“This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Boombox” – JBL OnBeat Rumble Boombox Review

“This ain’t your daddy’s boombox” says JBL, and holy boombox, they’re right. The JBL OnBeat Rumble is capable of serious rocking. It sports a downward 4.5 inch subwoofer, a hidden lightning port and dock, wireless Bluetooth streaming with Harmon TrueStream technology, equalizer buttons, an app, and a mean looking design that’s super premium and high tech.

This isn’t one of those portable speakers you’re going to throw in your backpack. It’s a boombox. It’s medium sized and is portable enough to easily transport from room to room or to a friends house for an awesome party. It needs to be plugged in the wall to function. On the back is an auxiliary port, USB port, and even a line out (headphone) port. The aux port allows you to play music from virtually any device while the USB port allows you to charge any USB device. The built-in lightning dock is hidden and pops up with an easy press. The dock is capable of charging, docking, and playing music from lightning devices like iPod, iPhone 5, or iPad Mini.

The design of the Rumble has a mean look, almost like a muscle car. The entire face is a red mesh speaker grill. The rest of the speaker is glossy black plastic, unfortunately capable of showing finger prints. It’s awesome that the lightning dock recesses into the device. It looks much sexier not showing off an look an empty dock. You don’t need even need to own a lightning device to make the most of the OnBeat Rumble!

The OnBeat Rumble is really easy to use. There’s virtually no set up, other than maybe pairing your Bluetooth device (not required for docking or plugging in). On iOS you’re prompted to download the JBL MusicFlow app which gives you a little extra control over the audio EQ. In it’s current state (8/1/13), it’s a pretty disappointing app. You can only play music that’s in your iPod app (no Spotify, Rdio, Pandora) and it’s painful to sort through your music. Once playing you have access to a small collection of EQ presets. There’s no fine tuning involved.

The speaker on the Rumble will blow you away. You’ve never heard a boombox sound this good, and it’s sound you can feel. The downward facing subwoofer plays a nice role in this. By default, the Rumble is pretty bassy, but enjoyably so. There’s no distortion and the mids and highs compliment it well. The overall sound quality is very rich and detailed. There’s two buttons on the front of the device for changing EQ on the fly. Want more treble? Press the club button. Even more bass? Press the bass button. Want both? Press them both.

The OnBeat Rumble covers all the bases when it comes time to play your music. Lightning, auxiliary, and Bluetooth. All three methods sound almost equally as fantastic. The Bluetooth range is 30 feet and there’s rarely a cutout.

Verdict

With its 50 watts of amplification, this speaker powers parties and encourages dancing (tested). It also happens to be loud and boomy enough to generate noise complaints–so keep the downward facing subwoofer in mind. For the size it’s incredible. We love that the lightning dock can tuck away because we’d recommend this speaker to anyone who wants big sound. If you have an iOS lightning device, even better! At $399.95, this is definitely not a cheap speaker. It can, however, be way more affordable than bookshelf speakers, not to mention way more convenient. The portability is a key feature, but the only thing it’s missing is a battery.

The Good: BIG sound, sounds incredible, intense Bass, Lightning Dock that recesses, built-in USB/AUX/Headphone ports, fun and mean design, portable, and great sound quality over bluetooth.
The Bad: No handle, no audio track controls, MusicFlow App doesn’t add enough functionality and no battery.

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