JBL PartyField Stage 320 evaluate: one other club-thumping hit from JBL

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320.
JBL PartyField Stage 320
MSRP $600.00

“Roll it in. Turn it on. Turn it up. The JBL PartyBox Stage 320’s huge, clear sound and light show will do the rest.”

  • Loud, room-filling sound
  • Superb readability at excessive volumes
  • Sturdy, stable construct
  • Auracast multispeaker connectivity
  • Removable 18-hour battery
  • A bit expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
  • DJ sound results are tacky

When I reviewed JBL’s monster flagship celebration speaker — the 1,100-watt PartyBox Ultimate –final yr, I had my hair totally blown again by its sheer energy and pristine readability. But as spectacular as it’s for professional DJs and different big-room party-throwers, I puzzled about JBL’s smaller PartyBox speakers, that are extra manageable in dimension and value. Luckily, the brand new yr has introduced a brand new crop. And JBL’s new PartyField Stage 320 scratches that itch completely.

A whomping 240-watt rollable celebration, the Stage 320 is half the burden, roughly a 3rd of the worth, and gives most of the identical options because the Ultimate, similar to an LED lightshow, karaoke and DJ enjoyable, and multispeaker linking. The Stage 320 additionally has just a few step-up surprises which have include JBL’s upgraded 2024 lineup that features the transportable JBL Xtreme 4 and smaller celebration speaker, the PartyField Club 120. These options embrace the corporate’s AI-driven Sound Boost tuning, improved Auracast Bluetooth connectivity for linking a limiteless variety of appropriate audio system, and an 18-hour battery that’s (!) replaceable.

The Stage 320 remains to be massive, make no mistake. And it’s nonetheless $600. But in case you’re a budding DJ or simply somebody who likes to roll as much as a celebration with the ability and enjoyable options required to get folks out of their seats, then the JBL Stage 320 goes to do it for you, if the worth doesn’t scare you off. After a couple of week with the PartyField Stage 320, right here’s what I favored and didn’t.


The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
JBL does celebration speaker LED lights higher than most. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

On a latest journey to New York City, I used to be fascinated by the variety of party speakers I noticed within the wild, buried in I Heart NY merch in Times Square storefronts, mounted on the perimeters of meals carts coated in grease and sizzling sauce, and particularly hanging off the backs of lit-up, pink-feathered pedicabs blasting Empire State of Mind. I get why. It’s exhausting to compete with the sounds and blinding lights of town that by no means sleeps. But these seemingly bulletproof celebration audio system have the ability and the eye-catching dazzle to chop via the madness and take a beating whereas doing it.

OK, so perhaps you’re not planning on establishing a souvlaki cart in Times Square anytime quickly. But in case you’re in search of a celebration speaker designed to take it, the Stage 320 (which is the successor to 2020’s PartyField 310) could be a wonderful alternative. Like all JBL’s PartyField audio system, the Stage 320 is an enormous, rollable speaker on hardy wheels that weighs simply over 36 kilos and measures 13.3 by 26.3 by 15.2 inches (D x H x W), to be actual, or about the identical as a medium-sized suitcase. And, fortunately, it has a useful suitcase-style telescopic deal with that extends so you’ll be able to pull it round like one, or you’ll be able to grip it by the vast again deal with to raise it up (however remember to raise with the legs, please).

An LED strip on the top edge of theThe JBL PartyBox Stage 320.
Lightstrips and strobes aplenty on the Stage 320. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

Its physique is made from a thick, stable plastic shell that homes two 6.5-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters which are effectively protected behind a steel mesh grille. The woofers’ rims are ringed by LED lights that make a cool-looking infinity image when lit up. The face of the speaker can be dotted by six strobe lights on the left and proper entrance edges, and the highest and backside edges every have an LED strip.

