Amazon Prime Music and Bluetooth Speakers

I’ve had Amazon Prime Music for a while, and have been paying $25 a year so I can upload as many CDs as I want, up to 250,000 songs which is at least 200,000 more than I have. That’s peanuts. Literally: We spend about $100 a year on peanuts.

All the big guys have cloud music services (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.), but Amazon is the best for me because:

  • When I first signed up, hundreds of albums were already there because I had bought the CDs from Amazon over the years. (My first from Amazon was Bruce Springsteen’s Songs, in 1998.)
  • Most new CDs I buy from Amazon are also automatically added to my cloud library.
  • When I rip and upload a CD, Amazon almost always recognizes it and skips uploading the actual bits, since it already has them. (I don’t know if the others can do this.)
  • There are apps for all iOS and Android devices, and all my computers.
  • I get Prime Music (part of my Prime subscription), in addition to my own stuff. The best part is the curated playlists.

I mostly play Amazon Music through my desktop and a seldom-used Google tablet connected via a cable to a Bose Acoustic Wave player that I bought about 20 years ago. To that I decided to add a bluetooth speaker so I would have something near my favorite chair, to take outside, and for road trips.

That brought me to those online bluetooth speaker reviews, of which there must be at least 10,000. Reviewers like to talk about deep bass from a speaker about the size of a water bottle; I’m used to deep bass coming from a sub-woofer the size of a small refrigerator. Or styling, which means nothing to me; they all look like speakers, and I’m fine with that. (But the UE Booms look like Christian monuments. Not for me.)

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Prices at Amazon are between about $9 and $800. My range was between $100 and $200, which limited me to about 300 choices. So, I did what I always do in cases like this: Spend a half day reading reviews and clicking around on Amazon until I’m at the point when all of the ratings and opinions cancel each other.

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In the end I bought a JBL Charge 3 on sale at Target for $130. It has one unusual feature: It can charge an iPhone (or any other USB device). JBL says 20 hours of battery life, so I’m sure I’ll get at least 10 (less if I’m charging my phone). It’s also waterproof. Not that I’m going to dunk it, but I might spill a beer on it.

Does it sound better than any of the other 300 or so other choices? Definitely! It was top rated in reviews! Well, the reviews in which it was top rated, anyway. In other reviews it was a dog, but I don’t have to read those, right?

Anyway, at this point it’s the speaker next to my chair, the others aren’t, and it sounds just great. Compared to my all-B&W home theater, it’s garbage. Compared to the Bose, it’s pretty good, although the Bose is better. But the B&Ws are downstairs and the Bose is in another room. And neither is portable.

So, I guess I’m recommending the JBL Charge 3. If you want something else, there are probably 20 speakers at roughly the same price that sound just as good. The trick is to take home just one and leave the others in the store.