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JBL Authentics 500 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Nov 27, 2023 at 08:48 am
Latest change: Retest Dec 04, 2023 at 12:46 pm
JBL Authentics 500 Picture
7.7
Music
6.9
Videos/Movies
7.0
Podcasts
8.6
Voice Assistant
7.3
Outdoors

The JBL Authentics 500 is a premium home speaker with built-in Alexa and Google Assistant. It has a retro design inspired by classic JBL speakers combined with present-day smart features like voice assistant support. With three tweeters, three mid-range drivers, and a built-in subwoofer, it's technically a 3.1 sound system, and it also offers support for Dolby Atmos Music through compatible streaming services like Tidal.

Our Verdict

7.7 Music

The JBL Authentics 500 is good for music. Its Self-Tuning room correction tool automatically adjusts the speaker's sound based on your room's unique acoustics. With it on, its sound is fairly even and balanced, making it suitable for lots of different music genres. Plus, it's quite customizable, with bass and treble knobs on the speaker as well as a graphic EQ in the JBL One companion app. It gets quite loud, too, albeit with some compression at max volume.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Some compression at max volume.
6.9 Videos/Movies

The JBL Authentics 500 is adequate for videos and movies. You can connect this speaker over Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi for video playback from your devices. Its latency is on the higher end over Bluetooth, so you'll want to stick with AirPlay if you don't want lip-synching issues.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Some compression at max volume.
  • Higher latency on Bluetooth.
7.0 Podcasts

The JBL Authentics 500 is decent for podcasts. Voices are reproduced with clarity, so it's easy to follow along with the conversation. The speaker's loud, too, which is great for filling up larger rooms with sound. That said, it's not the most portable, so you can't bring it to different rooms of your home while listening to longer episodes.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Some compression at max volume.
  • Wired-only design.
8.6 Voice Assistant

The JBL Authentics 500 is excellent for voice assistant support. Built-in Alexa and Google Assistant offer a great performance, even if you're further away from the speaker. You can use both assistants at the same time, too. However, Alexa performs better than Google Assistant at picking up on your commands in noisier environments. For more private moments, you can always mute the microphone.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Microphone mute button.
Cons
  • Some compression at max volume.
7.3 Outdoors

This wired-only speaker isn't intended for outdoor use.

  • 7.7 Music
  • 6.9 Videos/Movies
  • 7.0 Podcasts
  • 8.6 Voice Assistant
  • 7.3 Outdoors
  1. Updated Dec 04, 2023: Thanks to user feedback, we identified a faint issue with static, which is described in the Frequency Response Accuracy box.
  2. Updated Nov 27, 2023: Review published.
  3. Updated Nov 22, 2023: Early access published.
  4. Updated Nov 13, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  5. Updated Oct 23, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  6. Updated Oct 12, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

This speaker is available in Black, and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the forums so we can update this review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL Authentics 500 is the more premium alternative to other speakers in the Authentics lineup, like the JBL Authentics 200. Unlike the 200, though, this speaker is larger and louder, and it supports features like Dolby Atmos Music through compatible streaming platforms. It's a wired-only device meant for home use, and its wide array of customization tools gives you lots of control over its sound.

See also our recommendations for the best home speakers, the best JBL speakers, and the best Bluetooth speakers for bass.

Sonos Era 300

The Sonos Era 300 and the JBL Authentics 500 are both premium home speakers with built-in voice assistant support. Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The JBL has better dynamics, whereas the Sonos has a better soundstage performance. Some listeners may prefer the JBL's retro design. If you already own Sonos products, you can integrate them with the Sonos Era, which is nice.

JBL Authentics 200

The JBL Authentics 500 is a larger and more premium cousin of the JBL Authentics 200. While the 200 is a good option if you're low on space and has many of the same features as the 500, it can't get as loud or reproduce as much low-bass. Plus, it lacks support for Dolby Atmos Music.

Sonos Five

The JBL Authentics 500 is a more feature-packed speaker than the Sonos Five. Unlike the Sonos, the JBL has built-in voice assistant support, so you don't need to connect a third-party device. It gets louder and supports Bluetooth, too. However, it can't bring as much low-bass as the Sonos.

Klipsch The Three II

The JBL Authentics 500 is better than the Klipsch The Three II. They're both retro-style home speakers, but only the JBL offers built-in voice assistant support. Its companion app gives you more customization features, too. It brings more low-bass and offers Wi-Fi connectivity, unlike the Klipsch.

Bluesound PULSE 2i

The JBL Authentics 500 is better than the Bluesound PULSE 2i. The JBL offers built-in voice assistant support, unlike the Bluesound, which requires a third-party device. Plus, it's able to reproduce more bass. Its graphic EQ is a bit more comprehensive than the Bluesound's bass and treble adjustments, which is handy for switching up its sound.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The JBL Authentics 500 is a retro-style smart speaker. Its look is inspired by classic JBL speakers like the L100. It's mostly black with gold accents. There's a waffle-like Quadrex grille in the front of the speaker that makes it stand out from other models.

