Wireless consumer electronic products are so prevalent these days that they’re at the point of being taken for granted. (How many of you remember the Paleolithic days when the remote control was actually wired to the TV?) So, it’s no surprise that wireless speakers have become increasingly popular in the last few years. The JBL On Air Control 2.4G (suggested retail price: $349) is JBL’s entry into the wireless speaker market.
The On Air Control 2.4G comes with a pair of compact wall-mountable speakers (nine inches high by six-and-one-eighth inches wide by five-and-one-half inches deep); one of the speakers incorporates a transmitter/receiver and a 15-watts-per-channel stereo amplifier. The system also includes a small (one-and-one-eighth inch by four-and-seven-eighths inches by three-and-seven-eighths inches) transmitter/receiver unit that connects to a signal source, a remote control, wall-mounting brackets and an assortment of cables.
That’s right, cables. The system isn’t battery-powered – you need to plug one of the speakers into an AC outlet and run a wire from one speaker to the other. You also need to plug the transmitter/receiver unit into an AC outlet and connect a signal source to it. Still, the JBL On Air Control 2.4G eliminates what is typically the most difficult connection to deal with: the speaker wires that run from a receiver (or music source) to the speakers. This enables the speakers to act as the surround channels of a home theater system in situations where speaker wires can’t be installed. It also makes it easy to listen to music throughout the home.
The transmitter/receiver unit connects to an A/V receiver using standard RCA jacks, and a 3.5mm “Y” cord adapter is included for use with an iPod or other products with a mini-jack audio output. (The On Air Control 2.4G also comes with other cables and various 120 and 230-volt power cords and adapters.) The system uses the 2.4GHz frequency range and provides a choice of four operating channels. It has a claimed transmission range of up to 70 feet.
The speaker that contains the electronics also has a mini-jack input for connecting a second audio source and a subwoofer output that enables both speakers to be used in a 2.1-channel speakers-and-subwoofer audio system.
The On Air Control 2.4G’s magnetically shielded speakers feature a four-inch woofer and a half-inch titanium-laminate tweeter, a material that is used in a number of JBL speakers. With a frequency response of 50Hz – 20kHz, the speakers do not sound bass-shy, and the midrange is clear and neutral, as is characteristic of most JBL speakers. The high frequencies are a bit rolled off and, if you really crank the speakers, they’re going to get a little rough-sounding and lose dynamics, because of the modestly powered built-in amplifier.
Read about the high points and low points of the JBL On Air system on Page 2.