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JBL's retro L52 Classic and L75ms offer surprisingly modern features

JBL's new L-series speakers combine midcentury looks with newer touches such as HDMI connectivity.

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The L52 Classic comes in three colors.

JBL

JBL has unveiled two more affordable products in its retro L line, the L52 Classic bookshelves and the L75ms music system -- but these speakers offer all the mod cons.

The L52 is a "scaled-down version of the award-winning L82 Classic," Samsung-owned JBL says, with a two-way, passive design consisting of a 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeter and a 5.25-inch white cone woofer. It comes with speaker binding posts and front-mounted ports, and is even wall-mountable.

On the other hand, the L75ms is a powered speaker system -- it's almost a soundbar -- with a pair of 5.25-inch white cone woofers, a 4-inch central midrange driver and two 1-inch titanium tweeters. It offers an abundance of connections, including Ethernet, Google Chromecast built-inApple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth. It has a 32-bit/192kHz high-resolution DAC, a phono stage for connecting a turntable, an HDMI ARC input and a subwoofer output.

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The JBL L75ms offers streaming capabilities as well as TV connectivity.

JBL

The L52 Classic's and L75ms' aesthetics are gleaned from their siblings with walnut veneer cabinets and distinctive "Quadrex foam grilles." The L52 comes in a choice of black, blue or orange while the elongated L75ms comes in black. I personally love the look of the foam grilles, but they are polarizing -- some people hate them. 

I listened to a pair of the range's L82s and found they were not fastidious performers, but instead rollicking good fun -- like singing your heart out at karaoke. Though the L52s are much smaller than both the L82s and the L100s, I do expect similar air-punching performance. Likewise the L75ms should be an enjoyable system even if its shared midrange means it's not going to appeal to audiophiles.

Apart from the size, the other main difference between the L52 and the L82 is that the former is much more speaker at 40% of the price. The $1,000 L52 Classic and the $1,500 L75ms will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.