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View Full Version : Medium to large bookshelf-size recommendations?



JPTL
11-16-2007, 07:26 AM
I have a pair of very average speakers in my family room adjacent to the kitchen, where we do all of our music listening. They're wall mounted in the upper corners of the room - ceiling height, due to space restrictions. I'm looking to get something better in their place. I'd like to stumble across a good deal on older quality speakers as opposed to paying for new audiophile quality speakers. I'm a good Craigslist hunter.
A buddy of mine has a pair of L20Ts that I've always thought sound great, and still do.
Without confirming the model number of his speakers, and assuming that all JBL speakers would sound as good as those, I came across a really good price on a pair of JBL 2500's. I know - no comparison.
Since the 2500's are smaller and don't hold a candle to the sound of the L20T's, they're now in my garage hooked up to an old Pioneer amp & do quite well there.
I saw a really good deal on a pair of 2600's, but opted not to get them, figuring that I'd hold out on some L20T's.
Lo and belhold, a pair came up on the local Craigslist "Excellent condition, with metal floor stands - $75".
I jumped, but missed them. Somebody was quicker than I was:banghead:
So what I'm looking for is something no taller than 18" that sound as good or better than the L20T.
Any suggestions as to what I should look for (with an 18" cabinet height restriction)?
Thanks,
J.P.

hjames
11-16-2007, 07:35 AM
Seems like BMWCCA in Charlottesville got that sale - I picked them up for him Monday and will I'll deliver them to him tomorrow ... (just needed some Howards Feed'n'wax)
Keep looking - I'm a big fan of the L20T, and I see them in the DC list every month or so. Another pair will turn up again for you!



A buddy of mine has a pair of L20Ts that I've always thought sound great, and still do ... Lo and belhold, a pair came up on the local Craigslist "Excellent condition, with metal floor stands - $75".
I jumped, but missed them. Somebody was quicker than I was:banghead:
So what I'm looking for is something no taller than 18" that sound as good or better than the L20T.
Any suggestions as to what I should look for (with an 18" cabinet height restriction)?
Thanks,
J.P.

analog addict
11-16-2007, 07:56 AM
Then you could do 4301b's....:D

http://www.jblpro.com/pub/obsolete/4301b.pdf

oznob
11-16-2007, 08:57 AM
I'm a big fan of the L1. Not as pretty as the L20 but a solid performer. They can usually be found for around $100 or so depending on condition.

DanMan
11-16-2007, 09:22 AM
$100 bucks for L1's... why do I always overpay :banghead:

Careful with the L1's though cause they have a sloped face (trapezoidal) so if you're going to put them up high in those corners, you'd probably have to turn em upside down, which may not be a big deal, it might only be an aesthetic factor (the grills will be tricky updside down as well)

The L15 is a nice smooth sounding bookshelf.

or go a-la-carte...

http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/jbl/catalogs/jbl-catl.htm

Don C
11-16-2007, 02:49 PM
I always liked the little studio series S-38s. They are intended to sit sideways, so they are wide but not too tall.

hjames
11-17-2007, 02:27 PM
Okay, its done, I delivered the DC area L20Ts to BMWCCA down in VA today. Tempting as they were, Emma wasn't gonna let me collect another set of speakers so we passed them fast. No Speaker parlor pictures here - he helped us load an antique vanity Emma bought at the antique shop (behind us), then treated us to conversations and a wonderful bagel lunch ...


Seems like BMWCCA in Charlottesville got that sale - I picked them up for him Monday and will I'll deliver them to him tomorrow ... (just needed some Howards Feed'n'wax)
Keep looking - I'm a big fan of the L20T, and I see them in the DC list every month or so. Another pair will turn up again for you!

brutal
11-17-2007, 11:21 PM
I always liked the little studio series S-38s. They are intended to sit sideways, so they are wide but not too tall.

The S38 is an excellent choice for a modern design that has some redeeming qualities. Check out the past reviews for proof that they are quite the little performers.

I use mine as the front effects when I get the rare urge to run 7.1 channel stereo DSP in my HT. I did audition them as mini-mains when I first bought them. They put out some serious SPL, but are a little harsher on the high end than any vintage JBL.

