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JBL brings the boom with upgraded portables and party speakers for 2024

EMBARGOED IMAGE – The JBL Xtreme 4 portable Bluetooth speaker.
The JBL Xtreme 4 JBL

Seminal speaker maker JBL has taken the veil off of its 2024 lifestyle lineup, which includes three new portable speakers and two new party speakers, all with upgrades that include more power, new colors, improved Bluetooth connectivity, recycled materials, and multi-speaker connectivity with Auracast.

The new JBL portables

JBL announced three new portable Bluetooth speakers today at CES 2024 in Las Vegas — the football-sized JBL Xtreme 4, the compact and clippable JBL Clip 5, and the smallest of the bunch, the JBL Go 4. All of the new speakers maintain their rugged IP67 ratings, but feature improved battery life, more power, and better bass, as well as an upgrade in their Bluetooth connectivity to version 3.5 LE (Low Energy), which means lower latency, lower power consumption, and better audio quality. But more importantly, it allows all three new JBL speakers to be Auracast-enabled, which allows multi-speaker connectivity with an unlimited number of other JBL Auracast speakers, regardless of whether they’re the same model of speaker or not.

The JBL Xtreme 4 gets a handful of upgrades of its own, including better bass response and a 20% boost in volume capability by way of what JBL is calling AI Sound Boost (of course, AI), which “analyzes audio in real time with an AI algorithm to optimize the acoustic output level, leading to more powerful and crystal-clear sound,” according to a press release. Battery playtime has been extended by nine hours compared to the Xtreme 3, topping out at 24 hours, with an additional six hours in the speaker’s Playtime Boost mode.

But the neatest battery trick the Xtreme 4 has (and this is a first for JBL) is its replaceable battery (not included) that means you can extend the life of the speaker once the battery kicks the bucket. The JBL Xtreme 4 will retail for $380 and will be available in three colors in June 2024.

JBL’s popular, go-anywhere compact Clip 5 has an upgraded carabineer clip that’s wider and easier to open, which will delight fans of the JBL Clip 4 who like to attach the rugged speaker to things. It, too, gets a power and bass boost (15% and 10%, respectively), all the Bluetooth and Auracast goodness, and a 12-hour battery life, with three hours more on Playtime Boost that you can access through the JBL Portable app. The Clip 5 will cost $80 and be available in six colors.

Lastly is the JBL Go 4, a similar, but slightly less powerful portable speaker that trades the Clip 5’s carabineer for a nylon loop. For 2024, the $50 speaker has gotten a 20% boost in power and, like all the new portables, incorporates post-consumer recycled materials into its mak-up. Also available in six colors, the Go 4 features a seven-hour battery, with an additional two hours on Playtime Boost mode, and will also be available in June.

“We have always been proud of our portable audio lineup at JBL, and now that all three of these products are made with post-consumer recycled materials, we have even more to talk about. Customers can continue enjoying premium sound and stylish design, but now built with the environment in mind,” said Dave Rogers, president of the Harman Lifestyle Division.

The new JBL party speakers

Now it’s time for the big boys. If you’ve had the chance to check out any of JBL’s other PartyBox speakers, like its flagship monster, the PartyBox Ultimate, which we reviewed last year, then you know that these things are veritable nightclubs on wheels. They’re packed with all kinds of sound effects and karaoke features, some huge and clean sound, and lots of lights, bells, and whistles. They really are kitchen sink kind of speakers, and JBL has just announced two additions to the PartyBox lineup, the Club 120 and the bigger Stage 320.

Taking a few design cues form the PartyBox Ultimate, both party speakers feature the same upgraded Bluetooth and Auracast connectivity as the portables for connecting to other Auracast-capable JBL speakers, plus they can both be stereo paired (should you have have two) for more separated, dynamic sound. Both speakers are IPX4 splash-resistant, feature replaceable swap-out batteries for the party that goes all night, and they’re both in line with JBLs efforts to use recycled and post-consumer material in their construction.

The smaller and less expensive of the two, the $400 JBL PartyBox Club 120, has “loud and powerful sound” (JBL didn’t include power ratings or driver sizes in its release) that the company says can cover an area the size of a pickleball court. Like most PartyBox speakers, behind its front grill, you’ll find LED-wrapped speakers and strobes that deliver a light show that can be programmed and tweaked with the PartyBox app to move along with the music. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi like the Ultimate, or wheels, but Bluetooth pairing allows you to stream to it from your music services, and you can plug in a wired microphone and even a guitar for karaoke or a jam session. Battery life is decent at 12 hours on a charge, and you can get 80 minutes of playtime from just a 10-minute fast charge.

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320, on the other hand, offers 420-watts of power from two 6.6-inch woofers and two 1-inch dome tweeters. It offers similar lighting effects, including strobe, starry night effects, and more, that also synch with the music. Neither new PartyBox speakers feature the same physical DJ pads on the top of the units, but they do seem to have physical volume and lighting controls, as well as bass boost buttons — we’ll get a better look at them from the CES 2024 show floor.

Being the bigger of the two, JBL has seen fit to outfit the Stage 320 with wheels and a telescoping handle for easier transport to all the weddings you’re bound to DJ with this thing. It also features two mic inputs and a guitar port, but you can always try out JBL’s newly announced PartyBox Wireless Mic ($150) that’s compatible with all JBL PartyBox speakers and has a 20-hour playtime. Speaking of battery, the Stage 320 can last up to 18 hours per charge. You’ll get two more hours after just a 10-minute charge. The PartyBox Stage 320 will cost $600 and be available along with the PartyBox Club 120 and Wireless Mic in April.

“Every party needs music, and you can now embrace being the life of the party with JBL’s newest PartyBox speakers,” said Dave Rogers, president of Harman Lifestyle Division. “Light up your listening experience with the latest and greatest additions to JBL’s PartyBox family by bringing the party outside, take it on the go, or plug and play with our new Wireless Mic.”

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Derek Malcolm
Derek Malcolm is a Toronto-based technology journalist, editor, and content specialist whose work has appeared in…
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