3-4 dB dip at crossover region: what should I listen for to hear it?

I haven’t posted here for about 10 years but thought I’d jump back in to ask about my new JBL 4349s. According to measurements on ASR and even JBLs own graphs, the 4349s have a 3-4 dB dip in the crossover region at about the 1.5 kHz mark. What should I listen for to hear this? I understand that music in this range will be quieter, but I’m not hearing any suckout compared to my Omegas or other speakers Ive had in my system. I’ve played some clarinet and violin concertos, two instruments that spend a lot of time in this frequency range, but I can’t hear an obvious difference. Am I listening for the wrong thing? I’d like to be able to hear this deficiency for leaning purposes if nothing else, so any pointers are appreciated.


Many thanks!


I doubt you'll ever hear it.  Tests have proven that when dips are narrow and near adjacent frequencies, the human ear can't detect them.  Even very large dips exceeding 12 db.  It has to do with second/ third harmonics canceling out the dip somehow.  I tried to find a well put together video that I watched regarding that, which explained it in detail with graphs, but I was not successful.  I believe it was on YouTube.  Maybe someone reading this has a link.  

Thanks for the reply @ellajeanelle. That’s really interesting. According to most of the posters on the 4349 thread at ASR, this dip is an unforgivable sin. I’ve been taking hifi seriously for about 15 years but have only recently been using measurements to guage how gear might sound (though I’ve been using measurements for system matching from the beginning). Lots to learn!

Trust your ears.  As a musician you have a huge advantage in that your brain is very familiar with live music.  Don't become like the rest of us that become hypercritical about things that in the end are not so important.  Listen to a broad sampling of music you love.  If the speaker checks off all the boxes important to you, measurements do not mean much. Good luck.

@corelli, apologies for the misunderstanding -- should have written that I played concerto recordings, lol. Good advice on trusting my ears. I like a lot of the things these speakers do but they're pretty new so I'm still adjusting to them.

No worries, my advice would still stand.  Keep in mind some gear can measure very very well and be quite sterile and unexciting.  If after extended listening you love a given speaker without reservation--that's all that really matters in the end.  As I type, I am listening to a SET amp driving full range speakers in my secondary system.  I am sure this does not measure well.  But it brings me a very large measure of musical satisfaction.  Trust your ears.  In the end, that is all that matters.  Take your time on speakers.  Often it take time to reveal shortcomings

@rischa , In general, if you want to catch on to things like that.....

- Get a pair of flat nearfield studio monitors with significant clarity and detail like the Yamaha HS8, HS7 or similar (Siiting nearfield at 3ft away can get much of the room's confoundance out if the way).

- Hook it up to a processor/DAC with multiband PEQ.

- Play tracks you know very well on such monitors and start bumping up/down PEQ bands with high Q, low Q, etc. Discern how it sounds different to your ears with such manual PEQ changes. It can be a fairly quick way to train your ears.


Couple of things come to mind. First, it could be deliberate to enhance imaging. Next, it may not be "real" in the sense that the overall energy you hear in a room may be different, or it is designed for zero toe in and listening at an angle which eliminates this issue.

Despite the guys at ASR getting their panties all knotted up, if a bear poops in the woods and there’s no one there to smell it..... oh, I forgot the metaphor but basically if you don’t hear it who cares?

This from a speaker maker who sweats each Hz and each dB!! 😂

Might be fun to MEASURE it in your room, and them switch a compensating parametric EQ curve in and out to see if you care and which you prefer.

This is kind of tickling my memory of theater speakers, which were often 2-way and horn loaded.  We never had perfect crossover matching, but we did have very good sounding theaters.  This horn/woofer alignment striikes me as similar.

One other thing that I'm thinking about is that ASR is measuring the speaker at 1 watt.  Lots of speakers measure close to flat ONLY at 1  watt and then have their performance rapidly degrade when louder or heated up by playing (i.e. thermal compression). For a speaker like this, excellent performance even when played hot would matter more for me.

Ok, another thing, there are some crossover alignments which forego absolute perfect amplitude for excellent impulse response, the name of the crossover alignment escapes me, but not impossible this is an example of it.

If you want to know exactly what the crossover characteristics are, it’s quite easily done. Get a used audio frequency generator and oscilloscope and plot the curve with some graph paper or Excel.



@erik_squires I think you were thinking of Linkeitz-Riley crossovers which are nominally -6dB at the crossover points.


And as far as the ASR crowd, I have a sneaking suspicion the individuals commenting have never heard the JBL 4349 or heard of Linkeitz-Riley filters, let alone the theory behind them.

@panzrwagn no.  Linkwitz Riley sum to zero at the crossover if alihned correctly.   This is more obscure. 

