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JBL L52 Classic Review: Class of 77

The tiniest member of the Classic range from JBL keeps the period features, but in miniature. Ed Selley listens in. Read our JBL L52 Classic Review.

BL’s re-released Classic series channels the design language of its Seventies models and the L52 brings all the principles of the series down to a size where they’ll fit into most spaces. Like the larger L82, the L52 is not a reproduction of a speaker it produced in the Seventies but an ‘inspired by true-life events’ take on the style of the time.

JBL L52 Classic Review

A two-way design it uses a 25mm titanium dome tweeter (as seen in the other models) placed in a shallow waveguide. This crosses over at 2.8kHz to a 133mm pulped paper cone augmented by a front bass port. The L52 Classic retains the facility to adjust the high-frequency output via a rotary control. There’s no boost, but the output can be rolled off to suit brighter equipment or rooms. Connection to an amplifier is via a single set of speaker terminals.

As a relatively small driver in a small cabinet, it doesn’t have quite the same seismic potential as its bigger brothers. JBL quotes 47Hz- 24kHz albeit at +/- 6dB. It is relatively benign and should not prove too difficult to drive, while the front port reduces its interactions with rear walls effectively.

Finished in a very specific shade of ‘walnut’ (not a shade I believe the tree achieves naturally) and completed by a pair of ‘quadrex’ foam grilles in blue, orange and black and secured by hefty lugs (no magnetic trim tabs here), I make no secret of being a huge fan of the design.

details
PRODUCT JBL L52 Classic
ORIGIN USA/China
TYPE 2-way standmount loudspeaker
WEIGHT 5kg
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 197 x 330 x 216mm
FEATURES
• 1x 20mm titanium dome tweeter
• 1x 133mm pulped paper mid/bass driver
• Quoted sensitivity: 85dB/1W/1m (4ohm)
DISTRIBUTOR Harman UK
WEBSITE jblsynthesis.com

Sound quality

Your attitude towards the L52 Classic’s performance will depend on the aspects you prioritise in your listening. The retention of the proportions in miniature means this is still a relatively wide baffled speaker, which helps it sound relatively big and open for a small cabinet. Poppy Ackroyd’s Pause has a degree of space and airiness that benefits the recording considerably. The cabinet never completely disappears into the soundstage; it’s a perceivable presence at any volume, but it’s still an enjoyable listening experience.

Like the L82 Classic, the L52 is not a terribly forensic speaker. Listen to the Ackroyd recording on it and then switch to the Spendor A1 and the latter finds nuances in the piece as a whole and specifically with Ackroyd’s relationship to the piano that the JBL doesn’t pick out, while the piano has a slightly warmer and more natural tone. Rolling the treble response off slightly helps the L52 Classic to sound a little sweeter and more natural, although this does nothing to boost detail.

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I’m prepared to forgive a fair amount of this because the JBL delivers very successfully on the strengths of the brand. This is an enormously energetic and lively loudspeaker that consistently sounds bigger and more forceful than the bald numbers suggest it should. Simmer by Hayley Williams is delivered with an impact and potency that belies the small size of the cabinet. There’s enough bass to be felt as well as heard and you can push the L52 Classic impressively hard before it begins to sound strained or confused. What’s notable about this is that there isn’t any sign of it sounding shut in or recessed at lower volumes. Instead, that same wholly engaging energy is present during quiet running too.

