Loud, bassy, however not sufficient refinement

The JBL Authentics 500 is an enormous wi-fi speaker with a break up persona.



On one hand, it needs to take us again to traditional JBL hi-fi designs just like the JBL L100. You may recognise that waffle-like Quadrex JBL grille from a mile off. It is a traditional.

While you get the JBL Authentics 500 to play some tunes, although, you rapidly realise it is an incorrigible occasion animal.

If you wish to flip your lounge right into a membership and make your neighbours hate you, the JBL Authentics 500 can oblige for a cool $700/£580. That is no small funding – so do you have to purchase it? This is my full evaluation.

Best JBL speakers: Expert tested and reviewed

JBL/Pocket-lint

JBL Authentics 500

Huge, loud, {powerful} and bassy. That is the JBL Authentics 500 in a nutshell if you look past the charmingly retro design.The bass and quantity its able to will impress many, however the sound wants higher refinement to justify its excessive worth.

Professionals

  • Attractive retro design
  • Highly effective bass
  • Can get very, very loud
Cons

  • Muddles advanced preparations
  • Restricted bass management
  • Costly

Design

You may wish to get out a tape measure before you purchase a JBL Authentics 500, simply to ensure the spot you are planning has sufficient room for the factor.

It is nearly 20cm deep, and as there are nice huge bass exhausts on the again, you will wish to give it some further clearance from any again wall too.

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If you do not have the area, you do produce other choices. The JBL Authentics 500 is the most important and strongest speaker on this vary, however there’s additionally the Authentics 300 and Authentics 200, each of that are a lot smaller – with the 300 additionally being transportable.

For all its imposing bulk, although, JBL Authentics 500 is not all that heavy at 4.9kg. That is solely simply over a 3rd the load of the traditional JBL L82 hi-fi speaker that impressed its design, doubtless as a result of this factor does not have a hefty MDF veneer enclosure.

As an alternative, its outer has a leather-effect plastic end, the gold trim half is aluminium and the again is a ridged plastic. There is not any mistaking that that is trendy wi-fi speaker development wedded to some conventional aesthetic components.

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That doesn’t prolong to a battery, thoughts. The JBL Authentics 500 must be plugged in to work, and the PSU is built-in, that means solely a easy figure-of-eight lead must path from the field.

Options

The JBL Authentics 500 is a fully-featured residence Wi-Fi speaker. And sure, retro gear followers, there’s additionally an aux enter on the again for hardwiring different gadgets.

Greater than doubtless, although, you will be going wi-fi and you may join your cellphone to the field utilizing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The setup for that’s performed utilizing the JBL One app, which helps you to deal with a bunch of those Authentics audio system like a multi-room setup.

JBL’s One additionally enables you to select music immediately from streaming providers throughout the app, however you get a a lot better expertise by, for instance, simply utilizing Spotify and choosing the Authentics 500 because the supply there.

AirPlay, Chromecast, Alexa Multi-room and Spotify Join are all on-board, so there isn’t any actual want to make use of JBL’s app past the preliminary setup.

This can be a sensible speaker too. Look shut on the prime floor and you may see a few little black holes the place the microphones dwell. You may connect with Alexa or Google Assistant, and have them each residing collectively, on the Authentics 500 similtaneously two warring housemates. It really works fairly easily, even should you spend the time attempting to catch it out reasonably than holistically utilizing two completely different voice assistants.

If voice help is not your bag, otherwise you need some moments of privateness, you may as well disable the microphones utilizing just a little swap on the again.

So far as connectivity goes, the JBL Authentics 500 has an Ethernet socket, helpful in case your Wi-Fi is a bit dodgy. A USB-C port sits on the again too however, sadly, it may possibly’t be used to play sound from, for instance, your laptop computer. I attempted with a MacBook. No cube.

It is for software program updates solely (if one thing goes very improper), though the guide suggests the US model can play MP3s over the USB port, so American readers could also be in luck.

Sound high quality

There is a hidden monster residing contained in the JBL Authentics 500. Tip it up and you will find an enormous 6.5-inch subwoofer, which kilos bass sound waves into no matter sits beneath the speaker.

Behind the grille are three units of mid-range and treble drivers – three 1-inch tweeters and three 2.75-inch mid-range drivers.

This makes it a 3.1 system, even when it would spend most of its life taking part in stereo sound. It additionally helps “3D Dolby Atmos” music. However I stay sceptical within the idea of making 3D sound from a field the place the drivers are a handful of centimetres aside.

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The defining issue right here is bass, adopted by quantity. The JBL Authentics 500 is able to unbelievable feats of bass at fearsome, relationship-ruining quantity.

Bass depth is superb, and if you crank this factor and play some music you may hear at a membership it begins to sound, nicely, such as you’re really at a membership. It is thrilling stuff, significantly should you dwell in a indifferent home and might actually let rip.

There’s an actual sense of expansiveness to the low-end that some folks will completely love. Nonetheless, it’s also on the root of the JBL Authentics 500’s greatest downside.

This bass will not be significantly well-controlled, and is sloppier than the comparatively taut JBL Boombox 3, even whether it is considerably extra powerful-sounding at greater volumes.

It finally ends up clogging up the sound, stepping all around the mids and vocal strains at occasions. Complicated preparations turn into muddled, so you do not get the airiness or separation you might have a proper to count on when spending this a lot money.

You may attempt to tame the JBL Authentics 500, utilizing the 2 dials on the highest. These are treble and bass controls, which is a transparent signal that is extra of a “way of life” speaker than a critical one. Audio system needs to be (and are) tuned to a goal. Placing controls that allow you to transfer away from that proper up entrance is kind of uncommon.

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It is also too simple to change the sound profile and never realise you might have performed so, as these are free-turning dials that use an LED ring across the perimeter to point out the setting.

However, sure, you’ll be able to convey down the bass utilizing these controls or the JBL app, ditch the increase and free your self as much as improve the quantity a bit with out everybody in a 50-mile radius listening to about it. As soon as you are taking the highlight off the bass, there’s an easygoing smoothness to the mids and treble that’s actually nice, and makes the JBL Boombox 3 sound kinda coarse by comparability.

The Authentics 500 slam and dynamics are flatter, although, that means that if you take away that propulsive bass, you additionally rob the speaker of a good bit of its momentum.

All of those criticisms needs to be taken within the supposed context. The JBL Authentics 500’s solely clear subject is that until you play with the bass, it is fairly domineering, however music does sound nice by means of this speaker. Does it sound $700/£580 good, although? I am much less persuaded that it does.

Verdict

Huge, loud, {powerful} and bassy. That’s the JBL Authentics 500 in a nutshell if you look past the charmingly retro Quadrex grille design.

The sheer pressure of its bass, and the way comfortably it may possibly get extraordinarily loud will impress many. But it surely’s the design than evokes the JBL greats of outdated reasonably than the sound.

There’s simply not sufficient management over the decrease frequencies, or fairly sufficient presence and dynamics in the remainder to make the JBL Authentics 500 a world-class contender on this worth vary. Nonetheless, should you’re after a one-box occasion, and have the funds to splash on it, you have discovered it.

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