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View Full Version : LE85 Problem...Help Wanted.



Beowulf57
12-21-2009, 09:26 AM
Recently, one channel of my system began to sound a bit wrong: loss of clarity, a bit of coarseness, but hard to define. Music just wasn't "singing sweetly" anymore. Placing my ear right at the Diffusing lens (LE85 + HL92 horn) I could hear what sounded a bit like Harmonic distortion or perhaps Intermodulation distortion surrounding the notes from female voice and piano. This was masked when multiple instruments were playing and difficult to separate out of the sound when listening at a distance.

I commenced my troubleshooting run: checked different sources, different preamps, cleaned cable connections and tube pins sockets, swapped the mono-block amps left and right...nope, problem still there and only in the right channel speaker. Okay, crossover or driver problem. I connected a spare 2420 in place of the LE85 in the problem channel...problem disappeared.

I replaced the problem LE85 with the 2420 and the whole sound was right again...sweet, pure, great transient attack, clean and much better stereo soundstage. Night and Day improvement. Funny how tricky it is to identify a problem like this one.

So, my LE85 has a problem. It is about 35 years old (as are my 2420 spares) and never opened. So, a bit of advice please. Is this diaphragm replacement time? Or perhaps the phase plug is out of alignment? Should I run a sweep on the LE85 with a sinewave generator?

Any thoughts will be much appreciated.

Beowulf57...a.k.a. Douglas

jcrobso
12-21-2009, 09:46 AM
I doubt that the phase plug is out of alignment, unless the driver has been dropped.
If you get strange noises on the frequency sweep, then it would be time to open it up and inspect the diaphragm. They are easy to replace just be VERY CAREFUL when you do it. If there are any cracks in the diaphragm or the surround it it time for a new one.

yggdrasil
12-21-2009, 09:47 AM
Hi Douglas.

You need to open the driver and check(take off the back-cap):
* Beware of the strong magnetic field. Two hands on the screwdriver or a non-magnetic one.
* the leads for corrosion and if they are tightened properly
* the diaphragm for any visual damage
* if the foam in the back-cap has come loose and is in contact with the diaphragm

If you find and correct any of these possibilities you need to mount the back-cap and run a test.

The next would be to remove the diapragm and clean the gap before running another test. Remember to mark the position of the diaphragm. When mounting the diaphragm again you should be aware that the diaphragm can be moved slightly within the gap and that this alters the drivers response. A measurement microphone is nice for this operation to ensure optimal placement of the diaphragm.

If all of this fails, my guess would be new diaphragms.

Johnny

Beowulf57
12-21-2009, 10:12 AM
Many thanks to you both...I'll open and inspect for problems and then run a frequency sweep test if I find any that are correctable. Further report to follow...

Beowulf57
12-26-2009, 05:32 PM
When I ran a frequency sweep the only anomaly I noticed was a high frequency artifact sweeping between 600Hz and 700Hz. This added tone might have been around 10KHz, but that's just a earball value. Below that range or above, the sound was clean. This HF artifact did not show up when I swept my other 2420.

I opened up the back of the driver and cleaned the contacts...there did appear to be some corrosion and also bits of the foam were stuck to the screws. I carefully blew any detritus out from around the diaphragm. The picture shows a tiny bit of corroded material had adhered to the surround of the diaphragm: look just to the right of the lower left screw and you can see a few tiny spots on one of the triangular surround sections. I scraped this off with a plastic screwdriver. In any case the anomaly is still present and I doubt that tiny bit of material could have accounted for the problem in any case.

The foam is old and retains any compression, but it isn't crumbling away.

Next? Open the back up again and clean the gap?

Robh3606
12-26-2009, 09:04 PM
Well one thing you could do is backlight the diaphragm and look for cracks/light leakage/at the edges of the compliance. There could be fractures there that are not easily seen but may show up in the impedance or F/R plots.

Rob:)

herki the cat
12-27-2009, 05:06 AM
So, my LE85 has a problem. It is about 35 years old (as are my 2420 spares) and never opened. So, a bit of advice please. Is this diaphragm replacement time? Or perhaps the phase plug is out of alignment? Should I run a sweep on the LE85 with a sinewave generator?

Any thoughts will be much appreciated.

