JBL L52 Review: Super Fun, Nostalgic Speakers!
Maybe you want a pair of speakers, but you don’t have a lot of space at home. Well, these bookshelf speakers might not be the smallest you can get, but they really do pump out sound that’s much better than their US$1,000 or S$1,500 price tag suggests.
We have the JBL L52 speakers with us today, and they’re the entry-level model of JBL’s Classic series, but don’t let that fool you. These are excellent speakers, and the best part? They look super nostalgic.
So let’s talk design. They’re relatively small at 33 by 20 by 22cm, but they are rather hefty at 5KG each. The speakers come with a walnut veneer cover and they look very nice and old-school, especially when you keep the Quadrex foam grilles on. We have the blue foam option, which I really like. It certainly adds an energetic, colourful pop to a room.
The grilles can be removed pretty easily; they’re snapped into place with four knobs on each corner and you can use the speakers with or without the foam, although we mostly just kept it on. The frame of the grilles come in a matching wood to the cabinet's, so that’s very nice.
This is a two-way speaker, with a 20mm titanium dome tweeter and a 13cm paper pulp woofer. The bass port is also front-firing, which means you can put these on shelves and not have to worry too much about whether they’re too close to the wall.
We have these paired with the JBL SA 750 amplifier, and you’ll certainly want to make sure you pair the speakers with amplifiers that have a bit more power, because these have an 85dB sensitivity and 4-ohm impedance.
I know a lot of people are divided on whether audio equipment actually needs burn-in or break-in, whatever you want to call it, but I’ll say I typically lean towards believing that the sound of audio equipment does change slightly after a long period of use. And for these, I do feel that the speakers do sort of settle in and open up a bit more after a while. It’s not a massive change, nothing that would make you feel like you’re listening to a brand-new speaker or whatever. These still sound excellent out of the box, but if you’re a believer in burn-in, well, you’ll most likely be able to hear a very slight change.
JBL L52 Sound Quality
But let’s talk sound. They’re surprisingly powerful for the size, with a clean, detailed sound. The bass is well-controlled but punchy and impactful. It might not get as deep as other speakers, or systems with a sub, but it definitely performs better than expected here.
The mids are also fun with plenty of detail for guitars and the like. Vocals are distinct and forward, with emotion and energy.
The treble is good as well, but you will notice a slight difference depending on if the grilles are kept on or off. There’s no sharpness or harshness, but with the grille on, there is a very, very subtle tamper of the highs. Honestly, it doesn’t affect the sound all that much and most people would never really notice it.
If you’re looking at a pair of really accurate, analytical speakers, these aren’t for you. These are a fun pair of speakers, perfect for casual listening. If you’re looking to really pick out every nuance and detail in a song, it’s not quite possible. The soundstage is wide and nice, certainly, but sometimes, I find myself straining to try and pick out the more subtle details in a song. I really enjoyed these most when I was just sitting back and relaxing, which I think, is perfectly fine. If I really wanted to sit down and analyse my music, I’d probably be looking at another pair of speakers. For just casual listening though, these are perfect.