What We Like
- Super compact form factor that is fairly effective.
- More than enough power on demand.
- Satisfactory levels of transparency.
What We Don’t Like
- Plastic cabinets make these a bit too clinical.
When it comes to speakers in general, larger size usually means better performance. However, we have models such as JBL’s Control 1 Pro, which tell us otherwise. This is one of the most compact monitors you can get under $200.
In terms of design, JBL took a simple route. They didn’t even bother with MDF, but they have rather packed everything up in a solid plastic chassis. Even with the grille on, you can still see just what kind of hardware was crammed inside this tiny monitor.
Being passive in nature, you won’t really see any knobs or buttons cluttering the surfaces of the speaker. JBL went with rounded edges, giving the Control 1 Pro a more tamed appearance. The entire speaker is black, which makes it more or less neutral in terms of how it fits into different environments.
A great thing about having a compact set of speakers is that they are easy to position in smaller rooms while you don’t have to take too much space on your table. Naturally, it’s much better to get larger, MDF based cabinets if possible. However, we need to keep in mind that JBL Control 1 Pro fills a very niche portion of the market.
The essence of what JBL wanted to do with Control 1 Pros is to pack as much hardware as possible inside a small chassis. If you really think about it, there are much larger MDF cabinets on the market which have smaller transducers inside. JBL went with a 5.25“ woofer and a .75 polycarbonate dome tweeter.
Said tweeter is offset to the side in order to make room for a small but effective front firing port. Here’s the best part, though. These speakers offer 150 Watts of power with a max SPL set at 108 dB continuous. That’s a pretty hot output for something of this size.
Both transducers are magnetically shielded while Control 1 Pro also come with JBL’s SonicGuard overload protection. They even went so far as to include a fairly intricate crossover network that kicks in at around 4.2 kHz. Lastly, input connectors come in form of spring loaded terminals, just as you’d expect.
In order to fully appreciate JBL’s Control 1 Pros, we have to preface our next paragraph with a few facts. The size of the cab matters, as does the material. These are so tiny compared to the size of the transducers, while the cabs are made of plastics.
With that said, you can squeeze quite a transparent performance out of JBL’s Control 1 Pro. Trebles are much better compared to the previous version, thanks to the new and improved tweeter. Moving into the mids we see a fairly wide spectrum that is both defined and tight where it should be. Lows are limited as one could expect but present nonetheless.
Compared to its immediate competition, the results are pretty impressive. However, if you are after a professional sound that is fully transparent, you’ll have to go a few price categories higher. As full of compromises as they are, JBL Control 1 Pro monitors are great for smaller home studios.
The overall impression we got from JBL’s Control 1 Pros is that they are a niche tool for a niche purpose. However, even if you put them next to more conventional speakers, they will perform great.