August 28, 2018
3.5 x 8.5 x 3.4 inches
Since its release, the JBL Charge 4 has been quite popular in the wireless and portable speaker segment. And years after its release, the speaker is still sought by those looking for the best portable Bluetooth speakers.
If you’re wondering why, there are some good reasons why the Charge 4 is still so popular even though JBL has launched the JBL Charge 5 already. In short, the speaker basically nails all the essentials.
That includes build quality, sound quality, design, portability, and battery life. Of course, there are some shortcomings. But for the price, it’s hard to find something better than the Charge 4.
JBL Charge 4 Wireless Speaker
Still a great pick for the rugged and adventure-ready wireless speaker
The JBL Charge 4 is a solid Bluetooth speaker that comes in a wide range of colors. It comes with an outdoor-ready build as well. And even though it’s a few years old, the speaker still has what it takes to hold against the current competitors.
When it comes to the sound output, the driver setup of the wireless speaker is good, especially the mid-range output. Thanks to that, you’ll be set to hear precisely reproduced lead instruments and vocals from the speaker.
However, the JBL Charge 4 drivers under-emphasize the treble range a little. And that can make the sound output feel a bit dull, specifically in outdoor conditions. Moreover, the speaker doesn’t have any sort of EQ customization option. So, you don’t have any choice but to listen to the drivers just as JBL tuned it.
On the note of taking the speaker outdoors, the build quality is ready for pretty much all environments. To be exact, it comes with an IPX7 rating, which means the Charge 4 can easily resist water splashes and handle being submerged under water for up to 30 minutes.
Also, the speaker has a robust build to withstand challenging weather conditions and accidental falls. Alongside that, the battery life is quite good. You can get up to 20 hours of runtime with a single charge.
- Output Power: 30 Watts
- Frequency Response Range: 60 Hz to 20 kHz
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >80dB
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 4.2
- Play Time: 20 Hours
- Charging Time: 4 Hours
- Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP V1.6 and AVRCP V1.3
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7
What’s in the Box?
- Type C USB charger
Stuff I like
- Great build quality
- Dependable battery life
- It can act like a power bank
- Comes in different color options
- Decent sound quality and reasonably portable
Stuff I like less
- Doesn’t have a microphone for handling phone calls
- The overall soundstage isn’t that amazing
At first glance, the JBL Charge 4 doesn’t look like a different speaker than the predecessor. It basically has the same outlook as the Charge 3. But if you take a closer look at the build and the design, the Charge 4 does have some slight differences.
To be exact, the Charge 4 is slightly bigger than the JBL Charge 3. The difference is about a centimeter in all the parameters. In addition to the larger size, the Charge 4 is heavier than the predecessor. The weight difference is about 7.05 ounces in comparison.
While these differences might not seem like a big deal to some, it’s bad news for those planning to use it as an outdoor speaker. The increased weight and larger size decrease the portability factor of the Charge 4.
Even though it’s still more portable than regular speakers, you might find it hard to carry the speaker around in some cases. For example, when you’re hiking or traveling for a prolonged time. Nonetheless, the speaker is still backpack-friendly and should fit most backpack pockets.
Build Quality and Durability
The overall build quality of the JBL Charge 4 is really good for an outdoor speaker. As mentioned, it comes with an IPX7 rating, making it completely safe around water bodies. More to that the body of the speaker is relatively solid and sturdy. So, you can expect it to last for a prolonged time without any major issues.
While the JBL Charge 4 is larger and weightier than the JBL Charge 3, it’s still outstandingly portable. It’s small enough to fit in most of the smallest pockets of backpacks. And if you’re not hiking or traveling with a lot of weighty stuff on your back, the increased weight of the Charge 4 compared to Charge 3 won’t be noticeable.
Overall Sound Performance
The overall sound performance of the JBL Charge 4 isn’t really that great. It struggles to offer a consistent frequency response. As the accuracy is a bit low, the sound output may sometimes seem a little average.
Moreover, while JBL Charge 5, the successor, comes with a graphic EQ, the Charge 4 doesn’t. That means you’ll not have the option to tune the frequency response and make the speaker sound a bit better.
When it comes to the bass response, the Charge 4 is pretty decent. But you should see it performing better in open spaces and large rooms. After all, JBL has tuned it for outdoor listening. And this also means that the bass performance will seem underwhelming in a small room, garage, or closed space.
The mid-range performance of the JBL Charge 4 is excellent. It’s pretty accurate and reasonably balanced. Thanks to that, you can expect to hear lead instruments and vocals with higher overall clarity and detail. But in certain cases, the vocals in the mids can get masked by the bass.
There’s a bit too much emphasis on the treble range. This makes the soundstage of the JBL Charge 4 feel very uneven while listening to certain tracks. In comparison, the JBL Pulse 4 has a much better soundstage. But Pulse 4 lacks some features that make the Charge 4 good.
The only good about the JBL Charge 4 in terms of controls is that it comes with clicky buttons, which are textured. Thanks to that, the buttons are easy to click. However, the buttons are hard to see in the dark, and there are no lights on the buttons. So, controlling the playback during the night can get pretty hard.
On the note of controlling the playback, the buttons of the Charge 4 let you pause, play, skip tracks, and change the volume. There is a Bluetooth button and a power button too. But the Bluetooth button doesn’t have any lights. Therefore, you can’t tell whether the speaker has successfully paired to a device.
Regarding connectivity, the Charge 4 has an AUX wired connection port. Thanks to that, you can use it as a desktop speaker if you want to. And even though there’s a USB port, the speaker doesn’t support USB audio. Instead, the USB is there to charge other devices.
About wireless connections, the Charge 4 offers outstanding Bluetooth performance. The range is up to 334.6 feet, and the speaker can maintain low-latency Bluetooth connections.
Also, the speaker can make flawless connections with Android, iOS, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. In addition, you can keep the Charge 4 connected to two different devices at the same time. This feature should come in handy if you play music from two Bluetooth-enabled devices from time to time.
Another thing where the JBL Charge 4 shines is in terms of the battery life. The wireless speaker can offer up to 20 hours of runtime with a full charge. That’s more than enough for an entire day of music listening.
It has power-saving features to enhance the battery, such as auto shut off when the speaker is not connected. Also, it comes with a USB-C port for charging, which can charge the internal battery in just 4 hours.
Even though the JBL Charge 4 comes with a companion app, there are not many good things to say about it. This JBL app is compatible with Android and iOS, and you can create a stereo pair using the link feature. Also, the app has a Party Mode, which lets you connect multiple speakers and get amplified sound in a large room.
But as hinted earlier, there are no EQ or advanced sound customization options. This makes the app less useful for users who want to get the most out of their wireless speakers.
Overall, the JBL Charge 4 is a decent pick for the price. And you can get immense value from it if you can grab it on deals. But you shouldn’t expect too much from it regarding sound performance. It’s good enough to offer an enjoyable experience, but it could’ve been a bit better.
Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.
This post was last updated on 2023-11-27 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.