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JBL 4349 Review (Studio Monitor Speaker)

Easternlethal

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Most of these questions have me wondering, why not just go 3 way?
Isn't it cause they want to squeeze in a huge woofer into a studio mon form factor?
If in fact this speaker is designed to be angled and that was confirmed, that would be superb news.
To me they are really meant for the mixing desk and nearfield / untilted listening. at least that's how their predecessors were marketed to me.
 

DualTriode

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Hello All,

After sorting through all this I do not believe that the data and listening impressions are in complete disagreement. Think of the location where the Optic Nerve attaches to the retina of your eye there is a blind spot. If we are looking at a brick wall we do not see a spot without bricks, our brain fills in the missing data to complete the image.

If there is a dip or even a missing slice of the frequency response our ear-brain fills in the missing data. Think of MP3 files, how much data can we remove to make the file smaller before our brain tells us that something is amiss? If a fundamental tone is attenuated or even missing but the overtone series is complete, our brain still hears the tone.

The short version is that the gap or dip is not as bad as it looks. Our ear-brain has a mind of its own and makes up the missing data in between. The flip version is, “don’t believe your lying ears”.

@amirm I think that you were correct the first time.

Thanks DT

Just musing, could we hear the difference between the Frequency Response with the dip un-equalized and with it filled in with DSP. I think maybe not, I would need to sample it. Without the side by side comparison the FR dip goes completely unnoticed.
 

Francis Vaughan

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Really, the test results and listening impressions are exactly what I would have expected for this speaker. You can't beat physics, and the pros and cons found match what I would imagine would have been the understood issues going into the design.

The drivers used are without doubt seriously expensive. JBL have the advantage of in-house manufacture of drivers. They can amortise development costs across a lot of lines, and make custom changes for a specific product. But $7.5k for these speakers is hardly a surprise.

What is interesting is a two way design with large waveguide. Again, the pros and cons are well known, and the result is exactly what you would expect. The speaker struggles at the crossover point, where neither driver is really happy. But you do get fabulous directivity in the top end.

Why a two way? Why not a three way? Well they make one, the 4429 is exactly what you would expect. Basically the same speaker in a 3 way. But they end up compromising on the waveguide, and whilst they proudly trumpet the angles for the 4349, they are mute on the angles for the 4429.

The power handling, and dynamics of this speaker will be near impossible to match with a different approach. This speaker will be delivering clear undistorted sound when the Salon 2 drivers are molten puddles. Whether you need or want that ability is a different matter. But for some the trade-off is clearly in favour of the JBLs. Harmon have it both ways, since they own both brands.

A collegue of mine is a seriously high level jazz sax player (of international standing) and it is interesting that his home sound system is basically down this path. Not exactly the same speakers, but of the same ilk. He very much favours the dynamics of live sound and performance over the more smooth sound of a more HiFi approach. It is not possible to say he is wrong, but it is possible to have a different preference.
 

Newman

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I hear you but cost is not a factor. One minute I am testing a $100 speaker, another a $7,500 one. I have given higher marks to JBL Stage 130 for example despite it being very cheap. I am also not sold on the look of the 4349 speaker. I know it has fans but I am not one.

Really, we have been around this watering hole a million times. As I keep explaining, I provide my opinion but you don't have to read it. Your doubts also don't amount to facts.

“Facts”? I said “strong likelihood”. And they weren’t “my doubts”, they are Toole’s experimental outcomes. And I didn’t just say cost: sighted bias is complex per individual. That’s why I wrote “size, cost and other non-sonic factors”. The odds, that your sighted listening impressions are subject to normal human processing, are very strong. And those odds are facts.

I’m perfectly willing to read your sighted listening opinion. I’m also willing to comment on it. Is that okay?

cheers
 

Francis Vaughan

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Nope, M2 doesn’t have same result.
It is a significantly larger loudspeaker - so no the results are not the same. They seem to get to a point where they can meld the drivers again as the high frequency driver gets low enough. The M2 and 4429 both have a crossover frequency of 800Hz compared to the 4349's 1.5kHz. Right there is probably the core issue.
 

