JBL 306P MkII Powered Monitor Review

jbl 360P

The JBL 306P MkII Powered 6.5" Two-Way Studio Monitor is a bi-amplified reference monitor that packs good sound at a very low price point. We've seen these on special regularly under $250 for a pair, which is competitive for this level of sound.

It's like the JBL product managers were given a challenge to make a really good sounding monitor that looked and felt cheap. It's odd. The 306P MkII monitors have this glossy look and cheap feeling lightweight design. When you consider the price, the cheap looking design is not unexpected. However, when you connect them to a clean quality source they sound pretty darn good and fairly transparent. We wouldn't call the sound tight and we would not use these for critical mixing.  So, yes it's a case of you get what you pay for.  

We played a wide variety of music and instruments at all volume levels and could generally push these as hard as we needed to. There's enough low end and they get plenty loud, far exceeding what you would expect for their size and weight.

The 306p MkII include balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs, a +4dBu/–10dBV input-sensitivity switch, and volume control. JBL uses class D amps for efficiency and also includes an auto off feature so the monitors will power down automatically after 20 minutes of no signal. This feature can be toggled on and off too.

The JBL 306p MkII monitors do generate an ever so slight hiss while powered on. You have to put your ear in the vicinity of the tweeter to hear it, but it's certainly there and louder than hissing we've heard form other powered monitors with class D amps.  In a room with any kind of white noise or while mixing it's not noticeable.  We still found this a bummer and it would likely irritate us into returning these just knowing it's there.  

That said, let's get back to price.  If your budget is tight and your sound requirements are large, and you favor output level versus accuracy,  the JBL 306p MkIIs offer a reasonable value if you find them on sale under $250/pair.  They're a decent starter set of monitors for aspiring musicians and video editors on a tight budget. The trick with these monitors will be learning how they translate to playback on other systems. Once you do that you've got yourself a true bargain in studio monitors.  

See all the specs and learn more here.

Best Hard Drives for Video Editing using NAS and DAS Multidrive RAID

HDD NAS

Yes the world is moving to SSD but when it comes digital content creation and video editing you're going to need network attached storage or direct attached storage in the form of servers and RAID arrays to store and edit terabytes and terabytes of projects. So the hard drive is as important as ever and still the most cost efficient way to online digital media.

So it's gotten simpler with only a few major players to consider. Hard drives are manufactured by Seagate, Western Digital/Hitachi and Toshiba. Each manufacturer has a variety of hard drive offerings for desktop and enterprise use. For your NAS or DAS setup we suggest using one of the enterprise offerings or a drive specifically designed for a multidrive enclosure.

QNAP, Synology, Areca, Drobo, Promise, Netgear are some of the leading suppliers of NAS and DAS products. We've done extensive tests with Synology NAS products and Areca DAS products. We also used multiple drives populating Supermicro workstations.

Over the years we've had excellent luck with Hitachi Ultrastar drives which are now sold under the Western Digital brand as Ultrastar. The Ultrastar was previosly sold as the Western Digtal Gold drive as well. Another drive to consider is the Western Digital Red Pro series. These drives are exactly like the original line of Hitachi Ultrastar drives as well such as the 7k3000, 7k4000 and 7k6000 drives which you can still find on Ebay at amazing prices.

We recommend buying new hard drives directly from Amazon or BH Photo. There are lots of third parties that sell drives however if you get something that is packaged funny or looks wonky Amazong and BH will handle it more rapidly.

We also are testing the Toshiba N300 series helium drives. They are fast and quiet and offer good performance. All manufacturers have gone to helium in higher capacities. Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba have all been working on helium drives for several years. In general, helium allows more platters to be used for higher capacities. 16TB drives are rolling out. Helium drives also consume less power and make less noise and experience less internal turbulence. All of these factors make helium based drives ideal for multidrive systems.

In terms of speed and performance.  All of these drives are really close.  Once you put them in a RAID array there's not much difference.  

So for NAS and DAS systems in video editing environments and multiuser high traffic scenarious we advise going with enterprise level drives such as the Western Digital Ultrastar, Seagate Exos or Toshiba MG series.

For less intensive, non-critical use we'd go with the Western Digital Red Pro, Seagate Ironwolf Pro or Toshiba N300 series. We advise going with larger capacity helium based drives for long term performance, less noise and power savings. If you opt for lower capacity we'd advise sticking with 6TB and higher capacities. If you opt for higher capacity target 12TB and higher.

So let's say you're an editor that works out of your home studio and you have an 8 bay RAID array.  Any of these drives should provide the performance and reliability you need.  We'd be comfortable with any of these drives in a RAID 10 working on 4K material running large renders.  In a corporate setting with shared resources and 24/7 workload, multiple editors on same project...etc, we'd opt for the first tier line of drives. 


FIRST TIER
More on the Western Digital Ultrastar (previosly Gold) preferred
More on Seagate Exos
More on Toshiba MG series

SECOND TIER
More on Western Digital Red Pro preferred
More on Seagate Ironwolf Pro 
More on Toshiba N300 

Genelec 8030C 5” active monitor Review

genelec8030c

The Genelec 8030C 5” active monitors are a very good choice for transparent and accurate monitors for post production. Our mixes are translating to all playback devices as intended and these Genelecs have become trusted, honest friends during mixdown.

The 8030C 5” active monitor is an extremely well built unit that features 5” inch woofer and 3/4” tweeter both powered by 50-watt amplifiers. These are compact and very powerful monitors that can produce high output levels in control rooms of nearly any size. We tested them in a 10x10 edit suite adjacent to a 30” screen using IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R130 isolators. They are pretty much ideal in this setting. Just give them a clean signal from the board and the Genelec's have plenty of power to fill the space as needed.  
iso acoustics

We adjusted the dip switches on the back to account for the speakers being near a wall and slightly elevated. This was critical to achieving the accurate sound we were after. Prior to adjusting the dip switches the sound was really heavy and muddy in the lower frequencies.

These 8030c monitors are just really clean monitors that allow you to mix dialogue and music in a very confident way. These are great monitors for critical listening and doing audio forensics and cleaning up interviews. We'd like to see more input options in addition to the balanced XLR but imagine many are installed in permanent professional situations where the added cost isn't necessary.

For many years we've been happily chugging along with our passive JBLs and trusted Hafler amps and we still prefer the heft and heat for music mixes. The Genelecs did take a little getting used to, like adjusting to any new monitor setup.  After extended use we can highly recommend them.  They just stay out of the way so you can dial in your mix with confidence.  When it comes to post production they've become a standard in many editing suites with good reason.  The Genelec 8030c monitors are a really good choice and translate well to any kind of playback system. They make a good partner for extended edit sessions and will keep you honest with your final mix.  

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