Review – JBL On Stage IIIP Loudspeaker Dock

On November 19, 2008

It took a while but there is finally a nice selection of shielded speaker systems built to withstand the horrid “GSM BUZZZZZZZZ” that is so common thanks to the iPhone’s built-in GSM radio.

I looked through a number of them for my office and eventually settles on the JBL On Stage IIIP Portable Loudspeaker Dock.

At a list price of just below $130, JBL describes the IIIP as

the ideal travel partner. Imagine the convenience of taking the JBL On Stage IIIP speaker dock on the road and enjoying the sound right on your desktop.

I have been using it for a while now and love it.

SIZE and BUILD– The system is super compact. It is so small that when I first saw it I expected tiny/tinny sound. It is solid and well-built. Moreover, it is surprisingly light (especially without batteries). The low profile means that it can sit on a desk without becoming the focus of the desk. The shiny black plastic looks great but LOVES fingerprints.

FLEXIBILITY– The system is amazingly flexible. It is, of course, compatible with all docking versions of the iPod, including the iPod Touch an because of the added shielding it works with the iPhone while the phone and data connection are still on. Like most products in this category, however, it expands its use by including a stereo mini jack connection. As a result, it can also be used with a variety of other devices such as MP3 and CD players, desktop computers, satellite radio and laptops. It could even be used with a (GULP!) Zune (but then again… why?).

The included remote is standard fare for this category of product. Small, functional and easy-to-lose. In music mode the remote controls volume, change tracks, fast forward and fast reverse. In navigation mode it allows full access to the media menus (on iPod/iPhone). With it you can search music, watch slideshows, and find and play videos.

One of the IIIP’s nicest features is the ability to use both battery or A/C for power. And while 12 hours using six AA batteries is nothing to cheer about, the OPTION to use it on batteries is especially nice since the unit is so compact.

SOUND– I’m not an audiophile but to my ears the sound is nothing short of AMAZING!
The sound quality is excellent and the systems gets far louder than I can ever imagine wanting/needing (yes, I have officially become old).

According to JBL-

The JBL On Stage IIIP loudspeaker dock combines many proprietary technologies to provide the highest quality sound, astonishing bass and clear accurate sound from any direction. Odyssey® transducers – The Odyssey drivers deliver accurate high frequencies while capable of low-frequency extension of four-octaves, unlike more commonly used powered tweeters. Slipstream port design – The port minimizes boundary layer separation, producing high-output bass with low-distortion. COE (Computer-Optimized Equalization) The system equalization is computer-optimized to provide a rich, complete soundstage over a wide range of listening positions. OCT (Optimized Compression Technology) – The proprietary compression technology ensures clear, accurate sound at high output levels.

The unit is not without issues, however. The process of cradling the iPhone and transferring the sound from the iPhone’s speaker to the device is hit or miss. Sometimes I cradle it, start the music and the music feeds through the speakers immediately. At other times the music continues to come through the iPhone. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to when it works and when it doesn’t and, while an annoyance, it is easy to solve by powering the speaker system down and starting it again. The point is it shouldn’t happen and it does with both my first Gen iPhone and the iPhone 3G.

Awesome Sound
Low Profile

Cradling transfers sound inconsistently
Fingerprint magnet

Amazon currently sells it for $128.44. You can get it HERE.