Totally subjective review of the JBL S38II

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Allen Longcor, May 3, 2004.

  1. Allen Longcor

    Allen Longcor Supporting Actor

    Oct 21, 2001
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    I just received my pair which I ordered from Harman Audio for $200 (for the pair). The first thing I noticed when I opened the large box, was that it had two massive speakers inside! I knew the dimensions before ordering it but that doesn't really prepare you for the size of these beasts. They are a really hefty speaker and they look pretty funny on my skinny stands.

    Harman Kardon PT2300 stereo pre-amp
    Harman Kardon Signature 2.1 amp
    Sony SCD-CE775 SACD Player
    Panasonic S47 (2 channel DVD Audio)

    Initial thoughts:
    WOW! I pop in Nora Jones and it's like she's sitting right there in front of me singing. If I closed my eyes she would be sitting right where my TV is. The clarity of vocals is amazing after coming from a 5.1 setup with Eosone RSF400 speakers. The Eosones just didn't have the clarity and range of the JBL's. I can pick out individual instruments instead of just hearing a combined sound.

    Bjork - Vespertine in 2 channel DVD-Audio is next and it sounds superb. It's amazingly clear and I'm really going to have to sit down and listen to the whole thing. I finished off with a little Led Zeppelin and I was smiling the whole time. It's only the first night and I already want to cycle through all my CD's to hear everything again.

    DVD is a mixed bag. The speakers sound great and dialogue is crystal clear. The bad part is I miss having a dedicated LFE channel. My sub doesn't get the workout it did in 5.1, but I can live with it since music is off the chart.

    I'd have to agree with others on this forum that these speakers are an unbelievable steal. I was going to use these as a temperary setup and then move to Polk LSi's, but these sound so incredible that I may just build a surround setup around them. Having S38II's all around would be killer. I HIGHLY recommend you give these a shot if you are in the market for new speakers. I'll post some more thoughts once I've lived with them for awhile.
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Aug 15, 2002
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    I've owned many a pair of bookshelf speakers in the last 20 years or so, and the S38s are the best I've owned under $1000/pair (I actually paid less than you did for a brand-new pair; just happened to luck upon them). Great imaging, great neutrality, great everything... [​IMG]
  3. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

    Oct 25, 2001
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    I guess I just can't get enough of the S38 since I am now up to 6 of them (plus the SCenter) for my now 7.1 system. Works wonderfully for DVD-audio multichannel since the surround speakers now become as important as the mains and must match sonically.

    God help me if I get Yamaha's receiver with front "presence" channels...

    Damn you Phil!
  4. Michael Brand

    Jan 5, 2002
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    I gotta' agree that these are awesome speakers!! I have 4 S38II's for my fronts and side surrounds, the S-Center, and S36II's for the back (7.1) surrounds. This setup really does it all, they sound great with music (SACD!!) and fantastic with movies. I am driving these speakers with a Yamaha 1400, and added a 200 watt three channel Acurus amp for the the fronts and center. Oops, I almost forgot my SVS 20-39 PC+ subwoofer. I can't play this system enough when I am at home![​IMG]

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