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Treblab HD Max Review: A Tough Sell

Last updated: 1 month ago
8 min read
Editor
rating
3.6
Treblab HD Max on the grass

If you’re looking for a big, rugged Bluetooth speaker for an affordable price, then the Treblab HD Max might be for you.

Visually, Treblab HD Max is an alternative to the JBL’s Xtreme. It’s a massive speaker that you have to carry with a shoulder strap.

It packs a few cool features: a 3.5mm AUX port, a built-in microphone for taking phone calls, and it even acts as a power bank.

The sound isn’t that bad either, for a party speaker. However, the loudness is not all that amazing, and the quality pales compared to a well-known but noticeably smaller Bluetooth speaker. More on that in the “Sound” section below.

There are also strange design decisions. Like placing both charging and a 3.5mm port underneath the speaker. Meaning you can’t access them when using the speaker.

On the other hand, Treblab HD Max “only” costs around $170. Can that make you forgive the speaker’s quirks, or should you opt for something else?

Get your answers in the full review below.

  • Decent sound quality
  • Shoulder strap for easier transportation
  • Excellent Bluetooth range
  • Impressive battery life
  • Mediocre microphone quality
  • Unpractical spot for AUX and USB port
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Expect a decent sound quality with relaxing tuning that avoids being sibilant. However, even compared to cheaper Bluetooth speakers, the midrange feels hollow and lacks clarity.

    If Treblab HD Max is your first wireless speaker, it will, without a doubt, impress you. It’s punchy and decently full and plays relatively loud.

    However, by placing a much smaller JBL Flip 6 next to it, you quickly realize that the size doesn’t matter. The JBL sounds way better in all areas except bass. More on that later.

    Treblab HD Max Frequency Response

    Treblab HD Max vs. JBL Flip 6 measurement
    Compared to the Flip 6, Treblab HD Max is slightly more recessed in the mids, with a peak at 8kHz that adds artificial clarity.

    Bass: Thumpy lows with decent control

    Treblab HD Max, despite its massive size, produces only moderate bass quantity. It’s nowhere near what you would expect from a party speaker.

    Thankfully, lows are fairly controlled and don’t bleed too much into the midrange. The slight boost lasts throughout the entire bass range, adding warmness to the whole sound, making it more pleasing and relaxing to listen to.

    When compared to a much smaller JBL Flip 6 (around 4-times smaller portable Bluetooth speaker), the latter produces a tighter, fuller bass.

    Treblab HD Max passive radiator
    A passive radiator system in speakers makes the sound significantly fuller.

    Nevertheless, Treblab HD Max performs better in two areas: keeping the bass at higher volumes.

    Most speakers’ DSPs boost bass at lower volumes to make the sound fuller. However, it stops increasing bass past the 60% volume and only boosts mids and treble, mainly to prevent the tiny woofer from burning out.

    Fortunately, Treblab HD Max maintains a good amount of bass even at higher volumes, so it doesn’t sound like a harsh trebly mess. Like JBL Flip 6 does.

    Midrange: Recessed and boxy

    Treblab HD Max’s midrange feels recessed and strangely tuned in some areas. Instruments like electric guitars sound off, especially on metal tracks with heavy distorting riffs.

    On the other hand, the tuning is more kind to vocals, although they aren’t perfect either. They definitely sound more natural, albeit thin.

    Again, compared to JBL Flip 6, the latter sounds fuller and richer, with much more meat on the bone.

    Treblab HD Max on rocks
    Detachable carrying strap helps to carry around this heavy speaker.

    Treble: Sparkly but forgiving

    Higher tones are matched in loudness with the rest of the frequency response. They aren’t smooth as butter, but still quite forgiving and free of sibilance.

    Cymbals produce nice shimmer, although they lack texture. You can hear cymbal crashes but can’t really focus on detail.

    That being said, most Bluetooth speakers fall short when trying to master higher frequencies. Especially party-focused speakers, where loudness and bass punch play the most prominent role.

    That leads me to the main problem.

    Who is Treblab targeting with the HD Max?

    Treblab HD Max isn’t very loud, which should be the main feature of a party speaker. It supposedly outputs 50W of power yet sounds as loud as the tiny (in comparison) JBL Flip 6.

    Furthermore, tuning is way too recessed. The sound signature should be more V-shaped and energetic since that’s what people want from a big party speaker.

    Treblab HD Max onboard buttons
    Physical buttons on top of the speaker: power button, volume down, play/pause, volume up.

