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Thread: JBL L Series (1990s)

  1. #1
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    Arrow JBL L Series (1990s)

    Since there's been some interest generated in the L Series, here's a thread to start accumulating L Series info and comments. Up front I'll admit this is one of my favorite consumer lines, so I'm happy to start this.

    The L Series consisted of four models, the two-way L1, two-way L3, four-way L5, and four-way L7, with the L7 being the high end speaker. At the end of its model run, the L7 sold for $1000/ea., the L5 for $690/ea., the L3 for $470/ea., and the L1 for $320/ea. in mid 1990s dollars.

    A few people have claimed there was an L Center, but I've never seen one or even a picture of one. Anyone having proof is welcome to chime in.

    The common charactersitics of the L Series are the real Black Ash veneer enclosures, enclosures that are deeper than they are wide, the slanting of the baffle at the top of each enclosure, the sheer black grilles with plastic frames, and the ubiquitous use of the 035TIA tweeter at the top of the slanted baffle.

    Other drivers used included 5", 6.5", 8" and 12" variations, depending on the speaker model and enclosure. Only the L7 had the LE120H-1 woofer, which was mounted on the side of the enclosure, facing the center of the soundstage. Thus the L7 models had right and left configurations. The L7, L5, and L3 also had plastic bases for the user to attach, increasing stability and improving the looks.

    The L7 was bi-amp capable, and JBL had a rather long treatise in the L7 Supplement about the virtues of doing so.

    The JBL Library has a nice brochure about the L Series here: http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/...2-l-series.htm
    Out.

  2. #2
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    Smile L1

    This is the only L Series speaker I haven't owned, though I've heard enough of them. It's a great little bookshelf or stand speaker, but it's kind of inefficient and you can't relly get much of anything below 55Hz out of it.

    Still, its 6.5" "woofer and 035TIA tweeter are a good combo, and if you see a pair at a reasonable price, it's worth considering for office or bedroom duty or as a rear channel speaker with more robust L Series speakers up front.
    Out.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up L3

    While the L3 is still a two-way speaker, it's a significant step up from the L1 (and one I own).

    For one thing, the woofer is now a real 8" woofer. For another the enclosure is larger and tuned lower. For another, it's taller and is floor standing.

    These characteristics make it ideal for duty as a center speaker in an L Series HT set up IF you have a wall hung plasma or projector screen. The L3 is not so tall as to be impossible to place under these. In fact, I've heard a pair of L3s used as a center channel, next to each other but slightly toed out. It sounded pretty darn good.

    As stand alones, they're quite nice, too, and work well out of the box. They're relatively easy to place and set up. They will easily give you a strong 40hz even in less than ideal placement. If you follow the set up instructions, they give slightly lower useful bass and excellent soundstage. They also show strength as an example of good two-way design, and the time alignment created by the receding baffle works well.

    Member Johnaec has a pair, I know, and I think he's pretty happy with them. Maybe he'll chime in.
    Out.

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up L5

    To many, the L5 is the high point of the L Series. You can see many, many favorable reviews on the Web, and they tend to sell quite well at auction.

    It's no wonder considering the almost perfect size, the wonderful four driver array, and the proportionally good looks that it's a favorite. It has an 8" woofer, a 6.5" midbass, a super 5" midrange, and the 035TIA. The midrange and the tweeter are on the time aligned baffle, while the larger speakers are lower on the flat front baffle.

    This is a very, very nice sounding speaker. The huge crossover does a super job of handing off the sound to the speakers; it's seamless. Due to the presence of the midrange driver, the tweeter is crossed over 1kHz higher, resulting in better high frequency performance, plus the midrange clarity is significantly improved.

    The 8" woofer handles everything below 170Hz, so it has a lot less to do than the 8" in the L3, which has to head up to 3kHz. This makes a huge difference in low end response. That, plus lower cabinet tuning and bigger volume, gets the sound solidly below 40Hz, easily down to 35Hz before it starts to weaken.

