If the speaker dock is the 21st-century equivalent of the boom box, then the JBL OnBeat Rumble is today’s version of the ghetto blaster that weighed about 20 pounds and had speaker-upon-speaker surrounding the tape deck. But this bad boy isn’t all about size and weight – it sounds damn good, too.
Looking a bit like a UFO combined with a kitchen appliance, its orange grille certainly attracts attention, and its large size is the reason it can sound so good. Packed with two 2.5-inch speakers and a 4.5-inch subwoofer, the Rumble is essentially a self-contained 2.1 speaker system for your mobile device.
The aptly named Rumble gets plenty loud enough for small and medium size rooms, though its sonic superiority can get lost in larger settings. But it’s never short on bass: The system generates more low-end than many bookshelf speaker systems. If you really like to feel the music, you can even boost the bass for more vibration. Perhaps more useful, the “club” button effectively creates the illusion that the audio is coming from a bigger system.
The speaker includes a Lightning connector for Apple’s latest iDevices, though it works best with an iPhone 5 or iPad mini, since the full-size iPad sits uneasily atop the unit and is easy to dislodge. We recommend using the built-in Bluetooth or USB connections for the regular iPad, and, of course, any non-Apple device. [$400; jbl.com]