JBL vs Focal – Which Brand Is Better?

Norvan Martin
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JBL and Focal are two renowned and well-respected brands in the audio industry that produce high-quality car speakers, studio monitors, and so on.

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at the sound quality, durability, price, and so on.
Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however, we will compare them as closely as we can.

We will be comparing specific products namely Focal Performance 165AS vs JBL GTO609C and Focal Aria 906 vs JBL L100 Classic to give you a direct reference to how similar Focal and JBL products compare with each other. It is always best to compare different models from different companies in the same price range.

JBL speakers and studio monitors are known to be fairly priced and offer fairly good sound quality without compromising on build quality. On the other hand, Focal speakers are generally better than JBL in terms of sound quality and features but are often a bit more pricey. 

JBL vs Focal Comparison Table

Brand ReputationWell-establishedHighly Regarded
Sound QualityClear and PowerfulExceptional Clarity
Build Quality/DesignDurable and ModernPremium Craftsmanship
Product RangeVaried SelectionHigh-End and Specialized
PricingModerate to HighHigh-end
FeaturesAdvanced TechnologiesInnovative Features

Read on to learn more. 

Before we get into it, here are some similar comparisons that you may be interested in:

Quick History

JBL Quick History

JBL was founded in 1946 by James Bullough Lansing just after World War II. It is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA.

The company manufactures amplifiers, loudspeakers, and headphones with the JBL Professional LSR10S being one of its best-selling subs with a class D amp, among other features.

It is currently owned by Harman International after its Vice President Bill Thomas sold it in 1969.

Focal Quick History

Focal is a renowned French speaker brand that is well known for its quality and performance. Focal has been creating and manufacturing home audio loudspeakers, automobile audio speaker drivers and amplifiers, and recording monitoring loudspeakers, and headphones since 1979.

The Focal brand, based in Saint-Étienne, France, has earned its place among the audio industry’s leaders by producing constant innovative technology.

Sound Quality

JBL Sound Quality

JBL speakers tend to depict a neutral, balanced sound profile with a good balance for SQ/SPL. The fact is, most JBL speakers will sound amazing with a wide variety of materials from heavy metal to jazz and even classical.

Generally speaking, JBL speakers are less neutral than focal and will bring some of their own colorations to the music.

JBL GTO609C Component Speakers

Their bass-heavy audio profile makes them ideal for parties, especially for those looking for deep bass to listen to modern pop and hip-hop music. The speakers are also loud with rich sounds.

The speakers perform well in both high and low volumes. Built for DJs and other professionals, the speakers are tough and reliable. The Bluetooth speakers have long battery life lasting 24 hours or more.

On the other hand, JBL headphones are packed with features that help them deliver a well-balanced sound that closely follows the Harman curve.

However, the design and fit of these headphones are not very comfortable. A top-of-the-range JBL could sound unique with the depth, power, and accuracy every listener appreciates!

Focal Sound Quality

The Focal brand has been working on producing high-quality sound that is rich and precise to set itself apart from other companies. When you listen to music on low-quality equipment, you lose the richness of the sound.

Generally speaking, your speakers tend to be fairly neutral and accurate speakers, but in some cases, you may find just a little bit of peakiness in the upper midrange.

Focal component speakers
Focal Performance 165AS Component speakers

The final presentation is heavily influenced by the sound production equipment type and quality of the initial recording and the file type (MP3, CD, etc.).

Focal acoustic professionals specialize in sound precision and know how to bring out the richness of recorded sound samples.

Focal sound qualities include good dynamics (the contrast between bass and treble) and sound neutrality (the absence of coloration or frills which lead to distortion).


