JBL LSR 308 Experience - Save Yourselves!!!

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…

:laughing: Great Read! Great review!

To bad they didn’t work out for you, but, and I know you know, Sweet H2O will take them back. Hope you can limp by on some of your other monitors. Take Care.

SH20… They are the ‘mass-market-but-with-a-heart-cause-we’re-musos-too-so-we-get-you’ of gear dealers… Seriously though, they run a hell of an operation…

Review… Normally I would not post something like this but these things REALLY p*ssed me off… Hell was I thinking? Such crap… absolute unmitigated mass-market garbage taken to a new level of crapness that its insulting to regular crap.

I have had my eye on the smaller LSR305s for a while, to replace my existing 5" Presonus Eris monitors (which I had never intended to use for reference purposes, but am stuck with them currently since one of my passives blew a tweeter).

But I was recently reading a bunch of raving reviews about the 305s and 308s- people astounded by how good they sounded. This made me a little skeptical, because when people talk about how good speakers sound, it’s usually because the speakers are hyped at the upper and lower ends- making them fun for listening to certain kinds of music, but not so fun for someone trying to get a mix done.

I wish the local shops had more floor models for me to try. I’m kind of thinking about going with the Yamahas, mostly due to their pedigree. But no idea whether the current models really are more accurate than the competition.

Agreed on point 1, not sure about point 2 as I have not heard a new Yamaha monitor in twenty years.

Back to point 1…

I have no clue how someone could mix anything on an LSR 308… Now, I know all speakers can be ‘learned’ but from what I heard today everything from 200 down is a complete cluster f**k. No disrespect intended to anyone but I can see why guys used to mixing on computer speakers would consider the LSR series a step-up but what bugs me is how cynical sounding they are… Tons of useless bottom to impress folks who don’t know any better… Oh, here’s the best bit… JBL is now shipping a matched sub for these things… Great… adding thermonuclear to the merely atomic…

So after I packed up the 308s today I did a round of listening on my current sets… Kind of a catharsis… I normally do not use the Mackie 824s because they have some similar low-end characteristics to the 308s but just to complete the cycle I spent a while with them and have to say that compared to the JBLs they were great. Too much bass for sure but WAY more structure and definition, at least in the low-end. I could never figure out the Mackie mid range though - again, too much low end masking the low mid range and really weird imaging (although that may have more to do with current placement than anything). I know I am a dinosaur but for me, the NS-10s are the best things going. Once something is sounding good on them I check the bass on the 4430s, tweak a bit and do a final midrange check on the Urei 809s which scream in pain when the mids are out of whack. Normally they are fine if I have been paying attention with the NS-10s.

How about this… A pair of old NS-10s and a wide-band sub? Anyone out there done that?

Good luck with your monitoring situation!

You should post your review over at gearslutz.com

A lot of people there gushing about them.

Haha, had a good laugh here :slight_smile:.
I was actually on the verge of buying a pair of LSR2328’s but decided against it because of their size, they’re too deep to fit on my desk.
I guess that may have been a good idea anyway, if they sound anything like your 308s :slight_smile:

You’re right… I just posted this review on gearslutz… Thanks for the suggestion

Link please, that could get interesting :slight_smile:



As an aside: I feel that comparing $150 speakers to vintage UREI’s and JBL’s sort of misses the point.

I think they should be compared to other speakers in their price range (KRK Rokit5, Yamaha HS-50, M-Audio BX5 etc.).

Even the NS-10’s and HR824’s you mention are substantially more expensive.

You get what you pay for. I haven’t heard them myself, but at $250 a pair, I doubt you’re going to find anything that sounds a lot better.

That’s the thing. Yamaha advertises the current line as being in the same “accuracy over hype” tradition as the NS-10s, however I don’t think the NS-10s were ported, whereas the new line (HS8, HS5) definitely are ported. (As are the JBLs and just about every big-name active on the market.)

I’d love to find a sealed/unported pair of actives for under $1500. The Avantone mix cubes, perhaps? I don’t like that weird power adapter they’ve got, but I’m not sure there are many other options.

Of course you are right… I let my expectations run away with me, especially because of my obsession with the waveguide which is the evolution of the bi-radial horn introduced in the 4430 and 4435 many years ago and was, at the time, a revelation. I guess what I was hoping for was a relatively neutral bottom-end but superb imaging. Neither hope was fulfilled… Not even close. I get the cheapness argument but the marketing BS about imaging/waveguide/blah blah is simply false advertising.

Yeah, the “same-as-the-M2-waveguide” PR is misleading. But I never believed for a second that they’d be able to put the real thing on a $150 speaker. For starters, even if it has a similar shape, the reduction in size alone would radically alter its behavior.

I’m not particularly fond of your monitors (4430 and NS10) and would not like mixing on those, but if your room has been tuned to them and you know them well, the LSR305’s are obviously not gonna match up.

What I find inexcusable is that the XLR did not work.

That said, I think it is unbelievable what quality you can buy these days for a mere $300 per pair. Are they as good as $3000 Genelecs? No. But you do get something that is good enough to get you started, and if you take the time to learn them, reasonably balanced mixes can be obtained from them.


I just realized you talk about the 8" model. My bad. In my experience, all budget 8" speakers are disproportionally bass-heavy and you’d be better off with the 5" models.

I like the the AE22’s.


I tried the passives when I was in Europe, very good, but expectedly bass-lean. And they are unbelievably cheap, at 500 Euros for a passive pair. They are hard to get in the USA, though, no official distribution, I think.

There are others out there, like the Quested S6 or The Rock, but I haven’t heard those.

Yeah… I use to equate quality with some of the Harmon brands back in the day! But after reading the [u]Audioholics.com[/u] report about the $3500 Lexicon BD-30 Blu-ray player being a re-packaged $500 Oppo BDP-83… all I could think was " The balls on those greedy bastards!"

Sign of the times my friend! :smiling_imp:

I read the review… The hubris is staggering…

Our company does some work for OEMs (firmware) in the car radio business and I cannot begin to tell you how hollowed-out western R&D/design has become. Venerable old brands are nothing more than marketing companies now.

Also… I decided to keep these junkpiles for no other reason than to experience what folks are mixing on (and the fact that sweetwater didn’t like the idea of issuing a refund / out of stock blah blah blah… PIA not worth any effort). So for fun we pulled the bad box apart and fixed it (cold-soldered cap) and the work was pretty-much as appalling as you would expect. Its not as though one or two expensive components were sacrificed at the alter of micro-pennies - Every single component we looked at was bottom-dollar, low tolerance junk including wire and PCB. We did not spend that much time on it but if I had to guess, an additional $5.00 on the BOM could have made the difference between junk and respectable. This 5 bucks would translate into $50.00 (max) at retail (assuming 5x from BOM to retail which is not uncommon). But no - make it as cheap as possible that’s it, that’s all. Is there no end to the great race to the bottom?