April 18, 2024
JBL Authentics 300.

JBL Authentics 300

MSRP $450.00

“JBL’s Authentics 300 packs 100 watts and excessive smarts to go.”

Execs

  • Distinctive, retro design
  • Simple arrange
  • Wonderful construct, top-notch supplies
  • Intuitive controls
  • Highly effective sound
  • Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

Cons

  • Restricted battery life
  • Bass suffers at low volumes
  • Awkward multiroom management
  • Chromecast requires Google Assistant

JBL’s Authentics 300 transportable wi-fi speaker (and its total Authentics lineup) is a part of the corporate’s considerably late embrace of Wi-Fi-based audio. It’s virtually as if 2023 rolled round and the corporate stated, “Hey, these Sonos guys are actually onto one thing. We should always do this, too.”

However as an alternative of the copycat method favored by Wiim (one other Sonos competitor), JBL has carved its personal path by leveraging its lengthy historical past as some of the influential audio manufacturers of the twentieth century. It’s a legacy that’s on full show — the Authentics 300 oozes old-school Seventies cool due to its stitched fake leather-based, gold-tone accents, and a “Quadrex” grille. It additionally has one very uncommon function that units it aside from all different wi-fi good audio system, together with these from Sonos: it might probably run Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant concurrently.

However is there extra to the Authentics 300 than killer seems to be and a cut up persona? For $450, the reply had higher be sure. I spent a number of weeks with the speaker to seek out out.

JBL Authentics 300: design

JBL Authentics 300 handle lowered.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

I’m not a fan of gold-toned something, so the Authentics 300 wouldn’t be my first alternative — aesthetically talking — for a transportable speaker. However there’s no denying that JBL has created a feel and look for this speaker (and its Authentics siblings) that echoes classic 70s audio and I think that may earn it loads of admirers.

The leather-based is perhaps artificial, however you’d be hard-pressed to inform simply by taking a look at it. The so-called Quadrex grille undoubtedly remembers classic JBL audio system, however as an alternative of the structured, open-cell foam used within the 70s, it makes use of acoustic material over a inflexible plastic lattice.

JBL Authentics 300 top view.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The Authentics 300 is constructed with spectacular robustness. It doesn’t simply really feel substantial — although at 10.8 kilos it’s lots hefty — it feels stable. Prefer it might take a blow from a baseball bat and survive. (Please don’t attempt that.) The speaker’s 4 rubber ft give it a agency footing on quite a lot of surfaces, however simply be certain they’re flat — the downward-firing passive bass radiator received’t take kindly to pointy objects.

The aluminum folding carry deal with is simply as sturdy, if not completely ergonomic; its flat profile isn’t essentially the most comfy for lengthy journeys. However these items are relative — the 300 is much simpler to hold than the Sonos Transfer 2, with its rudimentary, built-in hand-hold. One space the place the JBL wants a bit of additional care is water and dirt. It is perhaps transportable, however with no official IP score, it’s decidedly not constructed for out of doors use, until there’s zero likelihood of rain.

On the rear of the speaker, close to the underside, you’ll discover an Ethernet jack for wired community connections, a USB-C port for MP3/WAV playback from onerous drives or USB sticks, and an aux-in 3.5mm analog port for connecting exterior sources.

JBL Authentics 300: controls and indicators

JBL Authentics 300 LED indicators.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

There’s nothing incorrect with contact controls — Sonos makes use of them to good impact on the Transfer 2 — however the Authentics’ giant dials for quantity, bass, and treble are rather more intuitive and enjoyable to make use of. Every makes use of an LED indicator ring to point out you the place you might be on the minimum-to-maximum scale — one thing that will get up to date immediately with the JBL One app once you’re related through Wi-Fi (Bluetooth solely displays quantity adjustments). One other useful indicator is the battery degree LED strip.

The multifunction button within the heart of the amount dial handles play/pause with a single click on and observe skip ahead with a double-click, whereas a triple-click skips you backward.

