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View Full Version : L166 Horizon restored - but some questions left



Fangio
10-17-2005, 10:13 AM
Hello guys,

funny, just read a thread that could have me who started it... ok here's the next newbie who just entered the forum now, after reading a bit here and there recently. For sure a fantastic source for JBL enthusiasts, and i can say i am one, since the 70s too. So be warned, my 1st post will be a bit longer.

In 1977 (as an 18 years old) i sold my first real worthfull speakers, two Bose 901 to my brother (he still has them). I was dreaming of a pair of L65 or studio monitors at that time too, but also couldn't afford them and purchased a set of L166 Horizon from a friend who had them only half a year. They came out of the legendary PX-shop for members of the US army here in Berlins Clayallee, where normal natives didn't have access usually ;) and were loaded with 122A, LE5-8 and 066 each. Serial numbers are 19474 and 19629.

At that time they were taken to several parties to be responsible for the music, and the cabinets suffered a bit. These elder signs of wear they had all the time until presence, when a refoaming of the woofers became neccessary. I've had that done recently by a local specialist, he did a good job, replaced the midtone calottes which were damaged by my little cousin a few years ago and refoamed the subwoofers. But a little surprise was the way he glued the foam surrounds to the cone of the subwoofers. You can see it here (left/right column is before/after):

http://www.iworld.de/homes/fj/horizon/

So, i have some questions to the pro's here and would appreciate any hints a lot:

- does this harm the acoustics in any way (beside the fact it wasn't optically welcome)
- is it true that glueing them behind the cone is a much more tricky procedure (the guy does this as professional since 20 years but isn't a JBL specialist, although he should have seen how they were originally)
- is there a way to redo it, or too late
- would you say i could live with that, or is that not acceptable, and has this to be redone. In last case i would need new cones?
- what else could be done, to make them even better (LE5-8s are a bit faded, huh)
- also more general L166 classifications inside of the JBL spectrum would be great, or simply opinions about them .

Anyway, i really like how they sound again now. No difference in my ears, its more a question of originality, and acceptable tolerance.

Also a furniture restaurator did an overhaul of the cabinets. Better than new, with only minimal visible marks left, and a silk glance they never had before. I also have the grills and badges of cause, and will publish more and better pictures later if anyone is interested.

English is my 2nd language, please forgive me when it sounds poor.
Many thanks in advance,
F.

Ah, i forgot: the L166 are hooked up to an onkyo receiver from nowadays usually, but right now i listen to them connected to my vintage marantz 4270 again, which i've also revived, a few days ago. Was sitting 10 years in the cellar but still works perfect.. still a nice combination in my eyes.

Don C
10-17-2005, 10:33 AM
As you know, the best way is to put the foam behind the cone.
But I have seen at least one case where JBL themselves varied the foam position, I have two LE-14A. One has grey foam mounted behind the cone, the other has its original Lans-aloy in front of the cone.
I also had two LE14H-1s, both had been refoamed with the foam in front of the cone. I never liked that, but they sounded fantastic, so I never changed them.
So perhaps if JBL could allow variation in the position, we can grumble, but accept either position as well. As long as it sounds OK.

johnaec
10-17-2005, 10:39 AM
- does this harm the acoustics in any way (beside the fact it wasn't optically welcome)It could conceivably make a minute difference, but if so, the difference would be so small that it probably would require test equipment to tell.

- is it true that glueing them behind the cone is a much more tricky procedure (the guy does this as professional since 20 years but isn't a JBL specialist, although he should have seen how they were originally)Yes, it is more work to correctly glue the foam on back. It's too bad so many people take the easy way out...

- is there a way to redo it, or too lateThe results would probably be too messy if you tried to redo them.

- would you say i could live with that, or is that not acceptable, and has this to be redone. In last case i would need new cones?I would definitely just live with it. I really think you'll notice no difference in sound at all. Maybe sometime in the future, a complete recone may be in order, but until then, I think you'll find they're fine.

John

Zilch
10-17-2005, 10:46 AM
Your L166's are beautifully restored.

The location of the foam seems largely an aesthetic issue, not performance. They look just fine to me.

In another 25 years, you can have the surrounds redone, maybe. :D

Calotte: a small, brimless cap.

You've taught ME some English here today. A nice word, that.... :)

Rolf
10-17-2005, 02:52 PM
Hello guys,

In 1977 (as an 18 years old) i sold my first real worthfull speakers, two Bose 901 to my brother (he still has them).



