35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2012
I bought these from an online merchant before they were available from Amazon. Since they were just released by JBL for purchase, I bought them unseen and unheard. However I have had prior great experience with JBL speakers, so after having read two great reviews online at WHATHI-FI and High Fidelity Magazine, I decided to just jump all in. After enjoying these speakers for many weeks now, I thought I would post a few comments here on Amazon.
First off, these are very articulate and dynamic sounding speakers, much more so than other bookshelf speakers I have owned in the past, ( including Bose 301's, B&W 685's, and JBL Studio L830's). All of these speakers were quite special, and each presented music in a very rewarding way. But the new Studio 530 is a much more entertaining loudspeaker, which truly brings music to life. These new JBL's are not the typical cone and dome loudspeaker. The high frequencies are reproduced through a JBL designed horn, which sounds very smooth and much more open and detailed than any of my prior speaker systems. The bass is punchy, tight and well defined. Mid range is pure and smooth. Vocals sound present in the room. I have very eclectic musical tastes, ranging from classical, jazz, rock, folk and some country. Over the years I found that very often the speaker that excelled on rock and country sounded heavy with classical and acoustic jazz, while others sounded exceptional on jazz and classical but just didn't on rock due to lack of enough bass. The new JBL's are fabulous on all types and genre's of music. I still primarily listen to music on CD. But I recently started streaming music to my system thru an Apple TV and even found that music streamed either from my iMac or the internet stations on the Apple TV sound great too.
All in all I would give these speakers the highest rating. They look and sound great. Both acoustic and electric music sounds superb. Strings are lush and clear, guitars ring out and drums and brush work are very detailed but never sound bright or etched. Bass is more than enough in my small man cave, 11'X11'. I have these speakers mounted on 24" Bowers and Wilkins Speaker Stands and am feeding them music thru my NAD 565 CD player, SACD's are played thru my Sony BluRay Player, (movies also sound superb, with crisp dialog and dynamic full sound). I would highly recommend these to any music lover who is looking for cutting edge sound and high end engineering all packaged in a modern and very cool looking speaker design, at a very reasonable price. JBL knocked one out of the park with the new Studio 5 Series. Not many loudspeakers have this kind of out of the box design and sound, and this new Speaker series should establish JBL once again as one of America's premier speaker brands.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
JBL has always made some of the best professional drivers and sound reinforcement systems in the world. They have unrivaled presence in recording studios and the uberunobtainum Synthesis line consisting of the Everest, K2 and Project Array systems elicit a drool response from even the wealthiest aficionados.
But in the consumer market? Over the last couple of decades? Hmmmmm. Well, they weren't all bad. Matter of fact, some of those speakers had one or two really nice attributes. But there were always better options. The once-mighty JBL brand had become diluted to most home audio enthusiasts.
That fact alone makes the Studio 5 series a surprise because these are world beaters. These are fantastic.
These....are some of the strangest looking speakers most folks will ever hook up to their amp.
I can't overstate the fact that the entire front baffle is consumed by one of the most elegantly shaped horns I've seen on a speaker. It's much more dramatic in person than the pictures illustrate and it completely eliminates the possibility of early diffraction. From the edges the cabinet then angles inward to both add rigidity and eliminate and internal standing waves. The woofer,set back in the baffle, is much less attractive. Matter of fact, it looks a little odd. Not cheap, just odd.
JBL's "polyplas" doped paper makes for a ultra light, rigid and highly dampened driver, but it will never win any beauty pageants. I love the unmatched speed and tonal accuracy of paper drivers but Kevlar will always look cooler. At anyrate, this grey matter is mounted to a cast aluminum basket.
The HF compression driver uses a 1" piece of Teonex plastic film. Teonex is a relatively new plastic from DuPont designed for harsher operating environments than Mylar can handle. It has the same tinsel strength of titanium and resistant to open flames. It wasn't intended for a driver material, but it's shape will never distort under even the most extreme circumstances that a speaker can present. For the rest of the driver layout google "JBL compression driver." This is the real deal, phase plug and all.
The crossover is low loss and probably where a lot of the magic happens. Also, the grill also has an unusual companion piece, a piece of sculpted ABS plastic required to complete the horn shape should the grill be removed.
