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JBL Invader 4.1 Review

JBL Invader 4.1
MSRP $130.00
“What JBL has created in the Invader 4.1 speaker system is an over the top design coupled with great sound.”
Pros
  • Great build quality
  • deep crisp bass
Cons
  • Power switch is located on the subwoofer
  • no rear speaker mounting options

Summary

The $100 – $199 price range is home to many options in the computer speaker market, but often compromises are made with what is offered. We feel that the JBL Invader system offers above average sound and build quality. We would have liked to have seen a power switch located on the satellite rather than the subwoofer as well as mounting options for the rear speakers. The JBL Invader 4.1 speaker system works well for 3d Gaming and surround sound movies and music reproduction is better than most speaker systems in this price range. What JBL has created in the Invader 4.1 speaker system is an over the top design coupled with great sound. In a competitive market, the JBL Invader speaker system stands above the rest.

Introduction

Last year JBL introduced the Creature speaker system for the home computer market. The overall design of the Creature system was wild and unlike anything available at that time. Apple users in particular were quick to adopt the Creature system for its unique design, with styling similar to the Apple iMac line. This year, JBL is following suit with their new JBL Invader 4.1 speaker system manufactured by Harman Multimedia and available for both IBM compatible and Apple computer systems. Like the JBL Creature speakers, the Invaders have a radical design but get a power boost over their predecessor proving that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Features

The JBL Invader system features 4 satellite speakers each featuring dual Phoenix drivers outputting 12-watts RMS per satellite while the subwoofer outputs 32-watts RMS of power through the 185 mm Magnum powered subwoofer. Total system power is a whopping 80-watts RMS, twice as much as the JBL Creature or Sound Sticks speaker systems. The subwoofer utilizes JBL’s APG Technology port design and Magnum Transducer to provide clean low bass. The port on the subwoofer enclosure is front firing creating a technically directional sound. The frequency response of the Invader speaker system ranges from 40 – 20kHz,

Bass and treble management controls are located on the subwoofer while the volume control can be found on the right front satellite speaker. Each satellite has to be positioned standing upright as there is no mounting hardware included with the system. This will limit how you setup your rear surround speakers.

Setup and testing

Included with the JBL Invader speaker system is a detailed manual as well as a quick setup guide. All of the satellite inputs are fed into the subwoofer enclosure which also houses the power supply and amp. Speaker inputs are color coded on the back of the Subwoofer and should match up with the colors used on your sound card. We noticed that the rear speakers came with longer cables than the satellites used for the front, giving you ample room to position your rear speakers where you want them.

Ideally it takes a sound card with surround sound support and both front/rear inputs to take advantage of a 4.1 speaker system, but in case your soundcard does not support surround sound capabilities, JBL includes a Y-adapter cable to give you quadraphonic sound which sounds similar to a true surround sound system; you get stereo sound from both the front and rear speakers.

Setup is relatively painless and we experienced no problems with getting sound from the Invader system. Upon setup we noticed that the satellite speakers are rather light, but kept our hopes up that weight is not an indication of sound quality.

In our music tests we used David Gray’s album titled Flesh which has a lot of acoustic guitar, vocals and solid bass. The JBL Invaders produced very crisp highs and lows, but lacked mid-range detail we would have liked. Bass is crisp and apparent but not overwhelming which is good. The satellites in particular pushed the highs out very well creating a crisp but somewhat flat projection.

In our game tests with Tactical-Operations the Invaders sounded good with crisp highs and deep bass. Foot steps and falling shell casings were distinguishable from the rest of the game sounds. Again mid-range sound was not as apparent as the highs and lows, but was on par with other speakers in this price range.

Lastly, in our movie tests we watched Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Junior. The JBL Invaders did an adequate job of making up for a missing center channel speaker and the subwoofer never produced a hollow thud present in other computer speaker systems.

At high volumes we experienced very minimal clipping while the music sounded bright and airy. Between songs there was also very minimal white noise being heard proving that the quality of the Invader speakers better than most speakers in its class.

Conclusion

The $100 – $199 price range is home to many options in the computer speaker market, but often compromises are made with what is offered. We feel that the JBL Invader system offers above average sound and build quality. We would have liked to have seen a power switch located on the satellite rather than the subwoofer as well as mounting options for the rear speakers. The JBL Invader 4.1 speaker system works well for 3d Gaming and surround sound movies and music reproduction is better than most speaker systems in this price range. What JBL has created in the Invader 4.1 speaker system is an over the top design coupled with great sound. In a competitive market, the JBL Invader speaker system stands above the rest.

Editors' Recommendations

Ian Bell
I work with the best people in the world and get paid to play with gadgets. What's not to like?
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