JBL Xtreme 3 VS Xtreme 4

by

The JBL Xtreme is a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s larger and louder than JBL’s Flip and Charge series but smaller and more easily portable than the powerful Boombox. This year, JBL is releasing the latest model in the Xtreme series, the JBL Xtreme 4, which has already begun rolling out. Whether you’re interested in buying your first JBL Xtreme or are considering upgrading from the Xtreme 3, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

JBL Xtreme 3 VS Xtreme 4 1

JBL Xtreme 3

RRSP $379.95
Our Pick
JBL Xtreme 3 VS Xtreme 4 2

JBL Xtreme 4

RRSP $329.95
Size11.75 x 5.35 x 5.28”11.69 x 5.87 x 5.55”
Weight4.34 lbs4.63 lbs
Water ResistanceIP67IP67
Battery LifeUp to 15 HoursUp to 24 Hours
Bluetooth5.15.3
Frequency Response53.5Hz – 20kHz45Hz – 20kHz
Peak Power100W100W
InputsBluetooth, AuxBluetooth
Battery TypeLi-ion 36.3 WhLi-ion polymer 68 Wh
Charge Time2.5 Hours3.5 Hours

Sale

A Brief Overview Of The JBL Xtreme Series

Bluetooth speakers aren’t exactly a one-size-fits-all product. They are designed with unique purposes that take into account the way each individual listens to music and the lifestyle they live. How you intend to listen to music defines the type of speaker you buy. It’s similar to how you wouldn’t buy a Ford F150 to drive in the narrow streets of Gassin, France.

The Xtreme is designed for an adventurous lifestyle and is especially well-suited for those with thriving social lives where you may need to entertain groups of friends or family. While the Flip and Charge do a decent job at entertaining small groups, the Xtreme takes it to the next level with more power, a statement that is especially true for the Xtreme 4.

Build, Design & Durability

The Xtreme 3 and 4 feature similar designs focusing on outdoor use, with comprehensive waterproofing and durability. The Xtreme 4 sees small improvements made to the controls and the introduction of Auracast pairing. Both speakers are available in three color choices.

Xtreme 3

  • IP67 waterproofing
  • Shoulder strap included
  • Connection port protection flap

Xtreme 4

  • IP67 waterproofing
  • Shoulder strap included
  • Stable base

Controls

Best Controls: Xtreme 4

The Xtreme 4 has improved controls over the Xtreme 3, allowing users to skip to the previous track by pressing the play button three times and separating the pairing buttons from the track and volume control buttons, with each now having their own panel. This is especially useful when reaching over to use the controls when they aren’t visible from your position or controlling the speaker in a dark environment.

Additionally, the Xtreme 4 ditches the PartyBoost feature of the Xtreme 3 in favor of the latest Bluetooth innovation, Auracast. You no longer need your JBL Xtreme to act as a master wireless connection point that ties other speakers in the pairing together—Auracast’s exciting new technology ties multiple speakers together directly from your phone.

The familiar infinity symbol representing the PartyBoost feature has transformed into a spiral triangle. This triangle button is the Auracast pairing button, and the Auracast logo directly inspires the design.

Waterproofing

Best Waterproofing: Tied

Both speakers boast the same IP67 waterproof rating, which we expect to see remain unchanged for several years, spanning multiple generations of speakers. This IP67 rating means both speakers are protected from dust intrusion and water. They can withstand rain, pressurized sprays, and splashes. They can also survive submergence in water for under 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The Xtreme 3 and 4 are both suitable for almost every outdoor environment and can be used safely around water, making them both ideal for pool parties and adventures in nature.

Durability

Most Durable: Xtreme 4

The Xtreme 3 and 4 are both durable speakers intended for outdoor use in all sorts of environments, and comparatively, they stack up similarly with only minor differences in their durability. The Xtreme 4 has a slightly different design around the passive bass radiators and the edge of the speaker, creating a more defined silhouette. Similarly, the base of the Xtreme 4 is slightly more stable and retains grip better because of the dual rubber panels that run under the speaker. In contrast, the Xtreme 3 had a central rubber area, which was more prone to causing the speaker to flip over when accidentally bumped.

