JBL OnBeat Rumble review

An energetic, exciting listen, but one that’s starting to sound a little unrefined Tested at £230

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

An energetic, exciting listen, but one that’s starting to sound a little unrefined


  • +

    Big, energetic sound

  • +

    Open and dynamic

  • +

    Punchy, taut bass

  • +

    Agile timing and excellent depth of detail

  • +

    Good connectivity

  • +

    Good quality build


  • -

    Slight hardness to sound

  • -

    Enthusiastic character won’t suit all songs

  • -

    Can sound unsophisticated

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We last tested the JBL OnBeat Rumble in October of last year and the speaker wears its 2013 spec list proudly on its sleeve in the shape of its physical dock – something we’re seeing less and less of as the emphasis continues to shift towards the convenience of streaming.

Build and design

That’s here too, of course, in the shape of Bluetooth, but its Apple Lighting dock connector, which tucks neatly away behind a pop-up panel, is still a sign of its slightly vintage credentials – from when streaming was an option rather than a must-have.

We’re not complaining though, and in fact we really like how this speaker sounds through the dock.

While Bluetooth is convenient, there’s a better sense of sonic space when your device is connected, and we’d recommend every iOS user give it a go if they don’t need to have their device in hand.

No matter how we choose to connect, one thing that we still love about this speaker nearly 12 months on is just how much fun we have when we’re listening to it.

There’s a great sense of enthusiasm and excitement behind every track you throw at it, the JBL sounding powerful, punchy and agile at every turn.


Its bass performance remains something of note, delivering a deep, but controlled, low-end performance that is confident but never overpowering.

It punches cleanly through the mix to give a strong backbone to beat-heavy basslines such as Outkast’s B.O.B. The midrange is convincing, delivering vocals with clarity and detail.

It sounds big too, easily filling our testing room with an open and clear sound that largely keeps a handle on things even when we push the volume.

The treble can verge on the wrong side of bright with some recordings though. That upfront character can also prove to be a problem.

Compared with some of its 2014 competition, like the Monitor Audio AirStream S300, it lacks a level of refinement, and the hardness we picked up last time is even more evident against its newer rivals.

It’s definitely a speaker that suits more upbeat music too, lacking the dynamic wherewithal to handle more delicate tracks with the level of subtlety they need.

It deals much better, for example, with something like Chase & Status’ Pieces than Jamie Cullum’s cover of Blame It On My Youth.

There’s still a pleasing level of detail on offer, but it can sound fragile, and just falls short when it comes to out-and-out transparency.

We’d steer well clear of the Bass Boost option unless you’re one for putting bass above all else – there’s plenty here as it is, and adding more does the speaker’s well-balanced character an injustice.


The JBL OnBeat Rumble’s fun and energetic character is easy to love, particularly when it’s combined with this amount of detail, scale and clarity.

However, it’s starting to sound a tad unrefined against the more recent competition, and that hardness in its character is becoming harder to forgive.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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