It’s safe to say that there is no doubt that a studio monitor is one of the most important elements of a studio setup. In some people’s books, it is outrightly the most important item. Irrespective of the sophistication of other studio elements, you might find success hard to come by without a quality studio monitor. Essentially, if you don’t have a means of accurately hearing your mixes, you have no business with sound production.
The market is saturated with various brands of studio monitors, and you may find it hard sifting through all of them. With this in mind, we bring you this comparison of two monitors from two of the biggest names in the speaker industry – Yamaha and JBL. In this article, we analyze the Yamaha HS8 studio monitor and the JBL 308 studio monitor to find out how they compare to each other and what they are best at.
Yamaha HS8 at a glance The HS series is the latest in Yamaha’s long line of studio monitors. For nostalgic people like me, the defunct Yamaha NS10 holds a special place in our hearts, and the HS8 looks like a rebirth of the defunct powerhouse. Does the HS8 live up to that hype? We cant wait to find out.
JBL 308 at a glance The JBL 308 is JBL’s budget-friendly option in the studio monitor category. It has a sleek and modern design and features a patented slip-stream low-frequency port for enhanced bass performance.
Finally, it’s time for the two studio monitors to go toe to toe. In the sections that follow, we’ll present an objective analysis of each monitor and how it compares to the other one.
Appearance and dimensions
As indicated earlier, the Yamaha HS8 takes after the Yamaha NS10 in terms of appearance, and you can expect to get a classic-looking speaker with an 8-inch cone woofer and a one-inch dome tweeter. I should point out that here that there are two color options available – a plain matte black design and a white design. While many prefer the all-black variant, the white option is a breath of fresh air. The Yamaha logo inscribed under the woofer is hard to miss.
On the other hand, the JBL 308 comes in black color, but it is not in any way boring. Like the Yamaha HS8, it has an 8-inch woofer and a one-inch tweeter. One hard-to-miss feature of the JBL 308 is the waveguide around the tweeter. JBL replicated the waveguide design of the JBL M2 system. However, they use a small button magnet soft dome tweeter in place of a compression driver. The enclosure is made of 15mm MDF finished with a matte black finish. The baffle is made of injection-molded structural ABS. JBL’s logo is inscribed in-between the tweeter and woofer.
In terms of dimensions, the two studio monitors are quite similar, with the JBL 308 measuring 16.5 x 10 x 12.1 inches, while the Yamaha HS8 measures 13.1 x 9.8 x 15.4 inches. The two monitors are rear-ported and have their input ports at the back as well. Overall, the two studio monitors have a striking appearance, and one will surely be tempted to opt for the JBL 308 because of its eye-catching glossy finish. However, the Yamaha HS8 nicks this category not only because of its similarity with the Yamaha NS10 but also because of the mounting points (found on the HS8I) that give users a variety of mounting options as well option to choose between two color variants.
Yamaha HS8 wins.
Connectivity and control
The two monitors have their connection ports at the back. You’ll surely find a lot to tweak there. The Yamaha HS8, like other HS models, has dual response controls that allow users to enjoy optimal sound output as the speaker adjusts to the surface acoustics of rooms irrespective of the size or shape. Exaggerated low-end is a problem producers face when speakers are positioned next to walls; the HS8’s room control option allows you to reduce this. The high trim control gives users more control of the high-frequency response. The input options available on the HS8 mean you can plug in different unbalanced and balanced sources to the unit via the 1/4-inch TRS and XLR balanced jacks.
The JBL 308 is not quite far behind on the control and connectivity front. Like the Yamaha HS8, the unit has 1/4-inch TRS and XLR balanced input options.
Also, you get a three-position trim switch that enables users to adjust high-frequency sounds to their preferences. This switch is especially useful when trying out the sound in a new studio setting. You no longer have to endure unpleasant high-frequency output. This time, there is no low-frequency switch. Instead, JBL introduced the boundary EQ. The boundary EQ has three settings – -3dB, -1.5dB and 0dB settings. This control option is a low-shelving filter that reduces unnecessary low-end exaggerations when the speakers are near a wall.
After assessing the connectivity and control options the two studio monitors offer, it is safe to conclude that they are evenly matched. Both speakers share the spoil.
The Yamaha HS8 has 120 watts of total output. As a result of the advanced bi-amp hardware, the tweeter enjoys 45 watts of power, while the woofer enjoys 75 watts of power. Conversely, the JBL 308 has a total output of 112 watts, equally shared between the low-frequency driver and the high-frequency driver. It is important to note that the JBL 308 uses a class D amplifier for the two drivers. On the basis of raw power, the Yamaha HS8 wins this category.
In this section, we’ll assess how the two products compare in terms of their output to have a better understanding of what each one is good at.
First, we consider the monitors’ frequency range. A quick refresher for those wondering what this metric is all about. A speaker’s frequency range refers to the span of frequencies a studio monitor can reproduce. It is different from the frequency response, which is an indicator of how loud the frequency will be played in relation to a baseline reference. The JBL 308 has a frequency range of 37Hz – 24kHz, while the Yamaha HS8 has a frequency range of 38Hz – 30kHz. These figures indicate that the JBL 308 goes a bit lower than the Yamaha HS8. However, the Yamaha HS8 has a higher peak frequency than its counterpart.
Remember the waveguide we briefly discussed above? Well, it isn’t just an aesthetic gimmick; it has a functional use. The waveguide found on the JBL 308 enables the sound integration between the woofer and the tweeter. It aids a smooth transition between the drivers to deliver greater ambiance and depth to your recordings. In addition, the linear spatial reference design of the JBL 308 guarantees better sonic accuracy in different room settings.
The Yamaha HS8 also has a thick waveguide that minimizes the tweeter’s vibration to ensure that it delivers a distortion-free high-end up to 30 kHz. You can trust the Yamaha HS8 to deliver crisp, noise-free sound with its state-of-the-art noise reduction technology. Yamaha has created an ideal port design that reduces audible noise up to 6dB. The noise reduction feature means this studio monitor can easily meet the demands of professional music production. Also, the HS8’s MDF enclosure increases the accuracy of the sound produced and eliminates unwanted resonance.
Before giving the verdict, the first thing to note is that the two monitors are quality products that will enhance your listening and sound mixing experience. That said, the Yamaha HS8 comes out tops after our assessments of various variables. It packs more raw power than the JBL 308 and has a game-changing noise reduction feature that proves quite useful for professional music production. It has well-defined lows, and the bass response goes all the way to 38 Hz. You can trust the monitor to deliver accurate sound, and it doesn’t really need an amplifier because the sound output is crisp and clear. The JBL 308 is no pushover; it is the more affordable of the two and offers sound quality well above its price. It’s hard to find an 8-inch monitor that offers better value at the same price.
We hope the article has painted a clearer picture of the two monitors’ ability and you can now confidently choose between them.