Is the JBL S38 Studio Series bookshelf speaker any good for $500/pair?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KeithH, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    My brother bought a pair of JBL S38 Studio Series bookshelf speakers for $500 at Circuit City over the weekend. He is just getting into home theater and unfortunately, he told me that he needed speakers after he bought the JBLs rather than talking to me first. Did he get a good pair of speakers? I can't help but feel that he could have done better for the price. Note that he doesn't have room in his house for floorstanding speakers, so could he have gotten better bookshelf speakers for $500 than the JBLs? If so, which ones would be better? I may try to talk him into returning the JBLs if there are significantly better bookshelf speakers available for the money.
    I started a thread about good speakers for $500 a few weeks ago, and many bookshelf speakers were mentioned. I could pull up that thread, but I don't know how any of the suggested bookshelf speakers stack up against the JBLs.
    Finally, in making suggestions, I know I will have to approach my brother with speakers he can buy in brick-and-mortar stores. He is not going to go for Swan Divas, nOhrs, ATIs, etc. Thanks in advance.
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  2. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I own the S-38s and have been very impressed with them to date. The studio line from JBL are very competent performers, and out of the entire series IMHO the s-38s are the ones to get. Smoother sounding than the speakers using 10" and 12" but they still can handle the low frequencies.
    As for the price, if you buy them from CC or Best Buy they are going to hit you with the $500 price tag. I bought mine online and got them for about $350 shipped or so. If he wants to return them, he could probably do a search on yahoo shopping and end up with the s-38s and the s-center for about 500 dollars instead of just the s-38s. Then again it may be worth the piece of mind to your brother to have a local retailer to take the speakers back to as well as a guaranteed warranty.
    J
     
  3. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Well, I've heard the S38 at Best Buy, and I can't decide if I like it more than my Paradigm Mini Monitor or not. For $500, that a much easier choice - I'd take my Paradigm at $300 any day.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Justin and Saurav, thanks for the replies. Much appreciated.
    Justin, I don't see my brother returning the JBLs only to buy them again over the Internet, but I appreciate the suggestion.
    Anyone else with opinions?
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  5. SamRoza

    SamRoza Stunt Coordinator

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    I love mine...$360 online a year or two ago. Sound great, I use mine as rears in my setup.
    Sam
     
  6. Todd Terwilliger

    Todd Terwilliger Screenwriter

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    I've got JBL's Northridge home theater package. It sounds great. It's a step down from the S-series but I have not heard the two side by side to compare. With the NSP set, you get all five speakers (no sub) and it's about half the price your brother paid.
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  7. Vin

    Vin Supporting Actor

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    $500, ouch! I know you said you don't think you'd be able to get your brother to return the S-38s to CC and buy them online but the difference in price if he bought them from BPAV, a very reputable dealer, is too great not to mention.
    Hope this helps.
     
  8. Marcelo T

    Marcelo T Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the s38 along with the scenter and s26. They are great speakers, but I bought them for 330.00
    For 330.00 bucks those are hard to beat, but at 500 I do not know. If you want, sterophile.com made a excellent review of this speaker http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?365
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Vin,
    Wow, the link you provided offers the S38s at a great price. To be honest, I don't think the money is an issue with my brother. He does not have to return the speakers to Circuit City to get the same ones cheaper by mail, even though this mail-order dealer is offering them for nearly half the price. He can comfortably afford to spend $500 for speakers, and I am concerned that he did not spend the money wisely. At this point, I think he feels he got a good pair of $500 speakers, but I'm not so sure.
    Marcelo,
    Welcome to the Forum. [​IMG] Thanks for the Stereophile link. I did not think Stereophile would review $500 speakers. I'll have to give it a read. Nevertheless, I think my brother could have done better for $500 with something from Energy, Paradigm, PSB, NHT, etc., etc.
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  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    That does it!
    I just got a flier in the mail from J&R Music World that is advertising the JBL S38s for $300 a pair! My brother paid $500! I've already called my sister-in-law about it, and I am pretty sure they are going to return the speakers to Best Buy. It was Best Buy, not Circuit City. By the way, J&R has the JBL S312 Studio Series floorstanders for $500 a pair, so my brother got robbed! J&R is an authorized dealer, and my brother and sister-in-law live near New York City, so they can just pick up the S38s if they don't want to do mail-order. Alternatively, I told my sister-in-law that they can get speakers for $500 that should beat the S38s if they are still comfortable with spending $500. I am going to talk to my brother about it.
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  11. Irens Cruz

