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JBL Location Monitors (4326)

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by Cucco, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    After it was brought up in this thread:
    (Dead Link Removed)

    A few people asked me about the JBL monitors.

    I've had them for about 2 weeks now and feel that I can begin to adequately judge them, so I'll give a quick run-down.

    The speakers in general feel VERY substantial given their size. They have a heft to them which makes them reak of quality. The side-carry handles are a BIG plus considering my primary use for them is on-location monitors!

    The connections in and out are a bit odd, but I will say, they are all inclusive. You can go in via 1/4 unbal/bal, XLR (bal only), SPDIF, or AES. If you go in via AES or SPDIF, you have to send another digital cable to the other monitor in addition to their "HiQ Net" cable (a CAT 5 cable). In all, there's a lot of cables flying around!

    The other thing that I find odd about the cabling is - I have been feeding the monitors a digital source which they handle just fine. The converters seem to be relatively linear, but it's hard to seperate that component out of the others involved in making sound. However, when any bits are present, there's a decent amount of hiss. It's not enough to drive me crazy, but it's noticable. When there are 0 bits present, the monitors revert to their VERY quiet selves. With higher sampling rates, the hiss increases dramatically. (96 kHz - the hiss was too much to bear!)

    I will try re-cabling tonight and go in via analog to see if this fixes the problem. If it does, I'll be perfectly content with that. In fact, I would still likely use the digital inputs while on-location. Even with the excess noise, they're still easy to use.

    As for the Room Mode Correction stuff - I find the results to be subtle, but noticable. Perhaps my rooms are tuned well (I have done a lot to them) but the only changes seem to happen right around 80-100 Hz. The change, while subtle, does seem to clear things up a bit. In either case, mixing with or without the EQ, they seem to do well.

    The sound - Well....these monitors NEED a break in period. They sound like brittle crap when hooked up directly out of the box! After 2 days of 90dB @ 1m pink noise, they sound MUCH better. After additional listening, they're still getting better. I suspect after about a month of good solid use, they'll be just about where I want them.

    I would not consider these monitors to be "smooth." I would find them to be mildly aggressive, but not "forward" just aggressive. They tell the truth, even if it's ugly. I find it hard to listen to my mixes on them but only because I hear things that I want to do different. I consider all of this to be very positive. To give an example - I had done a recording of a Beethoven concert (Symph 6 and Leonore 3) a few years back. The recording turned out very nice, but there was always something I couldn't put my finger on that I didn't like. I've spent years fiddling with knobs on the EQ just to get the sound I want and never gotten there.

    I don't know if it just finally dawned on me today or if these monitors really are that good, but within a minute, I realized I needed a little boost at 5K to bring the recording to life. 30 seconds and .8 dB later, the recording is as I always wanted it!

    Regarding bass-response - the monitors do fine without a sub. People who want insane kick-in-the-chest bass will want a sub (or better yet, buy the Mackie 824s), but these do just fine down to about 40 Hz or a little lower (in real life. I haven't checked out their marketed spec's). Below 40 (or probably even 35), they degrade gracefully - no port-farting or woofer flapping going on.

    Anyway - that's the review-in-short. I'll re-visit with my conclusions about the D/A situation.

    Cheers!
    Jeremy
     
  2. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    thank you for your review jeremy.

    that sounds like a deal breaker for me. Please let us know if it gets sorted and how it goes with those analog inputs...

    a couple of questions:

    will the RMC system compensate for soffit mounting? can the speakers be soffit mounted?

    can i use my existing (traditional) subwoofer with it? what happens to the RMC then?

    thanks,
     
  3. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Not to jump in on Jeremy's post, the analog side is much better, and JBL
    LSR series do not perform well near or in walls, they are supposed to be freefield.

    IMHO I like the 6300 series over the 4300 series, also I cant depend on dynamic tuning, it's another thing to go wrong at the wrong time.
     
  4. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Thanks, Jeremy,
    Altogether it doesn't sound too bad or too good.
    It seems JBL tried to put everything in one box.
    I was about to try them out as near-field, but now,
    I think, I'll pass.
    Cheers,
    Costy.
     
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I wouldn't pass too quickly. The speakers do sound good. Their only down-side right now is the digital noise on input.
     
