JBL Boombox 2 vs JBL Boombox 3: Improvements to the Portable Bass-Pounding Delight

The JBL Boombox 2 has been a critical darling of reviewers since its release in April, 2020 and so expectations have been running high for the JBL Boombox 3.

JBL announced in January of 2022 that they would indeed release the latest version of this outdoor-ready party monster in the summer of 2022; it now seems that the JBL Boombox 3 will more likely appear in the fall.

As of this writing we’re still waiting for it to be put on sale; reviewers like us have not had the chance to listen to the the JBL Boombox 3 yet. But there is still a lot that we already know—and a few things we can guess at.

Given JBL’s history of incremental improvements with its portable Bluetooth speaker lines, as we recently reviewed with the changes from the JBL Flip 5 to JBL Flip 6 and from the JBL Xtreme 2 to JBL Xtreme 3, we expect improved sound—particularly on the bass end due to the JBL Boombox 3’s new racetrack-shaped subwoofer—and there are a few obvious feature differences of note.

Update History of This Article

This article was first published on August 11, 2022.

Side-by-Side Comparison: The JBL Boombox 2 vs JBL Boombox 3

When Will the JBL Boombox 3 Finally Be Released?

After announcing the JBL Boombox 3 in January of 2022 with a promise to release it in the summer, JBL now seems to be stretching the definition of summer; a recent JBL tweet reply suggested we should look for the JBL Boombox 3 to maybe be released in September or October of 2022.

But even those writing the Twitter replies for JBL don’t sound too sure; there are also still messages appearing there that it will be in the “summer” and that the ETA is “not final” and subject to change without notice.

The Main Feature Differences to Understand Between the JBL Boombox 2 and JBL Boombox 3

The JBL Boombox 3 keeps what was working so well for this speaker line: great bass and loudness in a waterproof unit that may be a bit heavy, but can still be carried with one hand.

Here are the slight feature differences of note:

  • The JBL Boombox 3 improves connectivity slightly with an upgrade to Bluetooth 5.3 (vs. Bluetooth 5.1 for the JBL Boombox 2).
  • The JBL Boombox 3 is rated IP67, meaning that it is completely dustproof as well as waterproof, and could survive just fine being submerged for 30 minutes under a meter of water. The JBL Boombox 2’s rating is IPX7, meaning the same thing without the dustproof rating. In the real world we expect both to stand up to a bit of dirt and water just fine, and don’t expect anyone to want to use these speakers in the bottom of a pool or a bath.

Both the JBL Boombox 2 and JBL Boombox 3 have an enormous 24-hour battery life when played at medium volumes. Better still, they both can charge an external device like a phone from the speaker’s battery (which can sometimes be a lifesaver to keep an outdoor party going).

How the JBL Boombox 2 and JBL Boombox 3 Sound

The original JBL Boombox and the JBL Boombox 2 were both impressive-sounding portable beasts that went plenty loud enough to annoy neighbors, even at some distance, without losing their composure and distorting wildly. The critics that listened to the JBL Boombox 2 widely agreed that it is a beast in delivering powerful, punchy, and yet even bass. There is a full presence in the mids and highs as well, without a particular overemphasis. The soundstage is broad and allows different instruments to interplay clearly and steadily.

JBL claims that its new JBL Boombox 3 offers “monstrous” bass and “JBL Original Pro Sound”, which we suppose means that it intends to sound as good as their professional-level concert audio equipment, but that’s meeting their marketing department copy babblers more than halfway. Reviewers, including us, have not been able to listen to the JBL Boombox 3 yet.

What we can say is that the JBL Boombox 3 does have a revised set of guts that certainly recall the improvements JBL made from its update of the JBL Charge 4 to JBL Charge 5 speaker line.

The JBL Boombox 2 has two 10 cm woofers and two 2 cm tweeters; the JBL Boombox 3 has a racetrack-shaped sub-woofer, two-mid-range drivers, and two tweeters.

According to various JBL tweets, the newer speaker will have a greater frequency range, moving from 50Hz – 20kHz for the JBL Boombox 2 to 40Hz – 20kHz for the JBL Boombox 3. The output power is also stronger, depending on how you count it (see our table above). In any case, such stats don’t necessarily mean real-world improvements to our ears, but we’d expect given this as well as JBL’s history that the JBL Boombox 3 will indeed be improving its bass performance and smoothing out its overall delivery, as has been the case with their other recent speakers.

That’s because all recent JBL speakers (we compare the full JBL range of portable speakers here) have made incremental improvements compared to their predecessors. JBL has a wider range of speaker sizes than the comparable Ultimate Ears, and tends to offer dynamic, punchy and impressively loud sound to go at a reasonable price, given whichever size you go for. So we hope and expect that the JBL Boombox 3 will be a similarly useful if modest step up in sound quality.

What’s Right for You? The JBL Boombox 2 and the Newer JBL Boombox 3 and Where to Buy Them

It’s usually worth checking the various colors at the Amazon links; sometimes there are good deals. The Direct from JBL links below may also offer a cheaper deal at certain times and has free shipping too.

JBL Boombox 2
An impressively loud, punchy, broadly entertaining soundscape from a speaker you can still carry in one hand; completely waterproof

Given the improvements in other JBL speakers recently, the JBL Boombox 3 is likely to offer slightly improved bass and an overall smoother soundscape; it is completely waterproof as well as dustproof. We don’t expect the changes to be so great that we would hold off on buying, however; the JBL Boombox 2 sounds and performs wonderfully.

We expect the JBL Boombox 3 to be first available in September or October of 2022 directly from JBL.com and soon after from Amazon.