JBL S38 first listen...............????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by kevin_tomb, Apr 30, 2002.

  1. kevin_tomb

    kevin_tomb Stunt Coordinator

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    Ive been hearing a lot about these speakers for a while and finally decided to give them a listen, just out of curiosity mostly. First gotta say im not pro or against JBL. To me they are just a large speaker manufacturer that ive not listened to much over the years. Now heres where the problem starts. I listened to them over regular priced components (these arent high end speakers by any means) with a mixture of music styles. I though they were clear and could play decently loud with fairly good bass. Now the more I listened I quickly began to realize these speakers dont sound all that good really....PLEASE DONT BE OFFENDED GUYS. Im not sure why but they struck me as not all that great,but just okay. I know everyone is gonna say its the electronics, the placement, the room etc. Yeah all that plays into it to a point, but you know when you first listen to a speaker if it sounds "good" or just "mediocre". Well the JBLs sounded not so good to me. Now heres what baffles me. You guys have been comparing them to POLKS, AXIOMS and PARADIGM etc.....I truly dont think they are in the same class. Dont get me wrong they sound okay just not an audiophile grade speaker by any means. Now what sounded bad to me: THE MIDRANGE...it had that weird peaky sound you would associate with a poorly made horn speaker...you know that "it just sounds weird" type of mids?? not natural at all. everything else seemed okay about it but the mids is where its at as far as sound goes. HOW CAN YOU GUYS COMPARE THESE TO PARADIGMS AND AXIOMS?????? The best way I can describe what im hearing with them is similar to some CERWIN VEGA speakers I auditoined once.....They seem loud and can handle a lotta power but arent detailed and smooth. More of a musical instrument speaker or sound reinforcement type sound. Not sure if this makes sense......was acutally hoping to like them, just for an afternoon listen, but......
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Kevin,

    I totally agree with everything you say. In my opinion, these are great speakers for playing loud, but I like a little more refinement and finesse in my speakers. Like you, the midrange is where it's at for me. However, you must realize that different people have different tastes and requirements, and therefore these speakers will be a perfect match for some people, and not for others.

    I feel bad that your post is so apologetic in tone. It's a sad thing if this forum has become so intimiditating in nature that someone needs to put in so many disclaimers when voicing their opinion. I've had slightly insulting responses to my posts in the past when I said I didn't think these speakers were that big of a deal. But hey, that's all part of the game. I've been around long enough that it doesn't bother me. However, you seem to be a newer member of this forum, and I don't think it's right if you're worried about offeding people just when stating your opinion on a pair of speakers.
     
  3. Marcelo T

    Marcelo T Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I have a pair of these, and I agree that they're not audiophile grade by any means, but for 270 bucks that I paid for those you can´t expect much either.
    It can´t be compared to the paradigm studio series, but I heard a couple of the monitor series and I think it compares very well with that line.
    I compared the s38 with the B&W 600 sereies and couldn´t found a clear winner, but against the other higher B&W line there´s a no contest.
    For music I found that the s38 do a decent job, and a great job with HT. Anyway, there´s several variables that can alter the sound of speakers (as you mentioned), so all of this is subjective anyway.
    For a great objective and subjective review of s38, look in http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?365
    The review ends with "A close friend and sometime musician and audiophile music reviewer reacted to the S38 while listening during a recent party at my house: "I've heard better, but it's great for the money...." That about sums up my view as well."[​IMG]
     
  4. Stephen Houdek

    Stephen Houdek Second Unit

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    Everyone's ears are different. There have been several tests in which show the S38's exhibit a very flat response across the entire frequency spectrum. Perhaps your ears prefer a more colored speaker. Polks are well known for this from way back when they started building speakers......Well, not way back, but back a bit.
     
  5. Stephen Houdek

    Stephen Houdek Second Unit

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    BTW: I've listened to Pardimes and Axioms and I throw them into the colored class of speakers. I prefer flat response without emphasis on any particular range.

    I think they compare well to the above mentioned speakers. Why would you expect Audiophile quality for the price they go for? Of course defining Audiophile may get you into trouble. You won't approach audiophile unless you're willing to shell out at a minimum of $5000 for a pair. But for anything less than $1,000 I'd say these are hands down winners.
     
  6. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  7. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    More frequency response data from Stereophile archives.
    PSB Alpha A/V, retailing at $249/pr:
    [​IMG]
    B&W DM302, in the same price range (I'm not sure how much it costs today):
    [​IMG]
    Polk RT25i, $320/pr:
    [​IMG]
    It's interesting that you called the Polk colored. It's certainly got a rolled off treble, but it doesn't have the mid-bass hump of the JBL, nor the big spikes in the upper treble.
    Mission M71, $250/pr
    [​IMG]
    And these are comparably priced speakers, I haven't even gone up to the $1000 price mark. Then you start to play with Dynaudio, Swan, Sonus Faber, and so on... those are in a totally different league from any of the speakers mentioned in this post. Subjectively, I (and many others) think the Paradox compares well with those speakers, but that's not related to this discussion.
    I believe I've made my point, so I'll stop now [​IMG]
     
  8. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Phil, where are you?
     
