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Thread: JBLs: quality then vs. quality today?

  1. #1
    Junior Member Lee6's Avatar
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    Thumbs up JBLs: quality then vs. quality today?

    my friend and i were discussing my L100s and L200s that i bought during college days in the early '70s and got to wondering how they stack up against modern, high end speakers

    neither of us have kept up with technological advances in the speaker business....

    for the sake of argument, on a scale of 1 to 10, if my JBLs were, say, an 8 back then, where would they rank today, compared to what's available today?

    thanx.....

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    It all comes down to how much you're willing to spend. I suggest that JBL's top of the line speakers today are substantially better both in sound and construction than yesterday's speakers. Consumer level may be a different matter...

    John

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee6
    for the sake of argument, on a scale of 1 to 10, if my JBLs were, say, an 8 back then, where would they rank today, compared to what's available today?
    It is obviously a very subjective comparison and will vary widely depending on who you ask. How would you compare the 2006 Corvette to the 1976 'Vette?

    To be a little more fair on the cars let's substitute a 1973 'Vette... the '76 was such a dog. If you think the fast in the quarter mile with handling slightly better than a pickup '73 'Vette is almost as good or perhaps better than it's modern counter part you'll likely feel the the same about the older speakers.

    For the speakers, these two would be the current JBLs that are most similar in application and price when corrected for inflation. The 12" three-way (the LSR 6332) is a very updated 4311 which was the pro version of the L100. The horn system is the new Project Array Series... both of these are better in every way than the older speakers from a purely technical standpoint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    It is obviously a very subjective comparison and will vary widely depending on who you ask. How would you compare the 2006 Corvette to the 1976 'Vette?

    To be a little more fair on the cars let's substitute a 1973 'Vette... the '76 was such a dog. If you think the fast in the quarter mile with handling slightly better than a pickup '73 'Vette is almost as good or perhaps better than it's modern counter part you'll likely feel the the same about the older speakers.

    For the speakers, these two would be the current JBLs that are most similar in application and price when corrected for inflation. The 12" three-way (the LSR 6332) is a very updated 4311 which was the pro version of the L100. The horn system is the new Project Array Series... both of these are better in every way than the older speakers from a purely technical standpoint.

    Widget
    But:

    If you are in a '73 Corvette you will get a lot more than you will in a 2006. A different mentality.

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddalin
    But:

    If you are in a '73 Corvette you will get a lot more than you will in a 2006. A different mentality.
    That may be true, but on that scale you'll do even better in one of these.


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    RIP 2010 scott fitlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget
    It is obviously a very subjective comparison and will vary widely depending on who you ask. How would you compare the 2006 Corvette to the 1976 'Vette?

    To be a little more fair on the cars let's substitute a 1973 'Vette...

    Widget
    Lets be even more than a little fair! Lets substitute a `69 vette with an aluminum block 427.

    In some aspects many of todays better speakers have made technological advancements, i.e., less distortion, coloration, better power handling, etc, and in other aspects, build quality, and workmanship, as well as subjective sound of some of yesterdays products were outstanding.

    Jus .02 cents from the peanut gallery!
    scottyj

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    I think time will be the final judge regarding build quality, let's see how well today's products hold up in 50 years, lots of the old stuff obviously lasted that long. Today's mfrs have learned that engineered obsolescence and disposability is better for the long-term corporate bottom line than durability. It goes back to the old Zippo/BIC debate. Even Maytag redesigned their old "live-forever" transmission so that it no longer does. Profit began to replace pride as a motivator in the US somewhere around 1958, and I think it's a safe bet we'll never go back.

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    let's see how well today's products hold up in 50 years, lots of the old stuff obviously lasted that long.
    Yes and we are lucky JBL still supports the older drivers the way they do. I have a 50 year old Altec that has stood the test of time. Works great and looks good too. As long as it's not a foam surround or have foam under the dome the current crop should be able to do 50 years as well.

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott fitlin
    Lets be even more than a little fair! Lets substitute a `69 vette with an aluminum block 427.

    In some aspects many of todays better speakers have made technological advancements, i.e., less distortion, coloration, better power handling, etc, and in other aspects, build quality, and workmanship, as well as subjective sound of some of yesterdays products were outstanding.

