JBL Authentics 200: Cool retro but 21st-century smart

December 1, 2023
3 mins read


JBL Authentics 200 Wireless Speaker


This retro speaker looks like its from the ’70s but it’s packed with the latest tech and sounds bigger than it looks, writes PAT PILCHER.

Witchdoctor’s covered a lot of JBL gear in the past, but their newly launched Authentics range is perhaps their most stylish and well-featured wireless speakers yet. With an eye-catching design and some compelling, unique features, we put the smallest speaker in the Authentics range through its paces.

The speakers sport an attractive vintage look, which includes an imitation leather surround, a copper-plated aluminium facia and a Quadrex grille pattern that was originally used on JBL’s legendary L100 speakers.

This combo gives the Authentics range some real retro wow. The build quality is top notch too, and the finish on the 200 series is impeccable. At 26.6 x 17.2 x 16.7cm, the 200 was compact enough to sit in my kitchen without dominating the room or consuming too much scarce counter space. It’s a real beauty that makes most other wireless speakers look decidedly plain by comparison. While the 200 is wireless, it isn’t truly portable as its lack of battery means it needs to be plugged in.

As you’d expect from JBL, they’ve added nearly every connection capability you’ll ever need. Spinning the Authentics 200 around reveals an Ethernet port for wired networking, a 3.5mm jack input for connecting phones, tablets and other doodahs, and a USB-C port for charging gadgets.

You’re also well-catered for on the wireless front. Bluetooth connectivity is available, although codec support is limited to SBC. Fortunately, this is a non-issue given their Wi-Fi connectivity chops. Multi-point connectivity is supported too, so you can connect two devices. Wi-Fi audio is supported via Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Alexa Cast, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect. Add to that multiroom protocols from Apple, Google or Amazon and the JBL One app, and about the only thing missing connectivity-wise is the kitchen sink.


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Atop the Authentics 200 are three controls for volume, bass and treble, which use LED lights to indicate the levels you’ve applied. The volume control also has a push-to-click button for controlling playback and skipping between tracks. There’s also the obligatory Bluetooth pairing button. The JBL One app (iOS/Android) sports an equalizer, a player, Amazon Music and Tidal.

The Authentics are unique in integrating both voice assistants from Google and Amazon. This allows you to seamlessly use both Google Assistant and Alexa, depending on what you want to get done. This one feature alone makes the Authentics super useful. Alexa tends to struggle with complex or multipart queries while the Google Assistant’s clunky smart home support holds it back. This meant I could use both voice assistants to compensate for their specific weaknesses, without the clutter associated with operating two smart speakers. Summoning both assistants also impressed. Provided I was hovering near where I’d placed the speaker, I could call Google or Alexa – even if there was a discussion or extraneous noise and/or music playing.

As the smallest of JBL’s Authentics range, the 200 delivers a surprisingly big sound. This comes via two 2.5cm tweeters, a 12.7cm centre speaker, and a downwards-firing woofer on the speaker’s underside. The audio delivered was warm, rich and surprisingly crisp, lending the 200 an audio signature you’d expect from a considerably larger speaker. Firing up some Salmonella Dub and then moving onto some Pitch Black saw plenty of bass thump. Vocals shone in ‘Love, Sunshine And Happiness’, while the bass speaker did plenty of good work with Pitch Black’s ‘Melt’. That said, when I cranked the 200 right up, bass overpowered mids – but only at volume levels you’d be unlikely to ever use the 200 for.

JBL has managed to pull off the difficult task of crafting a wireless speaker that not only lifts its design game compared to the competition, but they’ve also upped the specs. Few other brands can offer the same levels of connectivity and functionality (especially dual voice assistant support). Best of all, the Authentics 200 delivers solid, ear-pleasing audio. If you’re in the market for a decent small wireless speaker, JBL’s Authentics range is well worth checking out.



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Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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