JBL S38 vs. Polk RT25i (Stereophile magazine)

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Mark Russ, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Has anyone ever noticed how eerily similar Stereophile's reviews on these two speakers are? It was two diffrent people doing the reviews, but they pretty much used the same recordings (Janis Ian and Stravinsky) and compared the Polk and JBL against the exact same reference speakers (Mission, Alon, and Paradigm), and even the comments on both speakers were pretty close to each other. Both were called the best under $1000 speaker on the market that each reviewer had ever heard. I think that between the two, the JBL might would be better for rock music and movies, but I don't know that. I think AC/DC might would probably sound better on the JBLs, but I'm just speculating. I do have a pair of "open box" Polk RT25i that I picked up from Circuit City for the price of $120 for the pair. Maybe I ought to pick up a pair of JBL S38 and do a review against the Polks. Has anyone else extensively auditioned both models, or better yet, compared them to each other in a direct a/b "shootout"?






    Polk RT25i link:
    http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?417


    JBL S38 link:
    http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?365
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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  3. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    Angelo-

    I finally took your advice and upgraded my S36's to S38's. The bass is much improved but I find vocals to be a little more laid back than what I would like, with a slightly muffled quality. Did you notice any break-in effects when you got yours? I am wondering if mine are going to open up as I use them more.

    Mark
     
  4. Brian Kleinke

    Brian Kleinke Supporting Actor

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    Double Post.. [​IMG]
     
  5. Brian Kleinke

    Brian Kleinke Supporting Actor

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    I've not listened to the JBLs, but I've been running the Polk 25RTi's for 4 years or so. They're simply amazing for their size, granted there are much better speakers (I use them in my bedroom) but for the size / cost they're just insane.

    Knowing that there may be another speaker as good would just be wonderful for people looking for small lower cost speakers.

    Brian
     
  6. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Mark:

    I'm the wrong guy to ask about "break in." I don't put a lot of stock in the concept; sorry. [​IMG]

    However, I will tell you that the S38s really need to be positioned correctly in the room to make them sing. Mine are oriented horizontally, which gives me very nice imaging, and I prefer them that way as opposed to vertical. I'd experiment with this and I think you'll find that you can make a big difference in the sound by adjusting speaker placement.

    And I'd call these anything but muffled. I find them very neutral and very accurate (whatever that means, right?). Of course, your muffled could be my neutral...
     
  7. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    I do have them horizontal. Are you using any toe-in? Right now mine are not toed in at all. I am wondering if that would help. I will have to try it!

    Mark
     
  8. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Yes, slightly. Definitely experiment with them. Some folks swear by the "breaking in" bit, so you might want to give the S38's some time. Again, I don't really buy it, but if it's placebo effect, well, that's OK if it works for you!
     
  9. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Angelo.M quote:

    "Mark, they're both fine speakers, and I think the similarity of the reviews (both very positive) points to that, if you're willing to put a lot of stock in professional speaker reviews."

    Angelo, just in case you're wondering, no, I didn't just rush right out and pick up a pair or RT25i only because of that review. As far as reviews go, when has any magazine ever really been truly negative about ANY product? Even Bose? I'm sure that somewhere, at least ONE must exist, but I've personally never seen a review where they totally said to stay completely away from it because it was total crap compared to the competition. I'm sure that there is also possibility of a hidden agenda, i.e. adversitising dollars (or maybe lack thereof) at stake. I do remember one time in about '96 or so, Home theater magazine when through not one, but two different sets of I think it was Phase Tech speakers (they had sent the first set back and got a replacement just in case something was wrong with the first to give them a second chance). They then said that both sets were unacceptable, that Phase Tech was a highly respected company that they had never had nothing but very positive experiences with before then and that maybe it was just a limited production run problem (as they had noted that the serial #s of both sets of speakers they had were pretty close).

    Besides, a reviewer is just another person with an opinion on something, and we all know what opinions are like.....
    Just because somebody likes or dislikes one thing, it doesn't mean that someone else might not like or dislike it. Just like a movie reviewer in the newspaper. I've seen times where I saw a review on a certian movie, and then when I saw it, I had just the opposite feeling of what they had.

    My whole point though was that both of these reviews were exessively glowing, so just maybe there's actually something to them. They were also very, very similar. I almost wonder if they have a standard speal or rhetoric they just throw out there for certian individual cases, such as budget book shelf speakers?



    I'm thinking about maybe changing out a set of speakers. I mainly listen to hard rock music and movies. Two on my short list are a pair of the Polk RTi150, and the JBL S38 (a whole set of 6, plus the center)
     
  10. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Mark Russ:

    Yeah, you can't read a lot into these reviews. But, like you, I was definitely influenced by Stereophile to give the S38's a listen, and I'm glad I did. [​IMG]

    Just last night I was listening to a little "Aja" on them. Man, they are very nice speakers, which you can find for a song nowadays (J&R is offering great deals on pairs of S38's).
     
  11. anthony_b

    anthony_b Screenwriter

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    I auditioned a pair of jbl s26's and the polk rt25i and I returned the JBL's. I found them to be a bit on the bright side for my taste. Although they were fine speakers for the money $149/pr I got an open box deal on the POLK's for $120 and have been very satisfied. I currently have them as surround speakers now.
     
  12. KyleGS

    KyleGS Second Unit

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    I can say that my S38's needed a great deal of break-in not to sound "bright". At first I thought they were a little harsh. After some "rapid" break-in procedures [​IMG] I found them to be almost neutral- not bright, not warm. However I have found the 80-100hz region to be a bit thick. Other than that, with a clean amp the S38's are a steal for the money offered @ jandr.com.
     
  13. Brad A

    Brad A Agent

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    I have a pair of S38's as my mains...Has anyone tried using them as surrounds? I'm thinking about a second pair....or should i move my 38's to surrounds and get S310's or S312's as my mains...Any advice will be appreciated
     
  14. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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  15. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    And Phil hasn't chimed in yet? Must not be feeling well [​IMG]
     
  16. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    I'm surprised, too. I was anticipating the usual barrage of review quotes and related promotional materials.
     

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