JBL On Stage 400P (iPhone/iPod Touch) Speaker Dock Review

DAB

Mod Emeritus
Oct 9, 2008
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One thing I quickly discovered after having the 1st gen iPod Touch is that none of my speaker docks at work or at home in my bedroom worked with my new iPhone 3GS. Fortunately the Kicker iKick 500 works (in that it charges and plays music), but isn't shielded very well from cellular signal so there is an occasional squeal here and there.

Even my older universal docks give me a pop up on the iPhone telling me that I need to run in Airplane mode.

So today I picked up a couple of iPhone 3G docks (made specifically for the iPhone) and at the office I can connect it to my speaker system. This seemed like a cheap alternative to buying a new speaker system.

However, for home use especially in my bedroom, I wanted a speaker system. My previous system was the Bose SoundDock. Which now not only doesn't charge my phone, but I would occasionally here some feedback when getting a call etc. I started to just buy another Bose SoundDock II, but I've never really been that impressed with the Bose setup. I started looking around and of course having had a JBL On Tour mini speaker setup, which has always impressed me because of the small size of it. I decided to check out what else JBL has. This lead me to the JBL On Stage 400P. This speaker dock setup was designed for the iPhone 3G, which means it is shielded from cellular feedback and it also charges the iPhone. The good news is that it also works with previous 1st gen iPod Touch's and even Classic iPods. I was about to order it online, but decided I'd wait. Low and behold I went to Walmart to pick up some dog food and of course like always wondered over to the Electronics Department. There sitting on the shelf was the JBL On Tour 400P. So, I decided to go ahead and jump on one.

I get home unbox it. It comes with the dock, which sort of looks like a space ship of some sort. It has several dock adapters, so you just have to pick the one for your particular iPhone/iPod Touch etc. My initial concern is that the dock is on the very top of the unit. Not protected very much. I know on the Bose setup that my iPod Touch always just sort of dangled on the connector. So again I was concerned about this. However, with much foresight JBL adds these little rubber backs that tab into the dock adapter to provide a real solid platform for the iPhone.

There is nothing fancy about the JBL On Stage 400P, there is no means to change bass, treble or mid-range, but JBL seems to have done a good job with the DSP-aided audio equalization and I don't really see that as necessary. It does have a power button on the back, along with the power plug-in and an aux-input. Comes with a short audio cable to plug in an aux input. There is no clock or alarm features, but I use the iPhone for that. Size wise it is great for the bed stand or even on the desk at an office. So, while the picture makes it bigger it is actually not that large.

Now... HOW DOES SHE SOUND? Well having come from a Bose setup I guess you could say I expected a lot or maybe a little depending on how you look at it. Let me just say as far as I am concerned the JBL On Stage 400P blows away the Bose SoundDock. I was so surprised at how much bass at lower volumes that there was with the JBL. This has always been a bone of mine with the Bose setup NO freaking bass at low volume. Don't get me wrong at low volume I don't mean that it will be bumping. But just discernible, which it was not on the Bose setup. I would say if the JBL suffers it is in the mid-range area, but you really have to pay attention to notice it. Lows are nice and the clarity is just unreal. $100 less than the Bose SoundDock II, I'll take it! Just to clarify JBL works great for listening to new age or sleepy music as you drift off the sleep, but then you can crank it a notch or too and get some really nice bass and that is what was missing from the Bose setup.

I will say this the Bose will get louder, but this will also introduce distortion. The JBL seems to have limited the volume to prevent this. I am fine by that, because if I really want to boom, boom, boom, I'll use my Kicker iKick 500, which is by far the loudest iPhone/iPod Dock sold to date. Not to mention has some real thumping, bumping bass to go with it.

If you are looking for a nice speaker setup for your iPhone, which is shielded from cellular feedback, I highly recommend you consider the JBL On Stage 400P. I even recommend it for the iPod Touch and yes it will charge the 2nd gen as it does the iPhone 3G and 3GS. $199 to $249 depending on where you purchase, it is available at Walmart at the lower price.