JBL OnBeat Xtreme review

Awards 2012 Product of the Year - Speaker Docks. A fun-looking, fun-sounding dock that’s worth every penny Tested at £500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Awards 2012 Product of the Year - Speaker Docks. A fun-looking, fun-sounding dock that’s worth every penny of its asking price


  • +

    Sounds great

  • +

    lovely design and build

  • +

    feature packed

  • +

    wireless works well


  • -

    Midrange can become hard at high volumes

  • -

    flimsy device clamps

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

If you’re forking out £500 for an iPod dock, you expect a certain standard of build, finish and features. JBL does the job nicely here with its Bluetooth-enabled OnBeat Xtreme dock.

Sporting twin mid/bass drivers and tweeters in a quirky ‘crossed-arms’ enclosure, it’s an eye-catching affair – and thankfully it doesn’t feel plasticky or cheap. That goes for the well laid-out remote control, too.

Decent low-end clout and detail
Docking our iPod Touch into the supplied (sadly rather fiddly and flimsy) rotating clamp, we got the ball rolling with a blast of Chan Chan by the Buena Vista Social Club.

There’s certainly no shortage of low-frequency heft here – impressive, given the OnBeat’s relatively small drivers.

The detail present in the sweet midrange and treble is rarely swamped by this, though; if anything the midrange could do with a little tempering at higher volumes.

Individual instruments are given plenty of breathing space, although vocals sometimes sound a little damped when the going gets really complicated.

Bluetooth streaming is easy
Dynamics are handled with no alarms, though, and there’s plenty of scope to go loud should you fancy a little neighbour-baiting.

Uncouple your source and pair it with the OnBeat via Bluetooth (a quick, painless task) and results are decent given the constraints of the technology. There’s a little hiss and a slight drop in clarity, but it’s certainly nothing worth complaining about too much.

You can even make and receive phone-calls via the dock’s built-in microphone. Sound quality here is fine, and voices are picked up well for the person on the other end.

This is a great-looking, well-thought-out and versatile unit that would serve more than adequately as a replacement for any ageing micro system. It should certainly worry the likes of NAD and B&W, too…

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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