On Stage Micro IV good, but not great
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On Stage Micro IV good, but not great

Harman's JBL On Stage Micro IV (http://www.jbl.com) is described as a "portable loudspeaker dock" that will "will flood virtually any room or outdoor space with realistic JBL sound." (I'm not sure how realistic JBL sound differs from plain ol' realistic sound, but that's beside the point.)

The problem is that the Micro IV isn't THAT portable and the sound is good enough, but not outstanding.

The JBL On Stage IV -- which has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of US$179.95 -- uses four Odyssey transducers and includes an AC adapter or can be powered by six AA batteries that will provide up to 16 hours of normal play. The IR remote lets you navigate your music library from across the room, and on-board AC power supply will charge your iPod or iPhone.

The USB jack syncs iPod/iPhone with iTunes when connected to your computer. But you should note that if you play audio through a docked iPhone or iPod and an audio source connected to the audio in connection at the same time, you'll hear both of their outputs mixed through the JBL On Stage IV. To hear only one source, you'll need to manually turn off the source you don't want to hear.

There is a lot to like about the On Stage IV. Like all JBL and Harman products, it looks great with its futuristic, swervy design. The remote offers full iPod navigation. An LED light illuminates the transparent platform for your iPod or iPhone model and provides feedback on power and battery status of the On Stage IV. The touch controls are easy to use. And the system design is optimized, so that the speaker is immune from cellular phone interference during music playback

However, the On Stage IV measures 2.7 x 8.3 x 8.3 inches and weighs 1.6 pounds, which means that I wouldn't just toss it in my suitcase. The sound is solid for a compact speaker system, though it's hardly ground-breaking, even for a portable system. There is some stereo separation and the bass is a bit better than I'd expected. But there's nagging, noticeable distortion when you crank up the volume.

The On Stage IV isn't a bad product, by any means. But I'm not many folks are going to pay around $150 (street price) for a product that falls a bit short though it looks great.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

-- Dennis Sellers


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