JBL Xtreme 4 review: an outdoorsy, bold-sounding Bluetooth speaker that even harnesses AI

JBL's Xtreme 4 hits the highs and the lows – but you need fairly deep pockets

JBL Xtreme 4 on pink background
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

JBL’s latest Xtreme Bluetooth speaker plates up each musical element with clarity and distinction while introducing neat new features to build on the strengths of its predecessor. It's a large and rugged outdoorsy speaker that doesn’t go all out on style, but hits the right notes when it comes to utility, boasting a fantastic battery life and an IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating. For all its strengths, however, the Xtreme 4 just seems a bit pricey, especially when competitors can offer awesome audio output at a considerably lower cost. All we're saying is, weigh your options before pulling the trigger.


  • +

    Full-sounding, well-defined audio

  • +

    Limited distortion at louder volumes

  • +

    Brilliant battery life


  • -

    Default EQ settings lack low-end impact

  • -

    Better value, cheaper alternatives exist

  • -

    Exterior design lacks sex appeal

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JBL Xtreme 4: Two-minute review

“Unleash powerful sound everywhere” is the tagline of JBL’s Xtreme 4 Bluetooth speaker, but does it live up to the hype? The short answer is, well… yes. The Xtreme 4 paints a dynamic aural picture in a bid to feature among the best Bluetooth speakers to have graced our testing process, with well-defined high frequencies, full-bodied mids and a pumping bass. It’s worth flagging, though, that its true power isn’t let loose straight out of the box, especially at low frequencies, although that’s nothing the JBL Portable app can’t solve through its customizable EQ settings. In addition, the Xtreme 4 can serve up a very good sonic experience at loud volumes without being hampered by distortion.

It doesn’t drastically depart from the JBL Xtreme 3, but the newest model in the product line brings some cool new features to set itself apart. These include AI Sound Boost, which predicts speaker movement and response to deliver “better and more powerful” sound, and Auracast Bluetooth technology. However, the Xtreme 4’s biggest upgrade is to its battery life, with a base playtime of 24 hours, extendable by a further six thanks to the addition of Playtime Boost. 

The Xtreme 4 also has the IP67 rating, proving it is both waterproof and dustproof. This makes it a solid, great-sounding and dependable pick as one of the best waterproof speakers if you're heading to a pool party or beach (you lucky thing, you). 

So far, you’re probably thinking that this can’t get too much better, but there’s a ‘but’. The main thing holding the Xtreme 4 back is its high price point, which stands at $379.95 / £329.99 / AU$499.95 (note that it is only available in the UK at the time of writing). There are a handful of similarly-sized alternative speakers which offer great audio quality and smart design at a more reasonable cost, meaning the Xtreme 4 isn’t likely to win any ‘Best Value’ prizes.

Despite its protection against the elements and practical design features, the Xtreme 4 isn’t the prettiest Bluetooth speaker either (at least in my view), with similarly-priced competitors (such as the Ultimate Ears Epicboom) pulling off a similar look and sound quality, but with a bit more class. That’s not to say that it’s abhorrent though, in fact, you may even be a fan of its rugged and outdoorsy look – something you can double down on with the Black Camo color option. 

If you’re a loyal JBL fan, the Xtreme 4 is well worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for a larger speaker that's a true all-rounder. However, if you already have the Xtreme 3, you’re open to buying from other brands or you're on a tight budget, you may want to consider better value competitors – or wait for a sale.

JBL Xtreme 4's passive bass radiator closeup, on pink background

(Image credit: Future)

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Price and release date

  • Released on March 14, 2024 (UK), date TBC for US and Australia
  • Price: $379.95 / £329.99 / AU$499.95

The JBL Xtreme 4 launched in March 2024 in the UK, so it's perhaps a little odd that launch date is yet to be revealed for the US and Australia.

Though it may not command the eye-watering prices you’d expect to see from a top-drawer brand (think Bang & Olufsen), the Xtreme 4 is still quite the investment. So, if you’re on a tighter budget, there may be better choices for you.

For ultimate portability you could opt for the slightly smaller but still brilliant JBL Charge 5, priced at $179.95 / £169.99 / AU$199.95, or for more of a party-ready speaker you could nab the eye-catching Tribit Stormbox Blast for $199.99 / £162 (about AU$300).

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Weight4.63 lbs / 2.1kg
Dimensions11.69 x 5.87 x 5.55 inches / 297 x 149 x 141mm
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3
Battery life24 hours (plus up to 6 hours more with Playtime Boost)
Speaker drivers2 x 30W woofers, 2 x 20W tweeters
Waterproof ratingIP67

JBL Xtreme 4's strap closeup, on pink background

The strap is fine, but a handle might be helpful (Image credit: Future)

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Features

  • Top notch battery life of up to 30 hours
  • AI-enabled sound refinement
  • Auracast Bluetooth technology

It will probably come as little surpriise to learn that the JBL Xtreme 4 isn’t a huge overhaul of the Xtreme 3. Neither of the speakers are too far apart in terms of weight or size, and both are IP67 rated, have a built-in power bank, as well as Bass Radiators. 

