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Need opinions about JBL speaker choices


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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard Moya

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Posted March 24 2003 - 05:31 AM

After reading a dizzying array of posts I have decided to go with JBL speakers. My current setup is the once popular but older Kenwood HTB-503. I've been very happy with the system, but as many told me early on, once I get bitten by the upgrade bug--Im going to want to upgrade. Well, its time. I would like to keep the amp and sub for now. To me it seems adequate. Minus the DLPII the amp is good. Here are the choices: Option 1: JBL NSP1II Good system, but not too good for music. Sounds great for home theater setup, but I was looking to get something that I can listen to music with as well. Im not too sure, but it seems to me that this system would only be a marginal step up from stock speakers I get with the Kenwood. Option 2: JBL N-Center, N26 mains, N24 surrounds I think this would step up the deep punch for music and still sound great for HT. Only suspect here is the N24 for surrounds. Do they have the required punch for surrounds? Option 3: JBL N-Center, N28 mains, N24 surrounds Basically same as above except N28s. Is it worthwhile? Again, are surrounds weak point here? Option 4: JBL S-Center, S26 mains, N24 surrounds This is my favorite. However I am concerned with using the N24's again. You think they jibe with studio series? I would love to go S26's around, but room config and budget does not allow. I HAVE to hang the surrounds from the ceiling so Im kinda tied to the S24s. Ive looked at the S36s but I havent seen a cost efficient way of doing a ceiling mount bracket for them. Having said that, I am leaning more towards option 2 or 3 because of cost and room logistics even though I would prefer option 4. A little about my listening habits: I love to watch movies. I love the realism of the sound. One major downfall of the Kenwood has been the center channel. Dialogue is terrible. I have to crank it to really hear it sometimes. The mains have been fair, but fail when listening to music. The surrounds are only good for certain movies. So basically I want the setup that is going to enhance my HT experience PLUS music listening. Opinions, comments and questions would be appreciated Thanks

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 24 2003 - 06:25 AM

Although I don't recommend mixing the N-Series 3/4" Titanium Composite Dome Tweeter and S-Series 1" Pure Titanium Dome Tweeter, ... many have, due to reasons similar to yours - room location / space, etc.


[quote] So basically I want the setup that is going to enhance my HT experience PLUS music listening. [quote]
Until you get the space for another JBL S26 in the future (I always recommend to get at the very least four identical speakers to anchor the Fronts & Surrounds [timbre-matched Center]), Option 4 is the optimum JBL setup for your situation.

I had the JBL N24's located in my side surrounds location for 3-days, and after REF Calibrating the setup, I could hear the difference between the Series highs. Basic laws-of-physics comes into play and the S-Series larger dome extends higher and has more presence.

Dragonheart 360-degree and Video Essentials walk-around the room voice / pink noise - surround effects reveals the differences but for many, it's not that obvious (it's obvious to me - semi-pro musician/composer/writer).

Hope this helps,
Phil
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#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 24 2003 - 06:37 AM

[quote] Option 2: JBL N-Center, N26 mains, N24 surrounds
... Only suspect here is the N24 for surrounds. Do they have the required punch for surrounds? [quote]
The JBL NSP1 HT speakers can easily (with a quality sub) reproduce near REFERENCE Calibrated SPL's dynamically, clearly, without the fear of blowing them up like other smaller satellites. I once monitored 108 dB+ fast SPL peaks** (RS Meter: Dial = 110 / Weight "C" / Speed = FAST) when my brother and I were watching "Tomorrow Never Dies SE" DVD (wife was out shopping Posted Image ) and the whole total Full Cinema Theater SPL impact was outstanding! We ended watching the entire movie @ that level - approx. -7 dB below REF Level!!!

** Room 20' x 30' w/10' high vaulted ceiling - SPL monitored @ my 'sweet-spot' 9-feet from my N-Center / approx. 12' - 13' away from the sub front right corner location.

Just an FYI!

For more JBL NSP1-Series Speaker INFO & Reviews w/links, see my web page Why you should add JBL N & S Series to your audition list!.

NOTE: Because my website is 'FREE', hosted by GeoCities, if too many HT enthusiasts visit, GeoCities will shut it down for an hour or so because it exceeded the specified 'freebie' Data Transfer Rate. Sorry about that, just bookmark it and visit my site an hour later or when everyone has gone to bed!

Phil
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DVD Aficionado (DVDAF) on-going list.
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeffrey_K

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Posted March 24 2003 - 08:09 AM

I have S38IIs as mains and N24s as surrounds in a 20x12 room and they absolutely rock. I use them for movies and music, about 50/50. All types of movies, all types of music. I don't think you could go wrong with any of your choices as you outlined them above. Good luck and have fun!
Wanna buy some speakers?

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Mike Up

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Posted March 24 2003 - 08:09 AM

Well, here's my thoughts. These are my opinions and therefore probably aren't shared and aren't meant to offend anyone.

I would go with the N26 or Northridge series over the Studio Series.

I have done many auditions at different stores trying to see if setups were just not correct.

