JBL LS40 review

It's not often we come across horn-loaded speakers Tested at £1100.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

They certainly make an impression. With better bass performance, the LS40s would be a match for most at this price point


  • +

    Breathtaking detail in the mid-range and treble

  • +

    dynamic sound


  • -

    Bottom end sounds cloudy, lacking definition and clarity

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

It's not often we come across horn-loaded speakers in a commercial setting. They're usually found tagged onto PA systems in nightclubs and concert venues.

Why? Because the nature of horn-loaded speakers means they can throw out a loud sound more efficiently than a conventional driver unit configuration.

The catch is that this can come at a price: tonally, they may not sound as pure as traditional speakers.
JBL has tried hard to prevent the bi-wireable LS40s from sounding coloured. And, on the whole, it seems to have worked.

Dynamically, the LS40s sound superb. From the midrange all the way to the top, there's a real immediacy and directness to the sound. Vocals and instruments are delivered clearly and precisely, with fantastic attention to detail.

It's a real pleasure listening to Madonna's vocals and the background guitar during The Power Of Goodbye, with the latter sounding extremely refined and realistic. The JBLs really bring a sense of sparkle to proceedings.

Bass needs a boost

Over a prolonged listen, though, it's hard not to feel there's something missing. It's a telling sign that, while we are liberal with our gushing praise over the treble and midrange, the same doesn't extend to the lower frequencies.

If they handled bass with the same clarity, punch and impact, you'd be looking at a possible class-leader.
Throughout The Battle track from the Gladiator OST, bass notes sound cloudy and ill-defined. The JBLs struggle to cut through this sonic mist and you lose a dimension to the sound.

It's a shame, especially when you take into account a refined look that includes high-gloss-ebony wood panels.

Unfortunately, the lack of consistency across the frequency range robs them of a star.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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