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JBL LSR305 vs. Mackie HR624 Mk 2 - quick review
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changeng
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6th November 2013
Old 6th November 2013
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JBL LSR305 vs. Mackie HR624 Mk 2 - quick review

Just got the LSR305's and wrote a quick review in the review section. Figured some of you ne'er-do-wells are too lazy to hunt it down, so here it is;

I came reeeeel close to getting the Equator five inchers with all the hubba-hubba this forum gives those things, then suddenly last week someone started screeching ecstatic about some new JBL's. Well, HEY! I'm a sucker for a good screech, and since the JBL's were $100 cheaper than the Equators, excelsior! Spend $300 instead of $400? You betcha!

So here they are. They are smaller than I thought (7 1/4 " W, 11 3/4" H, 9 1/4" D), which is fine. Actually, smaller than the Tascam VL-X5 pair these will replace. And on top of that, no real manual, just a quick start guide (yeah, I know - you don't NEED a manual for monitors, but I like to read).

At first they confused me. I've been using the Mackie's for about four years now and they always sounded a little congested to me. Sure, they have some bottom, but the highs were always kinda eh and well, I could get decent mixes out of them, but... time for something new.

The reason the JBL's confused me was because they first sounded REEELY piercing on the top end and WIDE. Much wider than the Mackies. As they settled in a bit, the piercing top subsided. I put on the Beach Boys' SMiLE album, since it has such a wide range of instruments and was recorded so well (at least for its time) and A/B'd for an hour.

No question - even though the Mackies' woofers are six inches and the JBLs are five, the JBL has more bass response AND it's sharper. SMiLE uses lots of contrabass, which sort of disappears in the Mackies. They are there in the JBLs - there's more pluck - more definition to the lower end.

There is also more definition in the upper frequencies - maybe too much. I made sure the HF switch on the back wasn't flipped to +2dB. I started thinking these things may have a built-in "smiley curve" eq. So when I switched back to the Mackies and noticed they were suddenly very two-dimensional. Sort of like that same 2-D sound you get using cheap console preamps. Don't get me wrong - they're very useable and can get the mix done - however the old cliche "lifting a veil off the sound" is true here when switching back to the JBLs. While the Mackies are supposed to be ruler-flat and really emphasize the midrange (at least mine do), that midrange is very *flat* sounding. Things jump out at you on the JBLs - the extra vocal bits from Heroes and Villains really show they were recorded on different days when listening on the JBLs; this should be a great advantage when blending tracks together.

The JBLs at first give the appearance of being top-driven and bottom spunky; once you settle in with them, you'll notice a very wide, clear midrange - you can step into these monitors. You can clearly hear the rooms the separate SMiLE bits were recorded in as well as the different applications of plate verb Brian was using. My apartment requires me to mix at lower levels (sometimes I briefly turn up loud just so my neighbors know I CAN) and even at the lowest levels, the JBLs translate clarity and 3-D-ishnessicity. Are they as round as their 8 inch big brothers? Of course not - however in a small studio setting (mine is 12' X 15') they get as low as you need, provided you have at least SOME room treatment. If you're doing a bunch of sub-bass work, you'll probably feel better getting a subwoofer - the lows are THERE, but they won't rattle your cattle. They're five inch woofers ferpetesake! Get a grip!

Considering that I've been using the Mackies for 4 years and the JBLs for ONE HOUR, I have to say I'm really impressed with the JBLs. Once they break in, I imagine that high end shrillness I initially noted (which is already loosening up) will mellow nicely. I probably should have gotten the 8 inch woofers in retrospect, but for my room, these are Swellsville. If you've been thinking about new 5 inch monitors, these are exemplary.
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#2
6th November 2013
Old 6th November 2013
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Excellent review and a very good choice of test matter. Huge SMiLE fan here. I shall be buying a pair of LSR305's next year once my Christmas tips and working regime has come to an end.
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6th November 2013
Old 6th November 2013
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I have been eyeing up the JBL's for a few days now, after a lot of research I thought they would be the best bang for buck (still they are $700 over here). Changeng, you have officially sold me. I'm def thinking I need a sub to go with them though.
changeng
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6th November 2013
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My only possible regret with these is MAYBE, just a maybe, I should have gone for the 308's instead of the 305's. In my little room, the 305's translate VERY well. It's just the 308's are BIGGER so... ummm... they're more... well, they're BIGGER.
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6th November 2013
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Would you mind checking the low-freq response with some sine waves (you can download a set of frequency waves if you don't have some handy). Listen for port noise and audibility as you drop from let's say 80hz on down.

