These little alien-spacecraft-looking speakers produce some massive sounds! Although the highs were somewhat artificially boosted and the low mids cut somewhat, this is to be expected on a consumer system. Accuracy and flatness are not the goal here, power and fullness are much more important. The JBL Invader definitely has a frequency curve, but it sounds damn good for a consumer system. In fact it sounds better than many of the home audio systems I’ve heard. I have not switched back to the Event monitors in over a week and I certainly plan to use them as a reference next time I do some recording.
The subwoofer gets down to about 40Hz. That’s low enough to produce a pretty rounded bottom, but I kinda hoped it would go lower to at least 30Hz. These are the frequencies you feel much more than hear. If you’re into the real bouncy bass, you may need to look towards another system. The JBL Invader makes rock, pop, and even classical sound great, but the bass doesn’t seem to get deep down into that shake-the-walls-of your-apartment hip hop range. Even after cranking the bass knob all the way up, the walls didn’t budge.
Now, I’m not really an avid gamer, but I was not going to write a review on a surround sound speaker system without putting myself in a world of sound. The game that immediately came to mind was Myst III Exile, because of its immersive environment and because it is one of the only games I own. What an experience! I don’t think I could ever play a first-person game again without surround sound. It simply puts you inside another world. You hear and react to things in every direction. This is what the game makers intended.
Once you get over the initial shock of the ridiculously full sound quality, you are slapped in the face by the price tag. The system which includes four satellites and a subwoofer is only $179.95. That is pretty impressive for what you get. My only complaint is the lack of a center channel, but the rich fullness of the sound makes up for it. JBL could have also thrown in a surround sound card, but that would have increased the price of the package substantially. Besides, the system sounds great even with a $30 surround sound card and even better with a high end card, so you have the freedom to choose what fits your budget. The JBL Invader is compatible with any 4.1, 5.1 or 7.1 card.