Welcome to my JBL Playlist review. While I have reviewed a few portable Bluetooth speakers in my time, I haven’t done any less portable Bluetooth speakers and by that I mean ones that require a mains connection in order to work at all. The JBL Playlist is one such speaker, which I have managed to get my hands on for a few weeks.
JBL Playlist Review: Specifications and price
JBL Playlist Review: Design
I’d best describe the shape of the Playlist as a giant pill because that’s what it looks like. The dimensions of the speaker are (W x D x H) 316mm x 147mm x 131mm, so it’s much bigger than portable Bluetooth speakers. Despite the large size it is however easy to carry around in a backpack or something similar thanks to the fact it only weighs 1120g, which sounds heavy, but once you get hold of it, it actually feels quite light.
At the front of the speaker, there’s not much going on in terms of a user interface, instead, there’s a blue fabric mesh covering the plastic housing of the drivers and on this mesh is a small metal badge with the JBL branding etched into it. Just below this mesh at the bottom of the speaker is a WiFi indication light. That’s everything there is to the front.
When the speaker is turned around there are some pretty interesting things going on, well one really interesting thing at least. That interesting thing is a large bass radiator, which adds more definition to the bass produced by this speaker. Not only can you hear and feel the bass, you can see it too. The radiator is an oval shape and on my blue colored playlist is colored blue with the JBL branding stamped in the middle of it.
Just below the bass radiator is a cutout area that is used for connecting the plug and a 3.5mm audio cable, should you want to listen to music in an old school style, with none of that fancy wireless malarky. Also present in this area is a small reset switch.
The top of the speaker is home to a control panel that consists of five backlit buttons. The buttons have a nice feel to them and work really well with no stiffness or other issues related to buttons. As well as the buttons it’s also possible to control the speaker from an application on your smart phone. On the bottom of the speaker is an oval-shaped rubber foot that does a fantastic job of keeping the speaker in place, particularly when the bass is pounding.
There’s no battery inside the JBL Playlist, instead, it relies on a constant mains connection for use, which means it’s not as portable as some other Bluetooth speakers as it requires a plug and mains socket. So if you want to use it outside you’re going to need an extension cable long enough to run from a building to a yard.
JBL Playlist Review: Connectivity
The JBL Playlist has Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, a 3.5mm aux-in port and WiFi for streaming audio through Google Cast as well as connecting the Playlist to other Playlist speakers to create a multi-system setup. Connectivity for both the Bluetooth and WiFi modes proved to be easy and hassle free when it came to initial setup.
The signal reliability during my use of this product has been pretty much spot on. There have been one or two interruptions in Bluetooth mode but these occurred when there was a double glazed window between my phone and the speaker.
JBL Playlist Review: Audio quality
If you want kick ass audio quality with powerful bass production, then the Playlist is definitely worth considering. The audio is deep and clear, with every detail presented. Not a beat missed and every lyric heard. It works best when it’s used in an open area such as outside or the middle of a room. Having things around it doesn’t have a major impact on sound, but it does cover over the bass a bit, which means you don’t get as good bass production, so for the best results I made sure to use it in an open area, I’m very impressed with just how awesome and loud it sounded outside in my garden.
At its highest volume, the Playlist remains distortion free, but do be aware that if you also crank up the volume on the external device it may lose a bit of that awesome quality, which is something I have come across with other high-end speakers and not really an issue with this one in particular.
I have recorded a short video of the speaker playing a song. Please excuse the quality, as this is done on a smart phone camera.
JBL Playlist Review: Overall
The JBL Playlist has proven to be a top speaker. It’s packed with features such as WiFi with Google Cast abilities and a bass radiator. It produces fantastic audio, that really puts it out there amongst other big name brands. It does a few flaws and the biggest one is a lack of a battery, which would make portability even more possible than it already is. That said the power iontake of this speaker would probably be way too much for a battery.