However, the Xtreme 4 brings some new features to the party to set itself apart, such as AI Sound Boost. This essentially utilizes an AI algorithm to predict speaker movement and response in real-time, helping the Xtreme 4 to deliver “better and more powerful” sound, and reduce distortion at loud volumes. No, it's not going to predict your music tastes or answer calls, but it will help the sonic chops. 

A second new addition is that of Auracast, a Bluetooth technology ensuring that there is no limit on the amount of JBL devices (which also have Auracast) that you can connect at once. This is a neat feature if you want to play music in multiple rooms at a party, using the newest standard. You can also rest assured that JBL speakers without Auracast, such as the Xtreme 3, will still be able to pair with the Xtreme 4, thanks to the PartyBoost feature on the JBL Portable app.

Without doubt the biggest (and best) difference between the Xtreme 4 and its predecessor is the far superior battery life. JBL says that the new model has a base battery life of 24 hours, nine hours longer than its older sibling, which is more than enough for most listeners. When I left the Xtreme 4 playing music at 30% volume for 2 hours, it only lost 5%, so there’s no need to doubt JBL’s claim. The speaker can also be fully recharged in just 3.5 hours.

If you need to squeeze a bit more out of the Xtreme 4, the JBL Portable app has a valuable feature called Playtime Boost. This can be activated to grant up to six hours of additional playtime, and ramps up the volume of the speaker to consume less battery. One downside to Playtime Boost, however, is that when active, EQ settings are disabled, meaning you’ll miss out on unleashing the potential of the Xtreme 4’s bass – more on this later. Overall, Playtime Boost makes for a strong addition though, and you won’t find too many Bluetooth speakers of the Xtreme 4’s quality with such long battery life.

On the topic of playtime, you can go one step further to keep the party going thanks to the Xtreme 4’s replaceable battery – yes, really. You can unscrew the base of the speaker to swap in a new, rechargeable battery with ease, though it should be noted that additional batteries must be purchased separately. Charging-wise, the Xtreme 4 opts for a minimalist approach with a single USB-C port only, as opposed to the Xtreme 3's inclusion of a USB-A output port as well. The Xtreme 4’s USB-C port can be used to charge the speaker itself or to give external devices some extra juice. 

If you’re satisfied with the Xtreme 3’s battery life, I’d argue that the other new additions don’t set the Xtreme 4 apart too much. It's also important to note that since the summer of 2023, it has been possible to buy upgraded versions of the JBL Charge 5 and Boombox 3 with Wi-Fi (and Atmos for the Boombox), while the Xtreme 4 really is 'just' a Bluetooth speaker. That said, when I compared the Xtreme 4 against the lower-cost Anker Soundcore Boom 2, I certainly felt that JBL’s speaker had more depth and verve sonically, particularly due to the presence of that AI Sound Boost.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

JBL Xtreme 4 closeup of the control panel on pink background

(Image credit: Future)

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Sound quality

  • Serves up well-rounded sonic experience 
  • Audio elements are distinct with highs sounding particularly sweet 
  • Bass disappointing out of the box, but booms with EQ adjustment

The initial feeling I got when firing up the JBL Xtreme 4 and throwing on Moloko’s I Want You, was one of disappointment – more specifically a disappointment with its deep bass output. For a portable Bluetooth speaker, which you’d expect to get its fair share of use during occasions with plenty of background noise, a powerful bass is fundamental for a great listening experience. For a model costing in excess of $370, and claiming to pump out “next level massive” sound, I expected a higher level of impact from the Xtreme 4 (not least due to its explosive name). 

Luckily, my disappointment was quickly quashed by the JBL Portable app’s EQ settings, which made a world of difference. When I switched to a custom setup, in which the lowest frequencies were considerably dialled up, the Xtreme 4 showed what it was made of – and its bouncing Bass Radiators were well and truly put to work. The pumping bass in I Want You now hit the depths that I’d been thirsting for, so you will want to steer clear of the default ‘JBL Signature’ EQ preset if you’re looking to get the best out of bass-heavy bangers.

Even when compared it to the Soundcore Boom 2 (which although cheaper, has an identity forged around its powerful low-end output), Black Eye by Allie X’s deep bass-laden opening sounded far more energetic and controlled on the Xtreme 4. The Xtreme 4 was very competent at bridging deep bass to the mid-range and maintaining clarity with more demanding audio profiles.

