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Old 9th July 2008, 06:39 PM   #1
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Default JBL Stadium Disappointment

I got a good deal...sort of.

As you may or may not know, JBL has quit making the JBL Venue Stadium speaker.

See link below -

JBL Stadium -
http://jbl.com/home/products/product...CheckProduct=Y

Now let's see if I can make a long story even longer.

I've been looking at the JBL Stadiums and based on specs and the JBL reputation, I assume they were a good speaker. My first mistake.

So, I get a email from Fry.com indicating that they have Polk Audio R50's on sale for only $60 each ($85 each shipped to my door). The R50's are a 2-way tower with two 6.5"' woofers. (routinely available for about $200 each)

So, I go to BestBuy knowing they have one last display pair of JBL Stadiums (2x8"woofer, 4" mid, 1"high). On all of the woofers and one of the Midrange, the dust covers/domes were pushed in, but the sounded OK, no buzzing or scrapping. Individually, meaning if you put your ear right up to any give speaker, the sound good. Clear unassuming high, crisp midrange, decent base.

So, I made a low-ball offer of $100 each. Eventually they went for it, and I went home the happy owner of a pair of JBL Stadium towers.

Let's put is this way, I've always wondered if JBL was still putting out first rate speakers, or if they were riding on their reputation. Apparently the answer is - riding on their reputation.

My old speakers are a pair of large (13"x17.5"x26") 'bookshelf (ha-ha) speakers, ported with a 12" CTS woofer, 3x9 mid horn, and a 3x3 Piezo tweeter, off-the-shelf crossover (800/5khz). I built these for my college woodworking project. Birch over high density particle board (50lbs per speaker, finished)

I know now that I completely screwed up the port tuning. After making a few calcualtion (thanks Internet), I determined the cabinet is tuned to about 70 to 80hz. The woofer has a resonance of 28hz. Live and learn.

So, I connect the JBL's to my 50watt/ch Onkyo stereo receive and they sound OK. Music goes in, music comes out, it sound OK.

I listen to three albums, then get the idea to hook up my ill-designed old speakers as the rear 'B' speakers. Then put on Buddy Guy - Feels Like Rain, and switch between the two speakers.

My $150/pair (not counting labor) home-make speakers with bad port tuning BLEW the $600 (retail, $400 to $500 discount) JBL's away. The JBL's sounded like they were buried in a pile of dirt. Especially in the midrange.

My horn mid and highs we light, clear, and airy. The JBL muffled droney and muddy. Oddly though when I put my ear right up to each individual speaker, they sound fine, but when I step back it just muffles together.

Any hope for a dead broke guy who spend $200 on some crappy JBL speakers?

I considered trying to replace the midrange with something better, but the system crossovers are 300hz and 4000hz, so it is going to be hard to find a replacement speaker for this system.

Now I'm sure you purist will say 'no...no...these are delicate, highly engineered, finely tuned systems, you can't just randomly replace one speaker. But keep in mind that they are delicate, highly engineered, finely tuned systems that sound like crap.

If these are $600/pair speakers, then my homemade speakers are $1,000/pair.

Moral of this story, Do-It-Yourself, and even if you do it bad, you still come out ahead over wasting money on delicate, highly engineered, finely tuned crap.

I like horns, they sound light and airy, but where am I going to get a 4" diameter horn that covers 300hz to 4000hz. My next preference is for dome mid, but again 300hz to 4000hz, 4" diameter, and expensive.

That only leaves full range speakers such as the -

Tang Band W4-616SA 4" Shielded Driver ($20.62 each) -
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=264-818

sensitivity 88db; rated sensitivity of the JBL's 91db

And, is it going to matter? Am I just dreaming the impossible dream or is there some way to bring these speakers around.

I was going to retire my homemade speakers, but now I think I'll just plug the existing port holes and cut a new hole to tune the cabinets down around 30hz. Despite the ridiculous port tuning on my speaker, the bass is clean, clear, accurate, and moderately full. Easily comparable to, if not better than, the JBLs.

When I think of the speakers I could have built for $200, or the improvements to the my existing speakers, I cringe at the thought of foolishly having purchase the JBL crappola line of speakers.