The low E of a bass guitar is around 41hz, and I think these lsr305 are supposed to go down to 43hz. A tad shy of an important mark (that low E), but a real world test would be great.

Thanks....
#6
7th November 2013
Old 7th November 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by changeng View Post
If you've been thinking about new 5 inch monitors, these are exemplary.
Thanks for your review, I ordered my pair Will write here if I find something to complain about them.

BTW for those contemplating their monitor purchases, sonic sense's soundcloud set of well recorded monitors gives excellent advice. Just remember to download the original files. I was surprised how different voicing the Adam boxes have compared to any other.
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7th November 2013
Old 7th November 2013
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Recording is nice, also on the vinyl section, but what about the interface and recordplayer etc. you use, seems moest important to me.....
changeng
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7th November 2013
Old 7th November 2013
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My pleasure! Maybe I have a future in car sales.

I ran several 40 Hz test tones, both constant and pulsing at my typical good-neighbor-apartment-level mixing volume (geez I hope I didn't hurt these things). At a certain point, they will break up - THEY'RE FIVE INCH WOOFERS. The Mackies held out longer with a slightly higher volume (being 6 inch woofers), but not by much. The difference between the two bore out what I've already heard; the Mackies go slightly lower and are rounder and "fluffier" down there (you could call it "woolly" too), but the JBLs retain a sharper edge down below. The 40 Hz is there, but I wouldn't use these things to pimp your next basement rave. I was impressed by how they handled the 40 Hz sine wave - ALTHOUGH it was on it's tippy toes to do so.
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7th November 2013
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here's some propaganda from the JBL website;

JBL Professional Reliability - Prior to becoming a production-ready design, each 3 Series model is subjected to JBL’s tough 100 hour power test, in which the speaker is required to play continually at full output for 100 hours without failure. This demanding test ensures your 3 Series speakers will deliver years of reliable performance.

JBL LSR Design - Your Music Needs a Point of Reference - While most manufacturers take only a single on axis measurement of the speaker’s performance, this doesn’t tell how it will sound in your room. JBL’s LSR Linear Spatial Reference design criteria requires seventy-two measurements yielding more than 1,200 times more data, enabling JBL to engineer a speaker that “sounds right” in any working space. With LSR design, 3 Series Studio Monitors deliver superior accuracy regardless of the size and shape of your room, so your mixes “hit their mark” when heard on any playback system.
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7th November 2013
Old 7th November 2013
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Originally Posted by changeng View Post
My pleasure! Maybe I have a future in car sales.

I ran several 40 Hz test tones, both constant and pulsing at my typical good-neighbor-apartment-level mixing volume (geez I hope I didn't hurt these things). At a certain point, they will break up - THEY'RE FIVE INCH WOOFERS. The Mackies held out longer with a slightly higher volume (being 6 inch woofers), but not by much. The difference between the two bore out what I've already heard; the Mackies go slightly lower and are rounder and "fluffier" down there (you could call it "woolly" too), but the JBLs retain a sharper edge down below. The 40 Hz is there, but I wouldn't use these things to pimp your next basement rave. I was impressed by how they handled the 40 Hz sine wave - ALTHOUGH it was on it's tippy toes to do so.
Thanks for doing that. I'm mostly concerned about upright bass, so that 40hz mark is fine. No funny port noise or rattles?

I think the 8" models go down to 37hz, so it's really only a difference of 6hz between the 5 and 8 inch. (at least on paper).
changeng
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7th November 2013
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no noises that I could discern. The upright bass in SMiLE came through beautifully last night - it was a 1967 recording, still it was recorded in a pretty decent studio. I'm sure the 8's are rounder - but they might make it difficult to mix in a smaller studio room at reasonable volumes.