    Jus .02 cents from the peanut gallery!
    Well Scott, that would have to be one of the only two ZL-1's ever produced and would now sell for well in excess of 1.5 million $$$. Otis Chandler has one of them and I don't recall where the other is at this time. Certainly wouldn't have been a bad investment in '69.

    BTW, my friend was just offered in excess of six figures for his '65 big block that needs a paint job. Not many JBLs that originally sold for about $4,500 would now sell for $125,000. Even new ones aren't in that range.

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    RIP 2010 scott fitlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy
    I think time will be the final judge regarding build quality, let's see how well today's products hold up in 50 years, lots of the old stuff obviously lasted that long. Today's mfrs have learned that engineered obsolescence and disposability is better for the long-term corporate bottom line than durability. It goes back to the old Zippo/BIC debate. Even Maytag redesigned their old "live-forever" transmission so that it no longer does. Profit began to replace pride as a motivator somewhere around 1958, and I think it's a safe bet we'll never go back.
    Well said. I happen to agree wholeheartedly.

    Planned obsolescence and disposabilty are in fact part of todays manufacturing thought process. The other day I was out to my service technicians place, dropping off some gear for mods and repair, and he was showing me some of todays amps, the " Made In China " kind, and how cheaply made they really are, and complaining how they just dont make things to last anymore, and every year or so, what you just bought not too long ago, is now obsolete. And the best part? What you own thats now just over two years old, and already outdated, is worth only a fraction of what you paid for it originally!
    scottyj

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    Yeah, Scott, the reversing trend of QC vs marketing proportionality tells the tale, how often do you see an ad for a QC tech in the help wanteds these days? It all stands to reason though, REALLY GOOD products don't need a buttload of marketing BS to sell. They sell themselves.

    Whether a good or bad thing, the phenomena seems to be far more prevelent in the US than in some of the other industrial nations, particularly in Japan. During what I consider the peak of our quality production, "made in Japan" was a joke, and a product to be shunned. Not so nowadays. A few years ago I was the service mgr at a sizable all-brands marine dealership. If it wasn't for the late-model, US-made garbage (Mercury and Johnson/Evinrude), we'd have had to retire our entire service staff and sell 90% of our pts inventory. The late-model Yamahas, Hondas, and Nissans just didn't fail, period. This is something I'm NOT proud of, yet it's true. Perhaps human nature (greed) will eventually take control there as well, it will be interesting to see.

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Talk about going Off Topic!

    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy
    Whether a good or bad thing...
    Appliances that need to be replaced instead of repaired and that need to be replaced sooner than they had historically been can only be considered to be bad. It may seem to be good to those corporate morons that measure their success by quarterly profits, but in real terms when you build products like this you are depleting us of our hard earned cash, the planet of resources, and of course filling up landfills... yeah, yeah, and creating low paying jobs in the developing world and excess profits for those who deserve to be beheaded... Viva la Revolution.

    Fortunately for us, even cheesy copper colored speakers will last for years with a bit of care and the odd refoam.


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    Junior Member Lee6's Avatar
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    great comments......i wasn't expecting this variety and depth

    makes me remember my dad, back in the '60s, and how he would take his electric shaver into town every so often to get repaired.....he was pretty good at cleaning it and what not, but when it needed something more he would take it into a shop in salt lake city that would repair it and it was good for a couple more years....damn shaver prolly lasted him 6, 8 years or so.....

    so yeah, the overall quality of the old JBLs is something to behold.....and i regret the passing of good workmanship....another era on the dust heap....one that i never, ever thought would disappear

    now.....those new JBLs a few posts up the thread.....considering just the sound quality, i gather the concensus is that, in comparison, my old ones would drop to a 5 or 6 and these new ones would take over the 8 spot?

    (and no....i wouldn't swap my C6 for an old vette.....no comparison)

  14. #14
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee6
    now.....those new JBLs a few posts up the thread.....considering just the sound quality, i gather the concensus is that, in comparison, my old ones would drop to a 5 or 6 and these new ones would take over the 8 spot?
    I find it impossible to seriously rate any speakers with such a simplified scale. I suppose you are about right... depending on who you are talking with I suppose they may rate your vintage JBLs a bit lower.

