JBL OnBeat Micro & Venue: First Lightning Speaker Docks Arrive

Audio firm JBL introduced the first third-party speaker docks for Apple iDevices with the new Lightning connector Thursday. The OnBeat Micro works with the iPhone 5, while the larger OnBeat Venue Lightning accommodates nearly all Lightning devices except for the 9.7-inch fourth-generation iPad.

JBL OnBeat Micro iPhone 5 Lightning Speaker Dock

The OnBeat Micro, at US$100, is a portable speaker powered by an included AC adapter or by two AAA batteries. We haven’t tested the product yet but JBL promises a “room full of rhythm” provided by two full-range transducers and JBL’s digital signal processor. For those without an iPhone 5, the Micro can also accept audio input via USB and 3.5mm stereo ports.

JBL OnBeat Venue Lightning Speaker Dock

The $200 OnBeat Venue Lightning is a larger home speaker, although at 16-inches in width it is still quite portable. In addition to offering greater iDevice compatibility than its smaller sibling, the Venue is powered by a 30 watt amplifier pushing four speaker drivers. It also has the ability to accept audio via wireless Bluetooth streaming. A specialized “movie” button uses signal processing to widen the soundstage during video playback, but we’ll have to test it firsthand to see if the feature is worth it (most activity-specific signal processing modes don’t improve audio quality in practice).

Both products are currently available for pre-order from JBL’s website and will make appearances at major retailers by the holiday shopping season.