CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

JBL Link 10 review: A voice-enabled wireless speaker that's easy to take with you

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can argue over which voice assistant is the best. Alexa is currently dominant in the wireless speaker market with Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Samsung's Bixby all playing catch-up. And while the arrival of Apple's HomePod may shake things up, that speaker is comparatively costly and feature-challenged: You can only access Apple-based music services via voice, and it needs an iOS device living on the same network to perform basic tasks like reminders. 

Google Assistant performs as well and perhaps better than Alexa for basic tasks like accessing music services (including Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn), getting the latest news and weather, and setting timers for cooking. It's also arguably superior for answering general questions because it's tied to Google's renowned search engine. Where it falls short compared to Alexa is in the smart-home realm, where Alexa can control more products. Needless to say, like Alexa, Google Assistant will grow even more robust with time. (This list of Google Assistant commands will give you an idea of all the options for controlling this speaker with your voice.) 

Good for its size but size limits its performance 

As I said, the Link 10 delivers strong sound for its compact size. It's a little bigger than the 1.4-pound (1.17 kg) UE Blast, which is a little slimmer and slightly easier to carry around (I like the UE's design slightly better). 

Not surprisingly, the Link 10 doesn't sound as good as larger and more powerful AC-powered speakers like the Sonos One, Apple's HomePod and JBL's Link 300 and Link 500, which deliver fuller, richer sound and hold together better at higher volumes. (It does sound better than Amazon's second-gen Echo, however.)

Like the Link 20, the Link 10 sounds best at 75 percent volume or less. It can get loud when cranked up, but you will get some distortion as you push the volume to max levels, particularly with bass-heavy and more complicated tracks that have a lot instruments playing at once.

At times, it sounds better than the UE Blast, which costs $50 more. That may sound like a strange thing to say, but all these wireless speakers have digital signal processors (DSP) that process sound in their own particular way. That can make for some uneven performance.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When listening to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect," I thought the JBL sounded a tad warmer and more natural. The Blast has a little bit of presence boost (otherwise known as treble boost) that can sometimes make certain riffs sound a little harsh. However, when I played Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" the Blast had a little more punch to it and sounded clearer, while the Link 10's bass had a little less definition.

Alas, these compact cylindrical speakers have their moments when they sound quite good -- and then they have their moments where they show their limitations. (None of these small speakers can handle Vampire's Weekend's "Diane Young" track at higher volumes, for example).

It's also worth noting that they sound different indoors and outdoors. I maintain that these types of speakers -- like the Link 10/20 and UE Blast/Megablast -- are better suited to outdoor use. They're designed to disperse your music in an open area so your ear doesn't hear some of their sound quality imperfections. Rather, you just say to yourself, "Wow, that speaker plays loud for its small size."

I'll finish by talking about the Link 10's price. At $150, it's an OK value. But it's frequently discounted by $50, which puts it at $100, or not much more than JBL's Bluetooth-only Flip 4. While I'd personally step up to the Link 20 -- especially if it, too, was discounted -- if you want to save some money and actually like the idea of a more compact speaker, the Link 10 is certainly a good option.   

Hot Products

More Best Products

All Best Products