Getting your home studio set up is a huge step and a significant investment, but it’s the key to really making the kind of music you love on your own terms. There are all sorts of important decisions in the mix, too. One of the most important decisions is picking the right pair of studio monitors for your space.
Your studio monitors will affect everything about your music — because they affect how you hear that music as you’re making it.
Deciding on the right pair of studio monitors can be a bit complicated, though. The best options on the market cost well north of $1,000 per speaker, which is understandably out of budget for most at-home musicians (including beginners).
One model that’s particularly popular for beginners is the JBL 305P MKII. This powered studio monitor packs a decent little punch without breaking the bank. It’s not the best option you can get, but it is a reasonably compelling choice when you consider its affordability.
Of course, the bigger question for you is whether the JBL 305P Mkii is right for you and for your studio space.
So if you’re wondering whether the JBL 305p Mk2 studio monitors are right for you, we’ll help you find the answer in this full JBL 305p MKII review.
JBL 305P Mkii Powered Studio Monitors: Overview
The JBL 305P MKII monitor is a five-inch powered studio monitor with a front-facing five-inch woofer, rear-facing bass port, and a one-inch tweeter. It’s designed as a reference monitor, which should deliver a flat, even response, unlike consumer-oriented or even hi-fi speaker setups, which are designed to produce the best listening experience.
This means that the JBL 305P MKII could be perfect for your home studio.
Now, I said could be for a reason. To find out if these really are the best choice for your specific needs, we need to get deeper into the details. Let’s start with price and specs.
Check current prices on Amazon for the JBL 305P Mkii Studio Monitors
Price and Specs
JBL 305P MKII monitors are sold individually, even though they’re almost always used in pairs. JBL sells these directly at $155 per speaker. That’s the price you’ll actually pay from most retailers, as well — no fake MSRP markup most places on these.
So you’re looking at $310 for a pair of these. If you’re coming from the world of consumer-grade household audio, that might sound like a lot of cash. But in the world of studio monitors, it’s not. These JBLs are quite budget-friendly compared to the competition (which we’ll get into more later on).
As far as specs, these are five-inch powered reference monitors in a bi-amplified configuration. Interestingly, the JBL 305P MKII splits wattage evenly between the HF and LF drivers, giving each one 41 amps, for 82 total amps.
And that’s actually quite a lot of juice in total. The higher-priced and (arguably) better Yamaha HS5 only has 70 total amps, with 45 devoted to low frequencies and 25 going to high frequencies.
Frequency response is respectable for speakers of this size, going from 43Hz to 20KHz.
The rear bass port does an excellent job of reinforcing the low end if you’re using these without a subwoofer. You’ll just have to be extra careful about placement compared to monitors that lack this port. Get too close to the wall, and you’ll end up with unpleasant and inaccurate bass buildup.
A pair of these speakers will get you 108dB of maximum peak SPL and 94dB of max continuous SPL. That’s comparable to anything else in this class and should be more than enough sound for a small to medium sized studio.
These are hefty but not bulky speakers. They weigh in at around 11 pounds each and measure 11.7 by 7.3 by 9.1 inches.
Sound quality is, of course, the biggest deal of them all for a pair of studio monitors. Unfortunately, it’s also somewhat subjective and 100% impossible for me to show or demonstrate over the internet.
What I can say is this. JBL 305P MKII studio monitors deliver excellent sound quality for the price, even if more expensive and more explicitly pro-grade options will sound much better.
Some reviewers have complained about a slight hiss coming from their JBL 305P MKIIs, but this could be related to other aspects of a studio setup.
Also, many electronic producers (or anyone doing bass-heavy work) have commented on the pronounced bass response. This can be a good and a bad thing simultaneously.
On the one hand, you do want a robust bass response, and getting one out of a five-inch speaker is a legitimate concern. But on the other hand, you still want these to be flat, even studio monitors. An actual bass boost would be a bad thing.
Some users find that these speakers at least seem to boost bass beyond what’s really there. Editing on speakers with too much bass response tends to lead to mixed tracks that don’t have enough bass in the mix.
Adjustability / Tuning
Getting the most out of your studio monitros requires perfect room placement and ideal room treatment. And you should definitely work toward those goals! But getting your room absolutely perfect isn’t always possible. You might even need to edit or record on the go, where you can’t control all those variables.
For these reasons, it’s important for a good set of studio monitors to allow for some adjustability or tuning.
