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Thread: Sean Olive Interview

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Sean Olive Interview

    It's a couple years old in case you missed it.

    Rob

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEtYH03pfOI&t=284
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Hi Rob,

    I thought that was an interesting vid clip putting aside Erinís un informed understanding of what we take for granted.

    I didnít have time to watch it all the way through.

    The call outs are Harmanís use of Toole and Oliveís research to counter what they refer to as the flaws in Consumer Reports.

    The thing is that goes not just for Harman but every other loudspeaker manufacturer. Are they complaining publicly? No. As Olive pointed out if a consumer reviewer damns at loudspeaker without solid evidence that might cop a law suit. I donít recall ever reading a foul review in Stereophile. I think their advertising revenue might suffer.

    The difficulty for Harman is that their research is quite a complicated piece of a consumer to understand fully and correctly. For example Olive made the point that the power curve should not be flat.

    The other call out is that despite Harmanís research the home HiFi environment and the enthusiasts preferences are un controlled. Nor are the vast majority educated listeners. Many are brand loyal and stay with a brand they trust and like.

    Another important point is that Harmanís original research referenced measurements taken in 30 customers recording studios. As useful as that might be Geddes is quoted as saying thatís a huge assumption by Harman on a home listening room. On Audioholics Gene and experienced installers freely admit the customer has the last say on the tonal balance and invariably they prefer more bass (home theatre).

    Do l believe that Harmanís research or Klippel testing is an accurate prediction of what l or anyone else prefers in a loudspeaker choice. Slam dunk no. Olive was careful to admit that subjective assessment is very important.

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    The reality is that despite Harmanís research they have only a very very small slice of the consumer hifi loudspeaker market. So is Harmanís research being correctly applied?

    The JBL profile in terms of market visibility is over shadowed by other manufacturers such as B&W, Kef and even boutique loudspeaker brands such as PMC. This is because these brands spend more on advertising and they more frequently have systems reviews.

    The JBL real hifi systems appear to live in the lofty heights of the Harman Luxury Group.

    The entry point for a JBL system with our expectations here is unaffordable for most of us. Itís a generalisation but other brands do a better job at lower price points under $5,000. Andrew Jones is a proven innovator who can deliver an excellent loudspeaker system at entry price points. Jones points out he does not get buried in measurements but uses his subjective skills to advance. Sales of his designs are proof he is winning preferences. History is littered with technically perfect consumer products that werenít a commercial success.

    I am inclined to believe that Greg Timbers had the ear of the brand loyal JBL consumer market. Greg used his own license to design and voice the designs that JBL are/ were famous for.

    Today JBL systems are sanitised any innovative thought process in favour of franchised technology like the imaging control wave guide. Itís a bit like a steak house opening up a chain of Burger King retail outs on street corners. If l tap my 308 LSR the 1/2 inch mdf box bongís like a bell. Then l get around to it l will re build solid enclosures. GR Research would have a field day.

    Harman mass market cheaper ranges through department store chains and DJ retailers (LSR 308 for example). This in my opinion in Harmanís cash flow including their vast lifestyle product ranges. Real hifi on its own is not necessarily a viable business to be in. This has an evident in the way parent investment companies swap around well known consumer hifi brands like Linn, Focal, Tannoy. Problems have hit long standing brands such as Audio Research.

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    So where does this leave the loudspeaker hifi enthusiasts?

    The more astute and adventurous are well aware of the significant benefits of going the diy loudspeaker route. The challenge is designing their own forever system and implementing it correctly. Itís about finding a smarter way of going about it. I intend to fill that gap with some re imagined JBL systems that sound good and measure well.

    Ian

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    This has nothing to do with how engineering expertise relates to sales, and is just my own uneducated opinion as a lifetime JBL owner, in reaction to Ian's take on Sean's interview.

    I bought the smaller Andrew Jones models from Pioneer when they were getting so much hype. Shipped to my door, brand-new-in-box, for around $50. I played them once and put them back in the box where they've remained for all these years. Meh. Thought I'd give them to one of my nomadic daughters when they get to a point where it won't drag them down. For now they have smaller JBLs and a throw-away pair of Mordaunt-Short with integrated stands they are happy with and can always leave behind if they move and can't take them.

