JBL and Infinity are both huge brands in speaker system industry – what you probably didn’t know is that they’re both owned by the same parent company, but that’s certainly not the only similarity between them.
JBL vs Infinity in short
It would be impossible to take out JBL’s entire menu and compare it with Infinity’s catalog – both brands have a huge assortment of high-quality speakers, mid-priced models, and budget ones for the masses.
However, JBL’s speakers are superior in terms of versatility – the majority of their speakers are compact, waterproof, Bluetooth speaker systems, as opposed to the majority of Infinity’s which mainly revolve around the car stereo sphere. Of course, exceptions are present in both cases, so let’s discuss both brands in general – afterward, we’ll pit their flagship models against each other in individual reviews.
JBL hosts a long line of wireless speakers, headphones, home audio, and car & marine audio systems. We’ve already mentioned that they’re a bit more versatile than Infinity, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that they’re better – in fact, from an objective point of view, both JBL and Infinity are great speaker manufacturers.
Let’s start from the very beginning. The first line of speakers is in the wireless category – these speakers are usually called “Bluetooth” speakers, and they’re among the most sought-after speaker types on the market of today. Of course, JBL wins in this area, as they offer hundreds of wireless models which are divided into several small sub-categories.
JBL also offers a series of high-quality loudspeakers, voice-activated speakers, subwoofers, and sound bars. Now that we’ve safely established that JBL’s speakers are superior in terms of versatility, it wouldn’t hurt to see how they fare in other fields of performance.
You’d be surprised, just as we were when you realize that most JBL speakers don’t actually cost that much. There’s plenty of high-quality models to be found in the affordable and medium price point categories, but some models such as JBL Extreme and the BoomBox cost a bit more above the average.
The first glance at Infinity (Harman)™ official website can give you a clear picture of what these guys are doing – the first speaker category numbers speakers, component systems, subwoofers, and various accessories for car & marine audio systems, whereas the second category includes bookshelf speakers, floor speakers, center speakers and subwoofers for home audio.
The reason why Infinity excels so much at making premium-quality car stereo systems is more than obvious – they’ve spent most of the time perfecting their craft, hence these models are the most numerous (24, as opposed to home audio speakers which are in minority).
Speaking of which, Infinity’s C336 is one of the best floor speakers on the market, but it’s the only model in that category. The “bookshelf speaker” branch only includes two pairs of “reference models” which both belong to the higher end price point category.
Another interesting fact is that most car speakers made by Infinity also belong to the “reference series”. There are only a couple of models which belong to the Kappa and Primus generations which are best suited for people looking for budget and mid-priced speakers and speakers systems.
Round 1 – Versatility
It’s all too clear now that Infinity speakers aren’t just that versatile. In fact, neither the menu nor the “course” can be characterized by that particular word, at least not in a conventional way. Namely, Infinity speakers are mostly designed for cars – even though there are 24 car speakers, 10 component systems, 8 car subwoofers, 8 amplifiers, and more, they’re not very versatile.
On the other hand, JBL makes and sells all kinds of speakers, ranging from the plain Bluetooth wireless speakers, over voice activated speakers, to robust home theatre audio systems. Needless to say, JBL wins this round.
Round 2 – Performance & sound clarity
It’s important to remind ourselves that JBL and Infinity are both owned by Harman – this has everything to do with how the latest and future models will sound and perform, but it has nothing to do with their earlier models.
Namely, a new owner usually means several things – certain staff members are about to be fired or repositioned, the technology will get upgraded (or degraded), and so on. The fact of the matter is, Harman did quite a job with the aforementioned points, and most audiophiles tend to agree that they’ve made JBL and Infinity better in terms of speaker performance.
Now, since we’re not interested in this sphere too much (since we’re doing a research on how JBL compares against Infinity speakers), let’s discuss how they fare in terms of performance and sound clarity when observed as two standalone brands.
First of all, JBL’s speakers are mainly favored by party people, those in search of high-quality compact speakers for travels, and people who simply love a booming soundstage for a decent price. High-end JBL speakers provide a well-balanced soundstage, and it’s safe to say that they excel in every single aspect of performance. However, the same can be said for high-end Infinity speakers.
The real difference can be seen when we observe their medium-priced and budget models. While both JBL and Infinity are hardcore names in this line of work, even their most inferior models surpass most competitor entry-level speakers, but there are big differences between them even still.
Simply put, Infinity accentuates their efficiency in making car & marine stereo systems. That means that bass will always be on point, although reverb and similar effects added to the overall soundstage will always work best in smaller, contained environments. The opposite goes for JBL speakers.
What does that mean? It means that speakers from JBL will work best outside, in an unbordered and unobstructed environment while Infinity speakers are meant for car audio primarily. In the aforementioned situations, these speakers excel but somewhat fail in the total opposite events.
Since these statements lead us to a draw, we searched a bit and found another clue which could determine the winner in this bout.
Namely, JBL’s James Lansing was a high-tech mechanical engineer (not an acoustical one), which means that their technology is a bit unconventional but innovative, to say the least. Smaller and less expensive models from this brand sound better and louder, if by a hair’s length, which is enough to label them victorious in this round.
Round 3 – Price
The price is one of the key factors to any potential customer, so you might want to stick around for a bit on this chapter. We’ve compared the prices of JBL’s speakers to those of Infinity’s speakers, and there are visible, nearly palpable differences between them.
First of all, let’s start with the car speaker category. The first you’ll see in JBL’s catalog will be GTO 20M, GTO 620, GTO 750T, and GTO 860, all of which are decently affordable being under $200 (official website information). Of course, Club 750T, 3020, GTO 939, and 4020 are even cheaper, being under $100. These are all fair prices at the moment.
Infinity’s car speakers are nearly as pricey as JBL’s. Reference 3032CFX, 375TX and 4032CFX are all under $100, but they’re a bit better in terms of performance and quality. What’s more, the 5030CX (which is one of Infinity’s flagship car speakers) is also under $200. So far, Infinity wins.
Let’s head over to the loudspeaker category. JBL’s Control X is a bit pricey with approximately $250, but all other models cost even more – the Control X Wireless are just below $500 while Studio 580 is over $700! Pricey, to say the least.
Infinity, on the other hand, only offers the Reference 152 and 162, both under $500. Sadly, even though JBL’s loudspeakers are a bit more expensive, they at least offer some diversity, so this one’s on them.
Lastly, the subwoofer category should give us the real winner. JBL offers the SUB 100P, 250P, and 260P which range from $300 to $600. Infinity offers only Reference SUB R10 and R12 which are under $400 and $500 in that respective order. This round is won by Infinity.
However, that’s not necessarily true – JBL offers a wide range of other sorts of speakers, including soundbars, Voice Activated Speakers, Home theater systems, professional, passive, and more. This surge of versatility allows you to be more flexible when finding a speaker according to your budget. That also means that this fact is solid enough to give them a clear upper hand and victory in this bout.
Round 4 – Conclusion
Essentially, both JBL and Infinity speakers are top-shelf models. Choosing which one is best can only be done in specific situations – Infinity excels in making car speaker systems, JBL’s stock is more versatile. It’s plain as that. Objectively, it’s nearly impossible to determine the actual victor, as comparing these two brands would be identical to parents comparing their own children.