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Thread: JBL Performance Series

  1. #1
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    Arrow JBL Performance Series

    Okay, as promised, I begin the Performance Series thread. I start right at the beginning, so it'll take some time for the thread to develop.

    I received the majority of the Performance Series set up on Monday, December 22, 2003 via the Pilot Freight Co. The delivery was supposed to be at my home on December 21 at a pre-arranged appointment time, but the shipper forgot to put the pallet on the truck.

    I was mad and let them know, so, hey, the shipping was free! They arrived exactly as scheduled on the 22nd.

    I didn't get a photo of everything on the pallet, but here's the stack in my garage:
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    In.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    Maybe you could start even earlier in the history and tell us where you found them available for sale. I have never seen a set in any store, a couple of sets have showed up on ebay, that's it. Oh, one think I have always wondered, it the finish vinyl or is it real wood?
    And thanks for posting, I am very curious about them.

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    Removing them from the boxes was a near religious experience. The excellent cabinetry, the sharp miters, the elongated octagon shape, the cocoon-like fabric clinging to the surfaces, and the impressive heft combined to make it a painstaking and deliberate process. The 80lb subs belied their relatively compact enclosures, making them prime hernia producers to the unwary 50+ male bending over the boxes.

    Once safely removed, they had to be carried up to the first floor family room. Thank heaven the PT800s and PS1400s don't come pre-stacked. I could not have carried them!

    I thought that would be a good place to compare them to the powerful SVA1800s that drove the sound in that room.

    Here they are in virginal form, before they've been stacked, wired, or driven.
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  4. #4
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    TD - also tell us how you first came to the decision to go with the Performance Series.

    John

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    Smile

    Nice,,,, Very, Very, Handsome .

    Now if JBL would just offer a variant of its' 3" drivers with aquaplas dusted Ti diaphragms - then I'd buy some. ( I've done a 180° on my thinking about Ti ).

    Sorry - back to your story .

    <. Earl K

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    Originally posted by Don C
    Maybe you could start even earlier in the history and tell us where you found them available for sale. I have never seen a set in any store, a couple of sets have showed up on ebay, that's it. Oh, one think I have always wondered, it the finish vinyl or is it real wood?
    And thanks for posting, I am very curious about them.
    Honestly, one could get the impression that JBL doesn't want to sell these.

    I first saw/heard them at a pro sound exhibition in McCormick Place in Chicago. That was in 2002 I think. There was a dealer there who had the usual pro stuff, some Synthesis gear, and a demo area with a Beech Performance Series set in 5.1. The floor was noisy, but I was impressed and intrigued. They were so detailed, precise, and open. They were righteously loud without a hint of strain. They were beautiful, and the ti was calling my name. In my mind, I had left the building.

    Back in LA, I tried to find a dealer (more on that later); failing that, I went to Northrdige, CA to the JBL demo room where at the time there was a Performance Series in Black Ash set up. It was even more impressive in that controlled setting. I also listened to the TiK and K2 stuff there. They were quite good, too, but beyond my means. Amazing stuff!

    They said I'd need to go to an authroized Synthesis dealer to purchase them, so I found one, and I got a brilliant demo of a Hercules System (OMG!) but the owner said he wouldn't waste his time on a $10K purchase. He only did serious HT. Go somewhere else.

    Thus began a familiar refrain: e-mail/phone/visit a Synthesis dealer, then get the cold shoulder for being a bottom feeder at less than $10k. I started to contact dealers outside of SoCal and eventually found one in Florida and one in upstate New York who would gladly purchase the Performance speakers and even sell them below retail. Woo-hoo!

    But wait: not all speakers are available; production and shipping delays; gotta ship from CA warehouse to FL back to me in CA; getting crazy.

    Then I found a couple of dealers on the Internet. Really cheap prices, too. Less than half of retail. Wow! When can I order? Right now? Yes!

    One week: no confirmation. Two weeks: no confirmation. Three weeks: no confirmation. What's this? The JBL links on the Web site is gone. "No longer carry JBL." Phone calls, emails, threats, get papers to file fraud in another state (fun), travel to said state and go to courthouse, THEN the seller says, "Here's your money back."

    So, finally, the dealer in New York contacts me and says he's got a Performance Series return from a customer. Only one box ever opened, the wife said "Not in my house" to that many speakers and for that much money, and back they came. Would I be interested in them for a few thousand off retail? Say at dealer cost? You'll Fax me the invoice? Sure.

    That was December 15, 2003.
    In.

  7. #7
    Dis Member mikebake's Avatar
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    Really cool thread, but not a good JBL scenario you paint.........

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    Originally posted by mikebake
    Really cool thread, but not a good JBL scenario you paint.........
    You're right. I think JBL could sell a bunch of these if people could actually find them and buy them.

    It's a testament to my personal lust to have them after hearing them that I persevered in getting them. Many times I decided I'd had enough and auditioned other units.

    I tried out Sonus Faber Cremona, Boston Acoustic VR-M90, MartinLogan Prodigy, and Vienna Acoustics Reference Strauss (a lot like a JBL L7 in looks and sound BTW), plus listened to some Internet brands at aquaintances' homes. Yet, I persisted in getting the Performance speakers.

    After all, I'd done some real time listening to expensive Cremona systems, Prodigy systems, etc. Why spend time on JBL's little known and poorly marketed Performance Series? Well, because the Performance Series is pretty darn good, and it saved me from spending $20,000 plus on speakers that might have more snoot factor and look prettier in some cases, but didn't deliver better sound. In fact, some of those high end speakers were absolutely unacceptable to me in their sonic personalities. I like it the way JBL, God, and California intended it.

