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JBL Control 29AV-1 Review (PA/Outdoor Speaker)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL Control 29AV-1 "PA" Outdoor speaker. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $409 (each).

In discussion with the owner, we decided to measure and review the speaker without its grill:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Review Outdoor PA Speaker.jpg


The grill is metal and is fastened by two screws in the center (covered by a JBL logo) and then very well friction fit all around.

Back panel is all industrial showing the option to also drive the speaker using high voltage (to reduce cable losses in very long runs):

JBL Control 29AV-1 Review back panel Outdoor PA Speaker.jpg

As you see, there are plenty of options for wall and stand mounting. The enclosure is rugged but not super heavy thick stuff.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Using computational acoustics, far-field response is computed and that is what I present. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%. Clean high frequency response is responsible for ease of measurement in this regard.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter. Grill was not used.

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Gosh, what a good response until we get to 900 Hz. Messiness there is due to what the front mounted port produces:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements driver and port frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


You can also see the cause of the higher frequency unevenness being the tweeter.

Early window reflections -- assuming it corresponds to your situation -- is messy:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements early window frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


This in turn screws up the predicted in-room response:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements Predicted in-room frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Distortion is very much under control in bass where it is usually a mess in small outdoor speakers:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements THD distortion vs frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Something is amiss in the tweeter though:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements distortion vs frequency response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Beamwidth is nicely controlled although on the narrow side (which may be a good thing for outdoor far listening):
JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements horizontal beam width Outdoor PA Speaker.png


JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements horizontal directivity Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Vertical is also smooth but don't go too far above or below the tweeter axis:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements vertical directivity Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Zooming into three frequencies in middle bands, we see the problem with the port spitting out stuff at the same time as the woofer:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements 3d Contour Outdoor PA Speaker.png


But then becomes happy as the tweeter takes over.

Impedance is reasonably high which is good although dips low in high frequencies:

JBL Control 29AV-1 Measurements impedance and phase response Outdoor PA Speaker.png


Where it dips is where we have peak distortion. Hmmm....

JBL Control 29AV-1 Listening Tests
I tested the JBL like any other hi-fi speaker indoor in my usual far-field listening space. Let's get the good news and easy answer out of the way first: this thing can play and scale up without any sign of strain. The combination of the port and bass driver is doing its job well as the measurements show.

The rest is not easy. I did not fall in love with the speaker and my quick attempts at EQ were mixed. On some content it sounded better, on others did not. I did get the sense that reducing the resonances around 1 kHz was helpful but subtle. There was some high frequency shrillness that was very content specific. I pulled down one of the peaks there and that helped but again, not sure in balance it was a good idea.

I tested sub-bass reproduction but hardly anything came out the speaker. Likely the reason it is able to scale up in playback level; it doesn't do what it can't do.

Where does it net out? I don't know! Some speakers are harder to assess and this is one.

Conclusions
There is some goodness in this design: ability to play loud with little distortion in bass. The variability above that is too complex for me to quantify with listening tests. It certainly is not awful or objectionable most of the time. With respect to outdoor speaker standards, this is a very capable speaker. With respect to using it as a pure hi-fi speaker, I am stomped per above. You have the measurements, you decide!

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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/
 

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  • JBL Control 29AV-1 Frequency Response.zip
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BillH

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I’ve always wondered what the ideal spinorama would be for an outdoor speaker. The “in room response” often doesn’t make sense as these speakers may be mounted to the back of your house 10 feet off the ground with a back plane but no ground plane or side wall reflections to speak of,
It seems to me that on axis response and a plethora of bass to compensate for the lack of room boundary gain may be ideal response for an outdoor speaker

How about a bbq party listening test to figure this out?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Madjalapeno

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Madjalapeno

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Isn't high voltage and outside a dangerous combination?
 

dfuller

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I am game. Who is bringing the ribs and brisket?
I've got something like 10 pounds of pulled pork in my freezer from my last cook... pulled pork sandwiches, anyone?
 
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amirm

amirm

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sam_adams

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These are, after all, outdoor PA speakers. I wouldn't expect them to be used in the great room. But they might work well around the estate:

thebreakers.jpg


A few around the pool. Some down by the tennis courts and the boathouse. Maybe some in the seaplane hanger.

I'll talk to the wife (pictured)

MorganFairchild.jpg


and see how she feels about it.
 

dfuller

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Highly recommend smoked queso. Absolutely delish.
done that once before... Pretty good stuff! Also - are you in the Boston area, by chance? Guessing from your user name.
 
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pierre

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Hello,

adding a small EQ, the score of this speaker goes from 2.4 to 4.3.

Here is the details of the score components:
Code:
         SPK auEQ
-----------------
NBD  ON 0.80 0.65
NBD  LW 0.73 0.47
NBD PIR 0.73 0.49
SM  PIR 0.46 0.80
SM   SP 0.60 0.76
LFX       47   47
LFQ     1.42 1.42
-----------------
Score    2.4  4.3
-----------------

Visually the EQ looks like:
filters0.png

and it flattens the LW and the PIR except around the very messy zone.
filters1.png


filters2.png


Here is the EQ in APO format:

Code:
EQ for JBL Control 29AV-1 computed from ASR data
Preference Score 2.4 with EQ 4.3
Generated from http://github.com/pierreaubert/spinorama/generate_peqs.py v0.11
Dated: 2021-09-18-06:47:49

Preamp: -4.7 dB

Filter  1: ON PK Fc  3048 Hz Gain +4.63 dB Q 4.59
Filter  2: ON PK Fc  6595 Hz Gain -3.97 dB Q 3.12
Filter  3: ON PK Fc 14155 Hz Gain +4.00 dB Q 3.43
Filter  4: ON PK Fc   386 Hz Gain +0.78 dB Q 0.45
Filter  5: ON PK Fc  1950 Hz Gain +2.11 dB Q 6.00
Filter  6: ON PK Fc  1341 Hz Gain -1.62 dB Q 6.00
Filter  7: ON PK Fc 10690 Hz Gain -0.74 dB Q 3.81
Filter  8: ON PK Fc  3926 Hz Gain -0.65 dB Q 6.00
Filter  9: ON PK Fc  5464 Hz Gain -0.50 dB Q 6.00
 
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