JBL GX602 Review

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Sweet!  Free set of JBL GX602 speakers to review – Wait, can I even sell these in my own shop?

JBL GX602 Review

JBL GX602 Review

I really didn’t know what to expect when the folks over at Harman graciously offered to send me a sample of their JBL GX602 speakers for review.  As a small car audio shop owner, I was aware of the brand, but never had any real hands on experience with the product.

For those of you that don’t know, Harman is huge in the car audio industry.  Like really, really huge.  Their family of brands includes (but is not limited to) JBL, Infinity, Harman Kardon, Becker, Mark Levinson and the more recently acquired Bang & Olufsen.  Their audio and infotainment products are used in more than 80% of the world’s luxury vehicles.

These guys are serious about understanding and implementing the science behind good sound.  They spend a lot of time and money in research, design, development and product testing. They even have a state of the art facility in Northridge California called the multiple listening lab specifically created for loudspeaker research and testing. This facility houses a one of a kind invention called a speaker shuffler specifically created for their own double blind product testing.

You may be wondering, “Well if they’re that big and that serious about car audio, why don’t you carry JBL in your store?”. Well, until recently, JBL was sold almost exclusively to large retailers like Best Buy or Crutchfield.  Thankfully, once again Harman is seeing the value in small independent shops like mine and they are changing their distribution model. I’m pretty happy they are making this shift because these speakers do rock and I gotta have them in my shop.

JBL GX Series – Best Entry Level Car Audio Speakers

After installing these in our sound board and turning them on for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised.  To the point where I grabbed my husband John and said, “Babe!  You gotta take a listen to these – they’re really good!”.

JBL GX602 Review Display Board

JBL GX602 Review – On My Display Board

The JBL GX series speakers definitely made an impression on me.  For a variety of reasons, I feel these are the best entry level car audio speakers I have heard.  When I say entry level, I mean the land of $99.95 6.5″coaxial car audio speakers.

Efficiency and Output

The JBL GX602 speakers are incredibly efficient – surprisingly efficient.  Increased efficiency means these speakers will play pretty loud with minimal power. Harman attributes this to their patented Plus One Woofer Cone technology.  This design creates up to 35% more surface area on the woofer cone.  The increased surface area equates to higher efficiency and sensitivity.  In audible terms, there is an undeniable difference in output between the JBL GX602 and the leading competitors entry level 6.5″ speakers.  In other words, they’re louder than their competitors.  This also has to do with the fact that these speakers use dual 3 ohm voice coils creating a nominal impedance of 2.3 ohms.  Standard car audio speakers are single voice coil 4 ohm.  The slightly lower impedance allows slightly more power to flow from the head unit or amplifier to the speakers.

Balance and Clarity

They’re not just loud, they’re clear and tastefully balanced.  I auditioned the JBL GX602 speakers with a variety of music. From Sheryl Crow’s “We Do What We Can” to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and a little bit of Nelly Furtado’s “Fresh Off The Boat”.  Over a variety of genres and songs, the JBL GX series speakers consistently performed in a loud, clear and accurate manner without any level of harshness.  I was surprised at how smooth they were considering their “in your face” presence.

Directional Tweeter

JBL also uses a special tweeter deflector which helps to direct and disperse top end detail to the driver.  I LOVE this feature.  I usually use this line to up-sell a customer to component speakers, “What good are tweeters if they’re aimed at your ankles?”.  That’s essentially what you’re doing with a traditional coaxial speaker mounted in your door.  However, with JBL’s tweeter deflector, this is less of an issue.  For the customer who can’t make the investment into components (or doesn’t feel like installing them), this little feature really helps to direct that sound stage up to where the driver can hear it.

JBL GX602 Review – Should you buy them?

I love these speakers for the customer who:

  • Is interested in doing a full system on a limited budget (head unit, speakers, amp/sub).  These customers will benefit from the sound quality of these speakers and the increased efficiency.  A subwoofer will add depth and punch and really compliment the range the GX series are capable of.
  • Is replacing blown stock speakers.  Perfect for when a customer walks into my shop and they just want to replace blown or dry rotted stock speakers, but they still want to keep the stock head unit.  Other brands are less efficient and depending on the stock stereo, they may actually end up being quieter than the original stock speakers.  These speakers are an ideal upgrade for anyone with a stock stereo looking to upgrade speakers.
  • Wants it loud, but can’t afford an amp.  If you’ve already blown your aftermarket speakers, but you are not willing or able to invest in a 4 channel amp, you should buy these speakers.  They will play louder than many competitors speakers all due to that increased efficiency and 2.3 ohm load.
  • Interested in value.  These speakers include gasket tape, speaker mounting adapters, screws and hardware. The gasket tape and mounting adapters could otherwise add another $20 to your install.  The fact that they are included shows these speakers are a great value.
JBL GX602 Review Speaker Adapters

JBL GX602 Review- Speaker Adapters, Gasket Tape and Hardware Included.

