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Key Takeaways

  • JBL has released its latest home speakers, the Authentics lineup, which allow interchangeable use of Google and Alexa voice assistants.
  • This development is significant because it means users won't have to choose a preferred assistant and can seamlessly switch between them.
  • The JBL Authentics speakers have a distinctive retro style and impressive sound, as well as ample connectivity options.

JBL took to the stage at IFA to announce its latest home speakers, the Authentics lineup, and for the first time ever, you can switch between two of the most popular voice assistants seamlessly. That's right, in an unexpected move, Google and Amazon have united to allow interchangeable use of their voice assistants on the new speaker range.

This means you can ask Google to play your favourite Spotify playlist, then ask Alexa to stop the music, and vice versa. You might be thinking, what's the big deal, plenty of devices support both Alexa and Google Assistant? Well, typically, when a device supports both, a user will have to choose their preferred assistant during setup, and then they're stuck using that. That's fine if you only have one assistant in your home, but these days, many households use a mixture of voice assistants to control various smart devices. This development means that you won't have to remember which one you asked, it'll just respond as expected either either option.

There's also the fact that Google and Amazon have a history of not playing nicely together. For example, you can't listen to Amazon Music on a Google Nest speaker, and you can't watch YouTube on an Echo Show. But is that something, that's about to change? If the JBL Authentics launch is anything to go by, quite possibly.

The JBL Authentics lineup

Of course, this multi-ecosystem compatibility is only important if the speakers themselves are impressive and, at least on first impressions, they're definitely worth your attention. There are three speakers in the lineup, the JBL Authentics 200 ($329.99), Authentics 300 ($429.99) and the Authentics 500 ($699.99). As you might expect, the higher the number, the larger and more powerful the speaker. But, there's a twist, the middle child is portable, with a built-in handle and eight hours of standalone battery life. The other two models need to be plugged into the wall to function.

JBL Authentics 200

All of the speakers have a distinctive retro styling, as a nod to JBL's long heritage, blended with modern touches like adaptive LED backlighting that changes when you adjust one of the three control knobs on the top.

The speakers are quite sizable, especially the 500, and they kick out a tonne of volume along with some punchy bass. We only heard them briefly at the event, but they made a strong impression, so keep an eye out for our review in the near future.

Elsewhere, the speakers offer ample connectivity via Wi-Fi, 3.5mm aux and Bluetooth. Obviously, there's support for the aforementioned voice assistants, but you also get AirPlay, Chromecast Built-in, Spotify Connect, Alexa Multiroom Music and Dolby Atmos support.

The JBL Authentics speakers are available from September 15 in Europe and September 17 in the US on JBL's website.