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JBL vs Higher Fi Question

Old 05-09-03, 10:33 PM
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JBL vs Higher Fi Question

I have a somewhat unique situation, and could use some advice. Here goes. I am looking into upgrading my current speaker package. I am currently running a Polk RM 6600 speaker setup, and want to go to full size floor standing fronts, a much beefier center, and better surrounds. Basically, I want a full listening experience, with good mid-range and precision, and I want to be able to really enjoy music as well as movies.

Here is where things get somewhat tricky. I am currently working at Best Buy "it could be worse, maybe" and their employee discount on big ticket items is pretty hard to pass up. In general, I am not fond of the lines Best Buy carries, but am begginning to be seduced by the savings that could be had. I can get JBL products below cost, which is somewhere around 50% off of the customer price. So, here is one scenario:

Fronts: JBL S312 II ($400 a pair w/discount)
Center: JBL S-CENTER II ($125 w/ discount)
Rears: JBL S36 II ($200 a pair w/ discount)
Sub: JBL PB12 ($200 w/ discount)

So, I could get this whole setup for $925! These savings are hard for me to resist. On the other hand, I am worried that they are an inferior product, regardless of my discount, and that I should not let such a deal lure me into buying low-fi garbage.

If my discount were not an option, I would be looking into something by B&W (Newton T300, Newton S300, Newton MC400), maybe Cambridge (B&W DM603S3,B&W LCR60 S3, B&W DS6), something which is alot more respected by audiophiles. But if I go this route, I will spend close to 3 times as much money, and seeing as I am a college student, money is definitly an issue.

What would you people suggest? Are the JBL's I spoke of a quality product? Or would I be wasting my money even with the huge savings? Please give me some opinions here, as I am not sure of what to do.

Thanks,

Brett
Old 05-10-03, 12:39 AM
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In my opinion...there's much better out there for $1000 (give or take $100) than JBL. BUT the JBL stuff doesn't sound bad. I just feel that there's much better sound to be had at that price point, such as Paradigm Performance series, B&W, Home Theater Direct, Klipsch, and Energy.

www.paradigm.com
http://www.htdaudio.com/

and the others are easy enough to find...

Check out the HTD's...they are CHEAP and very very cost effective...
Old 05-10-03, 03:25 AM
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Originally posted by lordzeppelin
In my opinion...there's much better out there for $1000 (give or take $100) than JBL. BUT the JBL stuff doesn't sound bad. I just feel that there's much better sound to be had at that price point, such as Paradigm Performance series, B&W, Home Theater Direct, Klipsch, and Energy.

www.paradigm.com
http://www.htdaudio.com/

and the others are easy enough to find...

Check out the HTD's...they are CHEAP and very very cost effective...
Let be sure you clarify that you are talking about the low end JBL stuff because the high end JBL Pro stuff would make Klipsch, Paradigm etc... sound like speakers you buy from "white vans"! Even JBL's bettr consumer line is very good quality.
Old 05-10-03, 09:15 AM
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Originally posted by Frank S
Let be sure you clarify that you are talking about the low end JBL stuff because the high end JBL Pro stuff would make Klipsch, Paradigm etc... sound like speakers you buy from "white vans"!
Personal preferences aside, that statement is just hyperbole.
Old 05-10-03, 02:58 PM
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Originally posted by audrey
Personal preferences aside, that statement is just hyperbole.
Tell that the the VAST majority of production /music studios, concert tours, nightclubs, theaters that use JBL Pro exclusively. JBL Pro is where most go for the best in speakers... of course price is steep to say the least!
Old 05-10-03, 03:03 PM
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Originally posted by Frank S
Tell that the the VAST majority of production /music studios, concert tours, nightclubs, theaters that use JBL Pro exclusively. JBL Pro is where most go for the best in speakers... of course price is steep to say the least!
Pro audio geared for live performance and/or studio work is apples/oranges to home theater and music speakers.
Old 05-10-03, 03:18 PM
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Originally posted by DVD_O_Rama
Pro audio geared for live performance and/or studio work is apples/oranges to home theater and music speakers.
I'm not saying they are identical (although the Theater and Nightclub Pro stuff similar) but when I mentioned JBL being well above Klipsch, Paradigm, etc.. and the retort was I was using "hyperbole" I must counter with the facts that those who make a living knowing what sounds best, choose JBL Pro most of the time!

