Review: JBL Onstage II

When I ordered my 160GB Black iPod Classic I also ordered the JBL Onstage II desktop iPod speaker system. I can’t think of another way to describe it. The feature set of the device is fairly benign, drop the iPod in and you can play back music. It comes with a basic remote to handle some functions such as volume, play/pause, and track skip. Media is chosen by manipulating the iPod itself. It also has a 1/8″ jack on the back to allow for device other than iPods such as computers, ect.

The crazy thing about this device is how good it sounds. I would argue that I have pretty good hearing. I run a small recording studio and have trained my hearing over quite a few years. I’m pretty picky about what I consider a decent method of listening to music. I wouldn’t recommend you run out and buy this to mix you next multi-platinum record but I would recommend it as a good way to listen to music in moderately sized spaces. The sound it produces is fairly full range and rather clear. Speech is easily intelligible and music sounds as you expect. It’s not going to rattle your windows with bass notes, speakers this small physically aren’t able to produce those frequencies, but when you are listening to music it doesn’t sound lacking. It goes low enough to convince you that the lower frequencies are there. It’s got an openness to the sound I was not expecting and does not sound fatiguing at all. After a while listening to music on crappy speakers my ears start to rebel and I just have to switch it off. These device doesn’t do that to me.

Physically the device is more solid then I was expecting. It’s got more heft than it ought to, I wonder if it’s simply weighted. The bottom is covered in three rubber slip pads which is also a nice touch. The only design change I would make would be to move the power button from the back of the device to the front. It’s not terrible where it is, i would just prefer to see the switch. It would remind me to switch it off when I wasn’t using it.

It came with a good compliment of iPod adapters. If apple released it, this will fit it. If you find it’s missing an adapter you need JBL is offering to send them to you for free on their site.

The unit cost me $129 from the apple store. Shipping was free. If it didn’t sound as good as it does, I’d have sent it back. Only because the sound quality is so high do I think it’s worth the price. I would be happier if the cost was about $100. Like I said though, it’s a solid device that sounds much better then it ought to.


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