Jam Zero Chill Review
- Pleasant mids and treble
- Cute design
- Needs better bass depth
- Review Price: £59.99
- 22-hour battery life
- Bluetooth wireless
- Stereo pairing
- Physical controls
What is the Jam Zero Chill?
The Jam Zero Chill is a fun party and travel speaker. It’s cute, it’s waterproof and, at £59.99, it’s cheaper than many models of this size.
Sound quality is decent, but it doesn’t come close to matching Jam’s own killer Heavy Metal. So unless you really love the look of the Zero Chill and require its water-resistance, we’d opt for the Heavy Metal. It’s usually available for just £10 more, too.
However, despite a lack of bass depth, the Jam Zero Chill remains a likeable speaker, particularly if you want it for casual listening rather than parties.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Jam Zero Chill – Design
The Jam Heavy Metal is in the running for my personal portable speaker of the past five years. It ticks all the boxes: it’s affordable, looks good and sounds great.
However, Jam has taken a totally difference approach with the newer Zero Chill. The Heavy Metal was inspired by the Bose SoundLink Mini. This time the UE Boom is arguably the lead inspiration.
This is a youthful-looking tower speaker that offers a degree of durability. Its outer comprises a tough nylon weave, while the base is made up of lightly rubberised plastic.
It’s water-resistant, too. An IP67 rating means the Zero Chill is virtually dust-proof and can be submerged in water – you can give the speaker a rinse-down under a tap if it gets dirty. That would be ‘game over’ for the Jam Heavy Metal.
Water-resistance comes courtesy of a super-tight rubber seal on the speaker’s bottom. You’ll have to pull off this plug to recharge the Zero Chill, but it isn’t so easy to remove. This is probably the one usability black mark against the speaker, particularly if you’re buying for kids.
However, there’s room in this bottom recess to store the charge cable, which is neat.
The speaker’s controls are very simple. On the back is a chunky rubber block that acts as three buttons. Theres volume up/down, and the raised border in-between is your power and play/pause button.
Buttons have a distinctive, cute style, and aa decent click feedback – which isn’t always guaranteed in cheaper units such as the Jam Zero Chill.
Jam Zero Chill – Features
The Jam Zero Chill has fewer features than its arch-rival, the Anker Soundcore Flare. There are no lights, and there’s no companion app.
However, it does have everything that most folk will want from a small speaker such as this. Battery life is excellent at up to 22 hours, which decimates the 8-hour Heavy Metal. The unit can also be used as a hands-free call speaker, and different button gestures let you skip tracks and so on.
Two Zero Chill speakers can be paired-up using a set of button presses. As such, they act as a stereo pair, which dramatically increases the width of the sound for a real room-filing effect.
At £60 each, you could actually grab a pair of these and still only pay as much as the price of a single bigger-name speaker.
Features the Zero Chill lacks include NFC and aptX. Neither seems a big issue in a speaker of this price and style.
Jam Zero Chill – Sound quality
The Jam Zero Chill sound is good – but in one core respect it’s nowhere near that of the Jam Heavy Metal, rival Creative speakers, or the Anker Soundcore Flare.
Bass depth disappoints. True low-frequency output just isn’t present, so while it’s much fuller-sounding than a model such as the Jam Classic, this just isn’t a perfect party speaker.
This is actually slightly surprising given the Zero Chill’s two active drivers are each paired with a bass radiator, used in small speakers to create big bass. Need to fill a room? Get a Jam Heavy Metal.
The Anker Soundcore Flare has significantly deeper bass, too. However, in other areas of the sound, the Zero Chill beats the Anker.
It has rather sweet-sounding mids and treble, where the Anker’s mids are more boxy and forced-sounding. A such, the Zero Chill is an excellent speaker for podcasts, and chilled-out listening in the bath, kitchen or bedroom, where you don’t need to truly fill the space, shake floorboards or get people dancing.
The lack of bass is also mainly evident when comparing directly to other models. By itself, the Zero Chill doesn’t sound weak, thin and reedy. There is some bass, just not enough to make the kick drums truly thud. This gap leaves the speaker sounding a little polite.
While ‘polite’ is fine, it’s a shame that Jam hasn’t injected the fun it’s incorporated into the design of the Zero Chill design into the sound as well.
However, it’s still a well-priced speaker with great travel features.
Why buy the Jam Zero Chill?
For sound the Jam Zero Chill is beaten by Jam’s own Heavy Metal, which is usually available online for £69, just £10 more than the Zero Chill. It has much deeper bass.
The UE Boom 2 has good bass, too. This speaker’s bass response is closer to the UE Wonderboom or UE Roll, smaller speakers now available for just slightly more cash.
Despite being a very solid speaker, it’s pipped by several sub-£100 top performers. However, its ruggedisation and battery life are great, and it could well tear up that leaderboard as soon as time starts to erode the already-tempting price.
This speaker is cute, versatile and ready to travel – but it’s lacking a little in the bass department.