    The L100 was not an inexpensive speaker in it's day and the L200 was significantly more expensive. Speakers at this level today are not available at Best Buy and Circuit City... you really need to go to a specialty store to find comparable products.

    Ignoring performance and focusing on build quality, I'd say that virtually no drivers built today are better built than those in your vintage systems. The better consumer loudspeakers of today at a similar level in the marketplace as your vintage JBLs have better built cabinets today. The veneers tend to be thinner but the precision of the computer machined cabinets and the engineering of the bracing and design have improved quite a bit over the years.


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    RIP 2010 scott fitlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget

    Ignoring performance and focusing on build quality, I'd say that virtually no drivers built today are better built than those in your vintage systems. The better consumer loudspeakers of today at a similar level in the marketplace as your vintage JBLs have better built cabinets today. The veneers tend to be thinner but the precision of the computer machined cabinets and the engineering of the bracing and design have improved quite a bit over the years.


    Widget
    Ill agree that virtually no drivers built todays are of better construction than vintage drivers, but I would not preface it saying " Ignoring performance " either.

    One thing I have come to understand, because I listen and play with alot of new and old items, is MATERIALS used for construction. At the top end of some of todays woofers and drivers, yes, they use good materials, but, I also see many high end speakers utilizing synthetic cone materials, like poly cones, etc. I dont think poly cones sound natural at all! And, I also have come to think that even the woofers that use wood pulp cones, the pulp composition is somewhat different from what it used to be. I might be in the minority, but I feel theres something unique to the sound of some of the vintage cones that were considered TOTL years ago. Somehow, they had what I consider a more natural sound. I have read that years ago, speaker designers like Rudy Bozak paid very careful attention to the pulp composition of his woofers. These days things have changed, enviromental laws prohibit the use of things that were used in manufacturing process, maybe this has changed things to some degree.

    Of course, to be fair, lets consider the positive attributes of todays JBL drivers. Better and higher power handling, better thermal stability, considerably lighter weight in most of the newest designs. And they do work as claimed. But, for one reason or another, I have yet to find any current stuff that has that natural and musical sound of some of the best speakers of yesteryear. And, in some cases, we found the older items actually outperformed the newer and improved items. Case in point? The JBL 2241 -vs- the JBL 2240! Everyone I know did not like the new and improved 2241 over the 2240, and everyone, including myself had the same problems with them. Tinsel leads kept burning. But not with the 2240. And in abusive situations, of which I have been part, the 2240 actually held up, didnt blow, where the 2241,s fried!

    I have heard alot of the latest SOTA systems, from many manufacturers, including JBL, and Vertec is one of them. And I always leave scratching my head wondering what sound companies think is so good about them. Yeah, they can put out ungodly SPL. Utilizes the latest DSP processing, and power. But, I dont care, its just loud, not good.

    I will tell you something, a few weeks back, when I decided to go back to analog processing, and I put my antique, heavily modified urei 525 on the full range, and took out the BSS-366t, Mary, the lady who works my arcade entrance to the bumper cars, and is 97 years old, YES, shes 97, and going strong, and has THE biggest mouth you ever heard and is somewhat of a Coney Island legend, comes walking in that afternoon, and says hey Scotty, what did you do to the music? I said, why? She said, and I quote " Well, whatever you did, it sounds beautiful, this sounds like music and doesnt hurt my ears " ! Since we opened the music has been killing me even though it wasnt that loud, but this sounds terrific! So, I explained to her the difference between digital processing and analog processing. 97 and she heard it right away!!!! So did everyone else, but, when I talk to engineers and audio companies, they claim we cant hear the difference as the DSP has gotten good to the point its pretty indiscernible! BULLSHIT! And, Mary, being 97, has the priveledge that all people at that age level have! She can freely speak her mind, and if she doesnt like something, she`ll tell me, HEY, sonny, that sounds like SHIT, get back in there and do it right, you F#*kin pineapple! But, I know whatever she says, she speaks the truth as she sees or hears it, thats just the way she is. I just look at her, and say, you can hear that?

    scottyj

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