You are here


Active Column PA By Mike Crofts
Published June 2024

JBL IRX ONEIt might be the baby of JBL’s mini line‑array range, but its small footprint and easy portability could mean the IRX ONE is just what’s needed for smaller shows.

JBL have long included ‘mini array’ column speakers in their product range. The current line‑up has a full‑featured, all‑dancing model called the PRX ONE, the more affordable EON ONE MK2, and now the IRX ONE, which extends the range by offering the same form factor and JBL engineering in a more compact and very portable package, with fewer bells and whistles. To call the IRX ONE a starter or entry‑level unit is probably not wrong, but at the same time, for many applications it’s also the optimum choice if you don’t need the extra features and output level of the more expensive models.

Features & Specifications

The IRX ONE consists of a base unit containing an eight‑inch reflex‑loaded subwoofer, 1300W Class D amplifier module, and three‑channel mixer (four if you count the Bluetooth input). Mounted above the base unit is a height‑adjustable column, which incorporates six two‑inch drivers. The system is capable of delivering maximum SPL of 118dB, and the whole thing packs into the base unit for one‑hand carrying, weighing only around 15kg.

The whole system can be packed up into the base unit.The whole system can be packed up into the base unit.The control panel gives access to all the functions apart from the IEC power connector, and is handily located under a flap that also serves as the carrying handle when clicked into the down position. When raised, the cover/handle rests against the speaker column and snicks into place by means of a concealed magnetic latch — this cover can then also be used as a very neat holder for a media player such as an iPad or similar. The three mixer channels are analogue, and provide the basic controls necessary: input trim, two‑band EQ and channel level to the mix. Phantom power can be applied to channels 1 and 2 and is switched globally. Channel 3 has a line/instrument jack input, and the Bluetooth input has no surface controls other than the switching/pairing button. The DSP pack for the IRX ONE includes automatic feedback suppression (AFS) and auto‑ducking, whereby mic channels duck the Bluetooth channel. As well as the simple two‑band EQ on each analogue channel, there’s an overall rotary switch that offers five tone‑shaping presets, and lastly there’s a balanced mix output for daisy‑chaining, AV feed or whatever expansion might be needed.

First Impressions

The IRX ONE is ridiculously easy to set up, and has been designed to be completely foolproof in use. The three parts of the column will only fit together when offered up correctly — you can’t hook them up the wrong way round — and there are no cables involved other than the power lead. The carrying handle simply flips up to reveal the mixer panel and the three ‘stick’ sections are neatly stored inside. Only one of the three sections contains the actual drivers, and this can be mounted directly on to the subwoofer unit or you can use one or both of the other dummy sections as spacers to obtain more height. The built‑in electronic cleverness senses how many (if any) extender sections have been connected and makes a subtle adjustment to the sound output to ensure optimum balance and coverage. The electrical hook‑up between the three parts is achieved using four‑pin recessed connectors that carry the output to the speakers; I measured a few Ohms resistance input‑to‑output on one of the pins in each section, and this presumably has some bearing on how the IRX ONE senses how many spacers are in use. As with just about everything else on the IRX ONE there’s nothing for the user to worry about: everything is taken care of!

Having assembled the pieces and powered up the IRX ONE, I paired my iPhone so I could use the Bluetooth channel. Pairing is quick and easy, but you do need to bear in mind that the Bluetooth channel doesn’t have a physical level control on the mixer panel — input level is controlled directly from the paired device, so it’s as well to make sure that the master level is turned low to avoid sudden loud output. I mention this from experience, and will be more careful next time.

The overall output level is quite enough for a small event (AV presentation, house party, rehearsal, what have you) and the IRX ONE is forgiving of very hot input signals. Even at absolute full power it still sounds clean and clear, as if there’s headroom left in the system, and the source device is likely to start working too hard before the IRX ONE does.

The built‑in mixer can accommodate three analogue inputs plus a Bluetooth stream, and includes a ducker as well as an anti‑feedback processor.The built‑in mixer can accommodate three analogue inputs plus a Bluetooth stream, and includes a ducker as well as an anti‑feedback processor.The mixer panel is simple and clear — what you see is what you get, and there are no hidden menus or multiple‑function controls to confuse an inexperienced or non‑technical user. If LCD screens aren’t your sort of thing, you’ll be right at home with the simplicity of the IRX ONE. The only thing to be aware of is the way that phantom power is switched. Unlike the AFS button or the ducking button, which just click on and off when pressed, the phantom power has to be switched in a particular way, which at the time of writing isn’t spelled out in the user guide. To prevent accidental switching either on or off, there’s a short delay after you press the button — if you do a short press nothing happens, and if you hold the button for too long nothing happens. The button has to be held in for between one and two seconds. This did catch me out initially, and isn’t specifically described in the user guide. It’s actually a smart feature and quite deliberate: if you press the phantom power button and then realise that you really didn’t mean to apply 48 Volts after all (hands up who’s never ever done that?), you can just keep it pressed in for a couple more seconds and the operation is safely cancelled! Whilst on the subject of button pressing, the Bluetooth button also needs to be held for a couple of seconds to initiate pairing.

