At long last I can now say that I have been inducted into the JBL Brotherhood with the long awaited arrivals of my JBL XPL-200A speakers.
It's been almost 4 years since I started searching for the XPL's but I can say that its been well worth the wait. I bought the XPL's off Dennis Leisz, whom you may remember him with his M9500's and Mcintosh MC1201 mono's. Well, after almost 2 years of much deliberation and frustration, I finally managed to get Dennis to ship them to me to Australia.
I was actually worried that my wife would string me up on a pole if they hadn't of sounded good as expectations were high. Afters years of spending countless hours searching for these babies, I had ranted and raved how good they were that I had put them up on a pedestal but a failure would have been catstrophic.
I recently sold my B&W 801 Matrix Series 3 speakers along with the matching HTM matrix centre speaker to make way for the arrival of the XPL-200A's and the B&W Nautilus HTM1 Centre channel speaker. I've been fortunate enough to score a pair of MTX200 stands and the much sought after DX-1's, not one but two of them along the way and with the help of Greg Timbers, I was able to get my hands on two pairs of HF/LF internal cards for the DX-1's. Installing the speaker spikes with the disc protectors was tricky and fiddly and looks so much better than the stands sitting on cloth towels I had previously. I opted for the smaller protective discs to aid in the rapid transfer of energy to the floor.
Listening to the XPL's was going to be the crunch test. When we removed the XPL's from their packaging and set them up, my wife was taken to the finish and how sublime they looked in the black lacquer finish. My former B&W 801's were ugly in my wife's eyes so this was a good start. When Dennis said they were in mint condition he was pretty well right on the money. Apart from a tiny crack and light scuff marks, I would rate them 9.8 out of 10. After spending a couple of hours assembling the stands and getting the speakers into place, it was onto the listening test.
My equipment consists of a NAD 208THX amplifier, Denon DCD-S10 CD PLayer, loan Music Fidelity Dr. Thomas Pre-amdplifier, Pioneer DV-525 DVD PLayer and a Denon AVR-2800 receiver. My tests were divided into two sections. First test was using the CD player through the Denon and the second test was using the CD player though the Dr. Thomas pre-amplifier only. In both tests the NAD 208THX amplifier is connected via the pre-outs on the Denon.
With much anticipation, I cranked the babies up with some tracks from Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue Hybrid SACD recording and I was impressed from the outset. My wife found them bright compared to the 801's and I would have to agree but even so, the mid and top end is absolutely amazing. The clarity and detail was uncanny, compared to the 801's sweeter and fuller midrange. Maybe I just wasn't used to hearing a more accurate speaker, which made me think the XPL's were bright
The 801's excelled in the bottom end and I was expecting this to be so but after listening to the XPL's for a week now, I've come acustomed to the bass and prefer it to the 801's. I find the XPL's bass more difinitive and able to reproduce bass better for what it's worth. Whereas the 801's bass was tight but tended to be boomier and maybe too much come to think of it.
When I connected the CD the player through the Dr. Thomas pre-amp/NAD amp and nothing else, image and clarity was even more startling. The soundstage was wider, deeper and reproduced with unbelievable detail, as if the performer was sitting there in front of you.
As you can see from the pictures, I have both DX-1's out of their boxes but for now cannot use them until I can acquire a second stereo amplifier. Once I do manage to find one I will be able to test some theories regarding the DX-1's enhancement of sound to the next level as well as providing more depth/tightness in bass repoduction.
I've been in discussions with Greg Timbers working out how to run 2 DX-1's in a balanced configuration. Greg's also given me some pointers on replacing the OPamps in the DX-1's for OP 275's and I 've also asked Greg to get back to me on possible mid bass driver replacements.
I'm really excited now that I can contribute to this forum as a true JBL member.