Review: JBL 305 MkII Studio Monitors

I recently bought a new pair of JBL 305 studio monitors.

Before I go any further I have to say that I have always been a fan of JBL products. I’ve used a few of their studio monitors and quite a few of their drivers for PA applications.

I have two different studio setups in two different residences. They are both nearly the same with the exception of one has the JBL 308 speakers and some acoustic treatment and with the other it is basically half of a bedroom and I had been using some self powered ten inch sound reinforcement type speakers.

When I would work at the second place I would not be able to make critical decisions (like mixing) but those speakers were adequate to track with. I would then just take a hard drive to the other room to finish the work.

I wanted a pair of monitors that were both accurate and portable enough to use on a remote session if necessary.

First off, the 305’s have good imaging. Different from the 308’s but like I said I have no acoustic treatment in the room being used. I also consider the extended lower frequency response of the 308’s give the illusion of more depth.

They have a volume knob, sensitivity switch and a three position HF trim switch that I left in the middle position.

They have dual 41 watt amps for the HF and LF drivers, and both XLR and 1/4″ balanced inputs.

I started with the 305’s just sitting on the table. This had my computer monitor, my interface and a slew of guitar pedals and such. I have a keyboard mounted dead center right in front of the table with my computer keyboard attached to it.

At first I was not getting very good imaging from the 305’s. The pans were not precise and the center image was a bit skewed. Just for fun, I took the boxes that the speakers came in and put them under the speakers, bringing them up to my ear level as I sat in front of them.

Huge difference.

After mixing nine songs of a current project, I am quite impressed. It wasn’t many years ago that a five inch studio monitor was not taken very seriously. But the technology has advanced quite a bit in the last few years.

The (what I call) waveform guide of the tweeter really does seem to allow me to be able to move around and still get good imaging. And that is important when making critical volume, eq and panning decisions.

The low end is still, well, coming from a five inch speaker. But they do a tremendous job having said that. I don’t use sub woofers, but someone who did might really be able to dial in the low down. They do have a boundary EQ switch that is supposed to compensate for room variables, and it does change things, but I haven’t used them long enough to form an opinion on the usability of the settings.

My untreated recording space probably has much to do with that.

The size of these things… It is interesting. They are beefy for a five inch speaker but could easily be carried around to other studios as a reference or to remote recording situations. They weigh in at a bit over ten pounds.

I am a little concerned by the fact there is no grill or cover for the speakers. So throwing them in a box with a bunch of cords could get you a driver with a hole in it. I remember I worked in a traveling band once that used JBL studio monitors on stage as personal monitors. They were carried in a foam lined road case. They sounded great and were never the worse for wear.

All in all, I would buy these again, and would recommend them to others. I have no idea about reliability at this point, but if other JBL products are the bench mark, these should be good for years to come.

Also, I must admit I monitor at low to mid volume levels. I did crank them up and they seems to hold their clarity way past the point that the level was uncomfortable to me.

Your mileage may vary.

I’ll try to update this post after I have time to see how mixes done on the 305’s translate to the real world.

But for now, I like ‘em.

Author: Chad