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JBL S38 II vs. Aperion Intimus 522D


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19 replies to this topic

#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Shane Morales

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Posted December 15 2003 - 08:50 AM

My sister asked me to check out small bookshelf speakers for her. These two speakers match her budget, size requirements, and aesthetics.

Aperion Intimus Specs

JBL 38 specs:
  • 1" Pure-titanium dome tweeter
    4" PolyPlas Midrange Transducer
    8" PolyPlas woofer
    175 watts max. power handling
    Sensitivity: 89dB
    Frequency response: 45Hz - 20kHz
    All-Metal, 5-Way, gold-plated binding posts
    Video shielded
    8 Ohms Impedance
    Low diffraction, IsoPower baffles
    FreeFlow Flared Ports
    Crossover: 800Hz, 3200Hz
    Straight-line Signal Path (SSP)
    Oversize Kapton voice coil
    HeatScape structure
    Linear Field Proximity (LFP) bezel
    28 lbs. (each speaker)
    11 1/2" x 17 1/2" x 11 3/4"
These would both be used with the Aperion 10" sub. I'm more interested in how they compare with music. They'd be powered by an Onkyo-601 or HK-AVR325

The JBL is a much bigger speaker - does it sound bigger? If anyone has heard these two speakers I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks.
:::Shane
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#2 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 16 2003 - 03:32 AM

Oh yes, the music performance on the JBL s38's gives $2000 per pair speakers more than a good fight on performance.

I use them all the way around, they play loud and hard, and go real deep, without strain.

Could be the best $100 speaker ever made.

The flatness of the frequncy response throughout the spectrum is nothing short of amazing. They certainly allow you to listen to the music and not the speaker.

I routinely get people at my house making unsolicited comments, about hearing the wind passing over the actual wood in woodwind instruments. The ridges of a bass players finger prints touching the strings. ect..ect..ect...

I had thought about upgrading, so I went and auditioned some very high end stuff, and came to the conclusion, I couldn't really do any better than what I already had at any price.

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted December 17 2003 - 01:54 AM

The S38/S38IIs are stunning speakers, and an absolute steal nowadays, although becoming rare.

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   AaronJB

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Posted December 17 2003 - 11:28 AM

I just replaced my front mains with JBL 38IIs and have completely fallen for them. They sound fantastic and are a terrific bargain for what they're currently going for. The only thing that made me a little nervous (and it's probably just me) was that they are shipped with the grills off - they're included in sealed plastic bag.

The other thing that I just noticed is that these speakers sounded better lower. I placed them higher up near the ceiling and they lost some of their warmth.
Aaron
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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 18 2003 - 12:44 AM

I have been in some pretty decent recording stuidos, that actualy use these to master with.


I sure love mine, if you go out and do some comparing, you will find, you got a truly outstanding value for your spending dollar.


Now you just need two more pair to complete your 6.1 setup right??? lol

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   AllanC

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Posted December 18 2003 - 01:41 AM

I'm using the aperions in a 2.1 system along with the adire rava. Great setup - I'm extremely pleased.

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted December 18 2003 - 02:34 AM

I have an Aperion 5.1 system. Upgraded from the 10" to the 12" sub. Both subs are great. I think getting an Aperion sub, regardless of your speaker choice is a great move. I haven't heard the JBLs you are looking at. I will say that the Aperion speakers have great imaging and provide a very seemless soundstage for HT. In this respect they perform like speakers that cost much more. For 2 channel music though, they can sound a little thin in the mid-range with some material. Very detailed highs though.

#8 of 20 OFFLINE   JamesCB

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Posted December 18 2003 - 06:58 AM

Quote:
Oh yes, the music performance on the JBL s38's gives $2000 per pair speakers more than a good fight on performance.


You're kidding, right?

#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Shane Morales

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Posted December 18 2003 - 07:24 AM

Quote:
Quote:
Oh yes, the music performance on the JBL s38's gives $2000 per pair speakers more than a good fight on performance.
You're kidding, right?

We ordered the 5.1 Aperion system AND two S38IIs. That way she can choose to between an all Aperion 5.1 or 3 Aperion speakers (surrounds & center) with the S38's as fronts.

And I'm going to borrow them so I can compare them to my Mirage OM7s. I'll see how they compare to those $2000 per pair speakers.
:::Shane
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#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted December 18 2003 - 09:35 AM

John S must be thinking about what Robert Reina wrote in his ... JBL S38 loudspeaker Review for the June, 2001 - Stereophile Magazine ...

Quote:
But there were two areas in which the JBL S38 performed better than any speaker under $2000/pair I've ever heard:

First was its ability to play at extremely loud volumes without coloration or strain. ...

Second, the S38 had the widest dynamic contrasts of any budget speaker I've heard. Just in case you were beginning to think that it's only a rock speaker, I found the S38's low- and high-level dynamic performance on dramatic orchestral works to be jaw-dropping.

Click the above link for the entire JBL S38 Speaker Review.

Phil
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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 18 2003 - 10:10 AM

Hmm I never read that review, really.

