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Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…
The JBL LSR 305 studio monitors have enjoyed a substantial wave of acclaim and attention within the audio community for many years, touted for their impressive sound quality and affordability.
However, as time progresses, questions surface regarding their enduring value proposition in a landscape where audio engineers seek precision and accuracy in their studio monitors.
The crucial debate revolves around whether the LSR 305s still hold their ground as a commendable choice or if investing in purpose-built studio monitors for serious mixing might offer more comprehensive features and long-term advantages.
In our forthcoming review, we’ll delve deeply into the realm of the JBL LSR 305, scrutinizing their performance and features, while weighing them against dedicated studio monitors.
Our endeavor is clear: to provide an exhaustive assessment that unveils whether the LSR 305s maintain their appeal or if there are superior alternatives on the market.
We’ll navigate through their sound fidelity, design, and suitability for critical audio tasks, aiming to assist you in determining whether the LSR 305s are a worthwhile investment or if there exist other options that better align with your specific audio needs and aspirations.
JBL LSR 305
- Powered: Yes
- Power Configuration: Bi-amped
- LF Driver Size: 5″
- HF Driver Size: 1″
- HF Driver Type: Soft Dome
- LF Driver Power Amp: 41W
- HF Driver Power Amp: 41W
- Total Power: 82W
- Frequency Range: 43Hz-24kHz
- Crossover Frequency: 1725Hz
- Maximum Peak SPL: 108 dB
- Enclosure Type: Ported
- Input Types: 1x XLR, 1x 1/4″ TRS. What is XLR?
- Height: 11.75″
- Width: 7.28″
- Depth: 9.88″
- Weight: 10.12 lbs.
Like you, I needed a good mixing/reference solution and waited quite a long time before deciding to purchase any kind of monitor!
- Related: What are studio monitors?
I don’t really know why.
Perhaps I was intimidated by all the technical jargon that goes along with higher-end audio equipment.
For the longest time, I used my computer’s internal Soundcard (whichever laptop I was using at the time), and my mixes suffered.
It wasn’t until I purchased the Sony MDR-7506s that my beat quality improved tenfold.
However, it is common knowledge that you shouldn’t rely on just headphones to mix.
With that in mind, my next task was figuring out which monitors got the best reviews, packed a hefty punch, remained flat enough to mix on, and were also easy on the wallet.
I scoured the internet and read as much as I could.
I read every single Amazon review, then went to as many other sites as possible.
I literally went back and forth for weeks before finally arriving at a decision.
I had never heard of the name JBL before, so I put extra care into making sure there was a universal consensus about how good these are.
To put it bluntly, the hype was real.
It’s almost like buying your first smartphone.
You can never go back to a flip phone or even a slide phone for that matter.
The convenience of a smartphone is priceless in today’s fast-paced society.
I could never go back to laptop speakers, standard computer speakers, or even a pair of Logitechs!
The difference in sound quality is night and day.
They are everything I wanted and needed, and then some.
Are these the best ever? No, of course not.
Are they the best entry-level monitors? I would say so.
Are they the best bang for the buck?
Well, the Presonus Eris e3.5s may have something to say about that, but I’d venture to say the 305s will probably be your first really good pair of speakers/monitors.
What Are They?
The LSR 305s are entry-level studio monitors meant to satisfy the needs of the producer/engineer looking for exceptional, reference-level sound quality at an affordable price.
They are active monitors, meaning they don’t need a separate amp to power.
They do however need AC (alternating current) power.
AC simply means the power frequently reverses direction many times per second.
The standard is 60Hz, with hertz being your typical unit of measure.
They are MONO speakers and come with two power cables, as each needs its own power source.
Some common sources and DACs (Digital to Analog interfaces/mixers) that are used with the JBLs:
An audio interface
Right now I have the Universal Audio Volt 2 and love it. I don’t actually have the 305s anymore, but we’ll get into that later.
The 305s have both TRS inputs as well as XLR, so you’ve got some wiggle room. I purchased this TRS to XLR cable which will work fine with the Volt 2’s dual TRS outputs.
You could also go with a mixer if you like more of a hands-on approach to EQ.
A solid option would be something like the Mackie Mix 8.
Taking a look at the back panel, we’ve got the On/Off switch, Balanced XLR and TRS options, an LF (Low-Frequency Trim), an HF (High-Frequency Trim), an Input Sensitivity switch, and the Volume Potentiometer.
In all my time with these, I never pushed the Volume dial past 7.
In other words, they pack quite a punch!
With the trim options, just play around with it until you’ve found something satisfactory.
With the bass, you’ve got the option to boost it by +2dB, cut it by -2dB, or keep it neutral.
With the HF Trim, the same applies.
Since we’re dancing around the subject, we may as well go into how they sound!
If I had to quickly sum up how these sound based on the 5 years I owned them from 2014 – 2019, I’d describe it as a cross between neutral and emphasized.