Beowulf57...a.k.a. Douglas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With due respect to everyone helping, I suggest you should not touch any part of that priceless LE-85. Consult with JBL repair dept on how to package that driver for shipping and return it JBL for repairs.

Replacement diaphragm is identical for 2410, 2420, LE-175, Le-85 & are no longer made by JBL except on special order to "Orange County Speakers" which they will special order for you at some $820.00, The last JBL replacements cost approx $240.

That driver is like a fine watch and JBL can clean the delicate structure, and remagnetize the motor, and maybe even save the diaphragm if it has not been over-dirven to the point the where the aluminum has work hardened to end of life.

I would think that since JBL can make a single diaphragm or two for Orange County Speakers, they can make one for you on a repair basis. The repaired Le-85 will come back like new.

Think of this issue in terms of [quote= is the entire speaker system worth $820?]
----------------------------------------------
Cheers herki the cat

Mike Caldwell
12-27-2009, 07:12 AM
You may try just cracking the diaphragm screws loose enough to slightly move the diaphragm, then apply you 600hz tone while shifting the diaphragm. You will not beable to move it much but it does not take too much movement to make a difference. Having the diaphragm screws evenly tightened can make a difference as well. DO NOT use a screw driver that has the removable bits!!!! The magnet can suck then out of the screw driver and into the diaphragm......and your diaphragm is next to imposable find in an original JBL replacement.

Beowulf57
12-27-2009, 09:42 AM
Thanks Rob, Mike and herki.

I will try the slight shifting of diaphragm position first...one question when I apply the 600-700HZ tone, is it necessary for the horn to be attached to the LE85 for correct loading?

Next if that doesn't help I'll try the backlight check for cracks and also check the gap for detritus.

Finally, thanks herki (yes my system is worth far more than $820) but I've been working on these speaker systems for over 30 years and have repaired a number of drivers...so I'm going to give this my best shot.

Repairing the aluminum dome on a D131 was the most fun: I used pliobond and a q-tip stick to gently pull a crushed area back out to true round and then acetone with q-tips to remove the pliobond. Worked like a charm.

Mike Caldwell
12-27-2009, 10:05 AM
For the tone test you do not need the horn on the driver, if there is a crack in the surround it will be very apparent with a test tone. Do you have a sweepable tone generator or one with fixed frequencies. You want to drive the driver with a enough level for some output but not deafining! I would go down to around 500hz for a low freq. and out to as high as you can hear for a test sweep.

Beowulf57
12-27-2009, 12:19 PM
For the tone test you do not need the horn on the driver, if there is a crack in the surround it will be very apparent with a test tone. Do you have a sweepable tone generator or one with fixed frequencies. You want to drive the driver with a enough level for some output but not deafining! I would go down to around 500hz for a low freq. and out to as high as you can hear for a test sweep.

Yes, I can sweep from 500HZ to beyond my hearing ability (14-15KHz). Around 2.5VAC seems plenty loud to me...I'll run the check and report back. And just to confirm: no problem running the sweep test with the back plate off? Thanks for the advice.

Mike Caldwell
12-27-2009, 01:28 PM
You'll need the back cover off to do the test during the tone. I would start at a lower frequency and then move the diaphragm while listening. You'll hear when you find the sweet spot. I'm almost certain that your drivers will have guide pins for the diaphragm so you may not get much movement, sometime it a matter of slight flexing and tightening of the screws. Now here is a trick to proceed with CAUTION or maybe a more expendable diaphragm to experiment with! You can enlarge the guide pin holes on the underside of diaphragm mounting ring with the next size larger drill bit. That will give you a larger range to tweak the diaphragm in.

Beowulf57
12-27-2009, 08:04 PM
Many thanks Mike...I'll report back.

Beowulf57
12-29-2009, 10:19 AM
I have resolved the problem...it turned out that by simply cleaning all connections to the diaphragm as well as the bit of corrosion stuck to it and a few particles floating around in the neighborhood, the distortion disappeared.

I had a bit of a laugh at myself after I noticed some odd sounds from the driver during the frequency sweep test with my EICO 379...worried that it was a driver damage problem until I realized that a 600 ohm output impedance audio signal generator does not like driving an 8 ohm load! Set up properly with a small solid state amp/N1200 crossover, the test sweep was identical for my LE85 and my other 2420.

