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Big Jambox by Jawbone Portable Speaker Expert Review

Big Jambox

Rating: ★★★★☆

Big Jambox: Design

Currently available with a price tag of around £250, the Big Jambox isn’t the cheapest device around but, it’s not as expensive as some other similar styled airplay systems on the market either.

So you might want to know what you get for your money…

Well, looking firstly at the aesthetics of the Big Jambox, it is beautifully and thoughtfully designed as well as being available in three colours, all with varying patterns on the mesh surround.  Firstly, a red model with a dotted design, a white with waved pattern and finally graphite with honeycombed design, which is the one I’ve been given to review.

The unit measures 10 x 3.1 x 3.6 inches and weights in at 2.7lbs. It’s on a larger scale to its baby brother Jambox but it’s still small enough to hold in one hand and easy to slip into an overnight bag, making it perfectly portable.

On the top of the unit, you’ll find large controls that include a talk button, volume controls, play/pause as well as previous and next buttons.  All of them feel pleasantly responsive to the touch.

On the right hand panel of the speaker there is a glowing power button, pairing button along with a 3.5mm line-in port, a microUSB port and a charging port.  Even better, they have included the power adapter, USB cable and the 3.5mm stereo cable in the box.

Underneath there are eight rubber feet to ensure it remains securely placed on different surfaces.

Big Jambox: Setting Up

Setting up the unit was surprisingly easy. Once powered on, there’s a funky whooshing sound (the same when you power off) as well as a female voice that informs the unit is in pairing mode (which only does automatically the first time you turn it on – after this, you’ll need to manually press the pairing button).

Simply turn on bluetooth on your device to search for the Big Jambox and the two are paired in seconds! The Big Jambox can be paired with up with a staggering eight devices whilst remaining simultaneously synced with two at a time and can cover a 33 foot range.

If you connect to a PC using its USB cable, you can customize the talk button’s functionality and change the tone of the various voice prompts.

Big Jambox: Build Quality

When it comes to build quality, you wont be disappointed. This unit is extremely sturdy. Inside, there are two custom-designed active drivers paired with twin opposing passive bass radiators. Since the BIG JAMBOX can be used as speakerphone, an echo-cancelling microphone is also included.

Big Jambox: Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, there’s no denying, the Big Jambox is extraordinarily powerful for its size. However, it does suffer in certain areas. High-end response can be mediocre, distortion seems to appear at the top end of the volume scale and certain tracks sound rather tinny overall. I must point out though, that clarity is variable depending on the source of the material chosen.

There’s a definite distinction between vocals and instruments. Dance and R’n’B are very well reproduced and classical tracks are pleasingly sharp and crisp.

Having said that, when testing the Big Jambox out with several different music files, I did find bass was slightly lacking throughout, however, overall sound was nice and warm providing pretty good performance for its size.

The Big Jambox is not just a great device for listening to your music collections either. It’s also a great tool for gaming with a tablet and allows you to completely immerse yourself in your gaming experience.

Plus, there’s a built-in microphone that lets you make and receive hands-free calls and video chats using Skype, GoogleTalk and FaceTime. Using this facility is absolutely brilliant and voices really do come through crisp and clear.

Big Jambox: Live Audio

Jawbone also features LiveAudio technology, a virtual 3D sound system using processed binaural audio – where the track is recorded using two microphones positioned to mimic the way our ears work.

This feature works by holding down the volume up and down buttons and lets you toggle the mode to enhance your track. The MyTalk voice informs you whether you’ve turned it on or off and the main purpose of this feature is to make it appear that you’re hearing a band as if you were at a live concert. Whilst it does enhance the sound, it also tends to muffle the vocals slightly. It’s an artificial sense of depth and doesn’t always work well with all types of tracks. However, on most tracks it does provide quite rich tones and allows you to experience a more 3D sound.

Big Jambox: Software

The Big Jambox provides app support via  the MyTALK system. To use it, you’ll need to create a free account and download the Jawbone Updater app, then you can connect the Big Jambox to your PC and transfer apps and add new features to it.

Some examples of added features are: The DialApp which allows you to customize the behaviour of the TALK button on the Bluetooth speaker; The AudioApp that allows you to change the voice that announces battery life and caller ID. Then there’s the Android app, which sets up the BIG JAMBOX to announce calendar events, streamlines the dial-in process for conference calls as well as showing the speaker’s battery status on your phone’s screen.

Big Jambox: Battery

The device comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 15 hours. Depending on the volumes used, you can use this speaker all day for work or pleasure, whilst out and about without the worry of running out of the all important juice!

» Find out more about Big Jambox here!

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Pros

  • Bluetooth
  • LiveAudio 3D Sound
  • Portable Size
  • Smart Design
  • Incredible Battery Life

Cons

  • Lack of Bass
  • Distortion at top end of volume scale

Verdict

The design and build of the Big Jambox is simply excellent and the sound performance is quite pleasing although it could be better for it’s fairly high price tag.

It could benefit from some further equalizer options, as well as some additional app support for iOS and Windows Phones.

However, this portable speaker system is beautiful and versatile thanks to its MyTalk apps, extended Android functionality, fantastic battery life, LiveAudio 3D sound and wireless feature, as well as the added speakerphone capability which make this speaker a fantastic portable device!

» Find out more about Big Jambox here!

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