Altec Lansing Vs. JBL – Which Speaker Brand is Better?

When it comes to speaker brands, Altec Lansing and JBL are two big names that often get compared. Both companies have been around for decades and have produced some iconic speakers over the years.

But which brand reigns supreme when it comes to sound quality, features, and value for money? Let’s take an in-depth look at Altec Lansing Vs. JBL speakers and how they stack up.

A Brief Comparison Table

AspectsAltec LansingJBL
Sound QualityVery accurate and flat response. Excellent midrange and treble detail.Bold, powerful, and engaging sound. Strong bass and expansive soundstage.
FeaturesFocus on sound quality over features. More wired connectivity. Custom drivers.Emphasis on wireless, streaming, and smart features. Uses Harmon drivers.
Ease of UseRequire more audio tweaking and optimization. Not as user-friendly.Easy to connect and preset audio modes. Very consumer-friendly.
DesignUnderstated, industrial design. Utilitarian and rugged.Sleek, stylish designs. Premium accents and finishes. More variety.
DurabilityExtremely durable with all-wood cabinets. Made for continuous use.Durable but with more plastic housing. Good for normal use.
PriceHigher prices than JBL. Excellent value for audiophiles.Competitive pricing and good value for money. Budget options available.
Best Use CasesCritical listening like mixing and monitoring. Home theater accuracy.Casual listening, parties, portable use. Smart home integration.

Overview Of Altec Lansing

Altec Lansing has been manufacturing audio equipment since the late 1920s. They were one of the first companies to produce speakers for theaters and quickly became known for their high-quality sound. Over the years, Altec Lansing has continued to innovate and expand their home and professional audio offerings.

Altec Lansing
Altec Lansing

Some key things to know about Altec Lansing:

  • Founded in 1927 and currently owned by Plantronics
  • Historically known for theater and concert sound equipment
  • Produce a range of home, car, and portable speakers
  • Mid-to-high price points compared to competitors
  • Emphasize power, clarity, and accuracy in their speaker sound

Overall, Altec Lansing speakers tend to focus on audio precision and zero distortion. They make for great speakers for listening to music critically or sound mixing.

Overview Of JBL

JBL is another speaker veteran that has been around since the 1940s. They were founded as an engineering and research division of James B. Lansing, whose innovative designs earned JBL a reputation for exceptional sound quality early on.

Here are some key JBL facts:

  • Founded in 1946 and currently owned by Harman International
  • Known for professional recording studio monitors and live sound gear
  • Make home, portable, car, and multimedia speakers
  • Wide range of budget and high-end offerings
  • Strive for big, bold, dynamic sound in their products

JBL speakers emphasize delivering an engaging and powerful audio experience. They excel at high volumes and providing thumping bass.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, both Altec Lansing and JBL make great sounding speakers. However, there are some notable differences in their audio profiles:

Altec Lansing

  • Precise and accurate sound reproduction
  • Excellent midrange and treble clarity
  • Not as strong on bass, but decent low end
  • Shines with vocal clarity and instrumental separation
  • More analytical and reference-like sound


  • Bold, punchy, and dynamic sound
  • Strong and deep bass response
  • Smooth and warm midrange
  • Crisp highs, but not as bright as Altec
  • Immersive soundstage great for movies and music
  • Energetic sound best suited for popular genres

For critical listening and picking out fine details in music or audio mixing, Altec Lansing excels. The sound is accurate and revealing.

JBL speakers sound big, bold, and powerful. They bring music to life and are more fun for casual listening. The extra bass and soundstage immersion make them fantastic for movies as well.

So for critical audio applications, Altec Lansing may have a slight edge. But JBL delivers an energetic and engaging sound that works better for most consumer uses.


In terms of features, Altec Lansing and JBL offer some similarities as well as key differences:

Altec Lansing

  • Advanced power handling for distortion-free sound at higher volumes
  • Typically more wired connections than wireless
  • Custom drivers designed and engineered by Altec
  • Robust amplification and power supply components
  • Quality construction with sturdy cabinets and materials
  • Focus on accuracy tends to lack extra bass or sound features


  • Emphasis on wireless connectivity like Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Streaming friendly features like Chromecast built-in
  • Sophisticated tuning to enhance bass and staging
  • Uses Harmon-designed drivers and sound processing
  • Rugged construction optimized for louder volumes
  • Extra features like built-in voice assistants and RGB lighting

Altec Lansing speakers focus more on sound purity and power. JBL packs in more modern features and wireless connectivity. Altec uses proprietary drivers while JBL utilizes Harmon Kardon audio technology.

If you want a no-frills powerful speaker, Altec Lansing is great. For streaming and smart features along with bold sound, JBL has the edge.

Also Read: Is JBL Clip 4 Better Than Sony XB13?

Ease Of Use

For ease of use and setup, JBL speakers tend to have the upper hand:

  • More wireless connectivity options like Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Streaming service integration and voice assistants
  • Preset audio modes and EQs for easy optimization
  • General focus on consumer-friendly features

Altec Lansing designs speakers more for sound quality than convenience:

  • Typically rely on wired connections
  • Require manual tweaking of EQ to optimize sound
  • Not as many out-of-the-box features and presets
  • Cater more towards audio pros and enthusiasts

JBL aims to deliver great sound that anyone can enjoy with easy wireless connectivity and charging. Altec Lansing simply focuses on accuracy and power that audio engineers will love tuning.


