News & ReviewsReviews
JBL L52 Classic Review - Big Sound in a Small (Retro) Package10/18/2022
JBL's L52 Classic bookshelf speakers are the entry-level model in the company's three-tier Classic speaker range. They have produced a beautiful recreation of its 1970s design with the L100 Classic, an improved version of their all-time best-selling speaker, and have carried that same design into the L52. Measuring at just over 13 inches tall and 7 inches wide, the L52 Classic works well for those with a smaller living space or those who just want big sound without the bulky speakers. The cabinet is finished in a genuine walnut wood veneer, paying tribute to the classic look of the 1970s. The iconic grilles are available in three colors, blue, black, and orange. While there are no concealed magnets to keep the grilles in place, they snap into place very easily.
The L52 Classic is a two-way design featuring a 3/4" titanium dome tweeter with waveguide and a 5-1/4" pure pulp cone woofer. They have an impedance of 4 ohms and a sensitivity of 85 dB with a single binding post in the rear. On the front panel, there is a control dial for adjusting high frequencies to your personal preference. For the purpose of this review, I left this on the default setting, however, it may come in handy if your space isn't perfectly balanced. I adjusted this feature a few times and still found the default to give you the most detail without sounding too aggressive. The port is also positioned on the front which gives you more options for room placement. The sweet spot for my setup was around 22 inches from the wall. With these speakers having such a big sound stage and great bass, they sound best with some room to breathe.
I tested these speakers first on a Denon 3700H to get an idea of how they would sound connected to a receiver, then switched to a Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amp, which as expected gave a more favorable result. My opinion would be to find a source that would be more on the neutral side which is where these speakers sound the best. For the duration of this review, I had my computer connected to the CXA81 through a Type B USB port running Apple Music and Qobuz for the best sound quality.
Right off the bat, I was surprised at how much bass these speakers produce considering their size. It's a small speaker with a huge personality. In my room, I found the bass to be more than enough but if you want the sound to hit you in the chest, you can certainly pair them with a subwoofer.
These speakers produce an incredibly wide soundstage and this is most apparent in “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. The detail in the fast guitar string in the background is a nice surprise that is totally absent on some other speakers.
“Walk of Life” by Dire Straits didn’t disappoint either. This whole album is a hi-fi lover's favorite, but what stood out the most with these speakers was the separation of the instrumentals in the song. You can almost pinpoint where each one is in the studio. The highs were good, but not quite as detailed as some of the other speakers I’ve used to play this song. This was however the perfect opportunity to experiment with adjusting the frequency. If you want the sound to be more aggressive, you can simply turn the knob. On the other hand, if it’s too bright for your taste, you can dial it back a notch or two.
I’ve always been a fan of the Tron Legacy soundtrack, and I thought if anything could truly challenge these speakers it would be Daft Punk. I played quite a few songs from the soundtrack and ended up loving Derezzed remixed by the Glitch Mob. Given the bass these speakers produce, nothing was left to be desired. The two bookshelves alone were enough to fill the entire room. Sure, you can add a sub, but this song was all the evidence I needed to know that it’s really not needed.
The L52’s can be installed straight or toed and will create a massive sound stage that extends well beyond the bounds of your space. These speakers produce a powerful and punchy sound with a surprisingly strong bass performance for the size. I wouldn’t call these speakers “harsh” by any means, but if you are looking for more of a neutral speaker, there may be more suitable options out there. If you're looking for a speaker to balance out a slightly dull sounding system, or you are looking for a speaker to add some life into your system without going too far, then the JBL L52 Classics are the speakers for you.
The JBL L52 Classic has an MSRP of $1,000 but can sometimes be found on sale at key retailers. Even at the full MSRP, these are fantastic speakers. The forward sounding nature of these bookshelves make for a great time and I found myself not wanting to turn them off. They’re just a fun, punchy, and lively sound. For that reason, it's easy to name these as an AVS Top Choice for 2022!