BMWCCA
11-18-2007, 07:07 AM
OT but what the heck: This is the second time I've met Heather (and Emma) and it's a real tribute to this list and the people on it that we're so willing to help each other. This transaction was so smooth and friendly I almost forgot to repay Heather the cash she'd laid out for me to make the purchase! Sorry, JPTL, but it surprised me the L20Ts were still available on CL one day after posting in the DC market, so I jumped. The seller was (on the phone) helpful and reasonable, and Heather stepped in immediately to make it happen. Oh yeah, and the stands are quite nice, too. Probably worth the entire price if you need that kind of thing.

I gave the L20Ts a short audition sitting next to my 4412As using the set-up in my avatar (Crown PS400, Soundcraftsmen DX-4200). Surprisingly, they "appear" to have more bass output than I expected (not low but still a good impression) but what I hear is a bit of a hole or drop-out in the mid-range. Maybe I'll investigate the crossover mods I've noticed suggested here, but all in all they sound better than I expected. I don't think they put out the volume of a larger speaker even driven with the same power but that's just simple physics, otherwise we'd all have tiny speakers! I'm thinking they're a damn good value for the price they bring and would make a decent secondary system in a small room for any critical listener. I'm sure they're damn nice used as rears in a surround system like Heather's running them.

I intended to set the L20Ts up on their own in another room but the Soundcraftsmen Pro-Control Four I bought on Ebay recently got swapped with the seller's Kenwood amp by FedEx shipping and packing (another bad example of packing, too) so I'm waiting for the intended system's front-end to arrive. I'll wait until then for a longer audition.

A big thanks to Heather for her help in bringing the little guys into my home. And a very happy Thanksgiving to all of you here. You're a great group.

BMWCCA
11-18-2007, 09:50 PM
Back to your original question and, assuming you have 18" to give in height and something more in width; many JBL bookshelf units can go sideways. My 4412As are actually designed to be horizontal and they're only 14.5" "tall" that way (23.5" long though). But man they could fill your small room. Even an L112 is considered a bookshelf unit but your shelves had better be pretty substantial when you get to this size speaker. I'm not usually lucky at games of chance but even I've been able to buy a pair of 4412As for under $200 in nice shape.

There's a nice pair of L56s right now on DC Craig's List for a hundred bucks. No reason you couldn't put those on their side. Hope you get them!

JPTL
11-19-2007, 04:18 PM
There's a nice pair of L56s right now on DC Craig's List for a hundred bucks. No reason you couldn't put those on their side. Hope you get them!
I saw those on CL right when they were listed, and promptly gave the guy a call. Very nice guy who knows much more about JBL's than I do. He says that they're in great shape & I believe him.
I was going to swing out there this evening to pick them up, but family dynamics have prevented me from getting out. I had to call him to cancel.
Even though he was nice enough to hold them for me, I had to tell him that I couldn't commit to buy them, and first come, first served is only fair.
He said that there's somebody else who has second shot at them, so maybe she'll snag them.
He'll let me know if he sells them or not, and if not, maybe I can get some time to get out there.
I guess we'll see...
How do these compare to the L20T's soundwise?

hjames
11-19-2007, 06:00 PM
Move on them quick, pilgrim, they sound interesting and I'm thinking them over ... :applaud:



I saw those on CL right when they were listed, and promptly gave the guy a call. He says that they're in great shape & I believe him. I was going to swing out there but I had to call him to cancel. He said that there's somebody else who has second shot at them, so maybe she'll snag them.

BMWCCA
11-19-2007, 06:51 PM
I'm guessing the L56 is a much more "grown up" speaker than the diminutive L20T. From the components I'd expect it to sound a bit like an L112 (one of my favorites) with a little less bottom and some compromises in the middle. All in all it should make a much bigger sound than the L20Ts. I can't imagine it would disappoint in that condition for a hundred bucks. I'd love to find out.

Go heather! He who hesitates is lost. JPTL is obviously not listening to the advice here and seems incapable of pulling the trigger!

