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The Authentics 500 is a powerful wireless speaker that can double as a smart home controller with powerful and big sound, but it lacks audio finesse considering its cost.


  • Loud and powerful
  • Deep and imposing bass
  • Supports multi-room and digital assistants


  • Expensive for the sound fidelity on offer
  • No battery option

Key Features

  • Alexa and Assistant supportBoth Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are on-board, and the Authentics 500 can have both on-board at the same time.
  • Downward-firing subwooferA large 6.5-inch woofer sits on the bottom, the key to the Authentics 500’s deep, massive bass.
  • Multi-roomWi-Fi is the main method of audio streaming in this speaker, and it can be part of a multi-room setup.


The JBL Authentics 500 is a large wireless speaker that references the style of classic JBL hi-fi speakers. Its Quadrex grille was used back in the 1970s in lines like the JBL L100, an amazing speaker re-issued in 2018.

It is distinctive, and more home-friendly than the styles of JBL’s wireless speakers, primarily thanks to its appearance. 

There’s an switcheroo going on there, though. JBL portable speakers often look a bit juvenile but have surprisingly tasteful and balanced sound. The JBL Authentics 500’s appearance is that bit more classy, but the sound goes all out on bass power and sheer scale. 

If you want that sort of speaker, great. However, it’s not the most natural fit for the JBL Authentics 500’s price. It costs £579.99, more than the Sonos Era 300 and not far off double the current price of the standard JBL Xtreme 3


  • Embossed Quadrex speaker grille
  • Largest speaker in this family
  • Non-portable

Most of the JBL speakers I’ve reviewed in the last few years have been Bluetooth ones. They are almost universally great these days. The JBL Authentics 500 is a pure home speaker, though. It has no integrated battery, no option to add one in modular style. 

It makes sense given the JBL Authentics 500 design, though. This is a hefty 11kg brick of a speaker with a leather style outer and fabric grille, not the ultra-tough nylon kind of JBL’s Flip and Xtreme series. 

It’s not water resistant either, but I’d much rather give the Authentics 500 a permanent place in my home than any of the JBL portable units, at least from a visual perspective. Its construction may not be as lavish as you might picture given its high price, though. 

JBL Authentics 500 on tableHand adjusting volume on a JBL Authentics 500 speaker.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The JBL Authentics 500 leather effect parts are plastic, its gold parts plastic too. However, JBL has successfully blended the look of some of its classic hi-fi speakers with a more modern style of speaker. 

There’s no screen on the top, but there is a trio of controllers. One is a play/pause button, the other two are treble and bass controls. 

As these can also be tweaked from inside the JBL app, the Authentics 500 uses LEDs around the dials’ perimeter to show you the level when you make any changes. 

JBL Authentics 500 top surface controlsClose-up of JBL Authentics 500 speaker controls.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Want something smaller? No problem. The Authentics 500 is the largest in this new JBL family, and sits alongside smaller Authentics 200 and Authentic 300 models. That last JBL Authentics 300 is by far the most flexible of the lot as it has an integrated battery and carry handle. 


  • Can access Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Aux input
  • Good spread of wireless features inc. multi-room

The JBL Authentics 500 may have 1970s touches to its appearance thanks to that Quadrex-inspired speaker grille, but this is very much a modern unit. It has built-in microphones for digital assistant access, and you can access either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa

Hate the whole smart home thing? There’s a slider on the back of the speaker that disables the microphones. I wouldn’t recommend this if smart home control is a big goal either. While having two assistants that can live side-by-side is neat, I find the Authentics 500 far slower to respond to the “Hey Google” or “Alexa” wake words than an Echo or Home speaker, which spoils the experience a bit.

JBL Authentics 500 rear viewJBL Authentics 500 speaker with ports and power cable.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

On the rear you’ll also find a 3.5mm aux input, an Ethernet socket to avoid Wi-Fi headaches and a USB-C port. This isn’t to power the speaker (there’s a figure-of-8 connector for that). The US version’s USB can be used to play tracks stored on a USB stick, but elsewhere it’s for “service only” according to JBL. That likely means JBL folks can re-install firmware if something goes wrong. 

I’d much rather have USB playback for connection to a PC or laptop, but then this isn’t really that sort of speaker anyway. 

You have a choice of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when connecting to your phone, but Wi-Fi is the clear preferred route because only the basic SBC and AAC codecs are supported for Bluetooth. 

JBL Authentics 500 portsClose-up of JBL Authentics 500 speaker ports and connectors.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Setup is pretty painless here, relying on a JBL One app on your phone. This is also used to setup the “heart” button up top, which you link to a playlist of your choice. 