Conclusion

The L52 Classic does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not a direct competitor to more overtly ‘hi-fi’ rivals at the same price, but it isn’t trying to be. Instead, it takes the JBL house sound of old and presents it in a form factor that most people won’t struggle to accommodate and at a more accessible price point. This is not a speaker that has universal appeal, but for many people the combination of those time-capsule looks and unburstable energy will be just too compelling to ignore

OUR VERDICT

9 Total Score
JBL L52 Classic Review

A compact, relatively affordable way of getting the ‘big JBL’ experience that will charm many

PROS
  • Punchy and energetic sound
  • solid build
  • splendid looks
CONS
  • Not the last word in detail
  • some cabinet colouration
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JBL L52 Classic Speakers are 5.25” 2-way loudspeakers that feature the state of the art acoustic technologies exclusive to JBL.  The vintage-inspired design is inspired by the other Classic range models including the L82 and L100 loudspeakers. This range delivers the brilliant...
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Designed and engineered in JBLs world-famous acoustic engineering facility in Northridge California the L52 Classic is a 5.25-inch (130mm) 2-way loudspeaker featuring JBLs advanced acoustic technologies in combination with the award-winning retro-inspired style of its larger family members. The vintage design of the L52 Classic features a genuine walnut wood veneer cabinet and choice of Quadrex foam grilles. Beneath this iconic exterior is a loudspeaker built from modern acoustic components delivering legendary JBL sound sure to please any music lover.   JBL Loudspeakers have been a top choice of music and movie professionals for nearly 75 years. They provide incredible sound in movie theatres concert venues recording studios and houses of worship worldwide. But you dont need to be a professional to enjoy legendary JBL sound. Our home products and systems leverage the same cutting edge technology and acoustic science the pros rely on.
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JBL L52 Classic Blue Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)
Designed and engineered in JBLs world-famous acoustic engineering facility in Northridge California the L52 Classic is a 5.25-inch (130mm) 2-way loudspeaker featuring JBLs advanced acoustic technologies in combination with the award-winning retro-inspired style of its larger family members. The vintage design of the L52 Classic features a genuine walnut wood veneer cabinet and choice of Quadrex foam grilles. Beneath this iconic exterior is a loudspeaker built from modern acoustic components delivering legendary JBL sound sure to please any music lover.   JBL Loudspeakers have been a top choice of music and movie professionals for nearly 75 years. They provide incredible sound in movie theatres concert venues recording studios and houses of worship worldwide. But you dont need to be a professional to enjoy legendary JBL sound. Our home products and systems leverage the same cutting edge technology and acoustic science the pros rely on.
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JBL L52 Classic Orange Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)
Designed and engineered in JBLs world-famous acoustic engineering facility in Northridge California the L52 Classic is a 5.25-inch (130mm) 2-way loudspeaker featuring JBLs advanced acoustic technologies in combination with the award-winning retro-inspired style of its larger family members. The vintage design of the L52 Classic features a genuine walnut wood veneer cabinet and choice of Quadrex foam grilles. Beneath this iconic exterior is a loudspeaker built from modern acoustic components delivering legendary JBL sound sure to please any music lover.   JBL Loudspeakers have been a top choice of music and movie professionals for nearly 75 years. They provide incredible sound in movie theatres concert venues recording studios and houses of worship worldwide. But you dont need to be a professional to enjoy legendary JBL sound. Our home products and systems leverage the same cutting edge technology and acoustic science the pros rely on.
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JBL L52 Classic Black Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)

Specifications

Product NameJBL: L52 Classic Passive 5.25" Speakers - Pair Orange
Product TypeSpeakers
Enclosure ColorWalnut
Enclosure DesignBass reflex
Design FeaturesReal wood veneers
Grille ColorOrange
System Components2 speakers
Speaker Type2-way - passive
Frequency Response (-6dB)47 - 24000 Hz
Nominal Impedance4 Ohm
Recommended Amplifier Power10 - 75 Watt
Sensitivity85 dB (2.83V@1m)
Crossover Frequency2800Hz
Recommended PlacingBookshelf/on-wall/stand mounted
ControlsTweeter attenuator
Detachable GrillesYes
Driver DetailsSpeaker: woofer driver - 5.25" - pure pulp Speaker: tweeter driver - 0.75" - titanium - acoustic lens waveguide
Included Accessories2 speaker grilles
Width7.7 in
Depth8.5 in
Height13 in
Weight11.02 lbs
Shipping Weight30.42 lbs
Service & SupportLimited warranty - 5 years

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