Bestseller according to JBL of its range of portable speakers, the Charge has known since its launch in 2014, multiple iterations, and some aesthetic and acoustic changes. In 2021, the arrival of the JBL Charge 5 marked an important turning point from this point of view, the manufacturer giving up using a single broadband transducer in favor of a couple of speakers, including a tweeter, in order to improve the smoothness of restitution. If the Charge 5 thus offered a more detailed and precise sound, the new Charge 5 Wi-Fi pushes the sound exploration even further. The functional experience also gains, since this new Wi-Fi version is compatible with AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Alexa Multi-Room Music. It only lacks support for Dolby Atmos, exclusive to the JBL Boombox 3 Wi-Fi.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Technical sheet
|Model||JBL Charge 5 WiFi|
22.3cm x 9.4cm x 9.7cm
This test was carried out with a loudspeaker lent by the manufacturer.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Design
To say that the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi looks like the classic Charge 5 is an understatement. The design of the 2021 model has been renewed, with a few small details, at the level of the logo and the control buttons. For the rest, the enclosure conforms in all respects to the previous one and therefore takes the form of a domed cylinder with a curved base and sloping sides.
It is completely covered with a wide mesh acoustic fabric, now only available in charcoal black. The front panel hosts a large JBL logo in anthracite aluminum with orange edges, as well as a battery level gauge with white LEDs. On the top, the grippy silicone buttons change somewhat, the one dedicated to Bluetooth pairing with other JBL speakers disappearing in favor of a new one, in the shape of a heart, to launch a playlist or a radio station of your choice (there is will come back). The play/pause and volume buttons are shaped like their function, making it easy to control the speaker, especially when fumbling around while busy elsewhere.
The rear panel houses a USB-C connector for recharging the battery and, behind a waterproof clasp, a USB-A port useful for recharging a smartphone. It’s a good idea, because the autonomy of the speaker is announced at 20 hours. The underside is flanked by a silicone base, which provides good stability to the speaker. In any case, its reinforced structure and its tightness do not make it fear rolling or falling. Finally, the edges of the Charge 5 Wi-Fi are equipped with thick silicone crowns to protect the passive radiators, which are made of aluminum and stamped with a new ridged logo, which reminds us that the speaker is now also Wi-Fi. fi.
Curiously, the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi remains the only cylindrical speaker from the manufacturer that does not include a device to carry it. That’s not a complaint, as it’s very easy to grip and its grippy coating ensures it doesn’t slip out of your hand, but the Flip 6 has a wrist strap, the Xtreme 3 has a snap hook shoulder strap, and the BoomBox 3 has a wide handle.
Acoustic design of the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi
Like the manufacturer’s other nomadic speakers, the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi uses an acoustic load with passive radiators, in order to improve the reproduction of low frequencies, in extension and in volume. These radiators are driven by a new, solidly motorized 93 x 53 mm transducer. It is associated with a 20 mm diameter textile dome tweeter and exclusively handles high-pitched sounds. With these two active transducers, the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi is therefore a 2-way speaker, but with mono diffusion (like the Flip 6).
A quick look at the insides of the Charge 5 Wi-Fi shows the seriousness of the assembly, with the use of damping foams and resins everywhere, to avoid vibrations. Everything in this enclosure is deeply customized and optimized; unlike other brands, JBL obviously designs its transducers. Note the shape of the main loudspeaker basket, curved to fit the support of the base and maximize the emissive surface.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Use and application
The Wi-Fi connection of the charge 5 Wi-Fi can only be used within the framework of a domestic network. Impossible to use Wi-Fi at the beach, for example, to increase the radio coverage; this is not an expected scenario. Thus, the speaker needs a box or a router to work.
When powered on for the first time, you must download the JBL One app which will guide the user through the configuration. Nothing rocket science, just indicate which Wi-Fi network the speaker should connect to. From then on, music playback is possible via AirPlay, Chromecast Spotify Connect and Alexa Multi-Room Music, from an iPhone, an Android smartphone or any device supporting these protocols. The Charge 5 Wi-Fi is also compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa voice assistants; we can therefore ask a smartphone, for example, to read a title on the speaker.