JBL GX Speakers – Coming soon to Sounds Incredible Mobile

Although I only listened to the JBL GX602’s, the GX series is offered in a variety of sizes from 3.5″ to 6″x9″ and everything in between.  After listening to these speakers I emailed Harman,” Wow- I gotta have them”.  I look forward to meeting my JBL rep next week and carrying the JBL GX speakers in my own shop. What do you guys think?  What kind of experience have you had with JBL products?

 

 

 

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8 comments for “JBL GX602 Review

  1. Barry
    June 12, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Where do you ask questions on this site?

  2. Steve Boyer
    June 24, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Annie, Your review of the JBL GX602 speakers is very encouraging. I have a 6 speaker 2015 Subaru Forester Premium with the stock head unit. I recently purchased JBL GX602 speakers for my front doors and JBL GT7-97 speakers for my rear doors from an online competitor (CF). I’ll install them soon and will use Dynamat to sound deaden the doors too. My head unit has a reputation on subaruforester.org to be very under-powered.These speakers and Dynamat should help me considerably improve the sound from my current head unit.

    Sometime in the future I probably will replace the head unit with a better one with GPS too. Choosing the appropriate replacement head unit is very confusing and seems much more costly than upgrading my speakers. So I’m taking things a step at a time.

    I already replaced the stock tweeters in the dash with upgraded ones by Kicker which considerably improved the sound clarity. That has me motivated to complete installing the JBLs and Dynamat to see/hear how much more my sound system improves. I’m optimistic it’ll be a good (possibly an interim) step.

    Thank you Annie for your car stereo blog and your clearly explained straight forward ideas for different price ranges.

    Steve

    • June 26, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Steve, thank you so much for the feedback, I’m glad I can help. There’s one thing I will mention that I’ve come across with a few readers and customers with the new Subaru stereo. There is a setting in the EQ that really throws everything off, makes it really muddy. Check to see if yours has this and if so turn it off, it’s called something like “automatic sound levelizer”. I think it’s Subaru’s idea of a way to enhance compressed music, but it really does a bad job.

  3. Justin
    May 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    As you stated, Harmon products are in many OEM installations. What’s your take in general about OEM “premium” speakers? When you replace JBLs in a Toyota, Harmon Kardon in a Subaru, Mark Levinson in a Lexus, etc. what are your typical impressions of their quality? Hypothetically, if you could take some of these speakers and put them on your shelf for retail sale, what would you price them at (judging from parts quality, SQ, etc.)? Do you feel that something like the JBL GX series would be an upgrade in said Toyota, Subaru, Lexus, etc.? Do you think OEMs get better SQ more via processing, or quality of components? Just curious to hear from someone who’s seen it firsthand. Thanks.

    • Justin
      May 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      In other words, is it possible to think of the JBL GX series as a possible upgrade to an OEM “high-end” sound system? Or should one look at the higher lines from JBL, et al. when upgrading an already “premium” OEM system?

      • May 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        Hey Justin – all very good questions. The problem with stock premium systems is the quality is all over the place. I’ve seen decent quality speakers come out of one year/model Lexus that look like they would be $150 component speakers and I’ve seen premium stock speakers come out of another year/model Lexus that look like a standard paper cone $20 stock speaker.

        My comment on how Harmon products are in many OEM installations is to attest to their automotive audio background and the extensive quality testing and design aspect that goes into designing OEM speakers. An auto manufacturer may come to them and say, ‘Hey – we want you to build our premium audio system for this car, here are the vehicle details, and we are willing to pay you X dollars for this job and they need to last long enough to match this auto warranty that we offer”. So the quality level is going to vary depending on what the auto manufacturer wants for that particular, year, make and model.

        I would say for most vehicles this would definitely be an upgrade over stock “high end” sounds systems, but due to the variety in quality of these “high end” OEM sound systems, it’s hard to say anything with certainty. Would I put these in my 2010 BMW 3 series with the BMW Professional stereo for an upgrade over stock? Meh, probably not. But in that car I know from experience the best thing to do is not only upgrade speakers, but also swap out the stock amp. Would I put these in my 2008 Toyota Sienna with stock JBL speakers? Yeah and it would be an upgrade over stock in that car – but I would also Dynamat the vehicle as well to get the most out of the speakers.

  4. Trey
    May 1, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Good review. So you would not classify these as “high-end”?

    • May 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Trey,
      Thanks. These speakers, depending on size, are priced in the $69 – $129 range, so no, not high end. For reference, that price range is really considered entry level in this industry. However, I think these speakers are quite superior to other well known entry level car audio speakers.

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