Another exciting addition to the Xtreme 4 is the removable battery, a feature not present on the Xtreme 3. Battery problems are a frequent occurrence as Bluetooth speakers age. Having the ability to swap out the battery on your Xtreme 4 provides a noteworthy opportunity to extend the life of the speaker in the long term.

Portability

Most Portable: Xtreme 3

The Xtreme 3 offers slightly better portability, weighing 4.64oz less than the Xtreme 4. The form factor is also different, with the Xtreme 4 being wider and taller but slightly shorter. Still, these variations are fractions of an inch and are negligible in practice.

Both speakers feature a shoulder strap for easier portability, and this shoulder strap design remains mostly unchanged between the two speakers, with only minor adjustments, such as the orientation of the JBL logo, the size of the stitching area that holds the strap to the buckle, and then the buckle itself. The Xtreme 4’s shoulder strap buckle now has a release button on the latch, making it slightly easier to connect and disconnect the shoulder strap.

Additionally, it’s a little easier to connect the shoulder strap to the Xtreme 4 because of slightly better clearance between the hook loop and the speaker body.


Connectivity Options

Both speakers have their own drawbacks and benefits when it comes to connectivity. The Xtreme 3 has better-wired connection options, while the Xtreme 4 doesn’t offer any wired connection methods. Inversely, the Xtreme 4 has Auracast pairing stemming from the more modern Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity.

  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • USB-C charging port
  • Aux input
  • USB-A output
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • USB-C charging port
  • Auracast

Inputs & Outputs

Most Connection Ports: Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 features an auxiliary input, USB-A output for phone charging, and a USB-C charging port. In contrast, the Xtreme 4 drops the aux-in and USB-A output in favor of a single USB-C charging port, which is no longer behind a protective covering. This move away from additional ports is something we’ve seen across the Bluetooth speaker market and is a polarizing approach. If you’re someone who still frequently uses your aux inputs or finds a USB-A charging port essential, the Xtreme 3 will be the better choice.

Wireless Connectivity

Best Wireless Connections: Xtreme 4

Both speakers offer modern Bluetooth connectivity. The Xtreme 3 has Bluetooth 5.1 with support for A2DP 1.3 and AVRCP 1.6 profiles, while the Xtreme 4 brings Bluetooth 5.3 to the table, supporting A2DP 1.4 and AVRCP 1.6. The most defining feature of the Xtreme 4 is its introduction of Auracast through its Bluetooth 5.3 support. Auracast is a pivotal new feature in Bluetooth integration and will set the stage for the next generation of speakers. Neither speaker offers Wi-Fi support.


Audio Performance

  • Dull sound signature
  • Sufficiently loud (92 dB±)
  • Performs best at low-volume
  • 100W peak power output
  • Bass-heavy sound
  • Gets loud (95 dB±)
  • Sounds great at high volume
  • Vibrant sound
  • 100W peak power output

The Xtreme 4 has improved the flaws in the Xtreme 3’s audio quality, mainly by adding bass and increasing the intelligibility in the treble. The Xtreme 4 is a more vibrant-sounding speaker than the 3 and has improved dynamic range.

Volume

Loudest: Xtreme 4

When comparing the Xtreme 3 and 4 volume levels, the Xtreme 4 comes out as a clear winner, reaching just over 3 dB louder than the Xtreme 3 in third-party tests, where the Xtreme 4 produces just over 95dB, while the Xtreme 3 maxes out at 92dB. Remember that decibels are measured logarithmically, and a 3-decibel difference is more noticeable than it seems on paper. As always, JBL’s specification sheets do not provide a manufacturer-stated volume rating. 

Bass

Best Bass: Xtreme 4

While the Xtreme 3 produces sufficient upper bass, it lacks a deep bass extension, with a minimum frequency response range of 53.5Hz. In contrast, the Xtreme 4 can produce frequencies as low as 45Hz and provide a more boomy sound when compared. Not only does the Xtreme 4 provide deeper bass, but the bass is also more elevated in the mid-bass range.

