JBL On Tour Portable Music Box

Product Requirements:
Device:
Any audio device with a 3.5mm earphone connector

Personal audio devices are at the top of my favorite gadgets list. I love my
iPod
(yeah, I know you are all sick of hearing that by now…) and it goes with me
everywhere I go. The thing is, sometimes I don’t want to wear my earbuds.
Sometimes I want to share my tunes with those around me, be it in
my home office, or at my day job in my cube. For those times, I really don’t
want to let other people use my earbuds… can you say eeeeew? So, I’ve
been on the lookout for a nice set of speakers. Nothing too big, too loud, or
too expensive. They had to be jussssst right. I’m happy to say that I think I’ve
found what I’m looking for in the JBL On Tour Portable Music Box from
Harman Multimedia.

Hardware Specs

Input: 1/8in (3.5mm) Mini Stereo Jack
Drivers: Two Odyssey™ Neodymium drivers
Power Output: 3 watts per channel
Frequency Response: 100Hz – 20KHz
Input Impedance: >10Kohm
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >80dB
Voltage Input: 100 – 230 Vac, 50 – 60 Hz
Dimensions: Width: 7 x 3.5 x 1.4in (175 x 88 x 35mm)
Weight: 12 oz (350g)

Package Contents

On Tour Portable Music Box
AC Adapter
3.5mm audio cable
Drawstring cloth bag
User guide

Taking a page from the Apple style book, the JBL On Tour looks like it was
made just for the iPod. Constructed of white plastic with polished chrome accents, and
smooth curves, I was already loving this product before I even had the chance to
turn it on.


When the cover is closed the On Tour doesn’t look like any set of speakers
I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t know what it already was, my guess would have been
pretty far off the mark.

To open the cover, you just press the edge with your thumbs and slide it
back. Once the cover is open, the two speakers and volume controls are revealed.
Closing the cover will power the unit off. The speakers have metal grills over
them and on the right side are two volume buttons and two status LEDs. The
volume buttons are labeled + and – respectively (pressing both buttons at the
same time produce a Mute function). The top LED glows amber when the batteries
are low. The bottom LED glows green when power is on, and flashes green when
there is no input signal.

The On Tour can be powered using the included AC adapter, or with 4 AAA
batteries (not included). The battery compartment is accessed by turning over
the speaker and sliding the arrow to the left. A set of batteries should last
approximately 24hrs while playing music at normal levels. Not bad! But, I would
be much happier if the included AC adapter had the ability to charge an internal
battery pack.

Although this speaker set looks like it’s an iPod accessory, it will work
with any audio device that has a standard 3.5mm audio jack. Of course, the iPod
does, so that is the product I tested this set with. Connecting the iPod to the
On Tour is simple. Just slide open the cover, plug in the AC adapter (if you
haven’t installed batteries) and plug in one end of the included audio cable.
Connect the other end of the audio cable to your audio device, turn it on, press
one of the volume buttons on the On Tour and enjoy the music!

Upon first glance at the speakers, I was thinking that they would be too
small to provide quality sound. Luckily I was wrong. They have great sound for
such a small set. That said, you shouldn’t expect the On Tour to sound like full
sized speakers. Sound quality is very clear and maybe just a bit too crisp. As
for bass, this little set can deliver some thump. Volume levels max out quickly
using the + button, but adjusting the volume on the actual audio device
connected to the unit can increase levels dramatically. I was very surprised at
how loud I could crank them up.

Although listening to music through the iPod / On Tour combo does not deliver
sound as full and rich as listening to the same tunes through the iPod and earbuds, the On Tour produces very good sound that is enjoyable to listen to for
long periods of time. In addition to digital audio device users, I think this product would be great for notebook users who
either travel a great deal, or don’t want a whole 5 point surround sound system
hooked to their computer. I guess it’s true what they say: Good things do come
in small packages.

 

Price: $99.95

Pros:
Compact package
Great sound for a small speaker

Cons:
Not rechargeable
Somewhat expensive

20 thoughts on “JBL On Tour Portable Music Box”

  1. just out of curiousity, what would your guess have been for what it was (if not speakers)…
    this is a silly question, but i am sleepy and find it amusing. i think it looked like an eyeglasses case.

  2. Wouldn’t you get better sound plugging the ipod into a $99 bookshelf system? This just seems too expensive for a set of portable speakers.

    I picked up a set of these for $30 at best buy. They sound great and run off of four AAA.

  3. I was wondering how this sounded. Too bad you didn’t take a photo with Altec’s INMotion or an Ipod so we could get a perspective on the size. I am also curious how the JBL sounds versus Altec. I don’t think recharging batteries is a big issue. I just use rechargable batteries and charge them outside the unit.

  4. I wish they would give real specifications with these type of products. 100hz from a battery powered 1 inch+ driver? Yeah, right.

    It does look perfectly matched to the iPod though. I found something for similar purposes, is smaller to carry, and costs $19.99. I was not expecting the audio to be usable, but was pleasantly surprised. They use three batteries and last for 22 hours. The power is rated at only one watt, but I risk complaints if I go beyound half volume during hotel stays (they’ve become my portable system for music, games, and movies on my handheld). At least the frequency response is more realistic 200hz to 12Khz (even though that is also optimistic), and the drivers are a larger 2.25 inch size.

    On the down side, I’m sure the build quality is not as good as the JBL units, and you get high frequency loss when you turn the volume down on the speakers instead of the device feeding them due to the carbon potentiometer. Worst of all for you, is that they look like a complete mis-match for the iPod!