So how do these sound? They don't, really, sound like anything. Which is amazing. What I mean is that the program material comes out so realistic that I can't seem to compare these to any of my other speakers. On softer classical music they bring out nuance, drama and romance. On rock, roots and reggae they are funky, energetic and full of energy. On vocals.. they're breathless. And frankly, they just disappear. Vanish. Whoosh, they're gone. Sure, it took me a week or so to get them dialed in right. But then...Bam! They were gone. What was left was a rock-solid stereo image of what ever I'm playing with the gobs of tone and emotion. Now, I'm pretty good at arranging and tweaking all my speakers to get great center images.. so that's not solely what I'm talking about here. These JBLs produce such amazing, rich tone in the mid range that the image is dramatically more realistic and palpable. No, they don't sound like $100,000 Wilsons. But they don't perform like anything in their price range either. I'm not saying they're better, which is entirely subjective, but they are hugely enjoyable. So much so that I've, personally, stopped searching. That's something I never thought I would say.
These might not be for everyone, but these are modern legends. I invite you to try them out for yourself. Take some time to get them set-up just right in your room. And then sit back and let the emotion wash over you. It's addictive.
Thank you Greg Timbers, thank you for such a wonderful surprise.
These speakers are sounding more and more awesome. Part of the improvement probably comes from tweaking their positioning, some might come from breaking in..who knows. But I'm starting to lose serious hours of my life being sucked into listening to album after album. Be careful buying these. If you aren't prepared to lose serious hours of your life being sucked into the music, you might want to pass and get something less amazing.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2013
The Studio 530s are an incredible value for sound and build quality. I purchased these based on internet reviews and am extremely satisfied with the decision. Compare reviews from Whathifi on the Studio 530, B&W 685, and KEF Q300.
The clarity of the 530s is superb across all frequencies. After a break-in period of about 60hrs, the compression drivers have never sounded harsh. I am particularly sensitive to harsh high freqs., and the 530s are never fatiguing. The even sound dispersion from the compression driver and enclosure design make the 530s sound more like a point source driver than a 2-way. The soundstage width is impressive, and the depth is far more vast than one could expect in this price range. I am amazed at how composed the 530s remain during the most complex tracks. All genres are enjoyable on these speakers. They excel at producing lifelike vocals--vocalist in your room type of clarity. Solo instruments such as acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, and trumpet are all astonishing.
I use the 530s with the Studio 520CBK center channel for home theater. The value of these speakers combined again exceeds the B&W 685, and KEF Q300 with their matching center channels.
If you have qualms with the look of these, you should get over it. They look better in person than photos. I admit the plastic horns have a unique look, but that adds to their intrigue. They are well made, and the black wood veneer is furniture grade. Enclosures are well-braced, thick, and heavy for the size.
My single complaint is the rear-facing bass port, which causes unpleasant bass loading in my listening room, at a distance from the back wall less than 24in. However, the included dampening plugs for the bass ports correct the problem. The plugs are perforated to permit air flow, and do not seem to affect overall efficiency.
Set-up: Bi-wired, speaker grills removed--replaced by supplied covers completing the horn geometry. Placement is 12in. away from back wall. I'm using dual JBL PSW-1000 subwoofers as speaker stands, which are 18in. tall. The 530s produce enough bass on their own for most music genres. The 530s/ subwoofers sound balanced with the dual subwoofers set to a very low/ near minimal volume.
Background: 30-35 y/o audio enthusiast. Equipment: Harmon Kardon AVR 520, Emotiva USP-1 preamp, basic Sony BDP, vintage Panasonic turntable.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
I have been in search for a great bookshelf speaker for a reasonable price and have been buying and trying many inexpensive highly rated speakers for some time. Inexpensive means different things to different folks. In the audiophile community inexpensive means less than a thousand dollars a pair. These are on the high side of budget pricing. The recent $369 pricing on the Studio 530 made these a screaming bargain and I bought a pair here without ever hearing them. That is always scary as everyone hears things a little differently. It helps that the speakers have consumer great reviews there are not that many pro reviews. The American pro reviews are noticeably absent. Then British site WhatHiFi gave it 5 stars and described the speaker as great fun. I have to agree.
Horn loaded speaker such as inexpensive Klipsch speakers are often harsh and fatiguing. These speakers are very smooth with great detail, superbly tight bass and present very balanced overall. The horn tweeters on the Studio 5 series are marvels. Although there is a rising high frequency with these speakers it is very well managed with slight toe-in.
