I have had experience with JBL
loudspeakers in the past and have been impressed
with what the brand offers in terms of price versus
sound quality. So, when I was given the opportunity
to review a performance line JBL speaker system, I
gladly accepted and eagerly awaited their arrival.
The Studio L series is new for JBL in that it is the
first of their consumer lineup to utilize ultrahigh
frequency transducers that were previously only
found in JBL's professional studio monitors. The
ultrahigh transducers that JBL uses are said to
extend the upper frequency range to 40 kHz. Although
human hearing is usually defined as having an upper
limit of 20 kHz, there are some data showing that we
can somehow "sense" frequencies higher than that.
To accomplish this extended upper range, a ¾"
Mylar dome transducer plays into a Bi-Radial® horn
waveguide, and it is accompanied by a 1" pure
titanium dome transducer which plays into an EOS™
The EOS™ or Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal
waveguide is intended to control the sound
dispersion so that it radiates the sound directly
toward the listening area rather than letting it
reflect off of the sidewalls. These two transducers
are present on each of the JBL Studio L models
except for the L8400P subwoofer. The idea of using
an ultrahigh transducer playing into the Bi-Radial ®
horn waveguide is the same kind of idea you see on
JBL's ultra high end K2 9800 series.
Studio L series also features a few wall-mountable
models for flexible positioning. These include the LC2
center channel speaker, the L810 bookshelf monitor,
and the L820 bookshelf monitor. The way they look
when mounted on a wall can be seen in the photo at
the beginning of this review.
Another design concept used in the Studio L line of
loudspeakers is that of the PolyPlas cone driver.
This is a cellulose fiber-based (paper) cone that is
reinforced with a polymer (plastic) coating. The polymer
coating is intended to retain the tonality
characteristics of a paper-based cone while
supplementing the rigidity and damping qualities of
the material. Personally, I like the characteristics
of paper-based drivers because they can add warmth
to instruments like cellos, saxophones, and guitars.
The Studio L series are available in a couple
different configurations. The setup I chose to
review consists of the L890 tower speaker as the
front left/right speakers, the LC2 as the center channel, the
L830 bookshelf speakers as the surrounds, and the
L8400P for the subwoofer. The review speakers that
arrived were finished in a black ash, which from a
distance looks like a satin black, but from up close
has a wood grain. The whole system has a
very contemporary appearance and would integrate
well with other modern electronics. The speakers are
also available in cherry, or beech finishes for
those who wish to have more of a natural look
A Couple of Specifics
All models except the L8400P have gold plated five-way
binding posts to make them bi-wireable.
The L890 is a four-way floor standing tower which is
rated at 91dB sensitivity with power handling of 125
watts – 250 watts. The relatively high sensitivity
and nominal impedance of 8 ohms makes them likely
candidates for most mass market receivers.
The LC2, L810, and L820 can be wall mounted by using
the keyhole mounting holes on the back of the
speaker. One would install pan head screws into the
wall preferably where there is a wall stud, and then
those would in turn fit inside the keyholes on the
back of the speaker and hold them in place. A
template is included with the manual to guide you
with drilling holes.
The L8400P subwoofer features a 600 watt digital
amplifier and a 12" PolyPlas cone driver housed in a
sealed enclosure. Other features include a vented
pole piece, a cast-aluminum frame, and a motor
assembly which utilizes JBL's symmetrical field
geometry design that is used to keep the magnetic
force even during the movements of the voice coil.
This is intended to keep distortion to a minimum.
It also has a 00-1800
phase switch, adjustable low pass of 50 Hz to 150
Hz, and speaker-level inputs as well as outputs
(high pass to small speakers).
Some of the features I would
have liked to seen on this subwoofer are individual
dial markings on the crossover knob and a detachable
Listening was done in my living room which opens
into a kitchen. The speakers were set up with the
L890s placed on the sides of my 65" rear projection
TV and toed in about 100. The L8400P subwoofer was
placed in the front right corner of the room, and the
LC2 center channel speaker was placed on a stand in
front of the television. The L830s were placed on
speaker stands behind the listening position and
pointing sideways. I used an AVIA set-up disc to
calibrate everything before listening.
Click Here to Go to Part II.