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JBL Auracast Speakers - Making Multi-Room Audio Affordable and Easy

Glenn Hart,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jul 2024, 11:24am

JBL Auracast Speakers - Making Multi-Room Audio Affordable and Easy

Glenn Hart,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jul 2024, 11:24am

Since the moment I digitised my music library (yes, that means pre-streaming - back when you had to rip actual CDs onto a hard drive) it has been my goal to be able to access that library from every room in the house.

Yes, even way back then, you could wire a sound system into the walls and ceilings of your home. It was expensive and complicated but if you had the resources, you could do it.

On the other hand, being a tech nerd on a fairly modest income, I thought for sure there had to be a way to achieve the same thing wirelessly. There was... but it involved some pretty random bits of cobbled-together hardware and it only worked about thirty per cent of the time.

It wasn't until the advent of affordable smart speakers, a decade or so later, that I really started to see a way to reliably play my favourite tracks everywhere at the same time, in any room or even outside.

There were still limitations though - most smart speakers aren't portable and they rely on a fixed Wi-Fi connection.

Well, JBL's new range of portable bluetooth speakers has introduced me to a new kind of connectivty which has completely unleashed my home listening experience.

The Go 4, Clip 5 and Xtreme 4 are all excellent JBL speakers in their own right.

As JBL's smallest portable, the Go has been a favourite little powerhouse of mine for a few generations now and this latest model steps things up with even more surprising bass response than ever before - I still can't figure out how they squeeze so much power from such a tiny package. A speaker of this size should sound thin and tinny but the Go 4 just doesn't.

It's more durable than ever too - gone are the unforgiving sharp corners of earlier incarnations - now everything's rubberised and rugged, with an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating to boot.

There are six colour combinations to choose from, and like the previous model, it has a useful (and durable) loop built into the top right corner so you can attach it to your belt, backpack or whatever.

While seven hours playback on a full charge isn't exactly world-beating, it's pretty solid for a speaker this small and weirdly it has a Playtime Boost button which not only increases volume and sharpens the EQ slightly, somehow it's supposed to extend battery life by up to two hours too. I have to admit, I haven't tested this scientifically but... well... cool, I guess.

You'll also find Playtime Boost on the Clip 5 - this time extending 12 hours playback to as much as 15. Like the Go 4, the new Clip also comes in six colourways and it's equally water and dustproof.

The Clip 5 packs quite a bit more punch than the smaller Go 4 and I found it to be a very useful travel companion on a recent overseas holiday. The totally redesigned carabiner at the top now opens wide enough to fit the Clip onto pretty much anything, from handlebars to shower heads.

Finally, for a bigger, boombox-like experience, the Xtreme 4 steps in - also rugged and rubbery, also IP67 and yes, it also boasts the new Playtime Boost feature. This time around the power savings are quite amazing - another 6 hours on top of the 24 hours you can expect from a full charge, which in itself was already a significant upgrade over the Xtreme 3. 

This is quite a feature-packed (and power-packed) device. There's a comfy shoulder strap included with a handy bottle-opener buckle and rubber grip lines underneath to help keep it in place while you're on the move.

You can charge other devices (like your phone) from the built-in power pack and because it ships with a very high-capacity charging brick in the box, it actually charges much faster than many other portable speakers - just ten minutes charge should get you another two hours playback.

There are two woofers, two big drivers and dual bass radiators, so if you're after a bit of woomp woomp woomp in your life, the Xtreme 4 can definitely deliver.

All three of these new JBL devices are heavily endowed with recycled materials and environmentally friendly packaging. All three are Bluetooth 5.3 enabled - which means a stronger, more reliable connection. And they all also connect to the JBL Portable app for easy firmware upgrades and EQ tweaks. Yes, you can even customise the EQ on the little Go 4.

But for me, the big news here is Auracast, a whole new way of connecting bluetooth devices together which could well revolutionise the way we think about multi-speaker and multi-room setups.

Auracast has been designed to allow any enabled device to connect to the same source, regardless of the model, form factor or manufacturer. The potential here is pretty huge - imagine everyone listening to the same TV show with their own headphones at their own personal volume.

This is different to previous JBL and Harman/Kardon connection protocols like PartyBoost - that was only for certain JBL/HK speakers. Auracast is much more brand and device-agnostic.

And it's so easy.

Just a press of the triangular Auracast logo on any (or all) of these speakers and they're instantly paired, playing the same song. This means when you use Auracast to connect the Go 4 and Clip 5 together, suddenly you have a much bigger, room-filling sound. Add the Xtreme 4 into the mix and suddenly all that extra power and bass response is also at your disposal.

Thanks to the superior range offered by Bluetooth 5.3, you're not limited to using all those speakers in the same room either. Just like that, all my multi-room fantasies are realised. I can stick each one of these speakers in a separate room, playing from the same source, all sounding great. The whole system comes in at under NZ$700.00. The Go 4 is only NZ$69.95 so you could conceivably plonk one in every room without breaking the bank.

Auracast means a much more modular, come-and-go approach to home audio and I'm excited to see what brands like JBL will do with it next.




Click here for more information on the JBL Go 4.


Click here for more information on the JBL Clip 5.


Click here for more information on the JBL Xtreme 4.

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