The great thing about them, and likely a reason why they’re so popular, is that they’re kind of a hybrid between monitors you can realistically mix on, and speakers you can kick back and just casually listen to some tunes with.
A big reason why they’re so enjoyable to listen to is the bass.
It’s not overly boosted like say, a KRK monitor, but it also doesn’t drop off a cliff.
In other words, it slams hard and has impact, but doesn’t sound sloppy like that chick in college you probably shouldn’t have made out with at the Kegger party.
Perhaps the most important component of any successful mix-down is the mids, and JBL knows this all too well.
In short, you can expect an excellent rendering of this crucial area, with vocals and instruments sounding true to life and very, very natural.
In fact, it’s one of the main things that makes them so fun to listen to.
There’s no nasally weirdness, no honk, none of that.
You’re getting a faithful rendering without the added shout and overemphasis that many monitors fall prey to.
The treble has a bit of sparkle up top, but it never sounds out of line or harsh. This is super important.
Yes, you’ll want some brightness to help with overall clarity and the like, but the 305 never ventures into sibilant territory and will sound just zesty enough for the majority of users.
This is definitely a highlight of the 305 and likely a byproduct of their excellent overall tuning with regard to the bass, mid-range, and treble.
Not only can you hear almost everything going on, but it doesn’t sound unnatural or forced. Records sound crisp, detailed, and saucy. Your mixes will, too.
The above image is right before I had to sell them, so work with me. xD
They are near-field monitors, meaning that they need to be about a foot or 2 away from you, facing diagonally creating a 3-point equilateral triangle at about ear level.
the farther you are away, the less impact the sound has.
This is especially true for the higher frequencies that lose a bit of energy at a greater distance.
This means you should invest in some stands (if space allows), build 2 simple shelving units on the wall (as I did in my old space), or MacGyver something to get them elevated to the proper height.
Here’s my old setup (bedroom) after I sold the 305s but before I got the HS7s. I built the shelves with a future monitor purchase in mind.
All of this really depends on your studio space.
You’ll know you have them situated properly when you sit squarely in the middle of both speakers, close your eyes, and are able to place each distinct sound in the Soundstage.
The sound should also feel like it’s coming from the center, back a bit, and/or up, with sound also coming from the sides – if the engineer/producer did a good job of spacing things out.
How the music is imaged depends entirely on the song and can vary from track to track.
Being that the bass is ported on the rear, you may want to consider some Acoustic Sound Treatment in the form of acoustic foam panels and try to place the monitors as far away from the wall as you can.
It’s impossible to get a perfect sound in a bedroom, but taking this extra step will help the sound coming out of the JBLs immensely.
I recently moved my studio out of my bedroom and into a larger space, and it definitely goes a long way in improving the overall sound coming out of any monitors.
Here’s my current setup in the dining room that I never used:
By now you may be wondering why I have the HS7s if I just spent an entire review gushing over the 305s.
Well, friend, times were tough in 2019 and I had to sell my precious babies.
Now I’m back in black like AC/DC, but this poses an interesting question and brings us back full circle from what I mentioned in the open:
Are the 305s still a good value today?
Yes, absolutely. If you don’t have the money to spend on the HS7s, I would definitely snag a pair of 305s and not think twice about it.
They’re fantastic budget monitors that punch way above their price tag (literally).
Are they the best option for mixing?
I firmly believe the HS7s are better for more serious production work, but that just goes back to what I said about the 305s; in that, they work well for both casual listening and reference work but aren’t quite specialized enough for either scenario.
As much as I love my HS7s, they’re brutally honest and will not so much as get a single smear of lipstick on a pig.
It’s like a girl with a subtle amount of makeup on. She doesn’t quite look like this:
But she also isn’t completely bone dry.
Wow, now that I’ve completely alienated any female readers (which is like no one), let’s give a consensus!
The JBL LSR 305 is widely acknowledged as an excellent budget-friendly studio monitor ideal for production work.
Its versatility lies in its ability to serve as a hybrid monitor suitable for both casual listening and professional reference purposes.
Renowned for delivering impactful sound without excessively altering or coloring the audio, the LSR 305 garners praise for its mostly balanced performance.
Its capability to cater to various audio needs, from everyday listening to critical reference monitoring, positions it as a versatile and reliable choice within its price range.
For individuals with budget constraints looking to venture into the realm of studio monitors, the JBL LSR 305 stands out as an ideal choice.
It serves as an exceptional entry point into the world of professional-grade audio monitoring, offering a compelling alternative for those who aren’t ready to invest in higher-priced models like the HS7.
The LSR 305’s ability to deliver quality sound, its versatility for both casual listening and reference purposes, and its overall performance make it an excellent long-term companion.
As a perfect gateway into the realm of studio monitors, the LSR 305 will serve you extremely well, providing a reliable and satisfying audio experience for years to come.
Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this JBL LSR 305 review and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Are you better equipped to make a purchasing decision based on my review? What are your experiences within the realm of music production? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,