JBL’s new speakers may look old-school but come with cutting-edge Dolby Atmos

JBL Authentics 500
(Image credit: JBL)

If like me you prefer your high-tech kit to look more classic than cutting edge, then JBL's new Authentics Wi-Fi speakers, which the company has announced at IFA 2023 in Berlin, tick all the boxes. Inside, they're packed with up-to-date audio tech including Dolby Atmos in one of the models and multi-room pairing, but they come in designs that wouldn't look out of place in a stately home. 

There are three models in the recently launched range: the flagship Authentics 500, the slightly smaller Authentics 200 and a portable sibling, the Authentics 300, which could give a lot of the best Bluetooth speakers a run for their money. The Authentics 300 has an eight-hour battery life and enables you to move it from place to place, such as from the kitchen to the garden, like many of the best wireless speakers

JBL Authentics speakers: key features and price

The JBL Authentics 500 is the larger and heavier of the three because it's full of drivers: three one-inch tweeters, two 2.75-inch mid-range woofers and a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer. Collectively, they deliver 270W in a 3.1 channel sound and have Dolby Atmos compatibility for immersive, multi-dimensional audio. 

The JBL Authentics 200 may be a little more modest, but it's still pretty punchy. Inside, the speakers have twin one-inch tweeters, a 5-inch full-range woofer and a 6-inch down-firing passive radiator so it should still deliver a pretty beefy sound with lots of low-end thump.

Sound aside, one of the most interesting features here is the industry-first integration with both Amazon and Google. When you set up your speaker you can choose to register it with both firms' voice assistants and have them run simultaneously. That's genuinely useful because different assistants have different strengths, so being able to pick and choose is really handy. This is something I do at home with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, but in order to do it I have to have two lots of smart speakers. 

As these are smart speakers you get a good selection of streaming options. There's AirPlay, Alexa Multi-Room Music (MRM), Spotify Connect, Chromecast and auto calibration adjusts the audio to the sound of your room.

All three speakers go on sale on 15 September. Prices are £579.99 / €629.99 for the Authentics 500, £379.99 / €429.99 for the Authentics 200 and £299.99 / €329.99 for the Authentics 300. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.