Hands-on review: JBL PRX635

(Jason Castellente | Posted 2011-05-27)

Hands-on review: JBL PRX635

Okay, so youíve had a long day at work and you canít wait to get out and play that gig tonight.† Youíve got your day job, but you love the opportunity to play your music. You meet up with your buddies and pack everything into the van and hit the road. Once you get there, now its time to haul all of your gear in, set up and do your very best to make things sound as good as possible.

† Chances are, youíre already whipped and exhausted from the day, but lugging all that gear in kicked your butt.† If youíre in a band that has to bring their own PA (or feels like they have to bring in their own PA after they see what the venue is or ISNíT providing) it gets a lot harder not only on your back, but your wallet.† All of that makes it really hard to put on a great show that everyone will love.† Fortunately, JBL has released a new series of portable loudspeakers called the PRX600 that sound great right out of the box while still maintaining a price that the working musician can stomach and weight that wonít kill your back.

Recently, I needed to purchase a system that would be able to rock a 300-seat auditorium but would also be versatile enough to be used as a portable indoor / outdoor touring system.† I knew the PRX series was solid because I had heard the self-powered JBL PRX635 before.† So, I decided to look at the whole series before making my final decision.

Lots of options
There is a decent variety within the series; all of which are self-powered.† There is a 2-way with a single 12 inch woofer, a 2-way with a single 15 inch woofer, a 2-way with dual 15 inch woofers, and a 3-way with a diaphragm compression driver, a mid range horn and a dual voice coil neodymium woofer.† There are two subwoofers in the series as well but none of them had the output that I was looking for so I decided to go with a passive SRX series subwoofer which I will be reviewing soon.† Ultimately, I decided to go with the PRX635 for my set up.

The PRX635 features two XLR jacks on the back.† One is a pass thru so you can daisy chain multiple PRX635ís together and the other feeds a class-D 1500 watt Crown amplifier with a preset DBX DSP input section featuring a limiter as well as the internal crossover that splits up signal to each of the 3 drivers. The JBL spec sheet claims that it can produce a maximum of 135 dB which I completely agree with.† These speakers are totally capable of some serious bump!† But, bump is nothing without a quality sound.† The PRX635ís cover 90įx50į and can push 53Hz-18Khz with only a variance of plus or minus 3 dB which is awesome because most people can barely hear a difference of 3 dB.† Also, any variances are easily fixed with a 31 band EQ. It also has a user selectable EQ on the back allowing you to choose to run it flat or with JBLís preset EQ.† I found their preset EQ totally useless because the speakerís response is solid to begin with.† No crazy corrections or major boosts and cuts are needed for my application.† With that kind of frequency response, you can pick these up and wait a little while and get subs later because they will be able to hold their own.† They have a surprising and accurate low-end presence while still maintaining clear and crisp highs.

Lightweight heavyweight
The PRX635 speaker box is made out of lightweight poplar plywood, which is one of the best features because the whole unit only weights in at 60 pounds! The construction feels solid even after I loaded and unloaded them a few times as well as set them up and pushed them pretty hard.† The outside is covered in Obsidian DuraFlex finish.† I have no idea why it includes ďduraĒ anything in the name because the finish is anything but durable.† It chipped off very easily after the first gig.† It did not effect performance at all, but they look like I beat the heck out of them.† That was kind of disappointing to me but as long as the sound quality was not compromised, I guess itís okay. They have large ergonomic handles on the sides which are covered in rubber to increase grip when moving them or positioning them.

I have read online that the PRX series does have a problem with rattling inside of the unit when they are pushed hard and apparently, it is something that shows up after some use.† So, I figured Iíd just be aware and keep my ears open for it.† Just recently, one of my speakers started doing just that.† The other ones arenít doing it but I assume itís only a matter of time.† It is not a major problem because you can really only hear the rattling from behind the speaker. It does not affect the sound quality that you are standing in front of the speaker.† It is just slightly annoying.

The Bottom Line
Overall, I must say I am pleased with the performance of the PRX635ís.† As far as bang for your buck, they come in at a pretty sweet $999.† There are small issues with the finish and the internal rattling but I think it is still a very solid competitor in that niche of the live sound market.† Check them out today!

For more information about what Iím working on, check out www.jasoncastellente.com.

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