JBL Xtreme vs Xtreme 2: All About the Upgrade to this Blasting Outdoor Party Speaker


Dancers in a Barcelona park with the JBL Xtreme 2 speaker. The speaker at middle volume offered bass that still carried remarkably well kept people moving and enjoying their forró (a Brazilian dance). Here’s a video of the action.

The JBL Xtreme 2 is a step up from the previous version JBL Xtreme in just the right areas that made this speaker stand out in the first place: bass oomph and outdoor party convenience.

While this is not the most refined choice among the largest, loudest Bluetooth speakers, we do think that for people who party a lot outdoors and who listen to bass-heavy music, the JBL Xtreme 2 is the perfect speaker. It doesn’t distort at high volumes and the bass can carries enough to be felt and get you moving, even in an outdoor noisy environment.

And the previous version JBL Xtreme was no slouch either, so if you’re faced with  a choice between the two (the old one is on sale, perhaps?) it could be quite worth it. We’ll start with a side-by-side comparison and then dive deeper below.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on October 29, 2018. It was thoroughly updated with nicer photos on June 5, 2019.

Side-by-Side Comparison: JBL Xtreme vs JBL Xtreme 2

An Overview of JBL’s Update for the Xtreme 2: Improved Sound, Especially the Bass

In making this upgrade, JBL apparently took what was already going well for with the JBL Xtreme and chose to make those areas even stronger, rather than changing course or trying something new. And if you’re looking for a large-but-still-portable, rough-and-tumble outdoorsy speaker with great emphasis and power on the bass end, this update to the Xtreme 2 is very good news.

The JBL Xtreme had been celebrated by critics for going quite loud and getting surprisingly strong bass in a portable unit that is convenient for tailgating, picnics, and a drive to the beach, but too big to be a speaker you’d pack for travelling. That said, to some ears it was a bit too much on the bass end, and the high end could get a bit overtaken by the mids and sound somewhat harsh. But everyone was impressed by how loud it went, and for most it sounded relatively great with little distortion at top volumes.

The JBL Xtreme 2 keeps this basic approach to a sound profile and is getting a similar response from critics, who find that it is a solid improvement. The bass goes even deeper and has more dynamism and detail. The volume is about the same, but there is better performance at top volumes with less distortion. And while it doesn’t sound as refined or carefully mixed as similar competitors that we recommend, like the Marshall Kilburn II or Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3, it does go louder and most listeners will find that it’s fabulous for party use, particularly if paired with a second JBL Xtreme speaker for more soundstage and volume.

My personal experience using the Xtreme 2 to animate outdoor dance parties is fenomenal. It’s hard to find a speaker whose bass carries so well and offers such a complete sound profile in a compact unit. The Brazilian melodies were lively due to the crisp delivery of intricate cavaquinho work and vocals were full and balanced. The thump of large zabumba drum kept our dancers alive.

The JBL Xtreme 2 with its carry strap.

Feature Differences Between the JBL Xtreme and Xtreme 2

In terms of features, JBL again choose to focus on its strengths and make just minor improvements to the Xtreme 2’s feature set.

  • The major feature upgrade is waterproofing; the JBL Xtreme 2 is fully IPX7 waterproof, meaning that if you were a crazy person you could hold the speaker underwater for up to 30 minutes with no ill effects. The JBL Xtreme, for its part, was only rated “splashproof”. In more practical terms, if you’re in lots of wet and dirty environments, you can expect the Xtreme 2 to stand up a bit better.
  • There is a bottle top opener integrated into the Xtreme 2’s carry strap, which is thoughtful and might be a lifesaver in a pinch.
  • Another real lifesaver is the ability to charge a phone or other USB device off of the speakers’ battery. We really wish that more other Bluetooth speakers had this feature; it’s available on both the Xtreme and Xtreme 2. The Xtreme had two USB-out charging ports but they shared the 2 amps of power, whereas the Xtreme 2 only has one USB-out that gives 2 amps and that makes sense, given the power draw of newer faster-charging devices.
  • Both speakers can be paired with multiple units, so if you buy more than one of either you can create a truly big party on the go. Note, however, that you cannot pair an Xtreme and Xtreme 2 together. The former uses JBL Connect and the later uses JBL Connect+; these are unfortunately not compatible and JBL seems to have no plans to change this for its older devices.
  • Both units have speakerphone features; we think this is not particularly useful especially for party speakers.
  • They also both have a button that allows you quick access to Google Assistant / Siri, but we think you’re much more likely to use (and get a useful response) by talking to these assistants on your phone itself. But if you really want a rough and tumble waterproof speaker that is also a smart speaker, check out our coverage of the Ultimate Ears Megablast compared to its close (dumb) cousin the Megaboom 3.
The buttons on the Xtreme 2 handle all basic functions so that you can skip a song or change the volume without reaching for your phone.

Which Is Right For You and Getting the Best Prices

We get it, we’re cheap, and we’re the last ones to recommend always buying the latest thing. If you can get the old model for a song, go for it; the differences are not huge. But if there’s not much difference in pricing or you want the improved bass depth, the Xtreme 2 is certainly worth its rather high price.

The prices below are updated daily from Amazon, and we list other vendors in the table above.

Note that with Bluetooth speakers we generally don’t recommend getting used or refurbished models as it’s impossible to know how many cycles the battery has already been through, and thus how long the speaker’s battery will last.

JBL Xtreme
Previously our favorite portable outdoor party monster; great bass, rugged
JBL Xtreme 2
Our current favorite for getting down with bass-heavy tracks and busting moves outside; even deeper bass, more rugged with full waterproofing, bottle opener in carry strap



Thanks for reading our (belabored, we know) treatises on the stuff we like. Where possible, this site contains automatically monetized affiliate links. Your use of the links when you shop doesn’t cost you any extra, and hopefully generates enough revenue to keep our minimalist travel and language learning projects going. So thanks also in advance for your support.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Mike
    2019-05-17
    Reply

    You can update JBL Connect to Connect + on the app. Upgraded my Charge 3’s.

  2. Mose
    2019-05-06
    Reply

    It can run off its battery if you’re not near a power source, yes.

  3. Avatar
    Patricia Auger
    2019-05-05
    Reply

    Can the xtreme be powered without the ac adapter charger?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.