There’s a reason the market is flooded with low-priced portable speakers. The stock speakers that come with your standard phone do a pretty sub par job of projecting music. Investing in a cheap portable speaker can make a huge difference in your music listening experience. $50 dollars and under falls under the affordable tier of portable speakers. Does the J&L Real 26 differentiate itself in such a crowded market?
The J&L Real 26 features a triangular-shaped design similar to the Oontz Angle 3. The outer edges have a matte finish encompassing a triangular-patterned metal grille. Underneath the metal grille, lies dual 3W drivers. Located behind the drivers is a passive radiator designed to boost the bass. The home controls are located at the top of the speakers displaying four buttons: pause/play, answer call, volume down, and volume up. Additionally, the volume buttons can be long-pressed to play previous the previous song or skip to the next song. The power button is located directly to the right of the four home buttons. When switched to the right, a woman’s voice will loudly yell “POWER ON”. I find this to be hilarious because the same woman’s voice is used in all the J&L Real products.
There is a flap on the right side of the speaker that houses a 3.5mm auxiliary port. This is convenient for connecting devices that do not have Bluetooth. There is also a micro-USB port that is used to charge the device. The micro-USB cable is provided to charge the device.
Rubberized feet are located at the bottom to prevent the speaker from moving around on a surface.
Let me start by saying that I am not an audiophile. I am just a regular user like most people. The J&L Real 26 sounds like how you would expect a cheap speaker to perform.I found the speaker to have a focus in the mid-range, which is best geared towards hearing clear vocals. This makes it a good speaker for pop music that you hear on the radio. Anything focused on hearing the instrumentals would work as well. J&L Real likes to highlight the passive radiator to deliver ultra-bass. I didn’t hear “ultra-bass”, but that is to be expected considering the cost and small drivers that the speaker comes with. You can definitely hear the speaker trying to fill shoes that are too big, but for the cost it gets the job done.
This little speaker can get pretty loud. Loud enough that I can hear music playing in my room when I am downstairs in the kitchen. The biggest problem cheaper speakers face is the sound quality when the volume is maxed out. This speaker is no different, in that there is some crackling and sound distortion when the speaker is at its highest volume. I found 75% volume to be the optimal loudness where there isn’t any loss in quality of music.
I really liked the triangular design of the speaker. I found it to be aesthetically pleasing and a great addition to my desk. The speaker’s design projects music directionally so that you’ll hear it better when it is directly facing you. This means that I have the speaker point at you while you are stationary to get the best audio.
The J&L Real 26 features Bluetooth 4.0, which is supposed to make pairing devices incredibly easy. I had no trouble connecting to devices and staying connected. The range is supposed to be 30-4o feet as long as there are no large obstructions in front of you. I have an iPhone 6S and if I moved more than 5 feet away, it gets disconnected. This is the biggest issue I found with this speaker. This version of Bluetooth does not support dual pairing, meaning you cannot connect two devices at the same time.
The battery life was decent clocking in at around 6-7 hours of usage. I like to preserve my ears and listen to music at around 50% volume. I would expect 5 hours if you are listening to music at 100% volume. Charging can be done by plugging in the micro-USB into the port located on the side of the speaker.
The call feature is one of the best features of the device. A handy button is designated for answering calls. Calls were crystal clear on my end. Every person I talked to said they could hear me clearly without my voice cutting out. This is pretty rare when dealing with cheaper portable speakers. I took a couple of conference calls at work from my desk using the portable speaker and it worked perfectly.
The J&L Real 26 isn’t going to knock your socks off with its sound quality. But that’s okay because the speaker costs only $19.99. This is about $8 cheaper than the very similar Oontz Angle 3. I would say the sound quality is comparable as well. If price is the biggest factor in buying a portable speaker, I would totally pull the trigger on the J&L Real 26. The aesthetically pleasing design coupled with a great call feature help to differentiate in a wave of portable speakers. J&L Real products have always been top-notch when it comes to affordable accessories, and this portable speaker is no different.