JPTL
11-19-2007, 08:05 PM
Wow. I feel like a guppy in a shark tank:blink:
If my having to be at home to watch my kids makes me incapable of being able to 'pull the trigger', so be it.
The way I look at it is I couldn't get out there regardless of how badly I want these, or how committed I was to buying them.
Since I was the first to express interest in these, the seller gave me the consideration of giving me first shot at them. Pretty decent of him, IMO.
The least I could do was to communicate with him and tell him that I couldn't make it, and not try to string him along by trying to prevent the next interested person (maybe you, Heather?) from getting to them. That wouldn't be fair to either.
First come, first served.
If you decide to pick these up, Heather, I hope that they sound as good as they look.

BMWCCA
11-19-2007, 08:34 PM
Sorry if I offended. I understand family responsibilities. However, this is what I was referring to about pulling the trigger:

I had to tell him that I couldn't commit to buy them

It's OK. You'll learn . . . . . or you'll just have to listen to something else! :)

spwal
11-20-2007, 06:03 AM
I would look into a pair of Merlin MM or MX depending on your budget. They can be found for good prices on audiogon and they are excellent bookshelves, no expense spared. Built like a tank. I love them and will get them again if i ever get a bookshelf again...

www.merlinmusic.com (http://www.merlinmusic.com)

hjames
11-20-2007, 06:12 AM
I would look into a pair of Merlin MM or MX depending on your budget. They can be found for good prices on audiogon and they are excellent bookshelves, no expense spared. Built like a tank. I love them and will get them again if i ever get a bookshelf again...

www.merlinmusic.com (http://www.merlinmusic.com)

Oh please! Recommending $3000 speakers??
I don't think he's in the "cost is no object" market. It honestly sounds like he is on a family budget, and he is looking at older JBL bookshelf speakers. There's nothing wrong with that - doing good sound on a budget is a great goal!

He should probably go after those L-56 speakers ... better him than Blazer (he's got enough already!).
besides, Emma would probably freak if I brought another pair of JBLs into the house.

spwal
11-20-2007, 03:31 PM
A good pair of Merlins hold their value extremely well. Look to spend 1200-1300 for the MM bookshelf and rest assured that you can always resell them in a week for the same money. that sounds like the best budget of all :)

DanMan
11-21-2007, 06:44 AM
besides, Emma would probably freak if I brought another pair of JBLs into the house.


hmm ... i may be new around here... but i get the impression hjames might like it when Emma freaks...... :shock::banana::shock::banana:

hjames
11-21-2007, 07:03 AM
hmm ... i may be new around here... but i get the impression Heather might like it when Emma freaks...... :shock::banana::shock::banana:

he he - the reason I delivered the L20Ts to BMWCCA was because Emma had fallen for her own bit of furniture - and after I bought big old speakers, I couldn't turn down her request for this vanity ... but freaking is somethin' else ... (sides, got no more rooms for speakers)!

(that picture was Saturday just after we got it in the room, windex and cleanup is coming)

JPTL
11-21-2007, 10:48 AM
A little off topic, but that is a really cool looking piece of Deco. Original mirrors in good shape are rare. It appears that Emma scored.

hjames
11-21-2007, 10:59 AM
A little off topic, but that is a really cool looking piece of Deco. Original mirrors in good shape are rare. It appears that Emma scored.

Thanks - Emma was struck more by it than I was a week ago - so when she mentioned it was real cool and she liked the style, it was easy to say, sure, lets go back and get it! ... So, Christmas came early for Emma - at least part of it!

The doggone mirror is 50 inches across - Phil and I managed to get it in the back of my CRV with great caution, diagonally!

... and all this time I thought the 4341s were the biggest things I'd ever get loaded in there!

But, they're hardly bookshelf speakers!

westend
11-21-2007, 11:29 PM
Heather,
Looks like you and Emma are on the same wavelength regarding quality. That dresser and mirror are probably the 4341's of cabinetry for that era. Too bad for Emma that you really don't need more than one dresser.:D

JBL 4645
11-22-2007, 12:45 AM
Thanks - Emma was struck more by it than I was a week ago - so when she mentioned it was real cool and she liked the style, it was easy to say, sure, lets go back and get it! ... So, Christmas came early for Emma - at least part of it!

The doggone mirror is 50 inches across - Phil and I managed to get it in the back of my CRV with great caution, diagonally!

... and all this time I thought the 4341s were the biggest things I'd ever get loaded in there!

