Prize: £234 / jbl.com
Stretching the definition of 'portable' to the absolute limit, the Xtreme 2 is roughly the size(and shape)of a rugby ball; but at 2.4kg you won’t want to be going up for it in a line-out. It’s does, however, come with a shoulder strap and two carabiner hooks so you can take it with you when you head for the park, pool or party. But please resist the temptation to play it on public transport, because this thing is loud and the battery lasts15 hours.
It’s not a subtle design by any means(check the camo finish option) – but compared to many aimed at the upwardly mobile youth of today, it's stylish and reassuringly well made. Our review sample was a deep petrol blue, but red, black and green are equally appealing.
At either end of the speaker you 'll find radiators - a signature design cue for JBL these days- delivering a powerful rumble, while two 20W drivers handle the mids and highs. The first thing we noticed was the stereo presentation, meaning even at low volume the speaker easily filled the room. The second thing was the satisfying crack of a kick drum as it firmly announced itself in the mix. "I'm surprised by how punchy the bass is ," said Mike. "It 's got a serious kick and handles volume really well. "
Listening to Grace Carter, Mike found the piano and vocals to be "really clear and lovely to listen to"; but when the string section came in, the performance felt "a little confused" . That's not to say this speaker isn't fun to listen to – far from it. The power is expertly controlled and the low bass and high frequencies are richer and more dynamic than from the UE Mega boom 3.
Rock, pop and hip-hop listeners are equally well catered for ; and while there are compromises to be had through the mids, the massive battery , multi room potential and IPX7 rating mean there 's a heap of fun on offer without spending big.