    I also bought a pair of JBL LSR305 when they dropped below $200/pair. Now those were very impressive, especially when you consider they contain four amplifiers in that price. I thought enough of those to buy another pair (still in their box today) for posterity. It's fun to deploy the LSR305 in a room with larger JBLs and ask a first-time listener to pick out which speaker is actually playing.

    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."óGreg Timbers

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post

    I also bought a pair of JBL LSR305 when they dropped below $200/pair. Now those were very impressive, especially when you consider they contain four amplifiers in that price. I thought enough of those to buy another pair (still in their box today) for posterity. It's fun to deploy the LSR305 in a room with larger JBLs and ask a first-time listener to pick out which speaker is actually playing.


    Hello

    Now you went and did it! So how does it go?

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Mackenzie View Post
    Hi Rob,


    Do l believe that Harmanís research or Klippel testing is an accurate prediction of what l or anyone else prefers in a loudspeaker choice. Slam dunk no. Olive was careful to admit that subjective assessment is very important.
    Hello Ian

    I think it's a step in the right direction. The last interface we all have to deal with, and in many cases live with, is what actually happens in our listening rooms. No amount of anechoic or quasi anechoic is going to predict what's going to happen there.

    That will never change. Not going to address DSP based systems that can ping the room and adjust accordingly. Sticking to passive systems or actives without adjustable DSP.

    Spinorama allows us to get an accurate DI curve. I think the DI curve is important WRT predictability of room interaction but it can't directly address where the room dominates.

    It's a good predictor for imaging and overall upper balance.

    That said I have Revel Perfoma F 206's, 308Mk 2's and a pair of 590's and enjoy them. I also have older JBL's done before L3's L5's L80T3's and L20T's that I also enjoy.

    A pair or 4208's with the set back tweeter and sculptured baffle which I think are really nice speakers.

    It's a mixed bag.

    I prefer the newer systems but that's a personal preference and not universal.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Mackenzie View Post
    The reality is that despite Harmanís research they have only a very very small slice of the consumer hifi loudspeaker market. So is Harmanís research being correctly applied?

    Hello Ian

    I think you need to add JBL Pro into the mix to do a more balanced evaluation. Using just consumer market share I don't think is a good indicator. How many people do you know with Bose Cubes or just use bluetooth speakers streaming off their phones?

    This isn't the 70's or 80's.

    Their marketing sucks IMHO. If I use the JBL Consumer site to look for dealers I get 2 professional installers. They don't even reference the Harmon store in Manhattan if it's still there. There are very few stores left like Best Buy as an example and JBL is not there?

    Go up on the Consumer site and take a look at what you can actually purchase. Sure you can go to Sweetwater and Crutchfield but where's the showroom?

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robh3606 View Post

    ...Their marketing sucks IMHO. If I use the JBL Consumer site to look for dealers I get 2 professional installers. They don't even reference the Harmon store in Manhattan if it's still there. There are very few stores left like Best Buy as an example and JBL is not there?

    Go up on the Consumer site and take a look at what you can actually purchase. Sure you can go to Sweetwater and Crutchfield but where's the showroom?

    Rob
    This isn't the 70's or 80's.

    I feel it's like you said, most people listen with ear buds or tiny speakers or a soundbar with their TV. People want to read reviews, buy online and have them shipped direct. I'm getting old, but have yet to meet anyone my age or younger whom even has a receiver, let alone free-standing speakers.

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    This isn't the 70's or 80's.

    I feel it's like you said, most people listen with ear buds or tiny speakers or a soundbar with their TV. People want to read reviews, buy online and have them shipped direct. I'm getting old, but have yet to meet anyone my age or younger whom even has a receiver, let alone free-standing speakers.
    Hello

    I had a number of friends with nice system's back in the day. However as marriage, kids, mortgage and college came knocking most were slowly lost to the inevitable and only 2 kept their systems. One never married the other kept his going. A nice Harmon Kardon set-up with larger Infinities.