  5. The main advantage I see in the Altec iPod speakers is that it doesn’t use the headphone jack (provided you have a dockable iPod). It uses the dock, which them uses the line out so you do not mess with the volume of the iPod itself.

  6. johnsoax:
    The advantage of the On Tour is that it is so compact and portable. I don’t think you can really say that about a set of bookshelf speakers 😉

    txcheng:
    I’ve added a pic to the review that shows an iPod laying on top of the the closed On Tour.

    This is my first review of portable speakers, hopefully I’ll be able to do some other brands soon.

  7. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for adding the photo with the ipod and the speakers. It does seem about the same size as the Altec speakers.

  8. Hey Julie,

    I just received my JBL On Tour speakers and I’m somewhat disappointed. Not by the sound coming out of this thing – which is great – but because of the noise. Does your On Tour make much noise when turned on? Simply turning it on with nothing attached. Mine makes a very hearable hissing sound. It’s pretty loud, even from afar. Also, there’s some loud crisping sound coming out of the speakers if I turn the cable a bit. I’m testing it on an iBook. And for a couple of seconds it started humming. So, first, is the noise normal. Second, any other sound anomalies coming out of your speakers? Maybe I should exchange the speakers, which is always a drag as I bought them from the AppleStore.

  9. John F.:

    Mine does not make any of the noises that you’ve described. The only thing that I have noticed with mine happens when I have the cable plugged into the speakers, but not the audio device. If you touch the unconnected end of the cable it will make loud humming noise.

    I think you have a faulty set.

  10. John F. wrote:

    Hey Julie,

    I just received my JBL On Tour speakers and I’m somewhat disappointed. Not by the sound coming out of this thing – which is great – but because of the noise. Does your On Tour make much noise when turned on? Simply turning it on with nothing attached. Mine makes a very hearable hissing sound. It’s pretty loud, even from afar. Also, there’s some loud crisping sound coming out of the speakers if I turn the cable a bit. I’m testing it on an iBook. And for a couple of seconds it started humming. So, first, is the noise normal. Second, any other sound anomalies coming out of your speakers? Maybe I should exchange the speakers, which is always a drag as I bought them from the AppleStore.

    John, I have to concur with Julie, sounds like you have a bad set. The hissing noise is random noise generated by the amplifer circuits, but you not should not be able to hear that unless the volume is turned all the way up. The “crisping” noise from turning the cable usually comes from the connector being dirty, IF the noise occurs when the connector rotates in the socket. If you get the noise without connector moving, then the cable itself is bad. JBL makes quality stuff and your unit is not normal… send it back.

  11. Hey there,

    Thanks for the replies. Yeah, what’s with the humming sound when you do not connect the speakers to an audio device and let the audio cable hang? That’s kind of weird.

    And I usually get some crisping noise when rotating a cable, or headphone in a socket, but it’s usually not very loud. But on my On Tour the crisping – static – sound is amplified way loud and goes really, really loud. And just the other minute, when I turned the socket a bit on my connected MP3 player, the sound suddenly went high. That’s certainly not normal. I’m returning the On Tour and will ask for another one. I really like the sound and they go pretty loud and clear. Hopefully, the online AppleStore will just let me exchange the On Tour without any problems. But it’s always a drag, you know, letting them pick up the faulty one and send another one.

    Thanks everyone.

  12. Have received new one. The speakers still hiss when turned on. However, when I twist the cable, it doesn’t make that nasty sound anymore. The cable was probably “dirty”. Still, why does it make the hissing? Shouldn’t speakers with this price tag produce little to no hiss when turned on? It’s not loud but I have good ears. When playing pop music, the hiss is barely noticeable, however when I play some accoustic guitar, the hiss is there. Another bad apple?

  13. John F.:

    I got my speakers out and you are right, there is a slight hiss that I can hear only when I put my ear close to the speakers. I’d never noticed it because I did all my testing in my computer room and the PC fan noise covers it up. I just did some tests with acoustic guitar / vocals, and maybe I don’t have as good of ears as you, but I didn’t notice it at all sitting on the desk about 2 feet from my ears.

  14. Julie wrote:

    John F.:

    I got my speakers out and you are right, there is a slight hiss that I can hear only when I put my ear close to the speakers. I’d never noticed it because I did all my testing in my computer room and the PC fan noise covers it up. I just did some tests with acoustic guitar / vocals, and maybe I don’t have as good of ears as you, but I didn’t notice it at all sitting on the desk about 2 feet from my ears.

    I have to say that my room is extremely quiet. My iBook is very, very silent, and there’s little ambient noise from the street where I live. So I think that my hiss is slightly louder to the ear than to most people with noisy rooms – I can hear it from afar. We’ll see if I grow accustomed to it. The box does produce good sound overall. But quality of the components could be better – I also had a couple of scratches out of the box.

  15. I’ve just recieved mine and i also have the problem with the dirty connection head and a slight buzzing when the music is quite high, although the system is excellent in sound quality and build. I would recommend it to any person looking for a high quality portable speaker that is head turning in sound and style, but with a price like it you really have to be wanting this product. Good luck and enjoy it! :rolleyes:

  16. How do you know if the auto shut off feature has worked? Now, I see that the green light flashes when there is no input signal coming through, so then I would expect after a time, that the device would turn off. But, the green light just keeps flashing. Can anyone please advise?

  17. Dave lost in France

    The On Tour is a beautifully designed amp. I bought mine for 1 Euro on a vide Grenier in France if the input signal is right and good quality then no problem! Can anyone tell me what the voltage and polarity of the transformer is as my came without one? Is the manual available in pdf format perhaps? Shame it doen’t have USB!

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