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JBL S38II Speaker Orientation? (1 Viewer)

Walt H

Stunt Coordinator
Aug 5, 2000
Considering getting a pair of JBL S38's. Reading the online manual states that the speakers may be placed either horizontally or vertically (recommended: best if placed horizontally).

Anyone noticed a "real" difference in sound if the speakers are placed VERTICALLY?

Dustin B

Senior HTF Member
Mar 10, 2001
Crossover was designed for the horizontal orientation. A big change in imaging and soundstage will occur if you orient them vertically.


Second Unit
Dec 13, 2001
I believe they should be placed horizontally for the same reason that a normal speaker should be placed vertically: to prevent cancellation effects in the horizontal dimension. If the tweeter and midrange are placed next to each other then as you move side to side infront of the speaker certain frequencies will cancel each other at certain positions, leading to an uneven soundstage. If they are placed ontop of each other then the effect of moving side to side will be negligible, and, of course, moving up and down is not something people tend to do infront of speakers. The S38's are special in that the speakers are not all in a straight line, the woofer is off to the side of the tweeter and midrange, so you have to compromise as to which you worry about more. I believe that JBL's recommendation that the tweeter/midrange be in a vertical orientation to each other is the best, and the only orientation that would fit in my space anyways.

At the end of the day, no, I haven't tried putting my speakers on their sides, but I'm also pretty confident that the best orientation is horizontal.

This is just one fairly uninformed opinion, so don't take it as gospel, but I thought I'd share what I could.

-- Dave

Phil Iturralde

Oct 7, 1998
The orientation as expressed above should be horizontal.
Technically, it's because of the Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal (EOS) Waveguide, offering 100° x 60° dispersion rating, a targeted listening area of ±30 degrees horizontally and ±15 degrees vertically — a very respectable sweet spot, directly pulled from JBL TEC Award LSR PRO Studio Monitors.
The JBL S38 design queue comes from the highly acclaimed JBL LSR32P.
Now, the JBL LSR32 allows the Recording Engineer to place them vertically but to maintain their smooth spatial response, they must rotate the cast aluminum sub-baffle plate (w/high & mid driver) for vertical placement. An option that the JBL S38 doesn't have I'm afraid - so horizontal placement is recommended.

Chris Tsutsui

Feb 1, 2002
I just setup mine to vertical and they sounded identical if not slightly better.

It may have a smaller sweet spot but some of the best audiophile speakers have smaller listening areas. I actually see a large sweet spot as a disadvantage unless were talking about home theater giving several seats the same sound stage.

Reason it sounded better was because when arranged vertically, the tweeter is ear level and I must like the sound better. I heard a more defined depth and image.

I would use them vertical anyday, and I'm going to keep them this way until I have company and decide a wider dispersion is needed.

My Arrangement was: JBL S38 original setup vertically with tweeters on top/middle (ear level). 2.5 feet separation between mains. Listener about 3 feet away. Speakers toed in slightly.

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