Now, I don't think I'll bother replacing the 2420 I installed in place of the LE85 while I was troubleshooting...takes about 2 hours and the two sound identical to my ears (identical diaphragms). So on the shelf with the LE85 and back to enjoying listening. :dj-party:

Thanks to all for your help and to Mike :applaud: in particular. Happy New Year! :happyh:

Beouwlf57, a.k.a. Douglas :D

Mr. Widget
12-29-2009, 10:40 AM
I have resolved the problem...it turned out that by simply cleaning all connections to the diaphragm as well as the bit of corrosion stuck to it and a few particles floating around in the neighborhood, the distortion disappeared.Ah, the ravages of time. :)

We take it for granted that since these older drivers were designed to last forever, that they will... and if they aren't abused they can, but some maintenance and care are required.

Congratulations!


Widget

Beowulf57
12-29-2009, 02:20 PM
Ah, the ravages of time. :)

We take it for granted that since these older drivers were designed to last forever, that they will... and if they aren't abused they can, but some maintenance and care are required.

Congratulations!


Widget

Thanks...I love these little tikes :D and a bit of work caring for them is a real pleasure. Now for some Diana Krall!

John
12-30-2009, 12:21 AM
DO NOT use a screw driver that has the removable bits!!!! The magnet can suck then out of the screw driver and into the diaphragm......

I could of used that warning about a year ago!!!:(

Mike Caldwell
12-30-2009, 06:54 AM
Good to hear it was an easy and inexpensive fix.


I almost learned the hard way with the screwdriver bit. I was removing a bad diaphragm and the bit launched into the diaphragm. That was years ago and I remember it like yesterday! Just think what my memory would be if it had been the new replacement diaphragm!!!!

Mr. Widget
12-30-2009, 07:44 AM
I almost learned the hard way with the screwdriver bit. I was removing a bad diaphragm and the bit launched into the diaphragm. That was years ago and I remember it like yesterday! Just think what my memory would be if it had been the new replacement diaphragm!!!!Years ago the retail price for a 2420 diaphragm was $40... of course my rent back then was $150. :D

I had to blow both of my LE85s twice before I learned my lesson... clipping a small amp was bad for driver health... I bought a big amp and never blew another driver. It took a few more years to learn to turn it down. :blink:


Widget

Beowulf57
12-30-2009, 07:52 AM
Years ago the retail price for a 2420 diaphragm was $40... of course my rent back then was $150. :D

I had to blow both of my LE85s twice before I learned my lesson... clipping a small amp was bad for driver health... I bought a big amp and never blew another driver. It took a few more years to learn to turn it down. :blink:


Widget

Was that a transistor amp? Or, perhaps a single-ended triode amp? I run my three way horn loaded system (D130/LE85/2405H) using P-P tube monoblocks that are good for about 15 watts ((in triode mode at present...will give about 30 watts in tetrode mode) and hardly ever use more than 2-3 watts. Anything above that and the acoustic levels drive one out of the room. Perhaps things were in "party" mode?

Mr. Widget
12-30-2009, 08:50 AM
Was that a transistor amp? The amp that claimed my diaphragms was a Kenwood KA3500... a whopping 40wpc of pure SS bliss... actually not a terrible sounding amp. It was the first piece of electronics I ever bought, as opposed to all of the gear I spirited away from my dad.

SS will clip much harder than a tube amp, and will take down HF drivers much more easily, but the fact was that I was playing music at >110dB for great periods of time back then. Not so enjoyable today.


Widget

Beowulf57
12-30-2009, 08:54 AM
The amp that claimed my diaphragms was a Kenwood KA3500... a whopping 40wpc of pure SS bliss... actually not a terrible sounding amp. It was the first piece of electronics I ever bought, as opposed to all of the gear I spirited away from my dad.

SS will clip much harder than a tube amp, and will take down HF drivers much more easily, but the fact was that I was playing music at >110dB for great periods of time back then. Not so enjoyable today.


Widget

Ahh soo..all those nasty odd order harmonics that love to appear with solid state clipping. Our ears do not thank us for those levels...said he listening ruefully through the tinnitus:o:

Mr. Widget
12-30-2009, 09:22 AM
...said he listening ruefully through the tinnitus:o:I've been lucky... it must be in my genes as I abused the hell out of my ears during my youth, and yet no tinnitus and I still have excellent UHF hearing. My wife who was never really exposed to much in the way of high SPLs has mild tinnitus... I know there is a correlation between high SPLs and tinnitus, but there is obviously more to it that SPLs alone.


