As I have said before in other reviews, portable speakers are popping up literally everywhere. Walk into an electronics store, and you will see a crazy multitude that could leave you somewhat speechless while trying to figure out which one is right for you. It takes quite a bit to stand apart from the crowd, and there are a ton of different ways that companies use to do so. Some try to wow you with big flashy wording on the package, others add as many LEDs as they can, and still, others think that the more bullet points that you can have on your box, the better. The Jam portable Bluetooth speaker by HMDX does none of those things, but makes quite a splash nonetheless.
The first thing that is going to catch your eye with the Jam speaker is just how cute the packaging is. You see, HMDX decided to go all out with the “jam” concept, shipping the speaker in a jar that looks like one you would find edible jam in. It’s very different than the HMDX Jam Plus speaker. On the rear of the jar is a label that is set up just like a normal “Nutritional Information” label that you would find on the rear of a food product, but here it lists information on the speaker. It just adds to the cuteness factor, and is quite a clever marketing ploy from a company that usually puts things in simple and straightforward packaging. Oh, I didn’t mention that yet – the HMDX Jam is made by HoMedics. Yes, that same company that makes back and foot massagers (and my paraffin wax bath) are dipping their hands into the audio business with this product, and really who can blame them? There have been countless studies documenting the positive health benefits that music can have on a person, so in a way, it is still right up their alley.
Unlike the House of Marley Bag of Riddim Bluetooth speaker, the HMDX Jam speaker is fairly simple – I received a “blueberry” jam speaker, which meant it was (of course) blue. It is a tapered cylinder in shape, but tapered very slightly so you might almost not even notice it. On the “front” (I’m using that term loosely, as I’m not entirely sure how to designate the front or back of a cylinder that has no markings on it) are the play/pause and volume up and down buttons. Next to the volume up is a little LED that will let you know when the Bluetooth is connected to something. Around the rear is the line-in port, and the charging port – everything is very simplistic and minimalistic here. On the bottom of the Jam is a toggle switch that lets you turn the speaker on and off as well as the pairing code, should you ever forget 0000.
Design aesthetics and cuteness are all well and good, and might sell a few units – but if a speaker doesn’t sound good, no one is going to want it. The HMDX Jam sounds really, really good up to about 75% volume. Not only does the sound coming from it sound good, but it is loud and travels well. I was using it outside and could hear it pretty much all over my yard, which is really good for a speaker this small. Something you might not expect from a single small speaker (because of the poor performance numerous other portable speakers have shown us), is decent-sounding bass. Now it’s not going to be anything earth-shaking, but I’ll be dammed if it doesn’t have better bass than any other small speaker I’ve used in the past. The highs and mids also come out pretty much crystal clear, but it is the bass that really impressed me as that seems to be where most small speakers falter. After you turn the volume up past 75% though, things go downhill in a hurry. Again, this is hardly the fault of the HMDX Jam itself, as most small speakers when pushed will distort like crazy (I even had a large speaker system distort on me like it recently), but I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t at least mention it.
Bottom Line: While HoMedics might be known for massagers and such, the Jam proves that they could easily move into the realm of sound systems and have more hits on their hands (for cheaper than anyone else to boot).
You can get an HMDX Jam from the HMDX Audio site for the decent price of $49.99