REVIEW: Bring The Noise With JBL PartyBox Encore

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Rating
9.5

At $349 RRP, this is the best value speaker on the market, and makes the idea of shelling out ten grand for an audio setup an exercise in diminishing returns.

Amazing beefy sound, and loud

Easy Bluetooth pairing (not always a given)

You can adjust the microphone settings for karaoke to add echo

The RGB light ring adds a good 50% fun to any party

The sound quality suffers when unplugged

Pushing it to the max results in some distortion.

It’s quite heavy, which isn’t ideal for a portable speaker.

The trend with modern audio equipment is for it to blend into the contours and design of your home, with brands treating gear as either something to make invisible – to be heard but not seen – or as a piece of furniture in its own right, harking back to those early record players that doubled as side boards and commanded an entire wall.

JBL plays things quite differently with the PartyBox Encore Essential, a stocky cube that resembles a Marshall practice amp with its black grill and boxy look, sporting the same garish RGB light ring that features on the other products in the PartyBox range.

The PartyBox Encore is, as the name suggests, designed to be the central entertainment piece of a party, and being able to play music isn’t the half of it. There are numerous light show presets that range from ‘rock’ to ‘flow’ depending on the music and mood, a sturdy, splash-proof body for the inevitable spilled drink, and even a separate microphone slot with volume control for karaoke possibilities (in fact, Walmart is marketing it as a karaoke machine, bundling it with a mic).

jbl partybox 3 REVIEW: Bring The Noise With JBL PartyBox Encore

Further party possibilities come through the JBL PartyBox app, which gives a slew of silly DJ sound effects to insert into your ‘set’, extra lighting options, and even a separate EQ for the microphone, allowing you to adjust the bass and treble, or lather your vocals with that all-forgiving echo. It also provides a graphic EQ, so you can set the sound just the way you wish. Most won’t bother with finessing the EQ – to my ears, JBL get it right straight out of the box.

As with any party speaker, the ability to crank it outdoors is obviously key, and to this end, the Encore offers a generous six hours of power unplugged — although you’ll notice the sound quality drop as soon as you switch to battery only, with a thinner mix, and much less present bass. This in itself isn’t surprising, given the drain a 5.25-inch woofer would have on anything smaller than a caravan generator, and it’s only really notable when A/B testing – something you’re unlikely to bother with on the beach.

jbl partybox 2 REVIEW: Bring The Noise With JBL PartyBox Encore

JBL often punch well away their weight when it comes to audio quality compared to cost.

This power is evident from the unboxing stage – at 7.27kg, this little guy is heavier than one might expect (although a hell of a lot lighter than the aforementioned Marshall practice amp). It’s built ruggedly, with rubber feet, a protective front grill, a sturdy handle, and a strong plastic body. You’ll even see some of JBL’s signature hi-vis orange sneaking through under the handle – a nice splash of colour.

With a 5.25 inch woofer more-than-adequately handling the bottom end, two 1.75-inch tweeters providing clear, consistent highs, and 100W power, this $349 speaker blows numerous thousand-dollar systems completely out of the water. The frequency response ranges from 50Hz to 20kHz.

The surprise is how loud it gets without distorting the sound signature; the signal-to-noise ratio is an impressive >80 dB while the woofer, while not a sub, manages to deliver a beautiful rich bass tone without becoming blurry. Compression only really becomes notable when at the maximum volume, but this little cube kicks so hard that it’s rare that you’ll be cranking this to eleven, so to speak.

There’s no way you’ll be disappointed with the PartyBox Encore Essential.

jbl partybox 4 REVIEW: Bring The Noise With JBL PartyBox Encore

 

 

 

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Rating
9.5

At $349 RRP, this is the best value speaker on the market, and makes the idea of shelling out ten grand for an audio setup an exercise in diminishing returns.

Amazing beefy sound, and loud

Easy Bluetooth pairing (not always a given)

You can adjust the microphone settings for karaoke to add echo

The RGB light ring adds a good 50% fun to any party

The sound quality suffers when unplugged

Pushing it to the max results in some distortion.

It’s quite heavy, which isn’t ideal for a portable speaker.