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Google Home powered speakers are breeding like rabbits. The JBL Link 10, 20 and 300 are the first to have waterproof and portable speakers.

JBL makes some great gear – as it should being owned by Harmon Kardon and Samsung. Our current absolute favourite (non-Dolby Atmos) soundbar is the JBL Bar 5.1. It is so popular that it sold out within days of release and new stocks won’t arrive until September. JBL Linkl products will be just as popular.

We have reported on the JBL Link 10, 20 and 300 (GadgetGuy report here) but now have fully tested them.

Over the past week, we have reviewed ten of the available Google Assistant speakers.

While this article is not a shoot-out as such, it does show that there are distinct Google Assistant categories of speakers.

  • Basic 1.0, 24-bit/96kHz – Google Home and Google Home Mini (review here)
  • Mid 1.0 (no Bluetooth) – Sony LF-S50G (original review here and update to come)
  • Upper 1.0 (Bluetooth) – LG WK7 ThinQ (review here) and JBL Link 300 (this review)
  • Water-resistant/portable – JBL Link 10/20/300 (this review)
  • Stereo 2.0 – Google Home Max (review here) and Panasonic SC-GA10 (original review here and an updated review here)
JBL Link 10, 20 and 300

JBL Link 300 (Website here)

Because of different price ranges and features, it is important to review this within a distinct band. Because it has Bluetooth and a $349.95 price tag the other contender in the Upper 1.0 class is the LG WK7 ThinQ.

Not to rain on JBL’s parade but LG WK7 got it so right with the WK7 sound, Hi-Res 24-bit/192kHz audio, and $299 price that ‘comparisons are odious’. In fact, it is on sale right now for $235 (shop around) and that blows all 1.0 contenders out of the water.

There is nothing wrong with the JBL Link 300 except that at $349.95 it is paddling in the big pool. Sorry, that is for its waterproof siblings, Link 10 and 20.

Looks wise it is a black or white, rubberised ‘squashed barrel’ design. At the rear is a large, circular bass port. We test all speakers on a large open-sided, benchtop so this port does nothing for the sound. Place it near a wall or bookshelf where it can resonate the bass more.

We can say you would not be disappointed if a) you like the design and b) bag a bargain closer to $300.

So how does the Link 300 sound?

JBL claims 55Hz-22kHz frequency response and it is right.

We ran the tone generator test first. Bass kicked in around 60Hz (nice and low), peaked at 130Hz where it was then relatively flat to 600Hz. Mids then kicked in were good to 5kHz. Upper-mids and treble went to about 18kHz. A tone generator tells you what the real sound signature is (warm and sweet), but not how it sounds.

FR Link 300

We played Beach Boys (vocal and instrumental) and it performed well. Mid-bass kicked in later as expected at 160Hz. The frequency response was reasonably flat to 15kHz. The Gold line represents peak and the white line minimum over a three-minute sample. Good!

FR Link 300

We played the Peter Gunn Blues Brother Theme and it was unpleasant. Bass kicked in at 100Hz, and it was harsh throughout the three-minute track. Don’t blame the audio track quality (I love Blues Brothers so don’t blame the music). The Google Home equaliser (basically Bass and Treble +/-6dB) is to blame. We adjusted this, but it did not make a lot of difference.

FR Link 300

I hope JBL are listening and release an Android and iOS app to fine-tune this otherwise excellent speaker.

The clear winner sound and price-wise here was the LG WK7, Meridian tuned speaker. Its tuning settings reside on the speaker and it does not need Google Assistant EQ tweaking.