|Issue: February 1, 2009
REVIEW: JBL'S CONTROL 2P COMPACT POWERED REFERENCE MONITOR
By: Tom Phillips
|PRODUCT: JBL Control 2P compact powered reference monitor
- simple set-up
- can be used in remote set-ups
- high end sounds crisp and distinct
Edit rooms are quite often small, cramped quarters with drop ceilings and walls that are too close to where everyone sits. That, coupled with the constant drone of multiple hard drives and computer fans, makes for a listening environment that is anything but conducive to critical listening. Since music and sound are as important as any of the elements that make a film what it is, it seems as if the odds are stacked against being able to hear well enough to make critical decisions based upon what you hear in your room.
The Control 2P compact powered reference monitor from JBL Professional addresses that need in a very effective manner. The set-up is incredibly simple. The package contains two speakers, a power supply, a cable to connect speaker one to speaker two, snap on pedestals to elevate the angle of the speakers, and a manual.
Input connectors on the back allow for unbalanced RCA, balanced XLRs or 1/4-inch TRS, which pretty much covers what the average edit room would be running from the output of a mixing console. They are rated at 35 watts per channel, and include a three-position high frequency selector as well as a master volume knob on the side of the right speaker and a headphone insert jack.
Simply put, they do not sound like small speakers. Their small size (9.3x6.3x5.6 inches) enabled me to set them on either side of my main monitor on the desktop. The snap-in pedestals easily raised their angle to perfectly direct the sound on axis to my ears.
I was surprised that the sound was quite comparable to my trusty large monitor speakers that frame my mixing console (Mackie HR824s and Yamaha NS-500s). With the high-EQ switch set to flat, I found the high end to be crisp and distinct without sounding sharp, edgy or false. The low end, to my ears, was round and full, but needed a little shaping to match my large monitors and what my room needs. So I rolled off a mid to narrow notch around 300hz, which brought them into the range of exactly what I wanted to hear. The point of this is that they were easily brought into a sonic equivalent of the larger expensive speakers that I have become so accustomed to. And at an MSRP of $249, that is quite amazing.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I have scored films for over 30 years and have sent rough music to editors and producers through the years that has been evaluated on ineffective and miserable edit room sound systems. They get used to listening to something over and over again, and no matter how poorly it sounds they can become accustomed to that sound. While editing, they ultimately form attachments to poor audio, and when they finally do go to a professional mix facility they can be unprepared to conduct a mix on schedule and on budget, and to use their sound palette to the fullest. That’s why monitoring on quality speakers is so important. I auditioned them while scoring a current film project, listening to the rough music through the speakers with the narrative and effects at a normal listening volume. Even with narrative and effects mixed where they should be, I could hear exactly what the composer (me) intended, as far as low end, nuanced instruments and internal subtle melodies. All of the sonic detail of all of the elements was easy to discern. Since music, narration and natural sound are all instruments that need to blend and work together, if I couldn’t hear one of those properly I would only be guessing at what the final outcome would be. This quality of sound is what I would hope (and expect) that the producers hear when I send them my tracks. And given the attributes of these speakers, it’s a no brainer.
DO SPECS COUNT?
JBL lists the frequency range at 80Hz to 20KHz, and the response over the spectrum is shown to be fairly flat. I have never been reliant solely on specs as I prefer to use my ears. I did feel that I needed to roll off that notch at 300Hz for my tastes. Someone else may not need to do that as sound is very subjective. Position angle is very important for these speakers. If you are sitting off axis you might not get the full benefit of being able to hear accurately what the potential is. But it’s obvious to me that a great deal of consideration was given to selecting transducers that are of the highest quality, given their affordable cost. And attention was paid to small details, as in the large rotary volume control placed conveniently on the right side of the right speaker and in the ease of set-up.
These speakers belie their small size with a quality and accuracy of sound that can provide producers and editors a pretty fair indication of what their audio really sounds like. In addition, the Control 2Ps would have an obvious application in a situation where remote live sound is needed due to their size, volume output, and ease of set-up.
Tom Phillips is Principal/Composer at OBT Music in Boston. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.