Aside from bass, the Xtreme 4 is very competent when delivering a strong audio performance across the frequencies, and boasts an improved response compared to its predecessor at 44 Hz – 20 kHz (53.5 Hz – 20 kHz for the Xtreme 3). Despite it not going beyond the realms of human hearing through the treble, I would argue that this speaker’s ability to produce crisp highs may be its strongest asset, with Rains again by Solji making for a particularly enjoyable listen straight out of the box. The Xtreme 4 beautifully delivered the track’s delicate vocals, and the sound of rain pouring throughout the song’s opening maintained a natural, soothing tone.

The Xtreme 4 delivers its sweet highs, punchy bass, and textured mid-tones dynamically and clearly, even at high volumes. When listening to Young Blood by The Naked and Famous, guitars in the upper bass range sounded distinct and layered; separated from bass riffs in a cohesive mix. JBL’s “next level” claim may still be a slight exaggeration – after all, the Xtreme 4 doesn’t do anything particularly game-changing – however, it certainly gives room for listeners to taste the distinct flavors of each audible component that might get lost in a hard-to-digest mix through lesser speakers. Sure, the chef may need a bit of guidance, but with the right adjustments, you can bet that a well-balanced plate of sound will arrive at your table.

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

JBL Xtreme 4 on pink background, with a closeup on the USB-C charging port

JBL Xtreme 4 will charge your device, so you won't have to take a break from the music  (Image credit: Future)

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Design

  • Not the most elegant, but well-suited to outdoor environments
  • IP67 rating makes it perfect for the beach
  • Convenient shoulder strap but no handle for carrying short distances

Is there such thing as love at first sight? I’m not sure, and I don’t think the JBL Xtreme 4 is going to help me find out. Look, it’s not doing anything strikingly different from the Xtreme 3 appearance-wise, but I’m not sure I can get behind the semi-cylindrical, outdoorsy vibe, especially in the Black Camo coloration (the Xtreme 4 is also available in Blue, the version I tested, or Black). Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you’ve liked the aesthetic of JBL’s previous efforts, you’ll almost certainly be a fan of this. 

One thing I did like visually was the speaker’s passive external bass radiators (as seen in the predecessor and several JBL cylindrical models), which pulse with pounding impact when the volume is cranked up high, immersing you deeper into the listening experience. Another neat design choice is that the Xtreme 4 is made, in part, using recycled materials. For instance, the speaker’s grille incorporates ‘post-consumer’ recycled plastic and fabric.

Personal tastes aside, there’s no denying that the Xtreme 4 is designed with utility and longevity in mind. It has medium-large sized buttons, all of which play their part in facilitating a swift setup. The speaker is also pretty bulky, weighing in at 4.63 lbs / 2.1kg. Additionally, it has rubber strips at the base which provide a steady foundation. If that wasn’t enough, the Xtreme 4 is IP67 certified, meaning that it’s both waterproof and dustproof, standing it in good stead for use at a beach event, pool party, or similar outdoor gathering. When I placed the Xtreme 4 in a full sink, it conveniently floated on its side, and played music without any quality reduction after taking a minute-long dive underwater.

Another practical feature is the detachable strap included for taking the Xtreme 4 out and about, tote bag style. I was a fan of the strap’s shoulder padding, which made it comfortable to transport around. It’s also adjustable if you want to wear it across your body. However, I couldn’t help but wish there was more of a ‘handle’ option here for when I just wanted to move it a short distance, especially as the speaker is too large to hold in one hand without the strap attached.

Closeup of JBL Xtreme 4's replaceable battery pack

Believe it or not, JBL will let you replace the Xtreme 4's battery in a kind nod to sustainability (sold separately) (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 3.5/5

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Value

  • Delivers a great user experience with top features and sound quality
  • But speaker’s main sticking point is its steep price
  • Competitors can offer brilliant quality at a far lower cost

Sure, the JBL Xtreme 4 delivers controlled bass, clear mids, and delicate highs, it also boasts a long battery life and some cool new features, but there’s one sticking point: you guessed it, the price.

You certainly get an enjoyable listening experience out of the Xtreme 4, but there are a number of cheaper, yet still high-quality alternatives out there. The Tribit Stormbox Blast, for instance, offers textured sound with booming bass for just $199 / £162 (around AU$300), 30 hour battery life, and customizable EQ settings. 

Additionally, the JBL Xtreme 3, is just £199.99 / AU$399.95 (but typically seeming to be priced much higher in the US at $379.95) as well, despite the pair having a myriad of similarities. So, if you’re into the JBL brand, but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars on a new speaker, the Xtreme 3 could be a better option.

At the time of writing, it just feels as if the Xtreme 4, despite its qualities, isn’t exactly the best value option on the market.