    Treblab HD Max is a bit confusing. It’s good on its own, but it doesn’t shift you into a party and dancing mood. It’s way too serious for that.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the sound is very directional. You must point the speaker towards you and in line with your ears to get the best sound.

    Bass is especially sensitive to direction. If you listen to the speaker at 90 degrees off-axis (looking directly into passive radiators), you’ll hardly hear any low end.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Structurally, the HD Max feels solid, and with an added IPX6 rating, you don’t have to worry about water splashes. Just don’t drop it on the floor or into the pool.

    The design closely resembles JBL speakers, much like the entire line-up of Treblab portable speakers.

    That involves a cylindrical-shaped housing, 2 passive radiators on each side, and a durable fabric mesh covering most of the speaker. The only difference is that Treblab speakers only come in black color.

    The mesh is reinforced with metal to prevent it from bending. Taking it off reveals the 2 main driver units.

    Exposed passive radiators on the sides are dented into the housing.

    Treblab HD Max passive radiator
    Passive radiators are slightly recessed into the housing so they don’t get easily damaged.

    That way, they don’t come into contact with the ground if you place the speaker sideways. It’s also harder for anything to poke into the radiator and damage it.

    However, you should still be cautious that something doesn’t puncture the rubber sealing. Those passive radiators play an important role in how the speaker sounds.

    Unlike JBL speakers, Treblab HD Max isn’t fully waterproof. It’s rated for an IPX6, meaning it can survive water splashes.

    While you use it in the rain or the shower, you can’t dunk it underwater.

    Moreover, ports lack oleophobic nano coating, so you have to keep them protected with a thick rubber cover.

    Treblab HD Max ports
    Under the rubber flap, there’s a USB-A port for the power bank feature, an AUX port, and a USB-C charging port. It looks like there’s a microSD slot missing under the USB-A.

    Furthermore, avoid dropping the speaker on the floor. While it has the same build quality as the rest of the Treblab speakers, the HD Max is much bigger and heavier. So it will fall on the floor with greater force.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    You actually get a longer battery life than advertised. At 50% volume, the Treblab HD Max speaker lasted for 25 hours and 7 minutes.

    Treblab HD Max Battery Comparison

    Treblab HD Max battery graph

    Despite Treblab saying the HD Max lasts 20 hours on 30% volume and only 5 hours at maximum volume, it lasted much longer in our test.

    At 50% volume (I double-checked), the speaker played music for 25 hours and 7 minutes before shutting off.

    That’s way more than expected, making the Treblab HD Max one of the best battery life performers.

    • As it should be since it offers a power bank feature to charge other devices. For this purpose, it has a dedicated USB-A port with around 10W of output.

    The speaker itself charges via USB-C at similar 10W input.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Treblab HD Max is pretty well equipped with features, but most of them are half-baked or strangely designed.

    Extra features in a product raise the value and make the product more fun to use.

    Treblab HD Max comes packed with useful features. There’s a built-in mic for making calls and summoning smart assistants, 3 EQ profiles, an AUX port, and a USB-A port for charging other devices.

    The included shoulder strap helps you carry the speaker around. It even has a bottle opener built-in. Talking about a proper party speaker.

    Treblab HD Max bottle opener
    With the Treblab HD Max, you’re always ready to enjoy some beers.

    And if you crave more loudness, you can pair two HD Max speakers to get double the power.

    However, some of these features are difficult to use.

    Strange design choices

    The strangest design decision on Treblab HD Max was to put a charging port, AUX port, and a USB-A port underneath the speaker.

    You have to leave the protective flap open, and to avoid the entire speaker’s weight pushing against the cable, you have to position it vertically.

    Treblab HD Max AUX port
    If you want to use AUX, you’ll have to use the speaker standing up. You can’t use it horizontally.

    EQ presets

    Moreover, you get three sound modes, Bass Boost, Indoor, and Outdoor mode. Only the Indoor mode sounds good, while the other two noticeably worsen the sound.

    Furthermore, there are no indications in what preset you’re in. The speaker only beeps when changing the EQ.

    Microphone Quality

    There are a few portable Bluetooth speakers nowadays that still provide a built-in microphone. Treblab HD Max is in the minority.

    Treblab HD Max Microphone Test

    However, you should stay away from using this mic for making phone calls.

    While the call quality in a quiet room is passable, the mic picks up a lot of background noise and lacks clarity.

    It gets noticeably worse when speaking in a loud environment, with noise suppression tech completely muffling your voice.

    If you plan to answer or make a call, simply pick up your phone instead.

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    You get a robust Bluetooth connection with up to 65 feet of indoor coverage and no random stutters. While there’s a minor audio lag, you quickly get used to it.

