JBL Control One Bookshelf Speakers Review

I have always been a big fan of JBL.

When they marketed their products with statements like ‘Hear the truth’ and ‘Legendary JBL Sound’, I had to take these with a pinch of salt; until I first experienced that legendary sound with the JBL J33 in-ear headphones. Impressed by the J33, I also bought the J22 headphones (while not as punchy as the J33, it’s definitely good enough in terms of clarity). I’m not a bass junkie, and the bass and voice performance coming out of the JBL J33 is actually making me stay away from super-expensive brands such as the Bose or the over-hyped Beats headphones.

I have listened to stereo for well over 20 years. And, I can confidently say that nothing beats the pure 2-channel stereo system if you want to enjoy music.

JBL Control One is one of the cheapest, entry-level, control monitor speakers that suits a wide genre of music. Though they are extremely suitable to be used as satellite speakers, they are pretty good for stereo listening too.

Small size. Big sound.

JBL Control One Specifications (Stuff that matters underlined):

  • Drivers Bass/mid-range (video shielded): 100mm
  • Drivers Tweeter (video shielded): 12mm Titanium Laminate
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz
  • Power Handling (Peak/Continuous): 200W/50W
  • Maximum Recommended Amplifier Power: 100W RMS
  • Sensitivity: 89dB/2.83V/1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

Control One Sound Characteristics:

Bass: Just about right if you’re not a bass-head. It’s certainly not floor shattering, but decent-enough for Jazz and those genres of music that mellows the low-frequency sounds. It’s quite punchy for my listening preferences. Negatives: The bass gets boomy on bad recordings and gets uncontrolled. This characteristic didn’t change when paired with my old Onkyo home theater or to the Marantz PM5005 integrated amplifier.

Voices: Very warm and expressive. There’s a nice boldness to the voice that I enjoy. Especially, when listening to The Carpenters. Karen’s voice reverberates, accentuating the overall softness of the music. Chitra and Malaysia Vasudevan’s voices glitter in Then kizhakku cheemayile and so does Kimbra’s in  Love in High Places.

Treble: BRIGHT! Not sure if this is because of the Titanium Laminate tweeters, but it’s noticeably bright. But wait, it’s no problem when paired to a warm amplifier like the Marantz. Even with the Onkyo AVR, though characterized by thin sound, the treble wasn’t bright enough to create fatigue. So, you may want to factor in the brightness when matching these bookshelves to an amplifier.

Build quality: Fantastic! From a distance, these speakers seem plasticky — not the visually appealing types even after removing the speaker grills. However, there’s a good amount of heft when you hold or lift the speaker with one hand. It’s well-padded with rubberized cladding all around. There is hardly any hollow sound if you knock the speaker enclosure. The only disappointment is with the clip-type speaker wire terminal points; ‘always prefer the screw-types. By and by, a rugged pair of wall-mount brackets are included in the box.

Impressions: Very good value for money for casual stereo listening. I believe these would make a perfect pair when wired to your kitchen or porch where you don’t need that deep, rumbling bass, but just the clear bold mid-range. I bought it for around INR 7,900/- and have nothing to complain at this price point. If your amplifier suits an A-B speaker setup, go for it, and wire these to your bedroom for some nice late-night Jazz.

3 comments on “JBL Control One Bookshelf Speakers Review

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