JBL Xtreme 3 vs Xtreme 2: Is it worth the upgrade?

The JBL Xtreme 3 is the third edition speaker from the JBL Xtreme speaker series and comes with several improvements over its predecessor, the JBL Xtreme 2. The JBL Xtreme 3 has a considerably more powerful 100W output compared with the JBL Xtreme 2’s 40W combined output, and delivers louder sound performance with more bass. Just like the Xtreme 2, the Xtreme 3 also comes equipped with dual 70mm woofers and dual 20mm tweeters that deliver really nice highs and punchy bass performance.

Both speakers also have a relatively wide frequency response of 55 Hz to 20 kHz and a signal to noise ratio of >80dB. Having said that, the JBL Xtreme 3 uses the latest Bluetooth 5.1 codec compared to the Xtreme 2’s Bluetooth 4.2 version. The Xtreme 3 also comes with added USB power outputs which you can use to charge your smartphone devices and use the speaker as a power bank; this feature was not previously available on the Xtreme 2 speaker.

The JBL Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 both come with a built-in battery that provides up to 15 hours of playtime, or around 10 hours at 80% volume level. One noticeable improvement that the Xtreme 3 has is that it weighs less (4.03 lbs / 1.83kg) than the Xtreme 2 (5.3 lbs / 2.4 kg)  which makes it slightly more portable and easier to carry around outdoors.

Comparing the Specs

SpecificationJBL Xtreme 3JBL Xtreme 2
Wattage100W40w
Bluetooth Version5.14.2
Wi-FiNoNo
Battery Capacity10,000 mAh10,000 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 15 hoursUp to 15 hours
Weight1.97 kg2.39 kg
Dimensions (HxWxD)298 mm x 136 mm x 134 mm288 mm x 132 mm x 132 mm
Waterproof RatingIP67IPX7
Driver TypeDynamicDynamic
Frequency Response53.5 Hz – 20,000 Hz55 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Maximum Power Output2 x 25 W RMS Woofer + 2 x 25 W RMS Tweeter2 x 20 W RMS
Signal to Noise Ratio>80dB>80dB
AUX ConnectivityYesYes
Charging Time2.5 Hours3.5 Hours
Color OptionsBlack, Blue, Camouflage, MulticolourBlack, Blue, Green, Red
Additional FeaturesPartyBoost, built-in powerbankJBL Connect+, built-in powerbank

The JBL Xtreme 3 offers improvements such as a newer Bluetooth version, IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating, and higher power output. The biggest difference is that the JBL Xtreme 3 delivers up to 100 watts of power output which is a huge improvement over the Xtreme 2’s 40W output. Both models offer similar battery life and have features like AUX connectivity and a built-in powerbank.

Sound Performance

The JBL Xtreme 3 sounds much louder than the Xtreme 2 side by side. The JB Xtreme 3 speaker is equipped with four drivers (two tweeters and two woofers) that delivers massive sound performance with really strong bass, and you can feel that the Xtreme 3 speaker has much more sonic presence and volume than the Xtreme 2. Where the Xtreme 3 speaker really shines is the bass – the bass punches deep and goes very low with plenty of depth, and you can get very impactful low-end beats with the Xtreme 3 speaker that you would not experience with the Xtreme 2.

We played a couple of EDM, rock and hip-hop music through the Xtreme 3 and you can hear that this speaker handles the low-end frequency ranges and bass much better than the Xtreme 2. At lower volume levels, the bass on the Xtreme 3 remains consistently solid and punchy, while the bass on the Xtreme 2 seems to mellow off and sound tiny. We also pushed both speakers to maximum volume levels – and while both speakers deliver minimal distortion at high volume levels, the Xtreme 3 sound significantly louder due to its 100W max power output.

With that said, we noticed that the highs and vocals on both the Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 sounded somewhat dull and tiny at >50% volume levels. Vocal performances sounded somewhat shallow and dull, and you do not get the level of sparkle and crystal clear clarity as the JBL Boombox 3 when it comes to the highs. Instrumental music sounded somewhat recessed at higher volume levels, and the treble ranges sounded dull without the kind of sparkle that you would expect from a JBL speaker. We were quite surprised that the Xtreme 3 retained the same issue with the highs and tiny sounding treble ranges as the Xtreme 2 speaker – and at higher volume levels the highs and vocals can start to sound recessed. We also felt that the midrange frequencies sounded somewhat muffled in both the Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2, and they did not sound really good at higher volume levels.

Overall, the JBL Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 deliver really nice volume and bass output for a portable speaker, we felt that they perform much better when listening to EDM music with an emphasis on the beats and bass. They are also very loud and are suitable for blasting music outdoors to power an entire party with punchy beats. With that said, they did not sound good for vocals, strings and country folk music as the vocals feel slightly recessed and the highs sounded somewhat tiny especially at louder volume levels. Even with the JBL Xtreme 3’s additional 100W power output, we felt that the vocal ranges sounded quite dull even though the speaker had decent bass output. If you are getting the JBL Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 for loud party music, then they will perform as expected with deep bass and loud volume. They are more suited for blasting music rather than for critical listening.

