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.

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.

TYPE 2-way standmount loudspeaker
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 197 x 330 x 216mm
• 1x 20mm titanium dome tweeter
• 1x 133mm pulped paper mid/bass driver
• Quoted sensitivity: 85dB/1W/1m (4ohm)

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.

Save up to $500 per pair on select bookshelf speakers

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.


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


9 Total Score
JBL L52 Classic Review

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

  • Punchy and energetic sound
  • solid build
  • splendid looks
  • Not the last word in detail
  • some cabinet colouration
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