JBL launched a range of vintage-looking hi-fi components at CES 2023, all of it hearkening back to the brand’s 1960s-70s heyday when beefy knobs and wood side-panels were the norm. But the new JBL offering that most captured my attention – that hard-to-ignore Bluetooth-enabled, orange-plattered turntable aside – was the 4329P Studio Monitor Powered Loudspeaker.
The 4329P is a larger, more full-range follow-up to the 4305P Studio Monitor the company launched in summer 2022. Like that offering, the new model was designed to look like JBL’s vintage speakers, with a wide cabinet that in this instance houses a horn-loaded 1-inch compression driver and 8-inch paper cone woofer.
But the retro aspects of the 4329P’s design end there. The new JBL is a fully active speaker, with a built-in 300-watt amplifier supplying 250 watts to the woofer and 50 watts to the compression driver, with digital signal processing used to optimize the crossover between the two along with power handling.
Like the best wireless speakers, the 4329P can stream audio over Wi-Fi, with Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth aptX all supported. Its 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter can handle all high-res audio formats, including ones that use MQA (Tidal music service streams, mainly).
Along with its wireless streaming features, the 4329P has plenty of hardwired ports to hook up components, with the list including USB and optical digital plus 3.5mm and combination balanced XLR/TRS phono analog connections.
How does it sound?
I had an opportunity at CES to listen to the 4329Ps in a quiet, enclosed room with high-res tracks streamed via Chromecast from the Qobuz music service.
Music sounded effortless on the JBL speakers – even at a relatively loud level there was a dynamic character that indicated the speakers weren’t even breaking a sweat. Electronic tracks like Beyond Beliefs by Ben Böhmer conveyed a wide soundstage with ample depth, and the bass was powerful and tightly controlled.
And deep-reaching as well: while the 4329P’s smaller 4305P predecessor was a bass-limited bookshelf model, the new model was designed to hit frequencies as low as 25 Hz. I could hear that bass extension in my demo, with the sound having the full quality you typically get when speakers are paired with an external subwoofer.
The 4329P will be available in spring with a suggested price of $4,500/pair in both furniture-grade black walnut and natural walnut finish options. Both look great, but you may want to go natural to get that vintage look, which will perfectly match any other retro-designed JBL gear you buy.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.