The Northridge series directly competes with Polk's budget R series and Infinity's(another Harman International company)budget Entra speakers. These speakers have one thing in common, not very good imaging. The reason is because of the crossovers. Imaging is determined on keeping all the signals in phase or in time with one another. More accurate electronic components will determine how well this is accomplished. These are all budget speakers and therefore, are going to have crossovers to reflect that.

These speakers do image alright but in a fuzzier nature than the upper series offerings. A good example I heard was with female vocals. The woman's voice wasn't confined to a center spot where you'd visualize a person standing with your eyes shut. Instead, that spot was widened and fuzzy, less precise. Now not all of her vocal syllables would be placed in the same spot. They would jump to different spots within the sound stage and SSSSSSSSS seemed to come directly from the speakers and not between the speakers at all. With the higher speaker lines, a woman's vocal syllables would all come from the one tightly focused spot. This made the sound very believable. If you were to close your eyes, you would feel as there was a woman actually standing there, singing. With the budget speakers from JBL, Infinity, and Polk, it just didn't sound as someone was actually there.

The upper model lines that image very good were JBL Studio series, Polk RTI series, and Infinity Alpha series.

Overall, I felt imaging on JBL was slightly below Polk and Infinity in both upper and budget lines.

Now that I've said that, I actually prefer the Northridge series over the Studio series even with the N series worse imaging. The reason is that the Studio series is very bright and fatiguing for some reason. The tweeters are of different material on the S-series and could be why. It could also be the way the S series were tuned. Perhaps a higher resistance in the resistor on the tweeter would had brought the tweeter's sensitivity more in balance with the other drivers. I don't know. I do know that the S series' brightness is unbearable IMO. The N series is more tonally balanced and smooth. However the fuzziness in the imaging on the N series can make it sound muddy, where the S series sounds much more dynamic and clear in the midrange and highs(without the help of the overbearing treble response).

I have a friend who has the N24s all around and it sounds good and relaxing. While not a precision speaker for imaging, it does sound good.

I heard the N26II and they sound great IMO. Couldn't believe the bass these little speakers put out.

I would go with go with N series speakers. With either the N24 or N26, you'll still need a subwoofer. The N24s are small and easy to wall mount but have a plastic cabinet that "could" degrade the sound. The N26s for $200/pair are a good deal. They put out good bass for such a small speaker but that bass isn't adequate enough to do most music or movies justice IMO, you still need a subwoofer.

Since the S series are so bright, they just won't match well with N series. I feel that these 2 lines are not compatible with each other when trying to voice match. BTW, I found the S36 to sound absolutely horrid, with poor imaging to boot. The S38 sounded completely different, not just in the bass. The S36 sounded this way at many stores. Not that it matters to you, but the S26 would surely be a much better speaker than the S36 IMO.

If it were me, I'd go with option 1 or 2, which ever you can find the better deal on PLUS a subwoofer. I'm partial to Velodyne Posted Image .

I'd also recommend auditioning the Polk R budget series and Infinity Entra series. For sonic characteristics I think Infinity is the best, then Polk, and then the JBL N series. The Polk and Infinity speakers have gone on sale at Crutchfield and Circuit City lately, but are still a bit more than the JBLs. I personally just bought Infinity Entra Point5 satellite speakers to be used as surround back channels, to compliment my higher end RS series speakers that are used for main, center, and surround . Point5s sound very good for such a small speaker. I then put my Infinity SS2001 speakers, that were a bit to big for that application, in my bedroom.

Good luck.Posted Image

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Hedges

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Posted March 25 2003 - 05:10 AM

D'oh! (Person who just bought a pair of S36's and an S-Center to upgrade his HTIB system) Mark

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   David King

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Posted March 25 2003 - 08:08 AM

N VS S
I have both an S Series and N series setup. The Northridges seem to be more fickle about placement. The front tweeters MUST be at ear level to really get the full effect. Anything higher or lower than a foot and it really really starts to sound muddy. The S series is not as bad about that. The N is warm while the S is Bright as mentioned a million times over. The N series is also obviously cheaper.The S series may be a little more pinpoint on imaging as mentioned, but I wouldn't consider it a huge factor. I love both and don't think I could choose one over the other.


[quote] The reason is that the Studio series is very bright and fatiguing for some reason [quote]

Quick question. Did the receivers have the mains set to small when you auditioned them? Because what you said is 100% true when they are. But when set to large they should sound perfect and not extremely bright like they are when set to small.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   David King

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Posted March 25 2003 - 08:17 AM

Also, It should be noted that everything I just said is on the originals, and not the II versions out now. That may make a difference.

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Camp

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Posted March 25 2003 - 08:36 AM

Just out of curiosity (I don't mean to sound like an audio snob) but why did you decide upon JBL? I realize there's a value factor in JBL but why choose JBL over Paradigm, Energy, Polk, PSB, etc.? JBL's 1970's era styling alone would turn me off. Their K2 speakers are phenomenal for HT but I can't say I've heard anything beneath that level. How do the "normal" JBL's compare to the above mentioned competition?