More from JBL Specialty Audio
Developing the JBL Stage XD Series All-Weather Speakers Harman says its new JBL wireless turntable
doesn't skimp on audio quality HARMAN Luxury Audio to Showcase ARCAM, JBL, Mark Levinson, and Revel Brands at Audio Advice Live 2/1/23 ISE 2023: Harman Describes JBL Synthesis
Demo Theater With SCL and SSW Lines 1/1/23 JBL HDI-3800 Floorstanding Loudspeakers:
RECOMMENDED GEAR LIST 2023 2/1/23 ISE 2023: Harman Details New JBL Stage 2 Range
of In-Wall and Ceiling Loudspeakers 2/1/23 JBL has announced both a ‘classic’ and Bluetooth turntable for 2023 1/5/2023 JBL 4367 Studio Monitor loudspeaker 2/1/23 ISE 2023: Harman Features New
JBL Stage XD Indoor-Outdoor IP67 Loudspeakers 1/30/23 Harman’s JBL Stage 2 Architectural Series Loudspeakers and Stage XD Series Loudspeakers win 2023 Design Meets Tech Award 1/30/2023 JBL 4349 2-Way Loudspeaker Review 1/8/2023 CES 2023: JBL intros cool speakers, earbuds, sound bars 1/7/23 JBL Rocks Two New Retro Turntables for 2023 1/7/2023 The Best Speakers, Headphones & Audio Gear of CES 2023 1/6/2023 Best audio tech at CES 2023:
next-gen soundbars, headphones and earbuds: 1/5/23 Harman Debuts New JBL Classic Series Integrated Amp, Streaming Media Player, CD Player, and Turntable 1/5/23 Harman Highlights Performance with a Retro Twist 1/4/2023 CES 2023: HARMAN Debuts JBL L10cs Classic Series Subwoofer 1/4/23 The coolest new tech and gadgets from CES 2023 Day 1: JBL 4329P Studio Monitor powered loudspeakers 1/4/23 HARMAN Luxury Audio To Unveil
JBL SPINNER BT Turntable At HARMAN Explore 1/4/2023 Forbes: Harman Unveils Beautiful New Retro Audio At CES Featuring Innovative New Technology 1/4/2023 JBL mixes classic hi-fi with modern tech at CES 2023 – and pumps up its Dolby Atmos soundbar power 1/4/2023 CES 2023 - Interview with Harman International 1/4/2023 HARMAN Luxury Audio to Unveil JBL SPINNER BT Turntable at HARMAN Explore in Las Vegas 1/4/2023 JBL's first Bluetooth turntable offers aptX HD wireless streaming at an affordable price 1/4/2023 JBL L52 CLASSIC BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEW: Home Theater HIFI 1/4/2023 I tried JBL’s retro-cool wireless active speaker, and it rocked 11/25/2022 CES 2023: JBL 4329P Studio Monitor Powered Loudspeakers Unveiled at HARMAN Explore 10/18/2022 JBL L52 Classic Review - Big Sound in a Small (Retro) Package by AVS Forum 10/18/2022 JBL L52 Classic Review - Big Sound in a Small (Retro) Package 10/16/2022 JBL 4349 Studio Monitors | REVIEW 10/16/2022 Part Time Audiophile on the JBL 4349’s: "The 4349 Studio Monitor forges its own path and bucks the flavor of the month design of current industry trends. I applaud JBL’s choices and the 4349 Studio Monitor is worth a listen and, in my opinion, an instant classic." 9/30/2022 CEDIA EXPO 2022 ARCAM – SHOW REPORT – BY CARLO LO RASO 9/30/2022 Marketscale Jim Interview CEDIA 2023 9/29/2022 JBL’s Deep Dive: Synthesis Speakers & Subs 9/29/2022 CEDIA: JBLs You Can Put In the Wall 9/29/2022 CEDIA Shares: Harman Luxury Audio 9/29/2022 Check out the BIG THINGS from JBL Synthesis and Arcam at CEDIA 2022 9/29/2022 HARMAN to show Black Edition of JBL Classic Series at CEDIA 9/29/2022 The Road To CEDIA Expo 2022 With Harman 9/22/2022 JBL Classic Series Loudspeakers Are Now Back In Black: CEDIA 2022 9/4/2022 JBL Speakers for HOME THEATER! JBL Studio Monitor Review JBL 4309 9/1/2022 RTT Podcast #112: Jim Garrett on the Latest Harman Luxury Audio Gear 8/29/2022 Home Theater Hifi on the JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speaker: "JBL’s L52 Classic Bookshelf Speaker creates an ideal balance between clear neutral sound and iconic styling that never goes out of fashion. Its compact form factor belies sound quality that rivals the best studio monitors and stand-mount speakers." 05/17/2022 HARMAN Luxury Audio Introduces JBL Stage XD Indoor/Outdoor
All-Weather Loudspeakers Built for Extreme Durability 05/17/2022 HARMAN Luxury Audio Introduces JBL Stage Architectural Series Loudspeakers
With Visually Discreet, High-Performance Sound 4/20/2022 Stereonet’s JBL 4309 2-Way Bookshelf Loudspeakers Review 7/6/2021 JBL 4309 Review: These retro speakers
create a stunning soundstage 6/18/2021 JBL SA750 Amplifier adopts Roon Ready status 5/3/2021 JBL L100 Classic Bookshelf Loudspeaker Review 4/15/2021 Harman luxury audio packs 75 years of acoustic excellence into new compact jbl 4309 studio monitor series bookshelf loudspeakers 4/13/2021 Stereonet's Review of the S4700 2/28/2021 JBL 4349 2-Way Studio Monitor Loudspeaker Review 1/18/2021 New products launched at HARMAN ExPLORE 1/7/2021 JBL Launches Time Machine at HARMAN ExPLORE: Introduces 75th Anniversary JBL SA750 Integrated Amplifier 1/7/2021 Still Blown Away After All These Years: JBL Launches 75th Anniversary Edition of L100 Loudspeaker 7/28/2020 Harman couples high-performance modern acoustics with retro design with new JBL 4349 studio monitor 7/8/2020 HARMAN Luxury Audio’s JBL Conceal Series 2/27/2020 Plugged's Review of the L100 Classic 1/6/2020 JBL Introduces L82 Classic Bookshelf Loudspeakers at CES 2020 3/10/2019 HomeTheaterReview.com's review of the L100 Classic 1/10/2018 The JBL L100 Classic took home Best of CES Awards from TWICE and Residential Systems 11/19/2017 JBL Synthesis K2 S9900 -
What HiFi? 5 Star award and review 1/17/2017 JBL 4312SE speakers celebrates the brand's 70th anniversary 4/24/2017 JBL 4367 STUDIO MONITOR LOUDSPEAKER REVIEW