Pros: Very powerful, very loud. Tremendous bass. High quality. Solidly built. Remote operates Cassette-deck too.
Cons: Very heavy. Awkward shape. Somewhat unbalanced bass-heavy sound. Pre-set eq controls.
The JVC RV-NB1 is a new version of the original "Kaboom" box that was first introduced some years ago. I first saw that original unit on HSN with a price tag of approx $350.
The Kaboom box line may be the most powerful line of boomboxes ever made, especially considering that these are "true" boomboxes that can run on batteries as well as AC current. They can also run on 12volt DC current when connected to your car/boat battery via an optional DC adaptor that plugs into the cig-lighter socket.
The RV-NB1, like its predecessors has some good and bad points.
Quality is great. It's a JVC. JVC has always been better than average quality as far as audio/video components are concerned. And they have come up with some very innovative designs over the years.
Single CD player and single Cassette player/recorder. CD player works fine. Played all my burned CDs. Programmable and random options. Cassette deck works very well. If you still own cassettes, as I, then you will appreciate this deck. It is full-auto-stop which means it will stop in any mode, fastforward, rewind, etc. That protects your tapes and keeps the transport from stretching the tapes. I believe this deck is also auto-reverse, so you can listen to both sides of a tape without turning it around. Sound quality of the tape deck is very good. This deck also has auto-tape-select. All that means is it will automatically adjust the tape bias to match Normal, Chrome/Metal tapes on playback. If the tape bias isn't correct, higher quality Chrome/Metal tapes can sound "shrill" and distorted. Also, this deck can record on both Normal and Chrome tapes, again using the auto selector feature.
Remote control is a little larger than the remotes of the older models. But, the remote still controls ALL the functions of this unit, radio, CD and tape deck. CD and tape deck controls are all electronic solenoid types. No mechanical tape deck keys. So, regardless of whether you are playing a CD, listening to the radio or playing a cassette, you can control all the functions from your easy chair.
Amplifier power is impressive for a boombox. Honestly, this system sounds as good and as powerful as many shelf systems. Each built-in subwoofer has a 20 watt amp dedicated to just the bass frequencies. Each front speaker has its own smaller amp, approx 6 watts each, dedicated to the rest of the music spectrum. The RV-NB1 has more power output than any other boombox currently out there. And because this system utilizes a bi-amp system, it sounds even more powerful. Bi-amped systems usually exhibit less distortion than full-range amplifiers of similar power output. That is because the bass amp concentrates on just the bass frequencies which require the most power and the bass speakers do not have to try and reproduce the full range of music.
The speakers are high quality, especially the subwoofers. There is a subwoofer located at each end of this unit. The subs are 6 1/2 inch woofers. The two of them combined is roughly equivalent to an 8 inch subwoofer!
Each subwoofer has a "weight" ring. By adding a weight to the woofer, the woofer's resonant frequency is lowered and thus the low end bass response is lowered as well. The subwoofers are loaded into separate left/right internal cabinets which are connected to long winding bass reflex tubes, which further extend the low end. The subwoofers also feature heavy foam or rubber surrounds and deep cone excursion capability, which all amounts to more deeper bass.
Each front firing speaker is approx 3 inches. They are also loaded into separate "sub-enclosures". This is done for several reasons. The separate sub-enclosures protect the small front speakers from the internal pressures created by the subwoofers. Also, the sub-enclosures keep the left and right speakers separate from one another, thus creating a better stereo imaging.
Tonal controls are OK. The subwoofers have their own volume control which ranges from 1 to 6. The main volume control has a range of 0 to 50. There are several pre-set eq settings such as "rock, jazz" etc. There is also ACS circuitry. Basically, the ACS circuit increases the treble range of music, similar to BBE circuitry from what I could hear.
The 0 to 50 level of the main volume control is nice. It allows the user to adjust the level of loudness in smaller increments.
All of the sound pads found on the older Kaboom boxes are gone. You can still plug in a guitar and use this unit as a guitar amp. Personally, I don't know if doing so could shorten the life of this unit. Playing a musical instrument through your amp is not the same as playing prerecorded music. The demands on the amp are different and usually greater.
Display is the popular blue backlit type. It is fairly large.
This unit is supposed to have mp3 capability. I do not play mp3 CDs, so I can't comment on that aspect.
Now, the not so good points of this system.
As with all the Kaboom boxes, this system is heavy and awkward. I never did like the strap which functions as a handle. I don't know why JVC doesn't include a simple fold-down handle in the center of the unit. It would be much easier to carry that way.
This system is large and of an unusual awkward shape. It does not fit easily on your desk, on a bookshelf, etc.
Stereo imaging is poor. The front speakers are too close together. If you stand even a few feet away from this unit, you will not hear much stereo effect, depth, etc. This system could definitley use some sort of surround sound circuitry to widen the image and increase the feeling of depth. That is a big disappointment. This system appears to be built more for playing just plain loud rather than exhibit the finer sound characteristics of a good stereo system. The bass and the sound is there, but, when you close your eyes and listen you can't place the position of the various instruments of a good orchestral recording. Stereo imaging was sacrificed for sheer power, it seems. That's probably my biggest beef concerning this system.
The display is not too easy to read as is the case with many of the blue backlit displays I've seen. I personally prefer the old yellow backlit displays. Contrast on those displays is better.
I am disappointed that JVC omitted the MID/TREBLE controls that were incorporated in the older units like the RV-DP100 and 200 models. Pre-set eq controls allow very limited flexibility to the listener. I much prefer to be able to adjust the tones to my liking and my room acoustics.
I've always thought the Kaboom box line sounded a little "boomy". Don't get me wrong, bass is fantastic, especially for a boombox. But, I think the bass cut-off frequency should have been lowered a bit to eliminate the "boom" effect. Unfortunately, many manufacturers deliberately design their audio systems to deliver large boomy bass and shrilly highs because that attracts buyers at first. Such sound qualities can become irritating after prolonged exposure.
I personally think the front speakers could be a little bigger. Even a slight increase to, let's say, 4 inch full-ranges would blend in better with the subwoofers. As it is, this system seems out of balance, with very heavy bass and only moderate midrange and treble. Tweeters, either co-axial or separate, would also have been a nice addition.
You will either like or hate the ACS circuitry. It does make up a little for the lack of tweeters, but it also gives the sound a synthesized feel which will not appeal to everyone.
Overall, this system is about as good a boombox as you can probably find. It has the power to play loudly indoors or out. It has a rugged feel. It feels sturdy and of quality build. If you are in the market for a really powerful boombox, this is the one.