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 25 2003 - 09:28 AM


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DVD Aficionado (DVDAF) on-going list.
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#11 of 19 OFFLINE   greg baker

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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:15 AM

I have S 26II's all around and they do a great job. I think using the N series for the rear would be fine. I will say that great deals can be fund on these speakers. I bought 2 pr. of s26II's and a S center channel for $504 delivered through Etronics. J and R has very good deals too. Greg

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Camp

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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:23 AM

Geez, Phil...you should be offered a job at Harmon PR just for the skill & time you took to format that post. Posted Image

Good stuff...I guess you (over) answered my query.

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted March 26 2003 - 09:41 AM

The Studio series is brighter than the N series, but I like my speakers brighter. As I've mentioned here before, I liked the sound of the N series better in the store, but in my house I was losing all the upper register brightness. Switching over to the S series at home made all the difference (I wound up with the S312s as my mains). So your own preferences and what your room treatments are like will make a big difference, and no one here is going to be able to tell you what you'll like better. Find a store with a flexible return policy and try one of the options (I'd start with #4 myself, but that's just me). If it makes you happy, you're done. If not, try #1 or 2. Posted Image

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Koch

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Posted March 26 2003 - 11:17 AM

Every time I play a new 5.1 dvd or CD I am astounded. It's like hearing the mix as it was recorded in the dubbing theater or scoring stage. The quality of sound reproduction is unbelievable. I'm using four JBL S38s, two for the mains, two for the surrounds, S-Center and PB12 sub. I've heard other systems that cost hundreds, even thousands more but I still keep coming back to mine as the best sounding. I purchased another pair of S38s (still in the box) for a future upgrade to 7.1.

Best Buy has an extremely liberal return policy. You can pick and choose speakers, take them home, check them out and return them within 30 days if you don't like them for any reason. But I think you will! Posted Image

Jeff

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Marcel_V

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Posted March 26 2003 - 12:03 PM

I went with a northridge 7.1 setup with the NSP-1 package that has the n-center and 4 n24 surrounds. For my mains I went with the N38's which are three way 8" towers and I LOVE them for music and ht. Something about having towers and their big speaker sound really gets the movies and music going. I personally prefer N38s over s26s for either music or HT. Im not sure what you've priced out online, but I got the nsp-1 package for 240 shipped and the PAIR of N38 towers for 279 total shipping free from jandr.com. They are authorized by jbl as well. Whatever you end up doing, if you are going to go with some parts northridge in your setup I would suggest you get the nsp-1 package even if you dont use all the speakers, because its just so darned cheap. A n-center and a pair of n-24's individually purchased alone are at least 200 plus shipping, so you might as well get the package and have extra speakers for a 7.1 someday, or if you break a speaker.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard Moya

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Posted March 27 2003 - 05:51 AM

Is the NSP package definitely a step up from the kenwood pack I have now? If there is not a noticeable enough difference, I would opt for n26 mains, n24 surrounds, n-center. Also, if anyone had a sure-fire, inexpensive way to ceiling mount (with a speaker mount of some kind) some n26's I would do it in a heartbeat. Thanks all for your help!

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Chris Tsutsui

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Posted April 06 2003 - 09:59 PM

I'm suprised a lot of ppl prefer N series over the S series. IMO, Klipsch are bright speakers. The S series simply play more high frequency information and detail than the N series. The N series "lack-of" highs is probably what some ppl prefer. By lack of highs, it doesn't mean the frequency responses are different. I think the N series have highs that are muffled and "blend" with eachother while the S series sound clearer and more defined. The N-series uses the same Titanium dome tweeter technology as the S-series, only the N series uses a 3/4" dome as opposed to 1" and it's also not as sensitive. When I critically listen to two speakers, I don't just pay attention to what speaker sounds the brightest, but I try and hear for things that the other speaker fails to play. Reason is because the receiver and room reflections play a huge role in the perception of "bright" sounding speakers. I know that some ppl may prefer N over S, I just don't want ppl to think the N series is better than the S series and miss out on some of the detail and richer/fuller sound.

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted April 07 2003 - 11:14 AM

I agree w/Chris Tsutsui comments but when we're @ my vacation house up in the Sierra's (45 mins to Kirkwood Ski Resort), ... we don't miss my JBL S26 (x4), JBL S-Center & SVS 25-31PCi when watching / listening to my JBL NSP1's / AudioSource SW15!! Posted Image


JBL brand manager Paul Bente summed-up the differences nicely when he said ...
[quote] [quote]
Phil
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#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Tom Tubbiola

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Posted April 07 2003 - 10:07 PM

Ok, based on everything I've read here and elsewhere I just ordered a pair of S38IIs from JandR. These will be as a replacement for my Klipsch RB-5s which migrated from my bedroom to my living room as surrounds for my HT.

I'm now at the point of waiting impatiently as they travel across the country. . . Posted Image

Hopefully they will live up to the reviews and I'll be Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
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