JBL’s previous iPod Speakers, the OnStage Micro and the OnTime Micro were average performers. This one manages to impress us more, but not by much.
Just a single look at the OnStage IV will make you build a special showcase for it! That’s how awesome it looks. I mean seriously, we have had our share of semi-spherical and rectangular shaped iPod docks and the OnStage IV is a sight for sore eyes. The basic shape still remains semi-spherical, but to add to its coolness quotient the drivers are alternatively placed in layers that curve to the right. Speaking of the drivers, the OnStage IV has four of them.
Now that's what you call a cool design
At the back you will find three ports. One is for the DC charger, followed by a mini-USB port and a 3.5 mm audio-in port. Looking at all the ports, I expected them to be a bit generous with the respective cables as well, but you only get the charger, an adapter and a tiny remote with it. Just for the record, the mini-USB lets you connect your laptop to the speaker while the audio-in allows you to plug in other media players as well. Wait, is it portable? So does it have batteries? Yes. Below the speaker, there is a compartment for six AA batteries.
The remote is small and has all the functions of play/pause, next/previous track and the top/down button to browse through the songs in your iPod. There are volume controls and buttons to go to the menu and enter any particular folder as well. And the small size really doesn’t matter a lot, unless you end up losing it under your bed or sofa.
On a whole, the design really impresses, but it will take a lot more than eye-flattering looks for the OnStage IV to score well.
After getting out of its looks, we come to the more, in fact the most important aspect. Plugging in the iPod Touch, the OnStage IV does well, pretty well. Turn the volume up a little, it still does quite well, but with volume maxed out, it starts to distort. Though it doesn’t distort too much, you can still hear the music cracking.
Those four drivers are just about okay
The OnStage IV does well in a few aspects. The highs reach that sweet spot, but at times it just fades. Listening to Apocalyptica’s version of “Nothing Else Matters”, the cellos sound nice in the high tones but dips a little in the middle. The bass felt very dead and that was once too often. Even A R Rahman’s “O Saya” couldn’t play to its potential, as the heavy beats in the middle were just left out! Taking mids into consideration, the OnStage IV plays them well, no complaints on that.
Another factor is the volume. On one side you don’t want the sound to crack but then the OnStage IV doesn’t really sound that loud. From a distance of 6 ft it’s all good, but move a little further and you’ll find yourself losing interest in whatever's playing.
So to rate the performance, the OnStage IV scores just above average but we really expected it to do better.
That name comes for a price!
The OnStage IV comes for Rs. 7,990. A bit expensive considering they don’t throw in a few cables that would make life easier. The performance also is just not what we expected from an otherwise great looking iPod speaker. If you’re searching for a good-looking speaker that performs decently and will live in your drawing room, this is a good option. But if you’re hungry for performance, we suggest the Logitech S715i.