JBL S312 II initial impressions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James W. Johnson, Apr 20, 2002.

  1. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    I picked up my JBL S312 Series 2 speakers yesterday.
    At this time I cannot give them a review since I have only used them 4 hours or so.
    I would like to give my initial impressions on the look and feel of these speakers as well as make a few comparisons to the old series in terms of build and looks.
    I hav'nt owned the old series nor have I spent more than a few minutes listening to them so I will never be able to compare the two.
    As far as I know the old series was around for at least a few years and I doubt JBL would make a series two unless it was better. I am sure they found a few flaws in the first series that they have corrected in this series. Practice makes perfect right! [​IMG]
    Also it seems to me that JBL is making a big effort to get a piece of the pie. I now have about 20 hours on my S26 (series 1) speakers and JBL now has my full attention.
    (btw the S26s get better and better with use!!)
    Things that have not changed:
    The series 2 s312 is still a 3-way floorstander
    250watts max power handling
    92dbs sensitivity
    35hz-20khz frequency response
    crossover frequencies 750hz and 3000hz>>
    (in other words the 12" driver is responsible for frequencies from 750Hz on down, the 4" mid driver deals with everything from 750Hz to 3000Hz and the 1" tweeter deals with 3000Hz on up. I am sure most of you know that but just in case I though this might be helpful)
    Things that have changed:
    Series 1 size is 41"Hx16"Wx12-7/8"D
    Series 2 size is 41"Hx14-3/4"Wx12-1/4"D
    So the baffle is 1-1/4" thinner and its not as deep on the series 2. this would will help eliminate any baffle diffractions. (incidentally as I understand it, that was not a problem on the first series)
    In any case the baffle is now about as thin as you can get a speaker with a 12" bass driver.
    Series 1 weight is 68lbs
    Series 2 weight is 77lbs
    The new series weighs 9lbs more.
    Basically the speaker is a little smaller and weighs more yet it still extends down to 35Hz(+/-3dbs)
    More than likely this means the 12" driver is different and either it has a larger motor and/or the cabinet is built a little better.
    Also the mid-range is definatly different..visually it has a smaller rubber surround than the old one.
    Considering this driver is only used from 750-3000 it certainly would'nt need alot..so perhaps this driver is more precise? I am not sure, but I am sure JBL had a good reason to change it.
    The old series used gold colored drivers
    The new series uses a silvery/leadish colored drivers
    The old series used a black ash finish(correct me if I am wrong)
    The new series uses a black maple finish.
    You have to see this black maple, it really is a beautiful color...kind of a light black, with a silvery white tint to it.
    The old series used some plastic feet that extended out from the cabinet.
    The new series uses some very practial rubber feet that are underneath it and in the center are holes for installing the spikes that come with the speakers.
    There are a few other minor cosmetic differences as well but I won't get into it.
    Overall these are quite beautiful speakers IMO.
    I will make a small comment on their sound quality right now and will give a more detail review later on.
    Out of the box they sounded quite bright, almost shrill...after 2 hours or so it eased up and after 4 hours its gone...the speakers are already breaking in.
    Bass is tight and natural..I was concerned they would be to boomy. When I read a few reviews on audioreview,com about these speakers and people complained there was not enough bass...I was pretty certain that these would give real bass. Those folks are most likely looking for Cerwin Vega style boomy bass. So when I read that a 12" bass driver based loudspeaker has no bass , I took that as a good sign. [​IMG]
    The other thing I will say is these are detailed as heck and I am very excited to listen to them some more today on this fine spring day!! [​IMG]
    That's all for now.
     
  2. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Cool, I wanted those but got some pre-owned S38s off ebay.
    I suppose the S312s would be pretty big for my 10x10 room anyways. [​IMG]
    The midrange surrounds on JBL studios seem stiff and could probably use a lot of breaking in time. The tweeter should also take longer than 48 hours... At least they will only sound better and better.
    Yeah no doubts jbl tried to redesign the 2nd series better. I heard they had to change the ports though cause they used a Bose patented design.
    Thanks for the info though, glad you like them.
     
  3. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    Yesterday I measured the JBL S312IIs up against my Adire Kit281s, don't take it too seriously because the JBLs are FAR from broken in and the Kit281s are very broken in.
    In a month or so I will do this test again.
    Both speakers are very good performers..also the peaks and dips are my rooms fault and the peaks and dips down low are much more audible than the ones up high.
    lastly the Kit281s outperform speakers costing $3000 and higher so I am really putting the JBLs against a VERY mean competitor.
    http://www.hometheatertalk.com/ubb/F...ML/001394.html
     
  4. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  5. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I can't find the site right now, but someone was offering fully assembled kit281TL speakers finished in a very nice veneer for around $1300-$1400USD I think.
     
  6. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Well then, that's not a fair comparision at all, IMO. A $1.5K DIY/internet-direct speaker vs. ... how much do the 312s sell for? I found the 412 on Best Buy's website for $850, so I'm assuming that the 312 goes for less. On the other hand, $1300 sounds high... if the kit sells for $400, I don't see why it would cost that much more to put them together.
     
  7. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    If you saw the enclosures you'd understand. Beautiful veneer job. I'll do a little more hunting and try and find the site again.

    Without an elaborate finish you could build the 281 yourself for well under $800. Less than $600 with a cheaper laminate finish would be more than possible. Well under $500 if you left the mdf unfinished.
     