JBL Features

JBL manufactures futuristic speakers to ensure users can easily fit them into their modern home systems. Bluetooth speakers and subwoofers from JBL, for instance, come with the following features:

  • Tone control: This is one important feature of many JBL speakers. Tone controls allow you to control the neutrality of the sound from your speakers, making them more versatile. An example is the L100 Classic.
  • Polypropylene or cellulose-fiber cones
  • Rubber surround
  • Frequency response depends on specific speakers
  • Sensitivity of about 2.83V at 1 meter

Focal Features

Focal designs every component to work together to deliver the highest possible musical quality. Some of the features of the Focal brand that make it one of the best are listed below:

  • Magnetic grille for woofers
  • Aluminum/magnesium inverted dome tweeter
  • Slatefiber midrange
  • Bass reflex design (front-firing port)
  • The lean-back design ensures precise sound at the listening position
  • Bluetooth, HEOS, Wi-Fi, and AirPlay 2 streaming support.
  • Multiple input and output ports
  • Up to 5 years warranty on their product
  • Innovative technology
  • Sensitivity 92.5 dB
  • High power handling
  • Low distortion
  • Bi-amp system
  • Accurate and natural sound output
  • Reliable construction material

Build Quality

JBL Build Quality

JBL speakers are well built with Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt which is a strong high-power permanent alloy.


Also, the wireless speakers are high quality and built with solid features. The performance is reliable and they are waterproof which makes them all weather.

The headphones however have a plasticky build that makes them look average despite the well-balanced sound.

Focal Build Quality

Most Focal products you buy will have a solid build. Focal has maintained a consistent level of product build quality over the years. If you desire a high level of build quality in your devices, Focal is among the best you can get out there.

Focal Aria 906
Focal Aria 906

Their products are often compared to more reputable brands such as Yamaha and lots more.

Ease Of Use

JBL Ease Of Use

Setting up JBL speakers may not be easy if you are not ready to handle the process. However, if your speakers are within the Bluetooth range, JBL speakers will easily pair with nearby devices.

The subwoofers may not be very easy to set depending on your car, but they are easy to use.  The wireless headphones are easy to use, whether you want to talk or just listen.

Focal Ease of Use

Focal products are very simple to use and come with a guidebook that explains how to set up and use the equipment.

You’ll love the Focal brand speaker base because it makes speaker positioning and alignment (and, if necessary, re-positioning) very easy.

Unlike most other speaker designs, which require reaching beneath a cabinet with one or more spanners to adjust the spikes fitted to the base, the focal speaker base lets you simply reach below and make changes quickly, easily, and without the use of any equipment.


JBL Cost

Bluetooth JBL speakers are available at a range of prices, but generally, they are quite cheap for what they can give out. You can, however, get them between 40 dollars and 400 dollars.

However, the GBL Go is still ranked the most affordable Bluetooth speaker owing to the added value of sound quality and portability.

The cost is generally high due to the high cost of engineering, the high cost of quality materials, and the cost of advertising.

  • Studio Monitors: $100 – $500
  • Headphones: $10 – $200
  • Amplifiers: $50 – $5000


Focal products are significantly less expensive than some of the other audio system manufacturers in the same league. Having said that, many of their devices are still more expensive than JBL in most cases. This is often for good reason though as Focal typically offers better products when compared at the same price range.

An example, comparing the JBL LSR308 and Focal Alpha 65, the Alpha 65 is a better studio monitor at around the same price range.

This does not imply that they are inferior to other brands, and, of course, some other manufacturers’ products are less expensive, while some are more expensive than Focal.

The price range for different focal devices is listed below:

  • Studio Monitors: $100 – $700
  • Home speakers: $150 – $1500
  • Headphones: $50 – $300
  • subwoofers: $150 – $2000
  • Car speaker: $100 – $500

Focal produces sound systems that include a variety of high-quality characteristics, such as a durable design and a powerful sound, and they are all reasonably priced.

No matter how inexpensive a focal product is, it will still provide an adequate output for the purpose for which it was created.

Space Requirements

JBL Space Requirements

JBL speakers are built to fit in many room sizes. The Bluetooth speakers are tiny in size and easily portable. Therefore, you can easily place them anywhere in your room or carry them for an outdoor listening experience.

Focal Space Requirements

Focal offers numerous products that are ideal for use practically anywhere and offer excellent portability. These include loudspeakers, soundbars, car audio, Bluetooth speakers, and lots more.

However, it’s important to remember that the size of these products isn’t the only aspect to consider when deciding where to put them; ventilation requirements are also to be considered.

Insufficient space may cause the device to overheat, resulting in a sudden shutdown. It is ideal to leave a few inches of free space around a Focal device, especially those that must be installed in a confined space.

