JBL LSR305 vs Mackie MR524 which is a better choice?

There is a lot of debate on JBL LSR305 and Mackie MR524 studio monitors. Both of these are mid-range and mid-priced studio monitors that are preferred by many people. They are both versatile enough and can be put into a number of uses including casual listening and mixing at both higher and volumes. It is no surprise that both the JBL LSR305 and the Mackie MR524 are some of the best-selling studio monitors at this price range. How do they compare?  Which one should you opt for? Let’s have a look.

JBL LSR305

If you are looking for one of the best studio monitors at under $250, you won’t go wrong with the JBL LSR305. Costing roughly $230, you will get a top-line studio monitor with a super-accurate sound reproduction and great overall balance. The superior sound imaging in the LSR305 makes it a preferred choice for both casual listeners and professional mixers. It has a flat enough response that many sound engineers and music connoisseurs will appreciate. You can use them for your mixing needs but they can adequately combo as good speakers for your entertainment needs, especially when you partner it with a sub.

For this price range, you surprisingly get an impressive performance out of these studio monitors. The drawback is that they do not offer you wireless streaming. The setup is therefore different from that of your typical shelf speakers.

Here is the deal. You won’t get the clarity and flat response that you would typically derive from the top-end premium models such as the Yamaha HWS5 but the LSR305 gives you clearer lows and mids without the tinny quality in sound. The also sound very accurate. Whether for entertainment or mixing, you will appreciate the superior sound imaging that you get from these speakers.

The LSR305’s 3 Series Reference Monitors give you an impressive performance. The HF detail has also increased and delivers recordings with greater depth as well as ambiance. This allows you to hear even the subtlest details in the sound, a high level of audio performance that’s a joy to listen to. These studio monitors are also room-friendly and allow you to adjust your mixes accurately even when you aren’t directly in front of the reference monitors. The sweet spot is broader and you, therefore, get a larger working space that will work with different kinds of room acoustics.

The JBL LSR305 is a versatile powered studio monitor that will work for different kinds of uses including in sound editing, production, post-production and syncing. You can even put into more casual uses such as entertainment or podcasts. This is probably one of the best 80-watt near-field mixing monitors that you can get at this price point, with its specs and performance.

Pros

  • Affordable and good quality studio monitor with a flat response
  • Accurate sound imaging
  • Elegantly designed powered studio monitor
  • Broader sweet spot

Cons

  • The clarity isn’t as good as what you’d get in the higher end models.

Mackie MR524

Like the JBL LSR305, the Mackie MR524 is a good quality and fairly affordable studio monitor with excellent specs and performance. It has excellent clarity and a professional performance. The translation is excellent so you will get very accurate mixes with a flat response.

Mackie is a top brand name in studio monitors so the quality here is superb. The MR524 is professionally tuned for superb translations so you will get faithful mixes out of this. You can use the Mackie MR524 with different kinds of audio content such as rock music, hip hop music, and even in dialogue-type content.

The Mackie MR524 has a logarithmic waveguide feature along with a broader sweet spot. The studio imaging is much more improved. The MR524 is also designed with Acoustic Space controls with which you can customize the monitor for optimal performance in the room you are operating in.

Pros

  • Faithful audio reproduction will give you the best mix translation
  • With its logarithmic waveguide design, you get a high-end quality and detailed vocal clarity.
  • Its 5” woofer give you a dynamic frequency response

Cons

  • Get a maximum of 65 watts from Class A/B bi-amps

Design Comparison

The quality of materials used in both the JBL LSR305 and the Mackie MR524 is comparable. They both look well made, elegant and with a premium feel and touch to them. Even though they are made of plastic, the finishes relatively ok. Both the LSR305 and the MR524 look good enough that they’ll add a little flair to your studio.

The JBL LSR305 features glossy circles around its drivers, which, together with their jet-black plastic lines, gives these studio monitors a premium feel. From a casual look, they definitely don’t look like $200 studio monitors.

You don’t get as many controls as you would have in premium studio monitors but the LSR305 still has a good amount of controls as well as control points so you get reasonable functionality out of these. They aren’t too simplistic and bare bones and at the same time, they aren’t overly complicated. You therefore get an affordable but easy-to-use studio monitor that any serious audiophile would be satisfied with.

The LSR305 also has trim controls to cater for both its high and low frequency ranges. There is a granular level of audio control with these studio monitors. You will even get individual potentiometers that have fixed adjustment points which you can use to adjust the monitors’ output levels. Overall, the JBL LSR305 is an excellent fit.

