Important Specs Overview
|Model||305P MkII||306P MkII||308P MkII|
|Speaker Type||powered, 2-way, back ported||(<-- same)||(<-- same)|
|Continuous SPL||94 dB||92 dB||102 dB|
|Peak SPL||108 dB||110 dB||112 dB|
|Response Range (+/-10 dB||43 - 24k Hz||39 - 24k Hz||37 - 24k Hz|
|Woofer Size||5 in||6 in||8 in|
|Unit Dimensions (w x d x h)||7.5 x 10 x 12 in||9 x 11 x 16 in||10 x 12 x 17 in|
|Unit Weight||10.5 lbs||13.5 lbs||18 lbs|
|Warranty||3 years (electronics); 5 years (parts)||(<-- same)||(<-- same)|
Review And Discussion
JBL’s older LSR 3 Series studio monitors are widely considered to be some of the best value-tier bookshelf speakers ever made, and the MkII speakers reviewed herein, released circa early 2018, are a new generation version of those speakers. The revamped lineup consists of three different models that vary in size and power but otherwise have the same design.
The advantage of powered speakers are that you can just plug them in and play, no receiver or speaker wire required, but in general the trade off of that convenience is that powered speakers tend to be less performant and more expensive. JBL has apparently bucked that commonality though – each speaker has two amps to individually drive the tweeter and woofer, giving power handling specs that are close to on par with similarly priced passive speakers. In other words, these speakers can get quite loud and would suffice as standalones in a full sized room.
The response range is quite decent for a 2-way bookshelf speaker, particularly the larger 308 with the 8 inch woofer. A 10 dB differential will mean there’s some drop off once you creep below 40 Hz, but still that’s pretty good for a single midrange woofer, and these could absolutely sound complete without a subwoofer. That said, these speakers do have the necessary inputs to pair an external subwoofer, which is yet another great benefit because that kind of compatibility isn’t actually all that common among powered bookshelf speakers, which are usually intended for modest near-field desktop listening.
The one concession these speakers inevitably must make to house 2 class D amplifiers is that they’re really big and heavy. While the 305 remains reasonably modest size and weight wise, the largest 308 comes in at a whopping 17 inches and 18 lbs – definitely the heaviest powered bookshelf speaker we’ve reviewed thus far. No, it’s not like you’ll need a dolly to move them like you might with some of the bigger towers out there, but they’re big and heavy enough to potentially be an impedance nonetheless.
The tweeter is a standard 1 inch woven soft dome, but loaded in their patented Control Wavegide horn, that unique looking thing on the top which you can see to the right here. The woofer is a plastic polymer blend, pretty standard in budget bookshelf speakers, that has been improved from its predecessor.
The cabinet is pretty standard MDF with contoured corners and the baffle is a distinctly built molded ABS, mainly to house the uniquely shaped tweeter horn. Overall these speakers look pretty decent, pretty par for the course for JBL speakers, but maybe not as slick as some more aesthetically focused competitors like ELAC or Polk.
The warranty on JBL powered speakers is 3 years for electronics, and 5 years for parts, which is excellent and definitely top of the line coverage for powered speakers, where 1-2 years of warranty is more the norm.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
For everything that you get, the sheer value of all three of these speakers is currently unmatched, in particular because for some reason we’ve seen them start to get discounted. It’s not surprising it’s one of only two budget speakers that’s officially endorsed by the /r/audiophile subreddit. If you don’t mind something that’s quite large and heavy, we’d say that for the price this is the best powered speaker you can currently get.
There are other powered speakers that are smaller and have more connections and features that are commonly of interest like a headphone jack and Bluetooth for example, for those who are more interested in a cheaper and more modest near field desktop speaker. These JBLs might honestly be overkill for some. See the links below for some such alternative recommendations.