Review: JBL On Tour Portable Speaker System

Well priced portable music system for iPod (December 21st, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: Harman International Industries, Inc. (JBL)

Price: MSRP $99.95

The Good

  • Stylish and runs on batteries or AC power. Easy to transport in supplied cloth bag. Sliding top protects speakers and minimizes storage space.

The Bad

  • Lacks good bass. Small size places limits on achievable sound quality.

iPod and accessories are the gifts of choice this holiday season. While the sound quality of the iPod with headphones is superb, not everyone likes earbuds, and some even want to share their listening experience. Sharing the sound means adding a speaker system to your iPod, yet some small speakers produce tinny sounds that detract from the quality of the listening experience. JBL of Harman Industries produces a compact and portable speaker solution that allows you to amplify your iPod or laptop with acceptable sound quality and complete transportability.

The JBL On Tour portable speaker system measures 7" x 3.5" x 1.4" and comes with a cloth bag that protects it from scratching when you take it on the road. The arched shape provides stability and the lid slides back to reveal the speakers and adds balance. Rubber feet prevent the JBL On Tour from slipping and sliding. Using a standard mini stereo jack connection, the JBL On Tour can be plugged into a multitude of devices besides our favorite iPods. An audio input cable is also included if you don't want to use the mini jack.

The included power adapter is designed for worldwide use making this a good travel accessory. For increased portability, use 4 AAA batteries (regular or rechargeable) for approximately 24 hours of continuous play. When the batteries run low, amber LED flashes.

What's Inside

Like the Creature II speakers, the JBL On Tour uses the Odysseytm Transducers. Driven by powerful Neodymium magnets, these two aluminum domed transducers help provide a full frequency response from the lowest bass to the highest highs in this very small unit. Class D digital amplifiers provide powerful sound while extending battery life. The Advanced Energy Management System senses when the cover is closed or there is no audio input and puts the speaker system to sleep, also to extend battery life. Touching one of the control buttons or playing an audio device starts playback at the last volume level.

Volume is controlled by lightly tapping or pressing the plus and minus buttons on the right speaker. If you touch a button for more than half a second the volume to steps up or down more rapidly. To mute the system, press both the + and - buttons simultaneously. Touching either button when muted restores the previous volume level.

While the sound at normal listening levels is acceptable, the unit doesn't reproduce the advertised rich bass tones. The JBL On Tour is good if you need a small travel speaker system, plus the price is reasonable. It is not the best choice if you want a system to leave in one place though. The Creature II has distinctly better sound if you don't need portability, and the Harman Kardon SoundSticks are even better.

Specifications

  • Input: 1/8" (3.5mm) Mini Stereo Jack
  • Drivers: Two Odysseytm Neodymium drivers
  • Power Output: 3 watts per channel
  • Frequency Response: 100Hz - 20KHz
  • Input Impedance: >10Kohm
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >80dB
  • Voltage Input: 100 - 230 Vac, 50 - 60 Hz
  • Dimensions: Width: 7" (175mm) x Depth: 3.5" (88mm) x Height: 1.4" (35mm)
  • Weight: 12 oz (350g)


Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by P.A.M. Borys


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