Advice Requested: Upgrading JBL Northridge E-series to different models

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by questrider, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. questrider

    questrider Second Unit
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    Right now I have:

    Front R/L: (2) JBL Northridge E80
    Center: (1) JBL Northridge EC25
    Surround L/R: (2) JBL Northridge E30
    Surround Back L/R: (2) JBL Northridge E20
    Subwoofer: (1) JBL Northridge E150

    Before my 30 days are up--and because the price difference is very minimal--I'm seriously thinking of upgrading to:

    Front R/L: (2) JBL Northridge E90
    Center: (1) JBL Northridge EC35
    Subwoofer: (1) JBL Northridge E250

    Just wondering from the gallery here what the thought process here is. I definitely am going to upgrade the center speaker because I've read here that there is no comparison between the EC25 and the EC35 because of the 3-way including a mid-range in the 35 over the 2-way "woofer"/tweeter in the 25.

    What I'm on the fence about is that I love the E80s but would like to upgrade from the 6" woofer to the 8" woofers in the E90s for better lower frequency handling and a little more ooomph! in the bottom end. Also, I am swayed a bit more by the fact that the E90s are a bit wider by over an inch and weigh a little more because it would make it that much more difficult for one of our cats to tip one of these towers over!

    And perhaps upgrade the 10" subwoofer in the E150 for the 12" one in the E250 for a deeper rumble, however, the 150 is clean in my living room right now and I notice the Hz difference in only 2Hz between the two, so I'm thinking the E250 would just be too boomy and muddy up my current room. And then maybe perhaps the E90s would just be more boom to muddy everything up more too.

    Or perhaps I should stay with what I've got. It all sounds beatiful and smooth, I just wish there was a little more smooth bottom end with a little more ooomph! without too much boom. Heh, I guess that's what we're all looking for, eh?

    I'm also probably going to stick with this Northridge series because the Black Ash finished wood cabinets are beatiful, and let's face it, the wife loves them as "funiture" so we're sticking with this series.

    Anyway... good stereoscopic surround sound is fun. [​IMG]
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    IMO, 6 1/2" drivers generally produce cleaner midrange than 8" drivers. Usually, not always.

    For the sub, I'd probably return the JBL sub altogether and get an SVS PB-10 for the same price.
     
  3. MikeCocc

    MikeCocc Agent

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    Brian,

    If you don't like boomy I would steer away from both the E150P and E250P. I have the E250P currently ( with a PB10-ISD on order ) and while its not that bad a sub I know the SVS will be a huge improvement.

    On the other hand, if you are trying to save some money the E250P can be had on-line for about $200 plus shipping. Not that bad a price considering BB is selling it for $499.99. If you are going to pay ( or have paid ) close to retail for the JBL you should definitely get the SVS. You will not regret it.
     
  4. DorianBryant

    DorianBryant Screenwriter

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    I can say that the EC35 is a must to have. It can be had for $139 on-line. I use it with S38II"s as mains. The EC25 is just not enough center for your mains.
     
  5. questrider

    questrider Second Unit
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    ...I think I'm going to get one of these. SVS has had so many great things said about them around here and I figure if I get a good, solid bottom end out of an SVS subwoofer, I won't worry about getting any more bottom end from my E80 mains and shouldn't have to upgrade to the E90s.

    Thanks again, everybody. I think I'll be keeping the E80s and simply upgrading the center speaker and the subwoofer.
     
  6. RyanSoares

    RyanSoares Stunt Coordinator

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    hey brian i have an all northridge series system too, but i went smaller than you, you can see my pics here

    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/concei.../ph//my_photos

    and i love it, i really must hear what another sub sounds like cause i don't think the E150p sounds boomy or muddy, but maybe thats ignorance? i really gotta hear one of these SVS subs, i haven't heard one bad thing said about them either.....
     
  7. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Both JBL models being discussed here have separate midrange drivers so their woofer's mid performance is not relevant. Be aware that @95% of studio monitors that utilize a ten to twelve inch woofer--the same ones that are used to judge the recording's quality before pressing 5,000,000 copies of it--also use a separate mid driver.

    One of the most highly regarded 3-way speakers in the world, the B&W Nautilus Signature 800 model (priced here in my city at $19,998 per pair) uses two 10" woofers along with its midrange.

    And don't think that a smaller speaker that sounds "clearer" is always the better one--this could very well mean the larger speaker is simply positioned incorrectly, or, is too large for that particular room.

