JBL Authentics 300 review

Ice cool looks, but does the Authentics 300 give you chills or leave you cold? Tested at £380 / $450 / AU$600

JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker
(Image: © What Hi-Fi?)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Combining charming retro looks, seamless usability and a confident (if sometimes unrefined) sound, JBL’s Authentics 300 is mostly the real deal


  • +

    Nicely made and a treat to behold

  • +

    Forthright, bold and assertive sound presentation

  • +

    Versatile and easy to use


  • -

    Can stray into sonic brashness

  • -

    Hefty if you’re using it as a portable speaker

  • -

    On-unit controls could be improved

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You know that one kid at school that you couldn’t help but envy? The one who, aside from being tall, athletic and a hit with the ladies (or gents) also ended up getting solid grades, played in the youth orchestra and helped sick puppies down at the local pet rescue? Well, that’s what the JBL Authentics 300 brings to mind, at least at first glance: a do-it-all polymath with the looks to match.

Two things strike us about the Authentics 300 wireless speaker right out of the gate. The first is how good-looking the thing is, sporting a lovingly crafted retro design that oozes class and sophistication no matter where we place it. The second, less immediate aspect is how versatile JBL’s stocky unit is. Thanks to its portability, streaming smarts and twin voice assistant capabilities, the Authentics 300 covers multiple bases as a smart, portable wireless speaker all rolled into one.


JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker close up on logo and 'waffle' grille

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Officially, the JBL Authentics 300 retails at £380 / $449 / AU$600. That said, prices have already started to drop, and at the time of writing, you can pick one up for just over £300 on Amazon UK or $349 over Amazon US, although it remains to be seen whether those figures bounce back to their original RRPs or if this becomes the new upper limit. 

For comparison, the new, mains-powered only Audio Pro C20 wireless speaker will set you back around £450 / $550. If you want something similarly burly and substantial but which still bills itself as being ‘portable’, the Sonos Move 2 – tested at £449 / $449 / AU$799 – springs to mind. 

Build & design

JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker top view angled showing dials and controls

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Looks aren’t everything, but they do matter. They certainly matter if you’re as handsome as the Authentics 300, and while it’s a chunky, substantial unit that makes the likes of the more portable JBL Xtreme 3 seem slender by comparison, it’s unquestionably easy on our eyes. That front “waffle” grill defines the unit’s assertive, bold aesthetic, tempered nicely by a sleek metallic trim. Taking pictures of some of the kit that passes through our test doors can be a chore, but with the Authentics 300, it was an endless delight. Even Ryan Gosling in his post-Barbie, tousled blonde hair phase would have been a less rewarding subject for a photoshoot.

JBL Authentics 300 tech specs

JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Power N/A

Bluetooth Yes (5.3)

Mains-powered or battery-powered Battery-powered

Battery Life Up to 8 hours 

Features Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Spotify Connect, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Alexa Multiroom, JBL self-tuning

Connections USB-C, Ethernet, aux in

App? Yes

Dimensions (hwd) 19.5 x 34.2 x 18cm 

It’s fun to play with, too, even if a few niggles temper our affections a little. The on-unit dials – one for controlling volume, the others for dictating your chosen helpings of treble and bass – are smooth if a little cheap-feeling, with each one sporting some rather alluring under-lighting to show you how far up or down the scale you’ve tuned your EQ or adjusted the volume. Under-lighting is always welcome, even if a marked, graduated system might help us to be a little more precise when making adjustments.

You could conceivably call the Authentics 300 a portable speaker, but that’s something of a relative term. Yes, the 300 is ‘portable’, but only in the sense that you can move it from room to room via the substantial carrying handle rather than it being something that you can sling into a backpack and take to a slippery hillside. Think of lugging around a small breezeblock with a handle rather than a burrito-sized handheld portable player, and you’ll be in the right sort of ballpark. 

That said, you don’t have to maintain a wired connection to a power supply, with the Authentics 300 offering up to eight hours of playtime depending on your listening habits. We took the Authentics 300 to a local pre-match hockey warm-up, an instance where that semi-portable design felt like it could actually make a degree of sense, even if those aren’t exactly Herculean battery numbers. The process of simply loading the speaker into the car, dropping it into the middle of a crowded changing room and then dumping it at the side of the pitch felt like it was well within the 300’s comfort zone, but the idea of actually carrying 5kg’s worth of speaker on a proper outdoor excursion would likely be a bridge too far for both speaker and carrier.


JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker rear showing connections

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The Authentics 300’s versatility is impressive. The classy speaker provides wireless connectivity either via Bluetooth 5.3 or through wi-fi, the latter of which enables access to the likes of AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Spotify Connect. That makes it pleasingly flexible, and while we stress that you’re unlikely to use the Authentics much in the great outdoors when the weather’s bad (an IPXX waterproof and durability rating isn’t provided), Bluetooth means that you still can still take it down to the end of the garden without being limited by your domestic wi-fi’s range. It’s also conceivable that anyone looking to bring the burly JBL to a friend’s house could get playing easily and conveniently without having to scrabble around looking for wi-fi codes, as you can simply fall back on Bluetooth listening instead.

