Budget friendly giant killer system (vintage, new vintage and modern mix)

tomlinmgt

Moderator
I ran across these JBL Studio 590s last year buried in a FB marketplace ad for "home theater stuff for sale". The asking price was undeniably enticing and JBL's recent Studio series had been creating a bit of a fuss, so I snagged them up just to see for myself what they could do.

I first set them up in my living room (16'x26' w/ vaulted ceiling) and right off the bat I liked them better than the Klipsch Chorus II''s that I'd been using in that room. My goal for this particular system has been to try to approximate my Altec 19's, but with a smaller footprint than the behemoth Altecs. The Chorus II's got me close, but I couldn't get the drivers to homogenize into a source that completely disconnected from the speakers themselves unless I was more than fourteen or fifteen feet away...which didn't work with the seating arrangement. The 590's didn't have that issue, and came with the bonus of a larger scale of sound stage. I was on to something good...but damn that black vinyl cabinet. Eventually I took it up another notch when I found Klipsch Epic CF-4's for that system. Now that's a speaker that gives the 19's a serious run for the money. And they're veneered in real wood. So what to do with the 590's, then?

Slap some racing compound tires on 'em and and put 'em on the track and see what they can really do!

Out to the quasi-dedicated and acoustically tuned listening space they went with some of my best gear and...hot damn! Can these things ever scale up! They still aren't Altec 19 good, but modern speakers that play in that league for under four figures??? Pfft. Deal of the century. I'll leave it at that.

Bluesound Node 2i>
Schiit Gungnir>
Acurus RL-11 (w/ full Mondialfan mods)>
Threshold s/300 optical (recapped)>
JBL Studio 590

DSspeaker Anti-mode 8033s ii> Rane AC23 active crossover>
Soundcraftsmen MA5002>
(2) DIY sealed subs w/ 12" Dayton Titanic drivers

Audioquest and Cardas cables

PXL_20201118_160620155~3.jpg
 
I ran across these JBL Studio 590s last year buried in a FB marketplace ad for "home theater stuff for sale". The asking price was undeniably enticing and JBL's recent Studio series had been creating a bit of a fuss, so I snagged them up just to see for myself what they could do.

I first set them up in my living room (16'x26' w/ vaulted ceiling) and right off the bat I liked them better than the Klipsch Chorus II''s that I'd been using in that room. My goal for this particular system has been to try to approximate my Altec 19's, but with a smaller footprint than the behemoth Altecs. The Chorus II's got me close, but I couldn't get the drivers to homogenize into a source that completely disconnected from the speakers themselves unless I was more than fourteen or fifteen feet away...which didn't work with the seating arrangement. The 590's didn't have that issue, and came with the bonus of a larger scale of sound stage. I was on to something good...but damn that black vinyl cabinet. Eventually I took it up another notch when I found Klipsch Epic CF-4's for that system. Now that's a speaker that gives the 19's a serious run for the money. And they're veneered in real wood. So what to do with the 590's, then?

Slap some racing compound tires on 'em and and put 'em on the track and see what they can really do!

Out to the quasi-dedicated and acoustically tuned listening space they went with some of my best gear and...hot damn! Can these things ever scale up! They still aren't Altec 19 good, but modern speakers that play in that league for under four figures??? Pfft. Deal of the century. I'll leave it at that.

Bluesound Node 2i>
Schiit Gungnir>
Acurus RL-11 (w/ full Mondialfan mods)>
Threshold s/300 optical (recapped)>
JBL Studio 590

DSspeaker Anti-mode 8033s ii> Rane AC23 active crossover>
Soundcraftsmen MA5002>
(2) DIY sealed subs w/ 12" Dayton Titanic drivers

Audioquest and Cardas cables

View attachment 29591
nice space too!
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Great thread. I’ve been meaning to give those a try too. Thinking that they would give me a window into the new monitor offerings from jbl (without loosing my shirt).
I like the vert. paneling in the middle, is it a form or function feature?
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
Great thread. I’ve been meaning to give those a try too. Thinking that they would give me a window into the new monitor offerings from jbl (without loosing my shirt).
I like the vert. paneling in the middle, is it a form or function feature?
I've heard some of JBL's Synthesis models, and though the Studio series models don't quite play in that league, they get you shockingly close considering the massive gap in pricing. The cabinets are where JBL gets skimpy with the Studio series. The drivers and networks are very good.