JBL Xtreme 3 vs Xtreme 2
The JBL Xtreme 3 has a power output of 100W compared with the Xtreme 2’s 40W, and sounds much louder with deeper bass

Specifications

The JBL Xtreme 3 has similar specs compared to the JBL Xtreme 2, but lacks some of the key features that you get with the Xtreme 2 such as a built-in microphone for hands free calls. Both the Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 speakers are IP67 waterproof and come with 15 hours of battery life. Both speakers also support PartyBoost for multi-speaker pairing but it should be noted that you can only connect one JBL Xtreme 3 with another Xtreme 3 (you cannot pair the JBL Xtreme 3 with the Xtreme 2) using this feature. The JBL Xtreme 3 uses Bluetooth 5.1 which is a considerable upgrade from the Xtreme 2’s Bluetooth 4.2 version, and delivers a much more stable wireless connection with our smartphone device.

One key feature that JBL removed from the JBL Xtreme is the built-in microphone that the Xtreme 2 has for hands-free calls. This means that you would no longer be able to use the Xtreme 3 speaker to take calls, which can be quite inconvenient especially if you are some distance away from your smartphone while having the Xtreme 3 by your side. The Xtreme 3, however, can double as a power bank with USB outputs to charge your smartphone devices – this feature was previously unavailable with the JBL Xtreme 2 speaker.

Both the JBL Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 are higihly durable and fully waterproof. One thing that we liked about both speakers is that they are quite portable and can be easily carried around with the carrying strap or in a backpack. The Xtreme 3 speaker is slightly lighter as compared to the Xtreme 2 which makes it easier to carry around.

The JBL Xtreme 3 comes with a new USB output which allows the speaker to double as a power bank

Design

In terms of design, the JBL Xtreme 3 looks similar to the Xtreme 2 and has roughly the same design layout. Both speakers feature dual tweeters and woofers, and both come with a built-in audio jack for 3.5mm auxiliary input. They also come with anchor hooks at the top of the speaker for you to clip-on the carrying straps which makes it convenient to carry the speaker around with you. Both speakers including the Xtreme 2 features dual passive bass radiators at the side of the speaker which vibrate when playing low frequency bass notes. The button controls to power on, pair Bluetooth and adjust soundtracks and volume are also conveniently located at the top of the speaker and are intuitive to use.

The Verdict?

The JBL Xtreme 3 has a few improvements over the JBL Xtreme 2, notably in terms of power output (100W output compared with the Xtreme 2’s 40W output), and delivers much louder sound with deeper bass performance. You can feel that the Xtreme 3 speaker is much more powerful and delivers more bass response than the Xtreme 2 – it also uses Bluetooth 5.1 for a stable wireless connection which is much better than the Xtreme 2’s Bluetooth 4.2.

Having said that, we felt that the JBL Xtreme 2 delivers roughly the same sound quality as the Xtreme 3 in terms of highs and treble ranges. The treble ranges on both speakers sound somewhat recessed at higher volume levels, and vocal performances sounded tiny. We played a couple of music gernes including EDM, rock, country folk and jazz music and found that both the JBL Xtreme 3 and Xtreme 2 are really good for party music with loud beats and deep bass. They both do not sound as good for country folk and jazz because the vocals sound rather dull and flat, and instrumental music sounded tiny without any soundstage or depth. This makes the Xtreme 3 speaker a more “party-focused” speaker rather than for critical listening, and we were quite surprised that the Xtreme 3 does not provide as much clarity as you would get from the JBL Boombox 3 or even the JBL Flip 6 speaker – both of these speakers from JBL deliver excellent highs and crisp vocals, which is somewhat lacking in the Xtreme speaker series.

In our view, the JBL Xtreme 3 is not really worth the upgrade form the Xtreme 2 speaker as it comes with the same issues that you get with the Xtreme 2 – particularly with vocals and the treble ranges sounding recessed. While the Xtreme 3 speaker is undoubtedly louder and has more bass than the Xtreme 2, the speaker falls short when it comes to delivering crisp highs and smooth treble ranges. Instead of getting the JBL Xtreme 3, we would recommend the JBL Boombox 3 instead – the Boombox 3 delivers a really good balance of highs, mids and bass and does not have the same recessed vocals that you get with the Xtreme 3.

Furthermore, the JBL Xtreme 3 is also missing some key features that you get in the Xtreme 2 such as a built-in microphone to take hands-free calls. While you do get some upgrades such as Bluetooth 5.1 and the power bank feature with USB outputs with the Xtreme 3, in our view it would make much more sense to upgrade to the JBL Boombox 3 from the Xtreme 2 due to its better sound performance and all-round durability.