Managing those various services is taken care of via the JBL One app, the brand’s new(ish) platform which takes care of controls such as volume, equaliser and the toggling of battery mode, providing a one-stop shop for those aforementioned streaming services and the dual voice assistants. It’s an attractive and easily navigable app, and it’s always a bonus when Amazon's Alexa works with applications and services that you don’t necessarily have downloaded onto your device. We ask Alexa to “play Deadmau5 via Amazon Music” and she immediately grants access to the requested artist and platform despite the music service not having been loaded onto the source player we use for our tests. It’s also great to see two voice assistants that are capable of working simultaneously, and you can summon your chosen AI helper with a quick “Hi Alexa” or “Hey Google”, and either one will respond with equal eagerness and rapidity.

JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

If you don’t fancy streaming wirelessly, the Authentics 300 has a 3.5mm socket around the back for wired connection to sources, and it's accompanied by an ethernet dock for wired internet, a USB-C port and the mains power socket. You can also toggle whether or not Alexa and Google Assistant are listening at any given time by virtue of an easy-to-miss switch at the top of the rear panel, something that feels handy if you have your mates round and don’t want them shouting, “Hey Alexa, play I’m Just Ken,” every five minutes. Alexa and Google Assistant work perfectly, but there are moments when you’d rather they weren’t at everyone’s disposal.


JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker from front on wooden furniture

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

On to the fun bit, and we’ll start off by saying that the Authentics 300 maintains its retro rockstar aesthetic by pumping out a sound profile that could have been tuned to match the parodic tastes of fictional rockers Spinal Tap. Bold, brash and in your face, the 300 doesn’t so much present you with its sonic cargo as it does smack you around the head with it. If the Authentics 300 were a waiter, it would be shoving most of your three-course meal down your neck before you’d even had a chance to check the wine menu.

Hyperbolic culinary metaphors aside, there’s a lot to like about that keen, forward style. Even though the JBL could be better organised and more cohesive in its overall sonic ethos, there’s undeniably a sense of fun to the experience that grips you by the lapels and refuses to let go. Alt-J’s In Cold Blood is bold, assertive and confident, and while vocalist Joe Newman’s nasal tones can be overly exaggerated by the Authentics 300’s industrial edge, the overall effect is undeniably visceral and engaging.  

It’s snappy and fun, too, and often does a fine job of digging into a song’s given musical personality, with streaming over wi-fi offering greater sparkle and clarity than via Bluetooth. Elvis Costello’s Alison is a naturally thin recording, kicking off with a bluesy, soulful guitar lick that the JBL really seems to just ‘get’. Again, a more consummate performer such as the five-star Audio Pro C20 will smooth out some of the track’s excessive sharpness, but that’s a mains-powered rival that will cost you an extra £70 / $100, so this doesn’t reflect too poorly on the JBL.

JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker side and front on wooden table

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

After a time, though, that impetuous, somewhat coarse, hard-edged presentation might start to lose its lustre, and while we found that tweaking with the EQ settings to just tone the mid and upper ranges down a fraction went some way to alleviating the symptoms, it wasn’t a complete cure. Ghost’s Spillways and Tina Turner’s The Best are certainly fun through the JBL, but the more sombre nuances of Max Richter’s Never Goodbye just tend to sound a fraction one-dimensional through JBL’s portable performer.

It’s also not the most organised speaker we’ve ever heard, with a sound presentation that comes across as powerful and punchy with a slight tendency towards sonic messiness, and when listened alongside the Audio Pro C20 and even the smaller, cheaper JBL Xtreme 3, the Authentics 300 seems a little cluttered by comparison. It packs in more detail than the Xtreme, but its smaller, Bluetooth-centric cousin demonstrates impressive restraint and cohesion that the 300 can sometimes leave by the wayside.


JBL Authentics 300 wireless speaker side/top angle in front of piano

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The JBL Authentics 300 has a lot to recommend it. Its offering of Bluetooth and wi-fi streaming alongside twin voice control and battery-powered portability make it worthy of the jack-of-all-trades title, and while it’s likely to settle down into becoming a handsome mainstay that you move from room to room within your home rather than your next camping buddy, we’re impressed with the range of use cases we found for the speaker during our tests. 

Sonically, it’s something of an acquired taste. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – oysters and Björk are acquired tastes, but it doesn’t mean they should be avoided by those who have an affinity for what they offer. Still, while the Authentics 300’s vivacious audio profile might sometimes stray into outright brashness, lovers of an assertive, front-footed performance will find much to enjoy from JBL’s retro rockstar.


  • Sound 4
  • Features 5
  • Build 5


Read our review of the Sonos Move 2

Also consider the Audio Pro C20

Read our JBL Xtreme 3 review

Best wireless speakers: tried and tested by our expert team

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