Updated at: 01-06-2023 - By: Gemaga

The JBL 104-BT is an improved version of the original JBL Series One 104 that adds Bluetooth support.

The studio-quality sound and excellent spatialization that are promised by these speakers are delivered without fail. The clarity and soundstage will improve significantly from your standard desktop speaker.

The JBL 104-BT speakers are self-powered, so you can simply plug them into your computer and use them in place of your current desktop speaker setup.

If you’re on a tighter budget but still want better sound quality than your standard 2.0 desktop speakers can provide, this is a solid option, provided you don’t require excessive bass.


  • Superior resolution and imaging quality.
  • Highs that are clear and distinct
  • Affordable
  • An Abundance of Connection Choices


  • Very little low end
  • Weak mids
  • There is not enough sound to fill the room.

In the Box

JBL 104BT - Contents

You get the following with your JBL 104-BT:

  • The Book of Instructions
  • Language masters and slaves
  • Cable, RCA to 3.5 mm
  • The speaker wire is colored red and black.
  • Energizing Cord


JBL 104BT - Front

The JBL 104-BT are simple speakers with a non-removable metal grill on the front and an ABS plastic enclosure. The speakers are available in either black or white, and their sleek, pill-shaped design means they should look great in just about any setting.

The dimensions of the speakers are 24.7 cm in height, 15.3 cm in width, and 12.4 cm in depth, making them quite compact. The master speaker is 4.54 pounds, while the slave speaker is 3.81 pounds.

JBL 104BT - Feet

Rubber is used for the soles of the feet. They do an excellent job of isolating the speaker and keeping it from moving around. There is no way to adjust the speakers’ angle, so listening quality will suffer if they are placed at ear level.


The ovoid shape of the 104-BTs gives you fair warning that they are not going to be strictly academic. These sturdy and well-built speakers come in either black or white and feature a 12cm low-frequency driver, 20mm soft-dome tweeter, up to 60W of combined amplification, and a rear-firing reflex port for fine-tuning.

These desktop displays may be big and strong, but they don’t skimp on intelligence any time they translate between languages. The product’s “BT” designation refers to the 104s’ 5.0 Bluetoothconnectivity, in addition to the RCA, auxiliary, and balanced TRS inputs already present.


All the action, as befits a master-slave dynamic, takes place in the left ear, which is also where you’ll find your physical ties to the other person. The 3.5mm input is on the front panel, with RCA and TRS located on the rear above the power button and cable socket.

The 104-BTs can be controlled from this panel. It has a volume knob and an input selector, as well as a jack for headphones and a Bluetooth indicator. The latter provides the flexibility to choose data from multiple sources simultaneously or individually.

A little bit of effort is required before you reach that stage. The right speaker, which is entirely passive, will need to be connected to the left speaker using the included speaker wire. If you want your speakers further apart, you can use any non-terminated cable with these speakers.

Although JBL markets the 104-BT as reference monitors, this moniker may be deceptive for a few reasons: first, these are not the entirely staid and sober speakers that description would suggest; second, you won’t get the clarity and detail you’d probably like for recording and mixing music.

Specs & I/O

JBL 104BT - Front panel

The JBL 104-BT is an updated model of the original JBL 104 that features Bluetooth connectivity. It appears that the BTs use the same audio hardware as before, with just the addition of bluetooth. Coaxial 4.5-inch drivers and a.75-inch soft-dome tweeter are featured in the JBL 104-BTs. Each of these speakers is capable of producing 30 watts of sound on its own.

The JBL 104-BTs are all about connectivity, letting you link up with the following devices:

  • Converter, 3.5mm to RCA
  • RCA
  • TRS
  • External 3.5 mm
  • And last but not least, Bluetooth

A button and LED cluster let you switch between connected sources, or the speakers can auto-detect the input they’re receiving sound from if you prefer. Although I appreciate the speakers’ sleep mode, I find it slightly annoying that I have to press the input select button in order to bring them back to life.

A ring of LED lights shines on the front metal volume dial, which is marked off into discrete steps.

The JBL 104-BT has a 3.5 mm headphone jack and an auxiliary port on the front panel. When a pair of headphones is connected, the system disables the speaker output.

You can choose between RCA and TRS plugs on the back. The 104-BT headphones utilize plastic clip connectors. Finally, the back houses the power switch and the port for the included power cord.


The 104-BT is exactly the high-accuracy studio monitor designed for audio work that was advertised. These are not the kind of music you should listen to if you want to relax and unwind. The 104-BT are optimized for analytical listening.

The 104-BT’s trebles are crisp and detailed. When listening to instrumental music, the treble is clear and distinct, making it easy to make out the nuances of each instrument. In my opinion, they are neither too sparkly nor too sibilant.

The 104-BT lacks the warmth and feel of my other audio devices, particularly the Audio Engine A2 and the DT1990, due to its weak mids.