Hey, we've drifted way off topic yet again. :D


Widget

Beowulf57
12-30-2009, 09:44 AM
I've been lucky... it must be in my genes as I abused the hell out of my ears during my youth, and yet no tinnitus and I still have excellent UHF hearing. My wife who was never really exposed to much in the way of high SPLs has mild tinnitus... I know there is a correlation between high SPLs and tinnitus, but there is obviously more to it that SPLs alone.


Hey, we've drifted way off topic yet again. :D


Widget

Not really...this thread concerns diaphragm maintenance and we've been discussing this issue as it pertains to the diaphragm known as the eardrum...:D

Despite the tinnitus, my ears still get out to 15
KHz...so the 2405H addition I made a while back was not for naught.

P.S. Ditto for my wife.

John
12-30-2009, 08:55 PM
I've been lucky... it must be in my genes as I abused the hell out of my ears during my youth, and yet no tinnitus and I still have excellent UHF hearing.
Widget

Maybe we are related?:D

I have listened to high spl,s since about 1972 with no ill effects yet except for the bout of vertigo a few years ago after a Judis Preist concert:banghead:

I have to admit to limiting my high spl sessions over the last few years because of all the posts from forum members I have read on this forum relating to their ear issues:hmm:

Beowulf57
12-31-2009, 07:45 AM
I also can't be sure that my ear diaphragm issue is a result of high SPL's. I did not attend that many rock concerts...could simply be related to sinus canal issues. Ahh...more gap cleaning needed ;)

script56
02-19-2016, 04:46 PM
I figured I'd piggyback off of an old thread instead of making a new one. Can anyone confirm if this diaphragm is genuine original for LE85 8ohm for Jbl L300?

Audiobeer
02-19-2016, 06:52 PM
Feels good when you can do it yourself and get back to the music!!

Mike Caldwell
02-20-2016, 05:28 AM
I figured I'd piggyback off of an old thread instead of making a new one. Can anyone confirm if this diaphragm is genuine original for LE85 8ohm for Jbl L300?

That looks like an original to me.
Judging from the black foam residue stuck to the terminals I would say you need to replace the foam in the back cap.
Be careful with the diaphragm, JBL aluminum tangential surrounds diaphragms are no longer available.

Alobar
11-04-2016, 09:55 PM
Guess I'll piggyback too. I have a pair of L200's since new and I want to inspect its LE85's as well. They sometimes sound a bit like what the op described, just a certain frequency seems off at times. How difficult is it to just pull the caps and inspect the foam condition and look for cracks in the diaphragm? Understand about using nonferrous tools. I don't have any way to test, just inspect and replace foam if dried up. These are 42 years old and I want to keep them in good condition for the next 20 or even 30 years. Maybe 30 is optimistic as I am 61 now!

Mike Caldwell
11-04-2016, 10:41 PM
Removing the back caps is easy, removing the four screws around the edges will allow the cap to come off, sometimes they may be stuck and will take a slight tap with the handle of screwdriver to crack loose.
The cap will be loose but still attached to the diaphragm with the connection wires.
You will need to disconnect the wire from the diaphragm terminals, here's where you need to be careful, loosen the screws enough to remove the wire terminals.
Most likely your going to find the foam has turned to sticky mush, hopefully pieces of it have not fallen of and got stuck all over the diaphragm. You can order new foams from JBL parts, there actually called "dampener pads" the part number is 61286. With some good open cell foam you could make your own and glue them in.

While your in the driver it would not hurt to remove the diaphragm and clean the voice coil gap in the drivers top plate. This is were you really need to be careful, after removing the three screws holding the diaphragm
the diaphragm should lift off the driver, there are two centering pins in the driver that stick up about an 1/8 of an inch that fit into holes on the diaphragm to keep it centered, sometimes the diaphragm will be stuck on those pins and you will need to work the diaphragm off the pins by starting a thin screwdriver or even a knife blade around the edges of the diaphragm.

Clean the gap out by running a piece of heavy tape around the gaps inside and outside edge, blowing out with compressed air and then repeat again. Look in the gap with a bright light or outside in the sun for any bits of dirt.

