Review: JBL Charge 2+ Bluetooth Speakers

With the darker months of winter on the near horizon, many cyclists (including myself) start to think about indoor training and cross training; looking for ways to mix up the monotony of long winter miles, and build a strength base for the following season. Indoor training, gym work and cross training might not be as enjoyable as riding around in the sunshine, but they can all be made far more pleasant with some good music pumping in the background. Enter the outdoor Bluetooth speaker...

The idea that a wireless, water-resistant and drop-proof speaker would be great for cycle training first came to mind at the Island Games, when we could have done with some pumping bass beats in our team warm-up areas. On my return, I started looking around for options, and the JBL Charge 2+ speakers were one of the best options I found.

The compact JBL Charge 2+ is a splash-proof, completely wireless unit. It also doubles up as a 6000mAh charging bank, which is pretty neat, and could be invaluable when you're stationed in the middle of a field at a mountain bike race.

Unboxed from its smart packaging, and charged up with its easily-found orange micro-USB cable, I didn't waste any time putting the Charge 2+ to the test. A circuit training session in some mild September drizzle provided the perfect opportunity.

The speakers instantly impressed. The sound quality of this unit is superb, and its thumping bass, provided by two 'radiators' at either end of the unit, is great for the dance and trance that tend to feature in many workout playlists. It has a great feel to it, too, and it is compact enough that you can stash in out of the way whilst you are working out.



Initial impressions were good, and the speaker continued to impress whilst I started flicking through the features...

Because the Bluetooth link between speaker and phone is two-way, you can control volume from the speaker unit itself (an aux. cable input is also provided, if you don't have a Bluetooth enabled device).  The two-way Bluetooth communication also stretches to phone calls, and you can answer and receive calls with the Charge 2+, using its inbuilt microphone and speakers.

Perhaps the most unique and intelligent thing about the Charge 2+'s Bluetooth capabilities though, is its 'Social Mode'. The feature means you can toggle the connection between three different devices, all connected simultaneously on Bluetooth. It allows a group of friends to play music from their phones, without needing to "bump-off" one pairing to establish another. It seems like the perfect solution for a crowd sourced warm-up playlist before a race!

The last (notable) feature worth shouting about is the charging capabilities of this unit. 6000mAh is enough to charge an iPhone more than three times from flat; just plug the USB cable into the port on the rear of the Charge 2+, and your phone is brought back to life. Great for remote location touring or events!

Overall, this is a great little speaker unit. The build quality is faultless, and what you'd expect from a well-reputed brand like JBL. The unit feels solid and robust, and its water-resistant and drop-resistant properties should mean it lasts well, too. The sound is spot on, especially for the thumping bass of workout tunes; whilst the benefits of Bluetooth connectivity are maximised with the 'Social Mode' and phone linking capabilities. Finally, the capacity to charge your phone, whilst you listen to tunes, is really valuable, and an idea that seems logical for a unit that you're likely to be using in remote locations. So, the JBL Charge 2+ fulfils everything you might need for a portable outdoor speaker; bring on the bass thumping warm-up areas!

View the JBL Charge 2+ at uk.jbl.com (Link)


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