JBL has had a long and storied history in the audio business, and it continues to be one of the powerhouse brands in home and pro audio today. A quick history lesson tells us that the company was founded in 1946 and along the way it was involved in other brands, most notably, Harman Kardon. Eventually, Samsung purchased the brand and to Samsung’s credit, has left it as its own operation and branding. JBL has taken various design and sound approaches over the years, but with the JBL Authentics 300 and its siblings, it’s reached back to the past.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
For the past decade, it seems, the company has maintained a modernized, colorful, and playful design language. It’s worked fine for JBL and nothing they make is ugly, it’s just bright and playful. The JBL Authentics 300 takes a different approach by reaching back to a more retro time of life. The soundstage is also much different than the JBL I’ve known for the past 10-years, but not in a bad way at all. Not at all. Let’s get into the full review of the JBL Authentics 300 Bluetooth speaker.
Table of contents
The Quick Take
The JBL Authentics 300 is a fantastic Bluetooth speaker. It borders on the edge of portability, but thanks to the comfy handle, it can be called portable, despite its larger size.
JBL’s design choices are fantastic and a refreshing change from its designs over the past few years. The Authentics 300 has the looks of something out of the ’70s and the sound stage to match.
It’s not often that a company reimagines a product and it comes out this good. The sound is fantastic, with plenty of bottom end that doesn’t crush the mids and highs. The app is actually good, with a good EQ to further tune the speaker to your taste. But I really love that there is a treble and bass knob on the top of the unit, better than an app.
It’s easy to move around, and it has a commanding presence that’s going to provide plenty of sound for a nice sized room or even a patio scenario. The only thing that might dissuade potential buyers is the $450 price point. That is a big price tag, though I believe that the value you’re getting is worth the price. Overall, I’d recommend the JBL Authentics 300, if you’re not shy about the price point.
The JBL Authentics 300 has the following features and specifications:
- Sound system: Stereo 2.0
- Power supply: 100 – 240V AC, ~ 50/60Hz (integrated)
- Total speaker power output (Max @THD 1%): 100W
- Transducer: 2 x 25mm tweeter + 5.25″ woofer
- Networked standby power: < 2.0 W
- Operating temperature: 0 °C – 45 °C
- Lithium battery: 3.6V, 4800mAh
- Frequency response: 45Hz – 20kHz (-6dB)
- Audio inputs: 1 Audio in, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB (USB playback is available in US version. For other versions, USB is for Service only.)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 342 x 195.6 x 180.3 / 13.46″ x 7.7″ x 7.1″
- Weight: 4.9 Kg / 10.8 lbs
- Packaging dimensions (W x H x D): 403 x 272 x 272mm / 15.9″ x 10.7″ x 10.7″
- Packaging Weight: 7.21 kg / 15.9 lbs
- USB port: Type C
- USB rating: 5V DC, 0.5A
- Supporting formats: MP3,WAV
- MP3 codec: MPEG 1 Layer 2/3, MPEG 2 Layer 3, MPEG 2.5 Layer 3
- MP3 sampling rate: 16 – 48 kHz
- MP3 bitrate: 80 – 320 kpbs
- Bluetooth version: 5.3
- Bluetooth prole: A2DP 1.3.2, AVRCP 1.5
- Bluetooth transmitter frequency range: 2402 MHz – 2480 MHz
- Bluetooth transmitter power: <14.5 dBm (EIRP)
- Wi-Fi network: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4GHz/5GHz)
- 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 2412 – 2484 MHz (2.4 GHz ISM Band, USA 11 Channels, Europe and others 13 Channels)
- 2.4G Wi-Fi transmitter power: <22 dBm (EIRP)
- 5G Wi-Fi transmitter frequency range: 5.15 – 5.35GHz, 5.470 – 5.725GHz, 5.725 – 5.825GHz
- 5G Wi-Fi transmitter power: 5.15 – 5.25GHz <23dBm, 5.25 – 5.35GHz & 5.470 – 5.725GHz <20dBm, 5.725 – 5.825GHz <14dBm (EIRP)
- Charging time (hrs): 3.5
- Maximum music playing time (hrs): 8
- Built-in Wi-Fi: Yes
- JBL One App: Yes
- 3.5 mm audio cable Input: Yes
- Voice Assistant integration: Yes
- Rechargeable battery: Yes
- Bluetooth: Yes
What’s In The Box
- JBL Authentics 300
- Power cable
- Quick start guide
- Safety sheet
- Warranty card
First, let’s talk about weight. The JBL Authentics 300 weighs around 10lbs, which is nearing the cusp of portable. I think anything over 15lbs is getting to the point of not worth lugging around. But thankfully, the Authentics 300 incorporates a very nice carrying handle wrapped in what reminds me of the vinyl used to wrap guitar amps with nice gold stitching. The handle is made of metal and the pivot points (branded with an embossed JBL logo) are also metal and very sturdy.
Let’s move around the back of the JBL Authentics 300. The back is fairly simple, with a ribbed plastic covering bearing the Authentics branding. I don’t think the ribbed plastic back has any acoustic design properties, but it looks impressive. At the center top of the back is a physical switch to mute the microphones used for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Towards the bottom are your Ethernet port, AUX port, USB-C port, and power port.
Diving down under, the JBL Authentics 300 incorporates a massive subwoofer tucked underneath. This is flanked by two long and sturdy feet. This design allows for the bass to push out the bottom and come out of the front and back of the unit. JBL isn’t the only one that does this with their sub, but I do like this design as it brings more dynamics to the bass end. The sides of the JBL Authentics 300 is void of anything but the aforementioned handle joints.
