Harman Refreshes Best-Selling Portable Speaker Designs with Massive Improvements

September 21 2020, 01:10
A few weeks past since the IFA 2020 announcements, where most global consumer electronics companies found a stage to introduce some of its key products for the forthcoming months, it becomes interesting to look closer at some of the key announcements in audio. Harman chose to unveil the new JBL Xtreme 3, JBL Go 3 and JBL Clip 4 portable speakers, all now featuring new more robust designs and strong color palettes in tune with a world still shaken by a global pandemic. 

To offer listeners "a multitude of ways to experience the transformative power of music," was the inspiration for the new 2021 line from Harman International, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. The motivation was also "to meet consumers where they are with products and solutions that deliver listening experiences that resonate powerfully and personally."

And Harman also added to that statement: "The Covid-19 pandemic has brought sweeping change to society as a whole, altering the way people live, work, and interact. The pandemic has also served as a refining force, impelling the world to simplify, to reduce, to stay close to home. For many, loneliness and anxiety have been the result. And yet, in this human challenge as in so many before it, millions have turned to music as a source of comfort, healing, and connection. If there is one thing that the pandemic has made clear, it’s that music matters – more than ever.

"Harman has always believed in the profound benefits of music. For more than 70 years, Harman's designers and engineers have devoted their passion and talent to creating products and solutions that help people enjoy those benefits to the fullest – from on-the-go speakers that can accompany listeners anywhere, to gaming headsets that give players a competitive advantage through a hyper-accurate, immersive soundscape, to home audio equipment and headphones that can turn a living room into a virtual concert hall, an efficient home-office or place to study. Now more than ever, Harman is committed to meeting users' growing demand for genuine, meaningful listening experiences," says Dave Rogers, President, Lifestyle Division at Harman.

"In the face of so much uncertainty today, finding that sense of connection – with the moment, with one another, with ourselves – is essential to embracing the present and building a stronger, healthier, brighter future,” he adds.

And because buying habits in the age of COVID-19 have also evolved significantly, with online shopping in particular seeing exponential growth - a transition that Harman and most CE companies believe will have lasting effects - it is also important to focus on products that fit those conditions. Reasons for Harman to employ "a comprehensive omni-channel strategy and engaging with its community partners to meet customers where they are as well as where they shop."

And consumers are increasingly adopting wireless audio and portable, battery-powered designs, which can be used at home and anywhere they go. A trend clearly reflected in the massive growth in wireless headphones and particularly in the true wireless category. Consumer's familiarity with wireless is expanding also to new portable speaker designs, while at the same time high-resolution audio adoption, which is now going mainstream, is motivating improved audio quality experiences.

"With the growth of compatible wireless speakers, soundbars and wireless headphones, High-Res adoption has been experiencing strong development, and as the number of High-Res streaming subscribers continues to grow, the addressable audience for premium audio products is likely to follow suit, thus benefitting the entire audio market," Harman states.
Dario Distefano, Harman's Principal Industrial Designer, explaining the new design choices for the latest JBL portable speaker range.
The Market Extreme
On the complete extreme of any audio quality considerations, where convenience and fashion have stronger appeal, Harman is the undisputed leader in affordable portable speakers, with a 35% global volume share. In 2019, Harman confirmed the impressive milestone of 100 million portable speakers shipped worldwide. "By paying close attention to the habits and lifestyle of its users, and focusing on the real-life scenarios when people needed audio, JBL created a range of products for different use cases," Harman states. 

This year, Harman decided to complete revamp the design of some of its best-sellers in the portable speaker category, with the new and improved JBL Xtreme 3, Go 3 and Clip 4 speakers. All feature an upgraded, bold logo design and hot new colors, use more durable materials, while reinforcing sound reproduction with even more powerful audio by using reinforced structures and allowing the drivers to achieve extreme excursions - virtually at the limits of physics.

"We’re proud to present our latest portable speakers in a brand new, standout logo design," adds Dave Rogers. "It’s the epic JBL sound we all know, now in an even more fabulous package that suits the street style of the JBL fanbase. All three speakers are now water and dust proof and also feature Bluetooth 5.1 and a USB-C connection, so our customers get all the latest features to match the new look."

The new generation of the JBL Xtreme Bluetooth speaker delivers an even bigger stereo sound, using four improved drivers and two pumping JBL Bass Radiators. The powerful sound impression is reinforced with an eye-catching logo design and an upgrade of the handy carrying strap. The whole JBL Xtreme 3 design is now IP67 rated, and offers an incredible 15 hours of battery life. The built-in powerbank uses an USB-C power adapter, and charges other devices. The PartyBoost feature allows pairing two JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers together for stereo sound (JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers can even be linked in the hundreds to create big party effects!).

The other totally new design is the JBL Clip 4, "a statement accessory," as Harman describes it. This compact speaker boasts an impressive 10 hours of playtime and big bass for its size, now adopting a new shape that is easier to grab with one hand. Pouring rain or scorching sun, the JBL Clip 4 is now both water and dustproof, while the integrated carabiner - a traveller’s favorite - has been upgraded with a new reinforced, four times stronger, material. The brand-new JBL Clip4 design also comes in multiple trendy colors.

The star of the new range is naturally the JBL Go 3, the versatile rectangular speaker that can be found all over the world and its JBL’s smallest speaker. This pocket-size "must-have accessory" now offers a "rounder," and "rubberized" look with expressive details inspired by street fashion. Totally upgraded inside and out, the JBL Go 3 also features an integrated loop to make it ultra-portable.

This mini speaker is able to play on for five hours on one charge, delivering surprisingly strong sound and punchy bass for its size. And the updated Bluetooth v5.1 technology will improve the users' experience with wireless streaming and pairing with multiple Bluetooth-enabled devices. At the beach or in the park, the IP67 waterproof and dustproof Go 3 will keep working and will impress even more with the new color schemes.

In all these new extremely compact audio products, Harman visibly applied its design and materials experience, expanding the appeal in a category where only economies of scale allow introducing such noticeable improvements. While each Harman brand has its own specific look and feel, the product design process always shares the same user focus, assessing their exact needs and desires, and conducting extensive user research. For this affordable range, Dario Distefano, Harman's Principal Industrial Designer provided the guidelines for the big bold colors and attitude, using new reinforced fabrics and silicone-bonded logos, symbols and bumpers, also adding new anti-sliding protections. A visual and tactile improvements that consumers will easily recognize.

The JBL Xtreme 3 will be available October 2020 for 299 EUR/$349.95. The JBL Clip 4 will be available November 2020 for 59.99 EUR/$69.95. And the JBL Go 3 will be available October 2020 for just 39.99 EUR/$39.95
www.harman.com | www.jbl.com
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