Pic: CMI’s new Audio Brand Manager Billy Makarewicz with the JBL BRX300
It was with giddying, childish excitement that I finally emerged from Melbourne’s gruelling Lockdown 2.0 to attend a work meeting. And not just a PowerPoint and coffee type meeting; CMI Music and Audio were showcasing the new JBL BRX300 Series self-powered modular line array system at their Brooklyn HQ. At 14 kilometres from my house, and with the ‘four reasons’ for leaving it finally lifted, I was free to drop in (with mask on, of course) and play test tracks to my heart’s content, along with my esteemed media colleagues.
The BRX300 is an interesting one. It’s an extremely affordable, portable line array and sub system, designed to be very, very simple to run, especially ground stacked. It assumes little to no experience of line array deployment. On launch, JBL touted that it would only be available in selected territories – India, APC, and Australia among them.
On meeting CMI’s new Audio Brand Manager Billy Makarewicz in person for the first time (another drawback of almost eight months of lockdown) I asked him about that distribution strategy, which struck me as odd if the product really sits in a unique niche. He quickly indicated that it’s not set in stone, which makes sense.
Keeping it supremely simple, the BRX300 Series has just two loudspeaker models – the dual 8” woofer and 3” compression driver BRX-308LA top box, and the dual 15” sub, the BRX-325SP. The sub daisy-chains power to four 308LAs. A typical system will run four tops and one sub a side, (perfect for ground stacks) and the biggest you can go is eight tops and two subs a side, where you’d fly the tops.
At first glance, the BRX300 is visually reminiscent of the much more expensive VTX A Series. The similarities extend to the rigging system, which is simple and straightforward. I wondered if the much lower price point would cannibalise sales of the A Series, but on getting to know the operation, set-up and limitations (in a good way) of BRX300, that’s not a consideration.
Sonically, the BRX300 has little in common with VTX A’s very ‘European’ high end and midrange. It’s definitely back in old-school JBL territory. Anyone who’s worked with JBL at mid-level concert scale will know what they have to do to make it respond the way they want. Across the frequency range, it’s all there, but for live bands, you’ll need a little tweak at a system level to make it really sing, which is completely reasonable when a stereo system with four tops and one sub a side can be had for less than $30K. That being said, there was literally no EQ across the system I auditioned, and had I had to mix a band on it, I would likely have given it cut around 1.6Khz and maybe a bit of air up around 4kHz. Low end was surprisingly smooth and responsive, without any obvious nodes.
Where the BRX300 really shone was when we put some EDM bangers through it. It LOVED them. This system thrives on thumping electronics. And this is where I can see this system absolutely flying off the shelves. Its simplicity means that a DJ could set it up and operate it correctly without issues, and the SPL and throw means it can handle sizeable gigs. Four tops and a sub per side could become THE mid-size doof PA for Australia.
But there’s more – you can drop in a pole mount and run a sub with two top boxes. That’s a huge range of events sorted. It also installs well; in fact, CMI had already shipped an eight-a-side system off for just that purpose.
This is a name-brand, high SPL, ‘idiot proof’ line array with very little else that’s obviously comparable in its price point. It could star in a number of install scenarios where budget and coverage are the pressure points. It would also represent excellent ROI going out every weekend to blast dancefloor fillers at sweaty punters.
CMI are running demos across Australia on Nov 19 – go to https://cmi.com.au/jbl-brx-300/ for details of a showcase near you.
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