Its Down to NHT and JBL.....

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by JerryMa, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    Last night I went to J&R to check out the JBL Northridge E50s. A friend was in the market for new speakers and I recommended he check out the JBLs based on the low prices and what I've read in this forum, especially over the last week or two. He wound up buying a pair of E30s on the spot.

    J&R also carries NHT speakers, and I've been curious about the SB3; while I'll do a more detailed audition Friday to make my final decision, I did spend some time listening to the JBLs and the NHTs. They were both run through a Denon 2803.

    I heard the SB3 first. The speakers are on a shelf that's probably higher than they should be for optimal listening, but since they may be set up this way in my home, I was actually happy with the in-store set-up. The in-store CD featured a jazz track, which I listened to for both speakers. I was quite impressed with the SB3. The bass was amazing for the small size of the speaker. The SB3s were very clear. Imaging was good not great, but this could be because of the room, speaker placement, etc. I found the highs clear without being overly bright, although alto sax seemed to strain the speaker's capability a little bit. I didn't feel that the SB3s would be fatiguing.

    I listened to the E50 next. The E50 was on a shelf that was about my ear level while I was standing. The overall sound was very lush, with great bass. The high end was very smooth without the slight brightness I picked up in the SB3; the aforementioned alto sax was very clean at the highest notes. Imaging was slightly better than the SB3, but the E50s didn't seem as clear and detailed.

    Based on what I heard, I think I'd be very happy with either speaker. I did leave feeling that the E50s had a slight edge, but not by much. I'll get a better idea after I listen to some of my own CDs when I go back on Friday. The JBLs certainly have an edge in price and really are a great value. Stay tuned....
     
  2. John S

    John S Producer

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    J&R has a good return policy right? Maybe audition them both in your home. I mean it would take some time, but would be a really cool shoot out for all of us to read!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Did you use a sound meter to volume match?

    I picked up some open box E30s really cheap for a friend. I only lasted about 15 minutes of testing before I need to hook my regular speakers back up. Bloated bass and mid-bass.
     
  4. John S

    John S Producer

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    Chris.. That is often a desired trait by the Rock Music crowd. [​IMG] Ahh the individual preferences of speakers.

    Admittedly, using flat response and the e30's in the same sentence, well lets call it a stretch and leave it at that.

    The e50's are a pretty good jump up in this catagory from the e30's in my expeirences with the line.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    ALWAYS bring your own CDs to audition. It's best to be familiar with what you are listening to.

    Having said that, the SB-3 is one of the better bookshelf speakers I've heard, though I wouldn't want to pay MSRP for them. The cabinet is likely a big part of that price, and they are some of the nicest looking cabinets around.

    If you e-mail me, I can point you to a reputable dealer who has NTHs on sale this month.
     
  6. MikeLi

    MikeLi Supporting Actor

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    NHT's are a great speaker if you like bright ones. I had a upper end HT system from them for about 4 years and got rid of it about a year ago for something different. But like I said they are bright with is good for some folks and when I say bright I don't mean Klipsch type of bright. You also have a good receiver which should match them great. If you sold on the NHT's they will probably be worth more when you get ready to upgrade...
     
  7. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    From what I heard, ... the JBL E30 exhibits the same super flat characteristics.

    JerryMa: Your impression about the JBL E50's might be right on, since their design is based on the JBL PRO LSR32's ...
    [​IMG]

    Have fun auditioning and deciding,
    Phil
     
  8. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    Weird, I didn't find the SB3s "bright" at all, although my definition of bright would be the NHT M5s (which I owned) without the subwoofers/amps, or Axiom (owned M3s). I thought the highs of the SB3s were leaning toward "bright" but they didn't seem "bright" enough to make me want to take them out of consideration altogether. And I've heard some speakers in in-store auditions that did sound like they'd be difficult to get used to, at least to my ears.

    Or to put it another way, Robert Plant in his prime, as heard through the SB3s, probably won't make me cover my ears, whereas Robert Plant in his prime heard through the Axioms didmake me want to do that!

    I should also clarify, the receiver at J&R is a Denon. I own a NAD T762.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I think I feel about the same on the NHTs. They are on the brighter side, but I don't find it bothersome or fatiguing to listen to. They are not as bright as Paradigm Studios to me, which are a bit too crisp for my liking. Paired up with NAD, the SB3s should sing.
     
  10. John S

    John S Producer

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    Hmm, my flipped flatness comment about the E30's was they start rolling off seriously around 120hz not much at all left below 100hz.

    The E50's are pretty flat down to like 40hz....
     
  11. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Or a $200 speaker just isn't in the league of one of the best sub $600 speakers.

    The response graph of my regular speakers.
    [​IMG]

    How flat the response is alone doesn't tell how natural a speaker sounds, separation of instruments, soundstage, attack and decay, or imaging.

    Ascends have very good mids. I've heard them against some $5K speakers that did not do the mids as well IMO.
     
  12. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    I've got NHT SB3s and JBL S38IIs. Hands down the NHTs are the superior speaker in any way, shape, or form, period!
     
  13. John S

    John S Producer

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    Mark, I'd challenge that on pure flatness. I've auditioned the SB3 in a few different environments and never came away with that assessment.

    Can you elaborate some? You got me curious enough to try to run them head to head at some point on my system.

    The sb3 is one of my favorite small speakers.
     
  14. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    OK, let me rephrase that, TO MY EARS in head to head a/b comparisions to each other on the 2 pairs of speakers (both of which I own, thus can make an honest subjective evaluation without any emotional bias to try to justify a purchase I made), the NHT is just flat out better in every category, clean tight bass extension, crisper, sparkling, detailed highs, imaging, soundstaging, etc., whatever. You name it, and the NHT does it better TO MY EARS.

    Not that the S38II JBL is anything to be ashamed of. It is a very neutral sounding speaker that will mate well with a wide variety of receovers and amps. To be a mass market mid fi speaker, it isn't half bad at all. But it is most definitely not in the same category as the NHT SB3s.

    The NHTs were only about $100 more than the JBLs, but worth every penny of it.
     
  15. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I would also prefer the SB3's over the JBL's. I don't think Chris is far off with his comments. Then again speakers themselves are like ice cream flavors.
     
  16. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    The SB3 goes down to 39 HZ in a sealed, acoustic suspension design, so the actual in room response may even be better than that.

    The JBL S38IIs also go deep into the 40 HZ range. With either one of these speakers for 2 channel music in a smaller room, a sub is not really required.
     
  17. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Of course our JBL's S-Series aren't the end all performance solution, but for the price, they are overachieving performer's!

    Anyway, back to JerryMa original thread "Its Down to NHT and JBL", ... based on the comments above, ... go audition and choose what you like!

    Have fun auditioning,

    Phil
     
  18. aldamon

    aldamon Second Unit

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    Can anyone confirm this?
     
  19. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Of note, the SB3 is only 86dB efficient (somewhat owing to the fact that it is a sealed design), meaning it will require quite a bit more power to produce the same levels as the S38 in the same setup. At very elevated levels, I would expect the SB3 to push the limits of a typical receiver. The SBs have always been somewhat demanding; though they will play fine with average power, to really push them, you need a lot of power.

    Phil, what were you driving the speakers with in your comparison?
     
  20. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    I think it was either the Yamaha RX-Z1 or RX-V2095?!? Yeah, yeah, ... the grey cells are going AWOL!

    Phil
     

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