can o worms - compare rockets to JBL S-series

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Todd Christ, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    ok - so i was hell bent on getting the JBL S-series for my new HT setup (yes budget based) no B&O stuff here [​IMG]

    so the idea was to get "good" sound, at a reasonable cost...

    my initial setup - (2) S38II as mains, (1) S-Center and (2) S26II rears for a 5.1 setup (to go with my SA-WM40 sub. and a Denon AVR-1803 receiver...

    i already own the sub, the speakers i can get for $550, and the reciever for ~$335

    so my buddy who just setup his HT Room (full projector,etc) got the Diva's which sound incredible in his 7.1 setup [​IMG] he recommended i look at the Rockets :b

    i'm tempted!

    so "package 7" from AV123 is RS 250 Front, RSC 100 Center, RS 150 Rear but the cost for the speakers alone is $1300!

    so don't compare cost (like i am) tell me if there are any glaring "sonic" differences! [​IMG]
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Well...

    We're talking, in round figures, an $800 difference. Will there be an order of magnitude difference between the Diva setup and the JBL setup? I would guess the answer is "no," and I'd put the cash toward a bunch of DVDs.

    One opinion.
     
  3. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    good point [​IMG]

    although i do know that going from my current setup of a 10 year old Dolby PL receiver and only 3 itty-bitty speakers in the front (no rears) - i'm sure ANYTHING will sound better [​IMG]

    has anyone compared these speakers? i realize the price range is a huge difference (at this level) but sonically they look pretty similar! now the external appearance is MUCH different... but let's talk performance!

    when the lights are off, who cares what the speakers look like - right?
     
  4. Martin Rendall

    Martin Rendall Screenwriter

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  5. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    interesting link, lots of "rah-rah" for the rockets, but still no comparison like i'm asking for...

    i agree, they look absolutely beautiful, and sonically as well i'm sure (like the Diva's i've heard) - but color the JBL's the same color (woodgrain) as the Rockets - could you tell a difference (or that much? of a difference?)

    i know "Hearing" is totally speculative, and everyone "hears" things differently - but are these speakers in two different "sonic" leagues?
     
  6. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    If it was me I'd grab the JBLs, sell the Sony, Sell the Denon, buy a used SVS/Adire sub, upgrade to a Denon 3802. [​IMG]
     
  7. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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  8. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    Todd, if I were you, I would get the rockets 150's and 100's for mains and center, get the JBL's for the rears, and buy a used HK520 for $350 in the hardware for sale section. Should run you about $1300 total, and will be a killer system, easily besting the JBL and Denon system. JMHO, though.
     
  9. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Grab the JBLs, keep the Sony, keep the Denon, fly down to Grand Cayman and spend a few days on the beach. [​IMG]
     
  10. Russell _T

    Russell _T Supporting Actor

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    Here is the text of a Rocket review I posted last year. Maybe it will help give you an idea of what the Rockets sound like to me (edited):
    Hi Guys,
    I have the 6.1's for mains, the C3 center, and the 2.1's in the rear. I have avoided making straight up comparisons between the Divas and Rockets because I am such a well known Diva advocate that it seems somewhat hypocritical to jump ship at this point. The Divas are and always will be fantastic speakers. However it was inevitable that someone like Mark Schifter would try to bring us an even better product. His love of audio and his people oriented personality almost mandate that he will always be striving to improve his products for the people who have come to count on it, as well as make a buck or two in the bargain. He works tirelessly at it, and the Rockets are the current proof of that dedication. As he explained it to me, his intention was to bring us an audiophile grade speaker system that sounds as good or better than most anything else out there for a price we all could afford. I've been traveling around quite a bit this summer, and have made it a point to check out the high end stores and friend's systems, and from everything I have heard, I think Mark has exceeded his goal.
    As far as a direct comparison to the Divas, AV123 took an existing system in the Divas, and redesigned them to suit the American market place. They are big (The American Way ) well built, and sound better than everything else we are upgrading from. The Rockets were designed from the ground up with 1" MDF computer modeled cabinets, and the low sheen Rosewood veneer is more elegant looking than the Divas. The tonal balance is better as well, which to me means that when you start to crank them, the soundstage and imaging stay rock solid while expanding to fill the room. The Vifa tweeter while a little more forward than the Divas and not as rolled off still provides a weight and clarity to the presentation that I find addicting. The overall tonal balance is very linear and has a smoothness similar to the B&W N series I have always admired. The Divas have a chestiness in the midrange that the Rockets don't, and some may like that characteristic, but I prefer the clarity of the Rockets instead. If I have my Divas set up in another room, I find the same pleasure I have always found in them, but when I play them side by side now, I quickly return to the Rockets. As far as the bass goes, I always loved the bass on the Divas and I call it "party bass". It is low and loud. The Rocket bass is tighter and more accurate, with more viceral impact. I never used a sub with the Divas for music just HT, but now that I have my new Hsu sub , I love the way it integrates with the 750's and fills in the low end a little with most music.
    I think the bottom line is that the Rockets are more of a speaker that high end owners will turn to when looking for something different and save a lot of money, rather than in the case of the Divas, a move up system that most of us were so happy to buy because we didn't think we could afford such incedible speakers for that kind of price.
    Thanks, and if anyone has more specific questions, I'll try to answer them as best I can. I'm not an audiophile, just a 30 year audio enthusiast, so some of the more technical stuff will have to be answered by others, or I can try and find out from the engineers. I do understand that the head engineer and designer of the unique progressive crossover array, Dick Pierce is planning to post white papers on the Rocket design eventually. This stuff will blow your mind. I had no idea the time, money, and detail that goes into a project like this. They spent a year on this, and left nothing to chance.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Russ Tarvin
    If it's too loud, you're too old.
     
