There have been multiple competitors to Sonos over the years when it comes to multi-room audio and self-tuning speakers with built-in voice assistants. As of 2023, the market is flooded with options if you’re seeking alternatives to the Move or Era. The latest company to throw their hat into the ring is JBL with their new additions to the Authentics series. These devices are the first to run two voice assistants simultaneously without needing to switch from one to the other. The (priced at $450) offers a portable unit that does not have to stay parked on a shelf.
In terms of design, JBL’s wireless speakers generally fit into three categories: rugged and compact, modern-looking boomboxes, or internally-lit party units. However, for the new Authentics series, the company has gone for a more refined design. All three speakers in the series have a black finish with a gold frame around the front speaker grille. They look sleek and modern, fitting in well on a shelf. Each speaker looks almost identical, with the main difference being size, although the 300 model has a boombox-like rotating handle not present on the other two. This is because the 300 is the only portable option in the range with a built-in battery.
The Authentics speakers are managed through the JBL One app, offering features such as battery level, media player, limited EQ customization, and a feature called Moment for quickly accessing your tunes. The speakers also support various streaming options and multi-room audio.
The most notable feature of the Authentics series is the ability to run both Alexa and Google Assistant simultaneously. This means you have the flexibility to use smart home devices that are compatible with either assistant. As for sound quality, the Authentics 300 performs well with softer genres like jazz and acoustic-driven country. However, it struggles with more chaotic music styles, overemphasizing vocals and lacking deep bass.
The battery life of the Authentics 300 is slated to last up to eight hours on a single charge, with options for Battery Saving Mode and automatic power-off. Two other models in the range, the Authentics 200 and 500, offer similar features but differ in size and output power.
In conclusion, the JBL Authentics 300 is a solid option for those looking for a portable speaker with dual voice assistant capabilities, although its inconsistent audio performance and limited features may leave some users wanting more.