  8. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Found it, they've upped the price a bit it seems.
    http://www.diycable.com/281_tl.htm
    $1700 now. I'm sure it was $1300 including shipping initially. Which was an incredable deal considering each speaker weighed almost 90 pounds.
    I can't find the thread were the guy who builds them explained the costs (the veneer was far from cheap) and time involved. The enclosure ended up actually costing him more than the parts kits. In the end, all things considered, the price seemed quite reasonable.
     
  9. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    Guys, please disregard this test..I am an amateur and did it wrong.

    I picked up a copy of 'Testing Loudspeakers' by Joseph D'Appolito and found that my testing procedure is way off.

    Microphone placment is very critical and there are a few other issues I must deal with.

    Give me a few days and I will have new test results up.

    I have dabbled abit but this is the first time I have ever attempted serious testing of a multi driver loudspeaker, it much different than testing a subwoofer.
     
  10. Shawn_S

    Shawn_S Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll chime in with my first impressions next week. I have a pair scheduled for delivery tomorrow [​IMG]
     
  11. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Dustin,

    OK, that makes more sense. Seems funny to me to have an enclosure that's more expensive than the drivers/crossover, but then I've never been much into aesthetics.
     
  12. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    With most commercial speakers I'd bet the enclosure costs just as much, if not more as the drivers and crossovers. And considering what some of those enclosures are like, that scares me a little.
     
  13. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Dustin & Saurav,

    Also, keep in mind that those cabinets are custom built. They aren't rolling off an assembly line. Hand crafted cabinetry, whether it be fine furniture or speaker enclosures, is expensive.

    Even the internet direct speaker companies probably have more money in their cabinets than they do in actual speaker/crossover components (assuming they're using quality materials). Why do you think kits are so cheap?

    Brian
     
  14. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Hmm.... never thought about it in quite that way. It does make sense, in some way, but still seems backwards in some ways. I mean, sure, a cabinet is important to the overall functionality of the speaker, but it's certainly not more important than the electronics, right? Oh well, that's just the way things are, I guess.
     
  15. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Saurav,

     
  16. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  17. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Saurav,

    I agree with what you are saying. The cabinet materials are pretty cheap compared to the electrical components. The labor involved in cabinet construction/finishing is definitely affects the total price.

    Brian
     
  18. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    The S312s have been dissected ,
    http://www.blarg.net/~jameswj/misc.htm
    Well I have to say that I just don't see a $1000 worth of stuff here and I did'nt expect to, of course these never sell at MSRP. They can be had for around $500 and $600 with shipping.
    My breakdown of costs if I were to build something similar:
    1" tweeter $20
    4" driver $30
    12" driver $150
    crossovers , ports, trim, fiberglass , grills and binding posts $100
    cabinets $150 and time consuming to get them to look this good.
    So I see $450 worth of stuff in these and that is being generous. Also you have to take into account that these are big and cost money to ship , box , store and are more labor intensive to make.
    NOTE--(these may have cost JBL $150ea to make , of course you
    are paying JBL for the speaker, as the guys above noted with a commerical design you are paying for their technical skill and efforts it took to design this loudspeaker. But thats not the point of this post. The point is how can a frugal consumer justify their cost.)
    As far as bang for buck goes I paid $155 for my S26s and they can be had for $200 shipped at several places.
    I found around $250 worth of stuff(my cost, not JBLs) in those so at $200 shipped they are quite a steal.
    These S312s really can't compare because they are big speakers and wether or not they cost alot to make is irrelavent because big speakers always cost more.
    Parts value wise I think these are still built better than the PSB Image speakers and the Paradigm monitor series(BTW I have owned them both and have taken them apart)
    The cabinets are not quite the quality and finish of the PSB Stratus line but the parts are roughly the same quality visually speaking.
    For $500-$600 I think these are a bargain. If a guy paid $700-$800 total I would still call them a good value.
    If you like their sound then their cost has been justified,
    go out and grab you a pair. [​IMG]
     
  19. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    James, can you fill me in on the rest of your system? Thank you so much for taking the time to measure these speakers. This fall I made Kit281s and as usual I've entered the 'tweaking' phase. I think my amplifier is not up to snuff (80 watt Audiosource).

    BTW, the 281s should be fully broken in after 5-6 months of normal use (maybe 30-60min/day avg at normal volume, occasionally loud). Right?
     
  20. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    Sony STRDA555ES, QSC USA 900 amp which usually runs the Kit281s but right now just the Sony is, rated at 120x5 actual is 80 somthing x5 w/ all channels driven, stereo mode is probably close to 120x2.

    I am upgrading these pieces but I am still quite happy with them, the Sony easily drives the Kit281s and the QSC pushes them into submission, they really sing with the QSC.

    Your Audiosource should be enough to drive them, give them at least 500 hours to fully break in, running them full range and cranking them to at least 90dbs several times a week. Perhaps for you this is not possible, but thats what I did and they broke in nicely.

    Basically you really need to make the drives work, this is not easy with the AV8s in the 281s cause they get so loud and still barely move at all. Lots of heavy bass material and high SPLs will get them moving some.

    You wanna know something? I abuse my stuff pretty good when I want high SPLs, I have blown a few tweeters (no biggie since they are only $20 a pop), but I have NEVER bottomed an AV8...yet this driver sensitive as heck and pumps out some serious bass.
     

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