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JBL On Stage 400iD review

It looks like a Wall-E extra, but JBLs On Stage 400iD couples a run-of-the-mill specification with sound that's wanting Tested at £200.00

Our Verdict

It may look different, but this iPod docking system has a distinctly average sound when pitted against its peers

For

  • Stylish looks
  • good tonal variation to bass
  • treble precision and speed

Against

  • Mundane specs
  • hard high frequencies
  • bass lacks definition
  • nasty remote

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It may look different, but this iPod docking system has a distinctly average sound when pitted against its peers

Pros

  • + Stylish looks
  • + good tonal variation to bass
  • + treble precision and speed

Cons

  • - Mundane specs
  • - hard high frequencies
  • - bass lacks definition
  • - nasty remote

Appropriately enough for a product called ‘On Stage', JBL's 400iD dock has a suggestion of the plinth about its design. That, or something that appeared as an extra in Wall-E. Either way, it's a distinctive device .

Specification, on the other hand, is more run-of-the-mill: 30 watts of power, a 3.5mm input alongside a USB input at the back of the dock, and a remote control of no discernible charm are all pretty much par for the course at this sort of price.

Initial sonic impressions focus on the hard, thin and unyielding high frequencies. This is counterbalanced by the substantial bass, which wants for nothing where presence is concerned but would benefit from more precision.

Squeeze on the midrange
The result is a classic squeeze on the midrange: voices fight a losing battle against the furore above and below them.

On the plus side, there's good tonal variation to low frequency information and, while it's pretty harsh, there is at least good precision and speed at the top end.

The JBL is quite potent, dynamically, too. But its overall performance makes it no more than a mildly diverting alternative to the front-runners in the class.

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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 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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