Masterpieces of the world kolonkostoroeniya: 225 W RMS for 28 000 rubles

    It happened my readers (for example, vconst ) criticized the materials of this cycle for the fact that either vintage or astronomically expensive acoustic systems fall into it (they say that everything is interesting, but it is not suitable for purchase). Today, the rare case when it comes to relatively inexpensive speakers, which sounds quite realistic, produced and sold to this day. Unlike the vast majority of solutions in acoustics, where high fidelity of reproduction is achieved due to rather expensive engineering solutions, in this case we managed to do without them.

    Speech about acoustics JBL Arena 180, which were first introduced at CES 2015 and today are one of the sales hits not only in our network. It should be noted that JBL deliberately created a product with high power, accented low frequencies, high accuracy of sound and low price. Such acoustics have long been waiting for the market and, in my opinion, among devices with similar positioning, Arena 180 has become the best.

    Marketing risk and rejection of the concept of prestigious prices

    JBL has long been considered a company with a predominantly concert-studio reputation. Despite the fact that they have a long-standing consumer electronics division, their products in the public consciousness are associated as acoustics for professionals.

    A few years ago, the company's management apparently decided to change this view and prove that JBL can easily compete in the consumer sound segment along with market leaders. It was then that they began to develop cheap headphones for mere mortals, portable BT-speakers and other consumer goods, which the company had practically never been engaged in before.

    Today it is widely believed that modern everyday acoustics are made more technological, but at the same time, less attention is given to details and quality naturally suffers. Or on the contrary, any more or less decent speakers is like an airplane, and everything that is not worth it does not even make sense to evaluate. By increasing their activity in the consumer market, JBL engineers tried to destroy these perceptions.

    After examining the aspirations of consumers, management has set an difficult and ambitious task for engineers to create a powerful outdoor speaker system, costing $ 400-600, surpassing existing price analogs in significant characteristics of fidelity.

    This is how JBL Arena 180 appeared. The new acoustics were presented at CES 2015 and almost immediately became a hit. The Arena series (largely due to Arena 180) was recognized as the best product by the European Image and Sound Association (European Imaging and Sound Association), receiving the title of the best product at the EISA Award for 2 years in a row (in 2015 and 2016).


    With the design everything is trivial, among the advantages one can note a rather large volume, which obviously reflects the continuity with the company's concert acoustics. Classic bass reflex acoustic design, providing low accented. Relatively rare for a two-way acoustics floor design, used to increase the volume of the speakers.

    A relative design flaw is considered a phase inverter on the back of the case. This arrangement does not allow placing the speaker close to the wall.

    The system is two-way, each column was equipped at once with two MF / LF drivers and one dome tweeter. The use of 2 speakers allowed to increase the sound density, sound pressure and eliminate work in peak modes when using the working power range. The speakers are tapered, pulp-polyester, with no frills, but with a powerful bottom and expressive averages.

    Inside the case is qualitatively damped, which is relatively rare with budget acoustics.

    The system is lightweight, which is very surprising, given its size, each column weighs about 15 kg. For the case used chipboard, which, in my opinion, is not a disadvantage. The vast majority of modern speakers, even in more “heavy” price categories, are made of this material. Moreover, in a number of acoustic properties, for example, sound absorption, chipboard exceeds plywood.

    Two large arena boxes look massive and brutal, while their design can be called neutral and utilitarian. I can not imagine a modern interior, which does not fit this acoustics. Two elongated black boxes everywhere look like two elongated black boxes.


    This is not to say that this acoustics has some incredible acoustic properties. Everything is quite simple, “but there is a nuance”, among analogs (up to $ 1000) in this price category, it is almost the only one that demonstrates such characteristics:

    • Nominal resistance: 6 Ohms;
    • Maximum amplifier power (RMS): 225 W;
    • Frequency range: 32Hz - 40 kHz (-6dB);
    • Sensitivity: 88dB (2.83V@1m);
    • Crossover separation frequency: 2.5 kHz 18dB / octave;
    • SOI (90 spl, 1m): 100Hz - 0.9%, 1.5 kHz - 1.4%, 10kHz - 0.3%;
    • Height: 1086 mm;
    • Width: 217 mm;
    • Depth: 314 mm.

    I find it difficult to evaluate the circuitry of the filter, but as far as I can tell, there is nothing unusual in it.

    Subjective impressions

    It would be strange to expect from the AU for such money something supernatural, but I tried to be as critical as possible. Acoustics have a pronounced, but not very strong emphasis on a low, fairly large-scale scene (stereo), seeming sound sources can be localized relatively clearly. There is a rather strong uneven frequency response, which can be easily corrected with an equalizer.

    On complex musical material (Gregorian chant, treble chant, modern metal) there is a certain fuzziness and vagueness, which is likely due to intermodulation. He did not notice rudely distorted sounds, even having unscrewed the handle of a hundred watt amplifier to the imprint. Power will certainly allow you to “delight” your neighbors both from above and below.

    A spoon of tar

    In preparing the material, I decided to study the opinion of other authors on this acoustics. So I came across a rather caustic review of the Hi-Fi News publication, where in addition to the intermodulation fuzziness and irregularities in the frequency response noted by me, they found such glaring problems as 4 kHz resonance and subsidence in one of the speakers, inconsistency response.

    Even in this review, it was noted that the sensitivity of acoustics is lower than declared by 1 dB. And that's not all, in the measurements of the studied pair there was a high level of harmonic distortion at 1.5 kHz - 3.7%, which is somewhat strange even for budget acoustics.

    To preserve the objectivity of the assessment, I cite the article Hi-Fi News , as the worst review of this acoustics, with the worst measurements I could find.

    But even in this review such strong points of the model as high power, volume and density of sound, large volume of the body and its low mass are noted. By the way, the authors of the article admit that they got a defective speaker and ironically write about it like this:

    “We will assume ... the JBL quality control system is rarely wrong.”


    Despite the fact that JBL Arena 180 to some extent suffers from most of the deficiencies of the budget speakers, it remains one of the best speakers in its price category in terms of cost / performance ratio. The latter makes it one of the most popular outdoor stereo pairs in the EU and Russia.

    Photo material:
    coil user from

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