It would be very difficult for me to believe that the crossover dip was an oversight by the JBL crossover design team.

While ASR is good at measuring and complaining, I’ve yet to see them do an in depth speaker analysis. They measure a speaker, sure, but an in depth look would be to disassemble it, trace out the crossover, measure the driver impedances and then put together a complete simulation.

Or even better, do as Troels Gravesen does with some vintage speakers and demonstrate the value of a crossover re-think by making a new crossover and measuring the finished results. ASR is a misnomor. They are Audio Quality Review... they don’t usually know what the underlying tech is doing, they just measure the results, which is useful but doesn’t go far enough. For instance, the Kef Reference 1 Meta really needs an in depth crossover analysis because there may be great ways to fix the low impedance. ASR noted the impedance without any understanding of what they were looking at.

My point is, they measure, they get all huffy and the like to think of themselves as the last word, but they are not even close. 

It is quite possible the crossover is the best compromise possible with these two drivers. I would be absolutely shocked if this was merely a matter of crossover selection. Not in this century and not from JBL.

Today sound pressure meters are very inexpensive

get one with a tripod fitting

next a CD (not LP) with test tones, many single frequencies, and you set the mic at seated ear height at your listening position.

They don't have to be laboratory accurate, just give you relative differences, i.e. + ____ db or - _____ db than the prior frequency.

My test tone CD has 29 frequencies to compare. Expensive, you could find something else


You are measuring the space as well as your speakers. Slight relocation, slight toe-in adjustments differences can be found.


I just read the review and Amir from ASR actually put that speaker on his recommended list. Beyond measurements, he was pleased with the sound.

You don't want to hear it, because then you can't un-hear it and you'll be looking for new speakers.  If you like the sound, close all ASR webpages, and just listen to the music.

You don't want to hear it, because then you can't un-hear it and you'll be looking for new speakers.  If you like the sound, close all ASR webpages, and just listen to the music.

Believe it or not I actually would like to hear it, if only so I can better relate measurements to performance. The thing is, I’m not sure these speakers are right for me (too soon to tell - I always take a long time to adjust to new gear), so while I’ve got them I might as well learn from them. These are my first horn speakers so I bought them as much for the experience as anything else.

Why do you want to listen for something that many consider a flaw? Just enjoy the music and if you can't because of some perceived problem, buy some different speakers and do not look at the frequency response. Sheesh.

Not sure if this is right or relevant (better informed posters like Mr. Squires, please correct me if I'm wrong), but such "dips" (i.e., "3-4 dB at about 1.5 kHz") are not analogous to, say, missing a shade of blue between Cerulean and Cobalt. What I mean is that the missing shade of blue will jump out as a gap to the eye. The "missing" decibels "around" 1.5 kHz, however, are as it were blurred together with frequencies just below and just above. It's not a discreet gap. I learned this by using a crossover to send "only" frequencies below 50 Hz to my subwoofer. I found that if I shut off my main speakers, I still got sounds out of the sub that were clearly above 50 Hz. A knowledgeable friend described this slope phenomenon to explain why. If this is a poor explanation, I would appreciate gettin' schooled by someone better informed.

BTW, the SPL meter linked above (by elliot...) is only A-weighted. But C-weighting is much more relevant for music, as it doesn't discriminate against low frequencies. If you are listening to music loud (say, 90 dB or more C-weighted), and switch your meter to A-weighting, the level will drop significantly (to 80 dB or even less). 

One more thing. Several here have objected to measurements in principle, appealing to what your ears like as the only relevant standard. Well, yeah, of course. But that doesn't mean measurements are irrelevant. I don't want to open up this always contentious can of worms, but the fact is that measurements are used by the scientific engineers who design the equipment, and they do correspond, in "objective" ways, to our "subjective" ear-experiences. Duh. If you simply reject the relevance of measurements altogether, then you reduce the audio experience to one of taste alone. If you do that, this forum becomes nothing more than a place to share your enthusiasms. 

Speaking for myself, I appreciate posters like Erik Squires because they provide more than mere opinions, more than mere personal preferences. There are correlations between measurements and subjective listening which, at least in principle, bypass the pitfalls of mere judgments of taste.

Thanks to everyone for the responses. So it seems like a narrow dip in spl at one point in the range is relatively inconsequential, at least in this instance. That's good to know.


@roadcykler, your post is surprising on an audiophile forum. Whay do I want to hear the dip? Because I want to be able to correlate the measurements with my listening experience. Or in this case, to learn that the the dip has little effect on what I'm hearing. If none of this was important, I'd just buy some old Pioneers at the goodwill and be done with it. I like learning about audio almost as much as I like listening to music -- it's how I put together a system that presents the music at its best.