Comparing Apples and Oranges also applies to Lordzepplin's post trying to compare entry level consumer JBL's with the likes of Klipsch & Paradigm.

Last edited by Frank S; 05-10-03 at 03:20 PM.
Old 05-10-03, 03:37 PM
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Originally posted by Frank S
...I must counter with the facts that those who make a living knowing what sounds best, choose JBL Pro most of the time!
It's one thing to say, "I prefer the sound of JBL's pro line of speakers better than Paradigm or Klipsch."

It's a whole other thing to suggest that the people who buy pro audio gear for "music studios, concert tours, nightclubs, theaters" have the same priorities as most people setting up a home theater or music system.


Also, I don't know who those people are who buy JBL pro studio monitors thinking they're getting the top of the line.
Old 05-10-03, 05:17 PM
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Originally posted by Frank S
(snip)...when I mentioned JBL being well above Klipsch, Paradigm, etc.. and the retort was I was using "hyperbole"
I guess I don’t see how you can deny that your white van statement isn’t exaggeration. Like JBL, Klipsch & Paradigm offer models in a variety of ranges. Out of curiosity, which specific JBL models have you compared to which Paradigm speakers?
Old 05-10-03, 05:20 PM
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The S series (even the II, which isn't as nice as the I) is very good for the price. They have some of the most linear outputs in their price range. If you decide to go with JBL's, the 312's are a good choice over the 310's, which very few people seem to like. The 312's and 38's seem to be the best for fronts, with the 36's being good for surrounds.

I would completely avoid the JBL subwoofers though, as their amps seem to die very VERY soon after your warranty expires.
Old 05-10-03, 08:35 PM
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I'd just like to point out that if you read the original post, you'd see that brhow said he works at best buy. I don't know what best buy store any of you are going to, but the JBL Professional Series is far from the stuff they sell.

And as far as I'm concerned, Frank S, if you can find a speaker out of the "white van" that sounds like a Paradigm, I'd suggest you get a job with the guys that are doing it and sell these wonderful speakers to the home theater market and make millions, since their so wonderful. For the record, Paradigm also does some of the finest "monitor" speakers in the world. That weak ass "white vans" statement of yours was pure trash, just like the lower JBL line of speakers and the white van speakers.

Last edited by lordzeppelin; 05-10-03 at 08:42 PM.
Old 05-10-03, 09:21 PM
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Originally posted by audrey
I guess I don’t see how you can deny that your white van statement isn’t exaggeration. Like JBL, Klipsch & Paradigm offer models in a variety of ranges. Out of curiosity, which specific JBL models have you compared to which Paradigm speakers?
That was the whole idea! I was making a hyperbole back to the statement comparing JBL low end consumer with Kilpsch etc... with another hyperbole to show it makes no sense to compare the two. Maybe you didn;t pick that up on the first post I made!
Old 05-10-03, 09:33 PM
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Originally posted by lordzeppelin
I'd just like to point out that if you read the original post, you'd see that brhow said he works at best buy. I don't know what best buy store any of you are going to, but the JBL Professional Series is far from the stuff they sell.
Where did I EVER say that JBL Pro equipment is sold at BB?


Originally posted by lordzeppelin
And as far as I'm concerned, Frank S, if you can find a speaker out of the "white van" that sounds like a Paradigm, I'd suggest you get a job with the guys that are doing it and sell these wonderful speakers to the home theater market and make millions, since their so wonderful. For the record, Paradigm also does some of the finest "monitor" speakers in the world. That weak ass "white vans" statement of yours was pure trash, just like the lower JBL line of speakers and the white van speakers.
Here again you put words in my mouth! when did I say Paradigm is equal to white van speakers? If you want to debate fine... but don't make things up as you go to help your argument! WHAT I SAID WAS... JBL Pro speakers are superior to Klipsch, Paradigm etc... and comparing the JBL Pro to Klipsch Paradigm to JBL Pro "makes them sound like What van speakers". Maybe being sarcastic is going a bit over your head here but it seemed obvious to me when I made the statement.