The Authentics 500 supports Dolby Atmos, which this speaker can get from streaming service TIDAL. However, its potential as a one-box system isn’t anywhere near as interesting as a proper surround sound setup made for movies rather than music. TIDAL Connect is onboard for direct streaming from that service, alongside Spotify Connect.

Add in Alexa, Google Assistant, Chromecast and multi-room support through the JBL One app and Google Home, and there’s no shortage of ways to send music to this thing.

Sound Quality

  • Big-bass sound
  • Sounds fairly comfortable at uncomfortably high volumes
  • Mids and mid projection takes a back seat

The JBL Authentics 500 is a dream speaker for those who thrive on big, powerful bass. As well as a 6.5-inch dedicated downward-firing subwoofer driver, it has two bass ports on the back. Where smaller units rely on passive radiators to bring the boom, this one has the real deal — a large (for its size) active speaker. 

This is paired with three fairly small 2.75-inch mid-range drivers and three tweeters. These are arranged so that the left and right units point to each side, for a wider stereo image. 

JBL Authentics 500 driver close upClose-up of JBL Authentics 500 speaker driver.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

While you do ideally want a pair of spaced-apart speakers for proper stereo, the JBL Authentics 500 does succeed in sounding very big, loud and powerful. 

The confidence and sheer weight of the low-end make the JBL Xtreme 3 sound quite reserved by comparison. Dial the Authentics 500’s volume up and you can get some club-style thrills right in your own flat, and probably some neighbour complaints to go along with it. 

The big question: is that really what you want? The Authentics 500 is a good-time party machine, but it doesn’t reproduce tracks in quite the way I’m used to. In order to get closer to that sort of fidelity, you have to ramp the bass way down. And for a speaker with on-body EQ controls, equalisation isn’t all that powerful as even in the JBL One app you still only get three-band treble, mids and bass level tweaking. 

JBL Authentics 500 downward-firing bass driverJBL Authentics 500 speaker on a white surface.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Mids do not have all that much presence with standard tuning, which leads to key vocal and guitar lines often sinking into the background. The Xtreme 3, with its more measured take, is able to project mid-range elements in the mix with greater precision, which in turn make music sound more dynamic and three-dimensional. But, sure, the JBL Authentics 500 can make the Xtreme 3 sound timid and weak by comparison with its sheer heft. 

The JBL Authentics 500 has power aplenty, but its approach clashes with its price. At £579 don’t you expect a certain level of hi-fi sophistication, particularly given the reference to classic JBL hifi speakers in the design? I was a little disappointed at how the enthusiastic mid-bass and upper-mid-bass tended to confuse more complex arrangements in what should otherwise be a fairly detailed sound signature.

JBL Authentics 500 front
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I ended up wishing the Authentics 500 was a bit more buttoned-up. And while you can tame it with the EQ controls, I’m not a fan of how they are implemented here. The light-up dials only give you an indication of the level for a couple of seconds after making those changes (by design) and you can’t create presets in the app. For a speaker that seems to put EQ centre stage, equalisation is kinda half-baked.

This is the polar opposite of what I’ve experienced reviewing several of JBL’s portable wireless speakers, which are more refined and restrained than they look.

It’s deliberate, mind you. Most of JBL’s speakers have tuning labelled “JBL Original Pro sound,” but this one does not. However, lots of folks will simply love how bold and powerful the Authentics 500 sounds.

JBL Authentics 500 Quadrex materialClose-up of JBL Authentics 500 speaker grille and logo.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

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Should you buy it?

You want a good time

Want a big-sounding and bassy speaker that doesn’t hold back, and can also connect to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant? You got it.

You expect top-tier audio fidelity

JBL’s sound approach here is different to that of its other wireless speakers. It goes all out on power and bombast, and lacks the poise and moderation you might expect given the price.

Final Thoughts

The JBL Authentics 500 is out for a good time, and will thrill those who like their music loud, big in scale and big on bass. 

It’s highly distinctive too, thanks to the Quadrex-style grille used in speakers like the classic JBL L100. 

Don’t buy one expecting the kind of presentation of music you get with such a speaker, though. The JBL Authentics 500 is all about bass and power, which might not be what you expect when first approaching this unit. 

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How we test

We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested for more than a week

Tested with real world use


Is the JBL Authentics 500 portable?

It’s not portable as there’s no integrated battery.

Is the JBL Authentics 500 waterproof?

There’s no water resistance rating here as the speaker is intended for use in the home.

Is the JBL Authentics 500 a smart speaker?

It supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and has integrated microphones.

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