Customer Review

275 of 311 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Sound Quality in a Great Package, May 25, 2012
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This review is from: Jawbone BIG JAMBOX Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - White Wave - Retail Packaging (Wireless Phone Accessory)
Note: This is an adaptation of my review of the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker - Nylon, which is also an excellent option, as noted below.

I recently purchased several bluetooth speakers to test in my bedroom and office in hopes that I would like one enough to keep. Before I get into the details, I'll cut to the chase and let you know that I decided to keep the Big Jambox over the Bose SoundLink. While the Bose puts out a truly impressive amount of sound from such a small, portable package, the sound quality is not as good as the Big Jambox at low to normal volume levels.

The products I tested were the Bose SoundLink Wireless, Jawbone Jambox, Jawbone Big Jambox, and Logitech Wireless Boombox. Without getting into too much detail about other products, I found that the two best speakers for filling a medium to large room with music were the Bose SoundLink and Big Jambox, which isn't a surprise given the that these are the two most expensive speakers of the bunch, both priced at $299. Ultimately, though, I felt that the Big Jambox sounded and looked better (for my taste), so I returned the Bose and Logitech Wireless Boombox (I also kept the little Jambox for my office, which doesn't sound nearly as good as the bigger speakers, but makes for a great ultra-portable speaker for half the price ($150)).

My biggest problem with the sound of the Bose Soundlink is that there's far too much bass at low to normal volume levels. This is a problem for me because the bass clouds the rest of the music -- vocals become difficult to hear and the treble is nearly non-existent. The Bose sounds muddy and veiled under these circumstances, especially in small rooms. And to be clear, I'm a big fan of bass. I hate speakers that have no bass because the music I listen to (jazz, pop, hip hop, electronic) really benefit from bass. In contrast, the Big Jambox has a much better balance of bass, midrange, and treble at low to normal volume levels, providing a clearer overall sound.*

However, this is only an issue when the volume on the Bose is lower. As you turn the volume up, the bass becomes less pronounced, as if the other frequencies get louder but the bass stays at the same level. It sounds much much better when the volume is cranked up. In fact, I would say the Bose sounds significantly better than the Big Jambox at high volumes -- at their loudest settings, the Bose projects a bigger, richer sound than the Big Jambox, which can sound a bit shrill and boxed in at its higher settings. The "better" speaker ultimately comes down to how loud you listen to music.

This isn't to say that the Big Jambox sounds bad at high volumes. Frankly, I don't think anyone relying on a small wireless speaker is expecting perfection. The Big Jambox can still fill a very large room with an impressive amount of sound, and I find that it tends to distort less at higher volumes than the Bose. Not to mention the Big Jambox comes in a fantastic package. The speaker in white is extremely attractive, well built, has a long battery life, syncs easily with multiple devices, and has a great speakerphone option. Ultimately, I preferred the sound of the Big Jambox for my use and decided to keep that speaker. If you're more of a party-level listener, though, you would be wise to choose differently.

*One issue I've had with the Big Jambox is that, unlike the Bose, the Big Jambox emits a static "hissing" sound that is audible in a quiet room. If you listen to music at low volume or sit near the speaker, this sound will be very obvious (and possibly quite annoying). The Bose has no hiss sound whatsoever. I'm hoping this is an issue Jawbone can fix with a firmware update, as they did with the little Jambox, but it's not much of an issue for me since I listen at normal volumes and never sit near the speaker.
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Comments


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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 29, 2012 7:23:30 PM PDT
M. Hostetter says:
FWIW, I have not been able to detect any hiss from my Big Jambox. Perhaps it is your source or a defective Jambox.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 7:32:26 PM PDT
Hubert says:
Thanks for your comment. I assumed this was an issue with all Jambox devices, since I had experienced the same issue with the little Jambox, but you're right that it could be an issue with my source. I will test with other sources and update my review accordingly. Thanks again.

Posted on Dec 25, 2012 9:03:12 AM PST
Steve K. says:
I just received my Big Jambox, purchased in large part due to this review, and I could hardly believe my ears when I powered it up. It literally sounds like a mid-level clock radio. Music and speaker sound quality is a very subjective topic but I can't understand how anyone would describe this unit as having "big sound". As is common with most small speaker sound systems, bass is nearly non-existent, highs are tinny and mid-range is over-boosted in a sacrificial effort to provide more volume at higher levels. The only person I can suggest this product to is for someone that regularly uses the external speaker on his/her phone and is looking for an upgrade to the walkie-talkie sound quality that provides.

If you're an audiophile with a quality home stereo and you're very skeptical of these small speaker solutions, as I was, don't believe the hype. After this purchase please believe me when I tell you small speaker technology is the same as it was 15 years ago. Apparently MP3 sound quality and the huge selection of terrible earbuds have forced expectations through the floor.

I'll be fair and mention the pros of this product too. It's easy to setup and use, it's extremely small and ridiculously portable as it doesn't use a single wire.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2012 9:40:27 PM PST
Hubert says:
As mentioned in my review, you can't expect perfection from such a small, wireless speaker. Those seeking "audiophile" grade sound should look elsewhere. However, I think most people would be impressed with how much sound this little speaker can produce. Despite being wireless and "ridiculously portable," this speaker can fill a medium to large room with decent sounding music.

I also have a dedicated stereo system in my home with floor standing speakers, a tube amp and pre-amp, a turntable, a DAC, etc., so it's fair to say that my expectations are higher than the average person. Still, I'm happy with the Big Jambox. In my opinion, it sounds leagues better than my clock radio, it looks great on my dresser, and it's the only speaker I own that I can carry around the house.

Posted on Jan 2, 2013 4:51:11 PM PST
B. Hagan says:
I wish I had read this before buying. The hissing issue is significant to me as I listen at a relatively low volume close to the speaker. It really makes everything that comes through it sound pretty bad.

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 5:53:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2013 12:09:19 PM PST
VicAriel says:
I've just had my Big Jambox for a couple days. I'm not a phile. I don't detect any hissing at low volume using a Galaxy S3 as the music source. I have a mid-price stereo system. I didn't expect the Jambox to have the same sound quality and it doesn't. However I found it to have superior sound quality to clock radios or the wired speakers I plugged into my phone. The Jambox has exceeded my expectations.

Edit -
I play mostly instrumentals on my Jambox. However on one vocal all of the singer's S's had a hiss. Another vocal didn't.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2013 4:24:22 AM PST
PDaddy says:
I think you are talking about the Jambox (small). The Big Jambox is A LOT better than any alarm clock.

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 2:21:25 PM PST
S. Varner says:
I have the Bose and wish to heck I would not have purchased Bose. You are right - the bass distorts the highs and if someone is speaking it's hard to understand and echos. Bose is so over priced compared to some other lower cost speakers I have owned.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2014 11:17:26 AM PST
If you could install, activate or download an electronic eight or ten band equalizer at your source, you may be able to lower the mid-bass and just leave the ultra low-bass. Too much mid-bass is annoying and drowns out the higher frequencies. You will love the improvement.
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