  11. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Todd- Have you consider other speakers somewhere between the two? I was on the Rockets band wagon and about to break the bank for them when I read some custom installer's advice to people....Don't spend all that you can. Leave part of your budget to buy CDs and DVDs so you can enjoy your toys."

    I've been enjoying my Ascend 170s and my new CDs and DVDs quite well thank you.

    The JBLs and a new receiver may give you the most pleasure.

    A few years from now when I have more disposable income I'm sure the Rockets will be in the running.
     
  12. Natelabo

    Natelabo Stunt Coordinator

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    Okay I have never even heard of the Rockets but I running those exact JBL speakers for my home theater minus the subwoofer. I am running my DIY ADire Shiva subwoofer [​IMG]. I am currently using a Sony STR-DA1ES for my receiver and I have to say I absolutely love the sound that I am getting from my system. Sounds excellent in Stereo. In 5.1 I have wide spacious sound. Very good transition from front to back and I don't even have my surrounds mounted correctly. Almost ear level but still get an excellent rear effect. Save your money and go for an excellent speaker setup. And email me pics when you are done [​IMG]
    -nate
     
  13. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    excellent feedback guys!!!

    Does anyone have a similar story like Russell _T's concerning their speakers? I think stuff like that is great! When you can actually pinpoint a product's "birth" to a talented artist/builder [​IMG]
     
  14. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Todd,

    I can't speak about the Rockets, but I can give a personal experience based comparison between the Divas and the JBLs-S speakers. In both cases they are powered by Denon receivers 2800 & 3802 respectively. I imagine that most of what I say about the Divas applies to the rockets as well.

    1) They are both great sounding speakers -- I can't imagine you'd be disappointed with the sound of either one. I found the JBLs (S38 - etc.) a little "warmer" and they sounded great from the word go. JBL makes pro speakers and my professional musician friends like the brand.

    The Divas (4.1 C3 2.1) needed quite a bit of break in before they came into their own, but the sound now is nothing short of fantastic.

    2) In terms of appearance & visible workmanship, packaging, etc. the contrast couldn't be any more stark. The JBLs look pretty bad and are very bulky (considering they are bookshelf speakers!). The JBL center is plastic and totally cheap looking -- I couldn't stand them in my apartment. The JBL subwoofer literally stank (as in smell -- it sounded fine).

    The Divas on the other hand are the most beautiful thing ever, from design to workmanship they are works of art. I have never seen anything packed with such tremendous care. They make any room shine -- in my experience women absolutely love them.

    Conclusion: If you are just worried about sound and appearance, space etc. don't matter to you, get the JBLs -- they are super speakers for the money. With the money you save go to the Caribbean or buy DVDs as people have suggested. If stuff other than sound matters to you, go for Divas (which have a new US distributor and are now simply called Swans (they used to be Swans Diva) or Rockets.

    Ted
     
  15. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  16. Steve Zimmerman

    Steve Zimmerman Second Unit

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    No offense, Phil, but that pre-canned content comes off sounding a lot more like an advertisement than a "golly I sure do love my JBLs" opinion.

    Todd, my first home theater package was almost exactly the setup you are considering. I later added a second pair of JBL S38s for a separate room. So to say I thought the JBLs were a good value is an understatement.

    As my budget (and involvement in the hobby) has increased, I have sold my JBLs and I now own Rocket floorstanding speakers. Sometime down the road I'll sell the Rockets and buy something even more expensive, I'm sure. The Rockets and JBLs are both great for their price point but the Rocket bookshelf speakers are meant to compete in performance, cosmetics and price with a different class of speaker altogether.

    If you are on a Best Buy budget then I think the JBLs are a great setup and a fantastic value online at times. If the much anticipated Rocket ELT package were available then I might recommend that instead since it's supposed to have the same exact drivers and crossovers as the Rocket RS150 and RSC100 at a much smaller price.

    If you think you're likely to buy one set of speakers and stop there forevermore then I'd say spend as much as you can afford--but if you think you might upgrade later then the JBLs are really good choice because they are inexpensive and hold their resale value quite well.

    I would also say that the speakers are the most important part of the audio chain. It doesn't make any sense to buy a $2500 prepro/amp combo and a $1000 subwoofer and then combine those with 5 $100 bookshelf speakers. Conversely, if you're only going to spend $300 on a receiver then $600 or so might be a good amount to spend on speakers.

    Those are my opinions,

    --Steve
     
  17. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve - excellent response... and Phil's collection of information is quite staggering to say the least, gotta love the enthusiasm! More folks should tout their system choices like that!

    I'm pretty much making my first "real" foray into the 5.1 arena, budget isn't really a concern - but I don't buy the "if it's more expensive it's gotta be better" I'll take performance over price anyday...

    I'm probably taking a cruise in the Mediterranean this summer, so the extra savings will be nice [​IMG]

    This thread has been quite an eye opener... thanks for everyone's input!!!
     
  18. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I own a pair of S38s that I found on ebay for like $240. I used them for about a month before replacing them with some higher priced DIY speakers. (The S38s are certainly "Keepers" though)

    I can tell you the S38s impress me the most out of all the budget brands out there. They perform excellent with HT as I get a similar experience as if I'm listening to THX certified JBL speakers.

    When it comes to music, I would have to say they arn't audiophile speakers. When A/B comparing them to speakers 2-3 times the price, they sounded a bit muffled. They offered more ear fatigue at higher volumes and the highs can be on the bright side. The differences are only apparent when A/B comparing as they sound fairly high end if heard by themselves.

    I would get the JBLs if I was in your shoes. However, I think you'll be happy with either decision you make as the sonic improvement you'll hear with the Rockets will automatically justify the price difference. [​IMG]
     

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