JBL Spot Powered Satellite Speakers with Subwoofer
[Editors' Note: On November 1, 2006, iLounge published The 2007 iPod Buyers' Guide, with more than 30 brand new, capsule-sized product reviews - only for products we considered to be amongst the very best we've seen throughout the year. The short review below is excerpted and expanded from the Guide, which you can download here.]
It suffices to say that we’re no longer surprised when JBL releases a completely outside the box speaker system design. The company’s latest innovation, Spot, is perhaps the coolest-looking speaker design we’ve seen from the company, and the first skinnable speaker system we know to exist. Packaged with two sets of colored shells (white and black) for each of the included three speakers, the half globe satellites and subwoofer rise above table level with chrome metal rings, and no matter which shells go onto the speakers, their classy metal grilles and volume controls stick out. JBL intends to offer shells designed by mainstream and tattoo artists, but even if they didn’t, the included sets are iPod-matching.
The unit includes a power supply and audio cable, but you’ll need to supply your own iPod dock; the satellite speaker cords are fabric-covered for added durability. Our only regret about Spot is that it’s not quite as good a deal at $130 as it looked as a $100 speaker system - the original price - because it is a sub-Creature II quality sound system at its peak, and lacks treble control. Paying more for this than for a superior-sounding Creature set is thereby a compromise and pretty substantial design premium; if we had to pick just one given their respective prices, we’d go with Creature any day, and just pick the single color that worked best for our needs. That said, if you like the skinnable concept, which we really do, you’ll find the sound here to be very good overall - with a classical JBL sound signature - and adequate for non-audiophile listeners.