These are exciting speakers to play and they really suck you in. I have Usher, PSB and NHT here and I like these a lot. Sound quality compares well with the NHT Classic 3 overall which were once called the best speakers under a thousand dollars. At the price difference I strongly favor the JBLs and the very tight bass helps make these speakers way more exciting and fun than the NHT.
The 530 just has better base than the NHT. Just plain amazing bass for a 5 and 1/4 woofer. You can run them without a subwoofer and not miss it. If you do use a sub I suggest a good one. They will make cheaper subs sound bad. I think the NHT Classic 3 is a smoother speaker overall but not as open and seems carved out of a single piece of stone. The cabinet on the 530 is solid but other than looks is not remarkable in any way. More importantly than looks or heft this is a very musical speaker. Voice, strings, percussion and piano are all very realistically rendered and the speakers have a big dynamic sound, These are very revealing and you will hear flaws in your recordings but you will be playing everything in your library just to hear these speakers sing.
The cabinets are pretty strange looking but hey, form follows function. If these go one sale again just buy them. They are crazy good at under $400. If you need speakers now, they are worth every penny of the retail price. I never thought I would own horn loaded speaker but JBL's trickle down technology from their high end speakers really paid dividends on this one. JBL has not been a star in home audio over the last decade or so and have largely been ignored by the audiophile and enthusiast community. JBL did these right and they are the real deal.
In summary the real surprise to me is how good these are and how they managed to fly under the audiophile community's radar so long.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2013
I purchased these speakers for use in an office system and they have been an excellent speaker for the money. I have used several small stand mounted speakers including Totem Rainmakers, Totem Mites, Triangle Comets, and Vienna Acoustics Hydens in my office system and the JBL's sound better in most respects. My main system consists of higher end American made products, Escalante Design Speakers, Cary tube amplification with a First Sound tube preamplifier. These items cost in excess of $20K so I know what a good system sounds like. The JBL Studio 530 Speakers hit well above their price point with pinpoint imaging, good bass (for their size) and an outstanding midrange. They would work well for the audiophile on a budget. Jazz and small classical quartets and quintets sound absolutely fantasitic. Perhaps these speakers would be unsuitable for a hard rock without a subwoofer but for most program material they will provide a very musical experience! Highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2015
i been an audiophile for many many years and a pro home theater installer as well, i have heard many high end speakers and very expensive speakers through the years, and let me just say this JBL are one of the best i ever heard, the sound quality is very neutral and never fatigue, everything sound good with these speakers its just unbelievable the soundstage this little boys present in my room, i can't even say right now what speakers in the market can outperform this speakers, i'm using them along with the 520 center channel and for movies they are phenomenal, i don't see anything even in the price range of 2,000$ dollars that sounds better than this JBL, yes they are that good, they have big cinematic sound with great dynamics and impact, i don't have enough words to describe how good this bookshelf's are. the only complain i have is the grill, with the grill on they lose transparency and detail, so i'm not using the grill even when i like the look better with the grill on. i want to congratulate JBL for this great product, don't be fooled by the horn this are the best horn speakers i ever heard.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
These speakers are a great match to my Studio 590s. When I first bought them I listened to them by themselves and they sounded great across the entire audio spectrum. You could use these without a subwoofer if you really wanted to.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2014
I received these a few weeks ago and they are taking up all of my free time. I simply cannot quit listening to them. I've been interested in the Studio 5 Series since I first saw pictures online, I'm guessing around 2 years ago or so, but never dug deep enough into them to really learn that much about them until recently. JBL didn't seem to have effective marketing for these and it's a shame because they are truly excellent speakers.
I've owned close to 20 pairs of speaker, and most have come and gone. I was always searching for that accurate high end sound, but didn't really want to spend several thousands of dollars to get there. At last, I didn't need to...these are it. The midrange clarity is beyond anything I've heard in my own house, and the bi-radial horn and compression driver is spot on. Never shrill, but always extremely detailed, and the imaging is so focused, I'm guessing because of the bi-radial horn, and it's limited side wall reflections that most all convention designs with dome tweeters suffer from. Bass response is respectable especially being just a 5.25". The speakers overall tonal balance is nearly perfect.
