Behind the Radial’s unique circular grill sit four full-range drivers powered by a 15W-per-channel amplifier. In addition, a single larger driver – designed to produce lower frequencies – is hidden in the bottom
of the system and powered by its own 30W amp.
The only controls on the Radial itself are two small, silver Volume buttons, Down and Up, just in front of the iPod dock and an on/off toggle switch on the back. As with other JBL speaker systems, pressing the Volume Down and Up buttons simultaneously – on the main unit or on the remote – mutes the volume.
The rear of the Radial provides a stereo auxiliary-input jack; an S-Video output for viewing photos or movies on your TV (cable not included); a USB-B port for connecting the system to your computer to sync your iPod with iTunes (cable included); and the AC-power-adaptor jack.
The Radial’s remote is one of its most impressive features. It’s a radio-frequency (RF) unit, which means it works without line-of-sight access and provides longer range than most IR remotes: we were able to control the Radial from up to 20ft away, even through a wall.
The sound quality is excellent. Detail and midrange are both clear (although the treble can be a tad bright at times)and the Radial offers very good imaging and soundstage for its size. You don’t get anything close to the kind of stereo separation you’d get with separate left and right speakers but most people will be more than satisfied by the spaciousness of the Radial’s sound, especially considering the amount of space it takes up on a table or desk. And unlike the other speaker systems, the Radial’s sound quality doesn’t degrade dramatically if you aren’t sitting directly in front of it. The system also plays quite loud – it will easily fill a decent-sized room.
More important, the Radial sounds good at the loudest volumes, with no significant distortion. But most surprising aspect is that the bass response doesn’t start to roll off significantly until around 80Hz to 90Hz, and even 50Hz test tones were audible. Given the Radial’s size, this is a truly stellar-sounding system.