JBL has revealed its latest all-in-one music system. Essentially a smaller, more affordable sibling to the L75ms, the L42ms combines that classic JBL aesthetic with a raft of options to keep you connected to your favourite streaming services and source devices.
The JBL offers two sets of analogue stereo inputs (RCA and 3.5mm) as well as HDMI-ARC for hooking up to your TV. In terms of music streaming, the L42ms supports wired or wireless network connection via Ethernet, as well as Apple Airplay 2 and built-in Google Chromecast, not to mention the convenience of good old-fashioned Bluetooth.
There's also support for Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect, with the JBL Premium Audio setup app letting you set up, and then manage, your connections from a single hub. The app also makes further platforms available - including Amazon Music and Qobuz - and allows access to podcasts and internet radio. You can tap into music on compatible UPnP network storage devices on local networks, or access a USB drive through the JBL's USB-A socket.
If you're into Roon, the L42ms is Roon Ready and sports Samsung's "Smart Things" certification" which integrates the unit into the Smart Things" ecosystem for seamless connection to Galaxy devices and Samsung televisions/appliances.
Rather cleverly, the JBL comes equipped with a bass contour switch on the rear panel which lets listeners tailor the speaker's bass response to account for its placement in a given room or space. Further, the "Sound-Field Expansion" mode does what it says on the tin, increasing the width and spaciousness of the soundstage for when you want that cinematic, room-filling experience. If you're looking for a versatile alternative to a soundbar (that's also lots else besides), this could be it.
It will likely look better than most soundbars, too, thanks to an attractive, curved frontage defined by JBL's iconic Quadrex grille design alongside tapered edges and a choice of black or natural walnut veneer finishes. We're big fans of the way that the Naim Mu-so 2 looks, and indeed the classy chic of the Ruark R410, but we can already see the appeal of JBL's classy debutant.
According to Jim Garrett of Harman Audio: "Following on the heels and success of the JBL L75ms, the new L42ms offers music lovers a choice of a more compact solution and a black wood finish option while retaining most of the same features and signature JBL sound found in the larger L75ms".
The JBL L42ms will be available in black or natural walnut during the first quarter of 2024, priced at £999 / €999 / $1099.
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Want a similarly priced comparative? The Naim Mu-so 2 is a five-star choice
Also check out the gorgeous, five-star Ruark Audio R410