These JBL 305P MKII monitors do have some limited tuning controls, which is a good thing. Here’s what to know about adjustability and tuning.
On the low end, you’ll get a boundary EQ switch that drops low frequencies by 3, 1.5, or zero decibels. If you’re getting too much bass response, use this tool to cut it back. There’s a map on the back of the speaker that shows an approximate curve for this and the high trim.
Similarly, there’s a high-frequency trim switch on the back of the unit. Choose between -2, 0, or 2dB adjustments.
Unfortunately, neither the boundary nor the HF trim is adjustable as far as frequency goes. Hopefully the included options work for you, because if not, you’re out of luck. (You’ll need to upgrade to a higher tier and price if you want this level of adjustability.)
One nice touch with the JBL 305P MKII is the included input sensitivity switch. JBL knows that not everyone is going to use these in a studio or commercial setting, where a +4 input sensitivity is needed. The speakers have a -10 setting as well, which is what you’d want to use if connecting to a TV or some other consumer-grade device.
Somewhat confusing, though, is the fact that these speakers ship with the -10 setting preselected. Make sure to switch this before setting up your new speakers.
Each JBL 305P MKII has an independent volume knob, which is important to keep in mind. In most studio setups, you want both of these to be turned to max. You control output levesl from your audio interface, instead. Still, it’s good to have this kind of adjustability, and it’s good to note that the knobs are there. If you suddenly experience mismatched volumes, chances are one of the knobs got bumped.
XLR and TRS Inputs
These speakers are designed as studio monitors first and foremost, so they receive inputs via XLR or balanced TRS cables. That’s good if you’re using them in your studio, but less good if you’re one of the people buying these to use with a TV or something like that.
Any useful review of a set of studio monitors like these has to at least touch on the competition. Sure, compared to your TV or a cheap set of headphones, a pair of JBL 305P MKII monitors are going to blow you away. But that’s not the real comparison that matters. The real question is how they perform compared to other monitors at similar and surrounding price points.
My personal favorite entry-level studio monitor is the Yamaha HS5. You can snag a pair of HS5s for around $400 most of the time. That’s $90 more than you’d pay for a pair of JBL 305P MKII monitors — but that’s a pretty small difference.
Yamaha’s HS5 is widely regarded as a studio monitor with a very flat response, flatter than that of the JBL 305P MKII. The HS5 has similar adjustability, though the response curves and cutoff points aren’t quite the same. Noise reduction is better on the HS5 as well.
For most forms of music, the HS5 edges out the JBL 305P MKII, at least in my opinion. I’m not the only person who thinks this, but again, these decisions are certainly subjective.
If you want something punchier and with heavier bass — or you can’t stretch your budget much higher than $300 — then the JBL 305P MKII wins out.
Another very similarly priced option is the M-Audio BX5 D3. M-Audio is a respected maker, and these speakers appear to be decent. SPL and total power are higher. That said, they offer no on-speaker adjustability
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy a Pair of JBL 305P MKiis for Your Studio?
So, when it comes right down to it, what should you do? Should you buy a pair of JBL 305P MKII studio monitors?
The answer likely comes down to where you are in your journey as a musician or producer. And, obviously, your budget is another big factor.
The JBL 305P MKII Is a solid performer at its price point, no question. You'll get a very high-quality and surprisingly powerful sound, especially comparing them to other monitors selling near $300 for a pair.
If you’re a beginner looking for your first set of “real” studio monitors and these are near the top of your budget range, then you will likely be quite impressed with the results. They will be better than whatever you're used to listening to music on, probably by a long shot.
JBL 305P MKII monitors also make a lot of sense if you’re looking for an increased bass response but can't logistically or financially justify adding a subwoofer right now.
There are two main factors that keep me from making a wholehearted recommendation, though. First is the frequency response. Sure, that extra bass sounds nice, but that's not what you really want from a set of reference monitors. You want them to be as flat and even as possible, and these don’t tend to be that.
Second, the availability of significantly better studio monitors for just a few bucks more makes it tough to recommend the JBL 305P MKII too strongly. for just $90 more, you can get a set of Yamaha HS5 studio monitors that will perform much more consistently and evenly.
Psychologically at least, $400 for a Yamaha HS5 pair seems like a lot more than just over $300 for a JBL 305P MKII pair. But if you can find a way to move up to that price point, you will have a much more professional set of monitors at your disposal for years to come.
Check current prices on Amazon for the JBL 305P Mkii Studio Monitors