  6. Costy

    Costy Guest

    Well, it seems to me a design flaw: with digital
    inputs I'd expect less hiss than with analog. By
    the way how is it with analog inputs ?
    I remember you had Dynaudio near-fields. How
    these JBL 4300 compare to those ?
    C.
     
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I haven't yet had the opportunity to try the analog inputs. I've had a rash of unexpected business (darn...;-) lately.

    The JBLs are completely different beasts than the Dynaudios. The Dyns are really not near-fields. They were good at mid-field at the closest and really need a room of at least 2500 cubic feet to work well. Overall, I would have equated the Dynaudios to some of the better hi-fi speakers (I mean that in a positive way.) Overall, they're very similar to the Meyer Sound HD1s (the MS have a *slight* advantage over the Dyn's in flatter, truer bass extension, but only slight.)

    The JBLs are dyed in the wool near-field monitors. True and gritty (again, in a good way). What you hear is what you get.

    BTW, bear in mind, the hiss that I'm referring to on digital input is minimal. It did get obvious at 96kHz, but I'm unsure as to whether it was something in Seqouia causing the glitch (I've had numerous problems when opening new VIPs that have different sample rates than the previous VIP without restarting the program. I've admittedly been so busy, I haven't even had the chance to check this out. I will try to do so over the next couple days.)

    I had an operatic soprano in the studio yesterday and she has an amazing ear (and a killer voice too!) She was listening to a recent recording of herself done at a recital in Memphis. When we got done, I asked if she had heard anything within the equipment that bothered her (leading her towards the hiss) and she made no remarks. She knows I'm a gear slut - every time I get a new mic that would work well for her, I always tell her about it and say "we gotta get you back in for another session..."

    Anyway - long story short - don't discount them yet. At the very least, try them. You might like them!
     
  8. Costy

    Costy Guest

    - Well, you might be right about Seqouia - it has those
    empty bits. Could they somehow screw up your S/PDIF
    signal (which is 24-bit) ?
    - Did you use coax cable (75-ohm) for S/PDIF connection ?
    If not, you may have the RF interference. Also, keep it
    short (< 30 ft).

    I liked JBL speakers in the past, maybe I should try
    these ones. Cheers,

    C.
     
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I use AES on all the inputs. Noise shouldn't be an issue.

    I just tried a cold boot directly into a 96kHz project and found the noise to still be an issue.

    I'm going to contact JBL tech support and figure out what's going on. I can't imagine this is supposed to be like this! On 44.1, the noise is acceptable and minimal (no more than "normal" monitor hiss). On 96, it's just not acceptable. There has to be some kind of flash update that will fix this.
     
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I don't think the hiss problem is anything you're doing wrong, Jeremy. I think this is something inside the monitors. There was a similar effect on a product design I was called in to troubleshoot not that long ago, and it turned out to be a poor compromise in the noise-shaping of the interpolation algorithms feeding the oversampling DACs. JBL may well be aware of the effect and be working on a fix, but it's right to tax their tech support people with it.
     
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well.....the drama continues.

    I switched to the analog inputs and it got worse. One of the monitors is 6dB hotter than the other. There is no analog trim (other than the bal/unbal switch which I already checked) and since the two speakers are "networked" you can't adjust gain individually, only globally.

    So, I spent a decent amount of time on the phone with both JBL and Sweetwater tech support yesterday. Everyone was mostly stumped until I spoke with one of the JBL guys while on the road (not in front of the monitors.) He gave me a link and stated that I may have a mix-match version and that a patch may be in order. Unfortunately, my audio computer will be on location until Friday night of next week, so I won't get to test them out until then...

    I'll post any updates.
     
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    No luck with the patch.

    In fact, the story gets WORSE...the little software package that comes with the speakers does not recognize the monitors as being hooked up (using USB). I tried it on 2 machines - no luck on either.

    The input trims are only accessible through this software.

    So....they are going back to Sweetwater and I am getting the Adam A7s instead. Ugggghhhhh...
     
  13. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Jeremy,

    Don't discount the JBLs. The 4300s were aimed at the small project studio sales.
    Give the LSR6328Ps a shot, my mixes have never been so accurate.

    You can negotiate at GC (in store) for $875 a piece.
     