Midrange

Best Midrange: Xtreme 4

The midrange between the two speakers is mostly similar. The Xtreme 3 has a relatively balanced midrange, which starts to drop off in presence towards the upper end, while the Xtreme 4 manages to retain a more lively sound in the upper midrange. Still, the Xtreme 4’s strong bass can sometimes overpower the lower midrange. The Xtreme 4 comes out ahead in this battle primarily because of its improved clarity and detail in the upper midrange.

Treble

Best Treble: Xtreme 4

The uneven and recessed treble from the Xtreme 3 was one of its biggest weaknesses. The Xtreme 4 has improved the upper frequencies, particularly its vibrance, clarity, and detail. High frequencies sound flat on the Xtreme 3 but come to life with character on the Xtreme 4. This is an unequivocal win for the Xtreme 4.

Soundstage & Dynamics

Best Soundstage & Dynamics: Xtreme 4

The soundstage between these two speakers is similar, but the Xtreme 4 performs better because of its improved frequency response, resulting in a more well-rounded sound. Directionality is one area where the Xtreme 4 suffers from the same issues as the previous version. Neither speaker has what one would consider a very broad sound dispersion with a somewhat narrow presentation.

Dynamics, however, are much better with the Xtreme 4. In addition to getting louder than the Xtreme 3, it can do so with less compression, creating a better-sounding experience. Subtle accents in volume levels are easier to pick out in production, creating more nuance.


Battery & Charging

The Xtreme 3 had mediocre battery life at 15 hours of playtime. The Xtreme 4 has improved on this, using a newer 68 Wh Li-ion polymer battery, providing up to 24 hours of playtime with just an hour more charging required. The Xtreme 4 also allows for battery replacements.

Longest Battery Life: Xtreme 4

Fastest Charging Time: Xtreme 3

  • Battery lasts up to 12 hours
  • Recharges in under 2.5 hours
  • Battery lasts up to 25 hours
  • Recharged in 3.5 hours

JBL has made impressive improvements to the battery of the Xtreme 4, now sporting a 68 Wh Li-ion polymer battery, dwarfing the 36 Wh Li-ion offered in the Xtreme 3. This larger battery capacity takes an additional hour to charge (3.5 hours on the Xtreme 4 vs. 2.5 hours on the Xtreme 3) but can now last for 24 hours instead of the 15 hours we got from the Xtreme 3.

The ability to easily swap out the battery on the Xtreme 4 with a replacement is a massive improvement and something not frequently seen on portable Bluetooth speakers.

Price & Value

Remarkably, the pricing offered on JBL’s website is $50 cheaper for the Xtreme 4 than the 3. It’s not often that we see the successor offered at a lower retail price than the predecessor – however, it is likely that we’ll see prices drop on the Xtreme 3 in the next several weeks to months as the release of the Xtreme 4 progresses.

At $329, the Xtreme 4 is not a cheap Bluetooth speaker and lies between the Flip 6 and Boombox 3 in pricing. Are they worth the price? That’s a subjective question that can only be answered by the buyer. Regardless of whether or not you feel it’s worth your hard-earned dollar, the Xtreme 4 has a lot to offer at more than $100 cheaper than the Boombox 3.

Sale

Conclusion

The JBL Xtreme 4 is a better speaker than the Xtreme 3. While the Xtreme 3 has more connection options, faster charging, and is slightly lighter, the Xtreme 4 does better at everything else, including sound quality, battery life, and durability. The Xtreme 3 was a decent speaker, but the recessed treble created a less-than-ideal, notably dull sound signature. The Xtreme 4 represents what an upgrade should be: retention of the high points of the previous model while learning from its weak points. Additionally, the introduction of Auracast will forever make the Xtreme 4 a noteworthy release.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Share:
Photo of author

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.

See All His Posts

Leave a Comment