Remote Controls

JBL Remote Control

JBL builds remote controls to help with easy and safe control of music together with other call functions on other devices such as smartphones.

JBL Click, for instance, is a mountable Bluetooth controller that makes it easier to control your music and call functions on any smartphone. However, JBL Boombox and JBL Partybox 310 do not have remote controls.

Focal Remote Control

Focal provides easy access to their devices as well as the ability to control them. With the use of remote control, users can listen to music on the gadget from any room.

The FSP-8 remote control is an example of this. This LCD remote control enhances the DSP FSP-8 user experience.

You may simply make a change in the primary settings, and also significantly, remember up to four saved presets thanks to the easy control.

Connectivity Options

JBL Connectivity Options

JBL speakers, especially the Bluetooth-enabled ones, connect easily via Bluetooth. In fact, JBL makes them so that you can easily wirelessly connect up to 100 JBL speakers via Bluetooth.

Power Range

JBL Power Range

The speakers have a high power handling capacity. For instance, the 840 Cinema Surround Speaker can handle 350 watts of continuous play, while the JBL Stage 1210 12” woofer can handle up to 250 watts RMS and 1000-watt peak power.

  • Subwoofers: 50W to 1600W rated power
  • Speakers: 50W to 250W rated power
  • Amplifiers: 50W to 800W per channel

Focal Power Range

The amount of power consumed by Focal devices differs from one gadget to the next. For example, an entry-level Focal receiver’s power range is roughly 120 watts for one channel and 60 watts for two channels.

However, the average soundbar’s power range/consumption is around 74 watts.

It is advisable to look through the user manuals to understand the power range of your focal device to get the most out of it.

Frequency Response

JBL Frequency Response

JBL speakers work well under various frequency ranges. For instance, the JBL ES Series speaker systems, such as the ES 20, operate between 65 HZ – 40 kHz.

The 840 Very High Power Cinema Surround Speaker for digital surround sound immersion application performs within the 60 Hz to 19 kHz frequency range.

Focal Frequency Response

We will make a few comparisons to give an overall idea. For instance, the Focal Chora 826-D floor-standing loudspeaker (you can also find this speaker on Amazon here) has a frequency response of about 48Hz-28kHz while Focal Sopra SW 1000 BE Subwoofer (you can also find this speaker on amazon here)has a frequency response of about (+/- 3dB) 20 Hz–150 Hz.

You can do further research on Focal Audio products to know about each device’s frequency response when you need to get one.

Example Product Comparisons

1. Focal Performance 165AS vs JBL GTO609C

Focal KIT 165AS Access Series 6-1/2" 2-Way...
Focal -One Pair of 165AS Access 6.5" Component and...
Focal KIT 165AS Access Series 6-1/2" 2-Way...
Focal -One Pair of 165AS Access 6.5" Component and...
Focal KIT 165AS Access Series 6-1/2" 2-Way...
Focal KIT 165AS Access Series 6-1/2" 2-Way...
Focal -One Pair of 165AS Access 6.5" Component and...
Focal -One Pair of 165AS Access 6.5" Component and...

General Features Comparison

Feature Focal Performance 165AS JBL GTO609C
Speaker Size6 1/26 1/2
Tweeter DesignInverted Dome3/4" Edge-Driven Dome
Impedance (Ohms)43
Tweeter CompositionAluminumSilk
Woofer CompositionDFSCarbon-injected
Woofer SurroundButyl RubberButyl Rubber
Parts Warranty1 Year1 Year
Labor Warranty1 Year1 Year
Weight3.52 pounds6.17 pounds
Dimensions17 x 7 x 8 inches14.84 x 7.95 x 6.1 inches

Specifications Comparison

Specifications Focal Aria 906 Key Specs JBL L100 Classic Key Specs
FeatureFocal Performance 165ASJBL GTO609C
Speaker Size6 1/26 1/2
Tweeter DesignInverted Dome3/4" Edge-Driven Dome
Impedance (Ohms)43
Tweeter CompositionAluminumSilk
Woofer CompositionDFSCarbon-injected
Woofer SurroundButyl RubberButyl Rubber
Parts Warranty1 Year1 Year
Labor Warranty1 Year1 Year
Weight3.52 pounds6.17 pounds
Dimensions17 x 7 x 8 inches14.84 x 7.95 x 6.1 inches

