• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

JBL Control X Review (Indoor/Outdoor Speaker)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,815
Likes
141,604
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL Control X Indoor/Outdoor speaker. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me for testing. It costs US $205 (pair) on Amazon but the owner purchased them at one of those crazy Harman sales for just $99 a pair!

Notice: our company Madrona Digital is a dealer for Harman products (in custom installation business) which is the parent company of JBL. So feel free to read as much bias as you like into the subjective aspects of this review.

Despite its low cost and outdoor orientation, the Control X uses the same style waveguide as the rest of JBL professional line:

JBL Control X Review Outdoor Speaker.jpg


Usually these outdoor speakers don't have a port but this one does!

JBL Control X Review back panel port Outdoor Speaker.jpg


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. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of 1%.

Reference axis was the tweeter center. I did not attach the grill since it came separated from it. Maybe I should???

Sitting on a surface, the speaker tilts back. I partially compensated for that by tilting it forward for measurements.

JBL Control X 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 X Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


If that ditch wasn't there around 300 Hz and there was not a tilt up response, it would have been darn good!

Near-field response shows good design when managing port/enclosure resonance:
JBL Control X Port Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


Not sure why the tweeter drops so much though above 10 kHz.

Early window math is not made for mounting this against the wall:


JBL Control X Early Window Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


Ditto for predicted in-room response:

JBL Control X Predicted In-room Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


Distortion is kept surprisingly under control at 86 dBSPL:

JBL Control X THD Distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


JBL Control X THD Percent Distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


I could hear some amount of bass distortion during the sweeps at 96 dBSPL but it was much lower than many powered monitors.

Impedance is reasonable at minimum of 5 ohm:

JBL Control X impedance and phase Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


I was shocked how well controlled beam width and hence directivity is in horizontal axis:

JBL Control X horizontal beam width vs Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


JBL Control X horizontal directivity width vs Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


This puts many professional monitors to shame!

Vertically even it is better than it would be although some of the credit goes to the smaller woofer in use here:

JBL Control X Vertical directivity width vs Frequency Response Measurements Outdoor Speaker.png


JBL Control X Speaker Listening Tests and Equalization
I was so impressed by the female reference tracks I use for my testing. In far field setting, the Control X sounded downright beautiful! The resolution and clarify together with tonality were on the money. Moving to bass heavy tracks though took the bloom of the rose some. Good news was that deep bass did not upset it. Nor did volume. Despite being so little, I was able to pump sound into my massive room with no difficulty! On some tracks, there was more brightness than I like as predicted by the measurements. But you could live with them.

I took a shot at EQ but from past experience, I know that dealing with bass response is tricky as the room massively modifies that. Such was the case here:

JBL Control X Equalization EQ Outdoor Speaker.png


I think it is a toss up as to whether these settings are an improvement or not. Will need to make in-room measurements and correct the combination.

Conclusions
I had very low expectations going into this review. Plastic speaker selling for $99/pair? Surely that can't sound good. But clearly it does when a ton of thought and design goes into it as opposed to pure marketing which the outdoor speaker business is all about. Indeed these speakers are so good that you could get a pair and use them on your desktop. You would need a sub to get full-range response but otherwise, this is definitely a contender.

I am going to recommend the JBL Control X for both indoor and outdoor applications.

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

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • JBL Control X Frequency Response.zip
    87.3 KB · Views: 41

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,539
Likes
3,548
Location
Michigan
Thanks Amir. Great to see decent performance in this category, especially at this price. I might need to grab a pair or two of these.
 

m8o

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
289
Likes
195
Good news was that deep bass did not upset it. Nor did volume.
JBL often uses a "lightbulb" in the crossover to act as a limiter to convert excess power into light + heat. I've seen it used in the (by now, ancient) ancestor to these, the Control 1 (I've owned maybe a half dozen over the years; and I've installed many dozens of them in bars, billiard halls, restaurants, etc, when I was doing that three decades ago) and more recently I was surprised when I saw it used in the dual 10" outdoor subwoofer I bought and setup for a friend in his backyard. Looking at numerous JBL speaker crossover schematics I've seen it used in more, so I surmise it's used by JBL pretty widely.

You can actually see a glowing orange light enimating from the speaker's port when -really- cranking them. If given a chance to wager, I'd bet they're used in these too and are a factor in it handling power so well.

Quick search and I found this. This is the x-over for the Control 28 not the Control 1 or X ... but something akin to this is a typical "lightbulb limiter" used by JBL:

control-28-crossover.jpg
 
Last edited:

Remlab

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
55
Likes
110
Location
Oceanside California
It would be interesting to know the effect of the screens since that's how they would be used in almost all outdoor situations.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,815
Likes
141,604
Location
Seattle Area
Don't you need a bug screen on the ports of an outdoor speaker? Or should I start selling them as an accessory that improves the flow and therefore the sound thru the port.
These are sold as both indoor and outdoor speakers. As such, the grill came separate from it and I tested it as if it is indoor speaker.
 

Chrispy

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
2,823
Likes
2,200
Location
PNW
Apparently currently $350/pr from JBL....some of those sales are awesome tho. I didn't see "in the box" a screen being included.....what's it look like?
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
13,366
Likes
20,787
It would be interesting to know the effect of the screens since that's how they would be used in almost all outdoor situations.
Well obviously square or round screen won't do. We need a custom produced wire with an airfoil shape. Possibly of some thickness to ensure laminar air flow. In these days perhaps a 3D method of production from UV safe plastics might be able to do even more.

The other options would be specially woven cotton or silk screens that are nearly transparent to air after being hand woven by artisans. Or maybe a 3D machine that can do a stand in as an artificial spider.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
13,366
Likes
20,787
These are sold as both indoor and outdoor speakers. As such, the grill came separate from it and I tested it as if it is indoor speaker.
Does the grill cover the port in the back?
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
13,366
Likes
20,787
If its going outdoors, you could mount it right next to the Skeeter zapping bug lite. That would take care of it sort of. Plus if it has a bit of tweeter his, the buzzing skeeters will mask the sound of it. WIN-WIN.

1625885077935.png
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
13,366
Likes
20,787
For $99 these would be killer to go at the drive through panel at fast food joints. You could hear clear sound on your end, and they are weatherproof. I guess even the sale price its a jump up from the $1.50 3 1/2 inch oval speaker they are currently using. I think they run those at a calibrated 50% distortion. Meaning half the time they get your order right and half the time your order is distorted. Sure would be nicer though.
 

spacevector

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Messages
503
Likes
831
Location
Bayrea
Can such speaker really survive outdoor environments? Say provide 5-10 years of service when exposed to rain/sun/snow?

Any suggestions for outdoor electronics to pair with?
 
Top Bottom