But, they're hardly bookshelf speakers!

http://www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/attachment.php?attachmentid=29575&stc=1&d=1195671543

LOL now that’s a car Hi-Fi! Fire that thing up Kaboom! Kaboom! And cruise the town.:rotfl:

hjames
11-22-2007, 07:58 AM
Heather,
Looks like you and Emma are on the same wavelength regarding quality. That dresser and mirror are probably the 4341's of cabinetry for that era. Too bad for Emma that you really don't need more than one dresser. :D

I'll probably look for other pieces to match it somewhat, right now everything else in that room is 30 year old funky IKEA-type knockdown stuff


(Emma says its a Vanity, not a dresser, grin)

And Ashley - the problem with the 4341s in the CRV is that once you have two of them in, one is blocked by the other!

DanMan
11-22-2007, 09:27 AM
And Ashley - the problem with the 4341s in the CRV is that once you have two of them in, one is blocked by the other!


run it mono!

leif
11-22-2007, 06:25 PM
Bookshelf size speakers? What about the good old Ti18?
I remember hearing those many many years ago. I was impressed at that time. I dont know how they compare to the L20 that someone mention here...

Maron Horonzakz
11-23-2007, 06:33 AM
As a kid we used to call it depression furniture...When mom looked in the mirror she,d get depressed.:D

spwal
11-23-2007, 07:26 AM
I never even thought to put the 4341 in that way. How did you do it? I have an element (bought it so I can take it concert camping/ mountain biking, and of course the occasional big speaker moving). Pretty much same dimensions as the crv. thats might impressive

Mr. Widget
11-23-2007, 04:14 PM
Be careful what you haul in your Honda Element. Their rated payload including occupants is a whopping 750lbs. We almost bought one for work, but after four average adult males hopped in we had to leave our gear behind. :D


Widget

BMWCCA
11-23-2007, 04:20 PM
Heather doesn't have an Elephant, it's a CR-V. Don't know the GVW on that model.

hjames
11-23-2007, 07:18 PM
Heather doesn't have an Elephant, it's a CR-V. Don't know the GVW on that model.

A quick look yielded .. 2004 Honda CRV (5sp Manual, 4wd)

Weights: GVWR (lbs) 4,320, curb weight (lbs) 3,347, gross trailer weight braked (lbs) 1,500 and max payload (lbs) 973

I think a pair of 120lb speakers are just fine, well under a half-ton
For the 4341 in May I put an old cardboard box flat on the floor to help them slide, then loaded them in longways and spun the first one just ahead of the wheelwells once it was in. A bit of lifting to get it there, plus a sheet of pink building foam and some moving blankets between them for cushioning.

The 4320s a year earlier rode back from Philly standing up back there.

opimax
11-24-2007, 11:04 AM
Heather,

didn't read this thread until you mentioned in the pm. As much as I like speakers I think Emma wins on this one, nice bait and switch Emma :), look forward to see it

You know if you need a real truck my Baja is available, 1050 capacity, 77 lbs safer but no top :)


Leif, I have 18ti, 20t and 20t3, so similar in sound, certainly differences but the "same". Same woofer, similar XO and tweeters IMHO.

Mark

leif
11-24-2007, 02:15 PM
I would love to have one of those (Ti18 or L20) myself in the tv room downstairs. One thing I wonder about, is why the Ti18 was twice the price as L20 in those days they were sold.

opimax
11-24-2007, 04:54 PM
My guess would be the the 44 ti tweeter was very costly to produce I have read here. possibly some marketing conditions????

Mark

BMWCCA
11-24-2007, 06:06 PM
I have to assume the 044ti tweet was a bit more expensive than the 035ti but it was probably also about the time JBL figured out people attributed higher cost with better performance. This is also about the time they figured if they were going to charge tens-of-thousands of dollars for single speakers, they'd probably not even bother to try and sell them in the U.S. and so put most of their eggs in the Nippon basket.

To answer your question, I've found little evidence that the 18Ti outperforms the L20T, even from those who own both. If anything, the cabinet volume is a bit larger on the L20T I believe, and I think it's the only one finished on all six sides. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Checking the price lists in the Library, it seems in '88 (the last year JBL sold the L20T and the 18Ti together) the L20TBQ sold for $315 each compared to the 18Ti at $325. Anyone know what the "BQ" appellation means? Searching tech bulletins for the "L20TBQ" comes up with the exact same tech sheet as the L20T so it looks like the price difference between the L20T and the 18Ti was negligible by 1988.

