That larger JBL speaker dock looks familiar, doesn't it? Near the end of September, Harman gave us a peak at its latest consumer audio products. Curiously, however, a slew of new iOS-focused speaker docks were shown off, each lacking a Lightning connector. Today that's changed, as JBL has announced a duo of systems that are equipped with Lightning docks. To start, the larger unit is dubbed as the OnBeat Venue LT ($200). This speaker is essentially a Lightning-enhanced version of the 30-pin loaded Venue we recently spent time with, featuring the same 30 watts of power and Bluetooth connectivity with Apt-X support. Like it's sibling, the dock can be set flush with the front, and better yet, you'll even be able to dock your iPad mini into it. Sizing things down a bit is the OnBeat Micro, a $100 bedside system that'll play nice with the iPhone 5 and the new iPod nano. While it doesn't benefit from Harman's Bluetooth know-how (a pricing consideration, as we're told), it can be loaded with four AAA batteries for quick bouts away from wall power.
Based on a quick listening session, we can report that the Venue LT sounded very full and clear. Even with the optional bass- or vocal-boosts enabled, it didn't seem like the speakers were having trouble pushing out high levels of volume. The Micro on the other hand sounded decidedly tinny, which we're frankly not surprised about given the size. Both systems are compatible with JBL's MusicFlow app as well, giving you some extended options for tweaking EQ. The rigs felt fairly sturdy, but we were immediately able to notice some niggles with the Lighting connector. Our iPhone 5 and Harman's iPad mini and iPod nano clicked into place easily with the connector, but the hinge it's built on is very loose without any tension. A slight knock could potentially send an iOS device leaning forward, which would have us concerned in a party situation (the problem is more apparent on the Venue). Secondly, the docks won't play nice with common cases like Speck's CandyShell, so you'll need to have your devices naked before docking. JBL noted the quirks, stating that they have little control over the behavior of connector itself, as it's supplied by Apple.
JBL Lightning-equipped speaker docks hands-on
JBL expects that the OnBeat Venue LT and Micro will be the only Lightning-packing speaker docks for at least the holidays, so check out the press release after the break for more details if you're interested. As for us? We'd say the Venue LT is definitely worth a look, but we'd just as easily pass on the Micro given the myriad options out there for smaller Bluetooth-equipped speakers.
New JBL® Speakers Debut with Lightning Connectors for iPhone 5, iPad Mini and Updated iPad and iPods
November 15, 2012 – For Immediate Release
Featuring the new Apple Lightning connector, the JBL OnBeat™ Micro and JBL® Venue™ LT bring high-performance audio, portability and wireless compatibility designed specifically for the Apple iPad Mini, the revised iPad with Retina™ display, new iPod models and the iPhone 5 – starting at less than $100
For more information: JBL.com
STAMFORD, Conn. – HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated, announces availability of the first two JBL® speaker docks built to support the new Apple iPhone 5, iPad Mini, new iPod models and the revised iPad with Retina display. The JBL OnBeat Micro ($99) and JBL Venue LT ($199, right) include the new Apple Lightning connector, the small, reversible, all-digital connector that allowed Apple to create thinner and faster iOS® devices.
The two JBL speakers, the first in the market with the new Lightning connector, offer users great flexibility in accessing audio content. The super-portable JBL OnBeat Micro (below) is battery powered and ideal for road warriors, students or anyone else who wants outstanding performance from a go-anywhere Lightning speaker. The JBL OnBeat Venue LT is a robust tabletop speaker dock featuring dual full-range drivers and Slipstream port technology for powerful bass and a remarkably wide soundstage. Ideal for the iPad Mini and iPad with Retina display, the JBL OnBeat Venue LT includes HARMAN's exclusive TrueStream™ guarantee of the highest-quality sound when connecting any Apple product or any other smartphone and tablet via Bluetooth® connection. Both JBL speakers charge the new Apple Lightning products when docked.
"JBL was among the very first audio companies to build a docking station for the Apple iPod, and we continue our leadership as we are first in the market with new Lightning connector docking products. These powered speaker systems match the flexibility users want while providing a high-quality performance," said Sachin Lawande, executive vice president of HARMAN and co-president of HARMAN Lifestyle and Infotainment. "The JBL OnBeat Venue LT offers high-quality, proprietary driver technology and advanced digital audio software; it will deliver a truly robust listening experience to owners of the new iPad Mini and refreshed iPad. The JBL OnBeat Micro goes wherever you go, a feature increasingly important in our mobile society. With either model, music fans will hear the truth."
Details of each JBL speaker:
The JBL OnBeat Micro is an ultra-portable, acoustically sophisticated speaker that fits easily into a backpack, purse or briefcase. The JBL OnBeat Micro provides up to 5 hours of playback when used with batteries and charges the iPhone 5, the iPod touch 5th generation and the new iPod nano when used with the included AC adapter. The portable speaker also includes a built-in USB connector to power and play other portable devices. The JBL OnBeat Micro includes a free, downloadable JBL music app to create customized playlists, adjust volume and browse album artwork.
The JBL OnBeat Venue LT features a hidden Lightning dock connector behind the JBL logo at the speaker's base. Ideal for the iPad Mini and revised iPad with Retina display, HARMAN's exclusive TrueStream Bluetooth wireless streaming technology allows the JBL OnBeat Venue LT to connect with up to eight devices, providing additional device flexibility. The JBL OnBeat Venue LT includes the free, downloadable MusicFlow™ app, which allows users to create customized playlists, edit mixes, adjust volume and EQ settings, and browse album artwork.
Pricing and availability
The JBL OnBeat Micro has a suggested retail price of $99, and the JBL OnBeat Venue LT has a suggested retail price of $199. Both models are available through select retailers and online at JBL.com. For additional information, visit JBL.com.