  • Value score: 3/5

Should you buy the JBL Xtreme 4?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FeaturesEverything you’d want from a portable speaker, with a fantastic battery life4.5/5
Sound qualityWell-rounded, dynamic sound, even at loud volumes4.5/5
DesignNot exactly stunning, but durable and IP67 certified3.5/5
ValueDespite strengths, there are a number of better value-for-money options3/5

Buy it if...

You’re looking for a long-lasting Bluetooth speaker
The Xtreme 4 could be considered long-lasting by two metrics: 1) it’s durable, waterproof and dustproof, and should be able to weather many a party or beachside trip; 2) it’s got an excellent battery life which can run up to 30 hours with Playtime Boost enabled.

You’re looking for powerful yet controlled bass
Out of the box, deep bass tones don’t quite hit the heights you’d hope to hear, but with custom EQ settings this reality quickly fades, and you can enjoy clear, low frequency sounds. Distortion is pretty limited at high volumes too, so you can trust the Xtreme 4’s low notes to make an impression, even with lots of background noise

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a tight budget
The Xtreme 4 isn’t exactly the cheapest option out there, and some of the JBL’s rivals do a great job at offering quality portable Bluetooth speakers at a considerably lower price point – see the Tribit Stormbox Blast for reference. It’s not carrying the same cost as certain more premium brands, mind you, so if you’re a fan of JBL’s products and want to pair your older models with this, it may still be a good fit for you.

You’re looking for something svelte and stylish
I don’t want to be mean to the Xtreme 4, it’s a very solid speaker, but I don’t think it’s the sleekest or most stunning portable option out there. An alternative which dons a similar look but executes it with more finesse is the Ultimate Ears Epicboom, carrying a list price of $299.99 / £329.99 / AU$399.00.

JBL Xtreme 4 review: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 JBL Xtreme 4Tribit Stormbox BlastUltimate Ears Epicboom
Price$379.95 / £329.99 / AU$499.95$199.99 / £162 (about AU$300)$349 / £340 / AU$499
Weight4.63 lbs / 2.1kg11.6lbs / 5.3kg2kg
Dimensions11.69 x 5.87 x 5.55 inches / 297 x 149 x 141mm14.4 x 4.1 x 3.1 inches (366 x 104 x 79 mm)16.2cm (L) x 11.9cm (W) x 24.1cm (H)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, USB-C, charge out Bluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3
Battery life24 hours (plus up to 6 hours more with Playtime Boost)30 hours17 hours
Speaker drivers2 x 30W woofers, 2 x 20W tweeters2x 30W woofer, 2 x 15W tweeters2 x 45mm active mid-high frequency transducers; 1 x 120mm woofer
Waterproof ratingIP67IPX7IP67

Ultimate Ears Epicboom
The winsome Ultimate Ears Epicboom comes in at the same price point as the JBL Xtreme 4 in the UK, and it also offers a very enjoyable all-round listening experience. But it looks good too, no? With its room-filling output and IP67 rating, it’s certainly worth considering if the Xtreme 4 has piqued your interest. Like the Xtreme 4, its strap doesn’t exactly provide premium levels of portability, especially considering its hefty build. The Epicboom’s clearest drawback, though, is its battery life of just 17 hours – so you may want to ponder whether the added chic style points are worth the drop in stamina.
Here’s our full Ultimate Ears Epicboom review.


Tribit Stormbox Blast
We’re big fans of the Tribit Stormbox Blast – it's a speaker that will keep the party moving well into the early hours with its epic 30 hour battery life, massive sound, and flashing LED lights. Not only that, but its official price is just $199.99 / £162 (about AU$300), making it the ultimate value pick. It is more than twice as heavy as the JBL Xtreme 4 however, and it lacks a dustproof rating, so it may not be so great if you’re looking for an ultra-portable beachside speaker.
Read more in our full Tribit Stormbox Blast review.

JBL Xtreme 4 review: How I tested

  • I put the speaker through its paces over a two-week-long period
  • Mostly used in our music testing room in the TechRadar office
  • I listened to a wide variety of music genres during each listening session

Using TechRadar’s intense and methodical testing procedure, I spent hours listening to music on the JBL Xtreme 4, trying its various EQ settings and determining its ease of operation. 

I used Spotify on my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Tidal on the Fiio M11S hi-res music player, to stream tracks from our curated (and regularly updated) TechRadar reference playlist. This included songs with pumping deep bass, delicate vocals, and complex mixes, enabling me to test a speaker’s full range and dynamic nuance across the frequencies. I also used the Anker Soundcore Boom 2 as a point of comparison, when appropriate.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: May 2024
Harry Padoan
Staff Writer

Harry is a Reviews Staff Writer for TechRadar. He reviews everything from party speakers to portable battery packs, but has a particular interest in the worlds of gaming and smartphones. Harry has a background in business tech journalism, particularly around the telecoms industry.