The again panel has a bit extra occurring than traditional with JBL’s celebration audio system, because of the addition of a panel that homes the detachable battery. Above that’s one other panel that conceals all of the inputs and controls for the speaker (which we’ll get into under), and on the bottom-rear of the speaker is a passive bass port and a small cowl for the AC energy cable port.

Everything, in fact, is effectively sealed and rugged to adjust to the Stage 320’s IPX4 water-resistance score, which signifies that I received’t be throwing it within the lake like I did with its a lot smaller cousin, the JBL Xtreme 4. But it does imply that the Stage 320 will face up to splashes, rain, and varied drinks spilled on it.


The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
Control the sound of the Stage 320’s mics rapidly and simply, with out the app. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

In addition to being solidly constructed, The PartyField Stage 320 will be managed a number of methods, relying in your makes use of, and has an honest vary of inputs.

The high of the Stage 320 is the place all of the buttons and dials are mounted, which implies you’ll be able to management a variety of what the speaker can do from right here as an alternative of at all times having to seize your telephone. On it you’ll discover the multifunction play button that does simply that when it’s clicked as soon as. Click twice to skip tracks and 3 times to return. The quantity dial wraps round it, making it simple to goose issues up when the celebration will get rowdy.

On the other facet you get gentle controls for biking via the varied presets which you can map to the dial from the JBL PartyField app, or you’ll be able to flip the lights off altogether. Between the 2 dials are the Bluetooth pairing button, the Auracast button (extra on this in a sec), and the Bass Boost button that has two ranges: Deep and Punchy.

In the center row are three “Party Buttons” that may be simply mapped via the app to a choice of (I assume) celebration sounds that any self-respecting marriage ceremony DJ is certain to get tons of use out of. They embrace tacky favorites similar to clapping, file scratching, horns, and a handful of celebration slogans.

The again row of knobs is completely for controlling the amount, primary EQing, and echo sound impact of the microphones you plug in in the back of the speaker.


The baqck input panel of the JBL PartyBox Stage 320.
Inputs for days. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

Speaking of plugging issues in, behind that again panel there’s lots occurring by way of inputs, together with a 3.5 mm AUX port for connecting analog sources like CD gamers and smartphones (with the suitable adapters), and USB-A for charging units and/or porting in a USB stick stuffed with tunes. There are two quarter-inch inputs — one for a microphone and one which you should use for both a mic or a guitar (with a toggle swap for every), and every has its personal tiny achieve dial beneath for reinforcing and balancing ranges. Lastly, there are two 3.5 mm ports (out and in) for bodily daisy-chaining a number of audio system along with a wire.

As far as wi-fi connectivity goes, although, the Stage 320 is, initially, a Bluetooth 5.4 speaker that may connect with your smartphone, laptop computer, or no matter you want, for streaming out of your favourite steaming service. Unlike the PartyField Ultimate, nevertheless, there is no such thing as a Wi-Fi connectivity. So except you wish to run a tool by way of the AUX enter, you received’t have the ability to stream any hi-res music.

Connecting to your units is rather like some other Bluetooth speaker, and it options multipoint so you’ll be able to join two units on the identical time so that you and your folks can take turns choosing songs. But the largest Bluetooth distinction that the Stage 320 and some different newer JBL audio system have is the inclusion of Auracast, a extra environment friendly, low-latency Bluetooth know-how that we are going to be seeing much more of.

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
Auracast means one-button linking with different Auracast JBL audio system. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

Auracast permits the Stage 320 to stereo pair with one other Stage 320. But extra broadly it permits multispeaker connectivity with a limiteless variety of JBL PartyField audio system and different Auracast-enabled JBL audio system, like the brand new Xtreme 4, Clip 5, and Go 4.

Connecting to different Auracast audio system can simply be completed by urgent the Auracast button on every speaker. I did this with the Xtreme 4, and it simply linked as much as the Stage 320 and began taking part in. Volume can then be managed on the audio system themselves, via the supply machine (like your smartphone’s quantity buttons), or the PartyField app.

