JBL Boombox 2 vs Boombox 3

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JBL Boombox 2 vs Boombox 3 1

Winner

JBL Boombox 3

The Boombox 3, while similar in many ways to the Boombox 2, has deeper bass, better weather resistance, and improved dynamics over the Boombox 2.

JBL’s Boombox series merges portability and power, creating a versatile Bluetooth speaker that can be used for just about everything. Its signature style infuses elements of traditional boombox speakers while incorporating the benefits of modern technology. Whether you’re shooting hoops or enjoying a barbeque with friends and family, the Boombox has you covered. Recently JBL launched the Boombox 3, but is it worth the extra price tag? Or are you better off sticking with the Boombox 2? Let’s find out.

ModelBoombox 2Boombox 3
Water ResistanceIPX7IP67
Output Power160W136-180W
Bluetooth Version5.15.3
Bluetooth ProfilesA2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
Battery LifeUp to 24 HoursUp to 24 Hours
Charging Time6.5 Hours6.5 Hours
Frequency Response50 Hz – 20 kHz40 Hz – 20 kHz
WoofersDual Midrange1x Subwoofer, Dual Midrange
TweetersDual TweetersDual Tweeters
TWSYesYes
Party PairingYes (PartyBoost)Yes (PartyBoost)
Weight13 lbs14.7 lbs
Dimensions19.1 x 7.9 x 10.1″19.0 x 7.9 x 10.1″
App SupportJBL PartyBoxJBL PartyBox
Price:Check PriceCheck Price

Design, Build, & Durability

The Boombox 2 and Boombox 3 share very similar designs, with an integrated handle and fabric-wrapped body. It has a classic boombox-style design. There isn’t much difference in dimensions, with both speakers measuring around 19″ long and 10″ tall. The Boombox 3 is slightly heavier, due to some internal changes covered in the audio section below. These speakers can be used indoors or outdoors, with fairly robust weather protection and a focus on durability.

Durability

Winner: Tied

The JBL Boombox 2 and 3 both feature durable builds made from high-quality plastics and have fabric wrap that covers the majority of the body. This wrap helps protect them from scratches and general cosmetic damage. The buttons and accents are long-lasting and there aren’t any known flaws in the durability of these parts. Still, because the carry handle forms an integral part of the speaker’s design, one should be careful not to drop the speaker as damage to the handle can occur from excessive impact.

Portability

Winner: Tied

Both speakers are highly portable and both measure around 19″ long, they are limited mostly by their weight, which shouldn’t be a problem outside of those with severe physical limitations. The Boombox 2 is slightly lighter than the Boombox 3 (by 1.7 lbs). However, this weight difference doesn’t make the Boombox 3 feel any more of a burden in practice. They both have similar handle designs, which wrap across each side of the speaker, forming a part of the body. This handle makes both speakers easy to carry.

Weather Resistance

Winner: Boombox 3

The Boombox 3 has more comprehensive weather resistance, featuring dust and water protection, sporting an IP67 rating. The Boombox 2 holds a similar IPX7 rating, which offers the same protection against water intrusion but lacks the dust protection provided by the Boombox 3. Both IPX7 and IP67 ratings protect the speakers from rain, splashes, powered sprays, and submergence in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes.

The Boombox isn’t supposed to be left in water, but both speakers do float. While I would never recommend placing these speakers into the water on purpose, some brave customers of the Boombox 2 use the floating feature as a way to keep their speakers in the pool with them. In this regard, the Boombox 2 does a better job of floating than the Boombox 3, which while still floating, doesn’t maintain its position and tends to roll around. But again, the speaker is not intended for this use.

Controls, Connectivity & App Support

There isn’t much difference in the controls, connectivity, or app support between the Boombox 2 and Boombox 3 with both speakers using the JBL Portable app. Bluetooth connectivity was marginally improved, but otherwise, there is little that separates the connectivity of these two speakers.

