Harman has announced a series of new JBL smart speakers that have a very unique capability. While there have been smart speakers that offer a choice of using Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant, namely from Sonos, the trio of new JBL smart speakers announced today are the first to provide access to both voice assistants simultaneously. This means you can, for example, set a timer using Alexa and then ask Google Assistant to stop the timer, or start playing music with Google Assistant and have that music be lowered in volume when an alarm set by Alexa goes off.
The three speakers announced today with this unique dual voice assistant capability are the JBL Authentics 200 for $349.95, the JBL Authentics 500 for $699.95, and a portable JBL Authentics 300 for $449.95. The Authentics 200 and 300 are very similar, with the main difference being that the latter has a built-in battery for 8 hours of playtime. They both have a pair of 1″ tweeters but the Authentics 200 has a 5″ mid-wooofer and 6″ passive radiator, while the Authentics 300 has a similar but slightly larger 5.25″ mid-wooofer and 6.5″ passive radiator. The Authentics 200 uses a 90-watt amplifier while the Authentics 300 uses a 100-watt amplifier.
The Authentics 500 steps things up considerably with a 270-watt amplifier powering several speakers. It contains three 1″ tweeters, three 2.75″ mid-woofers, and a 6.5″ active down-firing subwoofer. The Authentics 500 is the only speaker of the three with virtual Dolby Atmos, for what that’s worth.
The blending of the two voice assistants onboard is done through the Multi-Agent Experience (MAX) Toolkit. This allows the assistants to be aware of certain things that the other is doing, like music playing or running timers, but it isn’t exactly a completely cohesive partnership. You still have to set up each voice assistant individually and you still have to set up all smart home devices twice, once with each assistant. While this is certainly better than having two separate smart speakers in one room, it’s not like all the capabilities of one voice assistant are shared with the other.
The JBL Authentics 200, 300, and 500 smart speakers will be available to pre-order on September 12th. They will be released in Europe on September 15th and in North America a couple of days later on September 17th.