Hands-On Review:JBL MRX500 Series Speakers


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Professional performance for working musicians

By Rob Arcand

 

 

JBL MRX500 Series Speakers

When it comes to live sound reinforcement, it's certainly no secret that JBL speakers are among the best performers in the industry. From their EON line of powered speakers to the hugely successful MPro passive cabs, JBL has raised live sound to new levels of clarity and consistency. The company's latest offering, the MRX500 Series, was designed to replace the aforementioned MPro Series. Those are big shoes to fill, so I jumped at the chance to see how JBL could improve upon such a successful line of speakers.

 

Series sweep

 

The MRX500 Series consists of three full-range cabinets and two subwoofer models. Fueled by engineering from JBL's VERTEC Professional Series line arrays (those giant speaker clusters you see at big venues/concerts), the MRX500 speakers all employ Differential Drive woofers for maximum power handling and sound quality coupled with roadie-friendly weight. JBL's custom Waveguide technology is in place on the two-way models for superb coverage across the sonic spectrum.

 

The MRX512M is an outstanding utility speaker that can function as a low-profile stage monitor or as a main with a stand (a dual-angle pole socket allows the MRX512M to sit vertically or at a 10° downward tilt depending on the coverage you want). Its 12" Differential Drive woofer and 1-1/2" neodymium compression driver boast 400W RMS power handling while the 70° x 70° horn ensures even distribution of sound. At 33 pounds, it's easy to get it into whatever position suits your needs.

 

The MRX515 is designed for front-of-house applications. It too employs a 1-1/2" compression driver and has an RMS power rating of 400 watts but, thanks to its 15" Differential Drive woofer, its frequency range goes a bit lower than the MRX512M (52Hz compared to 60Hz for the MRX512M). At 43 pounds, the MRX515 is very light for a 15" FOH main.

 

The biggest full-range speaker in the MRX Series is the MRX525. Perfect for professional venues and touring bands who need maximum coverage and volume, it has an RMS power rating of 800W. Dual 15" Differential Drive woofers provide maximum low-end for kick drums and bass guitar while a 1-1/2" annular polymer-diaphragm compression driver delivers shimmering high-end. As with the MRX512M and MRX515, a 70° x 70° horn provides wide, even coverage throughout the audience.

 

Two subwoofer models round out the MRX Series—the MRX518S and the dual-18" MRX528S. The MRX518S features an 18" Differential Drive woofer in a compact cabinet complete with a top polemount, making it a perfect complement to the MRX512M or MRX515. For the absolute maximum low-end impact, the MRX528S is unparalleled. Dual 18" Differential Drive woofers with an RMS power rating of 1,000 watts will shake the foundation of any club or venue. The MRX528S is a must for DJs who like to really emphasize the bottom end (down to 35Hz!).

 

 

External affairs

 

To house the superior technology inside MRX cabinets, JBL crafted a tough, professional-looking enclosure. High-quality plywood is covered with JBL's own DuraFlex finish for the ultimate in protection from the rigors of the road. 16-gauge steel grilles protect the drivers, with an acoustically transparent screen lining the inside for a sleek, pro look. Recessed handles make these cabs easy to transport, set up, and break down once the gig is over.

 

Performance

 

I was extremely impressed with the sound and performance of the MRX500 Series speakers. I coupled the MRX512Ms with a pair of MRX518S subs using the polemounts and was pleased with how rich the sound was—particularly in the midrange, where two-way speakers can fall short. The high end was crisp and smooth without any annoying hiss, and the subs performed flawlessly, handling our bassist's five-string without sounding muddy.

 

The MRX515 and MRX525 far exceeded my expectations. Along with the same midrange performance of the MRX512Ms, the 15" woofers in these cabs added plenty of depth to the overall sound, and the compression drivers brought out nuances from our keyboardist and percussionist. Our guitarist was particularly happy with their sound, noting that they were able to reproduce the warmth of his Marshall Jubilee half stack. With our usual PA speakers, the low end from his prized cab tends to get lost in the mix.

 

Sophisticated sonics

 

JBL has once again shown their dedication to sound quality with the MRX Series loudspeakers. With engineering concepts from JBL's VERTEC line arrays, Differential Drive woofers, road-ready construction, and awesome power handling, the MRX500 speakers deliver professional performance that working musicians can rely on night after night.

 

Features & Specs:

 

MRX500 Series features:

  • Differential Drive woofers

  • Plywood cabinets with DuraFlex finish

  • 16-gauge steel grilles

  • Neutrik Speakon connectors

MRX512M/MRX515 shared features:

  • 12"/15" woofer

  • 1-1/2" compression driver

  • 70° x 70° coverage

  • Dual-angle pole socket

  • 400W RMS handling, 1600W peak

  • Low-profile design (MRX512M)

MRX512M:

  • 15"W x 25-1/4"H x 13-1/2"D

  • 33 lbs.

MRX515:

  • 17"W x 27-1/4"H x 18-1/2"D

  • 43 lbs.

MRX525:

  • 2 - 15" woofers

  • 1-1/2" compression driver

  • 70° x 70° coverage

  • Dual-angle pole socket

  • 800W RMS handling, 3200W peak

  • 21"W 48-3/4"H x 18"D

  • 84 lbs.

MRX518S:

  • 18" woofer

  • 500W RMS handling, 2000W peak

  • Compact cabinet design

  • Polemount

  • 21"W x 22"H x 27-1/2"D

  • 72 lbs.

MRX528S:

  • 2 - 18" woofers

  • 1000W RMS handling, 4000W peak

  • Vertical orientation for easy stacking

  • 21"W x 43"H x 27-1/2"D

  • 121 lbs.