We’ve all heard many times how important professional audio is to our productions. Audiences will tolerate a certain degree of poor lighting, shaky camera work and even sub-par acting. But blow the audio, and you will lose them almost immediately; they’ll go away frustrated and dissatisfied at best.
Packing a big, full sound into a small package with good input capability, the JBL LSR308 3 Series powered studio monitors can help to achieve a high level of excellence. Capturing pristine sound for a good quality video product is paramount. We abandon our camcorder’s onboard microphone in favor of an external mic, preferably of the balanced professional XLR variety, ideally operated by a dedicated sound person wearing quality headphones to monitor every decibel coming in. We may even use a quality audio recorder, such as those by Zoom and Roland.
We go to great lengths and expense, to obtain the most professional audio possible. Once in the edit bay though, do we pay this same attention to detail as we mix and sweeten our various audio sources in preparation for final distribution? Do we monitor our mixes with a set of $3.00 ear buds or the stock speakers that came with our computer? Will these help us to achieve the highest quality while replicating the types of systems our audiences will hear our work through? Some of our audience will surely listen with ear buds and stock speakers, but our work has got to sound excellent in every scenario.
Although the JBL LSR308 3 Series powered studio monitors are sold individually, we received two for testing. Standing less than a foot and a half tall on a base that is not quite a foot square, each monitor has a relatively small footprint. At almost 19 pounds each they are quite solid, attractively designed all in black, with the exception of the JBL logo at floor level and the white “power on” LED located just above the woofer.
Set up is easy. Simply plug in the included power cord, connect your audio source, switch it on and adjust to taste. Considering that JBL has been around for quite some time and excels at creating audio systems, we shouldn’t have been surprised by the richness of sound we heard emanating from these speakers, but we were.
Should we monitor our mixes with a set of $3.00 ear buds or the stock speakers that came with our computer?
The 3 Series incorporates technology from JBL’s flagship M2 Master Reference Monitor system (more than $10,000 each!) to boost performance and achieve the best in affordable yet professional audio sound. In particular, their Image Control Waveguide is designed to control sound in both the vertical and horizontal planes to ensure accuracy. With many monitors the frequency response may change and the image position shift when moving about in the mixing workspace as the listening position changes relative to the speakers. The Image Control Waveguide design dramatically reduces this effect.
The 308 in the model number refers to the 8-inch woofer that works together with a double-flared low frequency port to deliver a powerfully smooth, deep bass response. The one-inch Neodymium tweeter, handily handles the high frequency tasks smoothly and distinctly. With the monitors connected to our mixer, we played a wide variety of music through them. We listened carefully to the various tonal and frequency responses. In every case we were delighted. The sound was even and realistic, with dominance given to no frequency or instrument in particular. We tested a variety of vocals, both singing and spoken, with equal satisfaction. In each case every note rang true. Finally we connected them to our editing computer (via the mixer) and were excited about the possibilities. A pair of these at the workstation will help to give your work that professional audio sound and elevate the quality of your final mix exponentially.
The 3 Series monitors are flexible with plenty of control options located on the back, including the levels control dial. Balanced input options include both XLR and 1/4-inch TRS connections for use with professional equipment. The input sensitivity switch lets you select between -10dB and +4dB sensitivity levels for compatibility with a variety of source equipment. A pair of switches for both high frequency and low give you trim options at -2dB, 0 and +2dB to fine tune your setup to match the room’s acoustics. Bi-amplified transducers – 56W each, for both low and high frequencies – deliver plenty of power, allowing for lots of gain without distortion and filling the space with clear, accurate sound.
JBL has produced a beautiful thing in their LSR308 3 Series, 8-inch, two-way, powered studio reference monitors. Priced way more than your favorite ear buds, they’re not the cheapest speakers on the shelf, but you do get what you pay for and these will go a long way toward helping you achieve mix mastery on your next production.
Frequency Range: 37Hz-24khz
Max Peak SPL: 112dB SPL C-Weighted
Max Peak Input: +9/+23 dBu
LF Driver Size: 8” (203mm)
HF Driver Size: 1” (25mm)
LF Driver Power Amp: 56W Class D
HF Driver Power Amp: 56W Class D
LF Trim Control: +2dB, 0, -2dB
HF Trim Control: +2dB, 0, -2dB
Input Types: XLR, 1/4” TRS Balanced
AC Input Voltage: 100-240 VAC +/- 10% 50/60 Hz
Dimensions (HxWxD): 16.5” x 10” x 12.1” (419mm x 254mm x 308mm)
Weight: 18.9lb. (8.6kg)
- Rich, full sound
- Balanced XLR and TRS inputs
- Variable input sensitivity
- Low and high frequency trim
- On the high side of “affordable”
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.