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JBL Studio 590 Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 17 5.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 87 30.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 151 52.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 35 12.1%

  • Total voters
    290

amirm

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This is a review, listening test and detailed measurements of the JBL Studio 590. I bought a pair last year on sale for US $800 but costs $999.95 each currently.
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker review.jpg

This is a hefty speaker that even comes with (vibration absorbing) outriggers. I should definitely file for hazard pay for lifting it 5 feet on the platform to measure it with Klippel NFS and then dragging it to our living room to listen to! :) I have taken off the grill which unfortunately has plastic tabs rather than being magnetic. I don't have a picture of the backside but there are two oversized ports there.

Here are the company specs:

General Specifications​

Type2-1/2-way dual-woofer, floorstanding
Finish Black

Audio Specifications​

Nominal Impedance 6 ohms
Crossover Frequencies1.5kHz
Sensitivity(2.83V@1m) 92dB
Frequency Response 35Hz-40kHz

Dimensions​

Width (in)12-11/16
Weight (lb) 69.5
Width (mm) 322
Depth (in) 16-1/4
Weight (kg)31.5
Depth (mm) 413
Height (mm) 1263
Height (in) 49-3/4

NOTE: our company, Madrona Digital, carries Harman products (parent of JBL) in custom system integration for residential and commercial applications. We don't have access to this consumer line but even if we did, it is not something we sell. But go ahead and read any level of bias you like in my subjective assessments.

JBL Studio 590 Tower Speaker Measurements
I measured the speaker as you see above without its grill. Acoustic center is the tweeter (although near-field id drops to just above the top woofer). Let's look at its anechoic frequency responses:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker anechoic frequency responsel Measurement.png

Depending how good your glasses are, you will walk away with a different view. Pull back, the response is more or less flat on axis is what we want. Zoom in though and the are a lot of fine variations which we tend to see in 2.5 way speakers as so many elements play together. Sensitivity depends on how you average the graph. I say it is closer to 90 dB than advertised 92 dB.

EDIT: it was pointed out that the there is a dummy panel you are supposed to put in place of the grill on the bottom of the tweeter waveguide. I had not done that so I remeasured the speaker again, this time with the full grill on:

JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker anechoic frequency responsel with or wi...png


As we see there is no difference. This is due to the tweeter not being covered in either case. And the dummy panel won't be doing much due to asymmetry only having a minor effect at very high frequencies.

Directivity is good resulting in rather predictable early reflections:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker anechoic early reflections frequency re...png


Combining the two, we see a pretty reasonable predicted in-room frequency response:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker Predicted In-room frequency responsel M...png


Here is our near-field driver and port measurements:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker near-field frequency responsel Measurem...png


There is a lot going on here with a lot of resonances. In some sense designers did a good job of keeping this wilder party under control.


Looking at the horizontal axis, we again see good beam width and directivity control:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker horizontal beamwidth Measurement.png

JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker horizontal directivity Measurement.png


Vertically it is less optimal as many speakers are so stay at tweeter axis:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker vertical directivity Measurement.png


Dual drivers translates into very low bass distortion but alas, there are some issues up higher:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker 86 dB relative distortion thd Measurement.png


We can ignore the narrow resonance but I am worried about that distortion around 1 to 3 kHz. So I pulled up the distortion for individual drivers and it seems both tweeter and woofers are contributing to it:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker tweeter and woofer distortion Measurement.png


Absolute distortion level is less informative but it shows similar good and bad news:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker distortion thd Measurement.png


Impedance at 5 ohm while less than company spec, is still a full ohm higher and hence easier to drive than many speakers:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker Impedance and Phase Measurement.png


Waterfall shows a ton of resonances:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker CSD Waterfall Measurement.png

Finally here is the step response:
JBL Studio 590 Tower Home Theater Stereo Music Speaker Step Response Measurement.png


JBL Studio 590 Listening Tests
As soon as I started to play music, I had to step and take notice as if there was a voice saying, "hey bud, I am a big boy speaker!" I have talked in the past about how tower speakers project an image that is impressively large and not replicable with smaller bookshelf speakers. They do this by being tall but also with playing deep with authority. Such was the case with the 590 which handled my tracks with sub-bass (I call them speaker killers) with no discernable distortion. The level was a bit low but that was it.