What you see on the front wall is a seven-module stepped diffuser array (built from birch ply) based on the "leanfuser" concept developed by Arqen acoustics.


I build all my own acoustic treatment devices and have built several different types of diffusers (QRD, poly) and the leanfuser is by far the easiest. Creating a very diffuse front wall was done primarily for the benefit of dipole speakers (of which I have several examples in the stable) so that the rear wave they propagate isn't reflected directly back into the room, but instead diffused about the space to improve the room's decay/reverb characteristics. Behind the diffuser array is 4" of rockwool insulation to absorb mid and upper bass energy...so that wall is in reality diffuse and absorptive with the absorption being targeted to a specific spectral range rather than broadband.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
Nice to see ya, Michael.
Thanks, Eric. I've become a bit more enthusiastic about my hifi hobby since I got the Node 2i. Very happy with what it's done to improve the quality of my source since I pretty much use the streaming services exclusively for all my listening.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
I see that JBL has them on a Black Friday sale for 55% off.
With free shipping and free return shipping until Jan 30th. :beat
Yeah....$900 plus tax for this level of performance is, in my eyes, a new benchmark. If one is in the market for large-ish floorstanders that can really fill a room with great sound from top to bottom and do so at an extraordinary value, these are the ticket. Couple that with free in-home demo that requires nothing more than unpackaging/repackaging the speakers and it's an unheard of opportunity for anyone who is in the market for speakers in this category.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
So of course I looked and ended up buying a bluetooth speaker for the bedroom on their black friday sale.

that really is a LOT of sound for the buck with those towers. I'm here listening to my L-82s, which I absolutely love... I can imagine the sound from these larger speakers. Just FUN.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
So of course I looked and ended up buying a bluetooth speaker for the bedroom on their black friday sale.

that really is a LOT of sound for the buck with those towers. I'm here listening to my L-82s, which I absolutely love... I can imagine the sound from these larger speakers. Just FUN.
They're certainly a fun listen. And for anyone who may be accustomed to listening to smaller speakers, a very different sort of listening experience with the vast sonic presentation generated by mounting the tweeter four feet above the floo. I can only imagine how shocking it must be for someone who isn't necessarily hifi inclined, but decided to make the leap from a sound bar or stand mounts to these. And for someone who has a smaller space where the 590's aren't practical, I read equally positive things about the smaller models in the series.
 
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Olson_jr

Active Member
There have been a used pair on the FB Marketplace for about two months. Now I understand why he can't move them.

 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
They're certainly a fun listen. And for anyone who may be accustomed to listening to smaller speakers, a very different sort of listening experience with the vast sonic presentation generated by mounting the tweeter four feet above the floo. I can only imagine how shocking it must be for someone who isn't necessarily hifi inclined, but decided to make the leap from a sound bar or stand mounts to these. And for someone who has a smaller space where the 590's aren't practical, I read equally positive things about the smaller models in the series.
One thing that factored into my foray into modern JBL was knowing their scale... not just as JBL but being a part of The Harman Group, along with sharing some dna with Revel. They can just simply charge less for any given sound quality. What was holding me back was that I didnt like any of the vintage JBLs I’ve heard but what they’re putting out now seems to have all the good traits of that prior stuff, without what I didn’t like about it.

these speakers seem like a perfect antidote to a soundbar. If I had the room I’d set up a theater room with them, as I bet they’d excel with movies as well as music.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
One thing that factored into my foray into modern JBL was knowing their scale... not just as JBL but being a part of The Harman Group, along with sharing some dna with Revel. They can just simply charge less for any given sound quality. What was holding me back was that I didnt like any of the vintage JBLs I’ve heard but what they’re putting out now seems to have all the good traits of that prior stuff, without what I didn’t like about it.

these speakers seem like a perfect antidote to a soundbar. If I had the room I’d set up a theater room with them, as I bet they’d excel with movies as well as music.
I started out with mine in the living room system...which provides audio for the TV as well as music (mostly background listening)...and they were excellent in that role with their large scale sound and dynamics (even with my pair of SVS sealed subs switched off) that gets one close to being at the cinema when watching movies or at a venue when watching live music concerts.
Harman's resources absolutely have given JBL a bonafide Mark Donahue "unfair advantage". That free shipping and returns is the bomb.
 

tomlinmgt

Moderator
I forgot about this, but about a year ago someone on AK shared an archived pic from the JBL Synthesis web page and on it was included the three largest models from the Studio series.


JBL Synthesis 2015.png
 
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