JBL I've had in my listening room many loudspeakers that have been my landmarks in the course of time. It's a model of the 70's, with an old fashioned look and it belongs to the history of the famous Californian brand. All this until Harman International, the proprietor brand, has decided to revive the Studio Monitor line, the line that was present in all the main recording studios all over the world. This time JBL are under test.
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JBL's and S challenge the norms of what we expect from high-end speakers. They're horn speakers, and the more time I spend with horns the more I realize what I'm not getting from high-end box and panel speakers. Horn speakers have more get up and go, they not only rock out harder, they're more expressive than other types of speakers. Before we go any further, what is a horn speaker? Granted, at first glance horn speakers may not look hugely different than conventional box speakers.
Look closer and you'll see those designs have their drivers — woofer, midrange and tweeter — flush mounted to the speaker's front baffle. By contrast horn speakers' tweeters and sometimes their midrange drivers are mounted inside a "horn.
There's no doubt about it, horn designs sound very different than conventional box speakers, and are commonly used in pro audio applications. Their sounds were revelatory, and that's no hype. These two models sound more like live music than conventional box and panel speakers, it wasn't even subtle.
There's something altogether liberating about the sound of these speakers. As for the particulars the is a low slung monitor speaker, it features a inch pulp cone woofer, 1. It's a ported design, and impedance is rated at 6 ohms. The 25 by It weighs 71 pounds The S is a tower speaker with two inch pulp cone woofers, one 1. It's also a ported design, and impedance is rated at 6 ohms.
The 39 by It weighs 86 pounds 39kg. At the Harman Store the L Classic sounded more tonally saturated, more fleshed out and bolder. Meanwhile the JBL was tonally cooler, more immediate and dynamics kicked harder. It had more spring in its step and its energy levels were higher. I found I could play the s louder than I normally would, the high volume didn't make me wince.
I was surprised to hear that even with heavily-compressed rock recordings like Spoon's Hot Thoughts, the music sounded better than ever.
The momentum came through more completely. Electric bass sounds more like the real thing over the , there's more growl and more of everything. The L Classic makes plenty of bass, but the tactile quality of the sound is much reduced. Reggae recordings burst through the , electric guitars' immediacy was likewise liberated by these speakers.
Radiohead's Amnesiac was brimming with texture over the , but switching over to the S everything got better. It's a much bigger and taller speaker, the tonal balance warmed up, the treble was clearer and more refined, the sound moved a few steps over to a more audiophile oriented flavor. There's more body to the sound, which I liked a lot. The and S play loud with ease, but they also excel at more sedate, late-night listening volume.
Trumpets and other brass instruments really come alive on horn speakers, you haven't lived until you hear Miles Davis over a decent pair of horns.
His expressive trumpet over the S was a huge leap in breaking the sound reality barrier! It's not just louder, or lower in distortion, you feel more of what Davis was pushing through his trumpet. Drums impact and shading of dynamics are superior over the S Not just loud drumming, the nuance of a cymbal shimmer or the tautness of the head of a tom-tom: the S puts you in touch with those sounds. I've always liked the music, but the sound was opaque and hazy, now it feels more direct.
Hearing those two singers pushing each other is a real thrill, and I never felt that way before! The and S are extraordinary speakers, they can humble many far-more-expensive audiophile speakers in terms of dynamics and "feel it in your gut" realism. If you've never heard what some of the better horn speakers can sound like you're missing out.
I'm in no way saying that horns sound better in every way, just that they're more fun to listen to than box and panel speakers. The best box speakers are smoother sounding, with flatter frequency response, punchier bass and their treble may be less aggressive than the horns I've heard. Box speaker imaging is also superior, and better focused. I'll have more to say about horn speakers in different price ranges when I cover more horns in , stay tuned. Meanwhile check out my favorite horn speaker of , the Klipsch M.
Parasound's feature-packed high-end amplifier is a knockout : We put Parasound's HINT 6, a powerful and seriously versatile stereo amplifier, through its paces. Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy , which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.
Don't show this again. Steve Guttenberg. High-end audio kicks it up a notch at this New York show See all photos. Now playing: Watch this: Klipsch's striking RM monitors sound great on a budget.
Unstoppable: JBL’s mighty 4429 and S3900 speakers
JBL 4429 Studio Monitor
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