Can the Big Jambox replace my office stereo system?

By , Sep 17, 2012

In the last month or so, I’ve been on a minimalism tear. For example, I traded in my 27″ iMac for a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I also decided to get rid of my 2011 MacBook Air.

As it turns out, I rarely used the MacBook Air, because it was just too slow to get any real work done. The iMac was a beast, but it wasn’t portable, which caused many of my files to fragment between multiple devices. I decided it would be best if I just had one powerful, yet portable machine to get all of my work done. It just so happened that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was the perfect device to meet my needs.

To go along with these changes, I decided it was time to rid myself of my old antiquated component audio system. I have a Pioneer receiver coupled with Pioneer speakers. It’s a 5.1 audio system that’s incredibly heavy, a birds nest of wires, and power hungry to boot.

I needed something smaller, totally devoid of wires, and easier on the power consumption — all without sacrificing too much in the way of sound quality. Obviously, the highly regarded Jawbone Big Jambox was on my short list of devices to choose from, but was it up to the challenge of completely replacing my traditional stereo system?

Look and feel

Up until a week ago, I’d never seen a Jambox in person, let alone a Big Jambox. I have to say that I’m impressed with the device’s looks. The build quality is above average. Three of its sides are wrapped in flexible speaker grill material, and each end is capped off with tactile rubber.

The bottom of the device features a heaping helping of rubber feet, keeping it from sliding across your desk. The build quality, while a definite step down from a high end audio component system, succeeds in its toy-like originality.

My loaner review unit was shipped to me in Red Dot style, but there are two other colors — Graphite Hex, and White Wave — if you think the red is a bit too bright for your tastes.

Sound Quality

What’s a portable speaker without good sound? Even more, what’s a potential component stereo replacement, without good sound?

I’m no audiophile, but since I’m looking for something to replace my current receiver/speaker setup, the audio has to be up to snuff. I’d alway heard how great these little devices sound, but I knew that the original and smaller Jambox just wouldn’t cut it as an outright speaker replacement. Only when the Big Jambox was announced, did I begin to consider the possibilities.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. True, this won’t completely replicate the sound that you get from a receiver-speaker-subwoofer deal, but it’s still really good for a standalone wireless Bluetooth speaker.

All levels of sound, low, mids, and highs, are well represented here. The Big Jambox had no problems filling my office with rich sound — even the lows were decent. When you consider that this is coming from a unit the size of a Chuck Taylor shoebox, it’s hard not to be impressed.

But, as you might imagine, not all is gravy as far as sound goes. When the volume is cranked up to excessive levels, there is some mild to moderate distortion present, but then again the unit is so loud, that I rarely found myself desiring to crank it to the point where the distortion becomes distracting. Serious audiophiles won’t find any speaker in this entire product category sufficient enough for their needs, but the average music listener will be more than happy.

Battery Life

Rated at 15 hours, the battery life for a full charge is mighty impressive. In my case, this thing would rarely leave my desk, hence, battery life isn’t of gargantuan concern. It is nice, however, to be able to be completely free of any wires cluttering my desk, including power cables.

During my week long usage, I only had to charge the unit once. It came shipped to me with a full charge, and that charge lasted a good three days after moderate usage during average workdays.

Like its little brother, the Big Jambox is meant to travel and be portable, so if that’s your thing, you’ll be satisfied with the battery life.

The verdict

There’s a ton of other things I can talk about with regard to the Big Jambox, but Jawbone’s website, along with countless other reviewers have covered those things in detail already. I wanted to approach this review from a standpoint that hit home for me personally, and will likely hit home with quite a few of you too.

I haven’t tried any other products in this category thus far, though I intend to do so. That said, if I had to lay down $299 for the Big Jambox today, I’d walk away happy, knowing that I was going to get a product that met my needs.

It’s hard to go wrong with the Big Jambox. It has the look and feel, the battery life, and the sound quality to succeed as a true wire-free, and minimalistic speaker or stereo replacement for your office.

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  • TacNinja24

    Looks great! I have never used a Jambox before and I now need to look into getting one to use with my devices. Can you connect multiple devices at the same time to it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003172597133 Ecc Thanh

      So what its sound would be like? Hey I just met you and what makes you beautiful oh o LOL

      • Nyankana

        It would be more like chaos. So many songs clumped together into these many channels. It would take a serious audiophile to discern between that many songs at once.

  • http://twitter.com/aomia syler

    im a big fan of jawbone i like the product but when it comes to sound i would have to give it to the Bose wave i know its not wireless but it has a great sound and when you really think about it your not going to carry that big thing on your shoulder 80s style it mostly stays in one place. but i do like the idea behind it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003172597133 Ecc Thanh

    WHy u no let me comment

    • http://twitter.com/aomia syler

      probably because of your grammar lol jp

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003172597133 Ecc Thanh

        LOL I learned it from troll stuff on Facebook..
        BTW now I can comment on the you tube video loll, I couldn’t in the evening

  • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

    A bit off topic, but Jeff, you should make an article warning people to save their SHSH blobs. iOS 6 will be released the 19th.

  • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

    I’m sorry for going off topic, but I’ve got a question… I’m looking for in ear headphones with really powerful bass, preferably for under $100. Can anyone recommend a good pair?

    • http://yoursn0w.com Ali Wadi

      Apple In Ear is not bad to look into it with that price because of what? I can’t answer this exactly, but because I’m using it and feel it is really good.

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        I tried Apple’s in ear headphones, but I wasn’t really all that satisfied, considering the price. But thanks for the recommendation! :)

      • http://twitter.com/aomia syler

        Try Sony. They have some great affordable stuff.

    • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

      I recently bought Sennheiser CX-200 from newegg website. The bass is sick. Might not be the best when running, because you could hear the cable rubbing against clothing, but the bass is off the wall!!!!
      Edit: Forgot to add, but the insulate the outside noise extremely well.

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        Those seem to be really great, and quite affordable too. Are you using them with an iOS device?

      • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

        Yep. iPod Touch 4th Generation.

      • Falk M.

        One more for the Sennheiser products.
        Adore their quality, also the built-quality is way better than cheapos.
        They can take being stuffed into your pockets.

        Also, have a look at the Klipsch S4s… DAMN good earphones and in-ear.
        I have them myself and am VERY satisfied.
        Yes, I’m a bass whore, too! :P

  • Pukka12

    Sound quaility on these is pretty amazing however I don’t think it could even come close to a nice 5.1 setup.

    • Nyankana

      I don’t think it is scientifically possible either, to replace a home theater.

  • http://ppy.sh Dean Herbert

    i like your music choice ;). been considering getting one of the smaller ones for a while now, this may help push me over the line.

  • Falk M.

    If those replace your stereo system, you did something wrong on your stereo system choice.

    Now, they look great, and probably the video is not delivering how they really sound like, it’s best to listen to them in the store yourself I bet, but they seem to be low on the bass, so that’s an easy decision for me…

    Can you hook up a separate subwoofer maybe?
    In that case, they’d be really awesome I think!

  • wel809

    might get this since i am not a surround sound system person.

  • Ash

    I have had the Big Jambox for sometime and really like it, just wish that one could use multiples or daisy chain more than one together, that would really be a great thing to be able pair and use 2 or more from the same device.

  • Jason Alan Glazier

    Thank for the sound review I am hooked on this system reciver only