    His Infinities finally had issues and he got a pair of 590's on sale. Me being a JBL guy he asked me before he purchased and I told him I had a pair to give them a shot. He loves them!

    My brother in law just moved and he left me a couple hundred CD's. We have different musical taste so many I didn't have so a welcome addition. I was "wait you or your boys don't want them?" he was nope we all stream and your the only one I know who listens to CD's!

    He also had a nice Infinity system. They had fuses so would blow at parties and he got a set of Bose Cubes and never looked back. Needless to say the Infinities kicked the crap out of the cubes.

    Priorities change.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Hi Rob.

    Priorities do indeed change. I find mine shift from cars to music to the house to video games. I've been through several relationships, college and residences, yet my Firebird has remained at my side for all of it, some twenty years now. I still have the video game systems and games I played in the 80's through today and even have some old notebooks from high school. I still have the first speakers I bought, JBL E90's. (No plans to keep those, looking to sell them, actually.) I'm becoming a step-father to two kids. No plans to sell any of our music or car stuffs. Matter of fact, we recently picked up another bummy truck. Angie calls it, "Lil Red." Plan is to make it reliable so we can road trip it on our honeymoon.

    How old is the brother-in-law? The friends? At almost 38, I guess I'm an anomaly.

    Also, which Infinities? Years ago, just after I bought my L150A's, I found a set of Column II's. They looked really nice and I thought the down-firing 10" could be neat. Never picked them up, but heard good things about the brand.

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robh3606 View Post
    Hello

    Now you went and did it! So how does it go?

    Rob
    Meaning the guessing game? They almost never pick the LSR305 as the one playing, but then they have yet to hear the others at that point, so . . .
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."óGreg Timbers

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    We are all in our 60's and the Infinities were late 70's early 80's vintage no idea about model numbers. My friend with the Harmon Kardon system had the L100 competitor from Infinity, Same issue as the highs were fused and he had to keep fuses available for parties.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    Meaning the guessing game? They almost never pick the LSR305 as the one playing, but then they have yet to hear the others at that point, so . . .

    Sneaky!!! Infinity had a speaker called the Infinitesimal and doing demoes they would do the same thing. Saw quite a few jaws drop in those demo's including me the first time!

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robh3606 View Post

    It's a mixed bag.

    I prefer the newer systems but that's a personal preference and not universal.

    Rob
    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree it is a mixed bag. I was purely looking at JBL Consumer on market share.

    I think they have kind of left a few direct radiator systems reminiscent of for example the L100 in the current range. But the current iteration is quite expensive for a bookshelf system. Then look at say a replacement 4344 your looking at the 4367. I am talking a like for like capability in output and bandwidth.

    In todayís dollars post Covid anything in that class of system is now 5 x the base manufactured wholesale cost. That is what the industry is calling it. Shipping is really expensive now. I understand it and get it when l do the math but itís like JBL (Samsung) have repositioned their medium format systems as a Luxury Product to justify it. Who with regular jobs on dual incomes a mortgage un the current rates can justify a $20,000 loudspeaker system? If youíre in early retirement no way. Back in the 70ís JBL had the enclosure construction kit. You could buy the consumer drivers from the HiFi retailer. I remember seeing these drivers in the showrooms and think wow. In my case the bug bite me. A 136A was about $300 retail then. The 2231A was the same price as we bought a pair and still have them. Unfortunately the end MRRP has blown out in the finished JBL Consumer product in that class. I think that is a real barrier for any real mass switch over to the new systems like the 4367.

    If l look at it historically JBL have really doubled down on their R&D more so in the last 20 years than before and with a change of ownership itís a different business on the Consumer side. I think Samsung as the parent investment company really wants to see a healthy bottom line. So JBL Consumer as we knew it had to change.

    I appreciate your love of Revel. But like many l am not backwards compatible after living with 15Ē system for 40 years.

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