My review of the JBL S312 II s

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James W. Johnson, Apr 29, 2002.

  1. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    A week or so ago I posted my initial impressions of the JBL S312II speakers , I was quite enthusiastic about them
    but had'nt really done any critical listening.
    I am not going to compare these with my Adire Kit281s because a fully assembled pair of Kit281s is just under $1.9K shipped, while the S312s are around $600-$800 shipped.
    Right out of the box they are quite harsh in the top end and I thought it had went away but it had not.
    I have auditioned these for about 20 hours so they are not broken in yet, but the basic characteristics of the loudspeaker are not going to change all that much more.
    I have had a chance to play some Jazz, Rock , pop and Techno music and several DVDs.
    The first thing I have to say about these is that they are very detailed and revealing.
    The mids and highs on these speakers are too harsh.
    I cannot really put my finger on it but all I know is 1 hour of listening to these speakers even at low volumes gives me a mild hearing ache no matter what the material is...they are extemely fatiging. Everything is just too in your face.
    The bass on these speakers is really good, they extend deep and accuratly not boomy at all.
    Which brings me to the next point, these are room placement friendly no matter where I put them in my small
    room the bass never became boomy.
    They are quite fun and exiting to listen to for a short period of time but they are fatiging speakers and
    not good for a guy like me that listens to many hours of music every day.
    The deal breaker:
    No matter how hard I tried I could not become lost in the music because they had a hard time holding an image and just when I would start to get into something my ears would tell me to shut them off.
    I think these would make a fantastic party speaker , they go very loud and stay clean..but you best wear some ear plugs if you are close to them when you crank em'.
    These would also make a great HT speaker/music speaker in a very large room ,you would have to sit at least 20 feet away from them ..the back of my room is right about 15ft from the speakers and they are still too harsh for me.
    Sorry guys I really wanted these speakers to work out for me considering I got them at cost.
    I paid $435 w/tax for the S312s, this is Best Buy's cost on these speakers. And you know what?...I still feel ripped off because I don't have any use for such a speaker.
    (but hey I felt more ripped off when I bought some Paradigm Monitor 7s and PSB Image 4Bs too so don't get mad at me JBL owners.[​IMG])
    BTW I see the JBL S26 speaker totally different. I purchased them on a whim and I feel like I hit the
    speaker selection lotto.
    I use these as nearfield monitors for my computer and I can listen to them all day long.
    I put them out in my living room on top of the S312s
    and they sounded really good but not as good as they
    sound for my application. They are nearly perfect in every way.
     
  2. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Interesting James. Have you also pulled the 312 appart, are the tweeters different or essentially the same? If the tweeters are essentially the same what do you think is making the 312 so much more fatiguing? The higher crossover frequency to the tweeter, the difference in baffel size, something else?
     
  3. RobertGeo

    RobertGeo Agent

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    james, couldnt you just back off the treble a little? could a eq help out this kind of problem? i remember phil saying it could take 3 months for the speakers to work in. maybe you need some more time?

    what kind of music do you listin too? you say you have the s26's. i thought all the s series had the same tweeter(?) thanks for your feedback james, rob
     
  4. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I'm suprised someone with 281s would downgrade to s312s. So do you want to sell them? [​IMG]
    I loved the S312iis over the S38ii when I auditioned them at BB.
     
  5. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    I'm suprised someone with 281s would downgrade to s312s. So do you want to sell them?

    >>>.

    I did'nt get rid of my Kit281s . I have had as many as 6 different pairs of speakers at one time because I like trying out speakers. Most of the time I sell them for a loss.

    The S312IIs are on Ebay already.

    Guys I never heard the old S312 so it could be just as bad as the new series. I don't think much has changed besides the midrange driver.

    Its not just the tweeter that is contributing , the mid is too pushy as well.

    Its almost like the mid/tweeter are 6-10dbs louder than the bass driver, this could be done via the crossover .

    Quote from Robert:

    >>>james, couldnt you just back off the treble a little? could a eq help out this kind of problem? i remember phil saying it could take 3 months for the speakers to work in. maybe you need some more time?
     
  6. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    The prized component in these JBLs is the titanium tweeter, which could create a very clean, precise sound. Cymbals, trumpets, saxophones and violins were reproduced accurately without any hint of colouration. Notes started and stopped without hesitation; JBL has made one of the best-sounding tweeters around.
     
