Tech Reviews

JBL Tuner 2

JBL Tuner 2: two-minute review

JBL offers a plethora of useful speakers and earphones. We're not just talking options that sound good either, but robust party speakers that can sit by the pool (or be flung into it) without a problem. These are the kinds of devices that marketing spin would call 'kit for keeping up with your active lifestyle', (omitting the fact that sometimes you want to slob out next to your speaker. It's OK, us too). 

That trend continues with the JBL Tuner 2, which is vying for a place in our best DAB radio roundup. It's incredibly practical. It's robust, it has rubber feet on the bottom to stay secure, it works as two types of radio, and it can easily be paired up with your phone to listen to your choice of music. 

The catch? It's not exactly powerful. Whatever you listen to will sound acceptable, but nothing more. This is far from one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can currently buy. 

When listening to talk radio, the leanness and flatness isn't a problem, but the moment you switch over to your favorite songs, you'll wonder just why Foo Fighters' All My Life sounds so tame. 

Priced at £79.99/AU$169.95 (which is around $95), the JBL Tuner 2 is well and truly aimed at the go-getter market; people who want plenty of options while they hike, swim, or head outside. Up to 12 hours of battery life means you won't need to worry about power so often, and that's where the JBL Tuner 2 feels a decent deal. 

It's a little heavy, but that gives it the sense of robustness you need when heading outdoors. There's no strap or carabiner, which would have been convenient, but it's still easy enough to grip in one hand, even with small palms. 

The JBL Tuner 2 looks fairly unremarkable, but it doesn't take up too much room. Only the aerial will get in your way, but no more so than a regular radio would. 

For anyone looking for a simple-to-use DAB/FM radio that also doubles up as a Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Tuner 2 does exactly what's needed. However, with weak bass and a whole lot of other issues sonically, it won't suit audiophiles keen to get the most from their lossless music collection, but we're not convinced something with a DAB radio built-in is designed for those people. 

Take it with you on vacation, place it in the hotel room, by the pool, or by your holiday home and you'll appreciate how the JBL Tuner 2 saved you packing a few devices, even if it could sound richer. 

JBL Tuner 2 on brown background

JBL Tuner 2: no strap, but it fits nicely in your hand. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tuner 2: price and release date

  • Available in the UK and Australia 
  • Priced at £79.99/AU$169.95
  • Launched in 2020

The JBL Tuner 2 isn't the newest device out there, having launched back in 2020, but then listening to the radio – even DAB radio – isn't the newest concept on the market, and there are times when sticking the original 'wireless' on still cannot be beaten. 

Since its release, the JBL Tuner 2 has seen a modest price drop, bringing it down to £79.99/AU$169.95.

It's available in two color schemes – white or black.

JBL Tuner 2 on brown background

The aerial is the only thing that might cause problems in a bag, but that’s hardly unusual for portable radios. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tuner 2: design and features

  • Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • DAB and FM radio

The JBL Tuner 2 feels nice and sleek in your hands. While its core purpose means you'll be placing it down either horizontally or vertically, carrying it around feels smooth, even if it lacks a strap to hold. 

On its bottom are two chunky rubber grips that keep the speaker level when you place it pretty much anywhere. You can place it vertically too if you prefer. 

At the top is the aerial that needs pulling out if you want to listen to the radio, while the back offers a USB-C port along with a 3.5mm audio port. 

The front is the most interesting part of the JBL Tuner 2 because it offers up a small display that says hello when you start it up, then tells you which mode it's in and the radio station you're listening to. 

It's also home of the battery indicator, which is fairly woeful. It's just a single bar that goes down in a vague fashion where a series of bars would have been so much more helpful. Still, the battery lasts about 10 hours so at least you won't have to worry too often.

Up top are the controls. There are two big buttons for volume along with a series of numbers for radio presets, as well as a scan button for finding everything that's out there. Scanning is pretty quick, although we did have to delve into the manual to figure out how to find even more stations. 

Mostly though, the JBL Tuner 2 takes only a few minutes to set up to your preference. Also, it's waterproof so you're fine to use it in almost any scenario. 

  • Design and features score: 4/5

JBL Tuner 2 detail: power button

You can place the JBL Tuner 2 horizontally or vertically as you prefer. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tuner 2: sound quality

  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Weak bass
  • Tinny sound at times

Let's not mince words: the JBL Tuner 2 doesn't sound great. It doesn't sound awful, but you shouldn't go anywhere near it if you want great-sounding audio. 

When listening to FM or DAB radio, it does a job. Voices sound clear if not quite super crisp, and you don't have to turn up the volume too high to hear this. 

Switch over to Bluetooth mode and it's a weaker performance. We tried out one of our favorites, Foo Fighters' All My Life, and we were soon dismayed at how weak and soulless it sounded. Switching over to David Bowie's Under Pressure in the hope of some detailed mids and sparkly trebles also did not yield the performance we had hoped for.

The music is there, of course, but it all lacks the wow factor we know these recordings are capable of, by quite a substantial margin. It's not even that the bass sounds muddy, it's just too weak to be noticeable. There's a bit of grain to the trebles once we listened to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon but still, we were not fans of the audio chops here. 

Cranking up the volume creates some distortion, too, so this is far from one of the best party speakers. When considering the sound quality, the JBL Tune 2 is a relaxing by the pool kind of speaker at best, nothing more. 

  • Sound quality score: 2/5

JBL Tuner 2 from the top, on brown background

JBL Tuner 2 is an easy pool-side radio with an IPX7 rating for water-resistance, but the audio won’t wow you. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tuner 2: value

  • DAB/FM radio and Blueooth speaker
  • Highly portable

The JBL Tuner 2 is fairly well priced for what you get. Saving one the need for a Bluetooth speaker and a DAB radio, it's certainly useful if you're not too fussed about great audio quality but you want plenty of options at your disposal.

Whether that's you ultimately depends on how you plan on using your new purchase. 

  • Value score: 3.5/5

JBL Tuner 2: should you buy it?

JBL Tuner 2
AttributesNotesRating
Design and featuresSaves you the need for a Bluetooth speaker and a DAB radio, so useful if you’re not too fussed about great audio quality4/5
Sound qualityToo weak through the bass and in general to challenge the class-leaders2/5
ValueGood suite of features and solid build, just let down by the audio quality3.5/5

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Also consider…

Think the JBL Tuner 2 might not be the DAB/FM radio with built-in Bluetooth for you? That's OK, here are three alternatives that could offer just the design, feature-set and sound quality you're looking for. 

 

Source: https://www.techradar.com/reviews/jbl-tuner-2/

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