Yes, I remember them. Good, if installed correctly.




At that time they were taken to several parties to be responsible for the music, and the cabinets suffered a bit. before/after):

http://www.iworld.de/homes/fj/horizon/



I also remember bringing my 4333A's to A LOT of partys in the 70's.

Looks like a really good job has been done with your speakers. ENJOY E'm

Rolf

Guido
10-17-2005, 03:01 PM
Good Job :applaud:

Fangio
10-18-2005, 08:43 AM
First, i'd like to thank all those who answered, for the reassurance and also for some warm applause. Just great :)

So fortunately the result is ok, or bearable, in more critical eyes. i was looking for some other 122A already, but seems they are pretty rare on ebay. Interesting is the fact that Harman Germany as distributor offered me a complete reconing for the woofers and midranges - for around 400+ i could have had them done like new, only the bare metal chassis would have survived. So its not true that JBL isn't delivering these parts anymore, although i've heard that from some other reconers. But pricing is similar to Mercedes in the car market.. :blink:

As i've seen there are several ppl who offer refoaming kits on ebay too: is this guy known here, and are his kits recommended, or not:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BEST-Speaker-Foam-Surround-Repair-Kit-JBL-15-Woofers_W0QQitemZ5818773304QQcategoryZ3276QQrdZ1QQ cmdZViewItem

Thanks.

One more thing: the feedback here has encouraged me to add some more pictures, as promised: http://www.iworld.de/homes/fj/l166_horizon/

Hope you like them. To be honest iPhoto did most of the job, but in case the admins here think one or two might be good enough to add them to the gallery, just let me know.
Cheers, F.

RickL166
10-19-2005, 05:31 AM
You've done a fantastic job of restoring those Horizons. The L166s are classics and are still my favorite JBL bookshelf speaker, ever!! :)

Titanium Dome
10-19-2005, 09:59 AM
Very nice recovery of classic speakers. Well done.

iPhoto is pretty capable for free. I use it all the time, only resorting to PhotoShop when major work is needed.

Regis
10-19-2005, 03:48 PM
You should be proud of the great job you did restoring those speakers! I liked the composition of the shots, with the before/after side-by-side view. Many of us, would've saved time and performed similiar processes at the same time on both speakers, so it's rare to get pictures like this (...at least in my limited JBL experience, thank you). Very, very nice and I hope you like them better than the 901's!:applaud:

Jakeisuseless
10-19-2005, 08:38 PM
Man, I wish mine were that pretty....

maggnepan
10-21-2005, 07:12 PM
thank yiou for the very nice photos...now for the answer to one of your questions: The horizons were jbls most accurate bookshelve speaker ever and were designed to be very flat in freq response. They put in a radical for the era dome tweeter said to have the widest bandwidth of any jbl high freq driver. The speaker was more linear than any other bookshelve jbl, but at a price: it is not as efficient in db as the other jbls, and is notorius for being able to gulp down lots of transistor watts and not sound compressed in any way. they were very well received by jbl dealers and the public both. for best sound all the controls should be set at flat, and the grills removed for best sound and theyi soud best on stands at least 24 inchs off the floor and that really opens up the sounds and lets the woofer sound flat and deep...and deep it can sound...better deep bass even that the L65 you mentioned....they are very detailed sounding and were regularlly displayed in the dealer stores and the most natural sounding jbl along with the L300s....enjoyl,,,,i have 2 pair and are my fave bookshelve jbl......

Fangio
10-22-2005, 06:16 AM
http://cgi.ebay.com/BEST-Speaker-Fo...Q cmdZViewItem (http://cgi.ebay.com/BEST-Speaker-Foam-Surround-Repair-Kit-JBL-15-Woofers_W0QQitemZ5818773304QQcategoryZ3276QQrdZ1QQ cmdZViewItem)
thats Rick Cobb, and after spending more time reading older threads in this forum, i've found out his work is appreciated.