  7. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    Quote::
    The prized component in these JBLs is the titanium tweeter, which could create a very clean, precise sound. Cymbals, trumpets, saxophones and violins were reproduced accurately without any hint of colouration. Notes started and stopped without hesitation; JBL has made one of the best-sounding tweeters around.
    >>>>>>>>>>.
    JBL did not make this tweeter, it was made in France by a company called Audax. http://www.audax.com/
    Now listen , I know Audax makes fine speakers so
    I think it is in part due to the tweeter and more
    importantly the crossover.
    Some people believe the crossover is the single
    most important element in a loudspeaker.
    Quote:::
    I quoted a European 2000 JBL Ti 600 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker Review RobertGeo. He wrote ...
    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    as JBL pioneered titanium domes way back in 1984. JBL says you'll need some 120 hours of work to get the drivers up and running, but from experience, I'd say 3-4 months is much more to the point. It will be the titanium tweeter which will take longest to really settle down to its true sound.
    ----------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Apples to oranges, the Ti600 are a different speaker
    and may well use a tweeter made by JBL also they cost
    several thousand dollars a pair.
    I have looked into more of their lines and you simply cannot compare the Northridge and Studio series to their high end line and professional line of speakers.
    They say they have used technology from the pro studio series speakers.
    The only thing I can find is the Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal (EOS) Waveguide...big deal this is simply
    a little horn for the tweeter.
    Take a look at the amount of testing that was done on the
    LSR28P http://www.jblpro.com/pub/recording/lsr28p.pdf
    Where are JBLs detailed specs and graphs on their home speakers?
    It would help sell speakers if they did this, however JBL took a different aproach to selling their mass products.
    Here is what they say about the S312::
    This 3-way 12" floorstanding loudspeaker with MDF enclosure and Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal™ (EOS) waveguide reproduces sound with unparalleled spaciousness and definition.
    • The pure-titanium tweeter and the midrange transducer are mounted on a Linear Field Proximity™ (LFP) bezel that ensures a seamless transition between the middle and high frequencies. The PolyPlas™ (polymer-coated cellulose fiber) cone woofer features traditional JBL engineering, the same technologies used in JBL's Professional equipment that can be found in stadiums, music halls and movie theaters around the world.
    • Shielded components allow placement near video monitors. High-temperature, oversized Kapton® voice coil and HeatScape™ motor structure allow these speakers to effortlessly play all types of movies and music. The woofers are built on cast-aluminum frames, which reduce distortion and increase power-handling capability. A low-diffraction IsoPower™ baffle directs the sound power into the room, reducing distortion caused by cabinet vibration. The lock-mitred, computer-designed enclosure requires no bracing. The FreeFlow™ flared port increases bass response without adding unwanted port noise. JBL's custom-designed drivers allow the use of simple, Straight-Line Signal Path™ (SSP) crossover networks with high-quality electrical components that minimize processing that could degrade the signal. All Studio Series loudspeakers are equipped with all-metal, 5-way, gold-plated binding post speaker terminals.
    HeatScape™ motor structure!!! So the driver has a vent! WOW!!!!
    "A low-diffraction IsoPower™ baffle " ???? I don't see
    anything special about the baffle execept its very wide
    and very prone to diffraction.
    The FreeFlow™ flared port>>>There is absolutly nothing special about this port its flared on the outside slightly
    nothing else is special about it.
    Straight-Line Signal Path™ (SSP) crossover networks with high-quality electrical components that minimize processing that could degrade the signal
    I don't know what this is but I would like to get a
    crossover expert like Dan Wiggins over here.
    Based on everything else they have said to this point its
    probably another load of trash talk.
    Why did'nt they use this driver in their home line?
    This sounds genuinely impressive to me:
    The neodymium 12" woofer is based on JBL’s patented Differential Drive® technology. With the Neodymium structure and dual drive coils, power compression is kept to a minimum to reduce the fatigue of spectral shift as power levels increase. An added third coil between the drive coils acts as a dynamic brake to limit excess excursion and reduce audible distortion at the highest levels. The cone is made of a graphite/polypropylene composite forming a rigid piston supported by a soft butyl rubber surround.
    I think JBL spent some serious time on their pro line and not too much on their mass consumer line because in
    general the masses don't know any better and in most
    cases could care less. If they look good and play music
    and are reasonably price then they will work.
    Quote::
    I personally like the flat monitor sound my JBL S26s (since FEB 25) provide me in my application. I'm listening to Diana Krall "When I look in you eyes" CD, 2-CH w/SVS right now, and IMHO, she sounds like she's in my living!
    >>>>>
    I agree the S26 is a great speaker I do not understand what happened with the S312.
     
  8. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    James - now that you gave us your detailed feelings about the Consumer JBL Line vs. their PRO Line, please explain a little more on your previous statement above ...
     
  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    James,
    Interesting review.
     
  10. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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  11. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  12. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Your correct, the accompanying subjective test descriptions should help here and to a certain degree, adds to the visual Graph. But like you pointed out, your personal audition will fill-in those various questions. I do find at times, the subjective tester has his or her own expectations and writes something totally different or contrary vs. the Calibrated MIC / Computer Generated Speaker Graph display. So, the final decision, should be based on your personal audition, and that, along with all the researched INFO at your disposal (if available), should be your final purchasing determining factor.
    Last interesting observation though, back in 1999, the rave of the speaker world was the Energy Take 5 HT Set (still is here), and prior to purchasing the JBL NSP1s, my research revealed that though highly recommended, the Take 5s did NOT play or sound like a Cinema Theater and you could easily blow a driver if pushed to what I would consider glorious Live SPL Levels! Hence, I bought the JBL NSP1s ignoring the accolades read here @ HTF and other forums. I basically used my previous JBL J-Series (w/Titanium Tweeters) dynamic experience and the available Energy Take 5 on-line reviews to form my decision, and you know what?? I'm glad I did!!! [​IMG]
    Phil
     
  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  14. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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  15. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Funny how your results match what I thought after 5 minutes listening in Best Buy. Odd... It seemed normal but the sound wasn't very 'full'.

