Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 - Page 22



By Manus Hopkins

For full disclosure , I have to admit I was pretty much sold on JBL ’ s EON ONE MK2 portable PA system before I ’ d even received the unit or opened the box , let alone tested it out . Running in Toronto ’ s DIY music crowd , I ’ m no stranger to terrible PA systems , one of the most headache-inducing parts of live shows and rehearsals . I ’ d had my own for quite some time — quite some time , as in around 10 years — and I knew portable PA systems had levelled up times over in the time that I was using mine . And to be honest , my old system wasn ’ t as portable as it could have been . Sure , it latched up to be carried in a suitcase shape , but it was still awkward to carry and needed speaker stands and wasn ’ t a very compact setup either ; it consisted of a brain and two speakers , connected with cables — yea , one of those . The idea of an easier to carry , easier to fit in a vehicle , more compact , harder to trip over , and frankly , much more technologically advanced portable PA system made my eyes pop . This one even has Bluetooth capability !

Now , I ’ m a musician and singer , but I ’ m no tech expert , so I didn ’ t want to just plug in and go the way I would with guitar pedals or something of that nature , lest I blow the speaker right when I start playing with it and have some awkward emails to send . I carefully read up on everything I could with the system , even having some meetings before and after I received the unit with the team responsible for it to chat about its specs , uses , and more — which made me even more excited than I already was to give this thing a spin , or a few , or a lot . After scouring the user ’ s manual and deciding I was ready , I hooked up the system with Bluetooth to my computer and played some music from there , to fantastic results . The first thing that blew me away with this PA was just how loud it was — way too loud for my apartment , in the best way possible . I had thought its main use would be for rehearsals , and I immediately began thinking that if I ever need an easy-to-transport PA for a small gig , this could do the trick and then some .
After testing the PA out speaking with a usual Shure SM58 mic , I couldn ’ t wait to try it with as many different mics and in as many different settings as possible . I even got the idea to do a karaoke night with it — hook up my laptop via Bluetooth to the system , as well as to a projector and have a couple mics plugged in as well , and I ’ ve got an entire karaoke-on-the-go setup that sounds a lot better than the ones at most bars I ’ ve been to . I also know that if I ’ m ever in a situation where I need to do public speaking and there isn ’ t a PA readily available ( it could happen !) this will be my go-to . Anyway , back to its main purpose for me — the system leaves nothing to be desired as a PA for band practice . I play and sing in a trio , and with the PA ’ s volume , it doesn ’ t have to necessarily be in a certain spot for everyone to hear the vocals , which is a great thing . I find in the center , sort of between and sort of in front of myself and my band ’ s bass player , facing our drummer , the sound is optimal ; everyone can hear the vocals loud and clear , and best of all , there ’ s no annoying , unexplained buzzing ! I have to say I ’ ve gotten used to ever-present buzzing sounds in low-cost rehearsal spaces , but to not have them is still just an awesome thing .
I ’ m not going to get bogged down on all the specs and have this review read like another owner ’ s manual — you can read all that info in the actual owner ’ s manual , or online , or probably in a few other places . I ’ d rather tell you about my experience with the unit as I ’ ve been doing , but I can ’ t not take a little bit to get into the setup , as I ’ ve mentioned it a couple times . The JBL EON ONE MK2 is nothing if not compact . The large speaker has compartments at its back where a smaller one , the battery , and a spacer to raise the small speaker up higher slide in easily . Once removed , they reveal the system ’ s controls and screen . The backside isn ’ t covered in unnecessary dials either , as they all have multiple functions as selectable on the screen . There ’ s a charging chord as well , but the system doesn ’ t have to be plugged in for use , and it was honestly a challenge to try and kill its battery — something I couldn ’ t even do in a single use . While for rehearsals I obviously have power nearby and can plug in if needed , it ’ s nice to know that if I ’ m ever in some situation where I need a speaker and don ’ t have access to power , this will do the job . What if I want to play very loud music on a camping trip or something ? I ’ m covered . Unfortunately , I have only a page for this review , which isn ’ t enough to say all the good things I want to about the JBL EON ONE MK2 , but hopefully this has given you some idea of how much I ’ m enjoying it .
Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician . He can be reached at mhopkins @ nwcworld . com .