Blue Tooth Speakers

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What do we know about them?

In the last few years, the "blue-tooth" protocol for data transmission between close located devices has developed into a reliable error-corrected mechanism capable of transmitting hi-quality "streaming" audio as well as pictures, video, data files, contact lists etc.
What  is Streaming?
Streaming is the transmission and reception of media data in Real-time, that is, as it is happening, so look at streaming audio for example from a smart phone, or tablet to a transducer device (such as earphones, speakers) this can be similar to just plugging the device into audio headphone jack, only without all the hassle of dragging leads to trip over and cause potential damage to equipment.
What are the Restrictions?
Range of operation is the prime restriction, the sender (transmitter) needs to be close to the receiver, usually within a few feet, Blue-tooth is also susceptible to wireless interference as it operates in the same range of wireless frequencies as normal Wi-Fi
and many other services in the "ISM" bands. Reliability of communication is thus affected and should not be assumed to be as good as a pure cable connection.
Now to the practical aspects of Blue-Tooth speakers.
Like all audio equipment, generally the more you pay, the better performance you get those with extra features obviously come dearer, and of course there will always be the far eastern manufacturers coming up with something cheaper, and often of poor performance even though it might appear similar (clones, counterfeits etc) the build quality, the choice of components and parts are such that the units are made "down to a price" NOT "up to a standard".
My preferred manufacturer has always been JBL (marketed by Harman) their loud-speaker design has always broken traditional boundaries, come up with some pretty unusual designs with seriously surprising performance. The "FLIP" and "CHARGE" models of portable Blue-tooth speakers really DO turn heads on first hearing. I remember visiting a coffee shop in Australia, relaxing in the corner with
a serious mug of "Flat White" when, there came across some wonderful Smooth Jazz
I looked around expecting to see some serious Hi-Fi equipment, speakers and all the usual paraphernalia, no, nothing visible but the sound appeared to come from the counter area, there was what I now know as a Charge 2+ just lying on the counter and filling the shop with the most amazing sound, I always knew JBL could produce some impressive sounds at concerts, and in studios but never had I heard such sound from box slightly larger than a 500 ml beer can.
I was sold, so put in a search on eBay which found quite a few similar items for sale by both Buy It Now and auction. Now came the cautious phase, do your research FIRST is always a good maxim to use, so looking at descriptions to weed out those that were all too obviously counterfeit (far lower price, vague description, stock pictures etc)  I went for the auction items.  Ran a search for completed items to get an idea of the sort of price these units fetch, checked the sellers feedback's and rejected a few that had bad comments about "fake" or not working, bad packing etc, this left a few sellers to pick from, so  placed a few bids and won at what I considered was a reasonable price for a second user device.
At this point it is probably worth mentioning that it is always a good idea to look at the selected sellers past sales, any seller that has sold more than one such device will in most cases indicate a dealer, so check the descriptions for all sales, are they the same wording, if so, ask yourself how many people would have, say, six of the same item for sale? So move on to the single item seller, read the description, the reason for sale and look at the pictures, check feedback, you can get a "gut" feeling about a seller from the presentation of the auction, are the pictures of the REAL item, not just stock pictures, a seller that takes the trouble to present a good set of pictures of the actual item is more than likely to be honest, having a good reason to sell, like "I upgraded" or "un-wanted present" you need to make your decision on these facts.
OK so the item arrives, looks OK, works, but does it REALLY, how long does the battery last, does the battery accept a full charge? the Lithium polymer battery packs do not last forever, if they have been over charged or allowed to run flat for long periods, some damage may have been caused, reducing their life.
How does it sound? You need to appreciate that your purchase may have had a rough  life with it's previous owner, these speakers do tend to get mishandled, dropped or abused, though most physical abuse will be obvious, it's the electrical abuse that may well be hidden.  Check it out at loud volume, does it sound rattly, is there a buzzy sound on certain bass notes, could well be a sign of damage to the small transducers that actually convert the electrical signals to sound. At low (bass) frequencies these transducers move quite a lot of air around inside the housing, the passive bass units at either end relay these pulses of air pressure to your ears. Higher frequencies (treble) emit directly from the two small transducers behind the front grill.
Problems found with second user purchases:
Battery capacity low, unit will only work reliably when connected to a USB charger means the Lipo unit is at the end of it's life, replacement costs approx £20.00
Buzzy sound at 95Hz (boomy and buzzy bass) in one example the flexible leads to the transducer diaphragm from the electrical connection tag was badly soldered, the joint was (as is called in the trade) Dry, as the sensitive frequencies approached the connection would break and re-connect, causing a "clack" sound, very off putting.
re-soldering cured the problem.
Note: a replacement transducer would cost £30.00 odd
This guide will be updated from time to time
Honningskjele March 2017
April 2017 Update:
There are floods of FAKE or at least suspect so called "JBL" speakers being sold on eBay be VERY careful when you select one, price is NOT everything, but far eastern sellers showing lot of different colours, or showing the units being placed under a running tap to indicate the items water resistance, are all suspect priced at less than GBP40.
The Charge +2 usually sells 2nd hand at between GBP 50 and GBP 70 so let this be your guidance, remember stock pictures tell you NOTHING, you need to select a seller that provides 3-4 good quality pictures from different angles, includes the box and it's contents, FAKE boxes are much different to the REAL ones. If there is a picture of the end and it clearly shows concentric rings, this is most likely a FAKE, the original logo "JBL" is engraved into the passive resonators at each end, NOT a stuck on label.
So, you purchased one, what is the first thing you should do? remove the speaker unit and lightly press in one of the passive resonators, the other one should pop outwards
showing the chamber is airtight.  Switch it on, you should hear gentle bleep,bleep if you hear a raucous harsh or overly loud sound  then what you have in your hands is likely a FAKE, pressing the bluetooth button should produce a run of gentle pulses while the bluetooth negotiates  a pairing,  not a loud screaming roar.
Bluetooth signing on: The Genuine units sign on as JBL Charge 2+  anything else and your have a FAKE unit.
Next, weigh the speaker unit, a REAL one should be 615-620 gms, fakes come between 450 to 580gms, later FAKES seem to have included a makeweight bringing the unit up to the high 500gms, early ones were 450gms. Finally, listen the sound, play some music with a good bass content, watch the end passive resonators, that should bounce in and out, if they don't move, you got a FAKE.
If you've been sold a FAKE, there is only one course of action NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
but issue this feedback, BEFORE you request to return the item, else you may lose the chance to leave your penalising  feedback. Ebay will usually find in your favour if you
Keep all your communications and request a return on the grounds of a non-genuine item. Just the use of the company registered "JBL" in any pictures or wording is grounds for dispute. Check "You Tube" you will find many examples of FAKE tests. 
That's it for now... Enjoy your listening.
Added information May 2017
Have you noticed this NEW ADDITION to listings for these units ?
How about the guarantee eBay give you "your goods or your money back"
Well it seems NOT on these units, as we get the magic addition to the listing
(Not eligible for the eBay Money Back Guarantee)
I wonder WHAT they know? doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the reason WHY
When even now, there are many obvious FAKES being sold with ripped off stock pictures, careful removal of "JBL" logo, sometimes badly fuzzed out, or just conveniently left off, even the most obvious errors exposed, like showing the lights on in a pattern that NEVER happens with a genuine item, or showing an SD card socket on the power panel, all obvious signs of a counterfeit item,  finally, how many times do you see pictures of carefully positioned boxes so the tab handle of the genuine item
is not visible. AGAIN I say DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY, YOUTUBE is a great resource for examples of fakes revealed and tested.


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