|MIX VERDICT: JBL EON ONE MK2 All-In-One Rechargable Column Speaker|
|THE TAKEAWAY: “The JBL EON ONE MK2 does a lot of things well, answering the needs of a varied user base that will use it for an equally broad number of applications.”|
|COMPANY: JBL • www.jblpro.com
• Solid sound with nice throw; durable, sleek design.
• Setup/tear-down is quick and simple.
• Lots of DSP settings for pros who want to get in-depth.
• Mixer labels hard to see in low-light situations.
• System’s many nooks could have provided a place to keep the AC cord.
Portable P.A.s have to be a lot of things—powerful enough for a pro, simple enough for a novice, durable enough to travel, and flexible enough to sound good in a bad room. Over the last few months of testing, I’ve found that the JBL EON ONE MK2 All-In-One Rechargeable Column Speaker checks off all those boxes.
TESTING THE JBL EON ONE MK2
The uses for a portable P.A. are endless, as it can provide live sound everywhere from events at houses of worship, schools and community meetings, to musicians playing in a small setting like a coffee house or even busking on the street.
All Mix Real-World Reviews test equipment in working situations where it has to deliver, so I used the EON ONE MK2 for two kinds of applications: multiple library lectures, where it had to handle spoken word and laptop audio, and more traditional live-music use, i.e., live and recorded music at a holiday party.
Testing it in all these situations, the system was easy to transport and set up. The EON ONE MK2 is just under 43 pounds, so it’s not lightweight, but you’re not going to throw your back out before a gig either. It is durable and cleanly designed, too, so it slides into the back of an SUV or a car trunk without snagging on anything.
WHAT YOU GET WITH THE JBL EON ONE MK2
The heart of the system is the main cabinet, which not only serves up bass but also serves as a base. Supporting a three-part array column, the cabinet itself houses a 10-inch bass-reflex woofer, which provides low end down to 37 Hz.
The column, meanwhile, is home to the system’s rechargeable battery (6 hours of use from 2.5 hours of charging) and a phalanx of eight 2-inch tweeters in a c-shaped array. The tweeter arrangement lets you cover a decent-sized audience while giving you some slack when it comes to placing the system in a room. If you have a less-than-ideal acoustic setting and have to place it off-axis to your audience, the 140-degree horizontal dispersion comes in handy, while the 30-degree vertical dispersion ensures the EON ONE MK2 can be heard regardless of whether it’s on the same level as the crowd, above it on a stage, or below it at the bottom of a hall with raked seating.
The back of the cabinet is designed to safely hold the tweeter column’s three segments during transport; when removed from their slots, the tweeter array, a spacer and the battery slide together to assemble the array column, which in turn drops into a socket on the cabinet’s top (because the spacer is hollow, it would be great if it had a small compartment to carry the P.A.’s one loose item—the AC cord).
CONTROL OPTIONS FOR THE JBL EON ONE MK2
Removing the segments from the cabinet reveals the built-in mixer on the back, based around five channels—three XLR-1⁄4-inch combination connectors, a line input and a 3.5 mm Aux In; channels 1 and 2 offer phantom power if needed. There’s also a pair of USB slots, a bright, color LCD display, and six multifunction knob/button encoders for volume/menu access, gain, bass, mid, treble and reverb. While it is all well-labeled and accessible, the control panel is recessed into the cabinet, which I found made the labels harder to see in low-light settings. Luckily, the system can also be controlled remotely via Bluetooth with the free JBL Pro Connect app.
The JBL Pro Connect app simplifies access to the P.A.’s onboard features, which include some easily found EQ presets for spoken word, male and female vocals, acoustic guitar and bass. For those who want to take a deep dive into the onboard DSP, accessing it via the app is the way to go, as it can quickly get you into the customizable settings of the Lexicon effects (reverb, chorus and delay), dbx Driverack options such as Automatic Feedback Suppression, and a Ducking by Soundcraft feature. Making changes via Bluetooth means there’s a 2- to 3-second lag before hearing the result, but that’s a small price to pay for being able to control the system remotely.
[JBL released a major update to the JBL Pro Connect app after this review went to press; the new V.11 adds BLE security, a hardware system lock and more.]
REAL-WORLD USE OF THE JBL EON ONE MK2
My library lectures, delivered in a small community room, a lecture hall and a former school gymnasium, required a wired mic on Ch 1, and sound from a laptop inputted through the Aux In 3.5 mm input on Ch. 5. In each venue, the EON ONE MK2 was more than able to hold its own, providing clarity as it covered the crowds without knocking them over. The system can dish out 123 dB peak when using AC or 119 dB peak when running on battery power; perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t need to get that loud in the libraries.
Audio from film clips played back from a laptop retained their power and musicality, and using the spoken-word preset gave shape and definition to the speaking voice, which particularly helped in the former gymnasium.
As for playing live music—the EON ONE MK2’s raison d’être after all, as it’s mainly aimed at solo performers—it made amateurs at a loud party sound as good as it could, and clearly professional musicians could truly benefit from the system’s output. I plugged two vocal mics and an electric guitar into it, and each one had a defined relative presence in the resulting sound. The male and female vocal presets brought some charm to the mics, and everyone sounded far better than they deserved (myself included). Meanwhile, modern pop played back via Bluetooth (Taylor Swift’s omnipresent Midnights) sounded solid and grounded without that slightly hollow feel that some speakers have when playing back Bluetooth material.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE JBL EON ONE MK2
The JBL EON ONE MK2 does a lot of things well, answering the needs of a varied user base that will use it for an equally broad number of applications. Setting up and tearing down is simple and quick, and the design is durable but still stylish. The built-in mixer and DSP options will be relatively intuitive for pros, but novices will want to dig in and get to know their new system before putting it in front of an audience. While using the JBL Pro Connect app is optional, I’d recommend it for the easy access to deep settings and the ability to make changes remotely.
The most important aspect of a P.A., however, is its sound, and that’s where the EON ONE MK2 shines, benefitting from JBL’s decades of experience as it provides clear, enjoyable audio that covers a space well. The JBL EON line has been a favorite for musicians and pro audio specialists for decades, and the EON ONE MK2 provides another prime example of why.