Best Mid Sized Speaker (Late 2017)

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if you're in the market for a mid sized speaker some popular options are the Sony XB30, JBL Pulse 3 and the JBL Charge 3. They all hover around the same price point and have similar audio capabilities but have very different designs and feature sets. So which is right for you? We’re about to find out! Don't forget to like comment and subscribe and you can watch these speakers individual reviews here after your done watching this video. And theres going to be a sound comparison between these speakers at the end of this video as well. 

First lets start with the Sony XB30, it usually retails for $149.99 at most retailers but its actually on sale now and can be had for $118 over at amazon. Making this speaker the best bargain in this group for now. The JBL Charge 3 is the oldest speaker in this group and also usually retails for $149.99 at most stores but I’ve managed to find it for as low as $121 over at amazon. Just as long as you're OK with the Turquoise color way. And then theres the JBL Pulse 3, its the newest of these speakers and it retails for $199.99 almost everywhere. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below and I’ll keep them updated so you can get the best deal possible. 

Ok, I’m going to do a quick round down of these speaker’s design and build quality. The Sony XB30 has a soft touch rubber outer shell, theres a metal painted grill on the front, theres a built in light feature that flashes to the beat of your music, it can be laid flat or stand on its side, control buttons and the NFC touch point can be found on the top, and on the back of the device you will find a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, a 5 volt DC charging port and a USB out so you can charge your own devices. The JBL Charge 3 is almost the same size as the XB30 but the majority of its body is covered in a tight nylon fabric weave, there are LED battery indicator lights on the front of the device, the control buttons are also found on the top of the device except there is no NFC chip and the buttons are very textured. And on the Back of the charge 3 you will find a micro USB port for charging, a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, and a USB out so you can charge your own devices just like on the XB30. And finally theres the Pulse 3, its the largestof the group and the most fragile. The majority of the body which houses the light feature is made out of acrylic and although it is tough you do run the risk of scratching it. The lower portion of the Pulse 3 which houses the 3 transducers is covered in the same nylon fabric as the Charge 3. And the control buttons and LED indicator lights of the Pulse 3 can be found on the back as well with an extra button to cycle through the light features. And you will also find a micro USB port for charging and a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, but unlike the Charge 3 or XB30 there is no USB out so you can't charge your own devices. And theres also no NFC chip. And over all, all 3 speakers weigh about two pounds or 1 kilo. And neither of these speakers are afraid of a little water. The Sony XB30 is IPX 5 certified so it can get wet but can't be submerged under water and the JBL Pulse 3 and Charge 3 are both IPX 7 certified which means they can also get wet and they can even be submerged underwater without any issues. 

Now lets talk about speaker set up. The Sony XB30 has dual 1.89 inch or 48 millimeterdiameter full range speakers and a passive radiator in the center. The JBL Charge 3 also has dual speakers but they have a diameter of 50 millimeters or 1.97 inches and dual passive radiators on each side with a diameter of 48 millimeters or 1.89 inches. But unlike the Sony XB30 and Charge 3 which only shoot sound out through the front, the JBL Pulse 3 is a 360 degree speaker. It houses its 3 40 millimeter diameter or 1.57 inch transducers in the bottom portion of the speakers thats covered by the fabric at the zero, 120, and 240 degree marks relative to the JBL logo on the front. And it also has dual passive radiators on either side which are slightly smaller coming in with a diameter of 44 millimeters or 1.73 inches.  But at the end of the day all three of these speakers manage to achieve relatively the same decibel levels at max volume which is in the mid 70’s. 

But even though all three of these speakers do get just as loud… they do sound and preform differently. When played at the same loudness, The most noticeable difference between these speakers are the vocals. In this group, the charge 3 has the vocals pushed way back where as the pulse 3 is the most forward in the group. But then you've got the Sony XB30 which places the vocals right between the Pulse 3 and Charge 3 which I prefer. 

And I know I'm going to get some hate for this but I think the charge 3 is the worst sounding speaker in this group. Its starting to show its age, the bass doesn't deliver and and theres a lot of amplification in the mid and highs which does cause raspiness. And when set at full volume the charge 3 does suffer from the worst distortion in this group. 

