Need a great sounding PA on the run for small gigs? Need it to keep up with the technology you use to make music? JBL to the rescue. By Peter Hodgson
JBL has packed 70 years of R&D into the Eon One to create what they feel is the ultimate in sound performance, streamlined design and portability. The entire system is designed so that you can carry it with one hand, which is great news for solo artists or those in duos: imagine showing up for a gig with your guitar case in one hand, PA in the other, and being able to instantly set up and play.
YOU CAN TAKE IT WITH YOU
When designing the Eon One, JBL has taken cues from their concert line arrays to ensure that every member of the audience will experience the same sound, no matter where they’re standing. The base of the unit features an unobstructed 10” bass-reflex subwoofer to handle the lows (and it’s the largest in its class), while there are six high-frequency drivers configured in a linear array so the sound points down, up and out front all at the same time. Depending on the room and audience, you can raise or lower the tweeters so that they’re sitting either right above the subwoofer or way up high. The spacers and high-frequency unit pack up into the base itself for portability.
There are two mic channels with treble, bass, reverb on/off and volume controls, plus a mic/line switch and combined XLR/quarter inch inputs, as well as phono jacks for stereo channels three and four and an aux channel five/six. On top of that, there’s a bluetooth pair button so you can use your phone, tablet, laptop or other device to stream backing tracks, plus a master volume, a clipping indicator LED, and stereo monitor outs with their own volume. It’s basically everything you need but nothing you don’t, so you can set up your sound easily and not get lost in a bunch of menus or controls.
BOX OF ROCK
I tried the Eon One in a variety of configurations: acoustic guitar and mic, as a full-range speaker system for electric guitar via a digital processor, and with my Marshall head via a Mesa Cab Clone while using my iPad to stream backing tracks of the songs I played at last year’s Melbourne Guitar Show. The bluetooth pairing is nice and simple, and the unit never dropped the signal (I also used it to stream a few podcasts while I was going about my daily business, as a matter of fact). Although there’s no midrange control on the preamps, the voicing of the tweeters was clear enough that it wasn’t really necessary, and the reverb is thoughtfully voiced to be effective and useful without being too overwhelming. It adds a nice sense of space, but doesn’t sound like you’re lost in a cavern. The treble control let me take a bit of the high end off my Cab Clone while I used the bass control to beef up the rather anaemic mix I’d made on one of my backing tracks.
There are so many routing options here that you can really have some fun. It’s easy to think of it as a two-channel mixer, until you realise you can add other instruments via the aux and phono jacks, even if it requires an adaptor or two. For instance, maybe you have keys, an extra guitar, a sequencer or a portable electronic drum kit. Maybe you even have an extra mixer so you can plug a larger band into the unit.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a deceptively flexible unit, both sonically and practically. It puts out a hell of a lot of sound while also being lightweight enough to carry in one hand, and it can accommodate all sorts of musical situations from a soloist to – with a little planning and some electronic trickery – a full band. And the controls are so simple that it’s hard to get into trouble, and easy to get out of it.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Patent-pending linear-array configuration (six 2” HF drivers)
• Unobstructed 10” bass-reflex subwoofer
• Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio
• 380 watts of power
• You can carry the system with one hand
• Very portable
• No midrange control, but it seems to work okay