The ’bonus features’ included with the IRX ONE are a ducker circuit, which applies automatic gain reduction to the Bluetooth music signal when the mic inputs exceed a certain threshold level, and an automatic feedback suppression circuit that does exactly that: detects audio feedback and quickly kills it by introducing a narrow notch filter, so you can have a microphone right in front of the speakers without worrying about loud squealing noises. In practical terms this is a great fail‑safe feature, although the nature of these mini‑array speakers makes unwanted feedback much less of a problem than with conventional full‑range speaker setups. The IRX ONE doesn’t include an onboard reverb effect, which is a shame for anyone intending to use it mainly as a portable vocal rig; if there’d been a pick‑your‑own feature list, I think I’d have chosen a basic reverb over the AFS function, but that’s only based on what I personally would tend to use it for.

In Use

I took the IRX ONE along to a couple of school concerts, where a small footprint and wide coverage were very high on the wish list. The first event had only piano accompaniment, with various children performing acoustically across the front of a large‑ish hall; there was no need to use any mics so we just used the IRX ONE as a keyboard amplifier, where it provided lovely room‑filling coverage without sounding too loud in any one spot. The very wide dispersion and even sound balance was just what we needed, as the young performers were relying on being able to hear the accompaniment without it drowning out their voices.

The second school concert involved a similar hall setup, but this time I fed a couple of ambient capacitor mics into the XLR inputs and used the Bluetooth channel for pre‑recorded backing tracks. Having only a single IRX ONE unit, I placed it at one of the rear corners of the low stage, and used both spacers to get the speakers above the performers’ heads. As before, the sound coverage was very good and even throughout the hall, with performers and audience able to hear everything they needed. The ease of setup and smooth, clear output particularly impressed the staff; by the time I packed up and left they were asking about the cost of the IRX ONE, and discussing its suitability as a potential replacement for their ancient ‘music trolley’.

It provided lovely room‑filling coverage without sounding too loud in any one spot. The very wide dispersion and even sound balance was just what we needed...

I also took the IRX ONE along to a couple of band rehearsals, where I used it as a vocal monitor in place of our usual EON ONE Compact. The main difference was that the Compact is used as a floor monitor and most of the (large, 14‑piece) band can’t hear it very well, whereas the IRX ONE facing backwards straight at the band let everyone hear the vocals due to the super‑wide dispersion of the speaker array. It wouldn’t have been powerful enough for a live gig with this line‑up, but for rehearsal, even with the band giving it fairly large, it was great as a monitor: crisp and clear and no hint of feedback, even without the AFS deployed. I found the two‑band EQ perfectly adequate for all I tried, and I did experiment with the EQ tuning presets. These do pretty much what you’d expect from the descriptions; as well as the usual Flat and Speech settings, there are options called DJ, Café, Bright and KTV (I’m assuming that KTV stands for Karaoke TV?): all useful options, although I always ended up back at Flat.

My final live test was supplying something for a ‘corner stage’ gig in a café bar, for live solo vocal and backing track. This is, in live music terms, exactly what systems such as the IRX ONE are put on the planet to do. I didn’t need paint‑peeling output level, I only needed a couple of inputs, and the setup had to look unobtrusive and take up almost no floor space. The IRX ONE was the perfect fit in all respects (although I did need to hook up an external mini‑mixer as an external reverb for the vocal) and the same trademark clarity and extra‑wide sweet spot were exactly what the room required. The fact that I carried it up a flight of stairs in one hand, with a mic stand in the other and a small carry bag for ‘bits’ on my shoulder, further enhanced the overall experience!  


  • Easy to carry, set up and use; it’s almost impossible to get it wrong.
  • Smooth, clear sound with excellent wide coverage.
  • Easy Bluetooth hook‑up, and the ducker and AFS functions are simple to use.


  • No onboard reverb.


The IRX ONE provides quality sound with great coverage in an exceptionally easy‑to‑use, highly portable package. I’d imagine that it will find much favour in the educational and corporate worlds as it is an ideal AV tool, equally at home in a presentation, exhibition or public address context as it is with live music.


£899 including VAT.

Sound Technology +44 (0)1462 480000.


JBL Professional +1 818 894 8850.

Sweetwater Affiliate logo 14px