Which Speaker for a Huge Outside Bash? The JBL Boombox 2 vs Partybox 100

We generally, though not always, enjoy JBL speakers; let’s take on their big boys.

The loudest, bossest JBL speakers that you still might want to carry (lug) around are the JBL Boombox 2 and JBL PartyBox 100. Both have large internal batteries and so can work away from the grid, and both are ideal for tailgating, backyard parties, and barbecues.

We’ll do a quick side-by-side comparison with our take and then our usual meta-review analyzing the overall feelings about these beasts from around the web.

Note that if you want to stick with JBL but check out more portable (and cheaper) options, see our analysis of all the JBL portable Bluetooth speaker options to decide.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on July 24, 2020.

Side-by-Side Comparison: JBL Boombox 2 vs JBL Partybox 100

The Bigger, Better-Sounding, Louder Speaker: The JBL PartyBox 100

If you’re willing to carry a heavier speaker (66% heavier in fact, at 21 pounds / 10 kilos), the JBL Partybox 100 is the way to go.

The PartyBox 100 goes louder and carries better at a distance while maintaining a full mix. It’s the speaker we’d take out on the patio or backyard when we really want to make sure a huge group of guests bust a move. Tech and audiofile reviewers laud its performance at top volumes, especially its evenness and solid, natural-sounding bass presence. Mids and highs are strong and natural as well, and it starts to rival good home speaker systems, while being more portable and self-contained.

Aside from the better sound, the JBL PartyBox 100 also has some interesting features that the Boombox 2 lacks:

  • Inputs for voice/guitar/DJ station etc. (two standard quarter-inch inputs with gain control; there’s also a mini aux-in); yes, you can do karaoke or an impromptu musical performance, with or sans your Bluetooth music
  • A hole in the bottom for mounting on a standard speaker mount
  • Connect to a second PartyBox 100 for true stereo

The disadvatages of the PartyBox 100 are:

  • It’s not waterproof, or even splashproof. If you’re going to the beach or the pool, or prone to spilling drinks, get the Boombox 2 instead.
  • The bass boost feature activated via a physical button sounds a bit forced, though it may please some.
  • The battery will not last as long as the Boombox 2’s; though 12 hours (or less at top volumes) isn’t bad either, and more than enough for most purposes.

The More Portable, Durable, Waterproof, Bass-Heavy Outdoor Party Speaker: The JBL Boombox 2

If you get a little sloppy, spilly, or splashy when you boogey, you’ll want a more durable outdoor party speaker. In that case, the JBL Boombox 2 is for you.

The Boombox 2 is completely IPX7 waterproof, which is a specific, binding commitment from JBL that the speaker can last up to 30 minutes underwater (at one meter) with no ill effects. The Boombox 2 also has a much longer battery life, at up to 24 hours.

The sonic signature for the Boombox 2 is similar to the JBL PartyBox 100. It sounds even and fluid over the full range and carries well outside, going extremely loud. But audio and tech critics that compared both prefered the PartyBox 100 hands-down. The JBL Boombox 2 emphasizes the bass a bit too much for some tastes, and doesn’t sound quite as even and polished at the highest volumes. That said, at more normal listening volumes its composure, smoothness of delivery, and soundstage are excellent. When compared to the smaller JBL Xtreme 3, the Boombox 2 is a nice step up in loudness and bass oomph, and the Boombox 2 is more than enough to provide aural deliciousness for an outdoor gathering or party.

Wrap-up: Snatching the Best Prices, Availability, and Making a Choice

Prices vary a bit by color sometimes for the Boombox 2, so it’s worth checking different color options at the links. Another way to save on the Boombox 2 is to compare it to the original JBL Boombox—as that article details they’re nearly the same and the old model can often be cheaper.

JBL Boombox 2
The fully waterproof, lighter, more durable way to take a huge amount of sound and bass outdoors
JBL Partybox 100
Bigger and heavier, but better performance at top volumes, excellent natural bass, mic and guitar inputs

At last check the JBL PartyBox 100 is out of stock and we’re linking to an officially refurbished version at Amazon. An alternative that is very similar, with the same sound profile and a bit larger, is the JBL PartyBox 300. (There is a JBL PartyBox 200 and JBL PartyBox 1000 as well but they do not run on battery power.)