JBL Spyro - powered 36W speaker system 

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JBL have produced an excellent speaker system that isn't tied to any specific sound source - use it to play back whatever you want : iPod, CD player, TV - anything.

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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the excellent JBL radial iPod speaker system. The JBL Spyro is built on the same technology to deliver a powerful rich sound system for a variety of uses.

The Spyro comprises a central 'bass' unit (the sub-woofer) that provides 24W output using JBL's 'Atlas' transducer. Higher frequencies, and hence the stereo effect, are generated from two rather attractive 6W satellite speakers that look very much like four-petal flowers. These are connected to the central bass unit via generous 2m high quality cables allowing you to have a separation of 4m between the tweaters.

The central unit provides all the connections for the system. Power in is provided via an external 45W power supply. Out from the central unit are connections for the two satellites along with a standard 3.5mm jack socket for the input sound source. This again is provided with a very generous 3m connection lead. As I write this I'm listenning to playback from my iPod, but I've also used the system with a computer and line-out from a radio.

There are only two control on the JBL Spyro. The central unit has a rotary bass control. This is one of the few products I've tested where, unless you reduced the bass level, there was actually far too much bass in relation to the higher frequencies - it's more common for compact systems to struggle to deliver sufficient bass.

Volume is controlled via the right-hand petal speaker. Two of the 'petals' are marked one with a '+' and the other with '-'. These are touch sensitive. Simply rest your finger on one of these two petals and the volume adjusts accordingly. Very clever, although not altogether obvious until you spot the subtle markings (my review unit doesn't include a manual!)

I was very impressed with the volume range of the Spyro. Even at maximum volume, despite being close to deafening, there was no actual rattle or distortion detectable to my ears.

Although the sound is very good the product could have benefited from a simple remote control to adjust the volume. I had the system set-up across the room - the best place from which to hear the supperb quality. To adjust the volume though you have to walk over. It's very difficult to get the sound right in that situation. I can only assume the designers expected the tweaters to be either end of a desk and you simply reach acroll to change the sound.

Also with this kind of configuration - central unit with wired satellite speakers - it's very easy to end up with a birdsnest of wiring - there are four long leads in all : power; line-in and the two tweaters.

In environments though where you can comfortably hide the wiring the sound will definitely not disappoint.

Although I'm testing a black system, the Spyro is available in a range of colours including white; fushia; teal; and orange. The prive varies enourmously depending on colour. The best price I found was for white priced at £68 including delivery from Amazon. From the same supplier the black cost as much as £93.71. You can see all the colours and prices here.

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OverallJBL Spyro - powered 36W speaker system rated 76 out of 100

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