When you think of JBL, your mind probably goes where mine does: to large, cumbersome and decidedly full-range loudspeakers. And why not? JBL has forged their entire reputation on making party or large-venue speakers for years. So imagine my surprise when JBL got into the on-wall speaker business with the Studio L series and the L820 reviewed here. However, unlike other on-wall speakers, the L820 is surprisingly full-range and, like JBLs of old, still knows how to party.
At $650 per pair, the L820 costs a little more than your average run of the mill on-wall speaker, but acts more like a full range tower than any satellite subwoofer combo ever will. The L820 seems more full-range because it is based largely on its floor-standing siblings, the L890 and L880. The L820 features a single six-inch low-frequency driver mated to a four-inch midrange driver, a one-inch tweeter and a three-quarter-inch ultra-high-frequency driver. The bass and midrange drivers are made of PolyPlas, with the tweeter composed of pure titanium and the ultra-high-frequency driver made from Mylar. The L820 has a sealed enclosure design and a reported frequency response of 55Hz-40kHz and is rather efficient, with a 90dB rating into eight ohms. Because of its various drivers and wide bandwidth, the L820 is crossed over at 600Hz, 3.5kHz and 20kHz.
The L820 is rather attractive in its design, although a touch larger than usual. The cabinet can be had in three finishes: black ash, beach and cherry wood at no extra charge. The L820 is bi-wireable via its gold-plated binding posts and comes standard with all the necessary hardware and templates to mount it flush to a wall and/or corner.
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the JBL Studio L L820 loudspeaker against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for the Paradigm Cinema 330 and the Definitive Technology Mythos Two. You can also find more information available in our On-wall Speaker section and on our JBL brand page.
Continue to Page 2 for the high points and the low points of the L820.
• The L820, in a full five-speaker configuration, is among the most robust and cinematic sounding on-walls you're going to encounter this side of $5K. The uniform sound and spacious surround sound performance is to die for, especially with the latest uncompressed audio formats available on Blu-ray disc.
• In small to medium rooms, the L820 shouldn't need a subwoofer, providing more than adequate bass response for even the heaviest of head bangers.
•The L820's six-inch bass driver is robust, tight, easily controlled
and doesn't suffer from the same low-end bloat as its larger siblings.
• While there is a matching L series on-wall center channel speaker, the
L820 is more than adequate to handle center channel duties should you
not want to mix and match.
• When installed around a plasma or LCD panel, the visual presence of
the L820 is by no means hidden, but it is extremely impressive and
• Due to the L820's size and weight, be sure to mount it directly to
your wall's studs or utilize heavy-duty drywall anchors. The supplied
anchors, while good, are by no means strong enough for the L820.
• In bright or highly reflective rooms, the L820's upper frequencies can
become a bit lively. Mate with neutral components and/or some form of
digital EQ for best results.
• While very nicely finished with clean, slightly rounded lines, the
L820 isn't going to win any style or design awards when you consider the
competition these days, but it more than makes up for it with its
• Because of the placement of the binding posts, large-gauge speaker
wire is a tough fit for the L820, unless you're willing to route your
cable through your walls for a truly stealthy installation.
While there are numerous on-wall speakers ranging in price from
uber-cheap to outrageous, the JBL L820s sit in the marketplace with
their $650 asking price among stiff competition. While by no means the
prettiest or smallest, they are very good-sounding and more full-range
and home theater-friendly than most. In small to medium rooms/theaters,
five L820s are all you're going to need to enjoy the latest blockbusters
at home and, because they're from JBL, they're going to sound more like
your neighborhood theater than almost any speakers on the market today.
Put the L820s in a large room with a sub or two (JBL offers an L Series
subwoofer to match), crank the volume and you may be surprised by what
on-walls can do. The L820s are far from perfect, like most on-walls.
However, when it comes to sheer enjoyment, they're among the best for