Seeing the elevated treble in on-axis response I expected the speaker to be bit bright. Whether it was due to my ears being somewhat plugged due to allergies, existence of deep bass or both, I did not detect any sign of it being bright. It seemed balanced. It is more difficult for me to assess speakers in our living room but I thought the midrange and highs were unimpressive. Not bad. Or anything I could put my finger on. I just didn't enjoy all of my tracks as I do with very performant speakers. Again, keep all the caveats in mind as you read my subjective impressions.

I thought about applying EQ but I didn't know what and how much. Speaker wasn't bright so made no sense to shelve the highs down. And the variations in frequency response were so fine as to be silly to apply filters to it. If I were less lazy, I would create some narrow filters to counteract the resonances to see if it improves clarity.

Conclusions
There are two different speakers to analyze here: one that costs only $400 each as I bought it vs normal cost of $1,000. At $400, they are incredibly good. They are powerful, with even tonality and bass response that blows away any bookshelf speaker you would buy for $400. At $1000 each, I think there is some pause due to design issues here and there from many resonances to distortion. It would have been great to have perfect execution for $400 each but there is a reason the Revel line exists. Finer execution exists and naturally will cost you.

I like to remind you again of the joy of having a tower speaker. They take up no more space than a bookshelf and are far more stable than that on a stand. Meanwhile they are more sensitive and routinely player lower which is very important for music enjoyment.

I am going to put the JBL Studio 590 on my recommended list when on sale.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

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Attachments

  • JBL Studio 590 Frequency Response.zip
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TonyJZX

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i kind of wonder how big Amir's house slash storage facility is given these are big speakers and its probably not a big deal for many to spend $800 on a set but they will sit around for a while until there is time to test them.

But yes $1,000 a pair is fine

$2,000 a set is kind of getting into very tough competiton.

but to overseas customers these will get very very expensive

to many of us this will be as good as it gets... i have doubts i would hanker for salon 2s if you had a set of these day to day
 
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amirm

amirm

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i kind of wonder how big Amir's house slash storage facility is given these are big speakers and its probably not a big deal for many to spend $800 on a set but they will sit around for a while until there is time to test them.
I have been cursing them ever since they arrived which is almost a year ago! They have been taking huge amount of space in the garage and I love to dispense with them. If anyone local wants them, please message me.
 

pierre

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The speaker does not have major flaw so I was wondering what the automatic equalizer would propose. Looking at the spin,
I would have expected the speaker to be bright but Amir is telling that no.

Tonality score is 3.4 and 5.1 with a perfect subwoofer.
Tonality score is 4.4 and 6.0 with a perfect subwoofer and an EQ flattening the LW.
Tonality score is 5.4 and 6.9 with a perfect subwoofer and an EQ flattening the PIR.

First let's flatten the LW and see what happens: we get some marginal improvements the histograms shows small improvements on all 3 curves (ON, LW and PIR).
Score goes up to 4.4 (resp. 6.0).
filters_eq.jpg




Code:
EQ for JBL Studio 590 computed from ASR data
Preference Score 3.36 with EQ 4.38
Generated from http://github.com/pierreaubert/spinorama/generate_peqs.py v0.24
Dated: 2023-08-19-07:47:38

Preamp: -1.9 dB

Filter  1: ON PK Fc    76 Hz Gain -2.49 dB Q 2.13
Filter  2: ON PK Fc   107 Hz Gain +1.66 dB Q 0.25
Filter  3: ON PK Fc   359 Hz Gain -1.15 dB Q 1.58
Filter  4: ON PK Fc   832 Hz Gain +1.20 dB Q 2.94
Filter  5: ON PK Fc  2114 Hz Gain +1.95 dB Q 2.69
Filter  6: ON PK Fc  3267 Hz Gain -0.72 dB Q 2.38
Filter  7: ON PK Fc  8831 Hz Gain -0.80 dB Q 2.06

Now if we try to improve the score (aka flattening the PIR instead of the LW):
Score goes up to 5.4 (6.9 with a subwoofer). As very often the case, optimising the PIR to flat degrades the
ON above 2kHz since the directivity is not perfect.