The JBL One app is now the one to use.
There is an equalizer.
And the new Moment function.
The JBL One app replaces JBL Portable and offers a 3-band equalizer (bass, mid, treble) as well as a new feature called Moment. This allows you to register an online music service (Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, etc.) and select a playlist or radio station, which will be automatically played by pressing the heart-shaped button on the speaker. Please note that this only works over Wi-Fi and with an Internet connection. Finally, the grouping of several JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi and/or JBL Boombox 3 Wi-Fi speakers is possible in the app. Obviously, from an Apple device, simultaneous playback on several AirPlay speakers makes it possible to simultaneously control several JBL Charge 5 or Boombox 3 Wi-Fi, at possibly different broadcast volumes.
Multipoint Bluetooth on the program
The Bluetooth controller of the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi has a coverage of about ten meters in the open air. Throughout my tests, I encountered no connection problems, even in multipoint mode. At most, you have to press the Bluetooth button on the speaker so that it reconnects in Bluetooth, after having been used in Wi-Fi.
The speaker has a noticeable latency, which shifts image and sound, but only in games because in video playback sound and image are synchronous. Too bad the Party Boost mode, which allows you to play the same music on several Bluetooth speakers, has disappeared. It could have been useful to increase the sound volume outdoors.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Audio
I listened to the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi in different configurations. Outdoors, of course, in the park and even at the beach with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, but also at home, in an office or even for a few home cinema sessions coupled with an Apple TV 4K (2022) in AirPlay.
Charge 5 Wi-Fi sound signature
JBL has clearly improved the sound reproduction of this Wi-Fi version, compared to the Bluetooth model. Unlike the Charge 5, which got a little carried away when pushed to its limits, the Wi-Fi version remains civilized in all circumstances.
Between Wi-Fi lossless and Bluetooth, the differences are tenuous; you have to listen carefully to perceive more finesse and punch in Wi-Fi than in Bluetooth. As the two 30 W (main transducer) and 10 W (tweeter) amps have been renewed, the sound volume remains comparable to that of the old Charge 5 and the speaker manages to deliver a maximum of around 90 dB at 1 meter. It’s huge considering its small size and enough to surround a meal on the grass or at the beach.
The curve reveals that the loudspeaker goes down without difficulty down to 60 Hz and thus delivers generous bass sounds with a valid depth. The behavior in the midrange and treble registers is surprisingly linear, with very few crashes in the hypersensitivity zone of the ear (around 2 kHz) – this is a notable difference with the old Charge 5. Another good surprise , the rising curve in the extreme treble (> 10 kHz), revealing a quality tweeter and which brings dynamism to the sound (without coloring it). This fine balance is maintained up to approximately 50% of the volume (pink curve). Beyond that, the sound becomes drier, but remains of quality.
- Low: it hits with discernment and the extension up to 60 Hz gives a valid depth
- Medium: a small peak around 300 Hz for the presence of voices and a pretty crazy linearity beyond 1 kHz, without the slightest harshness
- Treble: also very linear, with a peak in volume around 16 kHz, at the limits of the audible therefore, but with benefits in terms of dynamics over the entire spectrum
Dynamic headroom and soundstage
The punch is what separates the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi from its competition. JBL has managed to maintain significant dynamic headroom from bass to treble, allowing the speaker to distill plenty of nuance even at low levels.
In fact, the sound stage is airy in the front axis, with a suitable depth for a mono speaker. On the other hand, for lack of stereo, the distribution is rather narrow.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Autonomy
JBL has installed a battery with a capacity of 14,100 mAh for an advertised autonomy of 20 hours. The battery charging time is around 6 hours with a 15W charger. Of course, this autonomy depends on the volume and the content played and I measured at third volume (it’s already strong) 21 hours , with a playlist mixing jazz and pop music via Bluetooth. You can extend the autonomy of the speaker by connecting it to an external battery, because it accepts to operate under these conditions.
JBL Charge 5 WiFi Price and release date
The JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi is available in black at a price of €249 including VAT. A somewhat high price compared to the €269 currently requested for the JBL Xtreme 3 or even the €149 for the Bluetooth model.
Where to buy The
JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi at the best price?