2. Focal Aria 906 vs JBL L100 Classic

Focal Aria 906 vs JBL L100 Classic brand comparison

Focal Aria 906 Key Specs JBL L100 Classic Key Specs
2-way Design 3-way Design
Recommended for rooms measuring from 160ft2 (15m2) Impedance: 4ohms
Recommended for a listening distance of 8ft (2.5m) Controls: Attenuators for MF and HF drivers
1" Inverted Hard Dome Tweeter Connector Type: Five-way gold plated binding posts
Power Range:25-120watts Power Range:25-200watts
Weight:8.64kg Weight:26.70kg
Flax cone Dimensions (H x W x D): 636.5" x 15.3" x 14.6"( 636.5 x 389.6 x 371.5mm )
TNF tweeter 1" Dome Tweeter
Dimensions (H x W x D): 391.0" x 8-15/16" x 11-5/16"( 391.0 x 228.0 x 288.0mm ) 5.25" Midrange
6.5" Flax Woofer 12" Aqua-plas coatedpure pulp Woofer
55-28k Hz Frequency Response 5.25" Midrange
89.5 dB Sensitivity 40-40k Hz Frequency Response
Impedance: 8ohms Crossover Frequencies: 450Hz, 2.5kHz.
Nominal impedance 8Ώ 90 dB Sensitivity

3. Focal Alpha 65 Vs JBL 306P MKII

Focal Alpha 65 6.5" Powered Studio Monitor
JBL Professional 306P MkII Next-Generation 6-Inch...
Focal Alpha 65 6.5" Powered Studio Monitor
JBL Professional 306P MkII Next-Generation 6-Inch...
Focal Alpha 65 6.5" Powered Studio Monitor
Focal Alpha 65 6.5" Powered Studio Monitor
JBL Professional 306P MkII Next-Generation 6-Inch...
JBL Professional 306P MkII Next-Generation 6-Inch...


In comparison Focal Alpha 65 Vs JBL 306P MKII we must first point out that the 306 is a bit cheaper and will save you about $100. In some cases, you can get the 306 at half the price. However, both studio monitors are fairly priced at under $400.

Sound Performance and Quality

In terms of sound quality, the Alpha 65 is a better choice with a smoother sound balance and better distortion performance. However, you may experience some directivity mismatch with the Alpha 65 as compared with the JBL 306 because the JBLs are better waveguides.

The Alpha 65 extends slightly lower with a -3 dB point on the axis quoted at 40Hz while the 306 does -3dB at 47Hz. If you want a broader frequency response from these speakers, you will likely need an EQ. Note however that you may get some strange resonance sound coming from both bass drivers of the Alpha 65 due to tensile issues.

Additionally, the Focal Alpha 65 can drive more power considering it is a 70w Class AB vs the JBL 306 which is a 56w Class D.

One more important point to note is your listening distance as the characteristic JBL’s hiss can be annoying in nearfield.

Focal Alpha 65 Pros and Cons

  • Better distortion performance
  • Under par frequency response
  • Under par horizontal directivity
  • More expensive

JBL 306P MKII Pros and Cons

  • Fair frequency response
  • More affordable
  • Higher distortion
  • Annoying nearfield  JBL “hiss”

All in all, these speakers are good options for listening to music, but not for professional mixing or mastering purposes. 


If you are on a budget and need a fairly decent sound system, JBL is a good choice, but if you have a little;e bit more to spend, Focal will give you much better quality and features. In fact, you may even find better Focal speakers at the same price range as JBL.

JBL offers a wide range of speakers for all use cases. Although most of them do not have EQs for customized sound, they have a pretty neutral sound profile.

Besides, they have an excellent build quality that ensures that the portable JBL sound systems last longer.

If you need a good sound system in the future, you can put your faith in Focal. Decades of experience have made the organization into a market-leading brand. Try Focal for your next sound upgrade if you’re looking for great sound quality and high-fidelity sound.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin