As the PC and notebook market expands, there’s a never-ending demand for desktop speakers that can also be used along with a notebook, tablet or phone. This demand as of late has been catered by mostly lesser known brands. JBL is known for its high-end bookshelf and home theatre speakers and more recently, for its docks for Apple products. Now it has come up with a mainstream product aimed at computer users in the form of a pair of 2.0 speakers called Jembe.
The JBL Jembe are a simple pair of 2.0 speakers that are powered using a power adapter, and not USB as their size might suggest them to be. The Jembe satellites are rated at 6 watts each and a frequency output range between 80 and 20,000 Hz. The speakers are driven by a simple wall-mounted power adapter that sends power to one speaker. A cable then runs from that speaker to the other and also splits into a 3.5mm jack that connects to a source of your choice. The cables are just about enough to run the length of a cabinet if you use the speakers with a PC.
Audio connect from the other speaker
The volume control is placed in a uniquefashion—on top of one of the satellites in the form of a large dial. The speakers can also be powered on by turning the top of the satellite. There's also an headphone and a separate 3.5mm analogue jack input on one satellite.
Design and Build quality
The volume dial on top of the satellite
The design of the JBL Jembe is pretty interesting. The speakers resemble two large mugs and look like typical portable speakers that you can carry along with you in a bag pack. The front of the speakers have a fine grille behind which the drivers and cones are placed. The top of the speaker has the volume control that we described earlier in the review. The dial is smooth and really easy to move around. It’s also pretty accurate. The speakers are made of plastic and there’s not a lot of finesse and specialisations gone into the speakers to be commented on with regards to the quality. Cable quality is decent.
When you first listen to the JBL Jembe, it becomes quite apparent that these are a loud pair of speakers for their size. The detail in general leaves a lot to be desired. The JBL Jembe might appear powerful, but crank up the volume beyond the 60 percent mark and there’s a lot of distortion introduced in the mix. The distortion is most in rock and metal genres where there’s a lot of bass-heavy instruments playing, such as the bass guitar and the drums. Every other instrument in the track tends to get overpowered by the distortion. Mellow bass tracks are still audible clearly.
The power connector for the speakers
When it comes to other genres such as jazz, pop and soft rock, the speakers do a better job and they’re actually decent. The sound signature is very natural and there’s no emphasis on any specific bands of frequencies. All in all, the speakers sound good for light, easy listening music and not really for movies and games.
Verdict and price in India
The JBL Jembe - a compact pair of speakers for desktops and notebooks
JBL sells the Jembe for a price of Rs. 2,990 here in India, which is a tad too much for these speakers. You can carry these speakers around if you want, but they’re not really designed to be used while traveling as such. However, If you’re going to use these speakers at home, you’re better off going in for standard 2.1 speakers. They’d be more powerful and really impressive if you were to use them while watching movies or playing games.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
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