It seems silly devoting this much time to dinky speakers commonly being dumped for under a hundred bucks, but they do have a sweet and compelling sound quality....for such tiny little guys.

opimax
11-24-2007, 07:47 PM
Well i paid over 300 for a pair of these dinky speakers when the 44i was very hard to come by :banghead: , basically the rest of the system was free.
I have a set 20t3 in the basement ping pong room and can hear them throughout the basement.

BQ in the 250ti version I thought was for European version, which was different then the non BQ. Do I remember a set of L20TBQ being on ebay and in the piano black lacquer sold by blazer74? They didn't sell the 1st time, I think they went the 2nd time. Also you may check the XO part number to see if they are the same :dont-know

Somewhere in a past thread it was recommended no matter the version you have to build this set of charge coupled XO and had the diagram and maybe some directions, it was not complicated. It is on my "someday" list, not high enough to get done for a long while :p

Mark

DanMan
11-29-2007, 08:09 AM
BQ = Black LacQuer? I always thought thats what it stood for.
Any way you had to pay for it, which is why the L20TBQ cost way more than the standard L20T and nearing the Ti version (which uses the titanium tweets like the T versions)



http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/jbl/specs/home-speakers/1987-lacqueur.htm

http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/jbl/specs/home-speakers/1984-ti.htm

BMWCCA
12-09-2007, 02:38 PM
Apologies first for reviving this convoluted thread but I'll bring it back at least to the original question which was concerning JBL bookshelf speakers, specifically the L20T.

I'd already mentioned I was pretty impressed by my newfound L20T's (arriving courtesy of Heather and Emma) but I didn't give them that much listening time as they were set up in a bedroom occupied by a daughter whose musical tastes are a bit different than mine! So I took my recently acquired Soundcraftsmen Mosfet Pro-Control Four pre-amp (Ebay $113), and a beautiful late-model Crown PS-400 (Ebay $103) I just picked up yesterday in Maryland, my daughter's old $25 RCA CD player (she's into iTunes), and hooked them up to the L20Ts (30" off the floor against a wall) while my wife wasn't looking, in a crowded room recently vacated by one of my in-college daughters and . . . OMG! —as the kids say. That's the hottest $300 stereo system I've ever heard. I wasn't giving the L20T's their due with the quick listen. They've really got quite a range covered and the sound is pleasing to everyone who hears them. Not used to having only "bass" and "treble" controls, I bumped the high and low knobs to about 2-o'clock, and put on Donald Fagen's ""Kamakiriad". The Crown's input attenuators are set at 12-o'clock and the Soundcraftsmen's volume pot the same (best volume pot in the business, as far as I've seen!) and the room is full of beautiful music at a nice loud level, crystal clear with substantially more bottom end than I ever expected from the L20Ts.

If I get my way, the house will have five rooms of complete systems with JBL, Crown, and Soundcraftsmen components using pairs of L150A, C37 030s, L20Ts, and my original L112s. I think the little L20Ts will be able to hold their own even in this group. I'd recommend them to anyone for a small room.

JPTL
12-09-2007, 04:12 PM
Since I posted this thread, I've listened to several different types of speakers - mostly JBL. I now realize that had I been able to snag the L20t's that BMWCCA mentions (lucky dog), I wouldn't have even had to ask the initial question of this post.
I went to my buddy's place again and fired up his L20t's. I have to say that IMO, the L20t's are the best sounding speakers for their size - particularly in the under-$150 price range.
So, BMWCCA, you have revived this thread for a good reason: to answer the question. I echo your praise for L20t's. They are simply fantastic, big sounding speakers. Although I'm no seasoned audiophile, I think that it's their mid-range that really stands out - even compared to other larger speakers that I've heard (JBL included).

