Spearheading JBL’s slew of sound accessories is the OnBeat Venue LT. This $199.95 Bluetooth speaker connects to Apple’s iPhone 5, iPad Mini or fourth generation iPad via the Lightning dock connector, which sits discreetly under a panel on the front of the device. This port folds into the speaker’s body when not in use, allowing for a sleeker design. JBL appears to be trying to appeal to mobile users, as its Venue LT sound system is compatible with an app that lets listeners adjust the sound’s EQ. Users of this app can also add presets for various genres, create playlists and view album art, a JBL representative said. The Venue LT’s Bluetooth audio streaming is powered by Harman’s Truestream Tech, and the sound system is available in black, white or silver. Check out our hands-on review of the OnBeat Venue here.
In the same vein, JBL also unveiled its OnBeat Micro and Mini, which are smaller, more compact iterations of the OnBeat brand. These speakers share a similar appearance, and they have a round, circular base that charges your device while you listen. It comes packed with JBL’s full-range transducers, digital signal processing, both battery and AC power options, a USB port that allows for compatibility with older iPhone models, and a 3.66 mm stereo auxiliary input jack. JBL has touted its OnBeat Micro and Mini as speakers being tailored to fit in tight quarters at home or in the office, while the Venue LT is well suited for spacious areas. The OnBeat Mini will retail for $149 and is slated for a March debut, while the Micro will sell for $99.95.
Another flagship Lightning-based product new from JBL this year is the OnBeat Rumble. While the previous speaker sets are designed for the casual listener, the Rumble packs a massive four-and-a-half-inch subwoofer into its body, designed for listeners serious about their bass sound. It radiates 50 watts of power from its orange visor-like speaker, and it is aimed at those who have a knack for customization. The sound system is compatible with a DJ mixer app from the Apple store that lets users scratch and mix custom playlists when an iOS device is connected via Bluetooth. The OnBeat Rumble is expected to launch this spring and will be available for $399.
In addition to launching speakers that cater to new Apple products, JBL will also release portable sound systems in different flavors. The Charge, a tiny speaker measuring two inches wide by six inches long, connects to smartphones, portable MP3 players and tablets. Like the company’s other CES offerings, the Charge boasts wireless Bluetooth streaming and features a USB port for charging. The cylindrical sound system comes packed with a built-in bass port, digital sound processing and a 2 x 5 watt amplifier. According to JBL, it provides 12 hours of audio playback from a single charge. The company is straying from its traditional color options here by offering the Charge in bright tones such as blue and orange, unlike its Onbeat series. No precise release date has been announced, but JBL says users should see the Charge sometime in the first quarter of 2013 at a price of $149.
JBL’s Flip may be one of the most impressive portable speakers we’ve seen at CES. It’s small and compact, just like the Charge, but the design is a bit more slim and simple. The Flip, which comes in black or white, boasts Bluetooth streaming, a built-in microphone and a rechargeable eight-hour battery embedded in its body. In addition to winning a 2013 CES Innovations award, iLounge has named the Flip as Speaker of the Year and Accessory of the Year. While the speaker comes packed with two high-performance drivers and a dedicated bass port, the slim design is really what seems most appealing here.
This is only a sample of what JBL had to offer on the chaotic CES showroom floor, and we’ll be sure to get some hands-on reviews of these sound systems in the near future.