During CES 2019, Harman held court at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel, using this music-evocative venue to frame the 2019 strategies for its various brands. On exhibit there, as befitted the location, were both classic hits and contemporary numbers – all in the service of music reproduction.
On the classics side, there was the re-introduction of the 12-inch, three-way JBL L100 loudspeaker. “This was the best-selling JBL speaker of all time” in its 1970s heyday, according to Jim Garrett, senior director of product strategy and planning for the company’s Luxury Audio category. The speaker was given a showcase position in its own demo room, surrounded by framed reproductions of the magazine ads that touted its coolness when it was first released.
The $4,000/pair L100 Classic boasts a retro exterior that faithfully reproduces the cosmetics of the original, right down to the orange (or blue) cubed foam grille. Inside, though, it’s been tweaked to conform to 2019 modern-day audio reproduction requirements; the 1-inch titanium dome tweeter is paired with a waveguide with an acoustic lens, and the cabinet construction has been beefed up with internal bracing. The speaker’s high- and mid-frequency L-pad attenuators have been kept on the front baffle, just as on the original.
Here are a few of the other products on view and/or demo at the company’s expansive exhibit:
- In headphones, the JBL LIVE Series 400, 500 and 650 on-ear- and over-ear wireless headphones boast lower power consumption and thus, much longer battery life on a single charge (March availability). The models have either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa compatibility.
- In portable Bluetooth speakers, the JBL Flip 5 series offers longer battery play time (12 hours), is IPX7 waterproof and is available in 11 colors ($99; summertime availability).
- The JBL JR Pop, at $29.95 (Spring availability), is aimed at the young music-lover; waterproof, it offers five hours of playback, LED color-changing lights and six color choices, and its strap enables it to be tethered to a backpack.
- The JBL PartyBox three-model line offers mega-watt performance and, on the top 1,000-watt Model 1000 (July availability), there is the Air Gesture wristband, which allows control of the pulsating LED lights using hand gestures.
- The Harman/Kardon Citation lifestyle speaker line, which has built-in Google Assistant and is ChromeCast voice control-powered, offers high-quality fit and finish, including fire-retardant Kvadrat wool grilles and aluminum detailing. The series is available in a choice of black or gray and includes both mono and stereo models. The Citation series offers the option to use the speakers individually or to build a 5.1-channel system. Powered by WiSa technology, the series delivers low-latency, HD multi-channel and multi-room capabilities, which allow for control from any room. Early this year, an over-the-air update will bring Apple AirPlay 2 support and presets to the series, by which listeners will be able to wirelessly stream music from an iOS device, Apple TV, HomePod, or by asking Siri.