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I appreciate the tip. However, my budget for these monitors is only one of the considerations (at or below $1K).

    They are also used specifically for location recording and I need them to fit inside existing transit cases. Thus small-form-factor is highly important.

    My primary monitor of choice was going to be the Dynaudio BM6, but they are a little too deep for the transit cases. After a lot of searching, I could only find a few that would fit (that I thought worthy)-

    4326
    Event ASP6A
    Adam A7
    NHT M-00
    Dyn BM5A

    I do like the sound of the JBLs, but sound is not all that matters...

    Cheers -

    J.
     
  15. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    That was a pun, right??
     
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Haha...I didn't even think of that.
     
  17. Oh, this is interesting. Just found this thread. Bought my LSR4328 pair May 5 from GC. I work at 96kHz and always with AES. So I get them home. WHAT'S THIS HORRIFYING HISS!!! Two unanswered phone calls and an unanswered email to JBL, and now I'm wondering if I really want to hold on to these things from a company that can't respond AT ALL. GC suggests I buy a couple of 75 ohm cables and try the SPDIF. No hiss with SPDIF. But why do I have to be forced into unbalanced SPDIF - I want balanced AES. I always use AES. And why did I have to spend $70 to buy SPDIF cables? And still no response from JBL. Anyway, yesterday was the last straw. The pair started cutting out for about 2 seconds, then coming back on. I phoned GC today, said, "Look, I know I've had these for more than 30 days, but I really want my money back." And GC kindly gave me a refund, no problem.

    Insofar as sound goes, I may not have run the JBLs long enough to get them broken in - nothing in the JBL literature addresses a breakin period. I found the sound a bit boxy. I was compensating by pulling down in the midrange (300-400 Hz). But then when I'd play the mix on my consumer systems, it sounded way too thin.

    Anyway, where should I go from here? Once burned, twice shy, so analog only please and no JBL please. I've been reading a little about the Dynaudio BM6A. Also, what's this BM6A MKII? Even the Dynaudio web site doesn't explain the difference. Also, what about Genelec vs Dynaudio.
     
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ahh...yes...JBL tech support.

    I had the same deal. I called and sat on hold for an hour. At the end of the hour, I was involuntarily dumped into voice mail. I left a message and didn't get a call until almost a week later.

    However, I had called Sweetwater tech support - they answered in about 4 minutes. (I called RIGHT after I called JBL). The Sweetwater tech support guy said..."Hey, let's try calling them again while I'm on the line." We did and we waited for a long time again. Finally, he called them back and spoke with the receptionist. The receptionist stated that all of the tech support guys had gone out for lunch and would be back in an hour or so!!!!!!!

    Anyway - the Dynaudios sound great. The amplifier in the BM6A is actually a little more powerful if memory serves. The new amp in the MKII is supposedly more efficient and the cabinet is tuned a little different for better linearity. Both are fine though.

    I find the Genelecs to be more "hard" sounding. Whenever I mix on Genelecs and I take my mixes somewhere else, they end up sounding dull and lifeless. I feel that I wind up overcompensating for the edge in the speakers.

    I must tell you - I've been trying Adams lately, and I've been really impressed! Their treble's a little aggressive (but can be dialed back with their controls) but it's very very smooth. The bass (even in the smaller models) is simply astounding! Not overpowering - just visceral and real!

    I agree with Joe's (much) earlier assessment - these could NOT be mastering speakers (as most if not all nearfields would not qualify except for maybe the venerable MeyerSound HD1s), but they sure are nice nearfields!

    Since I got them, I've put out 2 recordings that I mixed on them and have been thoroughly impressed. I've needed to do absolutely no tweaking once I've printed the test disc.

    Anyway...you get the point. In that price range, there are many many great choices. I'm glad GC would allow you to take them back!

    Cheers!

    Jeremy
     
  19. Wow, looks like JBL can't hack it.

    Great input on the Genelec and Adam. Sweetwater's "select" monitors are Adam, Genelec, Dynaudio, JBL, and Tannoy. I'm buried here in ultra-peace and tranquility in small-town southern Indiana and my wife and I have decided we are going to contact our Sweetwater rep and drive up to Ft. Wayne to have a listen and make our selection. I'll post with our decision. Thanks much.
     

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