JBL has been a leading name in audio for years, and the name that became famous at rock arenas and concert halls also brings spectacular sound reproduction to your automobile. JBL offers a host of car audio products and recently sent along the GX600C component system for us to test and what a treat for our ears it was.
JBL is a member of the HARMAN International family that includes AKG, harman/kardon, Infinity, Lexicon, and Mark Levinson. The company’s involvement in audio runs the gamut from recording studio to rock concerts and everything in between. This series is focusing on car audio and HARMAN certainly knows a thing or two about that as well.
I recently spoke to Chris Dragon, Senior Director, Marketing Car Aftermarket and Events, HARMAN, who stated HARMAN supplies 70 percent of the original car audio equipment in vehicles rolling off the assembly lines these days and he is excited about this new GX series of aftermarket speakers.
JBL’s GX series is offered in a variety of sizes to fit into the speaker mounts of your vehicle. They all feature a woofer and tweeter with most in coaxial configuration, meaning the tweeter is mounted on the same axis as the woofer so that sound waves can arrive at the listeners ears at the same time for the most accurate reproduction.
The GX600C component set we tested features a tweeter that is separate from the 6-1/2” woofer driver and a passive crossover box sends the appropriate frequencies to the intended driver. (High frequencies go to the tweeter, mid-range and low frequencies go to the woofer.)
I mounted each of these speaker setups in separate small sealed boxes with the crossover unit inside each, along with a small amount of acoustic padding, just as professional speaker builders would do for your home or studio. As I test different vehicles each week, I needed a more portable arrangement to test the response of the GX600C components in different vehicles. This system was tested in a fullsize pickup, midsize sedan, and a compact hatchback, and connected to a class AB car amplifier on a separate battery pack; with the signal provided by my iPhone 6 and playing the uncompressed music files I mentioned in a previous story in this series on car audio.
From the moment I first turned on a track I was impressed. It has literally been years since I heard musical accuracy like this in an automobile. Factory car audio systems in new cars these days are really good but the quality of sound coming from the JBL separates was truly amazing. Clean, clear, crisp vocals where you can actually hear the artist taking a breath, sizzling lead, rhythm and bass guitar passages where you can hear the string being struck, and drum recordings where you can hear and feel the stick making contact with the skin.
Credit, in part, the patented design of the Plus One woofers from JBL, says Dragon. This unique construction provides for more overall polypropylene speaker cone area of the driver itself and allows for higher efficiency and enhanced low frequency response. The tweeters utilize an edge-driven soft dome design for smoother sound reproduction and broadened frequency response. The sound quality coming from these small tweeters is quite impressive.
For those of you choosing to D.I.Y. as opposed to paying to have a set of aftermarket speakers installed in your vehicle, JBL includes all of the necessary mounting hardware and spacers, as well as three mounting systems for the tweeters, allowing for more flexible installation options for the best possible sound reproduction. It is more critical to have the tweeters aligning with occupant’s eardrums since high frequencies are the most directional and the interiors of vehicles are the most difficult for achieving quality sound.
For installations where the tweeter may have to be placed behind material of some type, the JBL GX600C component set features a +3db switch on the crossover housing to boost those upper frequencies to fight the inherent damping qualities of softer materials.
By the numbers, the JBL GX600C component set boasts peak handling power of 210W with continuous power handling of 70W. Frequency response of this system is 50Hz-21kHz with nominal impedance of 2.3 ohms and a sensitivity rating of 92db. The drivers themselves feature 3-ohm voice coils allowing the speakers to draw more power from the amplifier for greater output. The crossover point for this component set is 2.5kHz via passive 12db/octave (second order) design.
The JBL GX600C component speaker set is available for $179.99 MSRP from all JBL automotive dealers.
What is it: JBL GX600C (review sample provided by manufacturer)
What I like: Crisp, clean high frequency reproduction; accurate, smooth mid- and low frequency response; flexible installation options and included hardware. I will probably make these my home monitors.
What can be improved: You will need to provide your own speaker wire but this speaker system performed better than anticipated.
For more information on this and other JBL by HARMAN products visit www.JBL.com.