Update: The Studio 230 has been discontinued. You can check out our best-of page for alternative recommendations.
Important Specs Overview
Speaker type: passive, 2-way, back ported
Continuous power handling: 45 W
Peak power handling: 150 W
Impedance: 8 ohms
Sensitivity: 88 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 52 – 22k Hz
Driver size: 6.5 in
Unit weight: 17.5 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 9.5 x 11 x 15 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 5 years
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review And Discussion
The Studio 230s are part of JBL’s Studio 2 series, a full line up of value tier home theater speakers. Despite being circa 5 years old they remain quite popular sellers.
The power and efficiency specs on the 230 is pretty modest for the size and price. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but these will probably sound best as near/midfield desktop speakers.
The response range is fairly middle of the road for bookshelf speakers, but the bass of a 2-way speaker will always be limited. If you’re looking for a full fledged musical reproduction then you’ll probably want a subwoofer.
They’re comparatively quite big and large, which might be an impedance to some, and there are similarly powered desktop speakers that are significantly smaller and lighter. This is partially due we suspect to the horn loaded tweeter design. Below it is a plastic polymer woofer, built with their proprietary PolyPlas material. Plastic polymer drivers are price friendly, durable, and easy to consistently reproduce and are thus a common choice for value tier speakers, though they might not sound quite as good as more sensitive paper/cloth drivers. JBL speakers have a propensity towards being pretty bright and outward, which not everyone likes, especially so at closer listening range. This is likely to be all the more exacerbated with a horn loaded tweeter.
The build looks like a pretty boilerplate bookshelf speaker: sheen black vinyl wood grain MDF with removable foam grill covers. The rounded vertical edges and exposed drivers do look pretty good. JBL passive speakers come with a 5 year warranty which is pretty top of the line coverage.
Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
We’d hope these would be more discounted by now, and chances are they will be sooner than later, but for the time being they’re just too expensive to justify. Similarly specced competitors are available for a fraction of the price. The fact that these are so big and heavy doesn’t help things either. JBL makes plenty of good speakers but these just don’t seem to standout in anyway to justify the current premium. See the links below for some alternative recommendations.