Jam Heavy Metal HX-P920 review

If your budget is £70, the Jam Heavy Metal is worth a punt...

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Our Verdict

A full sound from a well made, good-looking slab of metal

For

  • Impressive bass reach
  • Creates big, space-filling sound
  • Excellent build quality
  • Handsome looks

Against

  • No NFC
  • Feature count is not as extensive as that of some rivals
  • That big bass sometimes lacks definition

There are, admittedly, only so many ways to design a compact, portable Bluetooth speaker, but there’s no denying the Jam Heavy Metal has ‘a hint of Bose about it’.

Specifically the Bose SoundLink Mini. But, hey, both are fine-looking units so we’ll leave the ‘sincerest form of flattery’ discussions to another day…

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Build

…and for now we’ll concentrate on the terrific build quality your £69 bags. From the moment we unboxed the Jam, we imagined its maker demanding more of our shillings.

Although, before the design team at Jam starts the high-fives, can we request (significantly) more eco-friendly packaging – when it comes to plastic, less is definitely more.

Fortunately, when it comes to the actual contents, Jam eschews plastic-fantastic in favour of (highly recyclable) aluminium. The result is one handsome-looking portable.

The wrap is smooth, the metal feels cool to the touch, and the weight is just right – sufficient to feel reassuring, not enough to weigh you down on your travels.

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Features

Look at the top of the chassis and you spot the six-button control panel. These put you in charge of a short list of standard requests – powering up, track skipping, volume up and down, that sort of fare.

Up against the likes of the Lava Brightsounds 2 – aka the Swiss Army knife of sub-£100 portable Bluetooth speakers – the Jam is short on ‘non-audio’ skills. Sure, it’ll operate as a speakerphone and it gives out voice prompts, but that’s your lot.

The Heavy Metal, you see, concentrates almost exclusively on the job of being ‘a speaker’.

Sound

And what a speaker it is. Hook up your Bluetooth device, or use the 3.5mm aux-in, and sound delivery immediately belies the unit’s modest dimensions. This is a great big sound. From a very little box.

Select the title track from Leonard Cohen’s final album – a demanding tester for any self-respecting Bluetooth speaker – and the JAM does an admirable job with the Canadian’s vocals, conveying the solidity and emotion of his gravelly, and gravely, delivered words.

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Bass impresses. Big and bold it helps make for a room-filling sound. Being hyper-critical, we’d like a little more tautness and a dash of extra pace to some of these lower frequencies, but at this price we happy.

The ‘largeness’ of the JAM’s sound is rare at this sub-£100 level and an occasionally relaxed bass delivery is a price most of us won’t mind paying.

Switch from Cohen to something more up-tempo – as in, almost any other music – and the little metal speaker continues to make you smile.

Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself To Dance gleefully bounces along; the handclaps are snappy and the rhythm guitar is undeniably groovy.

Crank the volume and you’ll eventually get a touch of hardness out of the Jam – those handclaps get a little too snappy – but the reach of the overall sound means you’re less inclined to (metaphorically at least) twist that dial.

A further beauty here is the Heavy Metal’s non-discriminatory approach to music genres. Whether playing classical or indie or rock, performances are consistently highly listenable.

That big bass helps here and the little speaker’s weighty sonic character is a great foil for the sometimes sonically lean world of MP3 files and Bluetooth transmission.

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Verdict

One sign of a mediocre Bluetooth speaker is that its owners leave it unconnected when they want to just quickly play a track.

You know the scene; you stumble across a song on YouTube and settle for replay from your laptop’s awful-sounding speaker system. That won’t happen with the Jam Heavy Metal – hooking it up is always worth the effort.

A higher spend buys a more refined performance – the Ultimate Ears Roll 2 delivers more detail and sweeter treble – but if your budget is £69, max, the Jam Heavy Metal is a shoo-in.