JBL is one of the busiest brands at CES 2023, where audio professionals unpacked a boatload of new hi-fi gear in Las Vegas, along with new amplifiers, headphones, and portable speakers.
Filled with vintage models, the new Hi-Fi range of the Classic Series for 2023 features an all-new built-in amplifier, CD player and turntable as well as a high-end music player.
With walnut veneers and brushed metal finishes, the set keeps the nostalgic-tinged design of JBL’s limited edition SA750 compact speaker from two years ago that was released to celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary along with the well-received L100 Classic speakers.
Like the SA750, the new SA350 compact amplifier features a massive Class G amplifier, along with support for the latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec for high-fidelity, low-latency wireless audio at up to 24-bit/192kHz. It’s priced at £1,599 / $2,000 and there’s 90W of power per channel with the unit offering a decent spread of inputs including 3x stereo RCA, MM/MC phono stage, plus three digital inputs (1x optical, 2x coaxial) .
The CD350 Classic CD player meanwhile includes a high-resolution internal DAC for “bit-perfect sound,” with file resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz supported via the USB-A port, while the high-end MP350 digital audio streaming system also features AptX Adaptive technology. Bluetooth for high-fidelity, low-latency wireless audio from your mobile devices. At £799 / $700, the built-in Wi-Fi lets you stream from a range of services with support for Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay.
Elsewhere in the range, the sleek-looking JBL TT350 Classic is a direct-drive turntable with a heavy cast aluminum plate and curved aluminum tonearm, which comes with a removable ‘high quality’ audio technology magnetic cartridge and a removable headshell and a price tag of £925/ 1000 dollars.
All four products are scheduled to be launched in the middle of the year.
Outside of the classic range, JBL also unveiled a new Bluetooth-enabled turntable called the Spinner BT (pictured at top of page). While there’s no hickory in sight here, there’s still something from the late ’70s, with a black and orange plastic finish complemented by a speckled slip mat.
A more recent feature is the Spinner BT’s onboard aptX HD broadcast, as the Deck also features a switchable phono stage analog output for connecting to a Hi-Fi classic component or directly to a pair of active speakers.
There’s something of a longer wait for the Spinner BT, as the deck won’t be released until the second half of the year, with an asking price of £375 / $399. An affordable Bluetooth model might be perfect in our guide to the best turntables, if JBL’s usual focus on sound quality continues.
Meanwhile, home theater fans will be most interested in the new top-of-the-line Dolby Atmos soundbar from JBL’s range.
Featuring a whopping 15 channels of sound, the JBL Bar 1300 builds on the versatile design of its predecessor the Bar 9.1 and the latest Bar 1000.
As with these systems, the main feature of the Bar 1300 is a pair of easy-to-use, wire-free rear speakers with rechargeable batteries, as well as a wireless subwoofer, with the new system increasing the number of up-and-coming drivers to six.
The Bar 1300 also features JBL’s MultiBeam algorithm to help create a wider sonic range by bouncing sound off your walls, PureVoice technology to improve movie dialogue, as well as support for competing 3D audio format DTS:X as well as Atmos.
The JBL Bar 1300 is due to go on sale in mid-February 2023 for $1,555 / £1,299 – we expect it to be a strong contender for our list of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars.
On the headphone front, the new JBL Tune Beam earphones sound like a direct competitor to Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 thanks to their noise-isolating design. The new in-ear package features 6mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.3, 12 hours of playback up to ten hours when noise cancellation is on, as well as IP54 water and dust resistance. Tune Beams is slated to retail for $100 and is set to launch in June.
For the sporty types, there’s the Endurance Peak 3, an update of last year’s workout-friendly earphones that earned a 4-star rating from Tech Radar.
The updated speakers now have all-new 10mm drivers that JBL says are tuned for sports-appropriate bass, and last for 50 hours of total playback. The updated PowerHook design with TwistLock technology, meanwhile, aims to provide a more secure fit for intense running sessions. Priced at $100 / £83.99, the Endurance Peak 3 will go on sale next month.
Finally, JBL’s line of hugely popular portable audio devices is set to give an eco-friendly boost with two new Eco-Edition Bluetooth speakers.
The JBL Go 3 Eco and JBL Clip 4 Eco are Bluetooth 5.1 compatible and come with enclosures made from 90 percent recycled plastic, while the speaker grille and rope handles are made from 100 percent recycled fabric. The larger Clip 4 offers 10 hours of playback, while the Go 3 gets up to five hours of playing your tunes.
Both speakers are slated to launch on the appropriate Earth Day green date of April 22, and will be available in Forest Green, Ocean Blue, and Cloud White colors, with the JBL Clip 4 Eco priced at $79.95 and the Go 3 Eco at $49.95.