Listening to a radio on the job can often make your day go by a little faster. So when you have the opportunity, your radio needs to deliver. It should be rugged, easy to transport, have decent sound quality, and sometimes you want it to be loud. I am usually satisfied and often impressed with Bosch tools, so my expectations were pretty high for this compact Bosch Jobsite Radio (Model GPB18V-2CN). Let’s see if it is as impressive as their other products.
Bosch Jobsite Radio Overview
They call this a jobsite “radio” because it is after all a radio. However, I think more of us use these as a speaker to transmit sound from our phones, MP3 players, etc., and the fact that this has an AM/FM tuner is just a bonus. So, for this review, I’m going to call it a “radio”, but most of my review is using it as a Bluetooth-connected speaker.
I read through the manual to learn about all the features this radio has to offer, and then I tested out each of them. What I came away with is when using this radio on the job, I wouldn’t need to reach for my phone nearly as often. When connected via Bluetooth you can adjust volume, stop/change song selection, check the time, and answer a phone call all from the radio’s controls. If you need to make an outgoing call, you’ll just need to initiate the call from your phone and then you can put your phone in your pocket and conduct your conversation hands-free.
Bosch Jobsite Radio Features
This compact Bosch Jobsite Radio is 13.7″ x 6.1″ x 6.1″ and weighs 5.5 lbs.; 6.8 lbs. with the battery. The generous-sized hexagonal handles at each end make it easy to grab and carry. The formed plastic case seems durable; the overall construction is IP54 rated.
There are two power source options: Utilizing a Bosch 18V battery allows you to be cordless. Or you can use the provided 120V AC/DC power cord. You can also charge your phone or other USB devices from this radio (USB cord not included).
Two sides of the radio have “feet”. The feet on the bottom or base-side are rubber-tipped, providing a little slip resistance. The feet on the control panel side allow you to place the radio face down without damaging the two control panel knobs. The radio must be placed face down to open the battery bay door, which I thought was a bit awkward.
When the “Call” mode is set to “ON” you can conduct your phone conversations hands-free. Incoming calls can be answered by depressing the “forward” button above the green phone icon. Calls can be ended by depressing the “back” button just above the red phone icon.
The clock is always displayed, so you can see the time at a glance. There is a provided 3V coin battery for the clock so you don’t have to reset it every time you use the radio. The front LCD screen illuminates when you are actively working with the controls then after a few seconds of inactivity the screen goes dark. The menu information is still displayed, but it is just not as easy to read from a distance. I would have liked the option to keep the screen illuminated, especially while using the power cord. But it is worth noting that when you place or are receiving a phone call the screen illuminates automatically.
As I mentioned before this has an AM/FM tuner. The antenna can be lifted and pivoted to find the best reception. As with most radios AM stations came in well, but we had a hard time getting good reception for any FM stations from inside our brick building. As expected, the reception outside was a bit better. There are eight FM presets and four AM presets. You can select the station presets yourself or you can utilize the “Autosource” feature. Here’s how Bosch explains this feature: “…, the radio scans the active band (AM, FM1 or FM2) and stores the strongest four stations on preset buttons “1”, “2”, “3”and “4” on that band. This is especially helpful when traveling to a new area.” We tried it, and it worked as intended.
The Bosch Jobsite Radio utilizes Bluetooth 5.0. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Bluetooth 5.0 it is described as follows: “Bluetooth 5.0 supported devices can transfer data up to 2 Mbps, which is twice the speed as Bluetooth 4.2.” According to Bosch Bluetooth 5.0 also allows you to stream from your device to the radio from up to 100 ft. away. To test this out I connected my phone via Bluetooth and walked away from the speaker. I made it to just over 100 ft. before the signal started to break-up. This was with keeping the phone in my hand and always in a direct line to the speaker, not in my pocket or behind me. I then put my phone in my back pocket, still facing the speaker, and pretty much lost signal. It didn’t regain a good connection until I was within 30 ft.
An additional feature on this radio and part of the Bluetooth 5.0 technology is the ability to create a “True Wireless Stereo (TWS)” with two of these speakers. You pair them simultaneously (only available when Bluetooth is active source), make one unit a left speaker and the second a right speaker for a wider stereo sound field.
The AUX IN, USB Port, and 18V DC socket are located under this watertight rubber flap. However, you cannot close this flap if any of these are being utilized, so any of the unused/open ports will be exposed and unprotected. I don’t care for this configuration, but it is fairly common. The radio comes with a 6″ auxiliary cable. There is not a designated storage space for this cord when not in use. I would probably store it in the battery bay.
There are two front-facing “high-performance” speakers on the control panel side. The bass speakers are located on the bottom or base side of the radio. And Bosch touts that this radio has “enhanced bass response”. Total output is stated to be 15 W, but I’m not so sure (more on this below). The radio has a very basic equalizer with bass and treble settings from 1 to 5.
You can position the radio on its bottom feet (bass speakers facing down), standing up on end, or hanging from the integrated hook. It was loudest when sitting on end or hanging. To reach MAX volume you’ll need your phone volume at MAX and then the radio at its MAX setting of 30. But, I need to say this, when it is at MAX volume on both your phone and at the radio it is just NOT very loud. I mean my 16 W JBL FLIP 4 is almost twice as loud. To be sure I wasn’t missing something, I compared the sound output using both power sources, then Bluetooth vs. AUX IN, and also Bluetooth vs. AM/FM reception. None of these options offered any significant boost in volume.
There is a convenient, integrated hanging hook on one end that can be stowed away when not in use.
Bosch Jobsite Radio Performance
Bosch Jobsite Radio Final Thoughts
As I stated at the beginning of this article, we want a jobsite radio to be rugged, easy to transport, have decent sound quality, and sometimes we want it to be loud. I’ve always been pretty impressed with Bosch tools, so would I consider this Bosch jobsite radio to be a great choice? The IP54 rating is more than adequate, the overall construction seems like it would be durable, and the handles are easy to grab, even with gloves on. The sound quality is decent, and the 100 ft. Bluetooth range is well above average. It can be controlled almost entirely phone-free, and the hands-free phone option is a real bonus. All that being said, it just isn’t loud enough, and that could be a deal-breaker for some people.