Review: JBL Spot Speakers - Macenstein

Review: JBL Spot Speakers

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

JBL Spot

We have reviewed many impressive speaker systems in our almost 2-year history here at Macenstein, but the JBL Spot speakers are the first time we’ve gotten a product that was so all around impressive and affordable that I have actively begged the PR company to let us purchase the review unit we have. That’s how good they are (for the record we had to send them back).


The uniquely styled (in a good way) JBL Spots are a 2.1 speaker bookshelf audio system, consisting of two 6-watt satellite speakers and a 24-watt central subwoofer to handle bass duties. Helper Monkey here likened their form to a shiny black (or white) mushroom. I prefer to think of the Spot as looking like the Legion of Doom’s headquarters (much more bad-ass IMHO). Each similarly shaped satellite comes with a generous 6 foot speaker chord which allows for excellent audio separation as well as placement options.

JBL Spot Above: The JBL Spot’s subwoofer vs. The Legion of Doom’s headquarters.

Each Spot ships with both a black and white “wrapper” for each of the 3 speakers (black being the default wrapper). JBL will also be selling wrappers in various other colors and patterns that can be purchased separately to better match your decor, or add some pizzaz to a room. JBL says these skins are sure to become collector’s items. We’ll see… but the fuchsia certainly looks cool.

JBL Spot Above: Additional Spot Wrappers are slated to be released soon, ranging in price from approximately $9.95 to $19.95. From top Left: black, white, woodland, fuchsia, purple floral, base, graffiti, jaana floral


In keeping with their unique styling, the Spot’s audio controls are also unique. There are two silver volume “buttons” on the right satellite. You do not press them, like traditional buttons, you merely place your finger on them to raise and lower the volume. Covering both will mute the device.

JBL Spot

There is a power button located on the back of the central woofer, although its placement makes it a little hard to reach at times (I tended to just leave the Spot on all the time out of laziness). Next to the power button is a mini stereo In jack (there is no dock connector), as well as the bass control knob. Its placement again makes it similarly awkward to reach, but in general once you set it based on your listening preferences, you’ll likely not need to touch it much.

We’ve seen a lot of iPod speakers here, from the Apple Hi-Fi to the Harman Kardon Go + Play to the Audio Engine A5’s, and while there are some real powerhouses there, the JBL Spots impress for two very important reasons; sound, and price.


Obviously the most important thing to consider when looking at a speaker system is how they sound, and to be sure, the JBL Spots do not disappoint. The Spots may have benefitted from the fact that we reviewed them concurrently JBL Spotwith the $350 Harman Kardon Go + Play (Harman Kardon actually owns JBL). When played side by side, we actually found the $99.95 JBL Spot did as good a job or occasionally even a better job than the Go + Play at reproducing crisp audio on even some of the toughest types of music. For instance, even the guttural rumble of the pipe organ’s low D on Bach’s classic “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” emerged clear and well-articulated, and that’s a tall task for any speaker system. And thanks to that bass knob, so did “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground (another classic). A word of warning on the bass knob. We actually heard a rattling sound on a deep bass track, and thought perhaps something had come loose on the Spot’s central speaker. However, it turned out to be a glass candy dish that was actually slowly vibrating down the table. That’s how powerful the bass on the Spot can get!

The Spots do not play as loudly as the Go + Play, and are not portable, so in most other areas the two systems are not designed to compete or be compared to one another. However, in so far as the quality of sound when listened to at a reasonably loud “room filling volume”, you would not think the JBL Spots cost nearly a third what the Harman Kardon unit does. They are really an incredible value.

JBL Spot


Priced at just $99.95, we can safely say we have not heard a better sounding system for the price, and not too many better sounding systems at all. To keep the price low, JBL does not include such extras as a remote or dock connector for charging your iPod or playing audio, but honestly, this is not surprising at this price point. In reality, the Spots are meant to be used as much as a set of computer speakers or an office stereo as they are an iPod speaker system, and they have enough power to fill all but the most cavernous 20-foot ceilinged McMansion’s living room with sound.