Again guys, i have to thank YOU. The feedback here is really more than expected, and makes me a bit proud indeed. As mentioned in an other thread recently, it's good to know where to share this passion, very enjoyable. A bit sad that i saw the knowhow some days too late, to order the correct way refoaming the woofers, after all these years i had the speakers.


all the controls should be set at flat, and the grills removed for best sound
my experience too, the grilles were mostly not installed, and thats probably the reason why the LE5-8s have suffered a bit. It have always been sunny postions where they were.


they sound best on stands at least 24 inchs off the floor and that really opens up the sounds and lets the woofer sound flat and deep...and deep it can sound...better deep bass even that the L65 you mentioned....they are very detailed sounding and were regularlly displayed in the dealer stores and the most natural sounding jbl along with the L300s...
woohoo, really? Hmm, bigger cabinets.. size doesn't matter? Maybe not all L65 owners will agree... ;)
About the standing very interesting. I'll check that out this weekend.

briang
10-23-2005, 06:38 PM
Superbly restored. Thanks for keeping the L166s alive. They really do look fantastic.:applaud:

ReEdger
10-23-2005, 07:31 PM
Fangio, I have a similar story. When I was about the same age as you, I too bought a pair of L-166's. Like you, I wanted a pair of L-65's but couldn't afford them. I found a store in San Jose selling their JBL floor models for 1/2 price, so I got my pair of Horizons for $426. I made a big mistake selling them about 20 years ago, and I just recently reacquired a pair. I won't be making the same mistake twice! :D

Fangio
10-29-2005, 04:30 PM
Zilch wrote:

In another 25 years, you can have the surrounds redone, maybe. :D

OK, i've found out i can't wait that long. i can't imagine to get used to the 'new look', and was too hard to see my old buddies daily with "disfigured" woofers.. . :banghead:

So i watched ebay.com a bit closer, and was lucky to find two perfect auctions in just one week. (The vintage JBL section is really a treasure chest, on ebay.de, probably it would have taken a year to find them.) And got two packages today, one of each coast (NJ, CA), one containing a pair of LE5-8 beauties in mint condition, one with a pair of 122A with excellent cones, but w/o the surrounds of cause. And when Mr. Cobbs 'missing links' have arrived, i'll be ready for the 2nd try. Hope for other perfectionists here who understand me.
:)
More coming soon.
F.

Fangio
11-17-2005, 09:00 AM
Finally i've had time to finish what i started, and here is the rest of the story.

When the first refoaming job was done, the employee who did the job actually told me one of the woofers cone kept stuck inside the coil sometimes, she had to remove its cap to fix that, and reglue it to the cone. This seemed to be the second time this one was repaired, and it had an ugly wide glue track left since. Another motive: just perfectionism, i'm not happy with jobs done and some shoulds/coulds/woulds left. 3rd reason: its fun.. not reasonable economically sometimes, but a pleasurable way to waste money, with some addictive potential no need to explain that to LH readers.

The cabinets were regarded as beautifull, i've forwarded the compliments to the restaurator. But about the speakers i wanted to keep control this time, after i had given them away to some1 with just the lowest offer. Evaluating the midrange speakers condition was not easy to me. The original LE5-8s have got a very 'light' color over the years which made the L166s look unique, and if it aint broke don't fix it?? But i was pointed to the fact here that UV not only fades them, it also lets them rot, sooner or later so i replaced them with better ones.

After a loooong search over Germany i detected a pro audio company called LiveSound here in my hometown. They don't care for home audio, selling and maintaining PAs and other gear for live events. A specialist there had renewed hundreds of JBL speakers already. No need to explain much, and he glued the surrounds correctly to the back (thanks, Frank). Also a Rick Cobb kit was used (a very nice and helpfull guy). The new woofers cones were definitively in better shape than the original122As, and now they look.. well, lets call it different. ;)

Believe it or not, without A/B comparison though, I would swear the new woofers even sound better now. Just a bit, they have the deeper and a tic more "dry" bass again, that i've always loved. The wonderfull german word 'furztrocken' describes it best.. tested with several of my favorite often listened tracks. Dunno why, maybe the originals have also other parts that got a bit tired somehow. Also i'd like to thank all who made compliments for the first attempt already, there was a way to improve it though, and hope you like the final result too. Thanks for looking.
Fangio


Next project will probably be entering the pro line, from the bottom: i can get these complete set of 4312s without cabinets, shown here:
http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=7625
if someone sees, knows or better has used cabinets to house them, please let me know, would be great.

