Our Verdict 
Brings water resistance and NFC pairing, but needs better audio to seal the deal
For 
Competitively priced
Option to add a partner to create a stereo set-up
IPX6 water-resistant rating
Against 
Sound performance lacks integration
Treble can bite a little too much
Bass can occasionally sound like the JVC looks – overly rounded
Plastic build and finish lacks appeal of rivals
Reviewed on

Everyone has a special skill, right? Oh come on, you do – you maybe just haven’t found it yet.

Take the JVC 360 Bluetooth speaker, for example. Its fancy dance is surviving a (temporary) blast from ‘powerful water jets’. At least that’s roughly what an IPX6 water-resistant rating translates to.

So if you’re looking for a speaker with which you can share car-washing duties, pick up your chamois leather, unwind the garden hose and read on.

Features

An impressively high water-resistance rating isn’t the JVC’s only standout feature, though it’s admittedly the one that could, in some circumstances, prevent you damaging your speaker.

More likely to appeal is the option to add a further 360 to build a True Wireless Stereo (TWS) system.

TWS is where one of the two speakers receives the audio signal, via Bluetooth, and forwards it to the second speaker – aka 'the slave'.

The result is a left- and right-speaker channel and, in theory, proper stereo sound.

MORE: How to choose the right wireless speaker

USB and aux in sockets are under a water-resistant flap

And that’s not all the JVC does. Not by a long chalk. The cylindrical chassis houses space to connect a device via 3.5mm aux input, plus there's a USB port for charging power-hungry portables. 

The 360 is also NFC (Near Field Communication) compliant – use a similarly equipped smartphone, such as the excellent LG G5, and, when in close proximity, the two devices automatically connect with each other – which is a handy feature.

MORE: Best smartphones 2017

More after the break

The volume, Bluetooth and NFC controls are on the top of the speaker

Hands-free conversations are also an option with this unit and JVC claims up to 12 hours battery life, which is up there with most rivals.

Lastly – and we reckon you’ve figured this out by now based on its grand title – the speaker system aims to deliver ‘360 degree’ sound. 

MORE: Best wireless speakers 2017

Sound

We like a bold claim here at What Hi-Fi ? Towers, so 360-degree sound ability was an immediate challenge when we fired up the JVC.

We can report that it does spread the sound more widely than most rivals, but our problem is with the quality of that sound.

Most obvious is the lack of integration – frequencies don’t appear to enjoy one another’s company, preferring to occupy their own distant spaces in the soundfield.

The power on/off, pairing and charging buttons are round the back

The result is a somewhat detached performance, lacking in cohesion. Beck’s Morning lacks its natural groove and flow, instead meandering to a conclusion.

This track also exposes the JVC’s tendency to favour a slightly brittle top end, and finds the speaker struggling to keep bass tight and musical.

A frustration here is not just that we want better sound. This middling audio performance leaves you not overly keen to invest in another middling-sounding speaker. Meaning that the JVC’s True Wireless Stereo feature looks less appealing by the track. 

We only had a single sample, so can’t report on the results in stereo, but adding more identical-sounding speakers won't improve overall audio quality. 

MORE: Best Bluetooth speakers 2017

Build

Contrary to its flat audio notes, the JVC itself is a pleasingly spherical-looking device – one wonders if the design team was snacking on Pringles during the 360 project.

But its plastic finish doesn’t make for the bonniest Bluetooth baby in the show.

And, for those with little people toddling around, it’s useful to note that it’s easily tipped off its compact perch. The designer report card here would read ‘could do better’.

MORE: Best speaker deals - hi-fi, Bluetooth, wireless

Verdict

On paper the JVC’s list of features and potential uses impress.

Unfortunately, a mix of run-of-the-mill sound and uninspiring build and design means once you’ve popped it from its tubular cardboard packing there’s not a vast amount more to look forward to. You can buy better.

See all our JVC reviews

Where to buy View all »

JVC 360 Degree
£54.99
The Competition 

Cambridge Yoyo (S)

Our Rating 
0%

JBL Charge 2+

Our Rating 
0%
Price from £99.95

Ultimate Ears Roll 2

Our Rating 
0%
Price from £59.9