The only thing missing for me is the orange in the old-skool JBL logo.
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8th November 2013
Old 8th November 2013
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After all these years noticing the old orange JBL logo I finally got the LSR305. Glad you like yours.
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13th November 2013
Old 13th November 2013
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I've had my LSR 305's for a day now, and here are my impressions;

The frequency response is smooth and extends to 50 Hz at the low end, after which the response drops fast - I'm not hearing almost anything at 40 Hz. The highs are pleasant and the imaging is great.

The sweet spot is really wide. I can move around in my small room and the mix sounds essentially the same everywhere. Such wide dispersion can be a bad thing if the room is not treated in any way, as it will cause more room reflections.

I also like the simple design of the boxes. They look better than in photos. The power led is white and not too bright like in some devices today. All the controls are at back. +-2 dB adjustment for low and high is probably enough for most people. Build quality seems okay, but one of my boxes had some stiffness in the volume pot, it does not move smoothly over its range but works fine otherwise.

Finally the bad thing: they are a bit noisy. There is a constant hiss that I can hear -albeit barely - from my listening position, about 1 meter (3 ft) from the speakers. This may be an issue for some. The noise is constant even if there is no audio source connected, also turning the gain knob has no effect (except when the knob is at 0, which causes the amps to power down completely). Also there is a weird "digital aliasing" type noise when turning the volume knob, and at some volume levels there is a constant pulsing noise, probably radio interference picked up by the Class D amplifiers. This is not a deal breaker for me, but it's good to know when making your decision.

They might also be a bit fatiquing, but that may be just my ears getting used to their imaging and upfront sound.
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13th November 2013
Old 13th November 2013
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hmmm. I don't remember that noise you refer to - I'm not in my studio right now, so I can't check. As for the digital aliasing, again I haven't heard that. The fatiguing may be from the pair being new - they did sound a bit strident when I first plugged them in. Mine have been breaking in oh-so-subtlety over the last week - I've been putting an mp3 of a rainstorm through them overnight to see if that helps smooth out the top end - seems to be working, plus it's nice to have the rainstorm going on (...zzzzzzzzzz)
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13th November 2013
Old 13th November 2013
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If you getting a constant pulsing noise I would find out what is causing the issue. I do not think it is the amps in the speakers but something that is traveling on the audio or ground lines. The JBL LSR 305 is set at the factory for maximum gain and with the gain switch. I heard no such issue with mine.
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14th November 2013
Old 14th November 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John57 View Post
jontfu
If you getting a constant pulsing noise I would find out what is causing the issue. I do not think it is the amps in the speakers but something that is traveling on the audio or ground lines. The JBL LSR 305 is set at the factory for maximum gain and with the gain switch. I heard no such issue with mine.
I tried using a grounded socket in another power circuit, with no audio cables connected, and the pulsing noise is still present. But it is very faint and only occurs when the volume pot is at a low setting. Maybe something related to the negative feedback circuit of the Class D amps? I remember reading similar issues with the Equator D5:s in another thread here on gearslutz. Setting the volume pot to 4-5 seems to be the best, as the pulsing noise disappears and the input stage noise is not amplified like it is when the volume is at 10.

All active monitors have some self-generated noise, and as I said it's not a real issue for me. My room is not the quietest anyway - there is some traffic noise and occasional noise from the central heating and air vents which add up. The JBL's just seem to have it a few dB louder than the other boxes I have listened to - including the Equator D5's, Adam A7X & F7 and Behringer Truths. The LSR 305 still compares favorably to the others in most other ways.
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14th November 2013
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Interesting- one of you hears that lower 40hz range just fine, while another says that it's barely there, if at all.

Hmmm.....
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14th November 2013
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could come down to speaker placement and room treatment. Also the opinions of humans tend to vary based on them being different beings and all.
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14th November 2013
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Yep. Also different physical ears.

But we're talking the low e on a bass guitar, kind of an important thing to hear for most (if not all) of us.
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17th November 2013
Old 17th November 2013
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I have the LSR305 in front of me for a while. While noise is present, it's not a problem at 1m distance as it is not particularly loud.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slaphappy View Post
Interesting- one of you hears that lower 40hz range just fine, while another says that it's barely there, if at all.
Whats so interesting about it?

The specs for LSR305 state 43Hz at -10dB. As you can see at the frequency response, 40Hz is lower than -12dB.

If you need deeper bass get a subwoofer or the LSR308. Or you might wanna switch to a different brand.
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