There is great satisfaction to be had in using a product that is over-engineered and superior in every way. It may not represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship in a particular field, but it does its job remarkably well. All too often the opposite is true. We are forced to use products with inferior workmanship and durability because it is less expensive to engineer such items. But you get what you pay for.

The alternative is to overspend for “luxury” items. In the world of tech, this often means the most advanced and feature-laden version of a phone, watch, laptop, etc. Of course, new things tend not to work as well as proven things. And we now live in an age where ‘beta’ is accepted (and expected) to be a permanent condition. So, the most expensive product may not be the most reliable.

May I suggest the so-called ‘professional’ designation as an alternative? And as an example I will relate my experience with JBL’s very satisfying One Series reference monitors. A new computer may or may not come with external speakers, but they have historically been included in CPU bundles, along with keyboard, mouse and monitor. The quality of these speakers was abhorrent and their descendents are now sold on Amazon for less than ten dollars. Laptops are so much more common now, but are very constrained by their small size and cannot really provide high fidelity. So, the answer is still a set of external speakers.

The JBL One Series 104 are not advertised on the company’s forward facing US website. Instead, they reside at another URL: This is a place where professionals from any industry who have sound reinforcement needs (e.g. restaurant, church, auditorium, amphitheater, stadium) can have their needs met. This is not a place to buy ten dollar speakers.

And yet, there near the bottom of the professional line of equipment is a very reasonable ($129) pair of desktop speakers that plug into the wall (no battery), connect to your computer by a cord (no bluetooth) and, most importantly, meet a standard of build and sound quality that meets the standard set by a professional organization of users and not by the manufacturer. These are not Kickstarter speakers. These are not “better mousetrap” speakers. And they sound amazing.

For any professional who needs sound reproduced with extraordinary balance and clarity in a fairly small environment, or for someone who just wants a superior pair of all-purpose computer speakers, JBL’s hefty little 104’s are an outstanding choice.