Where as the Sony XB30 suffers from the least amount distortion when set at full volume and and the mid and highs don't crash. I think the Sony XB30 is the best sounding speaker in this group. And the Pulse 3 is the safest, its good for personal listening, the sound is neutral but theres enough bass to keep you satisfied. 

But battery life is also important to take into consideration. The sony XB30 has the longest advertised battery life coming in at 24 hours. But thats with the light feature turned off and at relatively low volumes. Real world use with the light featured turned on and the volume set at 50% we’re looking at around 18 hours of use. Then theres the Charge 3 with an advertised battery life of 20 hours and since it doesn't have a light feature to power I routinely get a little more than 20 hours of playback time. And theres the Pulse 3 with an advertised battery life of 12 hours, with the music set loud and the brightness of the light feature turned all the way up you'll be lucky if you get 8 hours out of it. But with the volume set at 50% and the brightness set at 25% I manage to get around 13 hours of playback. And with the light featured turned off, you can squeeze out 15 hours of playback. When it comes to battery life the JBL charge 3 is the winner here for one big reason. My biggest peetpeve with Sony’s Extra Bass Portable speakers is that when the speakers get to 20% battery they will abruptly stop the music, say please charge and you will have no other option than to put the speaker back on the charger cause they won't go past 30% volume. I absolutely hate this feature. 

But if what you're most concerned about is the light feature then hands down the JBL pulse 3 is the best choice. Obviously theres no light feature on the Charge 3, but the Pulse 3 has the best light feature on the market right now. Through JBL’s connect app its super easy to control. You've got equalizer, rave, rainbow, and fire just to name a few, and you can even make your own. And you can even change the color of each light feature just as easy with the color wheel or color matching with your phone’s camera. The main selling point of the pulse 3 are the lights. The light feature on the Sony XB30 is OK, but you don't have as many customization options and cycling through the light modes isn't as easy. Unlike the Pulse 3 that has a dedicated button directly on the speaker to cycle through the light settings, you can only turn the light setting on the Xb30 on or off by pressing and holding the extra bass button. And if you want to cycle through the light modes you have to do that through Sony’s music center app which likes to act up from time to time on my iphone. But on the Sony XB30 you can choose from Rave, chill, strobe, a rave mode without the strobe lights on the side,  and there are a few calm options as well. But like I said, the light feature on the XB30 OR the XB40 is no where near as impressive as the one on the pulse 3. 

And theres one more thing I want to touch on before wrapping this video up. Which is pairing these speakers together. With the sony XB30 you can pair up to 10 sony XB speakers together like the XB20, or XB40. And if you have two of the same model speakers you can have them play left and right stereo audio. In order to pair them you have to press and hold the Add and plus button together for a few seconds until the speakers beep. With JBL speakers you literally just press one button on each speaker and you're done. Its much easier. BUT the Charge 3 is using JBL connect, so you can only pair to other speakers that are using JBL connect like the JBL Xtreme, JBL Pulse 2, or another Charge 3. The JBL Pulse 3 is using the Newer JBL Connect Plus. So you can pair the Pulse 3 to another Pulse 3 or a Flip 4 or the Upcoming JBL BoomBox (look out for my JBL Boom Box Review in the feature). But you can not pair the Pulse 3 to speakers that are using the older JBL connect protocol like the Charge 3. 

Ok, so this video is getting a little long but heres the main take away. If you're trying to decide between these there speakers you pick the JBL pulse 3 because you want something that looks great and the sound is going to satisfy you for personal listening. You pick the JBL Charge 3 if you want the best battery life and durability. And you pick the Sony XB30 is you want the best bargain, great sound and a good enough light feature. 

But a heads up, even though JBL officially announced the JBL BoomBox at IFA at the beginning of September, I’m willing to bet they are going to announce at least the new JBL Charge 4 at CES 2018. 

And heres the sound test. All three of these speakers are playing at the same decibel level, in the same room, and streaming from the same device so hopefully the only difference is sound quality. I’m also going to max the volume out of them later into test so you can here them at their loudest. Comment down below with which one you like best.