By Louis Senecal on Wed, 06/02/2010
JBL released their On Stage Micro II last week. This is one of their portable speaker docks, which works with the iPhone, iPods, as well as some other devices. They were kind enough to send me a loaner unit (Thank You), which I have been using for a few weeks. Want to know what I think about it, then please read on.
What’s in the Box?
In the box, you get the Speaker Dock, power adaptor, remote control, a dock adaptor and a Multi-language manual. It’s all contained very nicely in a cardboard insert covered with a clear plastic outer shell.
What are the Specs?
I am just going to list some of the quick specs out. You can see the full specs in a link below.
-six inches in diameter and weighs a little over a 1/2 lb.
-great for travel or home
-can be powered by the included wall plug or 4 x AAA batteries
-There is a line in plug for other MP3 players
-There is a mini USB plug in the back that you can connect to your computer
-Two JBL Odyssey full range transducers in there.
On the front of the dock itself, there are two buttons for volume up and down. On top of the dock is the 30 pin connector. The clear adaptor is removable. I also used the apple connectors during my test.
At the rear of the dock, you have an audio in line plug, Mini USB connection, power on/off button, and a power in connector for the wall plug.
What I like about this product:
I love the fact that it is very portable. Whether you are traveling from home, keeping it stationary or maybe going on a picnic in the park, it’s very versatile. It took me a few minutes to figure out the remote control, but that worked well during my review. There is another neat feature where you can power this baby with batteries. I would find this very useful for using this in many outdoor situations. You could probably skip bringing the charger with you while traveling, but since the speaker dock charges your apple device when plugged in to the wall, it may not be a bad idea to pack that one. The option to use regular batteries adds value to this.
What I did not like about the product:
I could not test out the sync function as advertised because I apparently did not have the perfect fit mini USB cable. I am adding a dislike to the mini USB connector. I had a few different size mini USB cables. None of these fit because the square mini USB casing was slightly larger than the round space which was on the dock. Simply put, the larger square casing could not fit in the smaller circle. It would have been a great in my opinion if the designers made the mini USB female connector area flush to the speaker casing. This would have allowed someone to use any existing mini USB cable they already had.
I also disliked the power button. I would probably consider my fingers an average size. Regardless though, there were several times that I had to click/press the power button more than once to turn on or off the dock. This occurred when I reached over the back of the dock when switching it on/off.
It's important that you change your equalizer settings to what JBL recommends. Generally the music playback was not bad. However I felt there were many instances where I could hear static or other background noise during playback. To be fair I also requested that my wife also try it out. She also agreed with my findings. In my test, I used two different generation iPod Nano's as well as my iPod Touch. The music I used was a combination of downloads directly from iTunes as well as CD's imported into iTunes. I also tried a second dock out, in the event that the first one was possibly defective.
The troubleshooting guide in the manual says that static, hissing and other distortion could be related to the following;
1-The audio file itself (In my tests, I tried different songs. The distortion I heard was not associated with any particular song(s) or album(s). I did not change or experiment with any music bitrates to see if that would make it sound perfect. Many consumers, such as myself, either download from iTunes of other music service or just import CD's into iTunes. I should not have to play with the playback rates to make a device work. It should simply work with typical usage.
2-Volume level may be too high- (How high is too high?)
3-EQ setting may be too high-The EQ setting should be set to "off" or "flat" per the manual. (This did make a huge improvement in the sound quality, which I figured out when I was using the first unit I had).
While the sound from the speaker was not horrible, I did think it could have been better, especially since the retail price is $99.95. While I do have some dislikes, I do love the concept and there is a lot of potential here. I would even dare to say that I would consider buying the unit if it was at a lower retail price in its current state.
I also want to comment on JBL's customer service. Based on my interaction with them during my test, I received some great service. I got the impression that they care what their customers think and they want feedback, whether it's good or bad. Even though this product was not perfect for me, the service I received made a great impression and I think that is important to note and consider when you are in the market for something.
Here is the link to their product page: