JBL’s Eon range has already established a significant makeover, with all-new cabinet and amplifier designs, and the addition of Bluetooth remote DSP control.

I’ve owned and operated a few the latest models of of JBL lightweight speakers over time and I’ve been pleased with their performance, reliability and affordability. The main one – and probably only – JBL product I’ve never been tempted by was the Eon range, mainly for the reason that ergonomics of the cabinet didn’t work for my very own requirements. Despite lacking my own patronage, however, the many Eon models have already been a good success for JBL since their introduction, and I’ve probably run into more of them in my own travels than any other lightweight powered speaker. The brand new Eon 600 series can be an totally new design, and I’m delighted that the most recent products to bear the name have a far more straight-sided appearance that reflects and complements other current JBL lightweight speakers. I borrowed a set of the brand new Eon 612 speakers and spent somewhat of time learning them – but first, here’s an instant rundown of the model range and the key features.

The Eon 600 product line-up currently involves three self-powered, two-way speakers in 10-, 12- and 15-inch woofer formats, all incorporating Bluetooth technology to permit remote wireless control of varied DSP parameters using an Android or iOS app. The amplifiers found in all of the models have the same output power rating, thanks to a fresh Class-D amplifier stage with the capacity of delivering 350W and 150W (continuous) to the LF and HF drivers, respectively. The entire power package is described, quite correctly, as with the capacity of creating 1000W of peak power, nevertheless the more meaningful figure may be the acoustic output rating of 126dB SPL, which I’d guess is a genuine measurement instead of a calculated theoretical figure (although the specification sheet doesn’t confirm this). The HF and LF drivers are JBL units, with the 2414H-1 one-inch compression driver being used as the HF transducer in every three versions.

Both larger models – the Eon 612 and Eon 615 – are fitted with a particular LF waveguide with an asymmetrical shaped opening that partly covers the facial skin of the woofer and was created to provide control and regular dispersion of lower frequencies, in order that the LF/MF/HF balance is maintained through the entire nominal coverage angle. My understanding is that waveguide particularly influences and increases the pattern of frequencies at the high end of the woofer’s range, specifically the range just underneath the crossover point, where larger (12- and 15-inch) units have a tendency to become ‘beamy’ with consequent coverage issues.

The speakers are housed in moulded polypropylene cabinets with an attractive black finish and integral steel full-face grille, and incorporate generously proportioned and comfortable handles at the top, bottom and both sides – even the tiniest model, the 610, has handles on all sides. The enclosures are made to permit the Eons to are floor monitors together with main PA speakers, and also have an angled surface on either side, to allow them to be create with the HF waveguide left or the proper. Rubber feet are recessed in to the bottom of the cabinet and so are made to dock with shaped recesses at the top surface for easy and secure stacking during storage or transport.

Additional rubber feet are moulded in to the side handles, for when the speaker is employed on its side. They work very well, and not just cushion the machine against handling shock but work at stopping ‘monitor slide’. The handles are well located and well-designed, rendering it simple to lift, carry and position the speakers – even getting them through to stands or poles is easy, and I came across that the top/bottom handles were located precisely right for me personally and my arms. They have a tiny clamp screw to keep them set up once mounted, but it’s a shame that there surely is no substitute for mount them at a downward firing angle, which is something I have a tendency to favour generally in most small venues. I like the inclusion of a black, acoustically transparent cloth behind the steel grille; this increases the overall classy appearance and extra protection from liquids, debris, insects and so on.

The brand new Eons are pretty light and simple to handle, weighing in at 11.8, 15 and 17.7 kg for the 10-, 12- and 15-inch variants respectively.

First Contact
My first thoughts about the Eon 612s was how light and good-looking these were (lifting the items out of their shipping cartons may be the first test, and these almost floated up!). The original square JBL logo remains on leading grille, but it’s now black rather than the trademark orange and looks the better for this, in my view. The entire appearance is easy, black and incredibly much ‘pro’ (you really know what I mean), and even though the brand new Eons don’t have the distinctive external styling of earlier models, I believe they look far better. The steel grille covers the complete front area and is neatly recessed and securely fastened, without rattles or creaks. I’ve mentioned previously the wonderful handles and I make no apology for praising them again – in the end they are the portion of the speaker that you enter into intimate physical connection with on every gig, and good, easy handling can do much to increase and keep maintaining the honeymoon amount of nice new speakers!