Carefully reinstall the diaphragm over the pins and start the screws back in. Normally when reinstalling a diaphragm you will run a test tone into the diaphragm to listen for buzzing and overtones. Something around 400 hz will work at lower volume level yet easy to hear. Slightly shifting the diaphragm or even the pattern that you snug the screws back down can make a difference getting rid of any buzz or overtone.
You will have to get creative in connecting your amp the diaphragm for the tone test. You can download
sweep tone generator apps from many different places

Do not use a screwdriver that has removable tips!!

Alobar
11-05-2016, 01:21 PM
Thanks Mike, you have been very helpful. I'm still looking into other components of my system but after reading this thread it kind of clicked that my very solid built speakers are getting old right along with me. I hope it isn't the diaphragms gone bad, hearing how difficult they are to find. What I am hearing seems to be emitting from both speakers whatever the source may be. Maybe this winter I will open them up as after all this time the foam surly has deteriorated to toast crumbs, just like those beautiful foam grills did about 15 years ago! :crying:

Mike Caldwell
11-07-2016, 06:07 PM
Thanks Mike, you have been very helpful. I'm still looking into other components of my system but after reading this thread it kind of clicked that my very solid built speakers are getting old right along with me. I hope it isn't the diaphragms gone bad, hearing how difficult they are to find. What I am hearing seems to be emitting from both speakers whatever the source may be. Maybe this winter I will open them up as after all this time the foam surly has deteriorated to toast crumbs, just like those beautiful foam grills did about 15 years ago! :crying:


Just for the sake of testing do you have another speaker you could swap out to do an A B test with. Do you hear what your hearing at all volume levels. Maybe try listening with headphones.

Alobar
11-07-2016, 07:32 PM
Just for the sake of testing do you have another speaker you could swap out to do an A B test with. Do you hear what your hearing at all volume levels. Maybe try listening with headphones.
I currently have only the L200's. What I have heard I have not noticed with headphones specifically but I rarely use them other than for travel. That is a good idea and when I find a tract that seems to be exhibiting this distortion I am going to have a good listen with the phones.

The deal with whatever I have been hearing does not seem to be volume specific and that it sounds like the same one specific frequency somewhere in the middle of the LE 85's domain, however it seems to occur only during more complex passages such as several voices singing together or sometimes keyboard will do it. It sounds scattered like the first digital online radio stations sounded with digital artifacts plainly heard at 64kbps .

I tried something last night and am evaluating now. I pulled every interconnect, speaker wire and even 120v plugs and cleaned everything with deoxit. So far I haven't had a lot of critical listening time but am cautiously optimistic. It does appear to be a good improvement!

So wanted to ask you about the open cell foam. I want to have it on hand before I start. What is a good density and how thick does it need to be? This is for dampening as I understand it so seems critical to get it close to original. I am assuming that it adheres to the cap and not the diaphragm.
Thanks again for your help..

Mike Caldwell
11-07-2016, 08:04 PM
Try sweeping the system with sine wave tone, single frequency tone can be very useful in finding buzzes and distortion.

Connect the headphones directly to a speaker lead ( at a lower volume) put the negative on the longer
sleeve and the positive on the tip, the tip is the left headphone and the small middle ring is the right headphone.

The foam is about 5/8 thick and goes on the drivers back cap. not sure what the actual foam weight/density is.

Alobar
11-07-2016, 08:31 PM
Try sweeping the system with sine wave tone, single frequency tone can be very useful in finding buzzes and distortion.

Connect the headphones directly to a speaker lead ( at a lower volume) put the negative on the longer
sleeve and the positive on the tip, the tip is the left headphone and the small middle ring is the right headphone.

The foam is about 5/8 thick and goes on the drivers back cap. not sure what the actual foam weight/density is.
The reason for this is to bypass the headphone amp and run directly off the same circuit as the L200's are? Sounds like a good idea to eliminate another potential distortion source.

As I am writing this I was listening to some keyboard and I thought I could still hear the scratchy sound so probably the wire terminal cleaning was wishful thinking.

Use the sine wave to locate the problem frequency? I am guessing it is obtained over the net.

I am going to be alone over Thanksgiving for 10 days so think that will be a good time to tackle this without distractions... Seems like this is a good thing to be doing regardless..
Thanks!