JBL L820 2.1 Speakers
- Great sound definition
- Poor bass, Big Sub
A decent 2.1 setup that has a few problems that stop it from achieving a higher rating.
Price$ 2,798.00 (AUD)
In the home theatre arena, JBL aren't exactly well known. One of a host of smaller home entertainment companies, they produce a small lineup of quite impressive products. We recently looked at the L280 2.1 speaker setup, and whilst the quality didn't absolutely blow us away, we were surprised that it performed this well.
This system is just a basic 2.1 setup; a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. There is no amplifier or receiver, and no DVD player, so it is the kind of system you add to an existing home entertainment setup when you don't feel the need for a full surround sound system. Whilst we prefer a proper home theatre experience, for basic movie watching and particularly music listening, JBL have created a solid product.
With a system like this, sound quality is the overriding factor. Whilst home theatre systems have positional audio, format support, connectivity and a host of other features to worry about, a speaker system is merely judged on the merits of its audio. The JBL system offers a mixed bag in this regard. Music has plenty of punch, with powerful and in your face highs and a subwoofer that can knock you out of your chair. The mid range felt a little recessed, with some vocals giving way to instrumental passages, but the quality was excellent. We particularly loved the definition and resolution of individual sounds. Everything was clearly separated and well spread out across the soundstage.
Our big complaint was that the bass felt very hollow. It was really a case of all or nothing. With the subwoofer turned up, there was a massive wall of bass that pulsated through the room, but it was more a physical feeling than a musical sound. The bass itself was of poor quality, and whilst some people will be impressed by how strongly the subwoofer hurls it around the room, if you look beyond that you will probably come up unsatisfied.
Design-wise the system is a similarly mixed bag. As a package it looks very svelte, with two large, dark wooden speakers and an absolutely massive subwoofer in a similar motif. Whilst not sporting the space-age look of many current systems, it has an earthy, natural style that will fit in most lounge rooms. The problem we have is that generally when people buy a 2.1 system space constraints are a big concern. The subwoofer that accompanies this unit is gigantic. We could set up our office inside, and still have space to walk a small marching band through it. For some this won't be a concern, but the size of subwoofers just seems to keep growing, and we have to ask, what is the point?
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