To date the JBL EON series of powered speakers have, in our opinion, been unimpressive. The overly heavy pale grey cabinets were not the most durable, and the mid/hi frequencies always seemed to sound distorted and in your face whenever you stepped out from behind your decks. Overall we always felt that there were better value, better performing options in the market. However with the new range of EONs, the clever people at JBL do seemed to have addressed most of these apparent shortcomings.
The new range of EON powered speakers are made up from the 300 and the 500 series, the former being the entry level option and the 500 series having a few interesting bells and whistles onboard.
The 300 series currently only consists of a powered and un-powered 15” option both running at around 250w continuous watts of power. The passive option is a fairly standard performer with nothing special to write home about, however the active speaker is a very competitive option to consider when compared to most other powered speakers out there. At just under 16kg the JBL EON 315 is one of the lightest 15” PA speakers available, this makes them a breeze to set-up, made even easier by the well placed handles on top and side. Although, somewhat suprisingy, JBL have kept the old pale grey colour for this box, it’s design is much improved on the older version, and, since it will operate predominately in darkened venues, the colour doesn’t detract from a good looking set up.The new light-weight Class-D amplifier bolted on the back delivers all the power it is supposed to, and the large but discrete heat sink means there’s no noisy fans to worry about during the speeches. The sound quality of this box is very good for the sub £500 price tag, and the low background noise levels allow the speaker to be used in many different applications. Overall a very good value-for-money option.
The 500 series of speakers is what has really impressed us, the 515 is the bigger brother of the 315 consisting of an upgraded neodymium 15” driver allowing this box to weigh just under 15kg. There is also an upgrade for the on-board amp to a Crown Class-D giving an overall continuous power rating of 480w which peaks at 900w. JBL have also incorporated a small 3 channel mixer on the back, allowing a microphone to plug directly into it, as well as various EQ preset options. The sound quality of the box is astonishingly good especially for an active plastic box, and the sound stays clean all the way to the limit lights. The icing on the cake with this speaker is the dark grey colour finish – making it actually quite good looking, even with the lights on. There is also a bass bin option in the range which when used with the 515s and all the built-in crossovers enabled offers a loud, clear sound system rivalling some of the passive systems out there – although the 4 mains leads and 4 signal leads required mean there is more to plug in!
The other little gem in the 500 series is the smaller 510, 10” option. The subtly attractive 7.7kg box packs a whopping 280w continuous power, a 3 channel mixer and neodymium magnets, all in all making this ideal for any small reception, speeches, background music or when used with the 518 bass bins, a small party.
We feel the range is definitely worth first consideration when you are considering a powered speaker set-up and the light-weight boxes, excellent audio quality and rugged JBL build quality mean there are few others who can contend.
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