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Initial Impressions of the JBL NSP1II speaker set (1 Viewer)

Mike Kao

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 31, 2000
Messages
277
I recently picked up the newly released JBL NSP1-II speaker set (replacement for last years NSP1) based on the good reviews they've been getting. Well after getting extremely anxious waiting a week, they finally arrived today. Upon first inspection these speakers looked pretty nice. I really liked the sleek finish on them, although they do have a cheap feel to them; especially the plastic cabinets. My Infinity HPS-1.5's bookshelves (now discontinued) that I picked up for about $60 less than year ago, are much nicer looking with better construction in comparison. I was surprised at the size of the N-CenterII compared to it's relative light weight. My Infinity CC-1 center is half the size yet about the same weight. Now obviously weight isn't an accurate indication of quality, but it sure does give me comfort! Of course it's the sound that really counts, so lets move on to the tests :)
I unpacked everything and immediately began to hook them up to my Harman Kardon AVR-220 receiver. I popped in the nirvana nevermind CD in my HK DVD-5 player... and what did I hear you ask? Well, quite honestly I was a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the speakers sound pretty decent, they just didn't meet my expectations. The N24IIs sounded a bit dull and flat compared to my Infinities, which I confirmed by hooking up my Infinity to the right channel and a JBL to the left. The HPS-1.5s simply sounded richer, fuller and deeper; granted it has a larger woofer, but that still does not account for it's better overall sound quality. I remember someone noting that the JBLs go surprising low for such tiny speakers and that you may even get away w/o a sub. I disagree. I'd say they drop off at about 80hz, so you definitely need a subwoofer to go along with these speakers.
Now the N-CenterII was a different story. It actually had slightly more detail and went deeper than my Infinity CC-1... than again the JBL also has larger woofers. The sound still seemed a little on the dull side and left something to be desired.
I guess for a more fair comparison I will have to wait for these speakers to break it. I'm hoping the sound will open up more... so far I'm not overly impressed, but I'd have to say that these speakers are decent.
I mean the speakers sound okay, but once again I fall victim to hyped up audio equipment. It reminds me of the Klipsch Promedias that everyone and their brother was raving about. When I actually got to hear them, I certainly was not blown away like I thought I would be. I guess my expectations were set too high considering people would swear their lifes to the amazing value and quality of these speakers. Perhaps my Infinities are a lot better than I originally gave credit too, making the JBL's seem a bit pale in comparison. Who knows? We shall wait and see... perhaps time will work wonders on these speakers!
 

Ned

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 20, 2000
Messages
838
Are you using a subwoofer with it? Can the NSP1 sets reach reference cleanly in a small room? (run small with sub of course)
 

Mike Kao

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 31, 2000
Messages
277
throughout most of the tests I turned off the sub to get a better idea of the speakers clarity, detail, etc, but yes I'm running them with an SVS 25-31CS. They should easily get to reference level in a small room w/o degrading sound quality. Hope this hopes!
 

Steve_Tk

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
Messages
2,833
it's interesting how one can love a speaker and another person how can think it's just mediocre. Good thing there are a lot of speakers for people to choose from. :)
 

BenG

Agent
Joined
Jan 4, 2001
Messages
27
I picked up an NSP1 set a while back based on "the hype" as well, hoping it would be the cure-all for my audio addiction.
It wasnt. Should I have expected such a thing out of a $300 set? Nah. I was replacing a dipolar, ribbon-based speaker setup (in hopes of a less-muddy midrange, without losing anything I liked on my current setup), and after playing for a while with the NSP1, I realized how much I had grown accustomed to the "spaciousness" of the sound produced by my old speakers.
To be fair, the NSP1 is a steal at it's current selling price. The midrange is the cleanest I've heard; the highs, while nothing spectacular, convey crispness and accuracy without being harsh-sounding. I didnt test the bass (I too have an SVS for such duties). I wouldnt hesitate to recommend them to anyone with a strict budget for a complete package. They just wont cut it for me, with my newfound obsession with music quality, and a pickiness for un-boxy "ribbon sound" :)
 

GordonL

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 14, 2000
Messages
771
Speakers generally need to be broken in before they sound their best. Give it a couple weeks...
 

Mike Kao

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 31, 2000
Messages
277
The midrange is the cleanest I've heard; the highs, while nothing spectacular, convey crispness and accuracy without being harsh-sounding.
Yea, to their credit, these speakers certainly output near crystal clear sound w/ lots of detail, the sound just strikes me as a little on the dull side. Perhaps the sound is slightly colored as they don't seem as neutral sounding or transparent compared to the speakers I've previously owned or listened to. I'm probably going to keep them as I'm sure they will do the job fine in a dorm environment which is what I will be using them for.
 

Jeffrey Forner

Screenwriter
Joined
Jun 19, 1999
Messages
1,117
Speakers generally need to be broken in before they sound their best. Give it a couple weeks...
Gordon is right. Play the crap out of these speakers and break them in as much as possible. Give yourself some time to become acquainted with the little nuances in their sound and make your final decision after you've become very familiar with them.

However, if they still do not meet your expectations, don't be afraid to take them back. Don't make any excuses for them. Don’t say they’re “good enough.” I've been through enough upgrades now where I can say that in my experience, the first impression you have of any home theater gear is critical in relation to your final opinion of it. You may keep the speaker, subwoofer, or whatever for a while and learn to live with it. Ultimately though, you'll never be completely satisfied with it and you will soon find yourself trying to replace it with something else.
 

Jack Gilvey

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 13, 1999
Messages
4,948
I've had the original for about 1.5 years now and the best part is the lack of that hyped treble/upper-midrange that people take for "excitement" and "detail". I found them easy to live with in the long term, which is more important, I think, than initial impressions.
 

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