Current JBL Speakers - Not What They Used To Be

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Dave Moritz, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    I remember JBL speakers that where made from the 70's and some made in the early 80's. Really kick A-- but the newer JBL's are nothing special. The older JBL's where digital ready before the term was ever thought of. They where clean and sounded great. Will JBL ever get serious about making great speakers for the average person again? Also does anyone know a good place to get older used JBL speakers ? Would like other peoples assesment if they think JBL is doing good or has lost there edge ?
     
  2. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Exqueeze me?

    "Digital Ready" ? Uhhhh... If you send a bunch of 1's and
    0's to a speaker (That's Digital aka Binary Code) all you
    are going to hear is Thump, Thump, Click, Click...


    All speakers are "Digital Ready" every single one since the
    first speaker was invented [​IMG]


    As for JBL's current state of quality they are good quality
    for the money, aside from that I will let Phil I. take it
    from here. He is after all, the resident JBL Expert.
     
  3. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Quote:



    I will let Phil I. take it from here.





    Thanks Brett ... our resident Acoustic Research Fanatic expert! [​IMG]


    Quote:



    ... the newer JBL's are nothing special.





    ====(the following was copied from the thread "Need opinions about JBL speaker choices", re-edited for the ??? in this thread)

    JBL N- & S-Series IS A Product that utilizes the same leading-edge testing and design technologies included in their TEC Award Winning Professional Series LSR Linear Spatial Reference Studio Monitors. Another JBL plus is that you don't have to purchase the most expensive speaker within their N- & S-Series to get the products top-line, Best Tweeter, like some other Speaker Manufactures. No matter which Series you choose, ... they use the same High Frequency Dome Tweeter across the entire Series line, from the lowest cost to top models - making each line timbre-(voiced)-matched respectively. If you review some of the other Top Line Popular Speakers high frequency tweeter driver, they are made of metal (titanium, aluminum or composite metals).


    Quote:



    Will JBL ever get serious about making great speakers for the average person again?





    It was Dr. Floyd Toole that recommended the inclusion of the LSR design technologies in the JBL N- & S-Series Consumer Speakers.

    A LITTLE HISTORY:

    Dr. Floyd Toole is known for his groundbreaking work in Canada's Ottawa's National Research Council back in the '80s, where his lab-controlled listening tests made Energy, Paradigm and PSB a success!


    Quote:



    (Excerpt from Stereo Review SEPT. 1998 pg. 112 by Corey Greenberg "The High End" article) ...
    The ripples of Dr. Floyd Toole's groundbreaking work on lab-controlled listening test at Ottawa's National Research Council in the 1980s can be found today in the rapid dominance of such NRC-inspired Canadian speaker lines as Energy, Paradigm, and PSB.

    Dr. Toole joined Harman International's new state-of-the-art speaker laboratory in Northridge, California back in 1991, and he's since brought aboard many of his ex-NRC assistants such as Sean Olive and Allan Devantier. These imported Canadian's best loudspeaker minds were given the job to jump-start JBL.

    LAB-CONTROLLED LISTENING TEST
    In launching the new Harman Consumer Group Acoustical Engineering Lab, Dr. Toole has built an NRC-inspired "home away from home" where the Harmanized Canucks can continue to practice their special blend of subjective- and objective-based speaker design. That's the genius of the NRC and now Harman's Listening Lab: by using not just measurements but also rigorously controlled listening tests with both audiophiles and civilian listeners, engineers can better correlate measured performance with subjective sound quality and push their designs in directions that listeners repeatedly prefer.





    SUCESSFUL?

    (excerpt from Corey's Stereo Review article)

    Quote:



    "To call Harman's Listening Lab the best speaker-evaluation setup I've ever heard is selling it short.

