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Our Guide to the JBL IRX Range
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Our Guide to the JBL IRX Range

With such a huge catalogue of speakers available from JBL, you would be forgiven in being a bit overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which model is for you! Thankfully, when it comes to portability, power, and price, the new IRX range strikes the perfect balance.

Designed for performers, presenters, and instructors alike, the IRX range features two models, the 108BT and 112BT that promise class-leading output, clarity, and total ease of use with performance that exceeds their size and the latest in Bluetooth streaming technology. 


In this blog, we are going to break down the IRX range and explore why they are the class-leading choice in the entry-level portable PA market. 

Power To Weight


One of the key criteria people look for when purchasing a PA speaker is its power to weight ratio. We all want a speaker that is “loud” enough, but we also want one that we can carry without putting our backs out! Traditionally, if you’re looking to tick boxes for power, portability, and price, a speaker will only ever fit two of those categories. The IRX however easily ticks all three!


The IRX delivers a rather considerable 1300w of power to both of its models with a maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) of 124dB (108BT) and 127dB (112BT) which is quite considerable considering each speaker weights less 12kg (only 9kg for the 108BT!).


JBL say that each model was designed to produce output that belies their size. The 8” driver in the IRX108BT has been designed to perform like a 12” speaker by cleverly tuning the cabinet response and combining it with a healthy dose of power. This is evident when you look at its frequency response which is 54Hz to 20kHz – a much wider response than you would typically find on an 8” PA speaker and, as stated, more closely aligned with a 12” speaker. With the same methods, the 12” driver in the IRX112BT has the same acoustic properties of a 15” driver but without the considerable extra bulk and weight!

Push Button Simple


You’ve arrived at the gig, the football has only just finished (it went to extra time - England lost on penalties), and the bar manager has finally allowed you to start setting up 10 minutes before showtime... the last thing you want to be doing is hunting through User Guides trying to find out what menu adjusts the EQ settings of your speakers. To prevent any last-minute panics, the IRX series offers what JBL call a ‘Push Button Simple’ user experience and the back-panel attests to that philosophy!


There are physical controls for all of the important stuff; EQ presets; channel levels; Bass Boosts; music ducking; and Bluetooth streaming. The EQ preset switch scrolls through all of the most common options for speaker EQ including a presence boost for Speech, HPF roll-off for Vocals, and a flat setting when used in conjunction with other crossovers/speakers. Both of the input channels accept either mic/line sources for direct connectivity if required and there’s even an XLR output for when you need to link a few IRX speakers together.

Bluetooth, Ducking, Feedback Suppression Built-In


Whilst simple in operation, don’t think that the IRX hasn’t got any bells and whistles!


The IRX series features Bluetooth 5.0 streaming for audio playback from any Bluetooth enabled iOS, Android, or laptop device. With much greater reliability and a wider range when compared to older Bluetooth technology, the IRX allows you to reliably play Bluetooth audio directly to the speaker output – perfect for streaming background music in-between sets or singing along to backing tracks from your phone.


The IRX range also features a Ducking feature that is perfect for public addressing and presenters. “Ducking” temporarily reduces the volume of the Bluetooth playback when a signal is detected at the IRX’s input channels. This means that you can have music playing at a decent volume, but when you speak into a microphone, the music drops in volume allowing your announcement to ring loud and clear. When you’ve said what you needed to say, the music returns back to the previous volume – and you can do all of that with one hand on your pint.  


With a phonebook as big as Harman’s, JBL are not in short supply when it comes to integrating even more unique technologies into their loudspeakers. The IRX range features dbx’s acclaimed AFS (automated Feedback Suppression) technology that detects troublesome feedback and nips it in the bud. Simply engage it using the dedicated rear panel switch and you can play safe in the knowledge that feedback is at bay.

Rugged, Road-tested, and Roadie-Friendly


Key to the IRX’s insubstantial weight is its Polypropylene cabinet. Compared to the MDF/Plywood carpeted boxes that many of used when we first started out gigging and playing live, Polypropylene is pliable, easily engineerable/manufacturable, and very light. It would also survive a fairly considerable ‘whack’ if dropped from a height – tending to absorb more of an impact compared to an MDF enclosure that would easily crack... test-dropping any speaker is not recommended though!


Using Polypropylene not only allows JBL to use some clever porting/tuning techniques in the cabinet design, but also enables them to think ergonomically. The IRX features big grab handles that allow you to effortlessly load in/out the speakers at the gig as well as a unique wedge-shape that allows each cabinet to sit in a variety of FOH and monitor applications with ease. There’s also a pole-mount to enable you to fix them to speaker poles, tripods, or wall-mounts for a more permanent installation.


Above all of that, each IRX speaker is stress tested for over 100 hours to ensure that by the time it reaches your possession, it’s ready to rock straight out of the box.

Conclusion


Overall, the JBL IRX range sits in a perfect spot within JBL’s portable PA range by offering a traditional point-source PA speaker with immense power and portability for a price that contradicts its performance. The IRX works perfectly by itself or in multiples as a traditional PA, but If you would rather have a more ‘complete’ all in one solution then the JBL EON One range is the perfect all-in-one-choice – there's even a battery-powered option. 


If you feel like you need something with more power, you could look at the JBL PRX range which features more power, Wi-fi control, and a traditional MDF cabinet. Otherwise, you cannot go wrong with the hugely powerful and versatile IRX range. 


For more information on the JBL IRX Series, please visit our product page.

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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.