JBL Spot Above: Some additional Spot Wrappers


There is not much room for complaining here. As mentioned above, some minor annoyances would be the position of the power switch, and wishing for add ons such as a remote or external docking cradle, but again, these would add (perhaps unnecessarily) to the cost of the unit, and do nothing to take away from enjoying its excellent sound.

JBL SpotAbove: The JBL Spots come with two wrappers (black and white) but additional wrappers can be purchased in various colors and patterns.


If you are in the market for a great sounding bookshelf audio system for your home, office, or dorm, you cannot go wrong with the JBL Spot. The sound quality of the Spots is on par with much more expensive systems, and their unique look and optional skins should prove a hit with those who wish to have their speakers make as much of a visual statement as they do an audio one.

JBL Spot Speakers

Price: $99.95

Pros: Amazing sound for the size and price, interchangeable wrappers (comes with black and white, additional colors/patterns available for $9.95 – $19.95 each); did we mention the sound and price?

Cons: None worth mentioning

23 Responses to “Review: JBL Spot Speakers”
  1. Vegas Underground says:

    Damn those are nice, I think I will order them asap!

  2. bdb says:

    Has JBL basically repackaged the Creature speakers here? I have the Creatures and love them, although these look even cooler, if you ask me. Are the innards the same?

  3. Rivka says:

    i hope that they will make a aluminum looking skin for them, seems like all too often things get made to match the consumers mac and leave out the pro line.
    In each picture you show a lot of different colors of shells, did you see anything about a metal looking one?

  4. Rivka,

    Excellent point, and we agree. We asked for shots of all currently planned shells, and this is wht JBL sent, so fo rth moment, I would say the answer is “no”, but that could perhaps change if sales of these wrappers takes off.

    -The Doc

  5. Andreas says:

    They sure look good, that’s a fact. I have no doubts about the sound either. I have the JBL Creature speakers myself, and they really sound great given the size and price.

  6. G-Benz says:

    I was indeed surprised when I heard these demo’ed at the Apple store…I had to check the EQ settings on the iPod that it was connected to and ensure the sound wasn’t enhanced in any way!

    For $99.95, it was a bargain, so I picked up a set for my daughter’s PC. After listening to them in her room, I went back to the Apple store and purchased another set for my wife’s PC!

  7. D.Anthony says:

    After reading your reviews here, I cancelled my “raincheck” for the Harmon/Kardon Go&Play, and purchased the JBL Spot…and I am NOT dissapointed at all…I Love these speakers…I listen to a very wide variety of music, and this system captures the sound beautifully….thanks again for your reviews and comment section, I will be a regular visitor to this site from now on….

  8. ish says:

    Can these be left on top of a tall bookcase and the volume controlled remotely, eg through ipod or computer? I’m looking for room-quality speakers to use this way.

  9. ajay says:

    got these a couple of days ago after reading your review and a few others. needless to say, the quality of sound have left me impressed – especially for the price! after having used the creature speakers for about 4 years these have proved to be a worthy replacement! good job JBL!

  10. Andrea says:

    So which is better…. Creature or Spot???

  11. Nick says:

    Similatr question to Andrea’s above, I’m in two imnds over whether to purchase the Creature II speakers or the Spots. The Spots look nicer, but i would like to know differences in quality and sound. Thanks

  12. james london says:

    After searching the internet and reading reviews on various speakers ,i decided to purchase this system
    1-because the bass box “dome” is neat and small
    and the 2 sattelite speakers are neat and small too
    2-ideal if space is at a minimum
    3-in my price range £70.00 at currys at the time
    I got home set it up 10mins max it took
    and switched it on
    The result: it nearly blew my windows out
    i had the base up to nearly max
    volume was only at middle range not even at maximum
    but even so the sound was still crystal clear,people will not believe this compact system is responsible for the sound they are hearing