    In fact, the Listening Lab has already borne fruit. In a day spent listening to JBL and Infinity flagship models, the most impressive demo I heard was of JBL's new (remember this article is 1998) HLS610 two-way minispeakers. Despite their size, the pair I heard sounded bigger and better than most of the megabuck high-end speakers I heard this past January ('98) at the Consumer Electronics Show."(end of excerpts)





    Auditioning a speaker (HT set) is the key priority before purchasing. I don't claim that a $500.00 speakers set is better than one that cost $1,500, but what makes Tom Nousaine Standard Speaker Benchmark(s) for Sound&Vision meaningful is the fact that Under IDENTICAL Test Conditions (Location, Calibrated MIC, Test Software, etc.), . . . you can easily compare and determine the speakers characteristics ability between them in the S&V IN THE LABS benchmarks. Yes Tom Nousaine says to audition, but note that his benchmarks will reveal the speakers SPL limitations and abilities vs. location / angles, sometimes noted by the actual Speaker Subjective Reviewer (Reviews and Lab Bench Marks are done separately).


    Quote:



    Would like other peoples assesment if they think JBL is doing good or has lost there edge ?





    Here's some quote's from a few Professional Reviewers which highlights & show the characteristics of the JBL S-Series (they all use the same 1" Pure Titanium Dome) as well verify that JBL accomplished its goal to provide accurate sound heard by the pros to the consumers.

    SUBJECTIVE REVIEW/COMMENTS:

    November 1999 - Daniel Kumin for Sound&Vision Mag. JBL S38 bookshelf (review no longer on-line)

    Quote:



    As I expect from almost any JBL speaker, but especially one with "Studio" in its name, the S38 sounded just plain terrific when played loud. ... Considering that in my room the JBLs were fully 6 dB more sensitive than the wickedly insensitive Platinums, the result was some pretty rocking output. I fell back on an old "loud test" standard - Thom Rotella Band from dmp Records - and it sounded first-rate, with the chest-thumping snare backbeats and hair-fluffing kick-drum you get from good, full-volume playback, all the while maintaining timbral balance and definition virtually unchanged.

    The S38s came across with impressive clarity and effortless dynamics, a deep spatial presentation, and more than respectable bass extension....sounded terrific, revealing the JBL speaker's ability to reproduce dense acoustic timbres naturally and effortlessly, with excellent transparency and definition.





    Robert J. Reina, June 2001 wrote - JBL S38 loudspeaker ...

    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. If you want to set up a disco in your basement for your teenagers, look no further than the S38.

    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.





    January 24, 2000 - Mark Fleischmann for etown S312 floorstanding...

    Quote:



    Performance:
    Going counterintuitive for the first moments of serious listening tests, I threw tracks from John Eargle's Engineer's Choice II (Delos) at the JBLs, which metaphorically is a little like playing chamber music for an audience of bikers in leather jackets and riding chaps.

    The speakers threw back a coherent series of orchestral and chamber sounds, spotlighting little details, but not bending anything unduly out of shape. A group of acoustic guitars were precisely separated, the titanium tweeters delivering all the woody quality of the instruments. A violent orchestral passage by Shostakovich pumped away powerfully but didn't get too boomy -- the speaker's 12-inch woofer is obviously designed for accuracy, not gut-whomping impact.

    Speaker designers got away from broad-fronted speaker enclosures like this one as a way of reducing sound-muddying "diffractions" (sound bouncing off the front of the speaker). Even so, I wouldn't say the S312 sounded muddy. Credit for this may go to the fancifully named Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal (EOS) waveguide -- a little recess that focuses the metal tweeter's powerful output. The waveguide creates a "window" of +/-15 degrees vertically and +/-30 degrees horizontally, thus minimizing room reflections that might come back to hit the speaker.

    Bottom line: This is a homely speaker that sounds pretty good.

    Value: The quality of the custom-designed drivers, the accessories with which they're packaged and all the useful (if oddly named) design ideas add up to a desirable, yet humongous, speaker package. Considering that my only other experience with a big speaker this size (a Jensen tombstone) was disastrous, I have to give the S312 and its designers credit for producing good results, including well-proportioned bass, at a not unreasonable price.

