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JBL Goes Up-Market In Wireless Multi-Room

1/06/2014 07:00:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Harman’s JBL brand is tripling up on its commitment to multi-room wireless audio with the launch of its first two wireless tabletop speakers incorporating AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth.

The Wi-Fi-equipped speakers also take the brand up-market in the category to a suggested $999 for the JBL Authentics L16 and $599 for the JBL Authentics L8.

JBL also offers wireless speakers with AirPlay and Bluetooth but hasn’t incorporated both in the same SKU in the past. Its tabletop wireless speakers, JBL also hasn’t included DLNA in the past.

Both speakers also do double-duty as a 96kHz/24- bit DAC via their optical inputs. Both also feature analog inputs, and the step-up model adds an integrated phono preamp to add a turntable. Both also feature Harman Signal Doctor technology to restore lost details to compressed music files, and both offer an optional Qi wireless charging pad.

JBL said their design was inspired by the brand’s high-end Century L100 component speakers. They feature luxury wood housing and retro grilles to fit in with interior décors ranging from mid-century modern to transitional and contemporary, the company added. The L8 Sound System enclosure features gloss-black guitar-quality finish, and the L16 features walnut-veneer enclosure. Both have removable foam grilles and optional floor stands.

The three-way L16 features a total of six drivers, each with its own 50-watt amp. They consist of two 5.25- inch woofers, a 2-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeters. They deliver 35Hz to 35kHz frequency response.

The two-way L8 features two 4-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters, each powered by a 30-watt amp. They deliver a frequency response of 45Hz to 35kHz.

Both also feature a USB charging port for phones and another one for tablets

The speakers are controlled remotely via Wi-Fi from JBL’s free iOS and Android music app, which also serves as a music player. Remotely controlled features include tone, source switching and Signal Doctor turn-on.

To one speaker at a time, the app lets users stream local content from Apple devices via Air- Play or via Bluetooth. Also to one speaker at a time, the app lets users stream local content from Android devices via DLNA or Bluetooth.

AirPlay also enables streaming of one song stored on an iTunes-equipped computer to multiple speakers at a time, and consumers can use the Apple remote app to get multiple-speaker playback from an iTunes-equipped PC just like any other AirPlay speaker.

The speakers’ DLNA capability enables one speaker at a time to stream music from a PC using the Windows Play To feature.