    PRO’S ~WOW 100% AWESOME that is all i can say, even if you do not need new speakers go and buy this system anyway you will not be dissapointed

    CONS=You will wish you had gone out and bought this system much earlier i guarantee it

  13. x says:

    i purchased the creature system several months back and while i was initially happy with it (and loved the external design) i soon found that the music i played sounded sort of wavy, fluctuating rather disorientingly between tinniness and a simultaneously heavy and hollow kind of bass-overkill that made me feel like i was in some audio funhouse hall of mirrors. i mean, i was hearing very strange types of distortion that i know for a fact weren’t meant to be in the songs i was playing; so i had no choice but to return them. now i’m quite tempted to buy the spots, as they are even sleeker in design than the creature array, but i’m wondering–as has been asked here by others–if the sound quality has been improved and those distortion glitches fixed. oh, i would also get some occasional crackling from the creature satellites. so can anyone tell me if jbl has addressed these issues?

  14. X,

    I have never used the Creatures, so I can’t compare, but the sound of the Spots (at least the ones we tested) was extremely clear and really just wonderful. Not sure I can recommend them enough.

    -The Doc

  15. spencer says:

    I bought the spots about 5 days ago and I am EXTREMELY SATISFIED!!!!!!!!!!. Sometimes I am in the mood to rock so I put on some hevy metal, but sometimes I want some techno so I jam it out to techno but sometimes I like some jazz so I turn on some jazz, WOW!. The spots performed amazingly in these types of music and more. No distortion at all. The subwoofer kind of “overpowers” itself but other than that I like them a lot GO JBL!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. x says:

    wow i just bought them haven’t been able to really crank them up yet cause my mom is asleep but so far they sound awesome! much better and cleaner than the creature from what i can tell! i’ll report back when i’ve really put them to the test.

  17. x says:

    well they didn’t hold up to the test when i pumped them up, but they’re definitely a big improvement over the creature, –much cleaner and totally keepable. and at (upper) mid-range they really do sound killer.

  18. x says:

    lol i have some disturbing news to report. i played one of my favorite songs the other day on the spots, and toward the end there’s this really killer frenetic guitar climax, which happens to be the best part, –and the focal point of it was completely missing! to say the least, it was extremely disheartening! (yes, i adjusted the equalizer, but to no avail.) i guess i’ll keep them despite this, because i’m tired of looking for speakers that don’t disappoint, but i have to say i’m not thrilled at this development. nothing is really what it should be, is it?

  19. dave says:

    for those with missing instruments in tracks and other sound quality problems, I found that if the audio in ccable is not completely plugged in, you get interesting echo chamber effects on the mid range ( vocals) and maybe that guitar) along with diminished volume on the mid range only.

    weird for sure.

    Plug the cord in all the way and it goes away. The space for the audio in cable is a bit tight for some cable heads.

  20. Mike says:

    I just purchased a set of the JBL Spots at a Best Buy in Iowa
    I Actually bought them for on $19.99 on clearance thats $80.00 off the price.

    And I must say these are by far the best sounding computer speakers I have ever heard. I love the look of them and they match my all black and glass computer desk. Easy to setup and play.



  21. rog says:

    wank, they broke after a year and a half

  22. wsam ghandourh says:

    im honestly confused!!!
    everyone says different things….so far i managed to narrow my choices to:
    1. JBL creature ll
    2. JBL spot or spyro
    3. Harman Kardon soundsticks ll
    I just cant make up my mind!!! price isnt really my issue…. just want the best….
    please i need a recommendation from someone who heard them all

  23. required says:

    what a shit review. i just went on another site and they said the price is high for a 2.1 speaker system on todays market and they said the subwoofer is no good but the excellent speakers make up for it. You lot were kissing the products ass before it even arrived.


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