JBL Link 300
- Sound quality
- Goolge Assistant
- Multi-speaker ability
- Looks good
- Multiple connection options
- I'll let you know when I find one...
Late last year I raved about the JBL Link View. It impressed me with its excellent sound and the addition of a screen for a smart speaker in an environment such as the kitchen just seemed to make sense.
But what about in spaces where that screen isn’t needed?
JBL have an answer for that too, in their comprehensive range of Link smart speakers. They pack the same Google Assistant intelligence, without the screen.
Disclosure – JBL provided Blog of Dad with the Link 300 free of charge, for the purpose of review. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with the Link 300. For further information, please visit my disclosure statement.
The JBL Link 300 is the little brother the Link 500. Smaller it might be, but it still packs enough punch to confidently fill the entire living room/dining room/kitchen of my townhouse with impressively loud and clear sound. It looks great, without demanding attention.
JBL Link 300 Specifications
The JBL Link 300 is a reasonably compact speaker, but it is packed full of goodness. It measures about 24cm wide and 13 cm high, and is oval in shape. Inside you find a powerful 89mm woofer and a 20mm tweeter. Output power is 2 x 25W – more than enough to fill my bedroom with amazing sound, and even plenty of grunt for listening to music in the open-plan downstairs of my townhouse. The Link 300 supports 24 bit/96kHz audio, which means you can enjoy high quality recordings.
The JBL Link 300 operates on 2.4 and 5GHz wireless networks, and uses Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless streaming.
Hands-free voice control is provided by two far-field microphones. They do a great job of picking up my voice commands, even from across the room and over the top of music.
The Link 300 comes with Chromecast built in, which means there are plenty of options for connecting just about any sound source to the speaker.
JBL Link 300 Sound Quality
The JBL Link 300 sounds amazing. I know that’s not exactly breaking news to anyone familiar with JBL quality – the company has consistently produced great sound for more than 90 years.
But it needed to be said, because sometimes when traditional companies head in new directions, they forget what made them loved in the first place. That certainly isn’t the case with JBL. Even with all the bells and whistles of wi-fi, Bluetooth and Google Assistant, it is the quality of the sound that shines through on the Link 300.
The Listening Test…
In days gone by I would have sat by a new speaker and worked my way through an extensive (and somewhat eclectic) range of favourite songs. Perhaps I would have started with a bit of Paul Kelly, followed by Bob Dylan’s Masters of War, before moving on to the now-cool-to-hate-them-but-whatever-I-still-like-them Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, maybe some Tracy Chapman or Janis Joplin. Finally I would have blasted Outcast’s B.O.B., just to really test things out…
But now I have a toddler.
Who has opinions.
Not very good opinions.
But loud opinions.
Repeated over and over, until she gets what she wants.
So it was that the first piece of music to grace my stunning new JBL Link 300 was… Baby Shark.
Can the Link 300 make even an abomination of a song like Baby Shark sound good? No, of course it can’t. It’s not a magical genie. NOTHING can make hearing Baby Shark for the ten-millionth time enjoyable.
YouTube did it’s thing and we went on a journey through kids songs – some terrible, some quite pleasant. I began to focus on the quality of the sound produced by the Link 300. Vocals were always crisp and clear. That’s actually really important for a toddler whose vocabulary is rapidly exploding (even if it is hilarious when she sings what she thinks she had heard). The instruments, while usually very basic, were far easier on my ear than when blaring out of a phone or cheap Bluetooth speaker.
The Real Listening Test
Finally I wrestled control of the Link 300 from the toddler (…okay, she got bored and wandered off to find some toys) and was able to enjoy some of my own music. The JBL Link 300 has the huge advantage of Google Assistant, which means that one just has to ask, and instantly their song of choice is retrieved from their preferred source (usually premium accounts are required to select specific songs).
It was bliss! It didn’t matter what genre I threw at the Link 300, the music came through rich and clear. The JBL Link 300 pumps out strong bass through the impressive 89mm woofer at the back, but it enhances, rather than dominates the music.
Dylan’s raspy lyrics in Tangled Up in Blue were clear and easy to understand (not always a given!), Flea’s thumping bass took me back to an unforgettable night at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2002.