Re: The L56 that are mentioned earlier in this post...I ended up 'pulling the trigger' on those. Really nice guy who practically gave me a very nice matching-vintage Sansui reciever along with them.
They're beautiful speakers - like furniture, so they'd likely be welcome sitting on a stand in any decor. They aren't speakers that you can hang on the wall like you could with L20, however.
When I checked them out, the seller put them through a thorough test w/plenty of clean power; playing a range of music - and they sounded great.
Unfortunately, I think that we may have woken them from a comfortable sleep. One of the surrounds developed a pretty sizeable split shortly afterward.
I'm not too worried, however, because losing the original surrounds in 30 year old woofers seems to be inevitable. Rick Cobb is helping me out in this regard, and we'll be trying out some 125 surrounds as a beta test.
I'll post a new thread with my results of the new surround install as well as how the L56 sound (fingers crossed).

brutal
12-09-2007, 06:52 PM
I'm guessing the L56 is a much more "grown up" speaker than the diminutive L20T. From the components I'd expect it to sound a bit like an L112 (one of my favorites) with a little less bottom and some compromises in the middle. All in all it should make a much bigger sound than the L20Ts. I can't imagine it would disappoint in that condition for a hundred bucks. I'd love to find out.

Go heather! He who hesitates is lost. JPTL is obviously not listening to the advice here and seems incapable of pulling the trigger!

LOL! L56 are not even close in sound to an L112. IMHO L56's are MUD compared to L112's. Not a BAD little 2-way, but certainly nothing that one should compare to an L112 even though they are same gen and big/little brother. The L56 has boomy, loose bass, no mid to speak of and a weak top end. With a x-over at 2200Hz, you're asking a lot of both the LF and HF.

As for a comparo to the smaller, but crisper Ti's... I haven't A/B them with my 18Ti, and although they may have a bit more bass, the 033 in the L56 can't hold a candle to the 044Ti. The 044 is good to around 18K, the 033 rolls off at 15-16K. The 044Ti should go all the way to 27K if the source gear could do it. Add a sub to the mix and there's no comparing the L56 to any Ti model.

JPTL
12-09-2007, 07:13 PM
LOL! L56 are not even close in sound to an L112. IMHO L56's are MUD compared to L112's. Not a BAD little 2-way, but certainly nothing that one should compare to an L112 even though they are same gen and big/little brother. The L56 has boomy, loose bass, no mid to speak of and a weak top end. With a x-over at 2200Hz, you're asking a lot of both the LF and HF.

As for a comparo to the smaller, but crisper Ti's... I haven't A/B them with my 18Ti, and although they may have a bit more bass, the 033 in the L56 can't hold a candle to the 044Ti. The 044 is good to around 18K, the 033 rolls off at 15-16K. The 044Ti should go all the way to 27K if the source gear could do it. Add a sub to the mix and there's no comparing the L56 to any Ti model.
:blink: Brutal.

hjames
12-09-2007, 07:20 PM
Lots of opinions here - some useful, some ... a bit late to the party. ;)

Those L56s? The only thing that matters is do YOU like them?

if you didn't have to hunt forever for them, if the price was good and fit your budget,
and you don't have to spend too much to refresh them ...
who could ask for more??

Congrats - glad they are working out for ya!


:blink: Brutal.

JPTL
12-09-2007, 07:57 PM
Lots of opinions here - some useful, some ... a bit late to the party....Those L56s? The only thing that matters is do YOU like them?
I agree.
I see that you're in VA (as well as BMWCCA) who's selling their nice vintage JBL's on DC CL?

brutal
12-09-2007, 08:09 PM
Sorry, I wasn't trying to pick on JPTL - I never actually saw JPTL's post on what he got until after I replied to BMWCCA's comment about L56 v.s. L112. I'm not sure why I came back into the thread at that point, but I was involved early on and the thread came up in my sub list. I was simply responding to BMWCCA's comment about L56 v.s. L112.

Didn't mean to offend anyone, I thought it was all about exchanging opinions, ideas, and recommendations. I DID say the L56 wasn't a BAD little 2-way. :p

BMWCCA
12-09-2007, 10:43 PM
...who's selling their nice vintage JBL's on DC CL?Probably more like fishing on CL; those have mostly been on before at prices that don't make sense to the bottom feeders that frequent CL (like you and me!). :applaud:

toddrr
12-10-2007, 02:33 PM
I just picked these L19's up! Even though the foam is rotten (on order to replace) they have beautiful cabinets and sound pretty good!

:)