IFA 2023 doesn't officially start at Berlin's Messe building until September 1, but I've been lucky enough to get a preview of a raft of new audio products from JBL ahead of the consumer electronics trade fair opening.
What's in store from the iconic audio brand?
At IFA JBL is launching three smart speakers, along with two new wireless headphones with active noise cancelling, an open-ear earbud built for active lifestyles, plus a new flagship Bluetooth speaker joining the company's all-singing PartyBox series of light-up party speakers.
Here's a breakdown of all the new JBL audio products announced at IFA 2023 that will be available to buy from September.
Update: Despite all new models being available in the U.K. and Europe, JBL has told Tom's Guide that only the JBL Authentics series, and JBL PartyBox Ultimate will launch in the U.S. this year. The JBL Soundgear Sense open-ear earbuds, and JBL Live 770NC & 670NC noise-canceling headphones will be announced in the U.S. in early 2024.
JBL Authentics smart home speaker series
JBL Authentics is a brand new series of three multi-room smart speakers wrapped in leather and fitted with Quadrex speaker grille inspired by the company's JBL L100 speaker from the 1970s. Despite the retro looks of the new Authentics series, each model is equipped with modern Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity smarts. The series is also the first to integrate both Alexa and Google voice assistants, allowing users to register both assistants and communicate with either by simply saying “Hey Google,” or “Alexa” to get started.
The flagship JBL Authentics 500 smart speaker will be priced at $699 / £579 / €629 and additionally incorporates Dolby Atmos support for immersive listening. It's rated at 270W total power output and employs three 1-inch tweeters and three 2.75-inch midrange woofers partnered to a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer.
The JBL Authentics 300 is the middle model with a built-in battery for 8-hour playback between charges. It's set to be priced at $429 / £379/ €429, and has a pair of 1-inch tweeters partnered to a full-range 5-inch woofer, and a down-firing 6-inch passive bass radiator.
The JBL Authentics 200 is the smallest model in the new series, and will be priced at $329 / £299 / €329. Like the Authentics 500, the 200 is a home speaker, meaning that there's no battery pack on board. It has all the same connectivity and voice assistant smarts as its two larger siblings, while the smaller cabinet is fitted with a pair of 1-inch tweeters, a single 5-inch woofer, and a down-firing 6-inch passive bass radiator.
JBL says the new Authentics smart speaker series are easy to set up using the JBL One app, and come with AirPlay, Alexa Multi-Room Music (MRM), Spotify Connect, and Chromecast built-in support. There are fully customisable EQ settings so that users can personalize the listening experience to their own tastes.
The JBL Authentics series is said to be made from 100% recycled fabric, 85% recycled plastic and 50% recycled aluminum. All models are available in black on the JBL website from mid-September 2023.
Look out for our reviews coming soon and to discover how this new JBL smart speaker series compares to the best smart speakers around.
JBL Live 770NC and 670NC wireless headphones
The JBL Live 770NC and JBL Live 670NC noise-canceling headphones are the latest additions to the JBL Live headphones lineup. They replace the popular JBL Live 660NC noise-canceling headphones. Carsten Olesen, president of consumer audio at Harman told Tom's Guide that the new models "bring significant technology upgrades to an already well-loved family of headphones."
The new mode;s both feature True Adaptive Noise Cancelling with Smart Ambient technology, advanced personalization features via Harman’s advanced Personi-Fi 2.0 technology, 40mm dynamic drivers and JBL's Signature Sound — something we found very enjoyable on the JBL Live 660NC.
Additionally, both models come with immersive JBL Spatial Sound, Bluetooth 5.3, while LE Audio support is said to arrive via a firmware shortly after launch. Battery life is said to be boosted from a maximum playtime of 50 hours on the Live 660NC, with up to 65 hours of playtime, while speed-charging gives up to 4 hours of play from just a 5-minute charge.
The JBL Live 770NC and JBL Live 670NC go on sale in the U.K. and Europe from August 31 at £159 / €179 and £119 / €129 respectively. JBL tells us the these models will launch in the U.S. in early 2024. They are available in black, white, blue, and sandstone from the JBL website and online retailers.
Check back to see where these new models rank among the best noise-cancelling headphones.
JBL Soundgear Sense open-ear earbuds
Soundgear Sense are the first-ever true wireless open-ear earbuds from JBL. They're designed for all kinds of activities including active lifestyles where wearers want to maintain a level of awareness. They are IP54-rated to protect from sweat, dust, and rainfall. The open-ear design uses ear hooks that rest on your ears without obstructing the ear canal, while the design and shape are said to reduce sound leakage. They can be rotated, and there are size adjustments to aid personalized, all-day comfort. There's a detachable neckband provided for an added level of security.
They feature JBL's OpenSound Technology with air conduction to maintain a natural connection to surroundings. Open-ear designs often mean some sound compromises and sound leakage, but JBL promises to deliver a performance that's akin to its well-regarded Signature Sound quality thanks to the use of unique 16.2mm drivers and a bass-enhancing algorithm. It also says that sound leakage has been kept to a minimum thanks to its super directional drivers, which is something I'm keen to try out.
As with the new Live series of headphones mentioned above, Bluetooth 5.3 is on board with LE audio support coming via a firmware update shortly after launch. Multi-point makes connectivity with all your devices seamless, and the four integrated microphones means that call quality has been considered too.
In announcing JBL's Soundgear Sense, Carsten Olesen, president of consumer audio at Harman, told Tom's Guide "Developing Soundgear Sense challenged us to produce JBL's renowned audio quality in air conduction earbuds. I am delighted with the results. Thanks to our incredible audio know-how, our class leading JBL OpenSound Technology ensures that even in this new form factor, we deliver the exceptional sound experience that JBL is known for."
The JBL Soundgear Sense cost £129 / €149. They are available to buy now in black or white color options through the JBL website as well as other online retailers.
JBL PartyBox Ultimate wireless speaker system
The JBL PartyBox Ultimate speaker is the new headline act for the company's big and bold light-up Bluetooth speaker series, and introduces Wi-Fi smarts to the party.
The PartyBox Ultimate is IPX4-rated, meaning it's splashproof and its bulky size is fitted with sturdy wheels to enable it to easily be moved around. There's an easy-to-grip handle, and a cable compartment to store the power cord when not in use.
It features JBL's Original Pro Sound and has two high-sensitivity mid-range speaker drivers and dual tweeters, as well as a pair of 9-inch subwoofers. There wasn't any power output mention at the time of the announcement, except to say that the PartyBox Ultimate is said to provide thunderous bass you can feel from anywhere in the room, and can rock the size of two basketball courts.
Dolby Atmos support and automatic self-tuning are on board, along with multi-dimensional light show capabilities including a new starry night effect, cool light trails, and dynamic strobes that sync with the music.
Users can customize their own party flow with the interactive JBL PartyPad on the PartyBox top panel while playing a playlist. Or take to the stage with guitar and dual mic inputs and karaoke EQ tuning.
The JBL PartyBox Ultimate goes on sale from August 31 priced at $1,699 / £1,299 / €1,499 and will be available from the JBL website and dealers. JBL tells us the these models will launch in the U.S. in early 2024.