With so many choices available it can be difficult to select an 8 inch studio monitor that is right for your needs. In this review, we check out the affordably priced JBL 308P MKII. An 8-inch monitor that has a lot going for it.
JBL 308P MKII
The latest generation of the popular 3 Series from JBL has some notable elements. Let’s see what it has to offer the budget-conscious producer.
The JBL 308P MKII is an impressive monitor. Let’s break down how it performs on a variety of fronts.
The first noticeable element of the JBL 308P MKII studio monitor is how clear and precise it is. At this price point there tend to be widely varying degrees of quality.
The low end is substantial with plenty of warmth without disrupting the neutral response. At higher volumes, there is a distinct punch. Smooth and consistent without any boominess.
Rear-ported monitors can suffer from low-end build-up but these still managed to perform well. You can resolve any excessive build-up via the tuning settings.
The mid-tones were equally impressive. Clean and positioned well. Blending from the lows to the mids is smooth and satisfying. Vocals and instruments present well with no loss of detail.
The high end is on the bright side but in no way tinny. Precise and clear. Cymbals and hi-hats hit cleanly representing the source material well.
The patented Image Control Waveguide does an excellent job of delivering a wide sweet spot. Precise placement is not always available in certain studio spaces. A wide sweet spot opens up the options available to you.
It’s an impressive monitor that punches well above its price point. Neutrality is consistent but a little imbalanced. The low-end is substantial but possibly a little too much. Likewise with the high end. Thankfully with a little bit of room treatment and adjustment to the tuning you can get these sounding near perfect.
JBL has hit an excellent level of quality with the 308P MKII. Taking the lessons learned from their flagship M2 range of monitors. They incorporate this more high-end technology into a more affordable package.
The JBL 308P MKII Image Control Waveguide provides a wide sweet spot.
The cabinet is also solid. The ABS baffle combined with the 15mm MDF cabinet offers plenty of structural integrity. Component quality is also high. JBL even places its monitors through rigorous testing to ensure consistent performance.
This is a monitor that will serve you well and is capable of handling long sessions.
The JBL 308P MKII offers an 8-inch woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. Dual Class D amps power the drivers. This ensures that each amp operates independently for each driver. At 56W per amp, there is plenty of power backing each driver.
The JBL 308P MKII is a large and capable studio monitor.
Rear-ported monitors often restrict your placement choices. But, the 308P MKII still works great when up against a wall.
It’s also a very loud monitor with a peak SPL of 112dB and 102dB continuous SPL. More than enough to fill a medium-sized studio. When combined with the broad sweet spot these monitors are also great for general listening.
JBL has taken a different direction with tuning compared to the previous Series 3 monitors.
You’ll have access to two primary tuning options. HF Trim and Boundary EQ.
HF trim offers -2dB, 0dB, and +2dB choices. This is great for cleaning up the top end if you find it to be too bright. But it can also boost the top end if you prefer a little more sharpness.
The JBL 308P MKII gives you good control over audio output.
Boundary EQ allows for -3db, -1.5db, and 0db settings. If you are experiencing a low-end build up these settings should be enough to mitigate the most pressing issues. Beyond that, you may need to address any room dynamics.
Primary volume control is also available at the rear of the unit. With distinct increments, it is easy to match volume levels if you have multiple monitors. This is something I wish all monitors offered. It can be difficult finding the precise volume level without defined increment feedback.
The first thing that sticks out with the JBL 308P MKII monitors is the high-gloss piano finish on the front panel. While the Image Control Waveguide does an excellent job it isn’t the prettiest thing to look at. The glossy reflective surface also attractive fingerprints. The rest of the unit is a matte black finish.
The JBL 308P MKII high gloss finish does attract fingerprints.
The JBL logo also includes an LED power light. Prominently placed in the center of the unit it is the only splash of color.
These are not the best-looking monitors I’ve ever seen but the exceptional performance more than makes up for it. At the end of the day, I’ll always take a better-sounding monitor over an overly flashy-looking monitor.
The JBL 308P MKII retains familiar dimensions. It is comparable to other 8-inch monitors. Do keep in mind 8-inch monitors are large. Ensure you have enough room to place these.
The JBL 308P MKII is similar in size to other 8-inch studio monitors.
At 17.87 lbs. (8.1kg) they are lighter compared to other 8-inch monitors. But, they don’t feel flimsy and offer great stability.
With the JBL 308P MKII, you’ll have access to an XLR connection point and a ¼-inch TRS point. I always recommend you use balanced connection where possible so the lack of RCA is not a real concern. But, for some people, this may be an issue. While not ideal there are several converter cables available if you need RCA inputs.
The JBL 308P MKII offers two balanced connection options.
The 308P MKII also offers input sensitivity with +4dBu and -10dBV. The first allows the monitor to handle professional equipment with high output capabilities. While the latter is best suited for consumer-grade gear.
The 308P MKII offers outstanding value for money. When you consider the excellent audio quality these are a bargain. For the price of a pair, you’ll likely only be able to pick up one 8-inch monitor from other popular brands.
It’s great to see JBL offer a great-sounding monitor at a reasonable price. New producers setting up a home studio already have a lot of pressure on their budgets. These are a perfect solution for those instances.
What Others Have To Say
Lots of happy customers for the JBL 308P MKII. Many praise the excellent audio quality and the attractive price point.
Do You Need A DAC?
Often when purchasing studio monitors the issue of DAC’s arises. A DAC or Digital to Analog Converter has one purpose. It converts a digital signal into a smooth and continuous analog signal.
This external device is often the central point of a studio workstation. Excellent monitors can sound horrible if running through a poor DAC on your PC. This where online reviews of studio monitors can be deceiving. You’ll often find that people plug their monitors into their PC and then complain about poor sound quality. Issues like unwanted noise and distortion come to the forefront. While there is a lot that goes into audio quality I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details here.
A DAC is not always needed but it’s always a good addition to your studio.
Most modern devices are quite capable and the need for a DAC will depend on how good your hardware is. If you do find that you are experiencing issues I’d recommend investing in a good DAC. But, there is no reason for you to pre-emptively buy one until you have established that you are experiencing issues.
There are some interesting alternatives available to the JBL 308P MKII studio monitors. Here is a selection worth considering.
Yamaha HS8 Review
Yamaha is another great studio monitor brand that you can trust. With an extensive history in the audio space, their HS range offers a good entry point for new producers.
- Excellent sound quality with no distortion.
- Ultra-flat response for accurate mixing and mastering.
- Works best with a subwoofer.
Focal Alpha 80 Review
Focal is a premium French-based brand with an excellent reputation. The Alpha range is their entry-level option but they are still quite expensive.
- Impressive sound quality at all volume levels.
- Defined tuning options to get the most out of your monitors.
- Substantially more expensive than the JBL 308P MKII
Focal Audio ALPHA 80
JBL 305P MKII Review
The JBL 308P MKII is a very large monitor. If you have a smaller studio space or don’t have much table space the 305P MKII is a great alternative.
- Offers excellent sound quality with a rich low-end.
- More compact design that is better suited to smaller spaces.
- Isn’t as neutral and accurate as other monitors.
JBL 305P MkII
Should You Buy?
The JBL 308P MKII is a fantastic studio monitor. While there are more refined options available the quality to price balance here is amazing. The wide sweet spot is also great. It allows you to experience the benefits of neutral sound in a near-field environment when producing. But it also lets you enjoy your monitors for day-to-day listening.
If you have the space for them they are a great entry point into the world of studio monitors.
JBL 308P MkII