    If you still go two-channel periodically, and want some big speakers to flank your projection TV, the JBL S312 is worth taking seriously. Just don't expect it to produce the outsized and more adjustable bass available from a powered tower (like JBL's step-up S412P, $1699/pair list). Though it may appear to appeal to a headbanger mentality, this speaker has obviously been designed by, and for, people who actually listen to a wide variety of music. I was pleasantly surprised by its performance.





    Wayne Garcia - Amazon.com Editorial Review S412P Speaker Package

    Quote:



    The sound on this speaker is clear, detailed, and punchy. If you like to play your music and movies loud, this is the speaker for you. It sounds good at low levels, but we found that it sounded better the louder we cranked it--especially when we fed the speaker a low-frequency (subwoofer) output from our amplifier.

    Pros:

    • Clear, powerful sound
    • Natural frequency balance
    • Plays very loud without distortion
    • Great bass response





    Oct. 28, 2001 - Mark Knight - JBL S-Center & S36 Speaker Review ...

    Quote:



    I was instantly very impressed with the S36 and S-Center studio series from JBL as they are accurate, neutral sounding speakers. I am also impressed with the clarity and crispness these speakers offer with high's that do not fatigue at all even at very loud listening levels.





    Jeff Koch Los Angeles, CA (HT Forum member email to me) ...

    Quote:



    Phil,
    One of my pro friends is now using JBL S38s as near field monitors for production mixing in his studio!!! I demonstrated "Gladiator", "Titanic", and those great new classical recordings in DTS from the "Fantasia 2000" dvd. He was absolutely astounded, especially when I told him what I paid for my system (internet prices) and he just couldn't believe it. He has been mixing on ultra expensive studio monitors.





    Bob Pletka / "EUROTUBES" - ("musician and tube Hi-Fi enthusiast") wrote ...

    Quote:



    "Needless to say we were very impressed** ... You can't touch the sound quality of the JBL Studio series with speakers that cost two to three times what the JBL's cost. These are not a mid-Fi speaker, they are truly Hi-Fi." ... **about the JBL S26!





    So, JBL S-Series have garnered a lot of positive Subjective Remarks by the Professionals and consumers, but subjective, is subjective, ... just opinions, ... based on peoples favorites and bias. The following Objective Benchmarks verify why many different reviewers wrote what they wrote ...

    OBJECTIVE BENCHMARKS:

    November 1999 - Tom Nousaine for Sound&Vision Mag. JBL S38 bookshelf

    Quote:



    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 80 to 20 kHz ±3.8 (Averaged over a ±30° window, with double weight given to the most common listening angle, 30°.)





    May 20, 2000 - Home Theater Mag. Objective Benchmark reveals why Clint wrote "JBL Studio ensemble offers excellent bang for the buck"...

    Quote:



    This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of all woofers) frequency response of the Studio series' S26 mains/surrounds ...

    On-axis response of the S-Center center measures +2.7/-2.0 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 76 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 60 Hz.

    On-axis response of the S26** L/R measures +1.7/-1.4 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 48 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 43 Hz. [​IMG] (mine! - for Fronts & Surrounds)





    **WOW - Studio Monitor like unequalized flat-frequency response (+1.7/-1.4 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz; -3dB point is at 48 Hz) in the critical lower-mid to midrange!!!

    Anyway, ... add the above quasi-anechoic results to Tom Nousaine (double weight given to the most common listening angle, 30°) JBL S38 Objective Results, and the JBL S26 & S-Center reaches at the very least 20 kHz ±3.8.

    BLIND TESTS:

    "OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY" By Scott Wilkinson for Electronic Musician, Jul 1, 2001 ...

    Quote:



    During a recent visit with several other audio journalists, I participated in a sample test run in the MLL, which was conducted by Sean Olive, manager of subjective evaluation for Harman International. Three consumer speakers were mounted behind the grille cloth: a Boston Acoustics CR8, a B&W DM601, and a JBL S26. At the end of the testing, we learned that most of us had ranked the JBL S26 as the best speaker on most clips, which certainly pleased our hosts.





