JBL PD5322/43 Loudspeaker

Solid performance for a wide range of applications.
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JBL PD5322/43 Loudspeaker

Apr 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

Solid performance for a wide range of applications.

JBL has a loudspeaker for just about every imaginable application, and in the domain of installed systems, the Precision Directivity series provides a nice array of products for theater and performing arts facilities, auditoriums, sports facilities, dance clubs, and houses of worship. The PD5322/43 is the latest offering in the series, and upon examination proves to be a solid solution.

The “5” in the 5322/43 designation indicates that this is a PD-series speaker; the “3” indicates a three-way system; the first “2” indicates that there are two LF drivers; the second “2” indicates that the LF drivers are 12in. units; and the “/43” indicates a 40°×30° coverage pattern. The primary application for this speaker is in fixed installations where pattern control is a high priority. It can be used in arrays or individually for applications that require high output capability with precise pattern control.

THE DRIVERS

The two LF drivers are slot-loaded, vented-gap cooled 12in. 2206H units, yielding healthy lows. JBL's specifications indicate 49Hz at 3dB down and 41Hz at 10dB down. These drivers sport 4in. voice coils, and thus solid power-handling characteristics with a 4Ω load (8Ω per driver, wired in parallel internally.) This is an efficient LF system with sensitivity of 96dB-SPL at 1W/1M.

The MF driver is a CMCD-82H (Cone Midrange Compression Driver) with a differential drive dual 3in. voice coil. The PT-N43MF waveguide is 24"×24", featuring a 4in. exit diameter, and the driver exhibits a load of 8Ω. Efficiency is very solid here, with sensitivity of 112dB-SPL at 1W/1M.

The HF driver is a 243H compression driver with a 3in. voice coil and a 1.5in. exit diameter. The magnet is neodymium, and the diaphragm is formed from aluminum. The HF driver's PT-H43HF waveguide measures 12"×12", and sensitivity is rated at 116dB-SPL at 1W/1M.

THE ELECTRONICS

This loudspeaker is operable in both bi-amp and tri-amp modes — the former with a passive crossover between MF and HF drivers, specifically a steep 36dB/octave Linkwitz-Riley HP & LP centered at 1.7kHz. The LF driver sports an AES power rating of 1600W (2 hours), 1200W (100 hours), with peaks of 6400W and 4800W, respectively. The power rating for the MF driver is 350W (1400W peak, 2 hours), and the power rating for the HF driver is 75W (300W peak), 2 hours. Long-term (IEC) system power rating in two-way mode is 1200W (4800W peak) for the LF driver and 300W (1200W peak) for the M/HF system, 100 hours. Maximum SPL in tri-amp mode is 128dB-SPL continuous average (134dB peak) for the LF driver, 137dB-SPL continuous average (143dB peak) for the MF driver, and 135dB-SPL continuous average (141dB peak) for the HF driver. Maximum SPL for the system in bi-amp mode is 136dB-SPL continuous average (142dB peak.)

The large PT waveguides are intended to create a balance between controlled coverage, low distortion, smooth frequency response, and natural sound character. The frequency response characteristic results from a combination of the waveguides and the system's electronics, and JBL specifies that digital signal processing is necessary to achieve the specified performance. Because this speaker is intended for fixed-install applications, appropriate tuning is a given — and certainly contributes to excellent performance.

THE ENCLOSURE

The PD5322/43 is housed in a trapezoidal enclosure with 12.5 degree side angles. The front of the enclosure is 26.5in. wide and 39in. tall. Both waveguides are rotatable to achieve either a 40°×30° or 30°×40° degree pattern, enabling both vertical and horizontal cabinet orientation. The cabinet is 35.3in. deep, and is made of 5/8in. 11-ply Finnish birch. The enclosure features a total of 20 suspension points — five on the top, five on the bottom, four on each side, and two in the rear. All suspension points feature M10 threaded hardware. By default, the enclosure ships with a black DuraFlex finish, but white is also available. WRC and WRX weather-resistant finishes are also available for exterior placement. The grille is a powder-coated 14-gauge perforated steel (zinc-phosphate dipped) affair with foam backing. There are two choices in terms of input connectors, specifically Neutrik Speakon NL8 or barrier strip terminals. The barrier strips can accept either 10AWG bare wire or 9mm spade lugs. The Speakon connectors are wired in parallel with the barrier strips for loop-through connection. This loudspeaker weighs in at 192lbs.

THE GOODS

I test-drove this speaker in bi-amp mode in the live sound venue at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, using Crest amplification. The enclosure was placed at stage height and directed toward FOH. I listened to a wide array of familiar source material, including music and speech. Primarily, I wanted to establish that the speaker performs the way that JBL claims it does, so I developed a short checklist of claims made in JBL's spec sheet. First, I set out to verify that the frequency response is all there, and indeed it is. The two 12in. LF drivers provide a healthy dose of low end, but I found that I wanted a bit more in the deep low end, which is no surprise. Virtually all large arrays (particularly in large venues) are going to include subwoofers, and the PD5322/43 would indeed benefit nicely from that addition. Nonetheless, a pair of these speakers in a small venue provides sufficient low end. A large venue or dance club would almost certainly require subwoofers, but most other applications would be nicely served by the PD5322/43 alone, when tuned correctly.

Second, JBL's spec sheet states that the MF driver “provides high sensitivity and high continuous SPL capability along with low distortion, extended bandwidth, and improved phase coherence.” I found this to be very much true. The midrange component sounds excellent, and JBL's claims regarding pattern control are definitely true.

The spec sheet also states that the HF driver “provides clear, intelligible high frequency projection.” This is the area where this speaker truly shines. The high end is clear, distortion-free (even at high SPL), and very pleasing. For that matter, there was very little distortion across the entire bandwidth at elevated SPL, but I found the high end to be particularly accurate and quite pleasant.

Overall, the response is very smooth from top to bottom, and the phase coherency achieved by the waveguides and internal crossover makes for a pleasant listening experience. I would unquestionably recommend this system for a fixed installation. It's a very solid performer.

SPECIFICATIONS

Frequency Range 41Hz to 18kHz

Frequency Response 49Hz to 16kHz Transducer Power Ratings (AES)

LF: 1600W (6400W peak), 2 hours; 1200W (4800W peak), 100 hours

MF: 350W (1400W peak), 100 hours

HF: 75W (300W peak), 2 hours

Long-Term System Power Rating (IEC): Bi-amplified Passive Mode 1200W (4800W peak)

M/HF 300W (1200W peak), 100 hours

Maximum SPL: Tri-amp Mode
LF: 128dB SPL cont. avg. (134dB peak)
MF: 137 dB SPL cont. avg. (143dB peak)
HF: 135 dB SPL cont. avg. (141dB peak)

Passive Mode 136dB SPL cont. avg. (142dB peak)

Coverage Pattern 40°×30°

Physical Suspension Attachment 20 points (5 top, 5 bottom, 4 each side, 2 rear), M10 threaded hardware

Dimensions (H × W × D in vertical orientation) 39.0"×26.5"×35.3"

Net Weight 192lbs.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

Company: JBL Professional www.jblpro.com

Pros: Smooth response. Negligible distortion, even at high SPL.

Cons: Subwoofer may be necessary for some applications.

Applications: Theater and performing arts facilities, auditoriums, sports facilities, dance clubs, and houses of worship.

Price: $4,592

John McJunkinis the principal of Avalon Studio Services in Phoenix and consults for both studios and live sound applications.

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