    Irens Cruz Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Marcelo
    Nice to see people from Brasil here [​IMG] I'm from Rio but I'm leaving here for 4 years already, I miss Rio a lot. What is your set up ? Did u by everything there ?
    Jr.
     
  12. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I have the S312s and I have heard the S38s. They are both great speakers, IMHO. For those J&R prices, you can't go wrong with either set.
     
  13. David Head

    David Head Second Unit

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    Keith,
    I recommend that your brother listen to the S312s at J&R before he chooses them over the S-38s. I personally preferred the sound of the S-38s over any of the floor standing JBL Studio series. I thought the S-38s sounded much more natural, while the S312s emphasized more bass which made them sound muddied to me.
    Mark Fleischmann, in a February 2000 review of the S-38s for ETown, wrote:
    "Bass, which had been a little slow (but listenable) when the S38s sat on the floor, tightened up beautifully when I elevated the speakers. The 8-inch woofer went quite deep -- I never felt I was missing any musically relevant bass information -- but avoided the boomy excesses of some mass-market rock & roll speakers. (This is true even of the king-sized 12-inch woofer in JBL's massive S312 floorstanding Studio Series loudspeaker.)"
    The S-38s also got a pretty good review in the June 2001 issue of Stereophile, where Robert J. Reina wrote:
    "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."

    If your brother is set on the JBL speakers then he may be better off sticking with the S-38s and using the $200 for something else.
    David
     
  14. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    David, thanks for the info. I did not mean to imply that my brother should get the S312s, though I have never heard them. In my original post here, I said my brother has no room for floorstanding speakers, so bookshelf speakers are a must. I was merely pointing out that J&R has the more expensive S312s, in terms of retail price, for the same price my brother paid for the S38s.
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    [Edited last by KeithH on November 06, 2001 at 06:33 PM]
     
  15. David Head

    David Head Second Unit

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    You're welcome Keith. I missed the comment about the floor standing speakers is your original post.
    I actually considered getting the S-38s for a while until I auditioned PSB Image speakers . I found the PSB speakers (and the Paradigm and B&W speakers I auditioned during the same period) to be a step up from the JBLs. I ended up getting a set of PSB Image 3LRs (fronts), 8C (center) and 1B (surrounds). They have wonderful midrange and excellent imaging, without being as bright sounding as the S-38s. Your brother could get a complete set of 4 1Bs and an 8C for close to the same amount (about $650) or a pair of 2Bs and a 9C (also about $650). I'm not sure where he lives, but you can check here to find a dealer near him. That's assuming he is still open to auditioning other speakers...
    David
    [Edited last by David Head on November 06, 2001 at 03:20 PM]
     
  16. Jason Hammerly

    Jason Hammerly Supporting Actor

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    A little off topic .... I was wondering what your guy's opinions are on the Home theater direct level 3 bookshelfs compared to these JBL's. I am considering both and am wondering hich would be the best bet in your opinions. thanks
     
  17. Marcelo T

    Marcelo T Stunt Coordinator

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  18. Sonny T

    Sonny T Auditioning

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    I am considering the Polk 55i's as my mains and surrounds. I went to BestBuy to listen to the JBL S38 before I purchase the Polks. The set up at BB was unimpressive to say the least, the sound was terrible and no one seemed to care enough to correct the situation. I just gave up and left. For people who have compared the JBL S38 and Polk 55i's. How would you compare these two pair of speakers. BTW Polk 55's at Crutchfield are $400.00/pair plus shipping.
     
  19. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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  20. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Sorry, I mean NE of the US, not NW.
     

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