In the mid-90s, JBL introduced the first of its EON portable P.A. series, a line that would eventually became one of the most popular systems of its kind due to its great sound for the price. Keyboardists have long been using them as their go-to amplifier because they provide more power than the typical keyboard amp while offering full frequency reproduction.
JBL has updated the EON line with the EON600 series, which adds several new features, not the least of which is the company’s latest waveguide technology and built-in DSP. Nonetheless, the EON600 series carries on the tradition of providing value and flexibility, making it a speaker that any keyboardist would want in their rig.
For this review, I tested the largest model, the EON615. Rated at 500W (continuous level) with a Class D amp, it drives a 15" woofer (350W) and a neodymium compression driver (150W). Located on the rear panel is a pair of 1/4-inch TRS/XLR combo inputs, gain controls for each channel, and four EQ presets—Main, Monitor, Sub, and Speech—that cover the EON615’s most common uses.
Using the EON Connect app with a Bluetooth-enabled device (iOS/Android), you can alter the onboard DSP, which includes three parametric EQs, high and low shelves, and delay, as well as set the output mix, save presets and update the system’s firmware. I really appreciated having the ability to fine tune aspects of the system at a distance using my smartphone.
I used a pair of EON615s in a variety of settings and the speakers handled each job equally well. At home, I ran various stage keyboards through the speakers to test their handling of acoustic piano voices and was very pleased with the natural and uncolored reproduction. Taking one of the speakers to a medium sized jazz venue, I got a wonderful sound from my Crumar Mojo and Hammond SK1. The 15" speaker gave me plenty of low-end for the left hand and pedal bass, and I could definitely feel the swirl of the Leslie, the crunch of the Clavinet, and the fine detail in the electric pianos and acoustic piano patch. Later, when a singer sat in with us, I ran her mic through the EON615, which provided clear vocals that cut through the mix of our band.
Weighing in at 39 lbs, the JBL EON615 is well-balanced and surprisingly easy to carry and set up. Unlike earlier EON models, the newest cabinets have straight edges, allowing you stack them on top of each other. And if this model is larger than you need, JBL offers the EON610 ($399) and EON612 ($449), which include 10" and 12" woofers, respectively, and put out 500W of Class D power.
Best of all, the EON615 offers quite a bit of flexibility. The shape of the cabinet and EQ presets allow you to use it as a stage monitor (placed on its side) as well as a P.A. system for music or speaking engagements. And with a street price well below $500, they are a tremendous value.
Pros Full frequency range. Combo jack accepts 1/4" and XLR input. EQ presets. Bluetooth controlled DSP.
Cons No 3.5mm input for playback from portable devices.
A powerful portable PA that keyboardists can use anywhere.