The trend over the past several years has been for manufacturers to make a monitor for the home recording enthusiast that translates well and doesn’t break the bank.
The old adage- ” You Get What You Pay For” is a statement that seems to say the more money we pay for something the better it will be and the less trouble we will have with it and the less you pay the worse it will be. I like to play devils advocate. Sometimes in our world the question is ,” How much can I get for my money?” or ” I only have this much to spend, what can I get?”
As it turns out you can get a lot for your money when it comes to studio monitors. Companies are constantly inventing terminology for new technology. In the case of the JBL LSR305 and the LSR308 we are hit with a new term… “Image Control Wave Guide Technology”. A quick look at the front of the speaker and you notice something different about the tweeter section. A rather unusual shape surrounds the tweeter and this is the wave guide technology. According to JBL this allows you to hear details in your mixes better.
I unhooked the set of 8″ monitors I was currently using to test these out, so I expected that there would be a huge difference in sound. One advantage I noted immediately was that I could put these monitors closer to my ears since the smaller foot print allowed this. In and of itself this was a huge advantage in terms of getting the right proximity to my ears. One thing that often tends to be overlooked in monitor placement is height.If your monitors are well below ear level bend down and listen to them at ear level. Hear a difference? You most likely will hear a clearer cleaner image at ear level.I have raised these monitors up higher to get a better image of my sound and it makes a huge difference.
Compared to a typical 8″ monitor these are very light coming it at just over 10lbs/4.6kgs. Probably only half the weight of the ones I removed.Hooking these up was easy. I used the same cables that were previously connected on the old monitors. I had them working within 10 minutes of removing them from the box. JBL gives you a set of pads.Small felt stick on pads for the bottom of the monitor to prevent damaging the finish of anything they sit on. At the rear of the monitor you can see switches for both HF and LF. These switches allow you to either boost or cut the LF/HF respectively by +-2db either way.
You will find both TRS balanced and XLR connections conveniently located. There is a switch on the back for taking your impedance from -10 to +4. My setup used the TRS and the +4 settings.A quick setup.
In order for you to know if the switches for HF/LF boost/cut should be set you should know some of the characteristics of your space.Probably the best way to determine if an adjustment is needed is to make a few mixes and see how they translate on other systems. If mixes seem to have too much bass, then you might not be hearing enough bass when you mix causing you to add too much bass. In that case the LF switch should be moved to +2.If the opposite is true, a -2 setting is called for.Same for the HF setting. The frequency range of the monitor is 43hz-24khz well within the range of most mixes.
The bass port on these monitors is at the rear, so room treatments are always a good way to go in the listening space, or at least be aware and compensate for the problems that can happen when you fire bass against a bare wall in a small space.
In test- As I expected I lost some bass presence when using these monitors over my 8″ two-way monitors.This might seem a bad thing but in a small studio less is more because less bass pressure means I can hear the mids and highs better. Bass isn’t overbearing. This makes listening for longer periods easier on the ears. One method for getting a good overall mix would be to try a mix out with and without a subwoofer if mixing bass heavy material. A lot of what makes a mix a good mix is the mixer. Chances are if you have everything EQ’d properly in the mix your bass will be pretty good with just the LSR305’s…if you want additional assurance you can use a subwoofer or alternate with a larger set of monitors. I wouldn’t be afraid to use only the LSR305’s for most mixes. I think you will start to get a feel for the amount of bass after a few mixes on them and in no time be making wonderful mixes.The LSR308’s are another option, but for the small home studio it could be too much as the LSR308’s are probably better suited for mid to larger spaces.
Before trying out these monitors I didn’t know what I was missing. These monitors are certainly better at letting you hear all the detail. I played several mixes that I was familiar with on these monitors and in every case more detail was presented. I wouldn’t say it was like night and day or like turning on a switch, but I could pick out more detail and get a better idea of space. JBL claim that the new design allows you to hear the same image in various room positions. I don’t think many engineers will be wandering around the studio. There might be some who have conditions that force them to put the monitors in a strange place. I’m not comfortable with anything but the triangle arrangement.If there are multiple people in front of the recording monitors it makes sense that they can hear just as well as maybe I can from where I sit.
For a monitor at this price point I think these are a good choice. According to some user reviews the JBL LSR305’s are better than their set of **** monitors that costed way more. I think these monitors would be a great addition to any small home studio. JBL continue to innovate products that work well and don’t break the bank. JBL test each monitor for 100hrs before it ships, eliminating a lot of potential trouble that can happen with that potential bad batch of capacitors or resistors.I would give these monitors a 4 1/2 out of five stars for this type of monitor compared to all monitors in this bracket and 5 stars for making a product at this price point that can favorably compete with products at higher price points. I am a little leary of the plastic construction and this is partially due to being accustomed to the heavy plywood or composite wood construction of others. Time will tell how they hold up, but I have no reason to believe they won’t last. After testing I can conclude that there is a significant gain in image and detail and I attribute a lot of that to the new waveguide technology.
-Tim Smith a.k.a. The Recording Hound