    Let me sing the praises of the titanium and titanium alloy drivers and JBL's excellent magnets, cabinets, and crossovers. Greg Timbers, the design guru behind the vaunted JBL 4300 series, the L200B, L300, L250ti, and K2 series, deserves a whole lot of credit for his vision in creating the legacy heir of that tradition, the Performance Series.

    So maybe there was a sense of destiny at play, too.

    Okay, I'll stop now. More pictures tomorrow.
    In.

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    Here is a full frontal shot of the PT800 docked on top of the PS1400. In the background is the L7 it will dethrone.

    This Performance stack weighs in around 120lb. (if you count the hardware), so it's not the heaviset beast in the world, but it's 45lb. heavier than the L7 is.

    From the top:
    1" pure titanium, rubber surround, dome tweeter with EOS Waveguide
    4" titanium, rubber surround, inverted dome, pistonic drive midrange with cast aluminum frame
    8" titanium alloy, rubber surround, inverted dome woofer with cast aluminum frame
    14" Aquaplas, rubber surround, 4" edge-wound voice coil subwoofer with cast aluminum basket
    Dual Free Flow air motion apetures (AKA ports!)

    Even though the drivers look pretty good in the picture, these are absolutely stunning in person. Despite their metallic nature, they look warm and inviting, and they glow with a soft intensity. They really draw you to want to touch them, to feel their smoothness and the perfect dome cradled in the deep black rubber.

    Wait a minute. I'm having a moment.

    Okay, here's the picture.
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  10. #10
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    Hi TD ( hope you don't mind that abridgement - a TD in my business does garner great respect )

    these are absolutely stunning in person.


    YEP !

    Any chance of posting pictures of the individual components ? I'm a component ( "fit & finish" ) sort of guy ( - perhaps I'm partially Japanese ) .

    <. Earl K

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    There are at least four ways for the PT800 tower and PS1400 sub to interact, both stacked and unstacked. I tried all four and ended up using the set up you see, with the units completely docked, including the gold-plated connecting straps.

    This means that the speaker wire goes direct to the sub's speaker connecting posts, then the straps go from the attachment posts on the top of the sub to the speaker binding post on the PT800. The JBL nameplate on the top of the PS1400 pops out to reveal the attachment posts underneath.

    Sorry about the overly bright picture, but you get the idea.
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    Last edited by Titanium Dome; 09-21-2004 at 11:09 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Just below the connecting straps on the back of the sub is the amplifier and crossover connection panel. Again, the picture isn't the best, but I'm over 50 and bending down while trying to focus the freakin' digital is not my best thing.

    As you can see, I'm a spade kind of guy for speaker wire ends. I buy them and the wire at a local electronics store (a "real" electronics store, not a BB, CC, GG, RS kind of store), then crimp, solder, and cover 'em myself. I like the stability, wide contact area, and tightness of the spade.

    My least favorite feature in the Performance Series is the timing on the auto shut off for the sub's amplifier. If the sub isn't used for a while, it automatically shuts off, which can be annoying. If there's a lot of quiet dialog for example and it goes on too long, I start to get paranoid about the sub shutting down with a slightly audible whump and the stress screws up the experience. So, I don't use auto anymore. I have the sub turned on and off by a 12V trigger at the power source.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Valentin's Avatar
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    So how did they compare to the sva1800 I actually own sva2100 and the sva to the L7

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by Valentin
    So how did they compare to the sva1800 I actually own sva2100 and the sva to the L7
    Wow, 2100s, huh? I've often characterized the 1800s as being able to "take off the top of your head, scramble you brains, and blow them all over the back wall." I can't imagine what a skull crushing experience the 2100s must be.

    The SVAs are without a doubt some of the most in your face, powerful, direct speakers I've ever heard. I absolutely love them. The SVA design philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and the dynamic range and power of the drivers is amazing. Yet for all the power and drive, they are very nimble and quick on their feet, like the great superstar athletes of the world.

    A pair of them (at least 1800s) is perfect for music, especially hard rock, club and dance tracks, opera, jazz, country, well, heck all music. For HT, though, they can be overwhelming if not properly tamed. Maybe that's why the sole SVA survivor, the bottom-of-the-line SVA1500 is rebadged as the HT Series and the others are gone.

    Drat! I meant to put this kind of stuff in an SVA thread, but as you can see, once I got started, it was hard to stop.

    The Performance Series is better all around and is much more listenable over time. But nothing ever got my attention and kicked me in the groin like the SVA1800s did the first time I really opened them up. They drank every Watt of power available and kicked it back out with mind-numbing clarity and force. Really, put 400W into these things and TURN THEM UP. Amazing!

    As for the L7s, they couldn't keep up with the SVAs, especially right out of the box. The SVAs with their horns and dual drivers can tackle almost any environment and they still sound great.

    The K2 Series is a magnitude better than the SVA, but the K2s were less surprising to me for having heard the SVAs first.
    In.

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    Where o where can u get these ???

    Damn those look nice ! And I'm sure they sound even better !

    I have a doctor friend who has finally paid off his loans and is building a home theater. He's looking to me to provide recommentations and I can't think of a better system to recommend in his price range. So - where the hell can I find/order these ??? Any idea what he can expect to pay for the full 5.1 setup ?

    If I can't source these I'm going to have to dig deep and try to build a matching 5-speaker 4425/4435 or 4412/4410 setup using ebay stuff. Might take more time then he has patience though.

    I suppose I could use the new E series stuff now that the Studio line is gone but I haven't heard any of it yet. I have two friends (yeah I had something to do with it) with S38/sCenter/S28 systems and they actually sound very good - especially good for the $$$.

    jblnut

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