Review: JBL PartyBox Ultimate

Use with caution!

With a total of 1,100 watts of power, JBL's partybox is truly the ultimate party speaker.

Published 2023-11-15 - 8:00 am
JBL PartyBox Ultimate
Lasse Svendsen

The huge JBL speaker can raise the dead and scare the Devil out of Hell. It is not for nothing that they call it Ultimate.

The recipe is the same as for all JBL’s party boxes, but with even more yeast added to raise the sound level so the windows pop out of the walls.

With a total power output of 1,100 watts across six drivers, it’s obvious that it’s going to be loud, but that doesn’t mean it sounds good.

JBL has tried. On the product label, it says Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi. If you connect the music from your mobile phone via the network, you get a wireless highway directly to the JBL speaker, which not only supports high-resolution audio from Tidal, Qobuz or Apple Music. You also get Dolby Atmos sound where available.

You’ll also avoid having the music stop and the ringtone on the speaker ringing if someone calls you.

Also check out Concert sound in the garden

If you can't get the party started with the JBL PartyBox 710, it's not the speaker that's to blame.

Six drivers

The speaker is larger and much heavier than the JBL Partybox 710, but otherwise doesn’t look that different. Both have wheels so you can cart them around, and two inputs for guitar and microphone beneath a cover on the back. And a mixer and tone control on top. The speaker can also be wirelessly connected in stereo with an extra Partybox speaker, or with many if you need to.

Mixer and party pad on top. Photo: JBL

Which I doubt. A single Partybox Ultimate goes a long way, and since it doesn’t use a battery but plugs into a 230-volt socket, it can play for longer than guests can dance.

Beneath a flashing light show are six speaker units. The two 24.2 cm woofers are clearly noticeable even when playing low, and when playing loud, you can feel them in your body. The bass boost button is largely superfluous, and if you press it anyway, it’s almost too much of a good thing. The two basses work together with two 12 cm midrange drivers and two 7.4 cm tweeters, which actually results in quite good sound quality over a wide frequency range.

Photo: JBL

The app is essential

To take full control of the speaker, you need to download the JBL One app. With it, you can control the light show, adjust the sound with EQ and control the music. This is also where you pair the speaker with several other party boxes, and the app is also needed to programme the three illuminated touch pads on the top of the speaker.

These can be used to add selected sound effects when playing music and to add microphone effects if a microphone is connected.

IPX4 certified

The speaker is IPX4 certified and can withstand rain, sleet and pints of beer. Wheels are a prerequisite for moving it. The weight of 39.5 kilos rules it out as portable, and with a height of over a metre, it takes two people to lift it.

A combined power output of 1,100 watts. Photo: JBL

Shockingly loud

The vigorous light show can be switched off completely, or if you prefer, it can be switched on without annoying flashing. Otherwise, the lights follow the music, and the music doesn’t just affect the light show. You also feel it in your body.

Pull out Kylie Minogue’s latest album Tension (Deluxe), turn up the volume and hold on tight. You’ll feel the sound through your body if you stand close to the speaker, and the sound carries well over a long distance. The neighbours will have no doubt that you’re having a party. Especially if you’re having the party in the garden.

I brought it to an indoor party and it took about a second from when the music started to when people started pouring out onto the dance floor. The bass is tight and defined if you don’t play too loud or use bass boost, and the sound never gets harsh and shrill. Most of it is well controlled and I doubt anyone would want to turn the volume knob all the way up.

 

Photo: JBL

It simply gets too loud then, and the sound becomes muddy with a muddy bass. But otherwise, the JBL speaker is literally a joy to use. If you dim the lights, the light show is quite effective. And it doesn’t mind playing other types of music. Of course, it’s not the speaker for refined resolution, but for volume and danceable bass. By that criterion, the Partybox Ultimate is indeed the ultimate party speaker.

Also check out Soundboks 2

It is a festival speaker above all others, with crazy sound levels with a battery life for the whole weekend.

Conclusion

The JBL PartyBox Ultimate plays as loud as a Soundbox, but sounds somewhat cleaner and the bass is fatter. With mic and guitar inputs, Wi-Fi and EQ, it’s also very flexible. If you know someone who also has a JBL PartyBox, you can link the speakers together in stereo, and if you’re having a party on a football pitch, you can link even more together to create a powerful party sound all over the pitch. Unfortunately, all this fun comes at a price. In fact, it’s more than twice as expensive as the JBL PartyBox 710, and not everyone will find it worth the price.

Karakter
JBL PartyBox Ultimate
High End

We think

Plays nauseatingly loud. Can be paired in stereo or with multiple speakers. Wi-Fi streaming. Microphone and guitar inputs. No battery operation. High price, heavy weight.

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