So... any way to bring these JBL's around?

Help!

steve/bluewizard
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Old 9th July 2008, 06:55 PM   #2
badman is offline badman  United States
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Default Think you're barking up the wrong tree

Could be a touch of proud papa... or maybe you prefer the flaws of your DIYs to a 'neutral' speaker... or the JBLs simply aren't your 'type' of sound....

In any case, repair ("pop out") the dustcaps and re-sell them, rather than trying to make adjustments that don't make a lot of sense for the speaker.

I haven't heard them, but it's certainly true that today's JBL is not the JBL of old. They still make some excellent pro drivers (and speakers) but mostly the consumer market stuff is just that, very modest stuff built for image and pricepoint. Your judgment of their value because you don't like the speakers you bought (damaged goods, no less) is pretty ludicrous. If you want to buy the cheapest clearance damaged speaker you find at best buy, it's a long stretch to complain about the manufacturer, and your own expectations are much more suspect.

You don't go to a car lot, buy the dented 76 pinto, then complain about the gas mileage vs. your homebuit gokart.
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Old 9th July 2008, 07:31 PM   #3
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Well, I think a dented tweeter might be a big problem. But a dented dust dome on a woofer shouldn't make much difference at all. It shouldn't really make any difference at all, if the voice coil has NOT become distorted.

For Midrange, still less of a problem, lots of cone, very little dome in this case, and only one midrange is dented.

As to this being me favoring what I built over what I bought, I defy anyone to listen to these speaker side by side and not hear how inferior the JBLs are. The truth is, given the over $600 retail price on the JBLs, I certainly expected them to sound better than my homemade speakers.

As I said, if I put my ear right up to each speaker on the JBL, isolating it, individually the speaker sound fine, but when you step back it blurs into a hopeless muddle.

However, I will concede that I have had my homemade speakers for many years and have listened to them a lot. One thing I did discover when hearing the JBLs is that I've had the midhorns on my original speakers turned way too high. I dialed them back substantially, and that brought out the bass more.

And when first listening to the JBLs, I thought I was merely hearing the difference between the light metal diaphragm of my horns and the warner tones of the cone mid. But when I heard them side by side, the contrast was enough to knock over an elephant.

Now, for the money, they're not bad speakers. That is, for the money I paid; for the typical discount or retail price, they are positively Grand Theft Audio. And, I didn't spend $200 expecting $200 speakers, I expected to leap up into the $600 speaker price or listening range. Instead, I got more or less generic consumer speakers.

Still, $200 will give me something to listen to while I fix up my old speaker. But, I've got the speaker, I've spent the money, which at my income level was a small fortune, I would like to get something workable out of them.

When I was listening to the JBLs before connecting my old speakers, the growing listening fatigue level was very noticeable. There is very little listening fatigue with my old speakers.

So, definitely something is up. I'm not sure I can even sell these speaker if my homemake speakers are in the same room with them.

I would like to improve them to the point were I enjoyed listening to them, or didn't feel pangs of conscience when trying to sell them.

Didn't really expect much of a response on this, just hoped against all hope that someone might have had a pair, and found a way to improve them.

Steve/bluewizard
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Old 9th July 2008, 08:39 PM   #4
RJ is offline RJ  United States
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Tang Band W4-616SA 4" Shielded Driver ($20.62 each) -
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/show...tnumber=264-818

sensitivity 88db; rated sensitivity of the JBL's 91db

I would try it. The 91 db rating is at 2.83v wheras the TB is 88 db at 1v.
'Bout the same. The TangBand also has no breakup nodes higher up so it'll fit the crossover easier. 3.2 Xmax might get you that lower crossover point. It's a stretch though.
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Old 9th July 2008, 08:57 PM   #5
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Steve,

I think you just discovered why some persons really like horns. No cone is going to do it for you. I'd leave the JBL's alone.
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Old 9th July 2008, 09:08 PM   #6
Salas is offline Salas  Greece
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This adventure is so subjective, no measurements, no data, its just someone's preference. I would pop out the dust caps and sell a speaker I just don't like. Simple as that. To conclude that this is a horn vs direct radiator issue, is a long shot. See for cheap 12 inch pro speakers if the sensitivity and projection are sought out goals.
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Old 9th July 2008, 09:28 PM   #7
GM is offline GM  United States
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Smart money is to replace any badly damaged drivers with OEM parts and eventually find another suc......er, buyer for them since believe it or not these pass for desirable HT/music speakers in today's B@$3 centric world.