Easternlethal

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1619077567832.png

here's the 3-way version - 4345 (can you imagine this puppy with the new waveguide)
1619078348784.png

there's also a 4 way version - 4350 (definitely no crossover issues with this one!)
jbl should have kept them all in production together with the 4349 and 4309
 
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Frank Dernie

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Just musing, could we hear the difference between the Frequency Response with the dip un-equalized and with it filled in with DSP. I think maybe not, I would need to sample it. Without the side by side comparison the FR dip goes completely unnoticed.
It depends what causes a dip whether EQ can do much.
If it is due to anything associated with being near a node in a resonance EQ is likely to be either ineffective (if in a room mode) or make matters worse (if it is due to cone breakup).
 

Zvu

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View attachment 125594
here's the 3-way version - 4345 (can you imagine this puppy with the new waveguide)
View attachment 125598
there's also a 4 way version - 4350 (definitely no crossover issues with this one!)
jbl should have kept them all in production together with the 4349 and 4309

I've listened both of these in the same room with same electronics - both are 4-way. Actually, i listened 4355 which is version of 4350 with ferrite magnet on woofers.

Both were bi-amped and used with active crossover between woofer and low midrange at 200Hz.

While there was no particular sound character with either of those, JBL 4355 sounded significantly more transparent than JBL 4345. Midrange is phenomenal, slopes are 12dB/o and crossover point between lower midrange and compression driver is at 1200Hz. You have 50mm exit compression driver with 10cm voice coil that is usually used from 500Hz but you don't want to strain it and make crossover point at 1200Hz. JBL 2202H is 30cm midwoofer with almost no observable breakup in frequency response and it is used here as midrange. Crossover is actually quite simple. There was measurable diffraction artefact (narrow dip) with supertweeter around 8-10kHz but i couldn't notice it while listening.

Anyhow, loudspeaker like this would cost at least 40-50K today - but i think there wouldn't be much sympathy for the aesthetics of it. I love it but i know lots of people don't. Not to mention shipping - they're huge.
 
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Savi

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Just musing, could we hear the difference between the Frequency Response with the dip un-equalized and with it filled in with DSP. I think maybe not, I would need to sample it. Without the side by side comparison the FR dip goes completely unnoticed.

Good question. I dont know if amir has already tried an abx test with and without its EQ to validate its subjective report. I tried with my focal clear (correction with a 2db dip around 1khz) and failed the abx test but my hears are less trained than amir who listens tens of headphones while I am just enjoying music with mine).
 

changer

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To me they are really meant for the mixing desk and nearfield / untilted listening. at least that's how their predecessors were marketed to me.

This is wrong. Woofer and compression driver axes are 34,5 cm apart and wavelength at crossover frequency 15000 Hz is 22,9 cm. So they operate barely within 1.5 lambda. Both drivers feature a huge surface which does compensate the fact that for a seamless integration to a point source, we want 1/4 lambda (most times unachievable) to 1/2 lambda. These speakers integrate to a point source in mid field, never in near field and you will not place them on a mixing desk, but on a stand behind it.

Amir, thank you for your effort, this is crazy if you do not show much interest. Can you show us where the far field of this speaker begins?

Really, the test results and listening impressions are exactly what I would have expected for this speaker. You can't beat physics, and the pros and cons found match what I would imagine would have been the understood issues going into the design.
You mean with the position of the crossover frequency or what more specific?

What is interesting is a two way design with large waveguide. Again, the pros and cons are well known, and the result is exactly what you would expect. The speaker struggles at the crossover point, where neither driver is really happy. But you do get fabulous directivity in the top end.

Distortion is not a realistic issue with this speaker, did you read the comments? High end energy is not linear with low end, and before you would hear any distortion your ears had popped out. What pros and cons which are well known are you refering to?

Why a two way? Why not a three way? Well they make one, the 4429 is exactly what you would expect. Basically the same speaker in a 3 way. But they end up compromising on the waveguide, and whilst they proudly trumpet the angles for the 4349, they are mute on the angles for the 4429.
Most of these questions have me wondering, why not just go 3 way? It seems that JBL really tries to avoid anything more than 2 way. This is in contrast to Revel/Infinity, and I wonder why.

Two drivers integrate much better to a point source and you will have less crossover filters working against the driver. Three drivers will chop up the vertical pattern even more and will need additional directivity control. JBL M2 shows that this is all possible if you go active.
 
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Francis Vaughan

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Distortion is not a realistic issue with this speaker, did you read the comments? High end energy is not linear with low end, and before you would hear any distortion your ears had popped out. What pros and cons which are well known are you refering to?
I never mentioned distortion as a problem, I was referring to the issues with integration at the crossover point. The high frequency driver has been pushed as low as they could, and the low end driver is well into directivity problems.
The low distortion high level capabilities are the clear pro of these speakers, and I said as much.
 

