JBL professional monitors have been an industry standard for a long time. I’ve owned JBL’s inside of guitar cabinets but have never used them for mixing and monitoring. I’ve had a chance to review the stereo pair of the LSR4328′s paired with their subwoofer the LSR4312 and I have to say that I am mighty impressed with their sound, their feature set and their construction.
Most good monitor speakers, have good electronics, good woofers and tweeters in a nicely designed box with maybe a dip switch or two to bump or dip a particular frequency to correct for room anomalies. These JBL’s are a whole new class of monitor with bells and whistles that actually add value. The front panel will strike you with not only a row of buttons including the power switch, but also with a calibrated LED meter. These buttons will power up the monitors, solo individual speakers, enter into calibration mode, activate and access EQ settings, select input modes and step up or down through settings (+/-). You can choose the meters to be dimmer or brighter or off completely by pressing the +/- buttons simultaneously a couple of times. And since we are all so lazy these days, all of these functions and more are available through a remote control!
The rear panel also hosts a list of input and output options. There are XLR and 1/4 inch TRS analog inputs, as well as AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital inputs. By accessing the front panel controls you can select the active inputs to monitor as many as three separate sources, digital and analog . The analog ins go through 24-bit/96kHz A/D converters, and the digital ins can support sampling rates from 96kHz down to 32kHz . They have also included an input sensitivity switch which toggles between – 10 dBV and +4 dBu.
There is a lot of convenience and options with these monitors. As you can see there are plenty of I/O options, superior functionality, fantastic sound reproduction and as if no detail is too small they actually included handles on the side of each monitor for ease of movement and positioning. If you study the rear panel picture you’ll also see USB and CAT5/Ethernet I/O as well. That’s right – these speakers not only talk to each other through the CAT5 but they speak to the computer system as well! And we’ll get the their “Room Mode Correction” feature in a minute.
These monitors use JBL’s proprietary LSR (Linear Spatial Reference ) technology. In JBL’s own words – “LSR technology measures the performance of a speaker over a sphere that encompasses all energy radiated into the listening environment in every direction and analyzed algorithmically via known psycho-acoustic principles to calculate complete and accurate optimization of the sound field, including the direct sound field, the reflected sound field and the reverberant sound field.” Which is a fancy way of saying these speakers offer superior reproduction of sound sources and that they put a lot of time, research and moola into developing this monitor technology.
JBL has also incorporated their RMC (Room Mode Correction) technology into this monitor system. It’s a clever and simple system to use. Since so many music producers, video editors and sound editors and mixers are working at home or in very compromised spaces this technology has been developed to compensate. All you need to do is set up the monitors in their mix position, network the monitors with their included CAT5 cables, attach the included microphone into the back of the “left” monitor and position it at “ear height” of the mixing sweet spot and press the RMC front panel button. It sweeps the space with tones, calibrates the monitors and stores the information. Done! I have not had the opportunity to try this in a compromised space, I’m using them here in my professional studio, but I have contacted others who are truly amazed at the difference they found before and after. The RMC switch allows you to bypass so it is easy to A/B to hear the difference between the corrected and uncorrected signal.
So, yeah, blah, blah, blah, how do they sound? In a word – great. These monitors have astonishing clarity in the mids and highs and no mud down at the bottom and excellent stereo imaging. I have auditioned a wide range of material through them and they handle high decibel levels with ease and sound great all down the line. As a long time user of another company’s monitors, I was sure that these JBL’s would not be much competition. I was wrong, so wrong in fact I am no longer a user of those monitors (HINT – made in Finland) and have now outfitted Mix Suite A with the LSR4328′s. There can be no greater recommendation than that. If you are in the market for professional monitor speakers, I am of the opinion that you can’t do better than these for this price point. Also check out their little brothers the LSR4326′s which offer all the same bells and whistles with a slightly smaller woofer. They are even better priced and would work quite well in smaller spaces.