The most valuable reviews are those with real operating experience. Today we are talking about the cheapest active monitors. The JBL 104-BT!
Contents of delivery
The monitors are supplied with an interconnect cable and a mini-jack cable for connection to the source. There is a power cable for connecting to the mains.
Design and ergonomics
The first reason I wanted these monitors for myself were … no, not their design and ergonomics. This factor was the price – too cheap for a professional solution. But yes, I also liked the look. The speakers are insanely versatile, neat, and complement my home studio work environment. In general, for me a home studio is a place where everything should be in its place, beautiful and functional. And these two black eggs are just what you need! By the way, these eggs can be either black or white. One of them is active, has an amp in it, and all the controls are the power button, source switching, status indicator and volume control. This is me about the left. And the right one is an orphan without a single button.
You can connect to the source as a balanced method via TRS, and unbalanced via RCA. A strange solution for monitor speakers is the presence of Bluetooth. But it is here, and sometimes I even turn on music from my smartphone when I don’t want to open my laptop and turn on the amplifier. What kind of amplifier – you ask? And this is what we will talk about now!
Circumstances so happened that I ordered myself a JBL 104 BT without even having listened to them. You know how it happens – a shoemaker without boots, who tests heaps with a device himself and knows how he plays, but how to take something for yourself: “Oh, no time to listen, let’s take it!”
And then I could say that I got into a hole, but what was my surprise when I connected the speakers and … was horrified by the sound! Well, somehow pale and dry, it seems that JBL Charge plays better. I sat, cried, made some tea and remembered that I listen to them from iPhone via bluetooth. I took the cable, connected it to the MacBook – tatysho! Oh-I-I-I!
This is another matter! Gorgeous and deep sound! And most importantly, it is not dry at all, which is sometimes found in monitors. And even later I took my FiiO K5 Pro amplifier and stuck the speakers into it – and that’s when I got my sight!
Yes, the model is active with built-in amplification of 30 watts per channel, but the functionality of the DAC should not be underestimated. The sound was full of details and made me listen to music more often through Tidal. But, to be honest, the speakers sound great even from YouTube Music, and even there you can hear the difference directly from the MacBook or through the FiiO amplifier .
But I didn’t take them for listening to music, but primarily for editing and working with sound. And this is, of course, an excellent affordable solution for the purposes that I need – to record and listen to a speech on the microphone , to reduce the volume of voice, music and effects in the video.
Yes, in order for you to be comfortable watching all these videos, it is not enough just to connect headphones and work in them, even my Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO give a painfully close sound and clear localization, sometimes it is simply impossible to understand how the viewer will hear the sound from a smartphone or laptop.
But with the JBL 104 it is very real. Yes, it is clear that the sound quality will be different from all sources, but the very locality and separation of sound and effects on monitors is ideally exposed. Inside, there are 2 emitters for each speaker – a coaxial 118 mm woofer and a 19 mm soft dome tweeter.
A distinctive feature of these monitors is that this is the Professional line, which means that for even $ 180 you can hear professional sound and get a cool option. 180 is the case with regular JBL 104 without Bluetooth, and JBL 104 BT cost about 250. I can’t say that bluetooth is appropriate here, but sometimes I use it when guests come to turn on background music. Here already decide for yourself – especially if you are looking for a professional tool for work, here Bluetooth may be superfluous.
This is the case when I can really recommend a product 100 percent. I still don’t understand why these monitors are so cheap, but the fact remains that the JBL 104-BT is an incredible solution for those who work with sound and are looking for a budget option. But for those who want to get a great sound for movies / games / music, they are also suitable! Despite the scrupulous detailing, they are very pleasant to listen to, they are quite soft and generous in bass, the sonority is not annoying, and the middle is insanely beautiful.