DSJR

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I'm not able to research this, but the BBC in decades past used to do 12" two ways from memory (I think even before the early LS5/8 but could be wrong as the 5/5 was a three way design). They had a knack of placing the 12" driver behind a wide vertical 'slot' for want of a better term and this was supposed to better match the dispersion to the tweeter, admittedly not the fancy waveguide types used by JBL today.

Forgive me if I'm talking out of my backside here - there were papers written about it I'm sure -

https://www.facebook.com/grahamaudiouk/photos/1379138082278973


P.S. Aren't the JBL Synthesis models really for the 'Retro' market. Very sadly, this hasn't taken off in the UK (they're £6999 over here) and my local dealer who'd ordered the L100 Classics (nothing remotely like the hideous originals thankfully apart from basic appearance) cancelled them as he felt they wouldn't sell here :(
 

Easternlethal

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I didn't say one should literally put them on the mixing desk (they would take up too much space for that). yea midfield better of course
 

changer

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The high frequency driver has been pushed as low as they could, and the low end driver is well into directivity problems.
1.2 kHz would have been good or, with a waveguide this big, maybe even 1 kHz. But this depends on the pattern control of the device, which we do not know about. And I agree, I do not understand why they chose a compression driver which is not meant to go low. There are many which can be used to cover from 1 kHz upwards the essential band so that a third driver unit is not necessary.
 

thewas

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I'm not able to research this, but the BBC in decades past used to do 12" two ways from memory (I think even before the early LS5/8 but could be wrong as the 5/5 was a three way design). They had a knack of placing the 12" driver behind a wide vertical 'slot' for want of a better term and this was supposed to better match the dispersion to the tweeter, admittedly not the fancy waveguide types used by JBL today.
JBL also still do that too on some of their PA loudspeakers to widen the directivity of the woofer:

1619092756698.png

Source: https://jblpro.com/en/products/eon615
 

richard12511

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The power handling, and dynamics of this speaker will be near impossible to match with a different approach. This speaker will be delivering clear undistorted sound when the Salon 2 drivers are molten puddles. Whether you need or want that ability is a different matter. But for some the trade-off is clearly in favour of the JBLs. Harmon have it both ways, since they own both brands.

This makes sense, and it seems to be a consistent Harman strategy to differentiate JBL from Revel. JBL HDI-3800 had similar issues from not being three way that the F208 didn't show. Similar priced Revel will give you slightly higher fidelity, but less max output.
 

beagleman

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OTOH Toole has shown the strong likelihood that, if exactly the same flawed sound waves came from a small cheap speaker with other less favourable non-sonic attributes, your subjective impressions would have been just as poor as the measurements.

cheers
A case could also be made for the opposite.
With cheap stuff, I do NOT EXPECT perfection and give more leeway.
 

Bob from Florida

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A side note. I hardly ever come home from a show thinking of replacing my speakers with anything I see there. The only exception was a set of large horn speakers that had dynamics that I could not replicate with my Salon 2s. The 4349 allowed me to get there and so points to high efficiency mattering. People routinely underestimate how much power it takes to reproduce dynamics well. Even my high power amplifier struggles to push the Salon 2 there. But with 4349, that struggle disappeared with a bunch of headroom left.

I am going to put the JBL 4349 on my recommended list. Go ahead and hate on me due to objective measurements above. I am ready to take it! :)

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150[/QUOTE]

I have owned a range of speakers over the last 40 years. Magnepans, B&W, Gershman Acoustics, home made open baffle, and finally my current Reference 3A Grand Veenas. The open baffles using Hawthorne Audio - no longer in business- essentially a custom version of the Emminence 15A and a Radian compression driver had dynamics that got your attention every time. They rolled off at 60 hertz and I used a sub to fill in the bottom, but my 80 watt push-pull tube monoblocks drove them with ease. 96 db efficiency and 8 ohm load. When the Grand Veenas came along - 3 way 90 db at 5 ohms - they were full range without a sub, smoother response, and better imaging. Eventually I upgraded my mono blocks to a more powerful solid state integrated - the lower efficiency and 5 ohms pairs better. Even though I like the overall package better now I do miss the dynamics and seemingly unlimited headroom the open baffle system offered.
What you said about the Salon 2's and the JBL's makes perfect sense to me.
 
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