Skip to main content

Harman Kardon JBL On Stage review

Rocking sound from a speaker shaped like a doughnut

Our Verdict

Great for the desktop, but won't travel well without a self-contained power source


  • Sound quality
  • Great for small rooms
  • Audio-in jack
  • Build


  • Not chargeable
  • Distorts 'lows' at 80% volume

The JBL On Stage is a little powerhouse with great sound for the desktop.

The main problem with the On Stage is that it doesn't have batteries, so you are a bit limited as to what you can do with it and where you are able to use it, but it's excellent as far as it goes.

A cable dock connector port is around the back, so you can sync with iTunes while docked in the On Stage. Also behind the main outward panel of the JBL is the power button, the power input and a jack for a secondary audio source.

Four speakers sit in the doughnut, two facing each flank. The sound is wonderful. Given the unit's size the volume doesn't go high and starts to distort badly if you push it, but for reasonable volume output in small rooms or next to you on the desktop, it's great.

We reviewed the On Stage, which is remoteless, but the On Stage II is replacing the line and comes with a remote at no extra cost - besides that, the spec is identical.

At the lower end of the price range, the main competition is from the Logitech mm50, and deciding between them is very difficult indeed. Perhaps the Logitech edges the JBL out due to its better range of connection options and, of course, the battery option.

One thing that is worth mentioning is we noticed that the left and right channels on the JBL can cut out if the iPod wobbles even slightly, but JBL has thrown in a wide range of iPod trays to minimise this.

If you're looking for a domedshaped desktop speaker for less than £100 - and one that you don't need to travel with - you can't really go wrong with this. The build is great and the sound surprisingly good for such a small unit. Just make sure you get the updated model with the remote for ease of use. James Ellerbeck