JBL Authentics 300 review

That 70’s Show

₹ 49,999

Dipping into its rich heritage of lounge speakers, JBL has made retro cool again!

OK, it's not a new formula, but if any brand has a legit cult following from the 70's, it's JBL. The Authentics range of smart wireless speakers taps into the "free hugs" vibe and the Authentics 300 here is incidentally the only battery-powered model in the range. So go ahead, you can embrace it.

JBL Authentics 300 review: Design

Surprisingly understated for something that wears gold accents, the 300 is a solidly built portable speaker. Even the carry handle is finished in the same high-quality leather, the removable Quadrex grille is carved out of recycled fabric and the tone controls have LEDs to indicate their levels.

Being a 2-way design, it places two 1in tweeters on either edge of the front baffle, flanking a single 5.25in mid-bass driver. On the bottom of the unit is a generous 6.5in passive radiator that smoothens out the bass response and does work wonders to give it a muscular sound. The volume dial doubles up as a track control and play/pause button. We would've liked a more "damped" feel to it though. Tone controls on the top panel let you dial in the balance suited to personal tastes and for slightly more control, there's the JBL One app. A favourites button on the top panel also recalls your most loved Spotify playlist instantly.

One of the highlights here is the ability to set up both, Alexa and Google smart assistants simultaneously so you don't have to choose to build a single ecosystem. Even the wake-up light is a different colour for both.

JBL Authentics 300 review: Performance

It self-tunes itself whenever you turn it on, using the start-up sound to monitor its surrounding acoustics and tweak the EQ every time you move it around the house. Smart. But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a big, burly sound and the bass has to be reigned in. Billie Eilish's new album is replayed with punch, impact and a lot of presence, making for a very entertaining listen. The midbass and upper bass are clearly the focus here and if you have the Authentics 300 placed directly at ear level, you may even find it too much of a good thing. But no matter what genre or where you place it, there’s never a dearth of power and it always sounds effortless, like there’s ample more where that came from. Having such kind of headroom is great for music listening at lower volume as it never sounds lean or tinny, even for background fill.

The tone controls can be quickly adjusted to get the desired balance based on volume level and placement. This might suggest that the auto-tune feature isn’t that effective but that isn’t the case entirely. Due to the heavy-handed nature of the JBL, playing Dire Straits and Diljit Dosanjh will need a manual override of the auto-tune to manage low-end boom or top-end brightness. Maybe an infusion of “AI” into a future model may sort this for good.

Alexa and Google assistants both work seamlessly, as advertised so you can yell commands at it to pipe music to other rooms or speakers in the house for a weekend pool party. But, you cannot pair a duo of Authentics 300 in the same room in a stereo configuration. JBL claims that each Authentics 300 is a stereo speaker in its own right since it has two tweeters. Yeah right. Well, we all know it’s not the same as getting a true, wide stereo image and the depth of soundstage that only a pair of speakers can create. But it isn’t a total deal breaker because this isn’t an audiophile speaker and it doesn’t sound like one. It’s a speaker to make people smile, both with its looks and its sound. It’s the perfect picnic speaker that can play loud and thrash out techno all day with its 8-hour playtime and the only real downside is the lack of an IP rating to give you peace of mind around the poolside. Of course, you could still use it and you’d be tempted not to when it looks this good, as long as you keep it away from the splashes.

JBL Authentics 300 review: Conclusion

Certainly not cheap, but the JBL Authentics 300 is a classy looking, premium build quality portable speaker that is hefty in weight and sound. It may lack subtlety, but for a speaker of this kind, it is all about entertaining a bunch of people with all their sources and musical tastes. Bluetooth, AirPlay, Chromecast and voice assistants let you do just that. The only thing missing is an IP rating to make it weatherproof and better "feeling" top panel controls.

Stuff Says

A true heavyweight in all senses, it's one of the best out there!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Retro design and solid build

  1. Instant power on and pairing

  1. Punchy and powerful sound

  1. Controls on the unit feel cheap

  1. App EQ control very basic

  1. Expensive

Power: 100W
Drivers: 2 x 1in tweeter, 1 x 5.25in midbass, 1 x 6.5in passive radiator
Frequency Response: 46Hz-20kHz
Battery: 3.5hr (charge time), 8hr (playtime)
Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB-C, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Chromecast
Dimensions: 13.4 x 7.7 x 7.1in
Weight: 4.9kgs