Although this speaker is larger in person than it seems in pictures, and also even better looking, it's still not a large speaker, but the sense of scale to music is so much larger than their size would suggest, very big and life like. I've found some degree of fault with every speaker I've ever owned, and I have to say, so far, I find none with the Studio 530, and they easily fill my 13x19 foot listening space. I do however also use 3 subwoofers, but I have for years, not for pounding bass, but the response in the room is much smoother and the response much more even throughout the room. It's not because the 530's are deficient in the bass.
The ONLY downside, is I really wanted a set in the cherry finish, but couldn't find any. These speakers already have a somewhat vintage look to them, but the cherry finish even more so, and would have looked a bit better in my mid-century themed listening area. Oh well, the black still looks quite nice too.
I cannot recommend these enough, even if your budget is 3 times the asking price, you owe yourself at least a listen, and who knows, you may even end up saving money, these really are that good. These are the best consumer priced line JBL has done since at least the later 90's L series like the L1,3,5,7 and these may even be better than those. I do know these are quite a bit better than my JBL L80T's. Yes, the JBL name has been watered down over the years with many of their lower cost, big box store type speakers, but these are something entirely different. JBL is BACK!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2013
Took me a while to write this review. In fact, I deleted my first one as it's only been just a few weeks. It's now been a few months of listening, absorbing the nuances; having contemplated the characteristics, I finally think I've grown to learn something behind the science and art behind these particular speakers.
I've auditioned the Nola Boxers; mentioned first as they ranked very high out of the dozen high end speakers I've listened to; range was emotive, full, rich and natural; but articulation and staging, not the best I've heard; a contrast to the clinical, exacting (or "precise") as the Dynaudio Excite X12... again, a matter of taste and both run over a grand for a set. If I were to describe these JBLs in comparison - they've taken the good from both; I'm not saying the best(I'd expect best at a much higher price point). These represent excellently engineered compromise between the two for me - and at a quarter of the cost of either, it's what I was after.
These JBL's, despite the lower cost, for their transparency, sound stage, and range, quite amazing. I've listened to many speakers, I find myself hearing through these more. "Musicality" implies different things for different people; these aren't "colored" like the Totems, they're honest to your source and setup; these can sing and sparkle invoking emotions, for me, that's the true non-cerebral measure beyond the critical listening. As a friend often says, when it comes do sound, you're right, I'm right.
The accuracy of these speakers will point out flaws in your setup and you may be driven to upgrade your system; in my case, it started with a better sub (I needed better accuracy and speed, less "boomy"); for a 2.1 setup, close range listener like me on a budget, add Hsu and the Outlaw M8 to your potential list; a better receiver (upgraded my Denon to an Outlaw RR), and I upgraded cables... speaking of cables, instead of bi-amping, consider veritical bi-amping (I found best results with this)... Google, and forums are your resources here.
Compared to my older setup, a pair of Totem Dreamcatchers (which are quite nice, deceptively large in sound for their size, colored x-over, questionable in reliability and support however...), a DBX sound processor, a Denon unit driven in 2 channel analogue mode from my Asus Xonar PC soundcard (I'd recommend this card over the fancy and expensive DAC units), and a lower end sub, my current setup is more refined, accurate, full, articulate with an honest level of staging (less processing).
These achieve the level of quality and refinement that I was looking for without the boutique pricing; my secondary setup is a custom built tube amplifier driving a pair of Pioneer SP BS41 speakers (another great sounding pair of speakers for little money, but not up to par with these JBLs), which I still enjoy.
I guess this turned out to be less of a structured review, but just sharing my experience. Here's to enjoying and connecting with music more. Wish you happy journeying.
Update on 3/4/15: Not many reviews include long term satisfaction so I thought to follow up. Having used these almost every day since purchase, still going strong. The articulation, staging, detail.. very satisfied. And I've listened to some of the newer, and dedicated speakers such as the Vanatoo speakers (good value w/o going through the expense and experimentation, which I consider a part of the fun); although, they seemed to have raised the price.. tsk tsk... In either case, wonderfully performing to this day. Insofar as what I'm currently looking at? (after all, tinkering is a part of the adventure..) the KEF LS 50. My original statements stand to include perhaps needing to upgrade your sources because these speakers are true to the source (a part of the beauty and curse, however you choose to view).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2013
I have yet to put these speakers in an optimal environment, but the are clear, crisp, and do an excellent job with vocals as well as music. There is a little left to be desired in the mid-range, thus a four instead of a five rating. For their size and weight that are quite good.