Originally posted by lordzeppelin
Also, I don't know who those people are who buy JBL pro studio monitors thinking they're getting the top of the line.
I don;t think you understand what JBL Pros I am talking about. I'm not talking about JBL Stdio series speakers which are consumer speakers but JBL "Pro" speakers (http://www.jblpro.com/ show some of their stuff, not the customer stuff though) that are professional speakers in a class much above consumer speakers like Klipsch, Paradigm. Sorry if the Klipsch. Paradigm speaker owners think their speakers are the best speakers ever made at any price point but the facts speak for themselves and those who want "the best" buy JBL Pro speakers.
Old 05-10-03, 09:35 PM
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Old 05-10-03, 10:14 PM
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Originally posted by Frank S
I don;t think you understand what JBL Pros I am talking about.
Yes, I do.

There are much better studio monitor speakers out there. Dynaudio, B&W, and Tannoy come to mind, but there are plenty of others.

None of these products, however, are trying to compete with Paradigm (I'm not including Klipsch since I don't have too much experience with them other than hearing 3 or 4 models at various times that I didn't like at all).

Saying that the JBLPros are "...professional speakers in a class much above consumer speakers like Klipsch, Paradigm" is definitely a debatable point. You act as though it's not. In general, pro speakers do a different job than consumer speakers. This doesn't make the pro speakers better, at least it doesn't necessarily make pro speakers better.

It's like saying that an 18 wheeler (ok, fine, a diesel heavy duty pickup truck) is a "better" vehicle than a Honda Accord.


Anyhow, I was at a club called Luxx in Brooklyn last week. They were using Cerwin Vega PA speakers. Would I have preferred JBLPros? You bet.
Old 05-11-03, 12:21 AM
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Well, you said that JBL pros make Paradigm sound like the speakers from the white van...that wasn't made up. And as for your bottom quote attributed to me...didn't say it.

I perfectly do understand what JBL's you are talking about...but I honestly feel that the Paradigm Studio series is as good if not better.

But whatever...the topic has gotten quite a bit out of control. And some people here need a lesson in what the word "context" means. I mean really...the context of the conversation wasn't "JBL Pro line speakers are better than X" It was "I'm looking at these at BB with this price, what other options are there" and I feel I answered that well with my original post. And I stand by it. I really feel that Paradigm Performance Series Speakers will blow away a similarly priced JBL setup, S series included. In fact, at the price point he's talking, a HTD setup or Paradigm setup around $1000 would KILL a JBL $1000 setup.
Old 05-11-03, 12:33 AM
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lord zeppelin -

your post really did not answer my question at all. yes, i said i was looking at best buy. but i also said that i am normally not fond of the lines at best buy, and would normally not consider them because i could do much better for the moneye elsewhere, on companies such as b&w. the point of the post was that due to an employee discount, i can get the jbl studio line "not the lower grade northridge series" for cost, which is more than half off of what best buy sells to customers for. so yeah, i'm well aware of the fact that there are $1000 speakers out there that blow away a similarly priced jbl. but what when i am getting $2100 worth of jbl for $900? is it worth it for me to spend the $2000 - $2700 on a brand such as b&w, at full price? or would it be better to get the jbl studio line stuff, seeing as i am getting such a ridiculous discount? that was the point of the post. i am more than aware that jbl is mid-fi at best, and am well aware of the much better boutique lines out there. the point was what to do in this particular unique situation. frankly, the thread has drifted away from anything remotely helpful.

brett
Old 05-11-03, 01:23 PM
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And I still feel that a $1200 paradigm setup would kill a $2100 JBL setup. I listened to a ton of different setups when I was shopping for a system, and the only thing that even performed on the same level as Paradigm were the B&Ws, and they were similarly priced. (around $2k, w/ tax). I even did check out a higher JBL line, and they just didn't have the detail. But that's where the price/performance curve is going to come in. The JBL's may be too good to pass up at that price, but they are overpriced to begin with.

The other question is what size room is this for? Apartment? House? Trailer? What receiver? Also, keep in mind that you'll have costs for stands and hardware at somepoint too.
Old 05-11-03, 09:18 PM
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Are the JBL's I spoke of a quality product?
The JBL S-Series are specifically designed to make professional studio-quality sound available to movie enthusiasts and music lovers everywhere. The Studio Series incorporates technologies and design innovations used in JBL recording studio monitors.