The facility button is self-explanatory, as is the Bluetooth button. The center button, alternatively, is rather less apparent. It’s referred to as the Moments button. When you have been pondering “favorites” due to the center, you have been shut: the JBL One app enables you to decide a single playlist or album from any of the music providers supported by the app, and optionally, a favourite quantity degree and/or a timer setting. As soon as that’s locked in, any time you press the Moments button, that mixture will play. You possibly can change it at any time throughout the app.

The Moments button appears to be a function of all of JBL’s new Wi-Fi-connected audio system together with the Authentics household and the brand new JBL Cost 5 Wi-Fi. Every speaker can have their very own distinctive Moments.

We’ve seen loads of wi-fi speaker firms use built-in presets — Bose, Bluesound, and Bang & Olufsen to call just a few — however you often get a couple of per speaker. JBL’s method is surprisingly limiting.

Across the again, on the prime edge, is a bodily swap for disabling the microphones — useful if you happen to’ve arrange one or each voice assistants however need some additional privateness. Whenever you swap off the mics, a purple reminder LED will seem on the entrance of the speaker, however be mindful — very like on the Sonos Transfer and Transfer 2, disabling the mics additionally disables the Authentics 300’s computerized self-tuning function.

JBL Authentics 300: Setup and connections

When you strictly need to use the Authentics 300 as a Bluetooth speaker, you don’t even should obtain the JBL One app. Merely plug the speaker into energy (or cost it up), press the Bluetooth button, and pair it along with your smartphone. Due to Bluetooth Multipoint help, you’ll be able to even pair it to a second system and swap seamlessly between them (just one can play at a time).

The identical is true if you wish to use the speaker with the aux-in port: simply plug in your analog supply system, activate the Authentics 300, and hit play in your supply system and the speaker will mechanically swap to the analog enter.

I strongly advocate utilizing the JBL One app on Android or on iOS. Not solely will this get the speaker related to your own home Wi-Fi community (or allow you to management the speaker if you happen to’re utilizing the wired community connection), nevertheless it additionally allows the entire “good” contains a networked speaker affords. On this case, that features software program updates, voice assistants, using that quirky Moments button, multiroom audio, and most significantly — lossless audio (extra on that later). JBL says {that a} future software program replace may even permit the stereo-pairing of two similar JBL audio system.

Luckily, utilizing the JBL One app is easy. JBL was clearly taking notes from Sonos when it created the setup course of for the Authentics 300 — it takes lower than two minutes, after which the speaker shall be related to Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay-enabled for streaming from any Apple units you may personal.

JBL One app for iOS Music service options.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

You’re additionally prompted to signal into any of the supported streaming providers, which embrace Amazon Music, Calm Radio, Napster, Qobuz, Tidal, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. That doesn’t imply you’ll be able to’t use different providers with the speaker, like Apple Music or Spotify, it simply means you’ll should depend on Bluetooth, AirPlay, or Chromecast to stream from these apps.

Talking of Chromecast: If you wish to use this streaming protocol, you’ll must allow Google Assistant on the Authentics 300. Equally, if you would like Amazon Alexa to acknowledge and management the speaker, you have to allow Amazon’s assistant.

I’m not thrilled about these stipulations. Usually, a Wi-Fi speaker’s means to work with Google and Amazon’s streaming and multiroom applied sciences isn’t tied to its use of these firms’ voice assistants. Sonos audio system, for instance, might be added to Google Residence or Amazon Alexa even when they don’t have voice capabilities.

Furthermore, since JBL doesn’t present its personal multiroom performance through the JBL One app, Google Residence and Amazon Alexa are the one methods to group a number of Authentics audio system for synchronized playback (Apple customers also can use Apple’s Residence app or AirPlay).

JBL Authentics 300: utilizing the JBL One app for music streaming

JBL Authentics 300 logo close-up.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

So if you happen to can stream from any music app utilizing AirPlay, Chromecast, or Alexacast, and even Bluetooth — to not point out Tidal Join and Spotify Join — why care whether or not your favourite streaming service is supported natively within the JBL One app?

