Jawbone Big Jambox Review
Bigger isn’t always better, right? That’s a rather old adage, and while it stands true for many things, gadgets included, it’s anything but the case for Jawbone. And good thing, because their Big Jambox, which costs $250, sounds vastly better than the first, perhaps more than twice as good.
The first Jawbone Jambox was a sort of game changer. Don’t get me wrong. There had been Bluetooth speakers prior, but Jawbone did it right, producing an almost full range of sound, and more importantly bass that you could actually feel, even when you powered on the tiny speaker. Furthering its prowess was the 10-hour battery life and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a headphone input so you could listen on just about any smartphone. That was over 2-years ago now, and since a number of competitors have emerged with speakers that sound comparable if not better. Some of those include Philips’ ruggedized Shoqbox and Jabra’s Soulmate (review coming soon).
So to remain competitive Jawbone released the Big Jambox. The design is an almost carbon copy of the original Jambox, though there is the addition of a PAIR button – the first iteration used the power switch to accomplish this – as well as track and play buttons. Volume and the headphone input continue in the Big Jambox, as well as a charging/power port, which lays alternate to using the microUSB port. And although the Big Jambox doesn’t quite measures twice the size of the original Jambox, it is more than twice as heavy (2.7lbs vs 12oz) and costs $100 more.
So that begs the question is the Big Jambox twice as good as its smaller brother? Better. I’m not sure I could quantify it in multiples, but sonically the Big Jambox beats the mini version many times over. The soundstage is much, much larger, and the mids, which are drowned out in the original Jambox are completely available for your consumption. The Big Jambox is also louder, by at least a two fold, if not three.
By default, the Big Jambox ships with something the company calls LiveAudio. The technology is designed to further immerse you in the sound, as if you were actually there, though it’s probably a more analogous experience to using headphones. Turning the feature on is as simple as holding the + and – volume buttons until you hear an audio prompt. When active it’s easier to distinguish between different instruments, though with that amplitude is reduced by about 20%.
Much like the original Jambox, the Big Jambox appears to be tough as nails. I didn’t toss it down a set of stairs, but in my hands it felt extremely well built, as if it were one solid piece of metal.
And not for nothing the Big Jambox rocks a 15-hour battery life versus the Jambox’s 10-hours. It’s important to note that batteries are very much in line with the law of deprecating returns. In this instance a louder more powerful Jambox means less battery life, proportionately speaking of course. Charging this device will take sometime, though, I don’t have an actual spec since it’s difficult to measure.
As with the previous Jambox, and like many other Bluetooth speakers, there is an integrated mic for making speakerphone telephone calls. I’m happy to report that the Big Jambox’s speakerphone functionality works superbly, with callers reporting crystal clear sound on the other end thanks to the integrated echo-cancelation.
So to be candid, I’m torn. The Big Jambox sounds vastly better than its smaller and older brother. However, relatively speaking the Big Jambox is not nearly as portable since it weighs more than two times as much, and almost measures twice as big. The original Jambox wasn’t encumbering in a bag or backpack, where the presence of the Big Jambox is vastly evident. But as with any product, there are always caveats. And in this case, the Big Jambox’s larger size is a worthy, and justifiable caveats, especially since its audio quality is vastly superior to the original Jambox and many other Bluetooth speakers that are available today.
Bottom Line: the Big Jambox is one of the best sounding portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy today.