Once upon a time—meaning about 30 years ago—monitors in U.S. studios were either custom designs (typically developed from JBL or Altec components), Altec 604E coaxials in “utility” cabinets or JBL’s large 4320 two-way horn systems. Based on the success of the 4320s, which had been designed with Capitol Studios and later developed a worldwide following, even being adopted as the standard studio monitor for Britain’s EMI, JBL began looking into other studio products to expand its market share. The answer was the 4310, a high-powered three-way, all-cone system that was small enough to be suspended or placed on a shelf or console top.
The 4310 was a hit, but some at JBL felt that the 4310’s popularity in the consumer realm would dilute its appeal to professionals. The 4310 then morphed into the L100, a hugely successful home product with the cool sculpted foam grilles; and JBL developed the 4311—an “all-pro” successor to the 4310.
The 4311 was built ground-up to be a “studio” monitor: It was available in textured gray or walnut finishes; the 12-inch 2213 cast-frame woofer had a 3-inch voice coil and a beefy 6.5-pound magnet structure; the 1.4-inch cone/dome tweeter had a foam surround to reduce diffraction effects; and it had easy-access, front panel presence and brilliance controls. But the 4311 had one feature not found on any of JBL’s home speakers: Offering tightly clustered components that provided coherent imaging when the speakers were used in close-in listening, the 4311 was ideal for near-field applications such as meter bridge placement. In a matter of years, survey after survey from trade magazines noted that JBL monitors consistently led all others in its share of the studio monitor market.