2.9
Design
Portability
Volume
1,629 inยณ (26,700 cmยณ)
Weight
17.5 lbs (8.0 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

This wired-only speaker is meant for home use. It's on the larger side, so you'll need both hands to carry it from room to room.

6.7
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
No
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
No

The speaker is well-built overall. The metallic gold accents and faux leather wrapping give it a premium feel. In the front of the speaker, the plastic Quadrex grille is covered in tight-knit mesh, which helps protect the drivers inside. It's elevated on rubberized feet to give the subwoofer space. The plastic on the back isn't as high-quality, but you aren't likely to see it much.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
Yes (Physical)
Additional Controls
Yes

The controls are simple and easy to use. On top of the speaker, you find a couple of dials to control the volume, the bass, and the treble. They're backlit, too, giving you a visual indication of the bass/treble/volume levels as you adjust them. The volume dial doubles as a play/pause button for your audio, and you can also press it to skip to the next or the previous track. Between the dials, there's a Bluetooth pairing button and a heart-shaped Moment button, which you can use to quickly access a preset playlist set in the app. The microphone mute button is on the back of the speaker.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL Authentics speaker
  • Power cable (6.5 ft / 1.98 m)
  • Quick start guide

Sound
7.6
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.04
Std. Err.
2.58 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
44.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

Like many premium speakers on the market, the JBL Authentics 500 comes with a room correction tool to optimize its sound based on your room's unique acoustics. Its Self-Tuning feature activates automatically each time you connect the speaker to power and start audio playback, so you don't need to press any buttons to start it. The process takes about three minutes. It works as long as the microphone is turned on.

This speaker brings extra emphasis in the high-bass to low-mid range, adding some warmth to the mix. The rest of the mid-range is fairly even and balanced, so voices and lead instruments are clearly reproduced. You can adjust the speaker's bass and treble as well or use the graphic EQ in the JBL One app, which is handy. Overall, it's suitable for listening to many different music genres, though, as our users have pointed out, some low-level static is audible when the speaker plays audio. It persists after updating the speaker's firmware and completing a factory reset. You notice it most on lower volumes, though it goes away after a few seconds on most sources, such as Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Google Cast. On Spotify Connect, however, the faint sound of static is present as you pause your music.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.3
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.99 dB
Stereo
Yes

This stereo speaker has a front-facing design. You don't get consistent sound all the way around the speaker since it lacks a 360-degree design. Still, it's more than suitable if you place it on a shelf or a countertop, with the back side of the speaker facing a wall.

This speaker supports Dolby Atmos content over Wi-Fi streaming with compatible apps like Tidal. This feature brings a wider, more all-around feel to audio tracks. In general, voices are pushed back a little in the mix when you listen to music, but the trade-off is worth it if you want a more immersive sound.

8.4
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
102.8 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.81 dB

This speaker gets more than loud enough to fill larger rooms with sound. You notice some compression as you push it to max volume, though, especially in the bass range.

Active Features
not tested
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
N/A
Charging Port
No Battery
Battery Powered
No

While there's no battery, the speaker does feature an auto-standby mode that activates if the speaker is inactive for ten minutes. You can wake it up by pressing a button, playing music, or plugging into an input.

9.3
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Google Assistant
Built-in (Wi-Fi Only)
Speakerphone
No
Siri
No
Voice Assistant
Yes
Voice Activation
Yes
Microphone Mute
Yes
Far-Field Performance
Excellent
Ambient Noise Performance
Good

This speaker has built-in support for both Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can use both voice assistants simultaneously. Both assistants can easily pick up your commands from further away. Alexa does better in noisy environments, though.

8.0
Active Features
App
App Name
JBL One
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The JBL One app is a handy way to control the speaker from your mobile devices. In the app, you can control music and voice assistant settings. There's a graphic EQ to switch up the speaker's sound. You can also link a playlist from a compatible streaming service to the Moment button. You can also connect to other compatible speakers to spread audio throughout multiple rooms in your home. Check out a video of the app here.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

You can wire devices to the speaker over an AUX connection. It also has an Ethernet port. You can use the USB port to charge other devices or playback audio from a USB storage drive, though it doesn't let you playback audio from a device like a computer.

7.5
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5.3
Bluetooth iOS Latency
269 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
244 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

You can connect the speaker to up to two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth. Its range is impressive, so your devices stay connected even from far away. That said, latency is on the higher side, so you notice some lip-synching delays if you try to stream videos or movies to the device.

7.6
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz & 5GHz
Wi-Fi
Yes
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
161 ms
Google Chromecast
Yes
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This Wi-Fi-compatible speaker is handy for those who want to connect easily with Apple or Google devices since it supports both Airplay and Chromecast. That said, Chromecast seems to work only with audio content like music and specific Chromecast-enabled apps like Spotify. Therefore, we couldn't perform our video latency test over Chromecast. Let us know in the forums if you have a similar experience with this speaker.