claimed 60Hz) and steadily builds through mid-bass to 100Hz, where it is flat (good) to 7kHz, has a slight dip to avoid harshness (good) and then flat to 20kHz. I cannot stress enough that this is close to nirvana for a mono speaker. I would have liked to try a stereo pair, but I doubt that it could not have improved the signature apart from widening the sound stage.

It gets loud – 85dB with some distortion, but back off a few dB, which is not an issue.

The sound stage is not relevant with a front-firing mono speaker.

CyberShack’s view – JBL Charge 5 is a seriously good BT, IP-rated portable speaker

It is the speaker you buy when you need more than JBL Flip. JBL has done a remarkable job on an IP67-rated sealed speaker.

Its competitors are the $249 BlueAnt X3i BT speaker – BT, IP67 and loud and the $329.95 Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 (not tested). The JBL Charge 5 is both the class and price leader.


After we complete a deep-dive, we can read other reviews, and a few issues seem to crop up.

  • Not BT multi-point. JBL claims it is, so we re-tested. It will multipoint from some smartphones to a Windows 11 device but not vice versa. It depends on the devices.
  • Battery life. While the ‘up to 20 hours claim’ is theoretically accurate, you will get between 6-16 hours in typical use. Every other manufacturer uses the same testing method. It is like saying a car can do 200kph, but does it?
  • No 3.5mm AUX-in. While this would be nice, it is not a deal breaker. BT is more common these days.
  • No charger inbox. If Apple, Samsung, Google Pixel, Nokia and others can get away with it, JBL, a Samsung-owned company, will too.
  • Not a speakerphone. Nor is it advertised as such.
  • No EQ in the App – that has long been addressed.


  • Features: 90 It has everything expected of an IP67 BT portable speaker
  • Value: 95 – It is class and price leading
  • Performance: 95 – excellent sound signature and loads of volume
  • Ease of Use: 90 Charge and go. You don’t need the App
  • Design: 85 – It is nice to have colours, but all these BT waterproof speakers look the same

JBL Charge 5 BT, IP-rated portable speaker

$199.95 but seen for $159







Ease of use





  • Excellent flat, neutral sound signature – impressive for a water-resistant speaker
  • Nice, satisfying bass
  • Big battery and power bank facility
  • No better sound at this price
  • Both the class and price leader


  • None - it meets or exceeds marketing specifications.