When the day-to-day radio listener has the opportunity to visit a radio station, the “snazzy” parts are showcased first. At some point in the tour, however, the visitor is shown a lowly production room.
Every radio facility has one or two (or more). These production suites provide the space where the station''s imaging and spot load are created. Although not glamorous, it''s where the production staff requires the best available tools to do their jobs accurately. The 3 Series from JBL introduces a few innovative tricks that take homely production spaces into consideration and guarantee accurate results.
The LSR Series is a powered nearfield-reference monitor that boasts a 5-inch LF driver (LSR305), an 8-inch LF driver (LSR308) and an available subwoofer (LSR310S) with a 10-inch LF driver. For the purposes of this article, we reviewed a pair of LSR308 monitors.
The back control panel is fairly straightforward, with typical controls. Power switch, input level adjustment, HF and LF trim controls, input sensitivity controls and balanced 1/4-inch TRS and XLR inputs. In the LSR308, the crossover frequency is at 1.8 kHz with a Linkwitz-Riley design (essentially meaning there is no gain or a “flat” response at the crossover frequency). The LSR308 HF (1-inch) and LF (8-inch) drivers are each powered by 56-watt Class D amplifier which provides a maximum peak SPL of 112dB. Frequency response ranges from 37 Hz to 24 kHz, providing highly accurate “bottom end” reproduction. In studios that require lower than 37 Hz referencing, the LSR310S will get you down to 27 Hz. From a real-estate-on-the-desk perspective, the LSR308 measures 10 inches across and 12 inches deep and stands 16.5 inches tall.
The Good Stuff
I saw the LSR308 at the 2014 NAB Show in Las Vegas. The first feature that stood out was the HF driver cone and its rounded bumps. I assumed the bumps were added for aesthetic purposes. I soon learned, however, that the rounded bumps were the 3 Series Image Control Waveguide. JBL''s Linear Spatial Reference research gave birth to this design feature unique to the LSR 3 Series. Since perfect audio reference environments are hard to come by in the real world, the Image Control Waveguide design improves off-axis listening and widens the center image. It also helps reduce the effects of reflected sound that interferes with the mix position.
The Real World
On-the-ground observations in my own studio yielded the same results JBL reported. I first moved around the speaker cabinet and found myself well “off-axis” when compared to most reference monitors. I was nearly on the same plane as the face of the LSR308 and could hear virtually no degradation in the sound. The Image Control Waveguide also seemed to reduce unwanted room reflections. This was most noticeable when listening to the clarity of a familiar piece of audio. Different nuances in the mix were markedly noticeable. Some were good, and some were terrible! I actually remixed one project due to the more accurate reproduction I was hearing on the pair of LSR308s.
Most of the attention concerning the LSR308 has been given to the Image Control Waveguide, but the LF driver must be given its due. In a typical radio production facility, the 8-inch woofer is more than sufficient for accurate bass response. From classical to hip-hop, the woofer performed nicely and loudly. Nothing is muddy or “impure” about the LSR308 woofer, and while being reasonable during testing, I was never able to overdrive it.
While we may try our best, quality audio production creativity and design are impossible without proper referencing. Many times the problems are poor monitor speaker selection or environment. The JBL LSR3 Series is designed with features in mind that help overcome problems that plague many a production facility. By offering clean bass response with a beefy LF driver and greatly improved HF propagation through the Image Control Waveguide, the LSR308 is a must for achieving excellent production results in the most challenging environments.
Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Victory FM at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.
Performance At A Glance Points
- - Matte black finish
- - 8-inch LF driver for clean bass response
- - Bi-amplified 56-watt Class D amps
- - 37Hz to 24 kHz response
- - 112 dB SPL
- - Image Control Waveguide for improved mix position referencing and off-axis listening
- - Balanced 1/4-inch TRS and XLR inputs