    JBL PRO R&D influenced speaker design , rigorously controlled listening tests with both audiophiles and civilian listeners have paid dividends for bargain hunting consumers that want the best bang for their buck, ... since JBL has accomplished their design goals based on the 'subjective' and objective' reviews, ... to let us enjoy the same neutral, uncolored, detailed and spatially accurate sound quality heard by the pros like my JBL S26 - On-axis response of the S26 L/R measures +1.7/-1.4 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 48 Hz.

    AWARDS:

    CEA Innovations 2000 Design and Engineering Award Winner = JBL's Studio Series S38 and S412P loudspeakers.


    Quote:



    does anyone know a good place to get older used JBL speakers ?





    Only place I know is eBay.

    For more JBL N- & S-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
     
  4. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I have the JBL Studio series all around and find that they are excellent performers (especially for the money). JBL makes a wide range of speakers from entry level to one costing many thousands of dollars. What speakers are you specifically referencing Dave? By just saying JBL speakers in general are nothing special, it looks very troll like of you. You will find quite a few people happy with JBL's current offereings and especially the Studio line.

    J
     
  5. greg baker

    greg baker Stunt Coordinator

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    I have S26II's all around. I paid $150 per pair. I would like to know if anyone can think of any other speakers that are this good for the price.

    Greg
     
  6. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    I just got my low-end NSP1 II set for $219 shipped and within the first night I had ruined 3 pairs of khakis from soiling myself over how good they sounded. They aren't perfect, but for $219 I don't think they can be touched in terms of bang for your buck.



    BTW, the khakis thing was a joke, that's just sick.


    They were actually only sweatpants from the local Sears[​IMG]
     
  7. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Phil I.- You're gonna crash the server if you get that post any longer!!!
     
  8. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    Yeah...Dogg Digital speakers can be had for $150 a pair. If you want some I know a guy.
     
  9. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  10. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  11. Frank Carter

    Frank Carter Screenwriter

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    Maybe it's Best Buy's setup that lead people too believe that JBL's aren't good speakers. When I was working there, half of the speakers were wired out of phase, tweeter's pushed in, other employees felt the need to leave the DSP's on the Yamaha receiver's powering them in whacky modes like church, they also felt the need to turn the bass & treble controls all the way up. This is also assuming the display was working in the first place.
     
  12. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    Don't get me wrong JBL has built a very good reputation but the speakers I have heard and seen over the past few years are so so. Unless you spend 15k, 30k or even up to 45k on there most expensive line. Your average store selling JBL speakers dont seem to stack up overall compaired to the older JBL's. And by digital ready I was not refering to 0's and 1's going to the speaker. Most people know that the term Digital Ready has been plasterd on products for years. I love the sound that professional JBL's produce in the concert venues and in theaters. The newer JBL speakers just seems to be missing impact and depth. If I could find a JBL speaker that I liked and would fit my peramiters. Hell I would buy it in a hot second! I am considering buying JBL pro componants to build my owen custom center channel and rear channel speakers if I get a hd ready front projection set up? I was at the JBL booth at the CES show in Vegas. And I listened to JBL's ultra exspensive stereo speakers. And I was very impressed, they used a large driver and a horn tweeter. The JBL K2S9800 series were very nice [​IMG] but more than I could afford. Just like they use to make them with 12" and 15" woofers. I have not seen any current JBL's that are in the $1,500 to $4,000 range with 12's or 15's. To be honest I do not think that there is such an animal anymore. Other companies are making 12's and 15's three way combos but not JBL. I have a set of Altec Lancing Voice of the Theater cabnets that are the center peice speaker wise of my HT system. So naturally JBL would be the perfect choice in normal conditions. The best theater around where I live is out in Ontario, CA. It utilizes all JBL speakers and especially in there main room with 1200 seats and a screen almost as big as an Imax screen. The surround speakers are dual 15" JBL's with horn HF drivers. Saving Private Ryan in DTS rocked on theis set up! I am a big fan of JBL but have been alittle disapointed lately. The last pair of JBL's I owned was a pair of bookself speakers I bought for my rear channel. I played stereo cd's in 4 channel mode and used them for Dolby Digital and DTS surround playback. They could not hanndle the power I was pushing into them and they would bottom out. At the time I was only running 55 watts to them and there was no loudness being used. Maybe I should have worded my post alittle better but that is how I feel. JBL does make some decent low price speakers, I just want something that makes me feel part of the music and the movie I am watching. JBL center channels seem to use woofers no bigger than 5 1/4" and that may be fine for small systems but this will not keep up with my Altec that have dual 15" woofer! Klipsch makes a center channel with dual 8's and I may have to go with that but I would rather have stout built JBL's. I am doubtfull that the performance series PC600 center with dual 6" woofer will cut it? At CES the JBL systhesis set up was dialed in to sound great only when it was turned up past 100 db. At lower volumes it was disapointing. Although it most likely could have been set up for a lower volume range. I think that they made the decesion that they would make it sound as good as possible at referance/concert levels.
     