Jumping up top, the JBL Authentics 300 has some very nicely designed physical controls. The overall placement and design throw off cues of the retro feel they went for. There are a few holes where your assistant microphones live. Then you have a giant knob for volume and playback control with a nice LED light ring that shows how much volume you are pushing.
Then there is the Bluetooth pairing button, the power button, and the Moment button. The Moment button is used to access the music playlist and speaker setting personalized in the JBL One app. More on that later. To the right of those buttons are two large knobs. One for treble control and one for bass control. Fantastic JBL! I love having knobs to control these parameters, it’s simple and straightforward. These knobs are like the volume control with an LED light ring to indicate how much you’re giving it.
I’ve saved the best for last in the design section, and that is the front of the JBL Authentics 300. The front of the Authentics lineup seems to be hearkening back to the classic JBL L-100 home Hi-Fi speakers. The design of the grille looks similar to the L-100, and it’s a fantastic look.
The grille is surrounded by a brushed gold aluminum finish that just makes the whole speaker pop. That gold is peppered around the rest of the speaker, in the handle and buttons. There is also subtle JBL branding, in gold, on the bottom left of the grille. There is an LED light under the grille to indicate power and Bluetooth. For clarification, the gold used here is a matte color and is just classy. This is not some gaudy gold plastic, no, this is very nicely done. The entire speaker is wrapped in the same textured vinyl wrap that really does remind me of some of my old guitar amplifiers.
Overall, I’ve not been this impressed by a JBL Bluetooth speaker design in a very long time. I think it was wise of JBL to step outside the box they’ve built for themselves over the past few years. This retro look combines beauty, functionality and portability in an excellent package.
Ease of Use
It doesn’t take any time at all to get setup and using the JBL Authentics 300. It is recommended that you plug the speaker in and charge to full before using it for best sound and battery performance. Setting up Bluetooth is just a matter of pushing the Bluetooth button and then finding the speaker in your smartphone’s Bluetooth settings. You can also connect via AUX or USB-C if you want to use a physical connection.
Once you are connected, you can download the new JBL One app for other features and control. It’s not needed, but is recommended. More on the app later. You can set the speaker up to be used with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. I use neither, so I didn’t use this feature and I muted the microphones using the mute switch on the back.
Physical control is done with the knobs at the top, here’s what to expect from those:
- Volume Knob: Turn left or right for volume down and up
- Volume Knob: Push on the center once for play pause, twice for track forward, three times for track reverse
- Treble Knob: Controls the amount of treble
- Bass Knob: Controls the amount of bass
- Moment button: Press to access the music playlist and speaker settings personalized in the JBL One app
If you need to hard reset your JBL Authentics 300, do this by pressing the power button for 10 seconds, and it will reset to factory settings.
Overall, the Authentics 300 is super easy to use. I love physical knobs and buttons. I am glad they didn’t go with touch controls and screens on this one.
The JBL Authentics 300 threw me for a loop in terms of sound. I’ve gotten used to JBL’s sound over the years, and they tend to tune their speakers to favor the bass end of the frequency range. But this was different. The soundstage was far more neutral than what I am used to with JBL.
The bottom end is still there, but it’s not in your face, it’s tempered much more. It’s not obnoxious and in your face. It lets you know it’s there, but it’s not crushing the rest of the stage. But you can also tune the treble and bass to your taste with those lovely knobs on the top. You can also use the 3 point EQ in the app to tune it a bit more.
I found the soundstage on the JBL Authentics 300 to be almost perfect for my liking. I did pull the bass back slightly, but not a lot. Furthermore, I pushed the treble and mids up a bit, but there was very little tweaking I had to do. The volume is also fantastic, this is a very loudspeaker and I never really pushed it past 60% with 40% being my comfort zone.
Overall, this soundstage is different from the past few years of JBL speakers. It’s not as bass heavy, though you can certainly add that back in if you wish. It’s more balanced with a slight push to the bass without overpowering everything else. I’ve really enjoyed JBL speakers in the past, but this soundstage was a treat to hear from JBL.
The JBL One app is fairly straightforward and allows you to control the music from your smartphone. You also have a 3-point EQ and you can set up your voice assistants in the app.
Probably the biggest feature you’ll want to use the app for, which I did not use because my music service is not supported, is the Moment feature. Moment allows you to set up your preferred music service in the app and add playlists with presets. Once you have it setup, when you push the Moment button on the speaker, that playlist and its settings will automatically be set. Moment works with the following music services:
- Amazon Music
- Calm Radio
I use Apple Music, so I was unable to test this feature. But I don’t see myself using the feature anyway, it’s a nice addition for those who would use it.
Overall, the app is simple and not hard to operate. It offers decent controls and features, and is also not needed if you don’t want to connect to it.
Charging time for the JBL Authentics is 3.5 hours from empty to full. I never did empty this speaker, but it did charge fast and was always ready for use. Playback time is rated at 8 hours, and I got more than that easily. But battery life is going to depend on volume and distance from the Bluetooth signal. So your mileage may vary.
For reference, I had the volume between 40% and 60% most of the time and my phone was always next to the unit. In short, I think you’ll get the advertised battery life with ease, and maybe even more if you’re not too aggressive with the volume.
Priced at $449.99, the JBL Authentics 300 is not cheap. I know, in this economy, it’s hard to justify spending this much on a speaker. That said, if this is something you can afford, I wholeheartedly believe you will be getting a good value for money. JBL is not asking too much for this speaker, it’s priced fairly and gives you some outstanding sound and aesthetics.
The Authentics 300 is a premium Bluetooth speaker with a fantastic retro design and stellar soundstage.
JBL Authentics 300$449.99
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Last Updated on November 27, 2023.