Tom's Guide Verdict
JBL’s Boombox 3 has a wide sound with booming bass, and there's plenty of power to rock your party — indoors or out.
Rugged design and long battery life
Heavy for a portable
Treble can sound harsh
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Price: $499 / £449 / AU$699
Colors: Black, squad
Size: 19.0 x 10.1 x 7.9 inches
Weight: 14.7 pounds
Battery life (rated): 24 hours
If you frequently find yourself playing tunes for a crowd at various locations, the JBL Boombox 3 will make sure your music gets heard.
You have options if you want a party speaker, but the Boombox 3 hits a sweet spot. The latest generation of this portable outdoor speaker delivers big bass and a wide sound at impressive volume.
It costs more than its closest competition, but Boombox 3 sounds better than those options at higher volume. It lacks a light show and additional inputs that you’ll find on some other party speakers. But if you’re looking for a straightforward sound machine that can withstand the elements and rock the party, the Boombox 3 should be on your wish list.
Keep scrolling to read my full JBL Boombox 3 review, and to see if it's worthy of ranking as one of the best Bluetooth speakers.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Price and availability
The Boombox 3 was launched in 2022 and retails for $499 / £449 / AU$699, which is about $50 more than the UE Hyperboom. It’s available in black or squad, which looks like camo.
JBL has also announced the Boombox 3 Wi-Fi with Dolby Atmos support. It costs £549 and is available in the U.K.
If you want a similar speaker for less, JBL still sells the Boombox 2 for $399.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Design
The Boombox 3 looks like a giant JBL Charge 5 with a handle on top. The handle is useful, but at 19.0 x 10.1 x 7.9 inches and weighing 14.7 pounds, the Boombox 3 is portable in concept but you won’t want to be lugging it with you on a hike. By comparison, the UE Hyperboom measures 14.3 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches and weighs 13 pounds.
It’s built to withstand some banging around, with a sturdy handle and hard plastic end caps. A stiff mesh covers its two tweeters, two midrange drivers and single subwoofer. With an IP67 durability rating, you don’t need to worry if a sudden storm sweeps in or if it gets dunked in the pool.
On the back, you’ll find covered ports for connecting the power cord and a 3.5mm auxiliary input. There’s also a USB port you can use to power your other portable devices.
The Boombox 3 lacks a digital optical port, which the Hyperboom includes. And unlike many party-focused speakers, such as the Tribit StormBox Blast, the Boombox 3 doesn’t have any light show to go with the sound.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Controls and connectivity
The Boombox 3 has lighted buttons for power and Bluetooth connection on top, as well as less obvious controls for volume, skipping a track and PartyBoost for linking up with other JBL speakers.
The JBL Portable app adds some additional controls, including a three-band equalizer, though it doesn’t have any preset sound modes. You can also use the app to monitor battery life and turn off feedback tones, as well as to engage PartyBoost.
The Boombox 3 paired quickly with my phone over Bluetooth, and always reconnected smoothly when I turned the speaker on. The speaker maintained a strong connection at more than 100 feet outdoors, as well as more than 50 feet indoors with several walls between the Boombox 3 and my phone.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Sound quality
The JBL Boombox 3 produces very good sound overall, with booming bass and strong vocals. Due to its horizontal orientation, it also has a wider sound than the Hyperboom. It handles loud songs better than soft ones, though.
While listening to "Cracker Island" by Gorillaz, the funky bass line resonated deeply while Damon Albarn’s vocals were easy to hear and the instruments were nicely separated in the mix. The horns in Ezra Collective’s "Life Goes On" sounded punchy while the drums thundered.
At lower volumes, the Hyperboom produced a better overall balance of treble, midrange and bass tones than the Boombox 3, but at medium and high volumes the Boombox 3 surged ahead in sound quality.
The Boombox 3 sometimes struggled with harsh treble, though, especially on acoustic music. The fingerpicked guitar on Fleetwood Mac’s "Never Going Back Again" sounded too bright, for example.
The Boombox 3 has plenty of volume to be heard above the din of a gathering. It measured around 97 decibels at max volume, though the sound wasn’t as pleasing when pushing it to the limit.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Battery life
JBL says the Boombox 3 can play for 24 hours on a full charge, the same as the Hyperboom. That may be conservative — after at least 12 hours of listening at mostly low and moderate volume, the speaker had only drained about 25% of its power.
If you run out of power, it will take 6.5 hours to recharge to full.
JBL Boombox 3 review: Verdict
Among big portable Bluetooth speakers that are rugged enough to withstand the elements, the JBL Boombox 3 stands out for its sound quality. There’s plenty of power to overcome crowd noise and the booming bass encourages people to dance. You can also connect it with other JBL speakers to create an even bigger sound.
If the Boombox 3’s aesthetic isn’t to your liking or if you don’t have other JBL speakers, you have other choices, including the UE Hyperboom and Tribit StormBox Blast. The Hyperboom has the advantage of more inputs, while the StormBox Blast integrates a light show into its unit. You can also go bigger with something like the $549.95 JBL Partybox 310, which has lights and can do karaoke.
But if you’re looking for a straightforward Bluetooth speaker with excellent sound, the Boombox 3 will keep the party going.
Michael Gowan is a freelance technology journalist covering soundbars, TVs, and wireless speakers of all kinds of shapes and sizes for Tom’s Guide. He has written hundreds of product reviews, focusing on sound quality and value to help shoppers make informed buying decisions. Micheal has written about music and consumer technology for more than 25 years. His work has appeared in publications including CNN, Wired, Men’s Journal, PC World and Macworld. When Michael’s not reviewing speakers, he’s probably listening to one anyway.