    These are so easy to unpack and set up, it's easy to ignore JBL's instructions and just go. But a little patience in placement will yield big results. These are speakers that I think every JBL collector ought to consider, at least for temporary ownership, because they're just so damn amazing for what they cost, especially now on the used market.
    Out.

  5. #5
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    Smile L7

    Here is the statement speaker of the L Series, but it is also the problem child, the black sheep, the mystery, the enigma, the disappointment. It is usually though not universally criticized as being too bright, too strident, too shrill, too weak in the bass, etc.

    So did JBL drop the ball on this one? After making three pretty good models at their price point, did they totally screw up the top model? Did they just not know what they were doing? Did they gamble on a design that just wasn't any good? Did they think that they could just do a half-assed job with "new" ideas and people would buy it at a premium price anyway?

    Well, those questions only matter if one agrees that the speaker is a disappointment or a disaster. If one believes that the speaker is one of the better contemporary designs in the JBL portfolio, as I firmly do, then those questions are for people who just don't get it.

    More on the L7 later.
    Out.

  6. #6
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    I've got the L3's and a single L1, (it's for sale if someone wants it as a center). I really like the L3's, but need to do a side by side test with my L60T's to see which 8" I might prefer. But both are capable of amazing output, since the cabinets are so large for 8" drivers.

    BTW, 'Dome - there is a center that is at least a physical match to the L series, the CL505, (Center - L series - 5" - HF - 5"): http://manuals.harman.com/JBL/HOM/Te...CL505%20ts.pdf

    I've got one, and it's finished just like the regular L series, but has different drivers - the 5" have cloth surrounds and the HF is soft dome. I believe it sold for close to $400, (it's a drag JBL took down all their old support info, that included pricing...).

    John

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    Smile L Center

    Thanks John for that confirmation. Now I seem to recall the model number you list (CL505) but still have never seen one. Any chance you can give us a few shots, especially of those drivers?
    Out.

  8. #8
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    Smile L7 reviews

    Take a look here for 17 reviews by L7 owners. You'll see the opinions are generally quite positive among actual owners. There are one or two exceptions, but you can judge the negativity by the character revealed in the writing.

    http://www.audioreview.com/cat/speak...9_1594crx.aspx

    One thing I think many longterm owners have in common is the willingness to work to get the set up correct. It pays off big.
    Out.

  9. #9
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    OK - here are a couple picks of the CL505. It definitely should be considered part of this "L" series, as its finish and grille construction are identical. It's 7" high and 20" wide.

    One correction to my earlier comment re: cloth surrounds - they're actually foam, but still not the rubberized surrounds like the bigger speakers. And the HF dome is cloth and very soft.

    The cabinet on this one is a little beat up and really dirty, as is the grille, (excuse the poor lighting conditions). And I just realized it's missing the logo...

    I've seen them on eBay from time to time, often just listed as "JBL Center Speaker", so you have to look close to see if they're the CL505. They usually go for peanuts - most people don't realize how expensive they were.

    (Edit: I just checked the price lists posted here, and it appears the CL505 was only produced in 1996 and 1997, and they listed for $330 each.)

    I can't really report on the sound, as I've only had it plugged in long enough to be sure everything worked.

    John
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  10. #10
    Senior Member "Duke" Spinner's Avatar
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    Sure looks like an "L"series speaker, don't it .....

  11. #11
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    Thumbs up Thanks, John

    That's an odd looking tweeter there. I know you've not made a comparison, but I'd like to hear it (or hear about it) in comparison to the 035TIA in all the other L Series models.

    Any chance you might hook it up and do a brief comparison for us?
    Out.

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up L7 Heaven, Part the First

    The L7 Owner's Manual Supplement spends a little ink on placement of the speakers, then goes on for three and a half pages on "Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amplification." This latter section really covers a lot more than just bi-wiring and bi-amping. Here in L7 Heaven, Part the First, I'll get into placement.

