JBL - JBL Link Portable


Portable speaker JBL Link Portable: the revival of the very good Link 20

Aprox. 149€

See specifications

Last September came out the Link Portable, a rejuvenated version of the Link 20 that had made an impression with its design, its soft sound and its nomadic skills. Let's see how JBL goes about improving an already winning version ...

Positive points

Rich and warm sound.

Homogeneous 360 ° sound reproduction.

Ease of use, many indications.

Mobile use possible with good autonomy.

Neat and robust design (IPX7 certification)

Bad points

Precision clearly perfectible in the treble.

Strong degradation of the sound rendering beyond 60 to 75% of the maximum volume.

No wired connections, few control buttons.

Our review


The JBL Link Portable is a so-called "smart" portable speaker that is based on the Google Assistant voice assistant. It offers a dual Wi-Fi / Bluetooth wireless connection and is Chromecast / AirPlay 2 compatible. It is intended to replace the Link 10, the first generation "intelligent" speaker from JBL and little sister of the Link 20.

Supplied with a base for sedentary use, it can also be nomadic thanks to its integrated battery and brave the bad weather (IPX7 certification). It announces an autonomy of 8 hours and it is available at a price of 150 €.


The design of the Link Portable is a continuation of that of the Link 20: same general shape and same covering fabric, just as pleasant to look at as to touch. This one is even more sober than that of its predecessor with its more discreet control zones, arranged at the ends of the cylinder without encroaching on the fabric. The enclosure, IPX7 certified, can be used outdoors without fear: it resists rain, splashes and immersion in a meter of water for 30 minutes.

The Link Portable works exclusively wirelessly. It is capable of simultaneously managing a Bluetooth 4.2 connection and a Wi-Fi connection. It can therefore be used as a simple Bluetooth speaker or as a "smart" speaker via the Google Assistant voice assistant. The Portable Link, compatible with Chromecast and AirPlay2, can distribute its audio streams to other compatible speakers in the house (multiroom function).

The majority of the functionalities being accessible via Google Home, the control buttons on the speaker are reduced to what is strictly necessary: on the back there is the on / off control, the Bluetooth pairing, the USB type C charging connector and a button to mute the integrated microphones for the voice assistant. In addition to the volume controls, there is a colored button on the upper side to manually activate the voice assistant or interrupt all sounds coming out of the speaker with a single gesture. All of these commands are efficient and responsive.

The Link Portable has two visual interfaces on the front, in the form of discrete white LEDs visible through the fabric. The bottom LED indicates the Wi-Fi connection and stays on constantly. The top 4 lights flash during Bluetooth pairing and when you have captured the voice assistant's attention. They also indicate the sound level when you change the volume. The rest of the time, they are off or turn orange when the microphones are deactivated. Audible and vocal indications from the assistant make the user experience very intuitive.

We measured an autonomy of 10 hours, 2 hours more than the autonomy announced by the manufacturer. Full recharge takes 5 hours. These are good performances for this product whose main use is residential, on its support which can remain permanently connected: the autonomy is sufficient to take advantage of the Link during a day outside. An indicator light on the back indicates the charge level of the device.

Speech Recognition

The integrated microphones of the Link Portable deliver a good quality of voice capture. Speech recognition is very good in a calm environment, including when speaking from an adjacent room, provided you raise your voice a little (as if you were speaking to a real person). In the same way, when the speaker plays music, it will understand the "OK Google" only if it is pronounced with an intensity proportional to the distance and the sound level of the speaker. Once triggered and listening, the assistant lowers the level of music played by the speaker, which greatly facilitates the capture of our requests (the capture is as good as in a quiet environment).

Recognition becomes more difficult in a noisy environment. Indeed, the microphones help the assistant to capture the trigger phrase without too much difficulty, but the requests that follow are sometimes badly received or misinterpreted when you are a little far from the speaker. You must therefore ensure that you speak out loud and intelligible, within two to three meters, depending on the noise level and the acoustics of the room, and there may still be misfires. In all cases, voice recognition works better on low voices than on high voices (female or child).


The Link Portable delivers a warm, soft sound that remains well balanced when you do not push the listening volume too much.

Below 60 to 75% of the maximum volume, the extension to the low extremes is very good for a speaker of this size. The bass is therefore relatively deep, but it also stands out for its round and warm appearance, the Link Portable emphasizing the low / low mid range. The template contained in the enclosure still shows limits in the reproduction of this area. The precision and the management of the distortion would indeed benefit from being much better. The mid / high-mid zone is attenuated, with no major notable accidents, and there is a rise in the extreme highs. This behavior contributes to the soft sound. The feeling of presence is still correct and the stamps well respected. Rendering in the treble, although relatively balanced in terms of frequency response, however lacks precision and sharpness. We therefore have a "chemical" aspect which is not always very pleasant and clearly audible on cymbals, for example. The speaker projects the sound evenly at 360 °, which allows it to fill the space of a small room well and give a pleasant spatial feeling, although the reproduction is done in mono.

A deterioration of the sound rendering occurs when we exceed 60 to 75% of the maximum volume (which roughly corresponds to the activation of the fourth led of the speaker, variable depending on the song listened to). A strong compression of the dynamics is activated then, most certainly in order to protect the speaker. This significantly changes the listening experience since the sound is clearly "drier", more "stiff", much less pleasant overall. In question, a significant attenuation of the bass and treble which logically leads to a highlighting of the mids.

Rest assured, the power reserve of the Link Portable below this level remains very correct given its size. We can thus broadcast music indoors in a living room of about 10 to 15 m² by holding a conversation without having to raise the voice significantly. Outdoors, listening is comfortable within 2 meters, for example with the speaker on the dining table or next to his beach towel.


After a successful Link 20, JBL persists and signs with this Portable Link. This small "intelligent" speaker is practical, discreet, robust (IPX7) and delivers good sound rendering. It is positioned as a good companion for Google Assistant and overall as a pleasant listening companion. The Link Portable is a great alternative to Google Home.