As I worked my way through my playlist, it was apparent that Link 300 consistently delivered well-balanced listening, whatever the genre. From the complexities of Led Zeppelin to the rawness of Nirvana, the Link 300 delivered it all as it should be. It’s worth noting that I tested my music at my usual, comfortable-listening level, which is not quite as brain-rattling as it was in my younger days. According to the Google Home app, my comfortable listening level was at about 45% of the Link 300s capacity. When I cranked the volume (because what is a speaker test without trying to blow out a tweeter?), the Link 300 maintained its composure. It’s safe to say I’ll never complain about a lack of punch. Those looking to blow the roof off a larger space might want to consider the Link 500.
I even threw on some classical music, because with a newborn about to shake things up around here, classical music will be an important weapon in the battle for calmness and serenity. I put some Mozart on a very low volume and marvelled at how it sat nicely in the background – clearly audible if I cared to focus on it, but otherwise just a soothing background sound. If that doesn’t calm the baby to sleep, I don’t know what will!
JBL Link 300 Functions (with Google Assistant)
There is a range of smart assistants out there, but it’s hard to argue that any other than Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant have dominated the market. I have used both of these extensively over the past year, and I much prefer Google Assistant-based devices. Perhaps that’s because Amazon isn’t quite as prolific in Australia as it is overseas, or perhaps just because after years or using Android phones I’m thoroughly ingrained within the Google ecosystem. Whatever the reason, I definitely find Google Assistant speakers a more user-friendly experience.
The Assistant can be woken with the words “hey Google”, but it can also be activated by the dedicated Google Assistant button on top of the speaker. As with all good smart speakers, the microphone can be muted. That is great for anyone who wants to control exactly when they are being overheard.
Google Assistant can be used to access information quickly and easily, and again the sheer power of Google’s databases is on show. I asked the assistant what time my local doctor’s surgery opened, and it returned the answer accurately and immediately. That’s moving beyond the novel (like finding out the time in Kazakhstan) and well into the realms of thoroughly useful.
You can also ask for news headlines, sports results (“Okay Google, what’s happening in the cricket”), and information from your Google calendar.
As we move towards smarter homes, speakers like the JBL Link 300 become even more useful. Control lights, blinds, vacuums, coffee machines, front door locks… All with your voice. It’s an exciting prospect!
Another very useful feature of the JBL Link 300 is the built-in Chromecast. This enables instant streaming of music, radio or podcasts over your wireless network. This setup also allows you to take full advantage of the 24 bit/96kHz high quality sound.
Multi-speaker With JBL Link
The other big advantage of Chromecast is that it allows for a multi-speaker setup. I paired the JBL Link 300 with my JBL Link View. It was effortless to do through the Google Home app, and the result was brilliant! Within seconds I had perfectly in-sync speakers playing the same song from my Plex server.
This can serve several purposes. Firstly (and most obviously), you can combine two (or more) JBL speakers to blow the roof right off your house. These speakers on their own pack a punch. Combine them and the result is spectacular!
There are, however, some much more subtle benefits. One that I have noticed is that the multi-speaker setup actually allows me to play my music at a quieter volume. With the Link 300 in my living room and the Link View in my kitchen (which is essentially opposite ends of one big space), I can enjoy my music while moving freely through my downstairs living space. The effect is fantastic – soft, consistent background music throughout the area. It is especially enjoyable when I’m somewhere in the middle of those two speakers – as if I’m completely wrapped in my music. It is a very pleasurable way of enjoying my music as I attend to chores, without, say, disturbing the sleeping toddler upstairs.
What this experience has made me realise it’s that JBL have finally put a Google Assistant-based, whole-home smart speaker setup within reach. A Link View in the kitchen and master bedroom, a Link 500 in living spaces, a Link 300 in the kid’s bedrooms and a Link 20 for outside would be a compelling option, and it wouldn’t cost the earth (under $3000 at RRP – That’s amazing, considering I once costed a whole-home audio setup – then I cried and decided to put it off for the next infinity years). More importantly, it would be a breeze to set up (no cabling required), could be purchased a speaker at a time, and it would fill my home with glorious, high definition sound! Interesting. Very, very interesting.