Greg Timbers, JBL Chief Development Engineer, pointed out:

"JBL studio monitors have long been the reference standards in recording studios worldwide-the essential listening tools that artists, producers and recording engineers rely upon to ensure absolutely accurate representation of their original recordings. In fact, more than 70 percent of the world's great recording studios monitor on JBL loudspeakers. Our Studio Series loudspeakers use many of the same leading-edge testing and design technologies included in our Professional Series LSR Linear Spatial Reference studio monitors. Home listeners can now enjoy the same neutral, uncolored, detailed, and spatially accurate sound quality heard by the pros."
The JBL S-Series are timbre-(voice)-matched - all use the same identical 1" Pure Titanium Dome Tweeter w/EOS Waveguide.

For HT, I wanted to be able to reproduce the same dynamic SPL & wide frequency range of a multi-speaker Cinema Thater, the better ones in our SF Bay Area use JBL Speakers. So, I bought six JBL S26's, the timbre-matched JBL S-Center and SVS 25-31PCi, which not only met my HT Cinema SPL goal above but also exceeded my musical goals.

I could go on why the near 100% seamless 360-degree surround dynamic HT sound of my REFERENCED Calibrated JBL S26, JBL S-Center & SVS 25-31PCi sounds glorious, ... but I'll let the professional reviewers, the ones with unlimited budgets to compare more speakers than we'll ever have in a life time reveal the JBL S26's, with their SUBJECTIVE, OBJECTIVE and BLIND TEST reviews.

SUBJECTIVE REVIEWS:

· Bob Pletka / "EUROTUBES" - ("musician and tube Hi-Fi enthusiast") wrote ...

"... a good friend of mine Brian Hadley had just purchased the smaller S26's and couldn't wait to test drive them with the JJ amps. We threw everything we had at the little S26's from Thomas Dolby to the very rare 1961 pressing of Michael Rabins Paganini concerto No.1 in D with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the little JBL's handled everything with ease. They were also able to play at volumes that I've rarely heard from an 8" two way! Needless to say we were very impressed ... You can't touch the sound quality of the JBL Studio series with speakers that cost two to three times what the JBL's cost. These are not a mid-Fi speaker, they are truly Hi-Fi."

· May 20, 2000 - Clint Walker HT MAG "Studio Series" S-Center/S26 Speaker Package ...

...the JBL system measured very flat in the lab; in fact, it had the flattest response of any ensemble in the roundup. . . . The JBL Studio ensemble offers excellent bang for the buck for those who are looking to get their feet wet in home theater.

OBJECTIVE REVIEW:
JBL S26 & S-Center just continued that awesome HT seamless surround sound effects, but with a bonus, ... excellent Pro Studio Monitor super flat and wide frequency Music Mixing performance, ... which were verified by Home Theater Magazine ...

· May 20, 2000 - Clint Walker HT MAG "Studio Series" S-Center/S26 Speaker Package ...

On-axis response of the S26 L/R measures +1.7/-1.4 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 48 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 43 Hz

On-axis response of the S-Center center measures +2.7/-2.0 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 76 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 60 Hz.
Couple the above with Sound&Visions Objective Benchmark for the JBL S38 - CEA Innovations 2000 Design and Engineering Award Winner ...

· JBL S38
Frequency Response: 80 Hz to 20 kHz ±3.8 dB

... and since the entire S-Series uses the same identical 1" Pure Titanium Dome, ...

...... then you can assume that the S&V Benchmark would be like ...

JBL S26 Fronts performance (HT Magazine + S&V Magazine):

S26 front left/right.... 43 Hz to 20 kHz ±3.8 dB

=======

How do we derive the Surround performance S&V Benchmark?

