JBL offers a surprising number of portable as well as desktop bluetooth speakers, but this is the first time we review a speaker designed to act as an alarm clock and most likely to be placed on a bedside table. Cue the Horizon.
JBL Horizon is not your run-of-the-mill bluetooth speaker in the sense that it has a modern design, functionality and, ultimately, sound quality that stand out from the competition. Horizon is a compact, circular shaped tabletop speaker, measuring 5.8 x 8.5 x 7.3 inches and weighing 3.2 pounds, and it hides two speaker drivers with a diameter of 1.75 inches. The front has a sizable display - very easy to read - which displays information about the time, date and the selected audio source. The 'glass' that is placed over the display is made of plastic and is quite reflective, almost like a mirror, which can cause some problems when you try to read it in a brightly lit room. The casing is made of soft gray plastic that is quite pleasant to the touch. On the back is a large, white, shiny area for the sophisticated ambient light.
Features, Bells and Whistles
The Horizon uses power amplifiers of five watts to each of the two channels, which should be enough to fill smaller bedrooms with sound. It supports several audio sources, the most important is probably the bluetooth pairing for phones, tablets and similar devices equipped with this technology.
Add to this an FM radio that can store up to five stations. We were able to tune in all the major radio stations that we were aware of, but only when we connected the supplied antenna in the form of a thin cable. Depending on conditions, you may have to use a better antenna to get the best radio reception.
At the bottom are inputs for the power supply, antenna, and a standard 3.5mm mini-jack that can be used for devices without bluetooth. The power adapter comes with exchangable plugs, allowing the Horizon to be used in the US and Europe, including the UK.
In addition to the radio antenna and power supply, a short quick guide is included with instructions on the basic operation and commands, especially those that require you to press certain buttons for an extended period (usually more than 2 seconds).
One of the most useful things with the Horizon is two USB ports for charging other devices, such as mobile phones. These can come in handy if you lack a sufficient number of power outlets in the bedroom. In the bottom you´ll find more useful things, like a backup battery slot that will keep the correct time and still trigger the alarm in case of power failure, the buttons for setting the time and date, as well as an additional switch to easily change to daylight savings time.
Setting It Up
When you turn on the Horizon for the first time you must first set the correct time and date, and as it doesn´t connect to the Internet or any satellites, you must do so manually. We then tuned in and stored some radio channels, and this was done very quickly by using short presses on the buttons to scan the frequencies manually, while pressing them for longer started the automatic scanning and stopped only when a radio station with good reception was found.
Setting the alarm is also carried out in a smart way. Horizon has two alarms, so that it can cater to two people for example. Setting the alarm time allows you to choose whether to repeat the alarm Weekdays / Weekends / Everyday / One Day. Of course, you can choose how you want to wake up; awful buzzing (very effective though), FM radio or music via bluetooth. You can also wake up to three predefined melodies: 'Rise' (guitar melody), 'Solar' (synthesizers) and 'Groove' (more modern).
When you listen to FM radio stations with higher quality signals JBL’s Horizon sound very good. Dispersion and a wide sound stage isn´t its strong suit, however, as the size and the laws of physics prevents it from sounding like a pair of full-size floorstanders, obviously, but this is to be expected from a device like this. To get the most out of it sound-wise, it must be directed at your listening position. This is of course not a major issue when you use it as a alarm and the main purpose is to wake up.
For the purpose of a real sound quality test we used high-resolution music that we have stored on a PC. We did a quick comparison between the JBL Horizon and a clock radio of similar size and price, and we were delighted with the result - the JBL sounded much better. It had more energy and details in the mid and high frequencies, and the bass was powerful enough. So far, so good, but Horizon is limited in terms of the deepest bass, and bass-heavy songs won´t sound as they are supposed to. Listening to electronica clearly demonstrated this restriction. On the other hand, music with focus on the upper frequencies sounded just as we are used to.
If you like to wake up to music, the JBL Horizon is one of the most complete alarm clocks you can purchase. Several characteristics thrilled us; ambient light, two USB ports for charging mobile phones, advanced alarm setup and, most importantly, a really big snooze button. Sound quality is far better than we expected for this type of device. However, this is not the first time that we are delighted with a device carrying the JBL logo. Recommended for all lovers of music and sleep.
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- IN ThE bOX
Multisensory Alarm Clock with LED light
Dual independent alarms for you and your partner. Choice of FM Radio, original digital alarm tones, or music streamed from a Bluetooth device. LED ambient light helps to wake you gently. LCD display automatically adjusts brightness to suit room lighting.
JBL Stereo Sound
Rich, room-filling stereo sound from a compact package. Enjoy JBL sound whether using as an alarm clock or a Bluetooth speaker.
Streams music from any Bluetooth®-enabled phone, tablet or music player. Compatible with all smart devices.
Two independent USB ports provide fast charging (1 amp) for up to two devices.
Compact, Attractive Design
Rounded lines and compact form complement any décor. Soft, rubberized finish is inviting to touch
Frequency response: 70Hz – 20KHz
Rated power: 2 x 5W
Dimension (H x W x D): 160 x 183 x 86 (mm)
Weight: 890 g
- 1 x JBL Horizon
- 1 x Power adaptor (12V, 2.2A) with exchangeable plugs
- 1 x Quick Start Guide
- 1 x FM antenna
- 1 x Safety Sheet