"Rich, portable sound - even much better when EQ'd!"4.5 starson by SoulMindBody
Pros: - Not too heavy for a backpack (great campanion for an MP3 player at work or on the go).
- Solid, full and brilliant (but not grating) sound (which needs just a bit of EQing to meet more audiophile expectations - see below).
- Wired option to save batter
Cons: - Small gripe: Loud start-up and shut-down sound and voice annoucement of "readiness" rather annoying (but you can turn them off temporarily each time you turn it on or off by pressing the "minus" button at the same time you power up or down). Would be be
Summary: For starters, I'll admit I am VERY fussy about sound. I pay big bucks for great live music equipment and stereo stuff. I bought a Cowon J3 (fantastic MP3 player for audiophiles) instead of the rather bland-sounding iPod or similar. AND I make avid (but not exaggerated) use of EQ options (presets) to tweak my sound to match whatever earbuds, portable speakers, car stereos or home systems I might be hooking my music up to.
That said, I will also admit I simply LOVE this small, sleek, tonally sexy device!!! It's quickly become part of my standard on-the-go electronic gear, featuring the Cowon J3 and an iPad 2 (also used for music listening). I had previously used the Mobi Wavemaster recharageable speaker at a fraction of the cost of the Jambox, just to be free of using earbuds at work. (Employer blocks audio streaming and Web radio on our network, so you have to BYOM = Bring Your Own Music.)
Enter the JamBox: While nowhere near as insanely loud is the company claims it to be, you CAN tweak the unit's EQ (via your player) to get considerably more drive and hi-fi sound out of it. By my books, there is no better solution for on-the-go use. But you have to do your homework.
Here's how: If you own a Cowon J3 or other MP3 player that features user-configurable EQs (and not just set presets that rarely fit your own musical taste across several genres and properly compensate for specific earbud or speaker downsides), then you're home free! Just hit the sittings, head for the user EQ presets, select individual frequency bands (at least 5 are nice to have) and bandwidths, and use the good ears in your head to judiciously shape the sound of the JamBox to be a little less nasal in the mids, and tweak a bit more sparkle out of the highs and a bit more "oomph" out of the lows.
If you own an iPad (or presumably also an iPod), the first - and only - thing you need to do is stop using the nice-looking but sonically limited iPod app and buy "EQu". I got it for around EUR 2.39 yesterday, and it's got everything I need to shape my sound for a great (and sufficiently loud and undistorted!) listening experience on the JamBox.
Don't like doing ANY tweaking of the sound? Prefer presets? OK, maybe even then you'll be content with the JamBox, but I wasn't quite. Believe me: You can get a MUCH nicer tone out of it with a bit of minor effort. You don't need to keep switching EQs from one style of music to the next; just find the speaker's sweet spots, use them to best advantage, lower the levels in the mid range a bit and leverage the speaker's strong bass reponse in certain frequencies to give it even more foundation.
Too fictitious for you? OK, I'll reveal my current settings if it's helpful for anyone, though ears and musical tastes differ vastly (which is, by the way, why EQ presets called "Rock" or "Jazz" or "Classical" are rubbish). This is just my humble attempt to give you a general direction to go in...
On the iPad 2, using the EQu app: I popped in about 12 "handles" at which to bend the frequency curve. I ended up with just under a "thumb's width" of bass boost around 32 Hz , a bit less than that at about 70 Hz, then only about half a thumb's width at 120 or so, coming right down to zero +/- at about 350. From there, the curve dips BELOW the zero line (important when EQ'ing, since taking something away makes something else stick out better, AND saves you from too much gain leading to digital distortion and a generally overloaded sound). Around 1k, I've got the curve a bit less than an pinky's width below zero. From there, the curve gradually begins to head back up, passing by 2k and - at the zero line - 4k. Then it swings up rather steeply to be about 3/4's of a thumb's width high at around 5.5 k. There it continues with a slight downward slope on to 8k, only to nudge its way up a bit higher, to nearly a full thumb's width, at about 15 k, peaking even a bit higher at 16 k.
Sound complicated? It isn't. It's basically a "bath-tub curve" with a few irregularities, and the middle of the tub below zero a bit. You'll be amazed at how intuitive it is to tweak your sound using this nifty app (and I have no connection with its makers - just read a couple reviews on it and decided to take a chance on it). You can save presets on the fly, numbering them as you go, and swipe-to-delete your previous attempts when you find you're reaching perfection. Oh yeah, and before you dumbly assume that EQu doesn't show cover art like I did, let it be said that those three little colored dots at the lower left of the screen toggle you between the spectral wave view and a cover view.
With the Cowon J3, I found a similarly pleasing sound without an app, since the player has some nice EQ built in. Also switched on a bit of MP3 enhance, BBE and bass boost.
With either solution, you end up with sound you can pump up to a rather loud subjective level without any distortion. Not earth-shattering, but very enjoyable!
This review says less about the JamBox than on how to get the best out of it, and I hope that will help you to decide to buy it, since it's a decision you certainly won't regret if you have audiophile ambitions and bit of patience at EQing.
One more note: The iPad 2 has a rather weak output, compared with the Cowon J3.
Incidentally: All of the above is based on using the JamBox with the supplied cable, as opposed to using Bluetooth. While I also like the Bluetooth sound, there is no comparison, and you may need to tweak your EQs esp. for use with Bluetooth.