Designed from the ground up to deliver the “most accurate sonic presentation of any monitors in their class,” these compact monitors from JBL feature a new coaxial driver design with a contoured woofer cone that acts as a waveguide to enhance volume. Based on the patented waveguide found in JBL’s 3-Series, 7-Series and M2 Master Reference Monitors, it also provides what JBL calls a “wide sweet spot” and the smooth on- and off-axis response for which the latest generation of JBL studio monitors are known.
The 1 Series 104 monitors have a contoured low-frequency port that reportedly enables them to have the best low-frequency response in their class (down to 50 Hz). The rounded cabinets easily fit in small spaces, making these speakers well-suited to desktop recording. The master unit has all the I/O jacks and it connects to the extension cabinet with a pair of unshielded speaker wires (included). There’s a headphone jack on the front panel that automatically mutes the speakers when phones are plugged in, and another hip feature is a built-in universal power supply that accommodates worldwide voltages.
Tested with recorded tracks, MP3 music files and a Universal Audio OX Top Box that I often use for practicing because it’s a blast to play through, the 1 Series 104 monitors sounded excellent across the board, delivering nicely detailed highs and impressive low end for their size. They retain a very smooth response at all volume levels, so ear fatigue isn’t an issue even after extended listening. Having used larger monitors from M-Audio, Mackie, Focal and JBL, I wasn’t expecting as much from the 1 Series 104s, but I wound up very pleased with their performance. These mini monitors offer a lot of bang for the buck and are definitely worth checking into if your budget for recording gear is on a tight leash.
1 Series 104 Reference Monitors
PRICE $149 street
CONTROLS Master volume, power switch
I/O Aux input (1/8”), two RCA inputs, two 1/4” TRS inputs (for connecting to high-output gear), headphone jack
POWER 60 watts
KUDOS Great sound and very affordable