** The regular Boombox 3 doesn’t come with Wi-Fi connectivity, but there is a Wi-Fi-enabled variant model available at a higher price.

JBL Boombox 2

  • Bluetooth version
    5.1
  • Bluetooth profiles
    A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
  • Bluetooth frequency
    2.402 GHz – 2.480 GHz
  • Bluetooth transmitter modulation
    GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
  • Bluetooth transmitter power
    ≤ 10 dBm (EIRP)

JBL Boombox 3

  • Bluetooth version
    5.3
  • Bluetooth profiles
    A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.6
  • Bluetooth frequency range
    2.402 GHz – 2.480 GHz
  • Bluetooth® transmitter modulation
    GFSK, π/4 DQPSK, 8DPSK
  • Bluetooth transmitter power
    ≤ 9 dBm (EIRP)

Inputs & Outputs

Winner: Tied

The Boombox 2 and Boombox 3 have the same inputs and outputs, with both speakers featuring a single auxiliary 3.5mm input for playing music without relying on Bluetooth. In terms of outputs, they both have a USB-A output, which can be used for charging phones and other small devices. The USB port cannot be used for playing music off a USB drive, as some of the JBL PartyBox models can.

Controls

Winner: Tied

The controls are unchanged on the Boombox 3, retaining the single control area at the top of the speaker. The power and Bluetooth pairing buttons are grouped in the center with PartyBoost and volume down buttons on the left and volume up and play/pause buttons on the right. The play/pause button can be double-pressed on both speakers to skip tracks forward, but there is no on-speaker control for skipping tracks backward.

Bluetooth

Winner: Tied

Despite being an older Bluetooth speaker, the Boombox 2 is still equipped with Bluetooth 5.1, which is still extremely relevant today. The Boombox 3 comes with Bluetooth 5.3, a newer technology whose primary benefit is increased efficiency. There is little noticeable difference between the Bluetooth on each speaker.

App Support

Winner: Tied

The Boombox 2 and 3 both use JBL’s Portable app (supported on Android and Apple). The Boombox 2 was initially supported by the app but without the ability to adjust its sound. There has since been a firmware update and the JBL Portable app now offers 5-band custom EQ for both the Boombox 2 and Boombox 3. Additionally, the app supports audio presets and pairing (group and TWS).

Audio Performance

Despite the Boombox 2 and Boombox 3 having very similar designs and connectivity, the audio performance is where the main differences between these two speakers are. The Boombox 3 has undergone several changes to its driver layout, moving the midrange drivers and tweeters together further towards the edges of the speaker and incorporating a dedicated subwoofer in the center. They both have passive bass radiators on the ends, which help to further bolster the lows.

JBL Boombox 2

  • Power Output
    160W
  • Frequency Response Range
    50 Hz – 20 KHz
  • Drivers
    2x midrange, 2x tweeters
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio
    > 80dB

JBL Boombox 3

  • Power Output
    136-180W
  • Frequency Response Range
    40Hz – 20kHz
  • Drivers
    1x Racetrack subwoofer, 2x midrange, 2x tweeters
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio
    > 80dB

Frequency Response

Winner: Boombox 3

The Boombox 3 has an edge over the Boombox 2 with a deeper bass, owing to the addition of the dedicated subwoofer. Both speakers have a balanced frequency response, and when listening to each speaker independently, they both sound great. However, when played next to each other, the Boombox 3 comes out ahead with more definition and fullness. The built-in subwoofer adds some deep lows that the Boombox 2 is unable to produce.

Vocals and guitars sound great on both speakers, but because of the lack of bass, the Boombox 2 can sound slightly thin when compared to the Boombox 3. Additionally, subtle nuances in tracks that fall into the treble range sound more present with the Boombox 3, as the Boombox 2 has a slightly recessed treble range, whereas the Boombox 3 slightly elevates those highs.

