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JBL Studio 530 Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL Studio 530 bookshelf speaker. They normally cost US $600 but routinely go on sale. That is how I purchased mine for US $280 direct from JBL.

The 530 has a very unique style of its own:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Audio Review.jpg

I normally take speaker grills off for measurements but because this one only covers the woofer, and it looks darn ugly without it :), I tested it as you see pictured.

While the outside is nicely finished for a budget speaker, I was taken back by the rough bottom of it. Some cost cutting was done there but I guess on the plus side, it is not slippery.

The back panel shows dual set of connections for bi-wire/bi-amping. Personally I would rather see a single set that is spaced farther apart:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Back Panel binding posts Audio Review.png
If you care about country of manufacture and can't read it above, it is China.

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 anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

All measurements are reference to tweeter axis with the woofer grill left on as indicated Frequency resolution is 2.7 Hz.

I was troubleshooting some minor issue in my prior measurements so I went all out on this speaker, dialing in 2000 measurement points to give maximum resolution for the sound expansion. Imagine trying to make this many manual measurements! This is a 2-D representation of 3-D measurements around the speaker:
JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Klippel Measurement Points.png


It took nearly four hours for the automated system to run. That by itself is tolerable, but not hearing the bass thumps in the rest of the house every few seconds for that long! You all need to make me rich enough to hire an intern to run these tests elsewhere!!! :D

Given the high number of measurement points I was able to increase the "expansion order" which results in error of much less than 1% across the full frequency range.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor CEA-2034 spinorama Audio Measurements.png


Starting with the good news, the on-axis response is surprisingly flat, resembling some nice studio monitors. There is a peak which based on other measurements I show (and those performed by others) is mostly a tweeter resonance. It is narrow though so not so concerned about it. If you are, you can EQ it out (see listening tests).

The other notable bit is the drop in response above 14 kHz and some ringing. I have seen the former from another measurement (GR Research). The ringing doesn't show in theirs but I think that may be due to low resolution of their measurements. Or else, something is rattling in mine that was not in theirs. Alternatively, JBL knows the driver/horn is resonating and put in a filter to roll off the response instead of letting it peak above average.

We can see proof of that here when we drive the 530 with a 10 volt input:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Distortion Audio Measurements.png


The sudden peaks definitely show a tweeter that is unhappy at either end of its spectrum.

Bass response is a bit tilted down which likely makes for a less satisfying experience. Again, see listening impressions later.

Putting all of this together in a hypothetical, average listening room gives us a surprisingly smooth response:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor CEA-2034 spinorama Predicted In-room Response Audio Measurements.png


Two bads seem to have fixed the crossover resonance peak:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor CEA-2034 spinorama early reflections Audio Measurements.png


The normal vertical dips we get in a 2-way speaker at crossover cancel out the peak on-axis. In that regard, you don't want to put much absorption anywhere although this is not a big enough deal to ignore other factors (e.g. a room that is too live with many bare surfaces).

Horizontal directivity paints a very nice picture, pun intended:
JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Horizontal Contour Audio Measurements.png


You have a broad listening angle where response does not change a lot.

Vertical is chewed up around the crossover:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Vertical Contour Audio Measurements.png


Here is the waterfall measurements. Unfortunately I ran it with the mic well above listening axis so the response doesn't match the rest of what is above:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor CSD Waterfall Audio Measurements.png


Finally, we have a typical minimum impedance of 4 ohm:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Imnpedance and Phase Measurement Points.png


Combine that with sensitivity of around 85 dB and this is not an easy to drive "horn" speaker.

Speaker Listening Tests
I started my listening tests with just the single EQ for my room mode where I place the speakers and sit. Here, the sound was one of the least bright or offensive of any speaker I have tested. There is not a "bright" bone in the body of the JBL 530. That also makes it less exciting to listen to. To give it some oomph and warmth, I dialed in a shelf boost below 200 Hz. That improved subjective experience a lot. But then I put my ear to the port and could easily hear the woofer bottoming out. So be a bit careful in doing this but do experiment.

