JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

Posted on 4th July, 2024

JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

Mark Gusew tunes in to this crisply-styled new network music player…

JBL

Classic MP350 Network Music Player

£650 RRP

JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

Although JBL is best known for loudspeakers, its partnering electronics also have a long history. The Classic MP350 streamer you see here is a neatly styled nod to the SA600 solid-state amplifier from the nineteen sixties. It complements other JBL Classic series electronics in style, size and finish and was created to work alongside the Classic SA550 integrated amplifier and/or JBL's matching CD player or turntable. When stacked on or next to the amp, the pair is a perfect aesthetic match – just add two JBL Classic loudspeakers, such as the L52 or the iconic Classic L100, for the full retro-tinged train set.

The MP350's internet connectivity is via Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This lets it access and play content directly from Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast and Roon. Also, via the JBL Premium Audio app, you can access internet radio, podcasts, connected USB media, local network storage (UPnP) and more. With an onboard DAC, a wide range of file formats are supported at up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. JBL does not publicly specify the internal circuitry, DAC and streaming platform details.

Other than a USB-A media connection, there are no other inputs available, neither digital nor analogue, as it's primarily intended to be connected to the Classic SA550 integrated amplifier, which already has good connectivity. Output is via analogue RCA phono sockets, or TOSLINK and coaxial digital connections. The front face is buttonless and features a large amber display window that indicates track details and more. A handy remote control is supplied.

JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

Once the JBL Premium Audio app (available for Android and Apple) has been downloaded, setup is simple. You just plug it in, so if you're using a wired internet connection, you are done; otherwise, use the app to set up your Wi-Fi access. I connected it to a Classic SA550 integrated amplifier via digital coaxial for much of my listening, as that is how most people will be using it. My modified JBL HDI-3800 loudspeakers completed the system.

The unit feels modern in use, with prompt track selection and minimal delays. Although it doesn't have fascia controls, they are not missed, as the remote control handles the simple tasks, and the app that controls the streamer takes care of everything else. Chromecast and Roon operated faultlessly. The Wi-Fi signal was strongly received from multiple locations within my home and sounded close to the wired Ethernet connection. Bluetooth may seem like an obvious omission, but JBL's matching integrated amplifier already has this feature.

THE LISTENING

The JBL Classic MP350 is a fine-sounding streamer that reveals plenty of detail from recordings. It sounds balanced and has a pleasingly large soundstage, with the accent on left-to-right rather than front-to-back space. Tonally, it's a good match for the Classic SA550 integrated, especially when using the streamer's coaxial digital output into the amplifier, which sounds slightly fuller than the optical digital connection.

JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

The sonic backdrop to recordings is very quiet, with proper silence between the notes. This makes for a smooth and realistic sound where nuances can be easily made out. For example, listening to Dat Dere by Rickie Lee Jones, I was struck by the detail of the child talking and laughing in the background. It was distinct and well separated from the saxophone and the rest of the ensemble. I also really enjoyed the harmony of Rickie's voice with the male vocalist.

The tonal balance of the MP350 is ever so slightly cool, as Demolition Man by Grace Jones reveals. For example, it doesn't have the upper bass and lower midband warmth and texture of the Holo Audio RED streamer, but the extension at either end of the spectrum is good. The treble is smooth, and the bass is deep but slightly lean. All the same, the bottom end is never less than taut and expressive. And to my ears, there's more midband detail, air and space than a Bluesound Node can produce.

During the weeks that the MP350 was in my system, I used it to listen to UK-based Classic FM and Linn Classical streamed over the internet at CD quality and thoroughly enjoyed it. Violin strings can often sound harsh and grating, but this streamer didn't, so I kept it playing in the background for hours at a time without the slightest irritation.

JBL MP350 Classic Streamer Review

THE VERDICT

JBL's new Classic MP350 streamer offers a modern experience in a cleanly styled package tailor-made for other products in the JBL Classic stable. It is easy to use and works hand-in-glove with native streaming apps, including Roon. I enjoyed this product mostly for its expressive and detailed sound quality. This level of performance would have been impossible at this price just a few years ago, so it represents excellent value for money. It's also an absolute no-brainer for those already running JBL systems.

For more information visit JBL

    Mark Gusew's avatar

    Mark Gusew

    Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early 80’s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now manages a boutique audio manufacturer.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi Sources Streaming
    Tags: jbl  jbl synthesis  harman luxury group  cuk 

    JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION

    Want to share your opinion or get advice from other enthusiasts? Then head into the Message Forums where thousands of other enthusiasts are communicating on a daily basis.
    CLICK HERE FOR FREE MEMBERSHIP

    00000587