By using the results of the NSP1 which was (JAN '01 S&V):

Frequency Response:
N-24 front left/right.... 89 Hz to 18.9 kHz ±2.7 dB
N-Center................. 89 Hz to 20 kHz ±5.5 dB
N-24 surround............ 89 Hz to 18.4 kHz ±3.2 dB
----

FYI: S&V Standard Speaker Objective Benchmark Specification:

Fronts: AVG ±30-degrees, w/double-weight = 30-degrees
Center: AVG ±45-degrees, w/double-weight = On-Axis
Surrounds: AVG ±60-degrees, w/double-weight = 60-degrees

-----

You'll notice at the surround location, the N24's reached 18.4 kHz vs. fronts 18.9 kHz - outstanding performance attributed to the inclusion of JBL TEC Award Winning PRO LSR Studio Monitors EOS; waveguide which both the JBL N- & S-Series use.

So, by assuming the same surround SPL characteristics because of the EOS; waveguide, ...

... then the ...

JBL S26 & S-Center overall HT S&V benchmark might look like ,,,

Frequency Response
S26 front left/right.... 43 Hz to 20 kHz ±3.8 dB
S-Center................ 76 Hz to 20 kHz ±3.8 dB
S26 surround............ 43 Hz to 19.5 kHz ±4.3 dB

Actual performance will probably exceed the above assumptions because the JBL S26 2-way design, smaller front baffle / cabinet size, one less x-over circuit vs. JBL S38 3-way, larger front baffle / cabinet size.

So, basically, ... exceptional performance for a consumer HT setup under $2,000!


BLIND TESTS:

· Jul 1, 2001
- Electronic Musician "OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY" by Scott Wilkinson ...

During a recent visit with several other audio journalists, I participated in a sample test run in the MLL, which was conducted by Sean Olive, manager of subjective evaluation for Harman International. Three consumer speakers were mounted behind the grille cloth: a Boston Acoustics CR8, a B&W DM601, and a JBL S26. At the end of the testing, we learned that most of us had ranked the JBL S26 as the best speaker on most clips, which certainly pleased our hosts.
FYI: About the SVS 25-31PCi, ... read my Subjective SVS 25-31PCi Review and then, ... read John E. Johnson, Jr. Secret's of HT and Hi-Fi SVS 25-31 PCi Powered Subwoofer - DEC. 2002 Product Review w/Objective Benchmarks Graphs!

For more JBL S- & N-Series INFO & Reviews w/links, see my webpage Why you should add JBL "N" & "S" Series to your audition list!.

**NOTE: Because my website is 'FREE', hosted by GeoCities, if too many HT enthusiasts visit, GeoCities will shut it down for an hour or so because it exceeded the specified 'freebie' Data Transfer Rate. Sorry about that, just bookmark it and visit my site an hour later or when everyone has gone to bed!

Phil

Last edited by Phil I; 05-11-03 at 09:30 PM.
Old 05-12-03, 09:46 AM
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WOW-

Slow down!

What you guys are debating is silly. You are arguing of your perception of the brands not the merits of an actual product.

It is just uninformed to make a global statement about any brand. Different models at different price points have different market targets and goals.

Some of you may know I worked for Harman for 11 years, I know Greg Timbers well however he did not work on any of the Best Buy models. There is no company in the industry that has a facility that comes close to Harman’s (except maybe Bose). Does this make their product better? No. But it does speak to the resources they have. Also the research in leading edge of the design of loudspeakers is largely influenced in the pro market. Doug Button at JBL Pro is a leader in driver designs and has more patents then all of the competition listed in this thread combined. Floyd Toole who runs engineering is an industry icon and the leading researcher in listening test. Harman has far better engineers then the other companies mentioned here which could be shown just by looking at the contribution of each to the AES (acoustical engineering society).

Does that make all JBL products better then brand X? NOPE!

But you can bet there are very few poorly designed JBL speakers.

Let me tell you a different way to look at this brand thing. My partner and I designed award-winning product for Infinity for years. In the late 90's Harman took total control of Infinity and the whole design team left. Now we work for a new company and all new people started to design for Infinity. So does Infinity keep the reputation we built or does it move to the new brand we work for?

There are companies that just stuff boxes and put little engineering into their products. However there are others that lead the industry. In the examples here of Paradigm vs. JBL there is no contest on who has better engineering and who has more respect within the industry.

