Bluetooth Speaker Shootout: JBL Charge 2+ and Scosche BoomBottle+

For most of the country, summer coming to a close signals that it’s time to put away your outdoor gear and head to the gym. In Florida, it signals the best weather to get outside and play. The temps are cooling off, humidity is dropping, and it’s the best time of year for cycling. When two Bluetooth speakers that are water-resistant and shaped to fit in a bicycle waterbottle cage showed up at my house, I decided a speaker shootout was called for. The JBL Charge 2+ and the Scosche boomBottle+ are both next generation products. Let’s see which one is going to become a permanent feature on my bike ride.

The JBL Charge 2+ is the splash-proof version of the Charge 2, which we reviewed last year. The sound is very similar, and it doesn’t appear to have the audible artifacts at lower volumes that some users experienced. The Charge 2+ still has a big bass sound, natural midrange and pulled back high-end. The waterproof boomBottle+ has a very different sound. It has a brighter tone with a lot less bass but clear high-end. The frequency response of the Charge 2+ is 75Hz – 20kHz and the boomBottle+ is 150Hz – 20kHz.

Both units have stereo playback. The Charge 2+ has a 15-watt amplifier into two 45mm speakers, whereas the boomBottle+ has a 12-watt amplifier, but with 50mm speakers. Interestingly, the Charge 2+ has a horizontal orientation with sidefiring passive radiators, so stereo playback more noticeable than the vertical orientation of the boomBottle+. However, the boomBottle+ has a radiator built into the top of the unit to direct sound out in a 360-degree pattern instead of just upwards. The boomBottle+ has a ¼-inch threaded tripod mount on the bottom of the unit.

Both units have a built-in 6000mAh Lithium-Ion battery. The Charge 2+ claims 12 hours of playback and the boomBottle+ claims up to 15; playback times of both are dependent on playback material and volume settings. Both units have the ability to charge other portable devices via a USB charging port.

The JBL Charge 2+ has a built-in noise-cancelling microphone so you can take calls directly on the unit. You can also connect up to 3 devices via Bluetooth so you and your friends can take turns playing DJ. The boomBottle+ has a feature that lets you connect two units together to get a truly discrete stereo playback system. It also has a switch that lets you choose indoor or outdoor playback. The outdoor setting boosts the high-end even more for a sound that carries further.

The Charge 2+ isn’t waterproof, it’s splash-proof – JBL claims you can wash it off under tap water as long as you don’t submerge it. There aren’t any coverings over any of the input jacks, so I would be hesitant to get water anywhere near them. The boomBottle+ has a waterproof rating of IP67, meaning it’s dustproof and waterproof for 30 minutes at 1 meter and Scosche claims it will float; I didn’t test that. The ports are all housed behind a waterproof rubber cover, and I wouldn’t hesitate using this unit in the rain or on a muddy mountain bike ride since it could easily be rinsed off afterwards.

Both speakers fit into standard bicycle water-bottle cages, although the Charge 2+ took a little more pressure to get it secure in the cage; the boomBottle+ is a bit thinner although it is longer. The boomBottle+ is 8.5-inches long with a diameter of 2.8 inches; it weighs 1.5 pounds. The JBL Charge 2+ is 7.3-inches long with a diameter of 3.1 inches; it weighs 1.3 pounds.

Overall, I prefer the sound of the JBL Charge 2+ for general playback, and I like that it has speakerphone capabilities. I like that the Scosche boomBottle+ has the ability to pair two units together to create a discrete stereo sound, and I like having the indoor/outdoor EQ settings. I also like that it’s completely waterproof. The JBL plays louder, which is important when playing outdoors. I wouldn’t have it turned up all the way on a road bike ride so I can still hear traffic, but if I use it on my cruiser bike along the beach with no traffic around, I want to turn it up to hear it over the wind noise. Whichever one I end up with, I’m glad I get to play outdoors for many months to come.

John Sully's picture

Them's some old school wheels. Cool. I'm actually looking for a reasonably portable bluetooth speaker to travel with. Hotel sound still sucks unreasonably badly. I don't need a waterproof speaker, but would the Charge be a good choice, or are there other things I should look at?

Leslie Shapiro's picture
Thanks for noticing. Steel is real! I travel a lot over the summer and was kicking myself for leaving the Charge 2+ home. I think it would be a great travel companion. It's small enough to fit in a briefcase or backpack.