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 indoor and outdoor speaker systems. The Control Contractor Series includes in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, standard point source speakers, and subwoofers. This means you can install a full JBL multi-room speaker system in every part of your home. The JBL Control 23-1 Outdoor Speaker System is the most compact of the point source speakers in the Control Contractor Series. As to be 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:
10W – 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 the ability 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.

The result of all these advanced JBL features? An incredible sounding speaker. Usually, 3-inch speakers can sound a little thin but the Control 23-1 produces a warm, detailed sound profile. The bass response is not as pronounced as you’d find in a 5” or 6” speaker but certainly better than most 3” speakers. The Control 23-1 delivers its best performance in the mid-range and high-frequency response 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 offering guests a quality audio experience where they’re able to hear audio clearly, even at low volumes.

Amplification

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 power handling of the Control 23-1 but shouldn’t be an issue. I just would advise maxing out the volume on the HK 3700 as you could potentially blow the speakers over time.

Inputs

The HK 3700 features several 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’re looking to install multiple Control 23-1 speakers across multiple rooms or zones, then you should consider the OSD Audio MX1260 12 Channel Amplifier. You have the ability to set volume control for each zone individually which you would then control via an input device such as a receiver via RCA connection. This is not only a good option for your home but could be used for restaurants, churches and other public spaces where you wish to install a distributed Control 23-1 audio system.

For speaker wire, don’t use thinner than 18-gauge for connecting your JBL Control 23-1. Here are some recommendations in relation to 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 which essentially means no visible brackets. Instead of the standard U-bracket, which connects either top/bottom or left/right of the speaker cabinet, the Control 23-1 has a rear bracket. The Control 23-1 can, however, be mounted using a conventional U-bracket if the installation calls for it. JBL supply just the InvisiBall mounting system with the Control 23-1. There is also a ceiling-mount InvisiBall bracket and U-bracket 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 a little bigger than a 3-inch speaker, then 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 a lot 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. Keep in mind these speakers are seriously loud, you will disturb the neighbors for sure!

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

Conclusion

The Control 23-1 is a compact, lightweight outdoor speaker. While the speaker may be small, the sound quality is excellent and they are surprisingly loud for their size. If you don’t like unsightly speaker brackets, then you’ll definitely appreciate the InvisiBall mounting system. What’s great 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), then you can do so by using only JBL speakers. At just over $230 for a pair, the JBL Control 23-1 are really well priced for a premium outdoor speaker.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
JBL Control 23-1
Author Rating
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Matt
Written by
Matt

Matt is a sound engineer, event organizer, marketer, and vinyl junkie!

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