JBL120: what makes them special?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by doublee, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. doublee

    doublee Member

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    This is an update, and a further question by the OP:

    I just put a JBL D120F in a BFDR and am very surprised not to like it much, in fact the Weber 120F sounded a little better. Factors are: The Weber is well broken in, the JBL is a recone with 20 some hours on it I am told. It lacks coloration, sounds kind of flat and mid rangy, not lively. Also I a/b'd with my '65 Vibrolux with the old jensens and the Vibro sounds crisp and alive in comparison. I a/b'd both before and after putting in the JBL.

    Those of you with experience with JBL's: what do you think? Needs more time? Wierd re cone job?

    thanks
     
  2. johnzias

    johnzias Member

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    I cant explain it technically, but when matched to the right amp they seem to have more presence and touch response than any speaker I've ever used. I'm using a pair with my TR Classic Reverb. They sound better than they do in a Blackface Twin.
     
  3. noctilux1

    noctilux1 Member

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    the jbl d120 makes my '66 deluxe rev sing. sometimes i use a jbl d130.
    wonderful speakers. to me, they are a perfect match for any fender. they also work well with other amps i have but seem to like my fender and marshall 50, the best. also work well with dedals
     
  4. JubileeMan 2555

    JubileeMan 2555 Member

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    Here is some specualation on my part:

    JBL, especially in the 50s/60s was a absolute premium speaker maker. I believe they were considered the absolute best. With that probably comes an intense attention to detail. Their magnets are probably chosen more carefully, the cones and wiring done with care, and the frames built to very precise specs.

    With these details, the speaker will react better, sound better, and have an overall presence that no other speaker has.
     
  5. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    They used premium parts, had a rigid cast frame, and had very tight voice coil gap clearance. They were originally designed as a theater or Hi Fi speaker, not a musical instrument speaker so they are very accurate and articulate with an extended frequency range. They are also extremely efficient at 103 dB/meter.
     
  6. teleman1

    teleman1 Supporting Member

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    What amazes me is how their stature fell in the home audio department from the 60's. THey were the creme de la creme then. Now, if I see JBL, I realise its low-fi.
     
  7. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    Compare your 60's car to your 2008 car and you can understand how much the technology can improve everything. I used to be an old car buff but not I can't stand any of them.
     
  8. JubileeMan 2555

    JubileeMan 2555 Member

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    you can't stand ANY of them?!!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    Sorry, I had 2 67 442's, 69 Vette, 70 1/2 Z28 just to pick that same era. None of those cars can compare to the acceleration, cornering, braking, safety, comfort, sound system, economy, reliability, etc. of many, many new cars. Sorry. I was a hold out for many years but facts are facts. I still like the looks of many of those cars but I have moved on. Beautiful Judge BTW. I nearly bought a 68 442 W32.
     
  10. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

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    How does Weber's California stack up to the original JBL iit is cloned after?
     
  11. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    For a long time I used a D120 in my '56 tweed Deluxe, with original cone and dome. Recently I put a Celestion Century ndym in it. The celestion is slightly louder with more lows and high highs. (I do not recommend that Celestion in any other amp at all!) In that amp the JBL is more honky. A while back I tried the JBL in my Evans JE150, I had been using a 1977 EVM12L. The EV had a little better lows, smoother highs and a little less honk. The JBLs are an efficient good sounding speaker. I think they are great with amps that can do blackface fenderish tones. To me a good broken in EV is slightly better to my ears but weighs a lot more! I prefer the JBLs to Altecs.
    If you like the Allman Bros Live At Fillmore you're hearing Marshall heads with JBLs.
    I recently bought a 1x15 Weber VST cab and loaded it with a JBL M31, I think the last generation of alnico JBL. That speaker sounds great with my DR Z amps, Maz jr, Route 66 and Stang Ray.
     
  12. johnzias

    johnzias Member

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    Some of the characteristics, but about 70% as loud. At least the ones I got recently. I have one from 2 yrs ago that matches up well with a D120 in my Twin.

    I don't see the analogy of car technology with loudspeaker technology. Like vacuum tubes, the average vintage speakers were built better in the 1960's.
     
  13. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    This doesn't speak directly to JBLs instrument speakers, but to JBL's philosophy, in general, back in the day.

    I still have a JBL techno brochure I got when I bought my Jubal L65 stereo speakers in 1972 or so. I still have these, by the way, and they are still my first string stereo (2-channel) speakers, having been used hard and put up wet for the past 35 years (well, at least the first 15 of those, before I discovered the joys of non-seismic music reproduction). And they still sound as good as anything I've ever heard, even super highend systems designed with 30 years of tech advances behind them.

    There were a lot of astonishing things about JBL's construction in that brochure, but one thing I remember is that the wire they used was milled so as to be *square* in cross section, so that the dead space in the voice coil windings was minimized, and max gauss/volume could be applied. Pretty much going the extra yard, IMO.

    Also, as has been mentioned elsewhere, the frames were cast, not stamped. Oh, and the Jubal's 12" woofers have 17+ lb. magnets driving them. Not yer basic neo speakers, baby (altho I love neo speakers, especially for guitar amps and other mobile applications).

