Before embarking on this little fit of peak I should acknowledge a couple of things. First I am old, so old in fact that I can tell more ‘I remember when’ stories than Pamela Anderson. Second, I am spoiled, so spoiled that I collect studio monitors for fun running the gamut from old Urei 813s to JBL 4430s and just about everything in between. What can I say? I love studio monitors. So when JBL released the M2’s I thought “… great! JBL is back in the large form-factor monitor game… I gotta get me some of these…” That is until I saw the price tag at which point I bought a bottle of Scotch instead. Fast-forward a few months and low and behold JBL had implemented the groovy wave guide tweeter assembly (derived from the M2)_in a new line of cheap home-studio speakers.
Then came the reviews… “Awesome… Great… Incredible” and a list of superlatives that would play well at an awards ceremony. Well, that was it… I called Sweetwater and they kindly shipped me a pair with their usual great (incredible actually) service and alacrity.
What can I say? Never have I received a shipment of junk so incredibly quickly and professionally.
Where to start? OK… First, one side was broken… At least in terms of the XLR jack… The phone input was fine but really? Once I got things hooked up using ¼ inch I ran some mixes and I was shocked. Not at the mixes… They are OK… But at the ridiculous, and I mean RIDICULOUS amount of bottom-end being pumped out of these things. Even after adjusting the low-end gain using the switch on the back I could not believe how much low end junk was pouring out. And not useful low end but Jack Daniels vomit-sized gobs of low end which you couldn't EQ if your life depended on it (snooty alert – I have a tuned room). Now, I know folks love bass and why not, who doesn't? But bass would just as soon kill you as date you and these things could be hired as extras on a Piranha movie. This bass response was being generated in a free field several feet from all room surfaces (I put placed them where I usually have the NS-10s). To be fair I thought I should move them around the space to see where they could be made to sound passable. I could not find any location in the room where I could stand listening to them for more than a couple of minutes.
Next, the must-vaunted waveguide tweeter and its ‘legendary’ imaging. I’ll keep this short. NS-10s image better than these do. Not just a little better but a lot.
Build quality… I know these are cheap so its not fair to compare build quality to a serious monitor. I would have been more sanguine if the one side actually worked with the XLR input but never mind. All I can say is this… These are cheap crappy assemblies using vinyl over some form of light-weight casing (to reduce shipping costs of course) and my bet is that they will be dying left right and center like t-shirt salesmen at the Battle of Gettysburg
I know I'm being a jerk about all this. Most folks have never heard great monitors in a good room so I guess to that community I apologize for being what Spiro Agnew might have called an ‘effete snob’. But sorry, once you have had a great monitor experience there is no going back and these little JBLs are like going back to Magna Carta. I give these a two out of ten.
I guess I should not be applying at Harmon for a job...