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JBL Unveils Aftermarket Head Unit

Harman’s JBL brand is striking out in new directions in the car audio aftermarket

LOS ANGELES�In Harman�s off-site showroom during CES, Harman’s JBL brand unveiled its first aftermarket head unit in decades, its first product for the power sports market, and an enclosed powered subwoofer that�s easily removable from the trunk to make room for other belongings as needed.

The brand also showed a dash-top smartphone holder with built-in Bluetooth speaker for use with a phone�s navigation app. And the brand showed a sound generator that plugs into a car�s IDB port to generate sports car sounds through a vehicle�s speaker system.

Here�s what was on display:

Head unit:�The double-DIN Legend CP100, shipping in March, is the lowest-priced head unit announced to date incorporating both Android Auto and CarPlay. The company is able to achieve that price point because it is leveraging parent Harman�s economies of scale in making head units for automakers, said JBL�s Chris Dragon.

The mechless head unit features 6.75-inch capacitive touchscreen; Bluetooth 3.0 for hands-free phone use and stereo streaming; steering-wheel remote interface; rear-camera input; rear USB input; and AM/FM. It�s also compatible with Siri and Google Voice.

JBL is reentering the head-unit aftermarket because double-DIN head units represent a growing aftermarket segment, Dragon said.

Power sports:�A speaker bar, planned under the JBL and Infinity brands, clamps onto the bars of side-by-sides, golf carts, boats and the like. An insert widens the bar, which comes with integrated GoPro mount. A mockup was shown, and the model will ship sometime this year at an undisclosed price. It�s Harman�s first power-sports product.

Bass Pro Micro:�The enclosed powered subwoofer consists of an amplifier base and an enclosed driver, which pops out of the base when consumers need to make room for luggage or other items. It ships this summer at an undisclosed price.

Smart Base:�The dash-top mount features a flip-up panel that holds a smartphone at an angle for easy viewing by a driver using the phone�s navigation app. It incorporates a built-in Bluetooth speaker to amplify the phone�s verbal driving instructions. One version will add Qi wireless charging. Pricing was unavailable.

JBL Throttle:�The HALOsonic sound generator, which plugs into a car�s datavus, lets users choose the type of car they�d like their car to sound like, including Ferrari car sounds. The selected sounds are reproduced by a vehicle�s speakers. It also adds stereo Bluetooth to a vehicle.

Throttle is due later this year at a suggested $49.