  13. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

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    wow Phil,
    Talk about an avalanche!

    If anything, I think JBL has really improved in the last few years.

    I can't think of another "mass market" speaker that has the sound quality and value that the S38 has...
     
  14. David King

    David King Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    i agree - if Lexus sold cars just like Saturn and didn't expect premiums they'd be junk cars... [​IMG]
     
  16. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    I do not believe I said anything about them being junk. The performance level is not there as far as what I am looking for. For the price they are not bad speakers. But when I compair them to the sound I get with my Altecs which are the same as commercial JBL's. It is hard to choose the lower line of JBL. Matching my center and rear channel to my mains is not an easy task. Overall price sometimes can be deceiving. Look at the inexspensive JBL's and they have a decent sound. Now compair that to Bose that are sometimes way more exspensive, Ouch. I would pick the budget JBL over trashy Bose any day! I am trying to peice together the best mind blowing sound & the best equipment I can currently afford. The basic JBL's just dont cut it for me. Not saying they are junk.
     
  17. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Dave,

    Bud... Times have changed.. Most consumers, even those well
    versed here among the forums don't want a set of VOT's
    gracing the floors of thier living area. If something along
    the lines of a VOT is what you are looking for from JBL then
    you are exactly right when you say nothing they make for
    consumer use is along those lines.. If you want studio equip
    then go ahead and look at the Pro Studio lines from JBL I
    am certain they have some hellatiously loud pro sound
    reinforcement equip available (The JBL Eon's come to mind).

    As cool as some of those huge vintage horn units are I
    wouldn't want 5 of them in my home theater, I would need a
    40' x 20' area just to make use of them [​IMG]
     
  18. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    Hello Brett DiMichele,

    I really have no probelm with these speakers where I am even though a really big room would be better. The room where my HT is set up is 12' x 22'. The sound I get at even low volume even under 1 watt is better than most speakers out there. I think what I will have to do is contact a friend that builds custom enclosures and get some JBL pro 10's and some horns and a 18" Sub. Its difficult to be happy with small drivers after having such dynamic and crisp sound from the Altec's. So the center and rear channel must be built around them. If I could find a standard speaker that would do the job at a reasonable cost I would consider it. Sound quality and performance is the most important aspect of this project.

    Have A Nice Day [​IMG]
     
  19. Randy G

    Randy G Second Unit

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    I've got old pairs of the L100s and L69s. Gotta tell, they are some damned excellent speakers. For the last 15 years or so, I've been using the 4412's as multi-use monitors for my synthesiszer AND for casual music and tv listening. Aside from their bulky shape, they are absolutely phenomenal.

    Randy


    "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for HIS country."

    -George C. Scott
     

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