View Full Version : JBL C50 Olympus Serial Numbers

01-11-2006, 08:53 AM
Can I determine the year of manufacture of Olympus speakers given the speaker serial numbers 46499 and 46500. I am going to sell a set and want to provide proper information. The speakers have a single bass and two lenses above. Thru one lens I can see the bullet tweeter (075 ring radiator?), but I can only see a horn mouth thru the other lens. Is there a way to positively determine it is a 375? Since these cabinets predate the passive radiator, is that a means of determining the year of manufacture? Is there an easy way I can upload a photo of this system for your analysis? Thanks from a Newbie (first post).

01-11-2006, 02:56 PM
Use manage attachments when writing a post for uploading pictures.

The throat of a H93 horn will be 2" wide.

01-11-2006, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the reply rggdrasil! Regarding the 2" throat (driver outlet?) for 375's, I can only view the horn mouth (horn outlet?) by looking up into the lens. The diameter of the mouth is about equal to the height of the lens. Please see photos.

01-11-2006, 09:23 PM
I see in the site library that Olympus was offered without the passive radiator through 1964.

I see blue paint on the horn, I believe. If the drivers are also blue, that would make them "early."

We cannot tell from the serial numbers because those records have been lost.

You'll either have to remove the lens or the woofer to determine whether the MF drivers are 375's....

01-11-2006, 09:24 PM
hmmmmm why the lens over the bullet

01-11-2006, 09:26 PM
hmmmmm why the lens over the bulletOwner perceived it as "Beamy," perhaps? :p

01-12-2006, 04:27 AM
Zilch, thanks, I will remove the lens as you suggest. I assume I can then peer down the horn and measure the throat diameter of the driver. Can't get to the speakers till the weekend - they're stored 80 miles from here..

pelly3s, I have no idea why there is a lens over the bullet - is that unorthodox?

Sorry for all the questions, but this is new to me. Must I remove the woofer to determine if the driver is painted blue? If I did remove the woofer from this sealed(?) enclosure how would I reseal the cabinet when I reinstall the woofer (gasket, caulk etc?) If the driver is painted blue, does that add extra rarity, character, or value to these speakers? Here's a picture of the "Bullet" driver. Does it look as expected (like 075)? TIA

01-12-2006, 05:28 AM
I forgot to ask if anyone can identify the type of wood used on these speakers. I think it is oiled walnut, but hope someone can verify that. TIA

01-12-2006, 11:02 AM
That cabinet is walnut.
There is a very good chance that it has the 375. It is rare to find a 075 in a system with an LE85. If the horn is stubby and the throat is 2" diameter it's a 375. While looking down in it, don't get confused and take into account the depth of the driver throat. The driver throat is straight sided, while the horn is the tapered section.

BTW, it is a really early one, the lenses appear to have wooden parts. The conditon of the cabinet is remarkable. You have a real gem there! :applaud:

01-12-2006, 06:55 PM
Thanks JohnK! Yes, the lenses are made of wood - I had no idea that was significant. Do you know when they started using another material?
Does anyone know what was the first year the Olympus was made (I see them in the 1962 Catalog)? Is that the farthest back we can trace them
I have a hunch the previous owner acquired these when they were first produced (he was an audio shop owner and presumably a JBL dealer). Any ideas on the meaning of the first two digits of the serial number? I assume the last three digits are the actual production number - might that be correct? For example with my serial numbers 46499, 46500 Could the first two digits be the year (19)64 reversed, and the speakers were the 499th and 500th ones produced in 1964. Does anyone know if JBL ever used any such conventions? Sorry for the incessant questions but this mystery compels me. TIA

01-12-2006, 09:29 PM

01-12-2006, 11:41 PM
Does anyone know what was the first year the Olympus was made (I see them in the 1962 Catalog)? Is that the farthest back we can trace them TIA

They were not listed in a 1959 brochure I saw online (see attachment below).
But they might have produced them earlier than 1962 since I have what appears to be an unaltered Olympus cabinet containing a blue "roundback" LE15 (no "A") and an LE75 (S-6 system).
There's a brochure on this site showing the LE15A that is described as "circa 1960", and by 1962 the LE15A seems to have superceded the LE15, so either the C-50 Olympus was produced before 1962 or JBL (or the local dealer) was installing the older drivers in their cabinets.

The 1959 brochure did list the C-49 "Dale" enclosure so the C-50 "Olympus" would most likely be the next enclosure offered after the 1959 crop.
(Note that the C-55 model was a shortened version of the model number C-550 utility horn loaded enclosure introduced in 1955)

01-13-2006, 04:53 AM
Great information!! Thanks, Men!! Well it seems imperative I remove the woofer to determine two things: color of 375 paint, and the woofer model LE15 or 15A. If I discover a LE15 then that means the Olympus' I have were vintage 1960 or 1961 since Olympus not made in 1959, and LE15A commenced in 1962. Do I have that correct? Are there any other things I should look for when I'm inside the cabinet?

