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Thread: XPL200s

  1. #1
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    XPL200s

    I have the new speakers at home now, I brought them in at 11PM last night. I have not even hooked them up yet. But someone asked for a pic, so here it is.
    I must have looked at the brochure for these a half dozen times, but there is one fact that just does not come through in the brochure. These are great looking speakers. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw them in person. They really look nice. They should have shot some of these woodgrained versions for the brochure, maybe they would have sold a few more pairs.
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    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    Another:
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    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    The left side speaker has a few problems, the veneer is lifted at the back edge of the top, and there is a small hole on the woofer. The biggest problem though, was this dented midrange. If anyone ever tells you that you cannot hear damage like this, they are full of crap. I could definitely hear it. I pulled off the mesh cover, and tried to pull the dome out with tape. That didn't work, the metal is pretty strong, and it wouldn't pull out. Then I put a funnel over the dome. I had to put some masking tape on the baffle to get some suction. With that in place, I was able to suck that dome right out, applying the suction with my mouth. The little dents that remain are not going to come out. I can hear them pop out when I apply suction, then they pop right back in when I remove the suction. Still, it is much better than it was, and I certainly hear the difference.
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    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    I am going to replace this driver anyway, but I wanted to try to pull out the dent just to see if I could do it or not.
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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Those do look nice!! If you are going to trash the driver anyway you can take the dome off on work the dents from the back side. Might get them?? Let us know what you think. I have my home made wannabee's and I love them the originals must be great.

    Rob

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    Super Moderator jblnut's Avatar
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    Congrats !

    Wow - very nice ! I would really like to hear a pair of these some day. If some ever pop up around here I'm all over them. And if you think they look nice in woodgrain, you should see XPL's in the gloss piano black :-).

    As far as that 093Ti mid goes, you may run into some of the same issues I had with one of my 140's. The voice coil gap is really tight and if it's not perfectly aligned you'll get some pretty weird distortion sounds at certain frequencies. Plus the JBL stock of these diaphragms is questionable - my local JBL repair shop had to order 3 of them before they got a working one (first 2 were DOA).

    I'm sure you'll get it working and MAN is it worth it !


    jblnut

  7. #7
    Senior Seņor boputnam's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Don C
    ...I was able to suck that dome right out, applying the suction with my mouth.
    Astounding, the lengths of effort (and disclosure!! :shock: ) we go through...

    Don, we need a Thread "Home-tried Remedies"...
    bo

    "Indeed, not!!"

  8. #8
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    Review of the sound of the JBL XPL-200s
    A couple of people have mentioned that they were interested to hear my impression of these, but I have never posted much, for a couple of reasons. First, I needed time to get used to them and do some comparisons with other speakers. Well that is covered now, since getting these I have had a constant stream of speakers coming and going, so I have done the comparisons. These comparisons are very unfair because some of the speakers cost a lot less than the XPLs. But comparing is the easiest way, so here goes. First I had them set up along with my JBL 240Ti. I also have been listening to my JBL L-20T that I keep in the computer room. Also B&W DM6 and DM220, Magneplanar SMGa, our project JBL L-100s, Magnat MSP-110, Polk Monitor 10 and RT5s, and finally now I have a set of Martin Logan Sequel IIs. These comparisons are what this review is all about.
    The second reason that I waited so long to post was that the speakers seem to have such a good reputation, and I feel a bit self conscious about criticising them. And I do have some criticism for them. I have never considerd myself a golden ear, and I get annoyed reading Stereophile, I don't want to sound like those elitists. Anyway, I will list the associated equipment just like they do, I have them connected to a Belles 250 power amp, with a Belles XLM pre-amp and my sources are a Nakamichi MB2-s CD player, and for vinyl an AR turntable with Rega tonearm. I had a McIntosh MCD7000 player for a while too.
    On to the sound.
    They have fantastic clarity. The first thing that I noticed about these after I first set them up was that they sounded familiar. It took me a while to figure out what it was that was so familiar, but after a while it occured to me that while they don't sound much like any other speakers, they do remind me of my Stax headphones. So I hooked up those phones, and that pretty much confirmed it, that is why they were familiar, they sound a lot like my Stax SR-40 headphones. They are very clear and transparent, like electrostatics. But they don't radiate to the rear, so they don't give that sense of ambience that you get with electrostatics. That's the sound of the rear wave from the speakers bouncing off of the back wall and reaching your ears late, but the JBLs are missing that. So they have the clarity of electrostatics without the sense of space. This is great as long as you want to hear a lot of detail. You don't want to play much music that is poorly recorded on these, it is impossible to ignore the recording flaws with them. And if the musicians make a little mistake, you will hear it. If the recording engineer edits in a tape of a different guitar for a minute then switches back to another one, you will hear that. I definitely hear things that I have never heard before on these. I put on the CD of Grateful Dead, Skeletons from the closet, and I noticed how badly those guys played on those songs. Wow, they were all stoned. I have been listening to those songs on the radio for years, and I never noticed all of the little mistakes before.
    That could be a pretty good review if I stopped there, but I cant stop without discussing the frequency response. Most noticeable, they have a lot of upper midrange. A LOT. That's the second thing that I noticed about them. It is almost as bad as the L-100s but the emphasis seems to come in at higher frequencies. Actually I suspect that if one were to measure them on axis they might measure pretty close to flat. My thought is that there is very wide dispersion of the upper midrange from the dome midranges, so that the total amount of energy put into the room is more than a cone would produce. Anyway, from my listening, the emphasis is there. So for example, any recording that has electric organ on it, that organ is not just playing along with the rest of the group, on these speakers he is the lead player. On lots of recordings this drives me nuts. The thing is though, with the right recording, it is glorious. On Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedos, that organ sound is just amazing. It is definitely emphasized in comparison with other speakers, but nothing else sounds as good. Dire Straits Brothers in arms is another example. That disk sounds better on these speakers than on any others that I have heard. So with organ it works, but on a recording with a lot of electric guitar solos, the sound can drive you right out of the room. I had some Zappa guitar solos cranked up one day and my wife came in and hollered at me to turn it down. She never does that, but this time she was right, it sounded awful. I had been trying to ignore the sound quality and enjoy the playing, but there was no way to do it.
    My 240Tis had a -2db contour switch on the back panel, one for for the mid and one for the tweeter, so if the frequency balance was not to your liking, you could flip a switch and be happy. I often wish for a switch like that for the midrange on the XPLs. But they don't have it, they just have the one for the tweeters and it is no help. Maybe someday I will figure out what I need to do to add it.
    The treble is excellent. I have very little hearing above 10K, so if there is any problem up there, I don't know about it. The bass is excellent too, as low as the instruments are actually playing. On electric bass for example, it is all there at full strength, and there is nothing flabby or slow about the bass, when the note stops the speakers stop immediately. The XPLs are not overly sensitive to placement, at least not in my room. I have one of them close to a side wall and the other one close to a back wall. There is a slight bass emphasis set up this way, but that works for me. They don't quite match the 240 TIs in the very lowest bass though. It is not about the sounds of the actual instrument playing, it is more about the air moving in the room, and how they affect your stomach. The 14 inch woofers in the 240s just do a better job of moving air in the room than the XPL 200s. But none of the other speakers that I mentioned can match the XPLs in the bass. The XPLs seem to be very efficient, and I have never been able to play them so loud that they misbehave, they can handle more power without compressing than I can stand. They sound pretty much the same whether you listen loud or soft. You can also listen from different locations around the room, they still sound good way off axis.

