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JBL Classic L75ms Review: Wide load

JBL’s new all-in-one is a little larger than the norm and David Vivian wonders if it has the sonic grandeur to match its size

JBL Classic L75ms Review

I’m reminded of the film Crocodile Dundee as Paul Hogan is confronted by a mugger brandishing a modestly sized blade: ‘That’s not a knife,’ smiles Mick, telegraphing the punchline as he reaches for his own form of outback security. ‘That’s a knife’. For JBL’s new all-in-one, the size matters sentiment appears to be much the same. Lined up against comparatively compact stalwarts such as Naim’s Mu-So 2nd Generation (HFC 488), Sonus faber’s Omnia (next month) and the latest iteration of B&W’s Zeppelin (HFC 486), JBL’s retro-themed all-in-one is a behemoth.

It’s the latest member of JBL’s Seventies-inspired Classic family sporting its iconic Quadrex foam grille hugging the gently curved baffle alongside a walnut real-wood veneer.

The driver array boasts a brace of widely spaced 25mm aluminium dome tweeters, twin 133mm white cone bass drivers and a centrally mounted 102mm midrange unit. Each is driven by a dedicated Class D amplifier contributing to a claimed total output of 350W. Connectivity is pretty comprehensive with both wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Google Chromecast) network capabilities joining Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth 4.2. A 32-bit/192kHz DAC of unspecified origin is assigned to the digital heavy lifting. Wired inputs, include a moving-magnet phono stage, HDMI ARC and a 3.5mm Aux analogue input for hooking up a turntable, TV or CD player. There’s even a subwoofer output.

The plastic remote control is neat and essentially duplicates the volume/input controls on top of the unit. The two must be paired before use, but the process is painless enough. Harman’s MusicLife app is available for Apple and Android devices. As a bonus, there’s a free 90-day trial subscription to Qobuz’s hi-res streaming service, which features a playlist of different music curated by JBL’s engineering and product team that was used in the development of the L75ms.

Sound quality

Is there a JBL Classic house sound? Yes. Will it float everyone’s boat? Probably not. But then, if it did, it wouldn’t be half as much fun. Let’s be clear, this isn’t monitor-class hi-fi with which to forensically interrogate a recording. It doesn’t mean it isn’t decently detailed or resolute. Rather, the way the L75ms plays it, such things are stealthy facilitators of the musical thrust, not the spotlit focus. It aims to please and please it does.

This means deep bass of good quality and plenty of it; the kind of presentation that allows listeners to separate what’s going on without having to try too hard; smooth, refined treble that doesn’t draw

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details
PRODUCT JBL Classic L75ms
ORIGIN China
TYPE Wireless active loudspeaker
WEIGHT 16kg
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 790 x 216 x 287mm
FEATURES
• 2x 25mm aluminium dome tweeter
• 2x 133mm bass drivers
• 102mm midrange driver
• 350W Class D amplification
• 32-bit/192kHz compatible
DISTRIBUTOR Harman UK
WEBSITE jblsynthesis.com harman.com

attention to itself; a dynamic range that supports the ability to go effortlessly loud and hit hard – all topped off by a soundstage with solid and stable imaging.

The JBL doesn’t just possess these assets, but finesses them to deliver a sound that’s revealing without being fussy, harmonically replete but not overly rich, rhythmically coherent without the kind of ‘impressive’ leading-edge emphasis that has rimshots ricocheting off the walls. So when Mavis Staples sings Changes, streamed from the Tidal Master of her outstanding We Get By album, it isn’t just the smoky timbre and powerfully plaintive expression in her voice that’s so engaging, but the sense of a physical, flesh-and-blood presence – good going for a separates system, but exceptional for a single box.

Conclusion

All-in-one streaming systems are on something of a roll and the standard is high. No, the JBL doesn’t get the better of Naim’s Mu-So 2nd Generation for transparency, speed and timing but its power, tonal warmth, dynamic reach and good-time demeanour are every bit as tempting. Another Classic class act from JBL

OUR VERDICT

10 Total Score
Recommended JBL Classic L75ms Review

Versatile, capable and well suited to larger spaces, the L75ms is a welcome addition to the single-box sector

PROS
  • Entertaining sound
  • effortless power
  • size and style
CONS
  • Might be a little bulky for some
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