One of the busiest brands at CES 2023 has been JBL, with the audio specialists taking the wraps off of a boatload of new hi-fi gear in Las Vegas, alongside new soundbars, headphones and portable speakers.
Replete with retro stylings, the new-for-2023 Classic Series Hi-Fi range features an all-new integrated amp, CD player, turntable as well as a high-end music streamer.
With walnut veneers and brushed metal finishes, the range maintains the nostalgia-tinged design of JBL’s limited edition SA750 integrated amplifier from a couple of years back which was released to mark the brand’s 75th anniversary alongside its well-received L100 Classic speakers.
Like the SA750, the new SA350 integrated amplifier boasts a hefty Class G amplifier, alongside support for the latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec for hi-res, low latency wireless audio streaming up to 24-bit/192kHz. Set to be priced at £1599 / $2000, there’s 90W of power per channel with the unit offering a decent spread of inputs including 3x stereo RCA, an MM/MC phono stage, plus three digital inputs (1x optical, 2x coaxial).
The CD350 Classic CD player meanwhile features an internal high-resolution DAC for "bit-perfect sound", with up to 24-bit/96kHz file resolution supported via a USB-A port, while the MP350 high-end digital audio streaming system also features AptX Adaptive Bluetooth for hi-res, low-latency wireless audio from your mobile devices. Priced at £799 / $700, its built-in Wi-Fi lets you stream from a host of services with Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay all supported.
Elsewhere in the line-up, the classy-looking JBL TT350 Classic is a direct drive turntable with a heavy die-cast aluminum platter and curved aluminum tonearm, which comes with a "high-quality" Audio-Technica moving magnet cartridge in a removable headshell and a £925 / $1000 price tag.
All four products are due for release in the middle of the year.
Outside of the Classic range, JBL also unveiled a new, Bluetooth-ready turntable called the Spinner BT (pictured at the top of the page). While there’s no walnut in sight here, there’s still something of a late 70s retro vibe going on, with a black and orange plastic finish that’s complimented by a speckled slip mat.
The Spinner BT boasts the decidedly more modern feature of aptX HD streaming on-board, with the deck also featuring a switchable phono stage analogue output for hooking up to a classic component Hi-Fi or directly to a pair of active speakers.
There’s something of a longer wait for the Spinner BT, with the deck not due for release until the second half of the year, with a £375/$399 asking price. It could be the perfect affordable Bluetooth model in our guide to the best turntables, if JBL's usual focus on sound quality holds up.
Home theater enthusiasts will meanwhile be most interested in JBL’s new top-of-the range Dolby Atmos soundbar.
The JBL Bar 1300 boasts a massive 15 audio channels, and build upon the versatile design of its much-heralded predecessor the Bar 9.1 and the more recent Bar 1000.
As with those systems, the Bar 1300’s key feature is a pair of handy, wire-free rear speakers with rechargeable batteries, plus a wireless subwoofer, with the new system increasing the number of up-firing drivers to a room-filling six.
The Bar 1300 also features JBL's MultiBeam algorithm to help create a wider soundstage by bouncing audio off your walls, PureVoice tech for optimizing movie dialogue, plus support for rival 3D audio format DTS:X as well as Atmos.
The JBL Bar 1300 is set to go on sale in mid-February 2023 for $1555/£1299 – 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 earbuds look like direct rivals to Apple's AirPods Pro 2 thanks to their noise-isolating design. The new in-ears pack feature 6mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.3, 12 hours of playback that comes down to ten hours when noise cancelling is engaged, plus IP54 water and dust-resistance. Set to be priced at $100, the Tune Beams are set to be released in June.
For sporty, types, there’s the Endurance Peak 3, an update of last year’s workout-friendly in-ears which earned a 4-star review from Tech Radar.
The updated buds now have all-new 10mm drivers that JBL say are tuned for sport-friendly bass, and last for 50 hours of total playback. A refreshed PowerHook design with TwistLock technology meanwhile aims to offer an even more secure fit for those vigorous running sessions. Also priced at $100 / £83.99, the Endurance Peak 3 go on sale next month.
Finally, JBL’s hugely popular portable audio line-up is set to be given an environmentally-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 grill and rope handles are made from 100 per cent recycled fabric. The larger Clip 4 offers 10 hours of playback, while the Go 3 maxes out at five hours of playing your tunes.
Both speakers are set to launch on the suitably green date of Earth Day on April 22 and will be available in Forest Green, Ocean Blue, and Cloud White colorways, with the JBL Clip 4 Eco priced at $79.95 and the Go 3 Eco coming in at $49.95.
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Kevin Lynch is a London-born, Dublin-based writer and journalist. The author of Steve Jobs: A Biographic Portrait, Kevin is a regular feature writer for a number of tech sites and the former Technology Editor for the Daily Mirror. He has also served as editor of GuinnessWorldRecords.com and has been a member of the judging panel for the BAFTA British Academy Video Game Awards. Alongside reviewing the latest AV gear, smartphones and computers, Kevin also specialises in music tech and can often be found putting the latest DAWs, MIDI controllers and guitar modellers through their paces. Born within the sound of Bow Bells, Kevin is also a lifelong West Ham fan for his troubles.