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JBL Authentics 300 review: Retro but smart

JBL Authentics 300 review: Retro but smart

JBL Authentics 300

The JBL Authentics 300 is as modern as it gets, despite its old-school aesthetic. The middle child of this new series of speakers from JBL, the Authentics 300 lacks the spatial audio capabilities of the higher-end 500 model. But you'll still get a somewhat portable speaker with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And uniquely for a smart speaker, it supports two voice assistants simultaneously.

Quick specs

  • Two 25mm tweeters and 5.25″ woofer
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3.5mm audio jack
  • 4.9kg
  • Up to 8 hours battery life

With its retro design, the JBL Authentics 300 leans heavily into vintage JBL speakers. In particular, the Authentics 300 uses 70s style foam grilles like the JBL L100 Century speaker. There are large dials for volume, treble and bass adjustment. LEDs light up when you turn these knobs. There are also buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, and a heart button (more on that later). This speaker is somewhat portable. But at just under 5kg, it's hefty. Its carry handle is handy, but it's flat, and not that comfortable to hold after a while. Battery life is rated at up to eight hours of music playback. That's not even close to the Sonos Move 2, which offers up to 24 hours of battery life. In addition, the Authentics 300 doesn't have an IP rating for water resistance. You're probably expected to use this speaker indoors.

JBL Authentics 300
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Despite its old-school appearance, the Authentics 300 is a smart Wi-Fi speaker. In fact, it sports not one, but two voice assistants in the form of Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. That's probably an industry first, though I can't imagine why anyone would need two voice assistant in the first place. You simply use the respective wake word for each voice assistant to summon it. A small front LED glows in white when the Google Assistant is responding. It's blue for Amazon Alexa. I didn't have any issue alternating between the two voice assistants. This speaker supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi music streaming, as well as multi-room audio, and stereo pairing. Note that you'll need to configure the voice assistants before you can stream music via Wi-Fi — using Chromecast, for example. You set up the speaker with the JBL One app (for iOS and Android).

JBL Authentics 300
The USB-C port is used solely for service outside the US. You can disable the microphone via a toggle at the rear. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The heart button mentioned earlier — dubbed Moment — activates your favourite track when pressed. You'll need to set this track, as well as the music volume, and auto-off timing in the JBL One app. I couldn't test it since this feature didn't support Apple Music or Spotify (supported streaming services include Amazon Music, Tidal and more). Sound-wise, the Authentics 300 has bass in spades, thanks to a 5.25-inch woofer and a down-firing 6.5-inch passive radiator. It also gets really loud, and is certainly room-filling — great for parties. Vocals come across clearly and seem crisp, though the soundstage isn't as wide as the Sonos Era 300. Besides fiddling with the dials, you can also adjust the sound using the equaliser in the app.

The Authentics speakers seem to be JBL's take on Sonos and its multi-room speaker systems. I only had one Authentics 300 unit, so I didn't quite manage to test this feature. The app, though, seems a bit basic at the moment. The battery indicator in the app also lags somewhat, which can be annoying. However, the battery life is lacking for a portable speaker. So if portability is your main criterion, I would recommend the Sonos Move 2. The Authentics 300 does sound better, though. Despite the premium S$599 price tag, there is no support for spatial audio. It does look authentically vintage, and offers more connectivity options than other vintage-looking speakers like the Marshall Stanmore III. Get the JBL Authentics 300 at Shopee, Lazada, and Amazon SG.

See Also
Asus ROG Phone 7

Note: Review unit provided by JBL.


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Verdict



CAN BUY

Vintage smart speaker that looks and sounds good

Buy it at Shopee
Available at Lazada
Available at Amazon SG

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