JBL Playlist Speaker On Black Friday 2020? Should You Buy It?

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Wi-Fi speakers have huge advantages over Bluetooth-only units, but affordability isn’t one. One just to illustrate: the $200 Sonos Play:1 ($225 at Amazon) continues to be probably the most affordable of the breed. Speakers powered by Wi-Fi just haven’t drop to Bluetooth speaker prices yet.

Sonos may be the best-known name in multiroom audio, but its biggest challenger could possibly be Google using its $35 Chromecast Audio dongle. We love the Chromecast ecosystem, which enables you to easily stream from virtually any sound application on your own phone, but it requires a genuine speaker, not simply a dongle, to compete.

JBL Playlist Speakers are on sale on Amazon

Compare Price in More Stores like Walmart, BestBuy, Target, NewEgg, etc


PRICE $180 Amazon $99 Amazon $29 Amazon $58 Amazon $129 Amazon
At $150/£149, the JBL Playlist may be the cheapest Chromecast speaker we’ve seen to date, and predicated on its performance it might do for Google what the Play:1 did for Sonos. Its main benefit over the dongle is integration. With the dongle you will need to make certain your hi-fi or speaker is fired up and set to the proper input. With the JBL, all you have to to accomplish is press Play in your selected software and it just works.

The Playlist looks nearly the same as the JBL Boost TV, albeit somewhat bigger at 12.4 inches by 5.8 inches by 5.2 inches (316mm by 147mm by 131mm). It appears like a black football. The Playlist doesn’t boast the most luxurious finish with a thick, plastic mesh covering and an orange, rubber base. It’s fairly light at 4 oz (120g) but remember that it’s not a lightweight speaker — it generally does not run on batteries and you will have to plug it in, similar to the Sonos. The cabinet houses some 2.25-inch woofers and a passive bass radiator at the trunk.

JBL Playlist capsule


The bond options are not at all hard with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm auxiliary. Of all interest to future-proofers may be the Chromecast built-in function under Wi-Fi. Setup is straightforward using the Google Home ($100 at Best Buy) iphone app — a pop-up within the iphone app should appear informing you of the Playlist’s occurrence and it walks you through connection. It’s the most streamlined setup sequences out there, a rival to Sonos for simplicity.

Chromecast brings with it a large number of native programs — the big kinds being Spotify, Pandora iHeartRadio and YouTube Music — in addition to the capability to stream anything from an Android phone or Chrome browser (though that is less reliable). Tap the Cast button in your favored iphone app and after a short pause it commences playing. Just like the Chromecast Audio, the JBL also supports hi-res music up to 24-bit/96kHz over your network. Utilizing a Google Home, users can group compatible speakers together for multiroom listening.

For $150 you can’t expect an excessive amount of out of this speaker performance-wise, right? Well, I was surprised by how well it fared against my current benchmark, the $200 Sonos Play:1.


With Radiohead’s challenging “Ful Stop,” the dissimilarities between your two were immediately obvious. The track commences with a minimal ebbing and flowing bass line and the Sonos struggled to maintain — the bass drum beats underneath were triggering audible chuffing even at a moderate volume. The JBL could go louder without distortion and had an open sound that the Sonos lacked. The JBL appeared like a much bigger speaker than its diminutive dimensions suggest.

Neither speaker sounded especially more comfortable with Alt-J’s semiacoustic undertake “House of the Rising Sun.” As the JBL had a good amount of space for the arpeggiated guitar and “Happy” chants, the underlying bass and general sense of urgency was just a little lost. Even though the Sonos had a lot of bass power, Joe Newman’s already nasal voice was amplified to newly annoying heights.

With the tight funk of Gorillaz’ “Dare” the Sonos was on more assured ground with a good bass synth and coolly presented vocals. The JBL had a distressing steely edge on the close-micced vocals and synths and didn’t have as much punch listed below.

As the utmost “open”-sounding Wi-Fi speaker I’ve heard as of this or nearly every price, the JBL is most effective to “Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden”-sized music and acoustic performances. If you want orchestral, jazz or singer-songwriters, this JBL is your speaker. Alternatively, processed pop or dance styles can sound just a little unruly and even unpleasant when played at volume.

At $150, though, the JBL Playlist continues to be among the best, and cheapest, Chromecast built-in speakers I’ve yet heard.

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