    Coampared to the other speakers:
    The Polk monitor 10s make the room sound bigger, but they lack the clarity and bass of the XPLs.
    The Polk RT5s were on Stereophile's reccomended list, but having heard them atop the XPLs, I cant tell you why. It's a totally unfair comparison though, and the tiny Polks are inoffensive, they don't really do anything wrong, they just blend in. They lack impact and have almost no bass at all.
    The B&Ws also seem to lack low bass and character, the DM6s are pretty good but flabby and overemphasized in the mid bass, the DM-220s have a hollow sounding midrange and less bass. I was surprised by them, I have heard so much good about the brand, but the ones that I have are nothing special.
    The Magnats emphasize the treble, but I think that the worst of it may be above my hearing range. They have great midrange, and though the woofer is only eight inches, the bass is good, clean and well controlled, though they don't go very deep. I was impressed though, they beat either of the B&Ws easily. They cannot match the immpact or clarity of the JBLs though.
    The JBL L20T are my favorite small speaker, they are about the same size as the little Polks but beat them easily in bass and dynamics.
    The Magneplanars that I have are the smallest ones. They are sensitive to placement in a way that none of the other speakers are, the only spot where they really worked for me was in front of the drapes, where the back wave was mostly absorbed instead of reflected. They did a nice job set up that way, but if you move around the sound quality changed, you have to sit still while listening, you lose most of the treble if you move to the side even a little. If you get up and walk around while listening, the change in their response as you move is bothersome to me. Every now and them I have to hop up for an air guitar solo or something. And they don't play loud very well.
    The L-100s emphasise the midrange too much but seem to have a subdued high end. Turning down the mid L-pad helped. Turning up the tweeter L-pad until the treble level was where I wanted it made them sound harsh, I couldn't find a good combination. The bass was good though. They do rock better than jazz.
    The Martin Logans are great speakers, they match the JBLs easily on clarity and do a slightly better job I think, on voices. But the bass just does not sound right, even with the -3db contour switch in there is too much mid bass and it is loose, just a bit out of control. My room is probably not ideal for them. The treble dispersion of the M-Ls is pretty narrow, I have a reclining chair set up about four feet to the left of my couch, which is pretty much centered on the speakers. I cannot find a placement that will give good sound at both the chair and couch, I have to choose. The midrange sound is a bit recessed on the M-Ls compared to most of these other speakers. And the dynamics of the panel don't match the woofer. The panel can sound a bit flat on some music. They are very inefficient, and need a lot of power to start sounding good. But then they start compressing if you give them too much, kind of a narrow operating range. But overall they do sound fantastic, especially if you sit right in the middle between the two speakers.
    So in the end the XPLs win out. I will eventually sell everything else, but I wont sell these. I think that if they had the LE14 woofer and a -2db (or-3) contour switch for the midrange they would be my ideal speaker.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Don C
    So in the end the XPLs win out. I will eventually sell everything else, but I wont sell these. I think that if they had the LE14 woofer and a -2db (or-3) contour switch for the midrange they would be my ideal speaker.
    Agreed. I'll look into padding the 093Ti. I would recommend the 250Ti volume instead of the 240Ti volume for the system you propose.

  10. #10
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Good review! and yes they do measure hot on the highend on axis. You can see it easily on the RTA. They still fit in the "window" but the upper emphasis is there.

    Rob

  11. #11
    RIP 2011 Zilch's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Robh3606
    They still fit in the "window"....
    The "window" being +/- 3dB?

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    Originally posted by Don C
    I think that if they had the LE14 woofer and a -2db (or-3) contour switch for the midrange they would be my ideal speaker.
    For ~ 1 dB of attenuation replace R10, R11, R12 with 7.5 ohm 10 W resistors and add a 39 ohm 10 W in parallel with R13.

    For ~ 2 dB of attenuation replace R10, R11, R12 with 9.1 ohm 10 W resistors and add a 15 ohm 10 W in parallel with R13.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help. I will have to figure out how to make these switchable, just for those recordings that seem to benifit from the added character that the boosted midrange gives them.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    Looking at my copy of the 200A schematic, (I am still looking for the early 200 version) I noticed that the caps that are in series with the mid and tweeter are bypassed twice. They have used a .01 and a .005 there. Interesting, I wonder if that would be a good upgrade for some other systems.

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by Don C
    Looking at my copy of the 200A schematic, (I am still looking for the early 200 version) I noticed that the caps that are in series with the mid and tweeter are bypassed twice. They have used a .01 and a .005 there. Interesting, I wonder if that would be a good upgrade for some other systems.
    I've posted about that so damn many times it makes me sick to think of all the time I've wasted doing it. The 0.01 are polypropylene and the .005 are polystyrene. I've posted about their benefits and I've posted about how the TOTL JBL's used them, L250, 250Ti, XPL200.

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