However, one factor to notice is that not like JBL’s Auracast portables which are backward appropriate with the older PartyBoost multispeaker characteristic, JBL’s PartyField line historically has not had this characteristic. And as such, neither does the Stage 320. That means when you have a few of these older JBL PartyBoost audio system, you received’t have the ability to add them to the Stage 320’s sound circle. I don’t see that as a deal-breaker. But if including, say, a smaller speaker to the combination so you’ll be able to lengthen your Stage 320’s music in to the kitchen or the bogs to your friends and also you don’t wish to dole out the $380 for the Xtreme 4, the Clip 5 is simply $80, and the Go 4 is barely $50.

JBL PartyField app

JBL has been doing a stable job with the companion apps for its portables, Wi-Fi-enabled audio system just like the Ultimate and Charge 5, and on this case, Bluetooth-only celebration audio system. The Stage 320 makes use of the devoted JBL PartyField app, which is effectively laid out and simple to make use of, and offers you extra detailed management over the speaker’s sound, lighting, and DJ options.

For sound, you get playback and quantity management, in addition to extra exact EQ controls with 5 presets that embrace: JBL Signature that provides punchy low-end tuning with barely elevated highs; Movie that brings the lows down a bit however elevates the mids for clearer dialog in case you’re connecting the speaker together with your TV or projector; Vocal that cranks the mid-highs much more so lyrics and vocals actually reduce via; Chill, which tempers the highs for a smoother, much less abrasive sound; and Custom that offers you full management with a five-band equalizer. Additionally, the app additionally offers you a toggle for the Bass Boost, and management of the microphone results when plugged in, too.

The PartyField app additionally offers you tons of management over the LED lighting. Choose from six presets, colours, and what lights you need on and off, in addition to the mapping options I discussed above the place you’ll be able to assign these presets to the speaker’s bodily buttons for quick entry.

Sounds will also be mapped to the “Party Buttons” on the highest panel via the app as effectively, and there are a great deal of choices. But if you need the total breadth of the Effects Lab, it’s all completed via the app the place there are all types of sliders and pads that allow you to go nuts with bizarre filters, sound benders, and trippy echo results.

The PartyField app can be the place you’ll be able to setup stereo pairs, management the Auracast PartyCollectively speaker pairings, and replace software program and different knickknacks.

Sound and efficiency

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
It’s massive, however rolling the Stage 320 round is just not an excessive amount of work in any respect. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

If you’ve by no means heard a celebration speaker for your self, particularly ones within the medium-to-large vary just like the Stage 320 or the Club 120, it’s surprising how a lot sound comes out of those comparatively small bins and the readability at which it’s delivered. It’s gobsmacking. And when you think about that the Stage 320 is barely a pair hundred {dollars} greater than some premium transportable Bluetooth audio system, similar to JBL’s personal $500 Boombox 3 for instance, I’m stunned that extra folks don’t have them. Well, type of stunned; they’re heavy and never tremendous transportable, and I get that too.

For its $600 price ticket, the JBL PartyField Stage 320 is an utter beast of a speaker, sound-wise. Its 240-watts of energy is ample quantity to maintain up with Sweet Caroline singalongs from the dance ground whereas remaining fantastically clear. Much of this readability could also be coming by the use of JBL’s new AI Sound Boost characteristic that’s in a few of its 2024 audio system as effectively. JBL says that the characteristic “analyzes audio in real time with an AI algorithm to optimize the acoustic output level, leading to more powerful and less distorted sound.” This appears to be working, however I’d must put it subsequent to a PartyField with out the characteristic to see for certain. At any fee, the sound is unquestionably balanced and dynamic and distortion free.

Bass and mids are quick and punchy as hell, relying on the Bass Boost setting you select, however each carry an enormous, wall-rattling influence. I solely pushed the speaker previous 50% a couple of times whereas testing it inside my dwelling, leaving a great deal of headroom for out of doors areas and even marriage ceremony reception ballrooms. Auracast-connect a stereo pair or create a multispeaker configuration, and a working DJ would have it made within the shade.

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
IPX4 water-resistance means poolside events are a go, and so they don’t must cease within the rain, both. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

Cycling via my well-trodden speaker testing playlists is at all times a deal with on celebration audio system, and the Stage 320 didn’t disappoint. There’s no sense proudly owning a speaker like this except you’re seeking to play it loud, and the Stage 320 added club-level influence to all the things from New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, with its gnarly synth bass intro and ceiling-scratching ascending/descending keyboard runs, to marriage ceremony anthems like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, as a result of let’s face it, if it doesn’t deal with Steve Perry’s high-tenor wails then why hassle.

There’s additionally nice sound separation, too, particularly from a speaker that, principally, stands vertically. (You can even lay it on its facet.) The Stage 320 additionally sounds actually good with films when setup with a projector, and its Bluetooth or AUX enter connections permit for this with ease, though an optical, RCA, and even an HDMI enter is perhaps a pleasant contact.

I solely did a primary take a look at of the Stage 320’s microphone and guitar inputs, however I can affirm that they each sound nearly as good as you’d anticipate: loud and clear with ample achieve to rise above no matter tracks you’re taking part in/singing together with. The EQ options on the highest of the speaker assist dial within the sound, and the echo results add some enjoyable ambiance.


The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
The compact, changeable battery. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

The JBL PartyField Stage 320 contains a removeable, replaceable 9,444mAh battery that JBL says delivers as much as 18 hours of playtime, relying on the amount you’re cranking it at. I discovered this roughly to be true, as I logged just below that earlier than having to plug it in, and the speaker got here out of the field nearly totally charged. The battery will totally cost in three hours and a 10-minute fast cost can internet two hours of playback time in a pinch. It’s additionally tremendous simple to take away rapidly by simply opening the again panel and pulling it out, not like the waterproof Xtreme 4, which requires a screwdriver to entry it.

Should you purchase it?

The JBL PartyBox Stage 320
Put the Stage 320 anyplace and simply add quantity. Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

I shouldn’t must say this, however the JBL PartyField Stage 320 is a celebration speaker that may be very particularly geared towards, yep, events. It’s chest-thumping, foot-stomping loud, and designed to get folks on their toes and belting out choruses of Mony Mony until they get requested to go away.

But it’s additionally an excellent-sounding, all-around speaker that’s clear as day at excessive and low volumes, has respectable EQ choices to fit your tastes, and sounds good with nearly any form of music, particularly music with massive bass. Every time I evaluate an enormous celebration speaker like this, though I do know it’s overkill in my dwelling as a daily Bluetooth speaker (and actually exhausting to discover a area for), the best way it so effortlessly and cleanly sounds at all times makes me miss it when it’s gone.

If, you occur to be a budding DJ or somebody who has a variety of giant gatherings or runs a Times Square meals cart, the Stage 320 is a no brainer for $600. It’s additionally not a nasty deal when you have the area for it, don’t plan on lugging it round an excessive amount of, and simply need an all-in-one Bluetooth speaker that provides enormous sound while you need it, with out all of the parts you’d want in any other case.

Are there comparables? Of course. LG’s XBoom XL7 is equally priced, simply as highly effective, and has higher karaoke options, if that’s extra your precedence. The Stage 320’s JBL tuning sounds higher although, so factors there. Sony additionally makes stunning wanting and sounding celebration audio system in its X-Series audio system (the $650 SRS XV800 is the perfect comparability) that boast 360-degree sound, longer battery life, and an optical enter, maybe making it a greater choose if utilizing it for watching films is your factor.

The backside line is for $600, sure, get the PartyField Stage 320 in case you want a great deal of clear quantity for events, massive gatherings, or if you wish to stand out in Times Square.

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