JBL is one of those brands that needs zero introduction, for it seems that since there have been loudspeakers, there's been JBL. The JBL L890, reviewed here, is just another chapter in the brand's already storied history. The L890 is the largest floor-standing speaker in the L Series line of loudspeakers and retails for roughly $500 each.
The L890 is a four-way, full-range loudspeaker, featuring two eight-inch low-frequency transducers, mated to a four-inch midrange transducer, a one-inch high-frequency transducer and a three-quarter-inch ultra-high-frequency driver. The bass and midrange drivers are both PolyPlas cones, while the L890's tweeter has a pure titanium dome and a high-frequency driver made of Mylar. The L890 has a nominal impedance of eight ohms, with a 91dB sensitivity. The L890 has a reported frequency response of 28Hz-40kHz via its front-ported design and is crossed over at 700Hz, 5kHz and 20kHz between its various drivers.
Beyond the L890's performance figures and composition, it is one of the more attractive speakers JBL has made in a long while. It is tall and slender, which minimizes its visual footprint, yet is rather deep and very solidly built. A rap on the side of the cabinet reveals a surprisingly "dead" thud for such an affordable loudspeaker. The L890 is bi-wireable and features very robust and rather upscale five-way binding posts. The L890 is available in black ash, beach or cherry wood finish, all of which look spectacular and, along with the cast aluminum feet, really class up the L890.
Competition and Comparison
To compare the JBL Studio L Series L890 against the competition, read our reviews of Revel's Concerta F12 loudspeakers and the Paradigm Monitor 7 loudspeakers. You can also find more information by viewing our Floorstanding Speakers section and our JBL brand page.
• The L890 is a fun loudspeaker, and in today's uber-critical and nuance-is-king audiophile world, it brings a bit of anarchy to the status quo. I'm not saying the L890 is vague or bad, not at all. It has a great bottom end, a lively rich midrange and a high end that, if handled correctly, is quite remarkable. However, unlike "proper" speakers, the L890 likes to be roughed up and doesn't mind getting down with some bad '80s metal every once in awhile.
• While the L890 is a solid budget speaker for a budding audiophile, it is superb and probably better suited for a kick-ass home theater on a budget.
• The L890s' dynamic capabilities and sheer volume output, not to mention relative ease to drive, make them suitable for large rooms and/or venues and simply awesome for blockbuster fare.
• The L890s look far better than their price tag and past JBL products would lead you to believe.
• The L890 is a full-range loudspeaker. However, its bass isn't the most composed at the extremes and, for that last bit of oomph, the L890 should be mated to a sub and crossed over at the right levels to avoid bloat and/or slurring.
• The L890's ultra-high-frequency driver is an added bonus that can be very lively in certain room conditions or at volume extremes. Careful room placement and/or EQ may be essential if you're thinking of putting the L890 in anything but a heavily carpeted "dead" room.
• While the L890 can be powered by almost anything, due to its super-efficient design, it does sound best when mated to solid mid-fi or even higher-end components. Your ten-year-old 50-watt garage receiver may not be the best choice for the L890.
• JBL's dealer network seems to change and/or change stock with some regularity, making the L890 available one minute, then unavailable the next. Luckily the L890 can be had online via authorized retailers, including JBL's own website.
For around a grand, there are a number of full-range or relatively full-range loudspeakers available to you. While the JBL L890 may have some stiff competition, I urge you not to overlook it. While the L890 is somewhat an underdog, it will surprise you in ways you may not expect. It is a hugely fun and entertaining speaker that sounds great and can do things with music and movies that aren't usual in loudspeakers costing less than a grand. The L890 does have a fair share of caveats, mainly a lively tweeter and somewhat tubby low end, but nothing that can't be overcome with proper room placement and some mild EQ. While far from perfect, my time spent with the L890s has been some of the most fun I've had reviewing budget speakers, or any speakers for that matter, in a long time.