I can consider three causes. First: The Moments button is tied to the JBL One app. In case your favourite service isn’t among the many ones that the app helps natively, you received’t be capable of assign a favourite playlist to the button.

Second: It might be the one strategy to hear your music on the highest potential sound high quality. Admittedly, it’s a little bit of an edge case, however hypothetically, if you happen to’re an Amazon Music subscriber and also you’ve elected not to allow Google Assistant (and thus Chromecast) or Amazon Alexa, you’ll be left with Bluetooth (Android and iOS) or Apple AirPlay (iOS solely) as your solely non-native streaming choices. Since each AirPlay and Bluetooth are restricted when it comes to stream high quality (Bluetooth is rather more restricted than AirPlay), streaming Amazon Music from throughout the JBL One app ensures that you just’re getting the very best lossless audio that Amazon Music can present, proper as much as hi-res audio 24-bit decision.

JBL Authentics 300 top controls.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Third — and this is perhaps essentially the most sensible purpose to make use of the JBL One app: You possibly can play any music that’s supported, shut the JBL One app, and it’ll preserve taking part in. You possibly can even go away the home completely. And if anybody else in your house desires to manage the music, all they should do is fireplace up the JBL One app on their system, they usually’ll have full entry to your Authentics 300 (or some other JBL speaker managed by that app). This is kind of the identical system that Sonos makes use of.

Streaming through Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, or Bluetooth is predicated on the provision of the supply system, e.g. your cellphone. When you shut your music app, shut down your cellphone, or just go to the shop for some provisions, your music goes away.

Are these sturdy causes for utilizing the JBL One app? Perhaps. However I think these causes will develop over time as JBL figures out how one can help extra music providers, multiroom audio, common search, and common playlists proper within the app — in different phrases, because it matches extra of the issues that Sonos already does.

JBL Authentics 300: multiroom audio

Although I’m not a fan of JBL outsourcing its multiroom performance for the Authentics audio system to Google Residence and Amazon Alexa, it really works. It’s not practically as simple or as intuitive because the native techniques created by Sonos, Denon/HEOS, or Bluesound. However if you happen to allow the suitable voice assistant, add the Authentics speaker to the suitable app, after which create speaker teams, you’ll be able to reliably get a number of audio system to play in sync.

Apple customers might merely need to forego all of that and simply use AirPlay. It received’t allow you to stream a unique tune to every speaker (until you utilize a number of iOS units), however for particular person speaker playback or synced audio throughout a number of audio system, it’s very dependable.

All of this is perhaps a short lived scenario for Authentics house owners. On November 27, 2023, Harman (JBL’s father or mother firm) introduced it had acquired Roon, the music administration and multiroom audio service favored by audiophiles. As soon as Harman brings Roon in-house, it wouldn’t be stunning to see the Authentics profit from the platform.

JBL Authentics 300: good voice assistants

JBL Authentics 300 microphone mute switch.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

I’m nonetheless undecided what number of of us will profit from having the ability to run Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa concurrently on the identical speaker, however massive props to JBL nonetheless for making it an possibility — and making it work — earlier than anybody else.

Establishing every assistant follows the identical process because it does on different good audio system (mainly logging into Google or Amazon and assenting to attach your account to JBL) and the consequence is identical — utter the related wake phrase and your chosen AI responds in variety.

Each assistants will acknowledge wake phrases by illuminating an LED on the entrance grille of the speaker (white for Googe Assistant, blue for Alexa), however with Alexa, you’ll be able to moreover allow start- and end-request tones.

JBL Authentics 300 top left corner.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Every assistant behaves precisely as you’d anticipate, faithfully responding to instructions, even from throughout the room with the amount turned as much as 50%. Nonetheless, they don’t actually get alongside all that nicely. If I requested Google Assistant to play music after which requested Alexa what was taking part in, it could inform me the final observe Alexa performed — not the at the moment taking part in observe. It might cease the music although.