But, I have auditioned a ton of speakers against them.

In a speaker I look for ultimate flatness, and how good it it still sounds being played at ear bleeding levels.


On those two criteria, I will put it with the $2000 per pair speakers I have personaly auditioned.

I was recently looking at upgrading, just becasue I had the bug, and the S38's are getting to be a few years old.

I did not find any other speaker that performed better.
There are some that are more efficient, I'll give you that, but on flatness and clarity at extreme volume levels, it just did not happen for me. Heck, I could not even find one I felt was even as flat from 30hz to 15khz.


This is an honest opinion of mine, many may not agree, but afterall it is my opinion.

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 18 2003 - 10:11 AM

Dang I just read the review... Geeesh that is some glowing review there. Interesting.....


Thanks for the link!!!!

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 18 2003 - 10:17 AM

PS: Interestingly enough after reading the review again, I do have the original S38's, that he was using.


I actually have not auditioned the s38II's.

#14 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 18 2003 - 10:21 AM

Shane,

Just give them a fair chance, at good volume.

Those solid Titanium tweets take a while to loosen up before they drive well at low volume.

#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted December 18 2003 - 11:56 PM

John, I'd go as far as to say that there is essentially no difference between the S38 and the S38II other than cosmetics.

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted December 19 2003 - 05:26 AM

Thanks Angela.M, I didn't think there was much if any difference. They did tone down the s38II's efficiency spec though. Not due to any changes I don't think, it is just that those tweets just don't push near as well at 1 watt, until they are broken in.
So I think that is the main reason they changed the spec on it.

I had alway scoffed at speaker break in periods, but now realize certain deisgns really do loosen up so to speak after they are truly broken in.

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted December 19 2003 - 05:36 AM

European Reviewer: Dejan Veselinovic also agrees with your findings, where he wrote (Product: JBL Ti 600 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker) ...
Quote:
JBL pioneered titanium domes way back in 1984. JBL says you'll need some 120 hours of work to get the drivers up and running, but from experience, I'd say 3-4 months is much more to the point. It will be the titanium tweeter which will take longest to really settle down to its true sound.

My results also confirms the above assessments w/my JBL S26's (x6)/S-Center! They sounded great out of the box, ... but after a few month's, they sounded even sweeter!!! Posted Image

Phil
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#18 of 20 OFFLINE   Shane Morales

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Posted December 26 2003 - 06:53 AM

The Aperion's and the S38-II's came in this week. Here's a brief overview.

Size
First and foremost the JBL S38-II's are way bigger than I anticipated. It would take 4 of the Aperion speakers stacked 2x2 to take up about as much space of the S38s. In fact, they are about the same size as the Aperion 10" sub.

So, sadly, due to size constraints the S38s were deemed unsuitable.

Visual
The cherry veneer on the Aperions is slightly darker than on the S38s. Doesn't really make a difference to me, tho.

With the grills off, however, the S38s look bad ass.

Sound
Well, even though my sister didn't want them, I had to listen to the S38s. So I set them up and did some comparisons. Maybe it was the room or something, but I thought the aperions and the S38s sounded a lot a like. Similar characteristics, but the S38s sounded "more". Midrange was more pronounced, but there was an airy quality to them that was distracting. Maybe the room. Maybe cause they are brand new.

Even though I thought the S38s sounded a bit better I was more impressed with the aperions because they are so small, look so nice, and produce a nice, smooth sound.

The Real Winner
...is me. For various reasons I won't go into the placement of the aperions for surround duty proved to be a real pain. In the end I suggested putting my Mirage OMNI-250s in the rear corners of the room. I wasn't using them, after all. So we did and it sounded great. I guess the omni-directional aspect of the Mirage speakers lends itself well to surround duty.

And, in return, I get to keep the S38s. Granted, I traded an $800 set of speakers for a $280 set of speakers, but:

1) Due to space issues I can use a pair bookshelf speakers whereas the Mirage towers sat unused.

2) I wasn't too keen on the Mirage's sound quality with hard rock music - way too ambient. The S38s, I hear, will do well with AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest screaming through them.

3) She's my sister, so I don't mind.

Lastly
I wish I could say more about the S38s. I just didn't get to listen to them very much and it will take a while for them to break in.

I was really impressed with the Aperions. Great aesthetics, small size, and surprisingly rich and vibrant sound. If you're considering these I suggest taking the plunge and giving them a go. They sound really nice.

And the Aperion 10" sub is just freakin' awesome. With music it's beautiful. It blends in very well. With movies it's authorative. Powerful and smooth.
:::Shane
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#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Mitch_J

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Posted December 30 2003 - 11:08 PM

Shane,
Thanks for that review.
I've been trying to talk myself out of buying the Aperions and you've helped make a decision a little easier.

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted December 31 2003 - 12:49 AM

In ~20 years of purchasing and enjoying speakers, mostly at price points significantly higher than the S38s, I've yet to find a pair that had the performance/price ratio of the S38s.

Enjoy.



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