I also put in a notch filter where the resonance point in the crossover. It made a positive difference but I think this was unrelated to that effect as the sound became a bit brighter (in a good way) telling me the Roon PEQ implementation may be ringing outside of the pretty graph shown.

For a quick comparison, I loaded the ELAC DBR-62 speaker which I just reviewed. Wow, what a transformation. Bass quality and quantity was so much better. As was detail and overall enjoyment level.

Conclusions
While the JBL Studio 530 has some obvious flaws, it is clear that care was put in there to optimize the design for technically good objective performance. Near flat on-axis response and very smooth predicted in-room response is the result. Alas, if you are like me, you want a bit of lipstick on your speaker and more SPL (loudness) capability to really enjoy music. At the retail price of $600, the 530 does not get there and my strong recommendation would be for the ELAC DBR-62. But for $300, if you are open to some EQ and don't shake the wall as much as I like to do, the JBL 530 is fine.

Given all of this, I can give my recommendation for JBL 530 studio at its sale price.


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

It rained all night and all day today. :( Man that is depressing. Need to go online and buy a bunch of stuff to make me happy. Please help contribute to that by donated using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

RayDunzl

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#4
I was tempted by the 590 series a while back.

Question: What's this scale?

1585611388244.png
 

mhardy6647

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#5
Fascinating.
Thanks so much for testing this (these)! One was most curious about these.
The impedance and phase curve is kind of yucky, though, isn't it?

One of the local vintage hifi gurus here in Northern New England said of the bigger 580
Bear in mind, these aren't your father's JBLs
(or words to that effect)
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #6
Question: What's this scale?
In the horizontal graph, 0 is straight on, and numbers positive and negative are angles to the speaker. Imagine a string attached to the tweeter that you take to the left or right. Same for Vertical contour but in the Y dimension.
 

andreasmaaan

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#7
Many thanks @amirm Very interesting little speaker and a good review :)

The other notable bit is the drop in response above 14 kHz and some ringing. I have seen the former from another measurement (GR Research). The ringing doesn't show in theirs but I think that may be due to low resolution of their measurements. Or else, something is rattling in mine that was not in theirs. Alternatively, JBL knows the driver/horn is resonating and put in a filter to roll off the response instead of letting it peak above average.
This roll-off in the high frequencies is likely to be caused by the air in the compression chamber of the compression driver acting as a low-pass filter, and is actually a common (minor) problem with high frequency compression drivers.

It can be mitigated by reducing the volume of air in the chamber (the frequency of the filter is inversely proportional to the volume of air), but this may involve other tradeoffs, and is obviously not the approach JBL took with this driver.
 
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#8
I own the much larger brother in the series -- the 590. It weighs 70 lbs. It has quite a cult following and like its diminutive sibling is often steeply discounted -- would be stoked if audiosciencereview could "put it to the question."
 
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#9
Crossover schematic, full technical manual attached:


Also, an interesting thing I noticed: measured at 1m the flattest response is on the tweeter axis, but the drivers are not in phase at this angle. They got in phase only when I lowered the mic to the woofer level (the deepest notch when the drivers are connected in opposite polarity):
530_1.png 530_2.png
 

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Ron Texas

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#10
Not sure what to make of this one. However, it fits the profile I like which is affordable and available.
 

ROOSKIE

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#11
I really, really, really like these speakers. I did not expect to. I purchased for another person and decided to try them. Ended up with a pair for myself. They sound so good to my ear. The treble is just sublime my ear and the kicker was when I realized I like these more than my Revel M105's. (which have what I consider to be a fantastic tweeter) I also prefer these to several other similar and much, much more expensive speakers I have owned or still currently own.
I have used them quite a bit in a 14x13 room and a 23x15 room and they sound fantastic in both rooms, easily enough bass for me with most music (but not all) and really good for a 5" woofer. I wouldn't mind if they made a pair with a 6.5" though. (actually I have a set of the 580's waiting to be opened so hopefully soon)
In any case this review confirms objectively why I like them subjectively so much. They are just so good and really the highs have a magic that I know some here are not going to want to hear about. They may not be exciting in the typical sense but they have that special something for me.
I am definitely going to buy and test drive a set of the ELAC DBR-62's and see what is what from my side of things.
Thanks!!