If you can’t hear it, you can’t hear it. don’t force yourself to.

MANY speakers have ragged response graphs far worse than this, and they are often credited with being "revealing" and making the reviewer go through their entire music catalog again as if they are hearing the songs for the first time. Amazing!!

What actually happens is that the ragged response makes some notes pop more than others, tricking your ear into believing it to be more revealing, and it is, but only in some ways.

This is overall a very smooth measuring speaker, with the potential for excellent off-axis performance and dynamic range. JA at Stereophile has certainly praised a number of speakers that measured far worse.

Just, for the record, using a cheap SPL meter and frequency generator is so 1990s.  Get Room EQ Wizard with a calibrated mic (~$80) or OminMic and do it right. 

Alternatively, use your phone with AudioTools with something like the Dayton Audio phone mic


@erik_squires -- "What actually happens is that the ragged response makes some notes pop more than others, tricking your ear into believing it to be more revealing, and it is, but only in some ways."

Just an added comment -- I find that some speakers that are "impressive" on first listen -- those that make certain instruments or voices "pop" -- often turn out to be the most wearing to listen to over time.  I use unamplified live acoustic music as my personal reference when deciding if I like a particular piece of equipment, but recognize that lots of people listen for different characteristics, particularly if they are primarily fans of rock, pop, EDM, RAP or such.  But, that's the nice thing about this hobby, there is something for everyone. 

@mlsstl  You are not wrong at all. 

By the way, I'm not saying a juiced frequency response is necessarily something never to be done.  Between old Wilson's that had a similar crossover hole at ~ 2.4 kHz to the Dali's with the 2-3 DB extra treble lift, or the Dynaudio's with a W shaped response.  These speakers all have fans and listening habits which make them the ideal speaker.  There are also speakers and reviewers that have become enamored of certain colorations and call it neutral.  Ugh.

mlsstl’s comment dovetails with something I wanted to add. I use unamplified acoustic music as my "personal reference," too. I do like rock, even loud rock (e.g., Tool), but mostly listen to so-called "classical," and I play cello and acoustic guitar; my wife plays piano and my daughter violin. We hear live acoustic instruments in my audio listening space every day. We also sing, my daughter professionally.

Still, here’s a lesson of some kind, I think. I’ve got five pairs of high-end speakers, and two systems (one mostly for movies, in the library, and the main rig for music). Every now and then, I set up one—or even two—of the "extra" speaker pairs in my main listening room in such a way that I can fairly easily switch between them and my favored pair. And let me mention that my favored pair (Scientific Fidelity "Teslas" made in the late 1990s) are rare probably because Corey Greenberg in Stereophile killed the company with a very negative review when they first came out. One of the other pair are highly regarded Von Schweikerts, and another pair won all kinds of awards from Stereophile and other respected places, measuring flatter and with less distortion than any speaker at any price ever measured to that point in the anechoic chamber of Canada’s National Research Council (that’s a hint about its identity). However, of all my speaker pairs, it’s that last one I like the least. And remember: my ears are trained to prefer natural acoustic instruments in the very same acoustic space as my audio system utilizes.

So what’s the "lesson" here? Maybe that listening to recorded music is just a different experience from listening to "the real thing" (if that means: live acoustic instruments, voices, etc.). To the extent that this is true, measurements may actually be misleading—as they are for that speaker I just mentioned but didn’t name.

I just want to add to @erik_squires comment. If you test your in-room response at the listening position you will quickly figure out why you are not hearing the narrow dip shown by ASR. By the time you put your speakers in your room and you add the reflections and absorptions in a normal listening environment the frequency response varies by a lot more than the dip you are concerned about. The audiophile forums are filled with stories by listeners spending huge dollars on room treatment to control these reflections/absorptions and finding that they made the sound worse.

And now for an editorial comment that will likely be unpopular but I just cant help myself. I think it's ironically wonderful that this thread is about not being able to hear a several dB dip in a speaker's frequency response but many members on this forum will report hearing dramatic differences between interconnects. When they describe what they hear they often use terminology that indicates large frequency response differences between two kinds of cables which, of course, don't show up in any kind of testing. This is an interesting hobby.

That cable comment is popular with me!
Also the remarks about room acoustics. I was going to write something of the kind myself. Room acoustics are at least as important as the speaker technology for the final sound.

@rischa - I bought my JBL 4349’s two years ago. I read extensively about these speakers before I bought them as you are probably doing.

I’d recommend simply to just listen to them and put away all the reviews, graphs, etc. I very much enjoy my 4349’s. Yeah, probably not an "audiophile" grade speaker in many people’s minds (a good friend has asked me why I have a pro audio "PA in my living room"), but I’ve had two years of really enjoyable listening. They will play at whisper quiet levels with much detail yet play at very high volumes that can be great fun. I too wondered about the dip in response that was noted in reviews, but that has not been noticeable by me or others that have heard the system in detail.



