JBL On Stage IIIp iPhone & iPod Speaker Dock Review

JBL On Stage IIIp iPod Speaker Dock
JBL On Stage IIIp iPod Speaker Dock. image credit: JBL

The On Stage IIIp was released in 2008. For details on more recent speakers, check out The 7 Best Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speakers to Buy.

Works with

The Good

  • Remote handles all iPod features
  • Portable—light, can use batteries
  • Solid sound

The Bad

  • So-so bass
  • Too expensive

The Price

  • US$169.95

JBL's On Stage IIIp iPod speaker dock packs a lot into its small shape. But, due to unexceptional sound and a slightly high price, it's not quite as distinguished as some of its features might lead one to expect.

The On Stage IIIp looks like a small black plate or a discus with a speaker grill around its outside edge. It's small—about as big as an average-size man's hand—and is designed to be portable: it can be powered by an AC adapter or 6 AA batteries and weighs only 1 pound.

As with most iPod speaker docks, the On Stage IIIp charges the iPod or iPhone while it's docked and includes a stereo line-in jack to connect other music players. But other music players aren't at issue here. The question is: how does an iPod sound playing music through the On Stage IIIp?

The sound produced by the On Stage IIIp is solid. While you won't confuse the sound produced here with a speaker aimed at audiophiles, for a small, portable system, the sound is acceptable.

Music generally sounds good and can get very loud, but on close listens, the sound quality erodes a little. These close listens reveal a middling bass response and a sound that's not as deep or rich as that produced by other speakers. Treble produced by the On Stage IIIp sounds a little airy and higher-end sounds can be a little sharp, especially at high volumes.

Given this, you'll be most pleased with it if you use this speaker in a room or office, not at parties or in big rooms that need big sound.

An Exemplary Remote Control

While the On Stage IIIp's sound is just acceptable, its remote control is nearly perfect. Most iPod speaker remote controls can do a few things: control volume and power, and move back and forth within playlists. What most can't do, though, is navigate all of the iPod's menus.

The On Stage IIIp's remote can do this, making it extremely capable and useful. This feature is common on JBL products, but missing in what most other manufacturers produce. I'm not sure why it's so hard for other manufacturers to add this feature, but JBL earns major points with me for having it.

An Incorrect Warning and a Note

Though JBL says the On Stage IIIp works with the iPhone, when I tried to use my 3G, the phone told me the speakers weren't designed to work with it. I ignored the warning, though, and was able to use them without any difficulty and without going to airplane mode. Not a problem, really, but a little hiccup.

One thing that prevents the On Stage IIIp from getting a higher rating is its price. At US$170 it feels overpriced, especially when compared to JBL’s On Stage 200iD, which produces sound just as good, if not better, and costs $150. That $20 difference may be due to the IIIp's greater portability, but that factor doesn't offset quality in my view.

The Bottom Line

The JBL On Stage IIIp iPod speaker dock is a solid product. It offers a top-notch remote control, solid sound, and portability. It’s worth considering, but if its price was a little lower or its sound quality a little higher, it would be even more worthy.

Originally published: Oct. 2008