Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Most of the systems we deal with here have five, six or even seven loudspeakers, plus a subwoofer. But there remains a useful place in many homes for a high quality pair of bookshelf-sized loudspeakers. I say ‘bookshelf-sized’ because it is a rare loudspeaker indeed that actually sounds any good on a bookshelf. With the JBL Studio L830 speakers, you will get far better sound with them placed on dedicated stands than if you just whack them among the reading matter.
The speakers are by no means ‘satellite’ units. They stand 385 mm tall and their other dimensions are proportionate. They also weigh a solid 10 kilograms each, attesting to the quality of their construction. They are available in either cherry or black ash wood veneers.
Each loudspeaker carries three drivers of different sizes, but they are not ‘three-way’ loudspeakers in the traditional sense. Three-way loudspeakers have a woofer, a midrange driver and a tweeter. These ones have a bass/midrange driver and two tweeters.
The bass/midrange driver is a 152 mm unit, and the enclosure is bass-reflex loaded, with the port at the rear. That’s another reason not to put them in bookshelfs – these ports need room to breathe. The ‘normal’ tweeter is a 25 mm titanium dome unit with a dispersion post on the front that also nicely protects it from physical damage. The other tweeter is actually a ‘super tweeter’, a 19 mm Mylar dome unit fitted into a horn. This is designed to produce frequencies above 20,000 hertz.
Around the back, the cabinets have proper gold-plated binding post connections for the wiring, with two sets for each so that you can bi-wire them if you wish. (Bi-wiring is where the speakers and stereo amplifier are cabled so that one amplifier channel drives the woofer in each speaker, and the other drives the tweeter/midrange in each speaker. The rationale is that this reduces interference between the high and low frequencies and improves sound quality.)
JBL says that these loudspeakers have a sensitivity of 90dB, which is a touch above the average, and can handle up to 75 watts of power continuously. It also says that the frequency response of these speakers extends from 48 to 40,000 hertz (the upper figure courtesy of the super tweeter).