Google Assistant is much more flummoxed in the case of Alexa-initiated music — it couldn’t establish the at the moment taking part in observe or cease the music when requested. It’s virtually as if so far as Google Assistant was involved, if it didn’t provoke playback, there was merely nothing taking part in.

Extra bizarrely, If I requested Google Assistant to play music after which requested Alexa to skip to the following observe, Google Assistant misplaced the plot completely, and couldn’t take any additional motion on the music being performed. I needed to get Alexa to cease the stream in order that Google Assistant might start anew.

So if you wish to have each assistants do your bidding for issues like reminders, reality checks in your favourite celebs, or to get an ingredient record for a killer Caesar salad, go nuts. Simply don’t ask them to share DJ duties.

Needless to say each Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa require an web connection.

JBL Authentics 300: sound high quality

JBL Authentics 300 bottom.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The Authentics 300 delivers clear and detailed sound, with superb midrange definition and a beneficiant soundstage. With two tweeters and a single woofer, you even get convincing stereo sound if you happen to stand within the speaker’s candy spot (about 5 to six ft away).

The catch is that you just actually can’t expertise the speaker’s full potential at quantity ranges decrease than 50%. Beneath that it feels choked off, particularly within the mids and lows. Kick drums and bass strains are particularly affected. That is the place the Sonos Transfer 2 has a bonus — Sonos has all the time managed to extract wonderful bass from its audio system even at decrease volumes and the Transfer 2 sounds fuller and extra resonant within the decrease half of its quantity scale.

However open the Authentics 300 as much as no less than 60% and it springs to life. Bass acquires its lacking authority, and all the sound signature takes on a dynamic, energetic vibe that enhances all kinds of genres.

JBL’s tuning tends to place quite a lot of emphasis on the highs — a lot so, that I wanted to dial down the treble virtually to its lowest degree. This was true even with the Authentics’ computerized self-tuning function enabled.

With a 100-watt amp driving issues, the Authentics 300 can get impressively loud. For many indoor events, it’s the one speaker you’ll want. Open air, until you’re internet hosting a very massive crowd, the 300 is greater than able to protecting your friends entertained.

JBL Authentics 300: battery life

JBL Authentics 300 rear ports.
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

JBL says you’ll get about 8 hours of playtime from a completely charged Authentics 300, however this could be a extremely fluid quantity. Wi-Fi, for example, could be very energy-hungry in comparison with Bluetooth. So if you happen to run the speaker on battery energy whereas at dwelling, when related to Wi-Fi, merely having it turned on will suck battery capability whether or not you’re taking part in music or not.

If you wish to get the complete eight hours, you’ll want to make use of simply Bluetooth and preserve the amount set nicely under the 50% mark.

More often than not, in the case of transportable audio system, battery life isn’t an enormous concern as a result of you’ll be able to often plug the speaker into the USB port of your laptop computer, or an influence financial institution to get it again as much as full capability. However there’s just one strategy to cost the Authentics 300: use the included energy wire to plug it straight right into a wall socket. That’s value protecting in thoughts if you happen to’re planning to take it with you to a picnic or some other occasion the place AC energy shall be onerous to return by.

The JBL Authentics 300 is an attention-grabbing transportable speaker with a powerful array of options and the flexibility to run the 2 main voice assistants side-by-side. Its highly effective amp makes it a pressure to be reckoned with when listening loud, however it might probably lose a few of its very good sound once you desire a extra intimate vibe.

JBL appears to have aspirations to compete with Sonos in the case of multiroom audio, however its present dependence on third-party platforms like AirPlay, Google Residence, and Amazon Alexa, the absence of native help for large providers like Apple Music and Spotify, and the shortage of a common music search retains it from being a real contender.

Editors’ Suggestions






Supply Hyperlink : fkmie.com