Our VerdictAmong the best lightweight speakers around, the Xtreme 2 offers sonic subtlety you wouldn’t…
Best JBL Playlist Speaker Black Friday Deals 2020
The Playlist is unmistakably a JBL product, with a keen, entertaining voice that may prick up many an ear
Lashings of low end
Google Cast compatible
Would reap the benefits of more restraint
Needs sweeter treble…
…together with better timing and dynamics
If JBL’s latest offering were a genuine playlist, what will be onto it? We thought REM’s Drive, The Stooges’ Fun House and Lou Reed’s I’m So Free could be decent places to start out.
Sadly the latter doesn’t make reference to the Playlist’s price, however the fact this wireless speaker comes kitted out with Google Cast helps it be (figuratively) freer than some of its Bluetooth-only cousins.
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There continues to be Bluetooth compatibility, of course, for when you don’t get access to wi-fi or want to play music from YouTube or iTunes, and an analogue aux connection for just about any non-wireless sources or for all those who’d simply rather do things the old-fashioned way.
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There are two main benefits associated with Cast. First, you get access to higher-resolution audio tracks (the Playlist are designed for up to 24bit/96kHz) and, because music is streamed from your own network instead of your phone or tablet, you aren’t tethered to the 10m-or-so radius of a Bluetooth signal.
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JBL includes a reputation for building hardy wireless speakers with heft, and as we lift it from the box the Playlist appears no exception. It’s over 30cm wide and weighs a lot more than 1kg.
The Playlist conceals some 57mm drivers behind its mesh grille, with a pill-shaped reflex port obvious at its rear. We don’t particularly anticipate timidity.
JBL has long understood the good thing about simplicity with regards to a product of the type, so but also for the reflex port and a row of touch-sensitive controls on its top – for power, volume, playback and Bluetooth pairing – the chassis is clear of clutter and confusion.
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The first thing to accomplish once you’ve plugged the Playlist in – that is a mains-powered speaker, which means you won’t manage to take it outside with you – is to hook up it to the wi-fi network via Cast.
It’s as easy as downloading the Cast app, holding down the play/pause button to allow speaker emit its signal and letting technology do the others.
For playback, all you have to do is open your desired streaming service and press the Cast icon to commence playing through the Playlist, making use of your phone or tablet for skipping tracks and volume control.
It’s appropriate for Spotify Connect, too, which we assume will be many people’s favoured source because of this piece of kit.
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We commence by playing BadBadNotGood’s album IV using Spotify Connect. The Playlist’s drive, promised by its physical bulk, is delivered – with a wholesome dose of low-end action too.
There’s thick body to the ping-ponging mallets and laid-back rhythm track on And That, Too, with acoustic wind instruments dealt to leading of the pack.
It’s an authoritative presentation too, with the opening glissandos of Speaking Gently performed confidently.
All that warmth and stability really involves the fore with vocal tracks, such as for example Samuel T. Herring’s promptly Moves Slow, and Hyssop Of Love featuring Mick Jenkins.
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We aren’t looking for audiophile degrees of detail or dynamics from a £150 wireless speaker, but there’s no potential for these tracks sounding lightweight or tinny.
There’s a strength and tenderness to the sound which makes the JBL sound more human than a lot of its competitors.
That bulk in the low-end doesn’t skew the total amount: it could make our table vibrate without neglecting all of those other frequency range or mudding up the mix.
Not absolutely all of the Playlist’s frequency range matches the reduced end for quality, though. There’s hook coarseness to the treble, that may stand out – especially at higher volumes – and becomes more clear over longer listens.
While we’re fans of JBL’s forward, enthusiastic presentation, just a little restraint wouldn’t go amiss.
Audio Pro’s Addon T3 isn’t a primary match regarding spec or price – there’s no wi-fi and you’re paying a supplementary £20, though some of this is offset by its portability – nonetheless it highlights the sort of subtlety lacking here.
Less centered on the all-out entertainment which makes the JBL stick out, the Addon T3 offers a lighter, more agile touch in terms of timing and dynamics.
Heading back to Speaking Gently, the T3 demonstrates a far more organised, coherent knowledge of the percussive patterns that arrive about 40 seconds in. If we were to select between the two to hear over an extended period, the more adept Addon T3 would win out.
Having said that, the Playlist certainly comes from top if you’re after a far more forward, enthusiastic presentation. The JBL feels more fitted to a celebration, or somewhere