Soundstage & Dynamics

Winner: Boombox 3

Both speakers support stereo sound, but despite the noticeable changes to the driver configuration on the Boombox 3, there isn’t much difference in the soundstage, with both speakers providing a good, but not outstanding soundstage. This is because both speakers have limited directionality, owing to the placement of the drivers. Both the Boombox 2 and Boombox 3 sound better when positioned directly towards the listener.

Dynamics refers to subtle variations in sounds at different volume levels, and speakers with better dynamic range tend to sound more detailed. The Boombox 3 offers improved dynamic range which is particularly noticeable at higher volume levels, where it sounds distinctly better than the Boombox 2. It manages to retain more detail and sound fuller, whereas the Boombox 2 can sometimes sound thin at higher volume levels.

Volume

Winner: Tied

The Boombox 2 and 3 are both relatively loud speakers, capable of producing more than 90 dB. That’s enough volume to fill a small to medium-sized room with rich, vibrant sound. There are some inconsistencies with the maximum volume levels achieved by each speaker, with different testers coming up with different results for each speaker. Some claim the Boombox 2 is louder, while in our experience, the Boombox 3 is about 2 to 3 decibels louder than the Boombox 2. It is safe to expect a loudness of between 92 – 95 dB, more than enough for indoor and outdoor use.

There is a noticeable difference in the volume levels achieved when the speakers are plugged in compared to when batteries power them. This difference is officially specified by JBL on the Boombox 3. When powered by AC, the Boombox 3 has a peak power output of 180W. When running on its battery, its peak power output is 136W.

Battery Performance

JBL Boombox 2

  • Battery Type
    Li-ion (9840 mAh)
  • Charging time
    6.5 hours
  • Estimated Playtime
    Up to 24 Hours
  • Cable Type
    AC power cable

JBL Boombox 3

  • Battery Type
    Li-ion (10 000 mAh)
  • Charging Time
    6.5 hours
  • Estimated Playtime
    Up to 24 Hours
  • Cable Type
    Standardized AC power cable

Winner: Boombox 3

JBL advertises that both speakers can provide 24 hours of playtime at 50%, enough juice to keep the vibes going for an entire day. In testing the Boombox 3 tends to exceed this estimate while the Boombox 2 falls slightly short. The Boombox 3’s ability to power an additional driver with the same battery life is impressive.

The Boombox 3’s charging cable also offers a lot more versatility than the Boombox 2. The Boombox 2 features a laptop-style charger while the Boombox 3 supports a standard figure-8 power chord, found in various household electronics. This not only increases how easy it is to find a replacement cable when out of your home but is also cheaper.

Price & Value

The Boombox 2 retails for around $300, while the Boombox 3 retails for closer to $400. Additionally, the Boombox 2 regularly goes on sale below the $300 mark and is sometimes available at prices as low as $250.

While the Boombox 3 is a slightly better speaker, the Boombox 2 remains the best value for money. You’ll sacrifice some improvements to sound, but the Boombox 2 is still a relevant speaker that offers excellent value for money.

Conclusion

Overall, the JBL Boombox 2 and 3 are great portable Bluetooth speakers that can be used in many situations. Whether you’re vibing by the pool, shooting some hoops, or entertaining guests in your living room, both speakers will prove valuable companions. The Boombox 3 comes out ahead because of its fuller sound, improved weatherproofing, and increased dynamics. However, there is no wrong choice when it comes to picking one of these two speakers.

JBL Boombox 2 vs Boombox 3 1

Winner

JBL Boombox 3

Check Price on Amazon

The Boombox 3, while similar in many ways to the Boombox 2, has deeper bass, better weather resistance, and improved dynamics over the Boombox 2.

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Author: Bryn De Kocks

Bryn has worked in the field for several years, writing in-depth speaker reviews for various audio publications. His work has historically focused on headphones and Bluetooth speakers, while incorporating his understanding of the Bluetooth speaker market to help educate potential buyers.

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