Altec Lansing and JBL take different approaches when it comes to aesthetics and design:

Altec Lansing

  • Understated, simple designs
  • Sturdy cabinets and materials
  • Industrial look geared for studios
  • Focus on utility rather than flair
  • Less variety in styles compared to JBL


  • Sleek, stylish, and modern designs
  • Premium, eye-catching accents and finishes
  • Fun color and lighting options on some models
  • Diverse range of form factors and options
  • Mass consumer appeal in mind

JBL has a leg up in terms of visual design variety and style. Altec Lansing sticks to more basic but robust utilitarian designs.


With both brands producing speakers designed to deliver high power and volumes, durability is a key consideration.

Altec Lansing excels when it comes to ruggedness and longevity. Their speakers feature:

  • All wood cabinets rather than plastic
  • Sturdy grills to protect drivers
  • Industrial build quality
  • Components designed for continuous use

JBL also produces durable speakers but prioritizes sleeker designs:

  • Combination of wood and molded plastic cabinets
  • Streamlined grills and housings
  • Durable but more consumer-friendly materials
  • Can withstand normal use but not abuse

For longevity and the ability to keep pumping out high decibels for years, Altec Lansing is hard to beat. JBL makes very solid speakers as well but not quite at the same commercial grade level.

Price And Value

When it comes to price, Altec Lansing and JBL have models spanning entry-level to high-end. A few key points:

Altec Lansing

  • Tend to cost slightly more than comparable JBLs
  • Higher prices backed up by proven performance
  • Hold value well over time
  • Price reflects quality components and materials


  • Competitively priced within each product tier
  • Budget options available while still delivering JBL sound
  • Mass market appeal brings costs down
  • Good value across the lineup

For the extra money, Altec Lansing delivers audiophile-level attention to audio detail and construction quality. JBL speakers offer great bang for your buck, especially the more affordable models.

Use Cases

Altec Lansing speakers are ideal for:

  • Audio engineers and sound mixing
  • Critical music listening
  • Home theaters where accuracy matters
  • Consumers who want quality over features
  • Installations needing rugged dependability

JBL speakers are ideal for:

  • Casual music, movies, and multimedia
  • Adding wireless streaming everywhere
  • House parties and dancefloors
  • Cars and portable use
  • Smart home integration

Also watch the video!

Head To Head Speaker Comparisons

Here is a quick rundown of how some popular Altec Lansing and JBL speaker models directly stack up against each other:

  • Altec Lansing 604 Vs. JBL L100 – For vintage vintage floor standing speakers, the Altec 604s win for accuracy while the JBL L100s provide more bass.
  • Altec Lansing IMT628 Vs. JBL EON One – For mid-sized PA speakers, the Altec IMT628 edges out the EON One with a flatter response and clearer mids.
  • Altec Lansing M812 Vs. JBL E80 – As far studio reference monitors go, the Altec M812s beat the E80s in terms of transparency and imaging.
  • Altec Lansing IMW725 Vs. JBL Boombox 2 – For portable Bluetooth speakers, the advantages go to the JBL Boombox 2 with bigger sound, battery life, and features.
  • Altec Lansing Octiv 650 Vs. JBL Bar 5.1 – The JBL Bar 5.1 comes out ahead as a better sounding and more feature-packed soundbar.

While not definitive, these head-to-head examples give a good idea of each brand’s strengths and where they outmatch one another in specific cases. Altec Lansing wins for critical listening while JBL provides a fun sound profile.

Also Read: Comparison Between the 600 and 700

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Altec Lansing the same as JBL?

No, Altec Lansing and JBL are two separate and competing speaker brands. They have distinct histories with Altec Lansing starting in 1927 and JBL forming later in 1946. JBL is currently owned by Harman while Altec Lansing operates as part of Plantronics.

Is there any speaker better than JBL?

While JBL makes great speakers, there are other brands that audiophiles argue produce better sound quality like Bowers & Wilkins, Klipsch, Dynaudio, and even Altec Lansing for critical listening applications. However, JBL strikes an excellent balance of sound and features at reasonable prices for most consumers.

Is Altec a good brand?

Yes, Altec Lansing is a reputable veteran speaker brand that produces high-quality audio gear, especially for accurate reproduction and sound mixing. Their strong engineering heritage and distinctive sound make them a “good” brand for the right use cases.

Is JBL a high end brand?

JBL is considered a mass consumer brand, but they do have higher end speaker lines that would be categorized as “high end.” Models like the JBL Synthesis and HDI speaker systems compete on sound and quality with other luxury brands. So JBL spans both the consumer and high-end spectrum fairly well.

Also Read: Choose Between Jabra And JBL.

The Verdict

When weighing all the factors – sound quality, features, design, value, and use cases – JBL emerges as the better choice for most typical consumers.

The energetic, bold sound of JBL speakers is more engaging for music, movies, and gaming. The focus on wireless connectivity, smart features, sleek designs, and overall usability gives them mass market appeal. And the wide range of budget to high-end speakers provides great options for all types of buyers.

Of course, discerning audiophiles and audio engineers may still prefer Altec Lansing for the accuracy and construction qualities tailored to critical listening and mixing work. Home theater buffs that demand a flat frequency response may also lean towards Altec Lansing. But most everyday listeners who want great sounding speakers with today’s top features will be very satisfied with going for a JBL. Their iconic sound has broad appeal across media types. Backed by Harman audio engineering and consumer-friendly designs, you can’t go wrong with a JBL speaker.

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