JBL - JBL Charge 4


JBL Charge 4 portable speaker: ergonomic evolution against sound regression

Aprox. 139€ - see price -

See specifications

For this 4th edition of its popular nomad speaker capable of recharging a mobile device, JBL is operating only very slight alterations: greater battery capacity here, promotion to Bluetooth 4.2 there - while guaranteeing the same robustness, autonomy and power.

Positive points

Well built, robust, waterproof.

Excellent autonomy.

Multipoint connection.


Overall balance, voices present.

Bad points

No hands-free kit.


Bass under control.


Imprecision of high mids / highs.

Our review


We remember with fun the very first Charge and its rugby ball look. Since then, there has been 2 then 2+, 3, and finally 4, today under the eye of our microscope - or rather under the ear of our measuring microphone.

If the speaker has taken a few generations to find its final shape, the Charge 3 seems to have set the final tone. Apart from its slightly larger volume and weight (960 g), the latest addition is therefore almost identical to its predecessor. We thus find the domed cylindrical appearance, the particularly resistant braided fabric, the rubber for the contact or interaction areas, and more generally the robust construction stamped IPX7, allowing the enclosure to be submerged up to 1 m during 30 minutes.

Despite an above-average volume, the Charge 4 is easy to handle. The fabric covering allows you to grasp it with one hand, the buttons are large and the large non-slip base provides good stability to the speaker, on all types of surfaces - dry, it should be noted. The construction is still resistant to impact and falls.

The buttons provide access to power on / off, activation of Bluetooth pairing, play / pause, skip to the next track and volume control. The JBL Connect function allows, via the dedicated application, to associate the Charge with a sister - in stereo or double mono. It is however impossible to return to the start of the current track or take calls, the speaker being devoid of microphone, therefore of hands-free kit. Multipoint pairing allows the user to connect two devices simultaneously, switching from one to the other is done automatically upon receipt of a new signal.

Exit micro-USB: the rubber hatch now conceals a USB-C port, alongside a mini-jack input and USB-A for recharging a smartphone or tablet. The speaker still promises 20 hours of autonomy, but a recharge time reduced by half an hour. In fact, the battery held 24 hours 30 to 70% of the maximum volume, and ten hours by simultaneously charging a smartphone (iPhone 7). The level is displayed on the 5 LEDs visible on the front of the base. Excellent values in sum, briskly surpassing the average of fifteen hours in 2018.

The latency is more than 330 milliseconds, a value higher than that which we had measured on the Charge 3, inducing a notable image / sound shift. To watch videos with the Charge 4, it is better to go through the analog input.



The rendering is generally fairly balanced, with no serious accidents to report and no frequency range unfairly fined. The fact that the curve goes down on both sides of a plateau peaking between 800 Hz and 1 kHz attests however to a sound clearly focused on the mediums, even nasal depending on the mix.

The presence of the two passive radiators is strongly felt: locally accentuated around 70 Hz, the bass, very round, lack control and seem uncorrelated from the mix. Note, however, that the dip at 100 Hz is far from being as drastic when listening as it appears on the graph, and that the reinforcement between 200 and 300 Hz still allows the low mids to express themselves.

The voices are in the spotlight, particularly intelligible and present, just like the majority of instrumental melodies (played on guitar, violin, flute, harp ...). Alas, as soon as we push the listening volume beyond 60% of the maximum level, we find the lack of precision that we blamed on the high mids and highs of Charge 3: the timbres get blurred in a sort of vibrating and imprecise net. Without becoming really aggressive, some sounds can be flashy or hissing (pick picks, cymbals).

Fortunately, the Charge 4 has a very large power reserve and a fairly clean reproduction above 300 Hz. It is therefore possible to enjoy the richness of the rendering at a good listening volume, without having to cause hypertrophy of the bass or treble anger. Unlike the previous version, we did not observe any change in sound performance depending on the communication mode (wired / Bluetooth).

The sound unfolds with appreciable amplitude on the frontal horizontal axis. Note however that the speaker goes surprisingly from two speakers to one. The sound being only broadcast at the front of the speaker, it is therefore not a monophony justified by a desire for omnidirectional emission.



Apart from the absence of a hands-free kit and the impossibility of returning to the start of the track, JBL made a flawless side of the ergonomics of the Charge 4 which confirms its excellent autonomy, its robustness, its fluidity of use - and gains thanks to this generation renewal to USB-C port as well as a multipoint Bluetooth connection. On the other hand, we are surprised to find the sound faults that we blamed on its predecessor ... and to lose a speaker in the process. The result is nevertheless rich, generally balanced and very powerful, aimed at lovers of bass and vocal presence.