JBL LSR305 vs 305P MkII Studio Monitors – What’s The Difference?
Are you looking for a new pair of studio monitors that sound amazing but won’t break the bank!? Well look no further because I’m about to tell you all about the incredible JBL 305P MkII Powered Studio Monitors and also how they compare to the original LSR305 Series. Stay Tuned.
JBL’s LSR305 Studio Monitors were release towards the end of 2013. Since then they’ve been widely acclaimed as a force to be reckoned with by audiophiles and novices alike. Taking the world by storm, the monitors are extremely detailed at surprisingly a very affordable price point. This is due to a variety of factors but the main star of the show is JBL’s patented Image Control Waveguide which I will talk about in greater detail later in this video. This technology is so effective that many critics compare these monitors to other more expensive monitors that greatly exceed JBL’s price many times over. With that being said, it’s hard to improve on something so solid and widely embraced, yet from a marketing perspective, JBL seems to have done it again.
The next-generation JBL 305P MkII powered studio monitors, also known as the 3 series, were released in early 2018 and once again, makes legendary JBL performance available to every studio. At a very similar price, they offer the same stunning detail, precise imaging and a wide sweet spot that makes the music sound balanced no matter where you listen in the room. The impressive dynamic range enhances the critical listening capabilities of any modern workspace and sports a new sleek, glossy design, though not everyone sees that last part as an improvement.
I’m going to cut right to the chase because these monitors have been reviewed by a lot of people and I don’t want to rehash the same information. Yes, they are elegant, relatively compact and sound pretty amazing in comparison to other monitors at virtually any price point. Now that that’s out of the way, let me address some comments I’ve seen on other review sites as well as the Reddit form. I’ve noticed that many people are having a difficult time finding a concise comparison between the original model and next generation release. After doing my own research and listening for myself, I can honestly say that the sound is very similar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially since the original series is so strong yet I’m reminded of the old saying – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It seems like this next generation release is a marketing celebration to keep the JBL series relevant in the market place and fresh in people’s minds. Though it might be confusing, there’s nothing wrong with this as it’s a competitive and necessary thing for a company to do. People always want the latest and greatest new thing no matter how good last years model was. After all, the same number 305 is used so that right there should let you know things are going to be pretty similar. To those fascinated by shiny objects, there is a new glossy look around the tweeter, presumably to attract more attention but to those including myself who love the original matte finish, this change is not necessary and actually takes away from the professional look. This obviously has nothing to do with the sound and is completely an esthetic preference.
Upon comparing the specifications directly from the JBL website, both respective pages were set up differently so it was difficult to make an easy visual comparison between the two models. To make things more obvious, I’ve compiled all the information onto a spread sheet that organizes this information in a clear and concise way. Feel free to pause this video and take a screen shot if you’d like to really analyze the numbers. As to be expected, upon close examination of the specifications, each speaker is quite similar with slight modifications to the weight, dimensions, Low Frequency Trim Control, Max Peak Input and Frequency range.
In terms of an audible difference, the next generation 305P Mark 2 has a new tweeter that seems to have a smoother transient response due to the use of ferro fluid that dampens the motion which I prefer over the LSR305. The optimized woofer causes the low frequency to be more linear and solid through its range so it can be pushed harder while staying centered without distortion. Lastly, the boundary EQ is a great addition depending on where you position the monitors in your room. If they are too close to the wall, you’ll want to experiment with this to smooth out the frequency. In most acoustic settings however, I recommend leaving the knobs flat as they are already optimized. Despite these improvements, some people say that the 305’s are perfect and cannot be improved upon. At this point in time, in terms of what can be done with a 5” woofer that might be true. Perhaps the real upgrade has to do with the Mark 2 line expanding to now offer a 6” version which is a nice addition to the family
So what exactly is Image Control Waveguide? This feature is the secret sauce of both the original and 305p models. The wave guide is located around the tweeter and looks like a horn but is actually a patented technology that gives a broader sweet spot meaning where ever you stand in the room, the sound will be even. There is also more detail in the high frequency with the ability to hear more reverb and actually sense microphone placement. In the visual realm, this is like developing a TV that looks just as good from the sides as from viewing it head on. The subtle details can be heard, even in a dense mix. This makes the Mark 2 sound great in virtually any room and is what has created its strong reputation of being extraordinary speakers.
In terms of the success of this monitor from a marketing standpoint, it’s a complete and total smash. Like the performance of the original model, the 305p is filled with mostly 5 star reviews on amazon.com and is one of the most popular monitors on the market today. Obviously there is good reason for this and the majority has spoken. If you’re someone who likes to go against the grain, these are not for you but why be different when clearly these monitors work. If you’re a producer, it’s cool to know that since this monitor is so popular, many other people are going to hear your music exactly the way you intended for it to sound!
So are the 305P’s right for you? You’ve heard the phrase, know thyself, well when it comes to getting a great mix that’s easy and intuitive, know thy monitor. When selecting a monitor it’s important to listen critically by testing your favorite music – tracks that you’ve listened to many times. If it sounds perfectly mixed to your ears, then those are the monitors for you. This is really important because if you’re mixing on monitors that have for instance less bass than the sound that you hear in your mind, all of your mixes will be bass heavy when you listen on different speakers. Therefore, there really are no good or bad monitors objectively, the most important thing is that you find a good match in terms of what you want and expect your music to sound like.
I was extremely impressed with the imaging of the 3 series from the moment I heard them. Over the years I’ve mixed on a variety of monitors and have gotten used to their imperfections. Through experience, I know how to compensate for what I’m not hearing and still know that it’s right. The nice thing about mixing on either of the 305 models is that things sound exactly how I expect them to, so there is no guessing, compensating or imagining necessary to achieving a perfect mix.
If you love the sound of the JBL 3 series but are looking for some extra depth, JBL makes a companion active sub woofer that will definitely make you feel the vibrations deep in your chest! The LSR 310S 10” is a low frequency driver for deep, dynamic bass response at all playback levels. No matter how awesome your monitors are, a sub makes all the difference and completely fills out the low end adding a feeling of power. The custom designed drive in the 310S delivers deep low frequency response into the 20 Hz region and below, which actually is outside the range of human hearing, however you will be able to feel the difference. They pair perfectly with both the 305 models.
Despite the already low price, it is possible to purchase these monitors for even cheaper if used or refurbished. But since there’s no way of knowing how a previous owner treated the monitors, its best to buy them new. The amount of money saved is usually not worth the gamble and you’ll never know if the monitors sound as good as they should.
So let’s recap real quick. Overall, both the LSR305 and 305P contain a very high level of detail. Being super critical and comparing against speakers costing 10x’s the price, I would say the 305P is lacking in euphoric’s. However for the price, this is trivial due to the simple fact that they’re able to be compared to some very high end systems.
In terms of making a decision between the original vs the 305P MkII, we’re splitting hairs here so if you’re on the fence, there’s no need to stress. Since both models are a quality choice, you might as well flip a coin because either option is going to sound amazing in your space. What’s the final verdict? Sonically they are very similar and most people absolutely love the original 305’s. With that being said, it really is a matter of taste and for the record, my vote goes to the original LSR305 Series.
Well, that’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and found it helpful. If you learned something new, please give this video it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel. If you’re interested in purchasing a pair for yourself, there are links in the description for both models. Thank you for your support!