    Unlike wireless headphones, you don’t always carry a Bluetooth speaker. Since you’ll be moving around, it’s important that a speaker doesn’t stutter when you walk around and hang with other people.

    Thankfully, Treblab HD Max provides excellent coverage. In my usual indoor testing, I managed to walk past the 65 feet, and 2 brick walls before the sound started stuttering and cutting off.

    That means you can easily play the music from your pocket and mingle with others at the party.

    Treblab HD Max strap clip
    Metal clips are easily attachable and strong enough to sustain the speaker’s weight.

    Furthermore, you don’t have to deal with annoying stutters, even when your audio source is in the speaker’s proximity.

    The pairing process is straightforward. It initiates as soon as you power on the speaker.

    For any additional pairing, simply power on the speaker to put it into pairing mode. Just make sure to turn off the Bluetooth on already paired devices.

    Treblab HD Max supports multipoint and can remember up to 8 devices. It will automatically switch between them.

    What Bluetooth Codec Does It Use?

    Like most wireless speakers, Treblab HD Max only supports SBC, a standard Bluetooth codec.

    That’s perfectly fine since this speaker isn’t meant to blow your mind with audio quality.

    Is There an Audio Lag?

    You will notice a minor delay in audio when watching YouTube videos, but it’s hardly distracting. After a couple of seconds, your brain gets used to it.

    Should You Get Treblab HD Max?

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Treblab HD Max is a decent alternative to other, more expensive party speakers.

    However, it still left me underwhelmed, especially because of its sound. Don’t get me wrong, the tuning isn’t bad, but it doesn’t make me want to dance all night long.

    Furthermore, despite the speaker’s size, it doesn’t go that loud, which can be problematic at a party full of people.

    Some features are also a bit difficult to use. So, what you end up with is a speaker with many compromises.

    Treblab HD Max water resistance
    Treblab HD Max has an IPX6 rating, making it fully splashproof.

    Nevertheless, the price is currently at $170, which is under 60% as much as the JBL Xtreme 3, a supposed alternative.

    At the end of the day, that could be a good enough reason to lean towards Treblab HD Max and forget about its shortcomings.

    Final verdict?

    Get the Treblab HD Max if you plan to blast your music for an occasional party and don’t want to spend too much money.

    On the other hand, if you simply want some quality background music, grab a smaller JBL Flip 6 or even cheaper Treblab HD77.

    How does Treblab HD Max compare to the competition?

    • The HD Max is much bigger than other Bluetooth speakers for under $170.
    • It offers 50W of power, which is, on average, higher than the competition.
    • It has about average battery life compared to other speakers in this price range.
    • As the competition from JBL, Treblab’s speaker can also act as a power bank.
    • It still offers an AUX port…
    • but it’s almost impractical to use.
    • While an IPX6 rating is high, it still can’t match IPX7, which is what most of the competition is rated for.
    • Speaker doesn’t provide an app for firmware updates or custom EQ.

    Treblab HD Max Alternatives

    Treblab HD77

    Treblab HD77 Bluetooth speaker on a bench

    A much cheaper alternative with a similar sound signature but a more 360° audio. It isn’t as loud but sufficient for indoor and outdoor use.

    The identical but smaller design provides the same level of water resistance (an IPX6 rating) but adds shockproof protection to the mix.

    The battery life is also similar. However, the speaker can’t charge other devices.

    Treblab HD77 review

    JBL Flip 6

    JBL Flip 6 on a rock

    Boasting a far better sound quality, the Flip 6 is an obvious pick if you want to play some quality music in the background. Of course, the quality deteriorates when pushed to high volumes.

    The design is similar but sleeker and noticeably smaller. Also, you get full water and dust protection (IP67).

    On a full charge, you get more than 8 hours of battery at 50% (compared to LINKZ), and you can fiddle around with a companion app, downloading updates and changing EQ.

    JBL Flip 6 review

    What’s in the Box?

    Treblab HD Max accessories
    • Treblab HD Max Bluetooth speaker
    • USB-C charging cable
    • 3.5mm AUX cable
    • Carrying strap
    • Treblab sticker
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: Bluetooth speaker
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 2x10W + 2x25W dynamic
    Frequency range: 80-16.000Hz
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 5.62 lbs (2550g)
    Mic & Controls: Yes (both)
    Water resistance: IPX6
    Battery life: 20h (30% volume), 5h (100% volume)
    Charging time: 5h – USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC
    Wireless range: 65 ft (20m)
    Microphone: Built-in

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