When I reinstall the woofer are there any tricks to ensure the cabinet seal (should I have gasket material on hand, for example)?
Does anyone know if the passive radiator installed 1965 and later actually improved performance? Are there scans or other technical info to support this or was this possibly advertising hype? I ask this because I was told that the PR was subsequently dispensed with, and I note that it was not a part of early high-end Klipsch enclosures. TIA

01-13-2006, 05:29 AM
I have found another difference between my Olympus' and another set I viewed recently. Mine has a second connection plate next to the dividing network which HF and LF connectors and a 4-step rheostat(?). This was not on the other set. Is this normal?

01-13-2006, 05:43 AM
Wow! I just thought of something which might allow the dating of my Olympus speakers' serial numbers. I also have the matching C58 Delphi Equipment Cabinet with all the original electronics. Perhaps the serial numbers of one or more of the electronics could reveal dates. The components are Ampex reel to reel, Thorens turntable, JBL Graphic Controller/Pre-Amp, McIntosh Tuner, JBL Amp. For example look at the Thorens - can that be dated? I can post any of the other serial numbers if anyone knows how they can be cross referenced. TIA

01-13-2006, 06:01 AM
Well, I'll be jiggered (Tennessee Talk) - Can you believe that a pair of Olympus just like yours has just popped up on ebay? What's the chances of that?

01-13-2006, 06:26 AM
Well I'll be jiggered,too!! Sure is a small world sometimes!!

01-13-2006, 05:01 PM
... woofer model LE15 or 15A. If I discover a LE15 then that means the Olympus' I have were vintage 1960 or 1961 since Olympus not made in 1959, and LE15A commenced in 1962. Do I have that correct?

Not exactly, it still may be the case that the Olympus was only introduced in 1962 and that an older LE15 driver was installed at that time.

It is just possible that my Olympus, containing the older LE15 woofer which was presumably available before the LE15A introduction, is evidence that the Olympus might have been available before 1962.

It is impossible for the Olympus to be older than 1959 since it does not appear in the JBL literature for that year.

01-15-2006, 11:55 PM
I removed the woofer today and discovered that the 375 is painted black, while its horn and the LE15a (not LE15) are painted blue. So in accordance with what's been discussed above, my speakers are vintage 1962-1964.

I've been reading the serial number registry thread with interest, and think that is a great idea . . . and I believe we may come up with something here - but its a longshot and will require a few of you to check your serial numbers.

Here it is: Since I believe the original owner of my speakers and equipment cabinet purchased them as a set, and since the equipment cabinet (Delphi C-58) debuted in 1964, that suggests to me likelihood that the speakers are also 1964. With that in mind, when I ponder the speaker serial numbers 46499 and 46500, I see the 499th and 500th speakers made in the year 1964, if the first two digits are the year reversed. I stated that in an earlier post and I'm sure it got some chuckles.

But we can easily test this theory - those of you with early Olympus speakers - - - check and see if the first two digits of your serial numbers are 26, 36, 46, 56, 66, 76, 86, or 96 - that would be the 60's. This could also work for other decades and speaker models. But such conventions don't necessarily last for decades - I know Klipsch changed their serial number codes several times over the last half century (and some of theirs are lost, also).

Please reply even if it invalidates this theory - we still will have made a contribution via the process of elimination. Thanks and, also, if someone knows how to make a link to this post in the serial number registry thread, that might be helpful. Thanks

01-16-2006, 12:14 AM
Did you actually remove the MF driver to verify from the foilcal on the rear that it is a 375?

Alternatively, just measure the length of the horn, from the front of the driver to the rear of the baffle. That'll verify which driver it is....

01-16-2006, 08:05 AM
Zilch, no I didn't remove the MF driver. Based simply on its enormity I assumed this must the the famous 375. Here's a shot of the driver with four of my fingers for size reference. If the 085 is also this massive then I must do this again, more carefully. (White speckles are flash reflection.) Also the lens is plastic, thanks. Here's also a shot of the LE15A, in case any of you gurus notice anything out of the ordinary. If you have Olympus", PLEASE post the first two digits of your serial numbers.

Glen, and others, if you have Olympus', PLEASE post the first two digits of your serial numbers. This newbie promises to quit bothering you all with this when his theory is debunked! TIA

01-16-2006, 09:34 AM
It's 375, Id say. Four mounting bolts. LE 85 is three.

No serial numbers on my older S7 Olympus, alas....

