Friday, January 5, 2024


Does your DAW setup need some new speakers?


The III Series Mk II powered studio monitors prove that you don't need to spend a small fortune to get great sounding speakers for mixing music. 

In my control room I run five different monitor speaker pairs and use a Coleman speaker switcher to direct which pair is active. In late 2022 when one of my trusty Mackie HR824 (purchased new in 1998) finally died I replaced both with a new pair of JBL 305P. What an improvement!


The 305P monitor speakers have a five-inch diameter woofer and the unique JBL wave guide directing the output of the soft dome tweeter. The sweet spot for listening is nice and wide and I felt no sense of separation between the woofer and the tweeter; the acoustic output is natural, crystal clear and has a surprising full sounding bass response for such a small pair of speakers.

My $7000 pair of Meyer monitor speakers also died in 2023, the woofer cone surrounds finally rotted out. For replacements I looked at Genelec and some more expensive models by JBL but based on how much I liked the sound of the five-inch version JBLs I decided to replace the Meyers with a pair of the 8" JBL 308P. 

I have grown very fond of both the five inch and the eight inch versions of the III Series Mk II in a very short time. Both of these sets of speakers have the same flat response JBL is known for. The high frequency response sounds very bright but the mixes I've been doing are translating as well as anything I ever mixed using the much more expensive and powerful, Meyer or Mackie monitors. 



5" Woofer, 1" soft dome tweeter

Bi-amplified, electronic crossover at 1725 Hz

41 watts on woofer, 41 watts on tweeter

Frequency Response 49Hz - 20kHz (plus or minus 3dB)

Maximum Peak SPL: 108 dB

Rear ported enclosure

Weight: 10.4 pounds each


8" Woofer, 1" soft dome tweeter

Bi-amplified, electronic crossover at 1800Hz

56 watts on woofer, 56 watts on tweeter

Frequency Response: 45Hz-20kHz (plus or minus 3dB)

Maximum Peak SPL: 112 dB

Rear ported enclosure

Weight: 20.7 pounds each

Click To Enlarge

THE BACK PANEL - features the same controls for both monitor models

Around back is where you connect and adjust these self-powered speakers to conform to your setup. The volume control is not stepped so you can set it anywhere, I like that.

A recessed sensitivity switch allows you to select -10 dBv or +4 dBu input signal level. 

Both the 5" and 8" have 1/4" TRS and XLR balanced input jacks available for connecting to pro audio signal sources. 

A three-position high frequency trim switch allows for +2 dB, 0 dB or -2 dB settings (mine are set to 0 dB).

A three-position boundary EQ switch is also provided so these monitor speakers can be precisely adjusted to accommodate the physical space they're used in (mine are set to 0 dB).

Click To Enlarge


On the front of these speakers, right under the JBL logo, a single inset LED glows when the monitor is powered up.

I have done full range mixes on the five inch and the eight inch models. Generally speaking I favor the eight inch version, it sounds a little bit bigger as you might expect from more power and a larger woofer. In use the five inch model feels like it has less bass than the 8" version. Even though the 5" model has sound that is not as big as the 8" model it would be ideal for remote trucks or very small control rooms where natural sounding flat response is required. 

Both of these speaker models are sold in pairs or singly so you can buy multiple matched speakers to build your surround system. 

I'm driving the monitors from a Neve 8816 output which peaks at greater-than +26dBu into 600 ohms, this provides a lot of output signal. These JBL monitors are much less sensitive than my other monitors, regardless of the input sensitivity switch setting which I keep on the louder, -10dBv position. I spent quite a while balancing the volume levels of all the speakers in my monitor setup to the 85dB listening level I like to work at. I ended up with both of these JBL models in the -10 position, the volume is full-up on the 308 and a little less than maximum on the 305P. I'm not hearing any excess noise from these settings so I'm going with it until I can do further precision testing. 


The 5" model, 305P, sounds great when used with an additional subwoofer. I have a 250 watt 10" subwoofer under my mixing console; the sub is controlled by a separate monitor controller which allows me to turn the sub on and off and adjust the volume level to support the five different speaker systems in my current studio.

I like mixing using the JBL 8P model without the subwoofer, if I get the bass sounding right without the sub then it sounds awesome when I add the sub. Most listeners are not using a subwoofer so I mix for the masses and try to get the bass level right, these JBL 8" speakers help me get the job done correctly the first time.


  • Great price 
  • Fantastic flat frequency response
  • Wide sweet area for listening
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Perfect for console near field monitor application


  • Input sensitivity seems low regardless of sensitivity-switch position
  • Regardless of claims these don't play very loud without running out of headroom
  • Not for use as midfield monitors


I love mixing and listening with these speakers. The 305P sounds great, the 308P sounds even better. If you have the money and the physical space for the 308P that's the model to get for full range mixing. The 305P offers the same brilliant sound with slightly less fullness but half the weight, much smaller and less expensive. The model you choose comes down to what you need for your situation. I'm not planning on acquiring any but there is also a model with a 6" woofer size and it is priced between the 5" and 8".

Initially I was scared away from these budget JBL monitors because they are too cheap, low powered and lightweight. After using them and comparing them to several other 8" monitor systems my fears have been put aside; I'm blown away at what a great job JBL engineers did on this design and that they deliver it for such low prices. 

There are so many silly monitor speakers on the market that cost a LOT more than these JBL and deliver substantially less performance. Give these a try, you won't be sorry.

Thanks for reading High on Technology, Good Music To You!

©Jan 2024 by Mark King, It's not ok to copy or quote without written permission from the author.