The other interactive area may be the control panel, which on the Eon 612s is neat, clear and simple to find out even for an infrequent or inexperienced user. There are two identical inputs, fitted with combi XLR/jack sockets – I believe these ought to be made compulsory because they are so useful and make ‘wrong lead’ scenarios no more than an agonizing memory. With that said, I’d have liked to have observed see a couple of RCA phono inputs using one of the channels, as they are really useful allowing you to connect media players, domestic and A/V equipment, and even keyboards with only headphone outputs. Anyway, both inputs have individual rotary attenuators and mic/line sensitivity switches in order that incoming levels could be adjusted, and the mixer section comes with an overall master volume control. A ‘thru’ output on balanced XLR is provided (I don’t think they’ve invented a male XLR/jack ‘combi’ yet, have they?) for linking to other speakers or systems, but that is a raw 50/50 mixture of both inputs, and isn’t damaged by the settings of both input level controls. That is no issue at all only if one input has been used, for instance in a floor monitor application, if the first speaker has been used as a mixer for a small-scale performance a linked speaker will reproduce the initial sources 50/50 instead of follow the first speaker’s mix settings.

Some speakers offer you variable EQ controls, some offer you switched presets, and the Eon 600s offer you both, via their wireless-controlled DSP access. Using the hardware alone, various factory presets can be found by repeatedly pressing the EQ select button; they are pretty self-explanatory and the four options are ‘main’, ‘monitor’, ‘sub’ and ‘speech’. The first two and the last are as clear because they sound, and ‘sub’ of course means ‘for use with a subwoofer’ (instead of ‘act as a subwoofer’). The EQ parameters could be adjusted using the wireless app, and the settings could be saved and recalled either from the iphone app or from a panel button labelled ‘EQ+’, which toggles between your factory default and the last settings set using the wireless iphone app – very helpful if the iphone app isn’t available because someone forgot to bring the tablet.

The Wonders Of Bluetooth
More engineers and everyday users are receiving used to wireless control of live-sound systems, and JBL have provided an software for Android and iOS which permits remote usage of the EQ settings within the Eon 600 speakers. Although the iphone app can only just control one speaker at the same time, it could discover and display icons for four, and actual settings could be copied between them. The controls available are master speaker volume, high and low shelving, three parametric filters (with control over centre frequency, gain and Q), and the capability to save and recall user presets (the factory presets can be recalled from the software if required). If this appears like precisely what you’ve been looking forward to, check out http://jblpro.com/www/products/portable-market/eon600-series to check out the program link – not to mention there are online JBL videos and extra pages of information.

As an initial test I love to pay attention to speakers in a familiar space (my workshop studio) and with familiar recorded material. The studio space been clear for two days, so I create three sets of lightweight powered speakers (like the Eons) and fed them from different mixer buses therefore i could switch quickly between them. The ‘other’ speakers were both well-known quality brands that i use regularly and such as a lot! I spent some time listening to my very own speakers to get accustomed to the music and the area, and switched to the Eon 612s. Applied to their own, without additional subwoofers, the term that came right to mind was ‘crisp’, and that impression stayed with me as I switched between your three rigs. The Eons were very clean-sounding, the most notable end having enough bite without having to be harsh, and the reduced end was rounded and smooth without sounding hyped – simply a pleasing balance at low-to-moderate volume. What I liked best about the ‘indoor’ sound was the high mid-range, which blended perfectly in to the higher frequencies and led to a well-balanced sound that was simple to pay attention to. At higher volumes the mids stayed strong, and the programme remained clear and well focused. When I eventually had to back the Eons off it had been as a result of sheer volume in the listening space, and despite their relatively conservative SPL rating, these speakers can handle delivering a significant wallop – considerable enough for some small-to-medium indoor venues I’d say. The monitor EQ preset also works perfectly, taking out sufficient bottom end to keep carefully the muddiness away when the speaker can be used landscape-wise on to the floor. When used as such, the speaker sits firmly on its built-in rubber feet, and even though it’s better to kick over when compared to a dedicated ground-hugging wedge, it’s stable enough for anything I’m more likely to encounter.