JBL still markets top drawer systems, just most of us can't afford them.

You want to go audition these to fully appreciate just how much name brands cash in on their reps using bleeding edge technology to see just how much profit can be squeezed out of a system: http://www.klipsch.com/products/details/thx-ultra2.aspx

GM
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Old 9th July 2008, 09:32 PM   #8
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I have heard these speakers and they are not as bad as all that. Not audiophile quality, but listenable (when hammered )
Retail $600? That's not really very expensive... I have that in paint alone for a pair of speakers.

If you got these for $100 each, then you should be able to resell for at least that much.
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Old 9th July 2008, 09:35 PM   #9
badman is offline badman  United States
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Well, dustcaps can play more of a role than you might expect. Check out the fostex ff85k ff165k ff225k. These all have dustcaps that, if removed or dented, would dramatically affect the top end performance of the driver, since they're directly coupled to the former. Dustcaps glued to the cone rather than the former act more as a 'whatever' kind of thing, but not all dustcaps are created equal.

JBL did this with several models back in the old days, including the venerable D123.

Could be you're hearing a lot more of the room with the JBLs, since they don't have horn directivity.

Again, don't bother trying to fix them, you're not knowledgeable enough to do this as anything but a learning excercise (wrong tuning on your DIYs, mid set too high, etc), and you're talking about how dear your dollars are to you, why waste them when, like as not, the form factor is the issue that's bothering you?

As to the tang band, while it looks like a nice little widerange mid, it's not as sensitive as RJ is saying. RJ, read your specsheets closer. It's 88dB@ 1W, not 1V.

Not to mention, look at the huge inductance of that driver. Such a driver in a multiway requires a lot of care in the crossover- SPECIFIC care, not just 'features' that may or may not be present in the extant JBL XO.

I know I'm being very negative. That's intentional. Trying to 'fix' this speaker without a greater understanding (and available budget) would be futile, and with a greater understanding and budget you could get a greater speaker together anyway. Since you're so happy with your horns, why not go with a bigger and/or more refined horn setup?

Pi speakers is one good option on this front. Earl Geddes is working out a line of kits, but they're likely out of budget.
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Old 9th July 2008, 09:35 PM   #10
Salas is offline Salas  Greece
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''I was willing to spend quite a bit more but it was not necessary. I have relatives and colleagues who are audiophile fanatics and have access to hearing very high end speakers and I would bet if a blind listening tests were conducted these JBLˇ¦s would come out on top. In my humble opinion, these speakers are that good.

Highs
- Great mid-range
- Excellent bass
- Natural sounding
Cons
- BIG, so you need some room but probably not an issue if you are looking for a floor stander''

The above comes from a Cnet review for JBL Stadium

''
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A big surprise; a huge bargain, June 23, 2008
By Michael J. Bethancourt - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
When I ordered a pair of these, I figured I was "settling" for less than the best because of my limited budget. They had the best tech specs in the price range, but I was coveting something a bit pricey. When I got them set up, I was utterly blown away with the accuracy, depth, and range of sound, even at very high volume. I'm currently driving them with a Sony STR-DG2100, with a Playstation3 as the primary media player. After watching a bunch of my blu-rays and listening to a pile of CDs, I was so impressed with the performance-to-pricepoint ratio that within a week, I decided I had to buy another pair to finish off my home theater. Now my neighbors hate me and I'm in love with my speakers. I've listened to some higher-priced setups recently, and most of them sound inferior to these. I am convinced that you would have to pay much more than double this price to get better speakers... and to all the pretentious "self-professed audiophiles" out there: Klipsch is NOT the second coming, end-all be-all of speakers. They're good, but there's better, and Klipsch don't sound any better than these.''

This one comes from a review at Amazon

Go figure.
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