01-17-2006, 10:18 AM
I'm fascinated that there's a black driver on a blue horn.
Is there a well established progression of colors?
blue to black to gray?
I would think that this kind color mis-match would only happen for a short period of time and be useful for determining when the switch in colors took place.

01-17-2006, 12:04 PM
I would like to see a pic of everything? Especially the Delphi.

01-17-2006, 02:30 PM
Hello Henflet - Your idea on the serial numbering for the Oylmpus is not correct, although I can see how you might make such a connection between the serial on your Olympus and the approx. date of manufacture. Besides, why would JBL make the effort encode their serial numbers? During the height of the Cold War I'm sure the Russians had more important things to do than counterfeit the Olympus.

I have several Olympus systems in my data base along with a bunch of Sovereign's that I have owned or seen. Almost all of the Olympus had 4x,xxx serial on the cabinet rear plates. I have seen them as low as 44,xxx and as high as 50,xxx. It would appear to me that they started at 40,001 (possible) and ran consecutive from there to the end of production. Each number I have on file has higher numbered internal components as the cabinet number increases. The last pair that I owned was 50207 and 50208 and from the component serials and characteristics I would date them as mid/late 74 production. This was likely one of the last pairs made since they were dropped after the 1974 catalog. For a period of time after the Olympus and Sovereign were dropped from the catalog lineup, they were still available on a special order basis. When the cabinets were gone, they were gone. If your numbering theory was correct these would have been made in 2005 !!! ???

I also have quite a few Sovereign systems in my files. Their serial numbers are in the 1x,xxx range so it's easy to believe that the Sovereigns were numbered 10,001 thru ???? When you overlay the serial numbers of the drivers seen in the Olympus with those seen in the Sovereign, it's easy to determine a close date of manufacture for these systems, since they used the same components, taken off the line/shelf and put into cabinets as they were ordered and shipped. My Sovereigns are 12532 and 12533 and were assembled in early 75. They are untouched original and are one of the last pairs made. If my numbering theory is right then approx 1250 pairs were made and that seems reasonable to me since their life span was much shorter (67-75) than the Olympus (62?-75).

Since your Olympus has a blue horn on a black 375 driver I would peg them as 63 or early 64 manufature. It's well known that JBL ran the blue drivers in 1962, for whatever reason!! I have seen 1962 vintage Olympus with ALL blue components installed. It would not have been important to JBL to make sure all drivers in a given cabinet were the same color. When they ran out of blue, they would use black. My Sovereigns were built during the transition between painting LE15A's and PR15's black instead of gray. I have two black LE15A's, one black PR15 and one gray PR15. After saying all that I have to remember that there are NO ABSOLUTES, only approximations I've made from the many systems that I have observed over the years.

Rick http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/images/smilies/smile.gif

01-17-2006, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the replies, men!! As promised, I won't beat this dead horse anymore.
Riessen, given the data you've compiled over the years, your conclusions regarding JBL serial numbering conventions seem appropriate. If you folks start sharing info like that, I believe the mystery will get solved, but it's gonna take a lot of effort. Too bad my little hunch was based on coincidence only.
In my recent efforts to date my speakers, I determined that the Olympus was first introduced in 1960 and informed another forum member of that. He was surprised and suggested I post that documentation - so here 'tis: Go into Library, open the Library Site Map, and scroll almost to the bottom and you'll find a section devoted to Distributor Pricelists. The C-50(-2) first appears in 1960 (absent in 1959).
Also a member asked where the Olympus serial number is located (apparently his tags are missing). On rear of speaker and here's a pic.
My system isn't yet listed on Ebay. I've been hoping that new SN dating info would surface. Also, after socializing with you JBL guys I didn't want to stick my foot in my mouth and misstate things in the Ebay ad. Now that you've educated me, I will list them - THANKS!!! The Delphi and the Olympus are going to be auctioned separately. Someone asked me to post pics of everything. That seems redundant since it'll all be on Ebay by tomorrow nite; but, I'll post some here if you want. Let me know.

Phil H
01-18-2006, 01:00 AM
Well, I'll be jiggered (Tennessee Talk) - Can you believe that a pair of Olympus just like yours has just popped up on ebay? What's the chances of that?
Can you believe there are two sets of Olympus on eBay? Both have S8 systems with a lens over the 075.

01-18-2006, 05:48 AM
Phil H, the second set is mine (notice the 15 years of dust - I guess I should have taken more time, but it was dark and no room to maneuver).
I hadn't noticed that the other S8 system also had a lens over the ring radiator. I recall pelly3s commented about mine. Since two have surfaced, seems likely that JBL must have done that in the early days. Riessen has seen many Olympus', including a vintage 1962 pair; will be interesting to hear his observatiuons.