As sound quality on mobile devices improves, portable Bluetooth speakers continue to impress in both design and sound quality.
By special guest blogger Ron Leung
JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) review
I had a chance to test the Jam Xterior Max which is a rugged Bluetooth speaker designed for the outdoor enthusiast. The speaker claims to handle rough and tumble conditions while still providing superior sound quality.
Easy set up with Jam Xterior Max
Pairing the Jam Xterior Max was very simple. As with most Bluetooth pairings these days, a typical long push of a button along with that oh-so-pleasant sounding voice and you’re off to the races. I tested the pairing on both iOS and Android without any issues.
If you’re not a Bluetooth person, the Jam does offer an auxiliary port as well, but really, in today’s wireless world who uses an auxiliary cable? Nonetheless, it’s there should you require it. I suppose it could also be used for a microphone input on karaoke night.
Using the speaker
The Jam Xterior Max lives up to its name when it comes to durability. When I first picked up the speaker it had the weight of my trusty old Sports Walkman back in high school.
While speakers seem to be trending towards smaller and lighter, the Jam has a sturdy feel to it. Despite its beefy five pound girth the Jam is built for portability and has a super grippy exterior to help prevent accidental drops.
I setup the speaker both inside and outside of my busy downtown condo. Heavy traffic and construction noise was easily drowned out by the Jam.
For those on the go, there is even a hideous, yet functional, bike mount should you feel the need to blast your tunes along the bike paths while scaring away the geese.
Jam Xterior Max repels water, dust
Touted as a rugged waterproof speaker, the Jam boasts an IP rating of 67. The 6 indicates “dust tight” protection which will be reassuring in those dusty backyards and garages, while the 7 indicates liquid immersion protection up to one metre so you don’t have to worry about the Jam falling off the edge of the pool or hot tub. There wasn’t any heat rating provided, but if your hot tub water is THAT hot then you should probably run inside for a cold shower!
Jam Xterior Max features
The Jam Xterior Max can also connect via Bluetooth 4 up to a modest 30 feet (metres for us Canadians) so you shouldn’t have any problems connecting the Jam from your patio to your home stereo. But really since most people prefer to connect via their smart phone or tablet, proximity isn’t a major concern for most.
Charge devices on the go
The Jam does possess a special feature if you’re on the go; you can charge devices using USB. The internal battery can keep your phone or tablet fully charged as you scroll through your Netflix categories for hours trying to decide what to watch all while playing back music.
What’s ‘Max’ about Jam Xterior Max?
The Jam adds Max to its name because it’s able to absorb maximum droppage. I refrained from throwing the speaker from my third floor balcony but based on its sturdy rubber shell, light drops shouldn’t be an issue. If you are concerned about it kissing the concrete, the Jam can be screw mounted on a tripod as well using a standard camera-size thread. The thick rubber buttons are reassuring as well and can handle aggressive button pushing in case your secret playlist accidentally hits the airwaves.
Speakerphone when you need one
As with most Bluetooth speakers, the Jam has the ability to act as a speakerphone too so everyone can hear you brag about your hot tub or cause noise complaints from your local police. Nonetheless it’s a bonus feature should you choose to use it perhaps for those all nighttime karaoke parties. The voice prompt option is another handy feature and works similarly to Siri or Hey Google.
Optimum power consumption is not forgotten on the Jam’s beefy resume. The speaker powers through 12 hours of play time on a single charge. Just think; it only takes 5 hours to get you through your entire Led Zeppelin catalogue, so a night of entertaining on the patio or a night around the campfire should be no sweat for this speaker. Simply charging the device overnight should eliminate any power concerns.
Keep in mind the 12 hour battery life will obviously diminish should you choose to use the Jam as a charger for your phone or tablet. If you plan to use the Jam as a charger, here’s what I got; I used it to power up my iPhone 7 plus and took it from 60% battery to 100% in about an hour. The charging isn’t lightning fast by any means but it would be helpful in an emergency for sure.
Jam Xterior Max sound quality
Looks and feel aside, the real important question is how the sound quality is on the Jam Xterior Max?
I tested the Jam with several genres of music and it performed surprisingly well. I’ve found that most Bluetooth speakers I’ve tried in the past have sounded tinny or lack any real thumping bass. The Jam’s sound quality is comparable to my home bookshelf speakers. This is especially usefully if you are using the speaker outdoor where a lot of the sound escapes. The sound was clear and true, and vibrant; overall I can’t make any complaints about audio quality.
Overall review Jam Xterior Max
Overall I found the Jam to be a great buy whether you are using it inside or outside. Its rugged portability will be a great asset for campers and hikers, and the only drawback to its durability is its weight. The 5 pound speaker will definitely weigh down a backpack but if that doesn’t bother you or if you are like me and enjoy sturdy products the Jam will do just fine.
I recommend this speaker for someone who isn’t looking for anything bright and flashy, but just a simple and easy to pair speaker that can take a beating; what the Jam lacks in flashiness, it more than makes up for with sound.
The Jam Xterior Max retails for $119 which is comparable to many of its competitors including the JBL Charge 3 ($120) and the Altec Lansing Life Jacket 2 Floating Waterproof Speaker ($130).