I was recently was on the lookout for a portable speaker solution to take to a medium sized house party. My criteria was pretty simple: under $1500, portable, easily setup, relatively light and with enough juice and low frequency heft to keep people on the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning. Spoiler alert, i went with the JBL Eon One.
I took to google to research my options. At first I came across a few solutions including the HK Audio Lucan Nano 600. I had used a friends HK system for a similar purpose about a year back and, while I liked the sound, I didn’t like the fact that I needed several bags to transport the poles etc. While I’m being a little picky here, it should be known that I have a tendency to loose/forget things when packing for a party and a HK system without poles to mount the top boxes on isn’t the neatest of solutions.
I contemplated using your standard set of pole mounted boxes a-la Mackie Thump, but for similar reasons to the HK system plus the additional bulk, I quickly removed them from the shortlist.
I continued my search and came across other cheaper busker style all-in-one systems and the usual pole-mount PA suspects but found nothing that really ticked all the boxes. I was ready to admit defeat and go with the HK until a colleague pointed me towards the JBL Eon One system. I’m not exactly sure how i overlooked the Eon One, maybe it was my preconceived ideas of JBL as purely a big box PA manufacturer. Whatever the case i was glad to have come across it. I quickly went back to my trusty criteria to see if it fit the bill:
under $1500 – tick;
portable – tick;
easily setup with minimal accessories to forget – it looked easy enough. no poles, no cables to the speakers – tick;
relatively light –18.5 kg for an amp, subwoofer and speakers – tick;
enough juice and low frequency heft to keep people on the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning – the specs looked right, a 10″ woofer, 6 small drivers and 118 SPL – tick;
Needless to say i went with the JBL; I still had some reservations though. If there is one thing i have learnt in relation to PA and audio systems generally, it’s that impressive specs do not always translate to good sound. The proof would have to be in the proverbial pudding.
Transport was a breeze. The speakers and extension mounts pack neatly into the back of the subwoofer making a perfect cuboid. I also grabbed the Eon ONE Transporter cover and integrated caster board. The cover has a pouch for any power and audio cables you may need, meaning everything besides your source equipment is transportable in one neat package. The caster wheel base was a nice addition but for my purposes wasn’t really necessary, it also added extra weight. I should note that the padded cover and caster board come as an integrated pack and is not cheap, the cheapest i found was $215 AUD at my local Store DJ. For the price I could have easily done without the cover; i had to transport my laptop and DJ components anyway and normally store all my cabling together with them. Yes it has the advantage of protecting the gear but it is, after all, a portable PA system and should be able to take a bit of a beating.
Setup was equally as easy. Take the speaker box and extension poles out of the rear storage compartment, clip them together and into the subwoofer, plug in your source and away you go! I had the whole thing setup in 5 minutes. I only needed the stereo line inputs for my DJ mixer, however the EON one also has provisions for two mic/line inputs with equalisation and bluetooth connectivity. While i didn’t use the bluetooth, it makes for a handy addition. I could see it being particularly useful for solo performers using it to stream backing tracks from their phones/ipad etc.
I also liked the position, layout and location of the control panel and inputs. They are easily accessible with nice large knobs on the rear panel; the panel is deeply recessed and located in such a way that protects against the wandering hands of punters and accidental knocks by clumsy DJs.
So what about the sound? The first part of the afternoon was spent with DJ’s playing tunes poolside. In short, the EON sounded fantastic and didn’t struggle in the outdoors. With the main volume set at around 9/10 o’clock the EON one provided just the right amount of level for comfortable mid-afternoon bar-esque disco and soul vibes. Later the party moved indoors into a large open plan lounge area. Naturally, as the party kicked on the levels needed to be increased to match the energy. I was impressed with the amount of sound the system put out for a box of it’s size and weight. Cranked up 3/4 o’clock the EON one provided loud, clear transduction with punchy low end extension and a nice amount of sparkle and detail in the highs.
To conclude, if you are looking for a system that is portable and affordable with great sound and low end punch the JBL is a winner. As a portable DJ speaker solution for a medium sized house party the EON one was more than up to the task; it would also be equally at home as a rig for solo and duo performers in smaller public venues.