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JBL LSR308 Review

 
 

February 28, 2016

JBL LSR308 vs Yamaha HS8 vs KRK Rokit 8 (Gen3)

 

After spending months editing audio using headphones, I decided to finally upgrade to actual studio monitors. I was looking for studio monitors that would serve the purpose of audio mixing and desktop speakers for casually listening to music.  I did some research online but I decided it made more sense to shop for speakers in-person so I took a trip to Guitar Center. Luckily, they had several studio monitors connected for auditioning. I would have loved to purchase some $1000 monitors but my wallet wouldn't have been too happy about that. My budget was less than $500. After listening to all of the budget monitors I narrowed my list down to the JBL LSR308 and the Yamaha HS8. The KRK Rokit 8 is a very popular and highly recommended budget monitor so I figured I'd throw it in the mix as well. 

JBL LSR308

The JBL LSR308 is a bi-amplified Class-D reference monitor. It has an 8" woofer, 1" soft dome tweeter, and rear port. The tweeter is paired with JBL's exclusive Image Control Wave Guide, which was used on JBL's M2 Master Reference Monitors. JBL claims that the Wave Guide enhances stereo imaging for a wider sound stage. The back of the monitor has balanced TRS inputs, high/low frequency trim controls, volume knob, and input sensitivity switch.

Studio monitors usually have a flat sound, which is ideal for mixing. However, the LSR308 sounds mostly flat but it has a slight bump in the high frequency range, which makes it sound more appealing when listening to music. It has great bass response as well. I don't really see a need for a subwoofer unless you're looking for very low bass frequencies. The bass is tight but not as tight as the Yamaha HS8. It gets pretty loud and I didn't notice any major distortion at high volume. 

The only negative thing I've found is that they emit a slight hiss while they are powered on. Unfortunately, the hiss is not affected by adjusting the volume. It's not extremely loud but it is noticeable. If you sit in a very quiet room it can be distracting but it was not a big deal to me. The other issue is that, like most monitors, the soundstage is narrow so you will likely need to angle them to your ears. This is typical of most studio monitors. Overall this speaker sounds awesome and will work well for anyone who is looking for a dual-purpose monitor/speaker. 

Price $249

Features

  • separate 56-watt Class D amps power woofer and tweeter in bi-amped design (112 watts total)
  • frequency response: 37-24,000 Hz
  • peak SPL: 112 dB
  • 8" long-throw woofer in bass reflex enclosure
  • 1" soft dome damped woven composite Neodymium tweeter
  • -10 dB/+4 dB sensitivity switch ensures compatibility with a broad range of signal sources
  • low frequency trim switch (+2 dB, 0, -2 dB)
  • high frequency trim switch (+2 dB, 0, -2 dB)
  • balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs
  • JBL's patented Slip Stream™ low frequency port design
  • 10"W x 16-1/2"H x 12"D
  • weight: 22 lbs.

Yamaha HS8

The Yamaha HS8 is a very popular studio monitor and is used in many professional studios. The HS8 is popular because it produces good bass and is fairly flat, which is great for mixing. It is also aesthetically pleasing and the white woofer makes it easy to spot.

Like the LSR308, the HS8 has an 8" woofer, 1" tweeter, and is rear ported, It also has XLR and TRS inputs, volume knob, and trim controls. The HS8 sounds similar to the LSR308 but doesn't have the same bump in the high frequency range so it doesn't sound as good for casual music. However, this is what makes the Yamaha HS8 better for mixing and mastering. 

Overall it sounds amazing and the bass response is tight and accurate. 

Price - $349

 

 

Features

  • 2-way bi-amplified studio monitor
  • frequency response: 38-30,000 Hz (-10dB); 47-24,000 Hz (-3dB)
  • 120 watts total amplification: 75 watts max. for woofer, 45 watts max. for tweeter
  • 8" woofer
  • 1" high-efficiency dome tweeter
  • bass-reflex cabinet with rear port
  • XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs accept balanced or unbalanced signals
  • room control switch attenuates frequency response below 500 Hz: flat, -2dB or -4 dB
  • high trim switch adjusts frequencies above 2kHz: -2dB, flat or +2dB
  • +4dB center click level control
  • 9-13/16"W x 15-3/8"H x 13-1/8"D
  • weight 22.5 lbs.

KRK Rokit 8 Gen3

The KRK Rokit 8 is a popular studio monitor for hip hop and pop music. It has an 8" woofer, 1" soft-dome tweeter, and is front ported.  On the rear it has separate high and low frequency level controls, volume, knob, and RCA/TRS/XLR inputs. LIke the JBL LSR308, the Rokit 8 also has a proprietary waveguide, which optimizes stereo imaging. 

Instead of an emphasis in the high frequency range, the Rokit 8 has a bump in the low frequency. I listen to hip hop music mostly, so I assumed that I would prefer this monitor. However, after listening to the LSR308 and the HS8 the Rokit 8 sounded a bit muddy and compressed. It seemed to lack the clarity of the other two monitors and instruments weren't as distinct. 

Price - $249

 

Features

  • frequency response: 35-35,000 Hz (-10 dB)
  • bi-amped design with separate class A/B woofer and tweeter amplifiers for greater headroom and lower distortion
    • woofer amplifier power: 75 watts
    • tweeter amplifier power: 25 watts
  • 8" lightweight, Aramid-glass composite woofer for clear midrange and tight bass
  • 1" soft dome tweeter with proprietary waveguide design for superior imaging
  • designed for near-field monitoring
  • peak SPL: 109 dB
  • system volume control (-30 dB to +6 dB)
  • low frequency level adjust switch (+2 dB, 0, -1 dB, -2 dB)
  • high frequency adjust switch (+1 dB, 0, -1 dB -2 dB)
  • balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs; unbalanced RCA input
  • front-firing port design reduces boundary coupling for more placement flexibility
  • MDF enclosure construction with black vinyl wrap finish
  • factory installed foam pad on monitor base provides vibration isolation
  • 10-13/16"W x 15-5/8"H x 12-7/16"D
  • weight: 24.6 lbs.

Conclusion

All three of these monitors are great budget studio monitors. I ultimately ended up with a pair of the JBL LSR308's based on the price and the need for casual music listening. If I was buying monitors strictly for professional mixing/mastering, I would have purchased a pair of Yamaha HS8's. My least favorite of the 3 was the KRK Rokit 8. They didn't sound as clean as the other 2 monitors and the bump in the low frequency range made them sound muddy. 

 

-Chris Majestic (Majestechs)