Move over Sonos Era, JBL has a major Dolby Atmos rival I can't wait to hear

The JBL Authentics 500 wraps seven drivers into a classy design, complete with 3.1 channel Dolby Atmos audio

JBL Authentics 500
(Image credit: JBL)

When it comes to the best wireless speakers there's a new player in town to rival the Sonos Era: JBL has revealed its revamped Authentics range, last introduced back in 2014, with a classy-looking new range for 2023 – and I can't wait to hear the top-of-the-line speaker in particular.

The Wi-Fi speaker series comprises the JBL Authentics 500, Authentics 300 and Authentics 200, with clear placement throughout the range to rival Sonos and its Era 300 and Era 100 models (there's also rumour of a bigger Era 500 coming later down the line, not that it's a reality just yet).

One feature that makes the JBL Authentics 500 stand out compared to the rest of the range is its inclusion of Dolby Atmos three-dimensional audio decoding. That's delivered through a 3.1 channel configuration from its seven drivers: beneath the black-and-gold-finished exterior are three 1-inch tweeters, three 2.75-inch woofers, one 6.5-inch subwoofer, combining for 270 watts of output. 

JBL Authentics 500

(Image credit: JBL)

I've tested many Wi-Fi speakers over the years, with the likes of the Naim Mu-so 2 being a high-end favourite in particular, but that alternative is very large scale and so won't suit all. That was the thing which impressed me about the Sonos Era 300: it's smaller in scale yet can deliver massive sound. The JBL Authentics has all the spec tick-boxes to sound even more massive. 

Visuals are a major part of any product too, with JBL's extended history – the company is over 75 years old, which makes Sonos pale by comparison in terms of experience – influencing the Authentics range's aesthetics with 1970's retro style. I think it looks smart, especially if you're less on board with the 'swooping' modern shape and style that's so typical of current speakers.

There might be one sticking point to my thus far love of the JBL Authentics 500 though: its £579.99/€629.99 asking price is well beyond that of the Sonos Era 300 (which also offers Dolby Atmos output). Further down the range the JBL Authentics 300 will be priced at £379.99/€429.99, while the JBL Authentics 200 will have a £299.99/€329.99 asking price. All models will be available to buy from 15 September, just after the Apple iPhone 15 launch...

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor and AV Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.