    Or especially, because very small speakers often lack good upper bass (lower mid?) reproduction capability, sometimes people mistake that for "clarity". For example, several people I know think that a certain brand that uses black cubical sats sound good because they sound "so sharp" because of this effect......and I personally think they suck because they sound quite tinny. Males voices usually lack the proper weight or richness they should have; or certain drums & guitars no longer have the "thickness" they truly have in person. So in other words, these sats don't sound very realistic.

    BTW: I listened to some JBL E20s and E30s side by side (literally) at a CompUSA just a few days ago & when using some tracks from 311's Soundsystem that in some parts featured mostly just a lone guitar and Nick's or S.A.'s vocals ("Evolution" & "Leaving Babylon"), what I described above occurred quite audibly--not the shrill part, just the "richness" difference. [​IMG] So others can check this situation out for themselves.
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I've yet to see studio monitors that have 10" or 12" drivers (mixing/recording). Studio monitors are also geared towards smooth midrange, and when they use a 8" driver, it is not tuned to produce deep bass, it is directed towards clean lower midrange. Most studio monitors are TWO WAY with the simplest crossover possibly, typically 1st order, for a clean transition from tweeter to mid.

    We are also not talking about $20K speakers, we are talking about
     
  9. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    John: my sentence above reads "....@95% of studio monitors that utilize a ten to twelve inch woofer......

    It doesn't say most studios actually USE such large monitors. But out of the studios that do production for 5.1 sound, it seems like a lot of them use these types of speakers for their surround arrays (I don't have percentages though).

    As the following sites mention, large monitors are usually used for mid-field monitoring, not nearfield which is right in the engineer's face on top of the mixing console which is where a two-way works out fine.

    JBL LSR6332

    JBL 4410A Studio Monitor

    And, I've noticed more and more studio's are turning to non-commercial models for monitoring purposes & they include 3-way designs. This is what AIX Records uses (they do 5.1 dvd-audio and other surround format projects):

    Piega C8

    And check out what this sacd surround studio uses (click on "Boulder Studio", then "studios"). Yikes!

    Airshow Mastering

    I've never been one to engage in that old 3-way vs. 2-way debate; done properly, any X-way design can sound excellent.
     
  10. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Brian: unless you think you're going to move into a larger place that needs more sound, personally I would just upgrade the center channel. The biggest advantage of that midrange in the E35 is that it eliminates most "lobing" effects. And not because a 5" woofer has problems reproducing midrange frequencies.

    Though on a purely gut-level note [​IMG] , I would grab the larger E90s. IMO some extra capacity in the audible bass region that they handle sure can't hurt.

    Lobing is what happens with many two-way centers that use a woofer/tweeter/woofer design. This means in various off-axis spots in the listening area there are areas where the level of certain frequencies drop* and makes dialog, etc harder to hear (which is what the center channel was originally desinged to help avoid!). A three-way speaker design eliminates most of that because of its vertical tweeter/midrange array.

    And the mids and especially the high frequencies are the ones most susceptible to "beaming" so allowing the woofers to do just the lower stuff takes them (mostly) out of the equation i.e. it doesn't matter that they are still mounted to the sides of the tweeter/mid array.

    This is why you see some companies placing their tweeter on top of the center's cabinet above the woofer, or others, inside the woofer (i.e. coaxially) to get away from that sideways-mounting concept & its problems.

    This design also helps with surround music--the smoother dispersion just generally helps to make everything sound more realistic. And, it's irritating to have to sit PRECISELY in front of the center speaker to make sure you're hearing everything correctly.

    Also, the E35's cabinet is larger so that helps it reach an extra 5Hz lower. It's sensitivity is also higher by 1dB.

    * This usually seems to occur in the woofer/tweeter crossover region. At this point they share some frequencies AND each driver's dispersion properties are quite different from each other because the two woofer's diameters combine to form one larger "virtual" radiating surface which can really mess with their dispersion angles. Anyway, because of these two situations, phase problems can pop up and can cause partial cancellation of those shared frequencies at various dispersion angles >>> lobing. But careful crossover tweaking can help to minimize this effect.
     
  11. questrider

    questrider Second Unit
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    Thanks Lance and everyone else for your input. This is a thread update. [​IMG]

    I'm still looking in to getting the E90s because right now they're on sale and cost the same as the E80s. A question: on my AV receiver (Yamaha HTR-5760) for the front mains I can choose SML or LRG, with SML redirecting the lower frequencies assigned to the fronts to the sub, or LRG where the front mains keep the low frequencies. Are these E80s/E90s "large" enough to use the LRG setting, or should these speakers be set to SML because of the 6-8" woofers not being technically large? The E100s are 10" woofers and I would think those would qualify as LRG, but I'm not sure. Sometimes I've noticed that setting this to SML almost puts too much low frequency into the sub and may be producing what I'm terming as a "cracking noise" below.

