JBL Control 23-1 Review - Audiostance

JBL Control 23-1 Outdoor Speaker System Review

JBL is arguably one of the best speaker manufacturers in the world. The Control Contractor Series is JBL’s range of speakers designed specifically for indoor and outdoor speaker systems. The Control Contractor Series includes in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, standard point source speakers, and subwoofers.

The JBL Control 23-1 Outdoor Speaker System is the most compact point source speaker in the Control Contractor Series. As expected from JBL, the Control 23-1 is designed using premium parts capable of withstanding harsh outdoor conditions.

At a Glance

  • Sold as: Pair
  • Power Handling: 10-50W @ 8 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 7.9″ x 5.6″ x 4.4″
  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Speaker Drivers: 3” low-frequency driver + ½” tweeter
JBL Control 23-1

Speaker Design and Sound

The Control 23-1 is sold as a pair featuring a 3-inch low-frequency driver with a ½-inch tweeter. Both speaker drivers feature JBL trademarked Kapton™ voice coils. Kapton performs better than aluminum by offering more detail in the mid-range. This gives the speaker better clarity and improved intelligibility. The ½-inch tweeter is horn-loaded, allowing the Control 23-1 to project audio across a backyard or other outdoor areas. The woven fiberglass woofer cone features a rubber surround with weather-edge frame protection to protect against water and moisture, offering maximum durability and performance.

What is the result of all these advanced JBL features? A compact and easy-to-install speaker that offers good quality for its driver size. Usually, 3-inch speakers can sound thin, but the Control 23-1 produces a warm, detailed sound profile. The bass response is not as pronounced as in a 5.25” or 6.5” speaker, but certainly better than most 3” speakers. The Control 23-1 delivers its best mid-range and high-frequency response performance, offering exceptional clarity and detail. The balance across the frequency spectrum is exceptional, far better than you would get from most 3-inch speakers in the consumer audio market.

If you are looking for a pair of loud party speakers, the Control 23-1 is not going to be your best choice. For background music and even speakers for your outdoor TV, the Control 23-1 will perform exceptionally well. These speakers are also great for a distributed speaker system in a bar or restaurant. They offer guests a quality audio experience where they can hear the audio clearly, even at low volumes.


The Control 23-1 has a power handling of 10W to 50W at 8 ohms. For amplification, we recommend the Harman Kardon HK 3700 2-Channel Stereo Receiver. Harman Kardon is part of the Harman group, which also owns JBL. The HK 3700 delivers 85W per channel into 8 ohms. This is slightly more than the JBL Control 23-1 power handling, but it shouldn’t be an issue. I would advise against maxing out the volume on the HK 3700, as you could blow the speakers over time.


The HK 3700 features analog inputs (including phono for turntables), USB, Bluetooth, and network connection for internet radio stations. The receiver also has an RCA subwoofer output and ¼-inch headphone out.

Cabling and Installation

If you want to install Control 23-1 speakers across multiple rooms or zones, consider the OSD Audio MX1260 12-Channel Amplifier. You can set volume control for each zone individually, which you can then control via an input device such as a receiver via an RCA connection. This is a good option for your home and could also be used in restaurants, churches, and other public spaces where you wish to install a distributed Control 23-1 audio system.

Don’t use a wire thinner than 18 gauge for the speaker wire to connect your JBL Control 23-1. Here are some recommendations about the length of your cable run:

  • Up to 20ft: 18-gauge
  • 20ft to 40ft: 16-gauge
  • 40ft to 60ft: 14-gauge
  • Beyond 60ft: 12-gauge

The Control 23-1 features JBL’s InvisiBall mounting system, meaning there are no visible brackets. Instead of the standard U-bracket, which connects the speaker cabinet’s top/bottom or left/right, the Control 23-1 has a rear bracket. However, the Control 23-1 can be mounted using a conventional U-bracket if the installation calls for it. JBL supplies just the InvisiBall mounting system with the Control 23-1. A ceiling-mount InvisiBall bracket and U-bracket are also available at an extra cost.

The Control 23-1 is designed to withstand the elements and exceeds MilSpec 810 for humidity, salt spray, temperature & UV. There is also the option of the WeatherMax grille for particularly poor weather environments or installations near the sea.

JBL Control Range

JBL Control 25-1 & 28-1

If you’re looking for something bigger than a 3-inch speaker, you might want to consider the Control 25-1 or 28-1, which feature 5¼-inch (100W) and 8-inch (120W) drivers, respectively. Both these larger speakers have significantly improved low-end performance over the Control 23-1 with much more power. If you’re looking for outdoor speakers for parties, it’s better to go with either the Control 25-1 or 28-1.

JBL Control 23-1

What’s in the Box?

Included with the JBL Control 23-1 Compact Indoor / Outdoor Speaker:

  • 2 x JBL Control 23-1 Speakers
  • 2 x InvisiBall mounting system
  • Hex key for tightening bracket screws


The Control 23-1 is a compact, lightweight outdoor speaker. While the speaker may be small, the sound quality is good and surprisingly loud for their size. If you don’t like unsightly speaker brackets, you’ll appreciate the InvisiBall mounting system. These speakers are about versatility and the ability to fit smaller spaces that larger patio speakers may be too large for. What’s excellent about JBL is that you have a ton of other speakers to choose from. So, if you want to install a multi-room home entertainment system (including outdoor speakers), you can use only JBL speakers. At just over $230 for a pair, the JBL Control 23-1 is well-priced for a premium outdoor speaker.

Audiostance Author - Matt Hallowes
Written by
Matt Hallowes

Matt is a sound engineer and confessed vinyl junkie! His work as a sound engineer includes live production and venue installations, giving him deep insight into the audio industry, with personal experience with dozens of products. While traveling the world, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us!

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