filters_eq.png


Code:
EQ for JBL Studio 590 computed from ASR data
Preference Score 3.36 with EQ 5.37
Generated from http://github.com/pierreaubert/spinorama/generate_peqs.py v0.24
Dated: 2023-08-19-07:52:53

Preamp: -2.2 dB

Filter  1: ON PK Fc    76 Hz Gain +0.63 dB Q 0.26
Filter  2: ON PK Fc   255 Hz Gain +1.82 dB Q 1.68
Filter  3: ON PK Fc   338 Hz Gain -1.49 dB Q 2.58
Filter  4: ON PK Fc   858 Hz Gain +2.20 dB Q 2.15
Filter  5: ON PK Fc  2050 Hz Gain +1.85 dB Q 2.90
Filter  6: ON PK Fc  6676 Hz Gain +1.66 dB Q 2.31
Filter  7: ON PK Fc 10000 Hz Gain -2.92 dB Q 0.33

You can compare the 2 EQs side by side:
eq_compare.png

The spider graph shows the nice improvement in PIR flatness.

spider.jpg
 
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TonyJZX

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for some reason i cant quite work out there's a scanned test from Aust Hi-fi mag linked off ASR but I cant seem to work out which thread it as

BUT... its from a decade ago and the price was $2,500 aud



graphs galore so not the usual WAT hifi nonsense
 

Puddingbuks

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Nice design with that big horn at this price range. Would’ve expected much lower distortion, especially at the 2k mark.
 

beefkabob

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Not bad at all for the price and if you want floorstanders and if you don't wanna blow the roof off with volume.
 

192kbps

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Oh my god, finally someone sent this speaker for testing. I'm curious if Infinity Reference R263 is better?
 

Beave

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Very interesting review. These were/are hugely popular on other forums at their sale pricing.

Compare/contrast these results with Amir's earlier review of the bookshelf version, the Studio 530:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/jbl-studio-530-speaker-review.12298/

The tower has about 5dB higher sensitivity, plus more midbass output. Both have fairly neutral responses but with lots of smaller ragged variations. Both have some distortion issues from the tweeter, including a narrow spike for each in the higher treble.
 
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amirm

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Both have some distortion issues from the tweeter, including a narrow spike for each in the higher treble.
Good find. Seems to be characteristics of the drivers then than the cabinet.
 

voodooless

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Good find. Seems to be characteristics of the drivers then than the cabinet.
Oh, it’s much worse than only these two:












… I didn’t bother looking further back, but these are about 80% of JBL speakers tested in that timeframe…

All have issues with lower tweeter frequencies, some worse than others. This is the first thing I check whenever I see a new JBL review, and I’m rarely positively surprised regarding this aspect.
 

tktran303

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My view is that these high sensitivity speakers give great dynamic range. And to get high sensitivity you need a bigger box. (Hoffman’s iron law)

So 2.83V hits 90dB. A 100W amplifier will allow it to hit a cracking 110+dB dynamically; and a pair gets very close to live levels.

On the downside to get higher sensitivity the cones/suspension systems have to be light; and with little damping of these lightweight paper/fibre/cellulose cones there are all those little resonances. These are very difficult if not impractical to EQ out with finely tuned PEQ.
 
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F1308

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I cannot accept the performance-price approval door.

If it is 400, they are good, even recommended.
If it is 1000, they are bad.

If you steal anything, anything is great ?

If it is a present, must be good ?

Unbelievable, unacceptable.
 
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amirm

amirm

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If it is 400, they are good, even recommended.
If it is 1000, they are bad.
They are not bad at $1000. Just that they have more competition at higher prices. A dent in a $1000 used car is fine. It is not fine in a $50,000 car.
 

F1308

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They are not bad at $1000. Just that they have more competition at higher prices. A dent in a $1000 used car is fine. It is not fine in a $50,000 car.
Sadly, you insist, but cannot be so.

Place any tested device into a group, be it amplifier, dac, server, whatever, and say specifications it is to deliver to say bad, poor, fair, good, excellent. Then see if you can afford it anytime or at a sale if interested.

I am looking for performance, money is another
issue.

Or I don't need to read anymore as all my electronics are presents from my friends and family. Lowest price ever. Great performance ?
Great performance/price ?

A smartphone delivering 0.1 volts is great because it was a present..?
 
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