    James, do you consider the 281s to be neutral? I mean, the 312s were brigher, but compared to other speakers what do you think the tone of the 281 is like? Is it brighter than the S26?

    Also IIRC the TM025F7 tweeter in the JBLs is almost exactly the same as the F1 in the 281. Impressive for JBL.

    Maybe they designed the 312 with less bass because they expected people to crank it up? Strange, but stranger things have happened.
     
  16. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    Hey guys I have been gone all day because I am overhauling a 1971 1.1L Opel engine ..what a piece of crap [​IMG]
    Anyways I see you guys have been capping on me all day long.[​IMG] See if I ever give another honest review.
    I hear great and there is no reason I should go have it tested.
    Let me point out something, often times the S312s sound louder with a given input and a/b testing them with the Kit281s but 9 times out of 10 the Kit281s were louder according to the SPL meter.
    I can listen to the Kit281s for 8 hours straight , I have done this many times.
    Yes I crank them very loud on occation (maybe 1 hour a week recently).
    I crank them loud because they sound good loud, your ears tell you when its too loud , I can run the Kit281s along with some heavy bass produced by my dual Tempest sub and get peaks of 110dbs or so and my ears are perfectly happy.
    Kit281s without a sub I can play them to 100dbs before my ears start telling me to turn it down.
    The S312s without a sub I can get to about 90dbs (for a short while) anything over that and my ears are bleeding.
    All this means I can run my Kit281s twice as loud than the S312s without hurting my ears.
    At these high volumes most of the SPL is bass. Like I said, your ears tell you when its too loud.
    Now when I listen to the Kit281s for extended periods of time the volume is usually around 70dbs, 99% of my listening is done at these levels.
    I crank it up for testing , showing off and an occational rush, thats it.
    So now you might be thinking...Hmm the Kit281s are twice as loud yet the S312s sound louder, the bass must be overblown or somthing on the Kit281s.
    The bass is clean and natural as hell on the Kit281s .
    Honestly I cannot explain it , I have no idea where those SPLs are.
     
  17. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    James, do you consider the 281s to be neutral? I mean, the 312s were brigher, but compared to other speakers what do you think the tone of the 281 is like? Is it brighter than the S26?
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    I do not think the Kit281s are 100% neutral but they are
    still better than anything I have come across in the last
    3 years(within a reasonable cost).
    Also I am alot more picky than I used to be.
    The Kit281 lack abit of detail, its still there but you have to listen for it.
    I have a theory that this particlar characteristic is what makes the Kit281s image so well...but I could be way off here.
    Tradeoffs man, its all about tradeoffs.
    Also IIRC the TM025F7 tweeter in the JBLs is almost exactly the same as the F1 in the 281. Impressive for JBL.
    >>>>>>>
    Yes that is why I have to call this a crossover problem.
    I had no problem with the F1 on the Kit281s from the get go.
    Dan even offers an upgrade that pads down the tweeter 2dbs or something like that.
    Apparantly some people have complained about the Kit281s being bright...good lord man, you have not heard a bright speaker until you have heard the S312s.[​IMG]
    Most people do not think this about the Kit281s and personally I can't understand why someone would say this.
     
  18. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  19. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    That is true. The impression of "too loud" comes more from hearing a speaker/amp distort and compress, rather than a reaction to pure SPL.
    >>>
    I agree that this would be for most people but I feed my speakers enough power, I am sure the Kit281s compress alot
    when pushed hard. They are not compressing at low volumes though which is where the majority of my listening takes place.
    The impression of too loud with the S312s is not from underpowering them or compression..even listening at 70dbs for extended periods of time you ears began to say "STOP TURN THEM OFF!!!"
    Some people who own huge horn speakers which can easily play 100dB+ keep SPL meters handy, because it is very easy to damage your hearing by playing such a system at too high a volume.
    >>>>>>>
    that makes sence, but this would never the case for me because I think it would be hard to mix up 70dbs with 90dbs [​IMG].
    But it would be fun to crank them up hard and see what the SPLs are verses how loud they seem.
    I gotta get me some horns for my next speakers.
    Have you found any that are reasonably priced..say
     
  20. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I think I'll end up with horns as the end of the journey. Right now, my living room cannot accomodate horns, so I haven't really looked. I've found horns for under $1000, certainly, but I haven't evaluated them as being potential purchase options for me.
    Go to www.audioasylum.com and search through the High Efficiency speaker forum. Pi Speakers have their own forum at AA, they make some pretty inexpensive horn speakers that are supposed to be excellent for the price. I've heard of the Horn Shoppe, Busch Horns, and so on. I don't have URL's handy, I'm sorry.
    If you really want to experiment with horns, I would strongly recommend getting a good tube amp, or even the DIY class A SS amp that someone mentioned in the other thread. You're really not doing justice to horns unless you drive them the way they were meant to be driven.
     

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