In The Country
I took the Eons to two outdoor events, and in addition used them for two band rehearsals, by substituting them for my studio PA speakers. They are incredibly simple to handle, and establishing is a breeze from both an audio tracks and a physical perspective. Under most circumstances they are definitely one-person boxes, and therefore, I’m sure they’ll find favour with mobile performers and jobbing sound companies. In order to avoid damaging them I transported the 612s within their shipping boxes; they are really strong (my JBL VRX932 cartons did two friends’ house moves now), and in the event that you were saving up for ‘proper’ JBL covers they’d get the job done for a while. As an aside, the JBL covers can be purchased in two versions, among that is a ‘live jacket’ which affords weather protection and stays set up when the speaker is used.

In the rehearsal room the Eons were used for vocals and keyboards, plus they did an extremely nice job. One session was a whole lot louder compared to the other, and the users were impressed with the sound delivery, especially that vocal crispness that i mentioned earlier. The keyboard player noted that the low piano notes sounded tight and powerful without the booming or honking: he used the expression ‘a bit hi-fi’, which summed it up quite nicely.

I create the Eons at a modest-sized outdoor gig just therefore i could hear them on view air, as I particularly wished to browse the coverage. After running them at varying volume levels with speech and recorded material I buy into the designers’ declare that coverage is even; the LF waveguide arrangement does seem to be to greatly help control the mid-range, to the extent that, when walking over the speaker’s field of fire, you hear a surprisingly steady balance within the programme material, and I didn’t notice any dips in balance in the overlap corridor between your left and right speakers. Whether this is as a result of waveguide design I don’t know, but I was happy with the results. (I did so thinking about trying to eliminate the LF waveguide to see what difference it could make, but that could have to be employment for a later date!)

Virtually all smaller outdoor venues are compromised by reflections from local buildings, vehicles and so forth, but within an acceptable distance from the speakers and with careful positioning the Eons should deliver great intelligibility and even coverage, and would therefore be particularly effective for front fills and voice-only or audio-visual work. Time for the published SPL figures for an instant, the makers aren’t claiming that the Eon speakers will be the most powerful boxes on earth but yes, they play loud, and for me personally it’s about usable volume, which gets the intended audio tracks across to the intended audience – and the Eon 612s accomplished this very nicely indeed. I believe these could possibly be very versatile powered speakers, with the capacity of main PA duties or to be very effective floor monitors.

At the next outdoor event (among those multi-band town festival affairs) I used among the Eon 612s as an upstage drum monitor, that was a little of a surprising rvelation. It performed absolutely brilliantly in this role, not merely letting the vocals cut through the on-stage sound but also pumping out plenty of bass where necessary and keeping the drumming fraternity happy all day long – which is of course what most of us strive to do.

And Finally
Back at the studio I setup the 612s one final time, but this time around I hooked them up above a couple of SRX718 subs to observe how they’d do as mid/high units. As I didn’t have enough time I simply used my existing SRX/VRX rig crossover settings on the DriveRack, that includes a flat response for the mids and top quality. I wished I had tried this out on view air, for the reason that Eons appeared to love dealing with subs, and the rig sounded a lot more powerful than I’d expected.

I really do of course like almost all of the live gear that I reach try, especially powered speakers, but also for me, the final & most important question always must be ‘Would I get them?’ In this instance I can definitely visit a place for at least one couple of Eon 612s in my own inventory – especially given that I like the appearance of them!

Alternatives
Few of the Eon’s competition have Bluetooth capability, but similar-format active speakers are the Yamaha DXR and DBR12, RCF ART 712, DB Technologies’ Opera series and the HK Audio Pro range.

Pros
Compact, powerful, good-looking.
LF waveguide boosts consistency of coverage.
Versatile EQ settings with wireless control.
Light and very simple to handle.
Cons
XLR thru output will be more useful if it duplicated the input mix.
Insufficient an angled pol