Still, we think the Mackie MR524 has a slight edge in the look and feel department. The Mackie monitor has a matte finished front panel that gives it that classy touch. Its edges are also more rounded and overall, it looks better than the LSR305 monitor. Its design is also a lot more practical. It has an LED that isn’t overly flashy and adds to its classy finish. Besides, the matte-finished Mackie MR524 is more practical as it conceals the scratches more effectively than the shinier LSR305. You will also notice that the squared edges of the LSR305 looks cheaper than the more rounded edges of the Mackie studio monitors.

However, the JBL LSR305, gives you better functionality in its controls than the Mackie MR534. The Mackie monitor doesn’t disappoint thanks its bearable internal hiss while JBL monitor has a somewhat annoying hissing sound. In the Mackie, the hiss is a lot more subdued and gentler but you can still hear it in quieter rooms.

Sound Performance Comparison

You won’t be disappointed by the JBL LSR305 in the sound performance department. They produce an accurate and crystal-clear sound with a relatively flat response. They are designed with JBL’s patented Image Control Waveguide technology which generates a bigger audio image that you can relish in from virtually any listening position in the room. You will get impressive sound rendering across the soundstage. The ICW technology in the LSR305 delivers a superb deep sound image that sounds almost 3D. Every sound has impressive clarity and the origin is clearly identifiable across the soundstage. It gives you the kind of sound quality that you’d get in the higher end speakers.

However, you won’t get as much punch from the Mackie MR524 in the mid-range, particularly for some musical genres.

The JBL LSR305 studio monitors belt out a good bass. You won’t believe all that bass is coming from these small 5” 82-watt speakers. The bass will get a little flatter with higher-end rendering so you may not get the best sound image with some musical instruments.

The Mackie MR524, on the other hand, has a smoother and more detailed sound profile, especially in the frequency range of 2.6Khz to 4KHz. The highs in this studio monitor are super crisp while its lows sound fuller. The overall sound profile from these studio monitors is perfectly balanced. At the end of the day, these are only 65-watt speakers and they won’t give you the kind of thumping bass that you’d get with other more powerful studio monitors. However, the M524 is still good enough that it doesn’t produce any residual noise that you would expect in a lower-end monitor such as this one.

The frequency response in the Mackie MR524 is also more even. The resonance is not noticeable and they belt out an energetic volume. The MR524 also features controls with which you can adjust its woofer or tweeter gains. Unlike in the JBL LSR305, the Mackie has a subdued hiss emanating from its internals, which is surprisingly good for a studio monitor of this size.

Pros and Cons

Overall, the JBL LSR305 speaker has an impressive sound with good clarity. The sound is richly detailed and at the right volumes, has a nice presence. It gives a bass good enough that you may not necessarily need a subwoofer for it. For a speaker of its size and price, it has a fairly good number of controls. It belts a solid 82 watts compared to the 65-watt MR524 studio monitor. On the flipside, the LSR305 has a somewhat cheaper-looking design with its shiny plastic and sharp edges.

The LSR305 gives you a good deal of versatility. You can interface it in countless ways even without preamplifiers. They sound equally good even when you connect them to a headphone output for laptops.

The Mackie MR524, with its matte finish and rounded edges, is easier on the eye. It also features a room-friendly sweet spot. This is the kind of studio monitor that will add a touch of style and flair to any room. On the flipside, it is only a 5” 65-watt speakers and will not belt out as good a bass as the LSR305.

Overall, both of these studio monitors are accessible and you are not compromising too much on the performance by going for any of these two.

The Verdict

If you are looking for a good sound image, great power and flat response at a price point of under $250, you won’t go wrong with the LSR305.

The sleeker and matte-finished Mackie MR524 might give you only 65 watts but the sound is of impeccable clarity, great accuracy and superior quality translation with a flat response. Its logarithmic waveguide design assures you of top-notch performance.

Conclusion

Both of these studio monitors deliver good sound performance. The LSR305 gives you more bass but the Mackie studio monitor is stylishly designed and with excellent mix translations as well as accuracy. The Mackie MR524 monitor costs you roughly $165 while the LSR305 costs $230.

For professional-grade performance inside a mid-range and mid-priced studio monitor, you won’t go wrong with any of these. Both of these monitors compare well but there are nuanced differences that might appeal to some buyers such as the design, finishes, room acoustic adjustments, the breadth of the sweet spot and even the logarithmic waveguide features.

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