@jheppe815, glad to hear you’re enjoying your 4349s after two years. They’re definitely growing on me. Can I ask if you experienced a long break-in period? I actually bought mine used but I don’t think the original owner played then much beyond a brief audition period, as I know he had a few different speakers on hand to try at the same time as these.

Here’s mine:

Yes, I’ve asked myself several times how I ended up with PA speakers, lol. I think they look great, though.

With a dip of that magnatude in that area, you will hear a "dullness/flatness" in the vocals as though the overtones are subdued.  Many JBLs suffer from this. 

@toddalin, thanks, I will listen for this and compare with my other speakers. Can I ask what you mean by "overtones"?

@rischa - I remember distinctly how good the 4349's sounded right out of the box.  However, the high frequency compression driver did smooth out in short order as the drivers broke in.  I didn't have a very long break in period where the cabinets sounded vastly different, though I put quite a few hours on right away.  I run JBL 2269H 18" drivers as subs, so low frequency extension or break in isn't something I could comment on.

As I work for an AV company, my business partner came to audition the system as well and we used a calibrated mic and software to see what was going on in the room.  Both of us were very aware of the various graphs that have been published showing that 1.5k dip and we wondered if we could hear that.  There is a slight (and very slight) downward curve in the 1800 to 2200 hertz area on the graphs as we measured the room / system, but of the various people that have heard the system (all of them musicians and all of them with very good systems better than mine), no one has stated "hey, what's with the dull / flat vocals" or anything like that.  I'm certainly not grabbing for my 1k or 2.5k eq knobs on my preamp and boosting those frequencies.  I find these cabinets very enjoyable and have no want to get rid of these for something else.

I have a second system with reasonable components and as I go back and forth between systems, I don't find the 4349's severely lacking in any way.

1500 is upper midrange. If you do a search for frequency chart of musical instruments,  you should find what you are looking for.  Erik,  I have built using buttererworth, bessel, linkwitz riley and chebyshev. I believe that you were looking for bessel,  this has a very smooth impulse response and I agree with you, I suspect the designer was most likely dealing with some other issue that they used this dip to deal with it. 

The range in question is above the fundamental pitch of most singers and it is the overtones that add "brightness" to the sound.

Perfect example. Listen how her voice (maybe guitar too?) is a bit more "laid back" with the JBLs.


@jheppe815, thanks for the information -- very reassuring. My top end is pretty smooth so maybe these have more hours on them than I thought. Overall I like them, but I need more time to adjust to their sound. They’re SO dynamic. I’m used to the much more delicate sound of my Omega High Outputs. I’m about to switch the 4349s over to one of my tube amps and play some classical guitar. If it sounds as real/natural/correct as my Omegas, that will be a great sign.

If anyone thinks I should start a dedicated thread for rhe 4349s, let me know. Not sure how much interest there is.

@toddalin thanks for the explanation and video. I thought both sets of speakers came off pretty bad in rhat video, but - and feel free to accuse me of being biased - the JBLs were much more tolerable. The Klipsch sounded quite shouty to me, whereas the JBL had depth and warmth (warmth relative to the Klipsch that is).

I’ll also note that the JBLs in the video were the 4367s, the model above mine. According to Erin at Erin’s Audio Corner, the 4367s measure and sound great. Erin is also one of the guys on the ASR 4349 thread who thought the 4349s measured terribly (I like Erin and subscribe to his Patreon).

The depressed upper midrange is no stranger to JBL professional monitors all the way back.  Some are worse than others.

The ASR measurements suggest that the midrange dip is less pronounced in-room. Using a 12in driver in a two way design is always going to be compromised. Dips in frequency response are not always interpreted by the brain as dullness - a drop in the midrange may be heard as brightness because it can make the higher frequencies seem elevated relative to the midrange.



As I said, dips in the upper midrange are characteristic of the breed when using horns.

JBL 4348:





4333 (L300 pro equivelent) I have a pair of L200 modified to L300 specs and the dips drive me crazy. I don’t even listen to them anymore since I created the Mermans.

4313: 12" 4-way with no horn:

"I’ll also note that the JBLs in the video were the 4367s, the model above mine. According to Erin at Erin’s Audio Corner, the 4367s measure and sound great. Erin is also one of the guys on the ASR 4349 thread who thought the 4349s measured terribly (I like Erin and subscribe to his Patreon)."

Do they really? I hear slight the depression and Stereophile certainly found it:



In home measurement:


@toddalin, thanks for posting the graphs. Is this generally what's behind the "horn coloration" I've heard mentioned?