The 104-BT is lacking in bass and does not produce low frequencies. These speakers aren’t great for listening to hip-hop or other bass-heavy music.

The 104-BT are designed for close-in listening, so placing them on a desk is ideal. The volume doesn’t need to be cranked up too high on my desktop speakers for them to produce a satisfying listening experience.

The volume is too low for a room-filling, lounge-style setup. The 104-BTs are not great for use in a bookshelf or home theater system.

Separation and imagingverysatisfactory, I assume the 104-BTs’ coaxial speaker configuration is to credit. Excellent stereo separation between the left and right channels is a must for immersive gaming audio. In games like Modern Warfare, I had no trouble differentiating between different types of footfalls.

The quality of the sound coming from the JBL 104-BTs’ front-facing headphone jack is adequate. The ability to pop in a pair of headphones whenever necessary improves my quality of life. The sound quality through the headphones was erratic. Some of the standard headphones I tried sounded fine, while the IEMs I tried came across as sibilant and irritating.

I didn’t notice any major degradation in sound quality when switching from a wired to a Bluetooth source. As much as I value the wireless connectivity option, I probably wouldn’t use these speakers as room audio given that their optimal use case is sitting in front of your desk.

What don’t we like?

JBL calls the 104-BT and the original 104 “compact reference monitors,” but I don’t think that’s a fair description. That kind of recognition requires a ruler-flat frequency response, which they do not offer.

As might be expected from such a diminutive speaker, the bass quickly fades away below 100Hz, but it’s the high frequencies that prove a bit unruly. Above 6kHz, the response begins to exhibit noticeable peaks and troughs, which causes some tracks to sound extremely detailed while others sound harsh. If precision is of paramount importance to you, an equalizer plug-in is a must for adjusting the highs.

If you’re counting on the 104-BT to be a show-stopper in bigger venues, you might want to lower your expectations. After all, these are just tiny speakers, so there’s a max volume before distortion sets in. However, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to listen at maximum volume if they’re closer than a foot or two from your ears. According to JBL, the little 104-BT can maintain a volume of 89 dB on a continuous basis and reach peaks of 102 dB when listened to from one meter away. That’s plenty loud for nearfield listening, given that prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can cause hearing damage.

Last but not least, there is a problem with the durability of the matte white finish on the models. I thought I saw a speck of dirt, so I rubbed it with the tip of my finger, and more dirt appeared. I reached for a damp cloth, assuming my dirty hands were to blame, and soon discovered that the paint was actually rubbing off. Since I don’t recall experiencing this with my previous black 104 models, I can only conclude that it’s a problem unique to the white model.

Other Options

In terms of low-cost displays, you can pick from a wide variety of options. If you’re looking for an alternate to the JBL Series One 104, these are some options to think about.

Mackie CR3-X Review

You can save money by switching to the Mackie CR3-X instead of the 104s. They get a lot of volume out of a relatively small woofer. However, the lower cost usually means lower quality components.

  • Competitive pricing leaves more money for other pieces of studio equipment.
  • They’re a sleek set of monitors with serious processing power.
  • These speakers won’t last as long as other options.
Three quarter view of a pair of Mackie CR3-X studio monitors.

Pioneer DM-40 Review

If you’re looking for something with a bit more heft in the bass department, the Pioneer DM-40 is a great option. These speakers provide a more nuanced audio experience, making them a favorite among amateur disc jockeys. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you want a fair assessment.

  • For those who appreciate deep bass, it delivers in spades.
  • These speakers sound great at any volume.
  • Not as many connections as the 104s.
Front view of a pair of Pioneer DM-40 studio monitors

PreSonus Eris E3.5 Review

Another excellent pair of portable studio monitors is the PreSonus Eris E3.5. Its input range is comparable to that of the 104. Despite its smaller woofer, it provides excellent frequency balance.

  • High-quality audio at a low cost.
  • It can be tuned for low or high output frequencies.
  • These are not great for filling a room with sound due to their narrow sweet spot.
Three quarter view of a pair of Presonus Eris E3.5 studio monitors.

Eris Presonus E3.5

Should You Buy?

For producers who are short on desk space, the JBL Series One 104 is a great option. Their slim form and sturdy construction make them stand out from the crowd.

Even at louder volumes, the sound remains well-balanced. You should consider these if you want a compact set of monitors for gaming, listening, or recording.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The JBL 104-BT are superior to standard computer speakers and cost only a little more than most alternatives.

A competitive gamer who needs to pick up spatial sound and audio cues would benefit greatly from a near-field desktop setup like the JBL 104-BT. These speakers won’t do much to help you feel immersed in your gaming experience.

The speakers’ strengths as a music reproduction system are limited to frequencies above a certain threshold.

The JBL 104-BT could be a great pair of speakers for audio production; the coaxial speaker configuration is particularly effective at revealing flaws in recordings and mastering.

The JBL 104-BT is an excellent choice if you want a compact speaker without sacrificing sound quality or precision.