Having spent a good deal of time recently with the KEF wireless range, including the LS50 Wireless IIs which are amazing for the money, I thought it would be good to have a look at what the competitors are up to.
Here we present the JBL 4305Ps, the first active loudspeaker in JBL's Studio Monitor range. The drive unit configuration is made up of JBL's 2410-H2 1 inch compression driver paired with a very recognisable "High-Definition Imaging™ horn", the flared horn being very distinctive to JBL's speaker design. This paired with a 5.25 fibre composite woofer and dual bass ports completes the driver configuration.
The speakers themselves are not short of inputs, featuring optical in, line in on minijack, USB in and, for added flexibility, a combination XLR 1/4 jack connection with switchable input sensitivity for balanced and unbalanced inputs. This is all combined with the line out for an active sub, along with both ethernet in and ethernet out if you want to wire the two speakers together for better stability and higher definition (more on this later).
The speakers were dead easy to set up on my iPad: setting them up as a new AirPlay device, they were on my network within 30 seconds and then switching to Qobuz they were playing music in moments. They are also easy to set up on Google Home and have Chromecast built in. Just for an added extra they are Roon ready, so you can even use MQA through Roon. The only thing I can see that's missing is an HDMI input for ARC.
The 4305Ps which I have here are a demo unit so have some hours on them already, but I can fairly quickly tell that they are a capable active speaker. I haven't listened to a pair of JBLs in a little while and they have a signature about them that's very well JBL. They have a big wide image from the compression driver and they can certainly move some air; they are not struggling to fill our demo room in, anyway. They bring with them a good foot-tapping tempo in the bass department.
Streaming The Darkness's 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love', I'm really enjoying the way these speakers rock along. The image is very big and spacious, and whilst the detail is good they are not getting aggressive at the top, even when played loudly.
Trying the exceptionally well-produced Steely Dan's 'Cousin Dupree' streaming in 96/24, the JBLs clearly do like a bit of room to breathe but once they are a little off the wall, they have me sitting here bobbing along to the bass line of the track and enjoying the little detailed bits of guitar work.
Finally, trying something different with Norah Jones, I compare the speakers running on WiFi vs wired with their digital link cable (supplied). Exactly the same as the KEFs which I have spent a good deal of time with recently, this means the speakers are now talking to each other at 192kHz rather than 96kHz, and the difference as expected is fairly substantial: detail is better and bass weight seems to gain another level, like someone revealed another 20Hz you didn't know was there before. The only drawback to this is, of course, a wire between the two speakers making them not all that wireless. It's not at all that they didn't sound really good before, but if you can put up with this linking wire it certainly pays benefits to do so.
Overall I think these JBL 4035Ps hit a nice spot vacated by the KEFs. At £1999, I think the build quality is good, although not all that exciting to look at, and it's fairly obvious they have put the money into the drive units, the amplification and flexibility. This shows in the fact that these speakers very easily bring a smile to my face and they certainly do like to rock. I can see them being used in lots of different circumstances and you can tell they have pro and studio heritage in the way they go about presenting music.
The fact that I'm still looking for other bits of music to play on them whilst trying to write is a testament to how much I'm enjoying listening to them!
If you would like to come and hear the JBL 4305Ps at our Lincolnshire showroom, then please come and pay us a visit in the new year. If you want to email us on email@example.com or call me on 01507499047 and I will be happy to chat to you about them.
Season's best to all.
John | General Manager