Control 5 – Sound Quality (Part 5)

Control 5 Frequency Response

I don’t know whether the designers of the Control 5 tried to follow the Harman Target Curve but it does appear so. The problem with it is not so much the dipping response but the lack in clarity throughout.

What I’m hearing from the Control 5 is a dull, mushy sound. Very similar to what you hear from ceiling speakers in a shopping mall. Yes, the vocals can be heard but there’s no clarity. If you listen carefully, there’s this unnatural bass that’s blurring the midrange. To make matters worse, the treble is almost non-existent. It is the antithesis of everything I strive for.

I believe the problem doesn’t lie in the dipping response of the Harman Target Curve. I can design a speaker with the same response and it’ll still be clear. The main culprits are the woofer and the tweeter. There’s only so much one can do with cheap drivers. No amount of EQ will improve the sound of the Control 5. To qualify as a true nearfield recording monitor, the only way is to replace the woofer and the tweeter with better ones and start all over again.

Having said that, the reality is that the JBL Control 5 appears to be a hugely successful product for Harman. They are still being sold today, 30 years after their release. From a business viewpoint, that’s an incredible achievement. It just goes to show the power of branding.

Part 1 – Thiele & Small Parameters
Part 2 – Woofer & Tweeter Measurements
Part 3 – Frequency Response
Part 4 – Step & Waterfall Measurements
Part 5 – Sound Quality
Part 6 – Upgrading the Crossover
Part 7 – Electronic Crossovers and Bi-amping

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all measurements were made with the mic at 36 ins, tweeter axis. Impulse Window=5ms. No smoothing applied.