JBL LSR 305 Studio Monitor Review [Definitive Guide]
9/15/19. Added images.
9.11.20. Added Setup instructions.
1,889 word post, approx 4 min. read
Hi friend and welcome!
Do you want to take your studio game to the next level? Ever thought about how much better your compositions would sound with some better gear? Well read on and check out my JBL LSR 305 review. These puppies pack quite a punch!
Before we get started, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
Like you, I needed a good mixing/reference solution and waited quite a long time before deciding to purchase any kind of monitors! 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 computers internal Soundcard (whichever laptop I was using at the time), and my mixes suffered. What is a Soundcard? It wasn’t until I purchased the Sony MDR 7506’s that my beat quality improved ten fold.
However, it is common knowledge that you shouldn’t rely on headphones alone 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. Likewise, 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.
The LSR 305’s are by all accounts an entry level studio monitor meant to satisfy the needs of the producer/engineer looking for exceptional, reference level sound quality.
They are active, 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. You wanna hertz doughnut?
Basically just plug these bad boys into the outlet from your JBL’s and shut up. Just kidding 😀 These monitors come with two cables, as each needs it’s own power source. Basically, they are MONO speakers, and need 2 separate cables running from the back into whatever you are using to receive and transmit signal.
Some common sources and DAC’s (Digital to Analog interfaces/mixers) that are used with the JBL’s:
An audio interface. I personally have the Scarlett 2i2. What does an audio interface do? It’s a beast of a unit and powers my JBLs magnificently. It uses 2 balanced TRS line output jacks, and goes really well with the combo balanced TRS to XLR cables. You could also go with the Scarlett solo, which has unbalanced RCA outputs rather than balanced TRS. TRS vs. TS.
I will outline some different connections in the “What you will need” section below.
Amazing detail from bass to high end.
Impressively flat and neutral, with just a touch of warmth.
Nice stereo imaging. Positioning these at the right spot makes them almost disappear, if you will.
Bass reaches down to 43Hz.
They breathe life into old songs, allowing you to hear those subtle nuances that were previously absent. They are very accurate.
Great at capturing highs; can really be pushed to max volume and remain crystal clear.
Perfect for mixing, but also work well for general listening as all purpose speakers.
Rock solid build.
Image control wave guide technology proves to be really beneficial in producing pristine, crystal clear sound, and a wider stereo image. This same technology was used in JBL’s higher end model monitors (upwards of $20k).
No protective grills on the woofer.
Bass is ported on back, which may present problems if your monitors are up near a wall or corner of the room. If this is the case, you should invest in some acoustic foam (mentioned earlier).
Tweeter material seems fragile. I did gently touch my finger on it and can confirm this. Just be extra careful I suppose. I haven’t had an issue with them however.
Some say they are too bulky, and look ugly. While I can see the bulky complaint, they aren’t ugly in my opinion. They are kind of big however, so be aware if you are really strapped for space.
Video Review (Coming Soon!)
What you will need?
You will need some sort of receiver, interface, or mixer (as mentioned above), acting as a mediator/middle man of sorts, to transmit signal between the computer and the speakers.
Since 2014 I have used the Scarlett 2i2 (pictured above), and it has worked flawlessly.
Check out this in depth explanation of Bit depth vs. sample rate. It goes into some of the logistics behind digital to analog, explaining specifically why you need an interface to communicate with your computer!
As for cables
You may not necessarily need all of these cables. This is just to kind of get you started and show that there are a lot of ways to connect speakers to an interface or mixer!
Some different options (either/or):
For the Scarlett Solo
dual 1/4 in. TS to dual RCA (the standard option)
Scarlett Solo (3rd Generation)
Balanced TRS to XLR (my preferred option)
For the Scarlett 2i2
2 balanced TRS to XLR cables (my preferred option)
Your receiver basically takes the audio in from your CD player, turntable, etc. and releases it out again, amplifying the sound out of the JBLs. (not unlike the other setups). If you plan to use these in a home theater setup, you will need to check the manual (or the back) of your receiver to see which audio out cable you will need. A common one would be:
dual 1/4 in. TS to dual RCA. The RCA cables would run from your receiver to each of the monitors. You would use the RCA outs on your receiver, as they are meant to send a signal to another device (in this case the monitors).
They are near-field monitors, meaning that they sound best when you’re near them! Sounds obvious, but 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. That said, you want them both facing diagonal towards you, creating a 3 point equilateral triangle.
They will also sound much better at ear level. This means you should invest in some stands (if space allows), build 2 simple shelving units on the wall, or MacGyver something to get them elevated to around ear level. All of this really depends on your studio space. For me right now, they sit on my desk in a triangle formation and still sound great. I’m currently looking into elevating them though for improved clarity.
Being that the bass is ported on the rear, you may want to consider some Acoustic Sound Treatment in the form of a couple acoustic foam panels. It’s impossible to get a perfect sound in a bedroom, but taking this extra step will help the sound coming out of the JBL’s immensely. If you plan on having these sitting on your desk, some panels will go a long way in improving the overall sound coming out of them.
That said, I actually do not have any treatment and still love the sound of the monitors. If you can’t invest in panels at the moment, just make sure to place them far enough away from the wall.
Just plug the TRS ends into the back of the Solo, and connect the other XLR ends into each of the monitors (right and left).
All that’s left to do now is connect the Solo to your PC’s USB power, and the 305’s to standard AC power.
Now you’re ready for music! It’s that simple 🙂
A great pair of monitors that excel in mixing and reference applications. They can also be used as all purpose computer speakers, and do quite fantastic in this regard. They provide a flat, honest representation of your mix, and are best resting at ear level. The only glaring complaint is that they’re ugly (to some people like my friend David). The rest of the cons that I pointed out are rather nit-picky, but had to be addressed.
If you want to be blown away by the sound, these just may be for you. They provide a virtually unmatched reference quality sound at this price point, and by most accounts blow everything else out of the water. The reviews on amazon speak for themselves!
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.