Anthony L100
11-25-2005, 08:31 AM
Hi Fangio, I am also a great fan of the L166 and I have a fairly original pair that came from Germany (a much better source than the UK). An interesting point you make about the new 122As sounding slightly better. I had a similar experience with mine. One pair have the Aquaplas white coating on the rear of the cones and my other pair have the mass controlling ring to achieve the correct cone mass. Both pairs sound fine in isolation, but when compared A/B the quality of bass is IMO superior on the aquaplas coated drivers. This certainly is not a vast difference but is discernible. Are your 122As the aquaplas type or the mass controlling ring type? Also, the guy who sold them had the surrounds replaced and guess what:( , yes, they were stuck on the front!! This is something I will address in the future as it isn't easy to remove a surround without peeling a thin layer off the cone surface, which would detract from the looks.

boputnam
11-25-2005, 09:04 AM
...it isn't easy to remove a surround without peeling a thin layer off the cone surface...Yea, that is something you do not want to do - weakens the cone at a very critcal location.

Try some MEK - you can delicately soak the surround area, which will dissolve the glue. MEK dries without leaving stains.

Steve Gonzales
11-25-2005, 09:16 AM
Fangio,

It's funny how us JBL fans care so much about the way our speakers look too. My first pair of JBL's were L166's, and I loved them. I took the 122A's to a reputable shop in Portland Oregon, thinking that I would get them back like new. Boy was I wrong!, they came back with a 4" dust cap and enough excess surround glue oozing from around the edge of both the cap and foam to do TEN more re-surround jobs. Although they sounded right, I never got over that ugly work, so I understand exactly what you are feeling. Your L166's are very beautiful now and you've gone the extra mile to get them that way, so here's to you :cheers: , WELL DONE!!

Anthony L100
11-25-2005, 09:24 AM
Thanks for the info Bo, I will bear that in mind. I have wondered about this, logically, I would have thought the outer edge of the cone is less affected by peeling a layer off than any other area of the cone, simply because the foam surround is very soft and is preventing the cone from 'rocking' :) in the basket. Also, where the surround is glued to the cone this must add any strength lost. Waddya reckon?

boputnam
11-25-2005, 09:39 AM
Sure don't know. I just keep the cone edge as thick and stiff as it was before I started to work on it. Someone carefully engineered the surround / edge join quite specifically, and they had plenty more experience than me!

Fangio
11-25-2005, 12:41 PM
... you've gone the extra mile to get them that way, so here's to you :cheers:, WELL DONE!!

:bouncy::bouncy::bouncy:

Steve, thank you. That was very nice, means a lot to me.

I had a link in my last post already (did a little private documentation again), but then i thought it could be a little overdone, compared to the "big boys" at LH who are dealing with particulary scientific and detailed discussions about crossover points or horn features of the pro gear (which i love to read and learn from). So a simple drivers exchange on home audio speakers, and just for aesthetic issues could be a bit funny, or not worth it.. Now i've seen that pictures of all kind are always appreciated, and though the link isn't the fastest - if you like to see the site, here it is again, makes my intention a bit more understandable.
http://www.iworld.de/homes/fj/l166_phase2/

Anthony, you may see from the pics, that my 122As have the white coating on the back, both pairs (fortunately). I've learned in a long email rallye with R. Cobb too that there are two versions. Not only the one with different name (122A-H), also he forced me :D to measure the cones diameters, and explained the following:


The standard woofer cone diameter used in the loudspeaker industry is 241.3 millimeters in diameter.

The majority of JBL 12" woofers and passive radiators in the field that were produced over the years have incorporated a larger 247.0 mm diameter cone"

Due to different production runs, these "larger" JBL cones can measure anywhere from 243.0 mm ~ 247.5 mm diameter. Most of the larger type cones measure very near 247.0 mm in diameter)

JBL has also sold speaker systems with 12" woofers and factory replacement re-cone kits with "smaller" diameter cones that measure anywhere between 236.0 mm ~ 241.3 mm diameter.
These "smaller" JBL cones never measure over 241.3 in diameter.

This "smaller" cone has been incorporated into in some of the later 122/128H1 woofers used in other various JBL systems.

Regarding this fact, my woofer pairs are both the bigger ones. And i would say the difference i'm hearing is due to tired parts of the original woofers (the coils perhaps), and not to a different production model. Probably they are really in need of a complete reconing.

Hth, Fangio

Btw, i like your pic in the 'describe your equipment' thread. Great collection.

Steve Gonzales
11-25-2005, 12:53 PM
Fangio,

I wish everyone would document their restorations as you have done, it is wonderful to see the process and helpful to others contemplating their own project, thank you again for your presentation, I enjoyed it immensely.