    The placement instructions are simple and supported with two detailed drawings. Anyone who reads this and doesn't start with the speakers three feet from the front wall and three feet from the side wall on its respective side, with the side-mounted woofers facing inward, and the fronts angled 10-15 degrees (toe in) is asking for poor performance, and if he complains about it he's a dope. This is the simple, direct, straightforward, diagrammed, optimal placement recommended by the manufacturer. Then put the listener in the 60/60/60 triangle set up JBL recommends in the regular L Series Owner's Manual.

    So to the complainers who jam L7s into the corners nearly flat against the side wall: you're idiots!

    To the bellyachers who place L7s a foot from the rear wall and four feet from the side walls and three feet from each other with a TV stuck between them: you're morons!

    To the whiners who put the woofers facing frontward and the other drivers facing inward: yo, stoopid!

    To the gripers who put one next to the wall in the corner and the other two feet forward of the front wall next to an opening into the kitchen: hey, pinhead, get a clue!

    The message here is this: PLACEMENT MATTERS.

    If you've done any of the above and you're happy, then all I can say is 1) if you're happy, I'm not referring to you and don't mean to offend you, and 2) even if you are happy you could be getting so much more out of these speakers.

    Especially on the L7s with their side firing woofers, getting them too close to the front wall increases coupling that results in uneven bass, and getting them too deep into the corners causes boominess. Think about how that side-firing woofer complicates things. Placing physical objects between the two woofers, such as TVs, stands, equipment racks, etc., also interferes with the woofer's operation.

    So, yes, it's a picky set up, more than the average consumer wants to bother with. He wants to pull 'em out of the cartons, stick 'em in the corner on either side of the TV, and watch Willy Wonka. Most speakers are arranged according to the needs of the room. With L7s, the room must be arranged according to the needs of the speakers. (That's a bit of an overstatement, but you get my point. )

    If the room is right and you've got the 60/60/60 triangle that JBL recommends, you're still not quite done, because every room is different. JBL advises that you can have some leeway of about a foot in fine tuning your sound with regard to soundstage, low bass extension, and treble dispersion and imaging. Again, the average consumer is going to say, "Screw this," turn up the tone controls, and think the problem is solved. By carefully adjusting proximity to room corners (closer/farther) and distance from the front wall (nearer/farther) while maintaining the 60/60/60 triangle if possible, you can really find the best environment that your room will provide for top notch L7 sound. Is this a PITA? Yes. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely.

    After keeping my L7s captive in my room in MI for a couple of years, I decided to do it right and changed the room to optimize the speakers. Holy crap! What a difference!

    Who knows? I'm sure it was a conscious design choice to place the woofers on the side to keep the front baffle narrow and the L Series all looking similar. Maybe the marketing people beat out the engineers who wanted the woofers on the front. Can't really say.

    What I can say is that this is a fairly unusual design for JBL, one that is not repeated. It makes the L7 fundamentally different from the other L Series speakers, even though driver complements and enclosure features are shared. It makes it harder to set up and less desirable for many consumer living rooms.

    All of that being said, it has very good drivers, great crossovers, fine cabinetry, and a terrific sound. When properly set up and driven (see Part the Second) it's an amazing beast, and a bit unlike any other JBL. It will take a ton of power, and I've always chickened out before the speakers, especially since any amp I own will be driven to clip before the L7 is overpowered.

    It's definitely one of my top five JBLs.
    Out.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome
    Any chance you might hook it up and do a brief comparison for us?
    Yeah, but probably not until this weekend sometime...

    John

  14. #14
    Senior Member JBLnsince1959's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome
    you're idiots!

    you're morons!

    yo, stoopid!

    hey, pinhead, get a clue!

    The message here is this: PLACEMENT MATTERS.
    Dome, for GOD SAKES, will you stop beating around the bush and get to the point!

  15. #15
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    Angry hey!

    Well sure, it seems over the top when taken out of context...



    But my defense is that Widget reminded me about one of the -ing -holes that posted on Audioreview and got my tighties all a-twisty.
    Out.

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