Bottom line is don’t listen to any of us. Go listen to both with music you know and see what you think. People like different things and different balance so no one speaker is right for everyone.
Old 05-12-03, 09:48 AM
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Let me add that Paradigm does have access to national funded reseach center in Canada and also has well engineered product and very competitive prices.
Old 05-12-03, 10:13 AM
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is it worth it for me to spend the $2000 - $2700 on a brand such as b&w, at full price? or would it be better to get the jbl studio line stuff, seeing as i am getting such a ridiculous discount?
IMHO you need to step back from the dollar issue for a moment.

Have you listened to the B&W line? What did you think? Have you also listened to the JBL line with the same demo material? What did you think?

It sounds to me like you are skeptical about JBL regardless of the price. The only thing a low price does for you is get you in cheaper and make it easier to sell them to upgrade later on.

Trust your ears not your wallet!

Good luck!
Old 05-12-03, 10:30 AM
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Also a funny side is Paradigm bases most of their engineering on the work of Floyd Toole who used to be at the Canadian NRC.
Old 05-12-03, 02:09 PM
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Just get the JBL set up, its cheap and will sound good It all depends on you level of caring. I'm planning on getting a pair of S36II for my front speakers to go with my SII center. I could go around to different stores and try out a bunch of different set ups, but id probably think they all sound good. What do i know if one good sounding speaker sounds better than a different good sounding speaker? Once i'm watching tv/dvd i wont care. Besides i'd probably have a chair or carpet that would change the sound anyways.

I also dont use gold speaker wire connectors so you might not want to listen to me.

-daveninja.com
Old 05-12-03, 05:41 PM
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I know Greg Timbers well however he did not work on any of the Best Buy models
FYI: Greg Timbers quote is from dba newsline article NEW JBL STUDIO SERIES HOME-THEATER AND STEREO LOUDSPEAKERS BRING STUDIO-QUALITY SOUND TO CONSUMERS (2nd paragraph).


From 8/23/1999 - TWICE (This Week In Consumer Electronics) website article: "JBL Trims Line, Taps Pro Heritage "

JBL said it is reclaiming its heritage with a trimmed-down selection of speakers built around pro-audio technologies.

"Thirty years ago in 1969, the JBL L-100 was the first product to bring our pro technology into the home," said brand manager Paul Bente. "We adhered to that [philosophy] through the late '80s, but as we became more enamored of promotional price points and broader distribution, we lost some of that edge." With the new speakers, he said, "we're emphasizing our classic stature" by adopting technology used in JBL's Linear Spatial Reference (LSR) series of professional speakers to deliver a "well-defined image" and a wide sweet spot.

The new speakers, due in September, are split between the Northridge and Studio lines, which are priced at $199 to $799/pair and $399 to $1,699/pair, respectively. Both lines also include a center-channel speaker, and Northridge adds two pairs of all-weather models.

With the launch, JBL is scaling back its assortment to 20 SKUs from 43, Bente said, as the result of a decision to drop out of Circuit City, which continues to carry speakers from sister brand Infinity.

"In the past, we had a parallel-line philosophy," with both national chains getting separate lines that featured similar price ranges, Bente explained. But since January, when Best Buy became JBL's sole national retailer, parallel lines aren't needed.

Both new lines are available to Best Buy, regional chains, and "capable specialists," Bente noted. And both deliver greater accuracy and "soundfield consistency" in roughly the same price ranges as their predecessors.

Both lines use dome tweeters in conjunction with the pro division's Elliptical Oblate Spheroid waveguide to deliver "the same re-sponse off-axis as it does on-axis" and to "virtually eliminate" side-wall re-flections, yielding more precise imaging and localization, the company said. Both series also mount the tweeters and midrange close together to approximate a point-source configuration that enhances sonic accuracy.

Some Northridge enclosures are made from an acoustically inert, molded-plastic composite material. The step-up Studio series features wood finishes, including cherry, beech and black ash.

"Voice-wise, the two series are similar," Bente said, "but the Studio series offers more detail and guts. It's a sharper lens on a very good camera."

At the top of the Studio series, the $1,699/pair S412P powered tower is a four-way speaker with 12-inch forward-firing subwoofer powered by a 150-watt Class AB amp.
Based on subjective, objective & blind-test reviews, JBL has accomplised it's goal stated above in the 8/23/1999 - TWICE article.

Phil

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