Picking a good Bluetooth speaker from a shelf is far from child’s play

Here’s the problem with buying cheap Bluetooth speakers; you won’t know if they sound good or bad until you own them, because you can’t listen first. At retail they’re usually shrink wrapped and hanging on pegs, and when you ask for a listen salespeople look at you like you’ve arrived from Mars.

Even if you score a listen the places that sell them are usually too crowded and noisy for a proper assessment anyway. As for comparing one against another, no way. So you have to go by appearances, brand and intuition. Weight is good too, the heavier the better.

The JR Pop is a $50 Bluetooth speaker kids might like, but don't expect sound that inspires a lifelong love of music.

The JR Pop is a $50 Bluetooth speaker kids might like, but don’t expect sound that inspires a lifelong love of music.

This was much on my mind when I received JBL’s JR Pop for a listen; would I buy one if I couldn’t listen first? The JR Pop is a Bluetooth wireless speaker made for kids and it costs $49.95. It’s gives up to five hours of playing between charges and it’s waterproof; it can be immersed to a depth of one metre for 30 minutes without damage. That’s fresh water by the way, its rating does not cover the stuff washing into the beach.

So, appearance, brand and intuition. It looks good. It’s nicely made, solid and there’s a sturdy strap and clasp to attach it to a belt or backpack. No worries with brand; JBL has been making speakers since 1927 when James Bullough Lansing and Ken Decker started the business. It was a pioneer of movie sound and has made a number of iconic speakers including its best-selling L100 of 1970, which was recently re-born as the L100 Classic and immediately won the Judge’s Choice Award at the Sound and Image Awards.

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