    Another couple datapoints that have impressed the hell out of me--I had and still have a set of fairly small JBL G-730 12" 2-way PA speakers I bought sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, when I was gigging several nights a week. Used 'em in about six bands or so, often as my stereo guitar rig with a Mesa Studio Pre and 50/50 rack system.

    Sounded as good as anything I've ever used or heard anyone else use, and unfolded its wings like a freakin pterodactyl when the rare occasion arose to actually use all that power and bandwidth. And often, these bands would have main PA speakers way bigger than the 730s, Peavey's, Yamaha's, etc.

    Invariably, when they got curious as to how the "little" 730s would sound in place of the main PA speakers, we'd hook 'em up, and they would be louder, tighter, more defined, cleaner, punchier, and more immediate. To everyone in the room. Granted, they often were more expensive than the much larger arrays, but not always. They did always sound better tho.

    Oh, and the Jubals? About 15 years ago, when they were still a "young" 20 years of age, I took my family on one of our annual trips to Mexico, for two weeks. Drove down to the airport in our Ford extended-cab truck, had fun, returned home.

    As soon as I pulled into the garage, I could feel something wrong, even with the 300-plus horsepower V8 still running, and my then-young kids squabbling in the back seat. This was a large house with an attached garage, and my stereo was removed from the garage, probably 45-50 or more feet away, three rooms.

    I turned off the engine, and could feel the whole house shaking. Though maybe there was a minor quake, or possibly some major construction going on nearby.

    I headed into the house, and it was the stereo. Apparently, we'd left it on, or one of the kids had turned it on--and way, WAY loud. And also apparently, some time in the past two weeks a ground loop had occurred, and the speakers were putting out an earsplitting, earthshaking hum, at very low frequency, I'm assuming 60 hz. It was so intense that I still remember the adrenaline rush as I approached the sonic nexus and shut the damn system down.

    Anyway, I expected to have fried voice coils, torn surrounds, etc. I thought the speakers would *have to be* toast, with a 60-hz squarewave being pumped through them at ~120 db for somewhere up to two weeks' duration.

    They were fine, it turns out. Physically, sonically, every way (the L65s, and I believe all JBLs in those days, had a lifetime warranty, so I brought them in, just to be sure). All that mayhem probably just broke 'em in real good. :BOUNCE I still can't believe they survived that.

    Needless to say, I'm an unrepentant fan of the old JBL. Not sure they're the same company these days, but their old stuff freakin' ROCKS.
     
  14. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    EV, JBL, Altec.
    Celestions were so obviously not the 'good stuff.':)
     
  15. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    I respect, love and own or have owned; EV EVM & FORCE, Altec 417-8H, JBL D120, D120F, D130, D130F, and K120 speakers. That said, my favorite speakers are Celestions and a couple other British voiced speakers, like Weber Blue Dogs and some Scumbacks.
     
  16. jgyn

    jgyn Member

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    In the 60s-70s, JBLs were, among a few others like Altec and EV, considered the the cleaner and more powerful upgrade alternative for guitar amps.
    Since much of 'classic' rock music now is based on 60s- 70s roots, those JBL speakers became the definitive model for clean sounds.
     
  17. doublee

    doublee Member

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    This is an update, and a further question by the OP:

    I just put a JBL D120F in a DR and am very surprised not to like it much, in fact the Weber 120F sounded a little better. Factors are: The Weber is well broken in, the JBL is a recone with 20 some hours on it I am told. It lacks coloration, sounds kind of flat and mid rangy, not lively. Also I a/b'd with a 65 Vibrolux with the old jensens and it sounds alive in comparison.

    Those of you with experience with JBL's: what do you think? Needs more time? Wierd re cone job?
     
  18. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    It depends on what you want whether you like Celestions better. It's a preference thing. I want my speakers to reproduce what goes in relatively unaltered. I don't really care for the speaker to be another instrument unto themselves.
    Here's something a friend of mine and I did back in high school, about 1971. We gathered up all the odd old speakers we could find out of old thrown out stereos, TVs etc. Then we plugged into a Kustom 200 and proceeded to blow as many as we could. It was fun to hear them sputter and pop and then in a puff of smoke they'd quit. Some guy had left a homemade 2x15 cab over there with two 15s, CTS I imagine, with the smallest magnets I'd ever seen. We didn't blow it but they were distorting so much it made that Kustom sound like a Marshall! Really cool! But, we knew it was the speakers distorting, not so much the head. Like Gerald Weber says, guitar gear always sounds great, in a rock out way, when it's just on the verge of blowing up, speakers included. So JBLs, Altecs and EVs are here for a different reason than say a Greenback Celestion. One thing I hate about almost all Celestions and a lot of Jensens is cone cry. You get a lot of that with those lighter speakers and I find it very distracting when I'm playing.
     
  19. jimpridx

    jimpridx Supporting Member

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    Just a thought here, but if the recone was an aftermarket job, it could make a huge difference as opposed to using a factory kit (E-120). I had one reconed with an aftermarket kit by mistake, and it sounded horrible. On the other hand, once I got it back with the factory kit, it sounded incredible.
     
  20. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    If you had an original D120 kit you would like it even more. Unfortunately they haven't been available for quite some time.
     

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