I should note that I also still hear well up to and past 16,18k and am sensitive to rising responses here, so maybe this drop is nice for me.
 
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RayDunzl

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#12
In the horizontal graph, 0 is straight on, and numbers positive and negative are angles to the speaker. Imagine a string attached to the tweeter that you take to the left or right. Same for Vertical contour but in the Y dimension.
Oh, duh...

For some reason the +/- 60 degrees text on the right threw me this time, but I see it is referring to the "width" of the higher frequency dispersion.

1585612671351.png


Brain freezes whenever it sees theta, sigma, epsilon, etc. I just have to wonder why omega doesn't confuse me.
 

Trouble Maker

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#13
but not hearing the bass thumps in the rest of the house every few seconds for that long! You all need to make me rich enough to hire an intern to run these tests elsewhere!!!
The only thing I love doing more than spending my own money.... is spending others. ;)
My long term dream at my house, outside of eventually gutting and rebuilding everything inside of the house, is to build a bigger garage. Then at some point down the road build a really nice separate shop space for woodworking so that it's not in the same area as the cars. I think I would take a back corner of the yard and put something there; maybe a shipping container. It seems like a separate space would really up the AAF (amirm acceptance factor). However, outfitting such a space adequately for this kind of work is the hard and expensive part, especially if you are paying someone else to do it.

Other than that, as a test engineer, I can highly appreciate the number of test and reports you are pushing out here. I don't think I'm this efficient and they are paying me to do it! Thank you for all of the speaker testing!!
 

ROOSKIE

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#14
JBL continues to disappoint, IMHO.
Huh? these measure excellent for a small driver passive monitor, best so far under 6.5" here. These are excellent speakers in my subjective experience as someone who tries and buys loads of speakers.
I would buy a set and try them if I was you. Heck free returns from Harman. Easy peasy.
 

Chrispy

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#15
JBL continues to disappoint, IMHO.
In what way? These were the last series designed from Greg Timbers before being axed.....but these are just the surround speakers otoh :) They do have a new Studio 6 series available in Japan and a new HDI series....but the consumer stuff is pretty much gone overall now.
 
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#16
This older model does not use JBL's latest waveguides. JBL's Stage series is from 2019 and I'd be curious to see their spins. The Stage A120 sounds like a 305p with less bass (and potentially less hiss).
 

StevenEleven

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#17
In what way? These were the last series designed from Greg Timbers before being axed.....but these are just the surround speakers otoh :) They do have a new Studio 6 series available in Japan and a new HDI series....but the consumer stuff is pretty much gone overall now.
Hiss out of the mediocre actives, dull performance and power handling problems for $600 (list) out of the passives, published measurements that don’t seem to match with reality, QC problems, they talk a good game, but I’m not seeing it. I wouldn‘t trust the brand off the shelf after what I’ve seen here. :)

Now those Elac DBR62s. . .hmmmm. . .
 
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Trouble Maker

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#19
JBLs website is infuriating. I'm living in Japan, but am from the US so trying to access the JBL.com site so I can have a chance of reading and understanding it. Also, I can see what's available in the US when I return in 6 months. It recognizes I'm in Japan and ask me which one I'm really trying to access; .com or .jp. However, I CAN NOT click on the button for the US site. I've tried on Chrome, IE and Edge all with the same results. Thanks Obama.
 

Doodski

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#20
JBLs website is infuriating. I'm living in Japan, but am from the US so trying to access the JBL.com site so I can have a chance of reading and understanding it. Also, I can see what's available in the US when I return in 6 months. It recognizes I'm in Japan and ask me which one I'm really trying to access; .com or .jp. However, I CAN NOT click on the button for the US site. I've tried on Chrome, IE and Edge all with the same results. Thanks Obama.
Yes, I have the same issue at the JBL website and I am in Canada. The product offering in Canada is very lean and missing items that are apparently available at the USA website.
 
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