    Thus, I'm still on the fence about getting the SVS PB-20 because of cost right now and the fact that they're (a) new and (b) heavily back ordered and I wouldn't be able to get one for approximately two months anyway. As stated above, I'm noticing a slight "cracking noise" in the E150 lately with low bass thump frequencines from movies with heavy special effects (i.e., "Star Wars") and my newly-acquired Steely Dan "Everything Must Go" 5.1/DTS DVD-Audio like the 150w limit and 10" woofer isn't handling everything smoothly. Probably just going to upgrade to the E250 for now not necessarily because I need more volume but to alleviate that "cracking" (the extra 100w capacity should fix that, I hope) and then get the SVS in 6 months or so. Primarily because of the cost difference and budget but also because the E250 can be transferred to my office setup later when I get the SVS.

    I already ordered the EC35 for $140 online from a JBL-authorized dealer (according to JBL's Web site). What a deal. It almost makes me fear I'm getting a counterfeit JBL product or something refurbished at that price. However, JBL has them listed as an "authorized online reseller" so I should be safe.
    Lance, are you saying that both the E20 and E30 sound tinny, or that the E30s for sure have a richer sound of the two? I've found the E30 considerably better because of it's bigger woofer and am going to upgrade my E20s for the Surround Back L/R to E30s too because (a) they are better sounding, (b) have a front port as opposed to the back port so you can set them against a wall or on their backs on the floor behind a couch and (c) the cost is the same. While I wouldn't want the E20s or E30s as my front mains, I think they are wonderfully rich for the surrounds. If I was to use these JBL Northridge bookshelf speakers for my front mains (because I didn't have the space for the towers) I would definitely be going with the E50s because of the mid-range 3-way capacity as opposed to the E20/E30 2-way design. However, for surround "satellites", I think the E30s are great and the E50 would be overkill seeing as though the signal being pushed to the surrounds isn't a 3-way necessity.
     
  12. Greg-ST

    Greg-ST Stunt Coordinator

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    I just got the EC35 center to replace my N-CenterII. Should be pretty nice [​IMG]
     
  13. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Brian: sorry if that was a confusing statement. Yes, I thought the E30s sounded better/richer than the smaller E20s.

    Not to sound wishy-washy, but to me the choice of large or small depends on the size of your listening room & how loud you want to listen to your system. But for my own living room (16X19ft) I would set both the E90s and E80s to large (and I never listen at reference level, even when the neighbors are gone). I truly don't believe a soundtrack engineer is going to include intense rumbly bass in those channels.* And IMO the audible bass they do have isn't always totally non-directional & using the large setting will preserve this subtle directional component.

    Read on for my amateur thoughts on the large vs. small debate.......

    I am kind of going out on a limb here but the past year I've been getting a little doubtful of the "neccessity" of the Everything-Must-Be-Set-To-Small concept. Much of my doubt is based on what surround music professionals reccomend for their format & the fact that all those sat/sub systems pictured in the diagrams for movie playback always seem to have small bookshelfs (5" woofer or smaller) in them. IMO that is just a marketing thing--a smart one actually if true--to keep people from thinking they would have to run out and buy five E80-type speakers, something very few people are going to do. And obviously, using five "large-enough" speakers like an E20 can provide very good sound........for the majority of the population.

    But what about the remainder of the population that doesn't mind five large speakers in their home theater? Because if using large speakers with no bass management wasn't a good idea, why then did both Dolby Labs and DTS Inc. include large settings with their processors?

    Things that make you go hmmm..........[​IMG]

    * For example, using my Bostons w/single 8" woofers as guides, in Attack Of The Clones the front mains do include some pretty powerful audible bass, but not the intense rumbly (i.e. subsonic) stuff. I encountered the same situation with the documentary Trinity And Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie.

    And as far "straining" the receiver's amp section with all channels set to large: my Technics SA-DA8 only cost $350 but I can turn it's volume knob up to the 2:00 position while playing Crystal Method's 5.1 dvd-audio & it gets so loud it's scary......but nothing shut down or became distorted. Could it be that it's that unneccesary (IMO) reference level volume specification that is straining the amps and speakers in many people's systems and not the large setting concept???
     

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