JBL On Tour IBT Review – Great Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Bluetooth wireless ultra-portable speakers and I finally caved in and decided that I needed to get my hands on one of these. I decided to try out the JBL On Tour iBT to see what all the buzz was about. These devices are supposed to provide instant connectivity to your Apple devices so that you can stream your audio anywhere that you are. They have become pretty popular over the last few years and many of my friends already own these. I have seen a few different types of wireless Bluetooth speakers in action, but have never actually owned one of my own portable speakers.

I decided to go ahead and order the JBL On Tour to fill that void that I have around my musical needs. You see, I am a total crazy music junkie and I like to be able to listen to the music that I have on my iPod, but I don’t want to be limited by my docking station or by headphones. I want to be able to move freely around my house and also to be able to move my speaker around where ever I decide I want to go. The JBL On Tour seemed like the perfect option when it came to being portable and I was right on that count.

When I received the package, I was pretty surprised about how light the speaker actually was. When I unpacked the box I pulled the JBL On Tour iBT out and kind of stared at it for a bit. It looks a bit like a miniature black UFO and is about 6.5 inches around. There are four little speakers spaced out in the 360-degree ring. The unit only weighs just over a pound, although by looking at it you might expect it to be a little bit more substantial and much heavier. Truth be told, a friend of mine thought it was a patio umbrella light LED light that you clip onto your umbrella and it actually looks just like that. I would have to agree after seeing a similar light set up at my mom’s house.

What’s included with the JBL On Tour iBT?

When I opened the package I saw the speaker, an A/C adapter, a connector cable for an iPod dock and a plastic iPad style stand that the speaker can sit in. I was happy to note that I had the ability to charge my Apple devices by setting them into the JBL On Tour iBT speaker when it is plugged in via the A/C adapter. The one thing that was not included, strangely enough, was the batteries needed to power this unit without an adapter. I had to supply four double A batteries myself, but then again I always have plenty of those on hand. I buy the rechargeable ones so that I can just recharge them when they are dead. I usually have several sets charged and ready to go for whatever I might need them for, so that came in pretty handy when I discovered that I needed batteries to get this speaker up and running.

Features of the JBL On Tour iBT

Each speaker in the 360-degree ring features a built-in microphone which I like to use to make FaceTime calls to with my friends. I didn’t have anyone tell me that it sounded like I was calling them from the bottom of a cement box, so I guess that means that the sound quality is not too bad for calls. The unit has an actual phone call button with integrated volume options too. There are several ports where you can add an A/C power cord, audio in (for a wired connection), an auxiliary device, and hook the speaker up via USB. There are some really great options available for portable speakers, but I chose this one because I had heard some good things about it.

JBL On Tour IBT Review

The Pros

  • The whole unit is extremely portable;
  • The product has, on the whole, a pretty decent quality;
  • The unit has 360 degree sound projection capabilities;
  • The JBL On Tour iBT is the perfect solution for conference calls;
  • It has a remote (very handy) for those across the room song changes;
  • Comes with a speaker cover to keep your unit safe from heat, water, light and cold weather (perfect when you use the unit outside).

The Cons

  • The pretty expensive price point at $200.00 but it can be found for as little as $150.00 if you purchase it online;
  • Sound highs and lows not very clear, resulting in a flat sound that was the decidedly tinny sounding listening experience;
  • Does not come with any batteries, but you can buy some or use rechargeable batteries (as I did).
    What I use this speaker for:
  • When I take a shower, it works great in the bathroom;
  • I take it camping with me in the summertime – perfect for sitting around the fire;
  • I like to set it up in my boat when I go fishing;
  • It’s perfect for sitting outside on my patio in the summertime.

I was excited when I first got the JBL On Tour iBT, but after a while, my excitement turned to disappointment. The truth is that I am the real music lover and I love to crank up those tunes, but this speaker doesn’t quite cut the mustard. I found that the sound quality fell flat and left me wanting to be able to turn up the volume more.
I am quite surprised that JBL didn’t pack a little more range into this speaker; they could have made it more powerful with a better bass option. I found that at higher volumes I experienced some feedback and distortion which kind of ticked me off. I really expected more, but the truth is this is not the kind of speaker that you can crank up too loudly. If you are okay with a moderate volume, this speaker might be alright for your purposes, but I prefer my music much louder.


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