  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I just noticed that the Paradox's frequency response curve just goes down to 200 Hz. That's interesting, and makes me wonder why the manufacturer doesn't show the graph all the way down into the bass frequencies (especially since the -3dB point is around 50 Hz). Anyway, to be fair, the other speakers should be compared only from 200 Hz on up, which takes out a lot of the JBL's 100 Hz hump. And FWIW, I agree with Stephen, the Paradigm Mini Monitor (a speaker I've owned for around a year) also has a built-in hump at around 70 - 80 Hz. The purpose is probably the same in both the Mini Monitor and the S38 - fool the listener into thinking he's getting deeper bass, by giving him more bass.

    Just so people know where I'm coming from - I haven't owned any of the other speakers, so I do not have first-hand experience with them. I've spent a few hours auditioning some speakers in the $1000 range recently, and back when I bought the Paradigms, in the $300 range.

    This isn't about JBL-bashing at all, in case I've given anyone that impression. In their price range, the JBLs are very good speakers at what they do - they sound pretty good (my purely subjective opinion), and they excel at playing loud and clear without distortion. However, there are other speakers in the same price range that are potentially better at some other aspects of audio reproduction. So, depending on a person's tastes, they may like one speaker or the other - this is about taste, not performance. Objectively, the S38 performs as well as many speakers in its price range, and better than many. Once you raise the bar to $1000 speakers, then things start to change, and I think it's a little outrageous to claim that these are the best speakers under $1000. Sure, if someone likes the S38 to say the Dynaudio Audience 52, Sonus Faber Concertino, or one of the Swan Divas, that again is a matter of taste, and there's no right or wrong about that. However, to say that the S38 is better than anything else under $1000 is, IMO, incorrect. For instance, I think my speakers are pretty good for what I paid for them, but I certainly don't think they're the best speakers under $3000, or anything like that.

    I hope that's a little clearer.
     
  10. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    FR and phase/impedance charts do not illustrate qualities like imaging, soundstage, whatever.
    I personally don't think Paradigms are any good, from the bottom (atoms) all the way to the top (studio 100's). But I love B+W. Are you wrong for liking Paradigm, am I wrong for liking B+W?
    Arguing about speaker preference is ludicrous. When I see someone posting here with a question like "are X speakers good?", I can only shake my head. Speaker preference is so personal as to be utterly pointless to discuss/argue. By the way I don't like Klipshc or Polk either [​IMG] but I like Definitive Technology and Linn.
     
  11. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    That's interesting, I would have thought that loosely speaking, a speaker with a flatter (more coherent) phase response curve should have better soundstage and imaging. I do agree with you, looking at numbers and graphs is no substitute for listening to a pair of speakers.

     
  12. RobertGeo

    RobertGeo Agent

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    ned, Saurav, anyone- why dont we make a thread with diffrent speaker makers at diffrent price ranges?

    ex..250-350 dollar range //jbl vegas ect..

    ex.. 350-500 dollar range ect... bose(jk) klipsch ect..

    we could class it like towers, centers, surronds ect..

    just a thought. i was thinking about getting the s38's as most people say they are the best for the price range. after reading this thread i might be changing my decisions.

    if we had something like the above then maybe it would be a little less pain in the butt on trying to search for crazy prices and thinking you cant afford that speaker when you really could. maybe i should post this in the newbie section(??)

    rob
     
  13. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Interesting graphs from Stereophile, and yet Robert J. Reina - also wrote
     
  14. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    All this negative posting is making me think my S38s are bad. Yet when I listen to them my ears tell me otherwise.
    It's all good [​IMG]
     
  15. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  16. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  17. Todd smith

    Todd smith Supporting Actor

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    Phil you ROCK!

    This is very subjective, but I beleive the s38's are easily the best bang for the buck speaker that I have heard. The jbl s38 easily sounded better than the b&w 600 series to me, and the B&w were on high end components and the jbl's were at best buy on a yamaha receiver.

    Paradigm studio series 40's sounded awesome to me, but not nearly a $500.00 diference over the s38. 4 40's and the cc center would have run me 2000.00 while 4 s38's and s-center ran me 729.00-No BRAINER. I am not on an extremely tight budget and would have spent the money on paradigms if I thought they were worth 1300.00 more for the setup. Not even close to 1300.00 more worth of speaker.

    I compared quite a few others, these are just the ones that stand out in my mind.

    I know this is all subjective, but as long as everyone is stating their opinion I thought I would state mine.

    s38's are the best price/performance speaker by a long shot out of the many that I heard, and they have the most consistent consumer and profesional reviews out of most the speakers I have read about. Audioreview.com 114 reviews-4.78 average.

    But hey, this is just my opinion!
     
  18. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Thanks Todd!
    Phil
     
  19. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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