I am not usually one for purchasing Bluetooth speakers. However, one of my goals is to balance out my music.
Before purchasing this speaker, I was quite skeptical. Doing tons of researching, watching YouTube videos, and generally checking out reviews from other websites was making me wonder if purchasing this speaker was a good idea, and whether this $100 speaker was really worth my time. The downside to a speaker or any sort of sound review, is that every microphone is different, and they all capture sound in different ways, so can never really discern the quality of the speaker unless you are in person. Our ears pick up more details than a microphone. Eventually, I decided it was worth a shot, and Free Returns were available. So I selected Buy Now, and waited for its arrival.
Three days later, the speaker arrived. The box was a bit heavy, but I of course had to get it out of the shipment box first before figuring out whether the box was making it weigh more, or if it was the actual speaker. I eventually reached the actual box, and upon removing it from the shipment box, it did feel a little lighter, but it was still a bit heavy. Opening the box was no issue. There is a small magnetic flap on the front. There was some tape I needed to peel off to get the lid to open up, but the box opened up fairly easily.
Now What Do We Have Here?
The next part I'm about to describe is the experience I had going through the box. I am assuming that since this is the box inside, it is the company's packaging, so hopefully what I am about to explain is accurate.
When the box is open, you will feel a piece of cardboard. On the left and right edge of the box are little gaps. You can get a finger under there, then tug it up until it comes out. Sitting beneath the cardboard cover will be the JBL Charge 4 itself, tucked in a foam case.
Upon lifting it from the box, I realized that it was indeed a bit heavy. This isn't a huge issue, but it is just something to keep in mind if you are planning to haul it around.
Before we get to the speaker, however, I would also like to explain what else is in the box.
Somewhere tucked beneath the foam, possibly even under it, you will find the USB-C to USB-A cable to charge the device (does not come with a charging block), then the print quick start guide and user manual.
I like to think of the JBL Charge 4 as a paper towel roll. It is the simplest way to explain it, a paper towel roll with a flat base and tactile buttons on the top. On either end of the speaker is a radiator. The more bass a song has, the harder the radiators will vibrate. This means you should probably not have your fingers next to them. They aren't harmful, but they can definitely startle you if you're not prepared. These radiators also serve as a way of protecting the inner components of the speaker in wet conditions, such as drops, spills, or rain.
I will now explain the speaker's tactile buttons as they are ordered from left to right.
The normal orientation is with the triangle button on the right side, near the edge of the right side radiator. This will be explained shortly.
Starting from the left, you have the JBL Connect button. JBL Connect lets you link several JBL speakers together to play audio simultaneously. Pressing this button and then pressing matching buttons on other speakers will link them up. Keep in mind that not all JBL speakers are compatible. I've never tried this, so I will not go into much detail as to avoid providing false information.
The next button has a dash, or a minus symbol on it. As you have probably already figured out, this is the volume down button. Tapping this button will decrease the volume gradually. Holding down the button will decrease the volume more rapidly.
In the center of the speaker, there are two buttons. They are both made of a different material, and they are very close to each other. It's hard to tell them apart, and the symbols on them are not raised, but the simplest way to tell the difference is to split the center into two sections.
The leftmost section is the power button. Hold this button in for about a second to turn it on. To turn it off, press and hold it again.
The rightmost section is the Bluetooth button. By default, if the device does not detect any devices it can pair with, it will automatically go into pairing mode. However, you can do this manually by clicking this button in for about a second until you hear a short tone. An ascending tone means a device was successfully linked.
Continuing past the center, you will find the last two buttons.
The first button has a plus on it. This increases the volume. It functions just like the volume down button.
Finally, the last button has a triangle on it. This is the play/pause button, which will play or pause the audio that is currently in progress.
Now, to the back of the speaker. Located on the back of the speaker is a small cover, or a door you could say. Pulling this back will expose three ports.
Going from left to right again, the first port is a USB-A port. This can be used to charge your phone, tablet, or other device that uses a USB-A cable. Keep in mind that this will drain the speaker's battery, as the charge is being transferred from the speaker to the connected device.
The second port is the AUX-In port, also referred to as the 3.5mm port. You can use this to plug in a device and use the speaker with a wired connection, useful for activities with minimal latency. Keep in mind this port is an IN port, not an OUT. This means that the device receives audio from a device and plays it, but it does not send it to be played through a different one.
Finally, the last port is the USB-C port. Insert the included cable's smaller end into the port, then insert the larger end of the cable into an outlet. You can either use a charging block which has a USB-A port, or charge the speaker with a device, such as a computer, that delivers battery life to a device that is plugged in via its USB port. Keep in mind that the speaker will charge slower, and it is also draining the battery of the device you are using to charge the speaker.
Connecting the JBL Charge 4
Connecting the JBL Charge 4 is just like connecting any other Bluetooth device.
First, power on the speaker. Locate the center of the speaker, then press and hold on the left side until you hear the startup sound. Then, open up the Settings app and go to Bluetooth.
Once under Bluetooth, search for the device called JBL Charge 4, and double tap on it to start the connection attempt. If all goes well, you will hear an ascending tone, which means you have linked your device.
The JBL Charge 4 has other features that you can take advantage of. These features are activated through the combination of some of the buttons on the speaker.
Explained below are all the combinations you can use.
- Holding down both the Volume Down button and the Bluetooth button toggles low frequency mode. You will have to wait about 15 seconds before it switches, so keep holding the buttons down until you hear the sound shift. By default, the speaker comes with low frequency mode enabled, which outputs a lot more bass. Low frequency mode applies more bass to the speaker. For this reason, it is recommended that you keep the volume of the speaker below 70% to avoid damaging it.
- Although the play/pause button is meant for playing and pausing audio, it can also be used as a skip/next button. Rather than pressing the button once, press it twice in quick succession. Keep in mind that sadly, this speaker does not have a rewind/previous feature, so you will need to utilize that from the device connected.
As you have probably just seen, this speaker has a lot of potential. However, in some ways it could be better.
- One thing that the JBL Charge 4 lacks that the JBL Charge 5 has, is a built-in equalizer. With the JBL Portable companion app (available on the App Store), you can adjust the equalizer settings to suit your needs. On the Charge 4, this app is pretty much used for either managing your JBL Connect connections, or software updates, so the app is not really useful, and I will not cover it here.
- If you are looking for a speaker with a built-in microphone to take calls, this speaker does not have one. Honestly, this isn't a problem for me, but if you want a speaker with a built-in microphone, you may want to seek alternative options.
- Although the bass is superb and the sound is quite nice, some of the frequencies could be better. Some things, like drums, are sort of pushed back and replaced by other instruments that dominate. One reason for this issue is that the speaker's sound is mono, which means it takes the stereo channels and combines them. This can sometimes lead to some parts being barely audible, or way too loud.
- Weighing about a pound, this speaker is a bit heavy. It's nothing too drastic, but if you want a lighter speaker, you may want to consider the JBL Flip series.
Wrapping It Up
My experience with this speaker has been quite nice. The cons I have listed are not really huge issues to me, but it is still good to provide my honest feedback. Have you ever used a JBL Charge 4, or anything from the Charge Series? Let me know.
If you have any questions about this device, do not hesitate to drop a comment, or contact me privately.
If you do end up buying this speaker, I hope you enjoy it.
Hope this helps.