Mind Blown - turning in audiophile card for a Theater (!?) sound system

Well it had to happen eventually. You know that moment in time where there is a fork in the road ? Happened to me this past weekend...

I will keep it short here (for now) and just hit the highlights. A longer story is posted over at the Lansing Heritage site if you wanna get all technical with JBL model numbers and such. The basic plot is this - a JBL pro Cinema system came up for sale near me (4670) . It uses a 4" titanium compression driver (30 freaking pounds all by itself!) hooked to a small-ish horn, and dual 15" drivers in a 150lb ported cabinet. All in it's about 200 back breaking lbs per side. There are no passive crossover components to be found anywhere. It's as pure as pure gets. It was designed to power small to medium theaters and I'd bet many of us have heard these over the years.

So, with the help of an audio enabler friend (we all need one of those, right?), we wrestled it back to his treated basement man-cave space and set about hooking it up. I cobbled together enough cables, an old AudioArts electronic crossover, a Yamaha 31-band Pro EQ and an old ATX 8-channel 50-watt "whole house" amp. It looked like like hell and we had some hiss with nothing playing.

Then we started playing music....holy !@##$$#@

Over the next 4 hours we tweaked eq and xover settings until we had it "there". Then we proceeded to throw music at it, trying to see if there was anything it couldn't do. We failed. We broke out into belly laughs so many times our sides hurt. This was A M A Z I N G audio reproduction, with crappy cables, background hiss and looks that even the most tolerant wife would laugh out of the living room. Yet there we were...seriously rethinking many of our recent speaker and gear choices.

You probably don't believe me and that's OK. But those that might own large Altecs or other pro-level horn systems know what I am talking about here. The sense of dynamics and sheer impact (I have NEVER heard a kick drum hit like these do) just totally blows away any "tall skinny audiophile" speaker I've ever heard. And I'll put my Salon 2's on that list as well.

I'm ruined. I need therapy. Can I get an AMEN ?

:-)

jblnut
 
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John Frum

Secret Society Member
Well it had to happen eventually. You know that moment in time where there is a fork in the road ? Happened to me this past weekend...

I will keep it short here (for now) and just hit the highlights. A longer story is posted over at the Lansing Heritage site if you wanna get all technical with JBL model numbers and such. The basic plot is this - a JBL pro Cinema system came up for sale near me (4670) . It uses a 4" titanium compression driver (30 freaking pounds all by itself!) hooked to a small-ish horn, and dual 15" drivers in a 150lb ported cabinet. All in it's about 200 back breaking lbs per side. There are no passive crossover components to be found anywhere. It's as pure as pure gets. It was designed to power small to medium theaters and I'd bet many of us have heard these over the years.

So, with the help of an audio enabler friend (we all need one of those, right?), we wrestled it back to his treated basement man-cave space and set about hooking it up. I cobbled together enough cables, an old AudioArts electronic crossover, a Yamaha 31-band Pro EQ and an old ATX 8-channel 50-watt "whole house" amp. It looked like like hell and we had some hiss with nothing playing.

Then we started playing music....holy !@##$$#@

Over the next 4 hours we tweaked eq and xover settings until we had it "there". Then we proceeded to throw music at it, trying to see if there was anything it couldn't do. We failed. We broke out into belly laughs so many times our sides hurt. This was A M A Z I N G audio reproduction, with crappy cables, background hiss and looks that even the most tolerant wife would laugh out of the living room. Yet there we were...seriously rethinking many of our recent speaker and gear choices.

You probably don't believe me and that's OK. But those that might own large Altecs or other pro-level horn systems might know what I am talking about here. The sense of dynamics and sheer impact (I have NEVER heard a kick drum hit like these do) just totally blows away any "tall skinny audiophile" speaker I've ever heard. And I'll put my Salon 2's on that list as well.

I'm ruined. I need therapy. Can I get an AMEN ?

:-)

jblnut

Careful, brother. Once you start down that path, you may never come back.
 
My poor sad neighbor has one of those...wife won't let him have "big speakers". Giant TV...tiny sound.

:-)
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I can't say I'm all that shocked. There have been several times in theaters where music was playing and I thought, man, this sounds better than any audiophile demonstration I've heard. Granted there's usually a lot more going on in a movie's sound mix than straight stereo...and what I was hearing was probably even bigger than the 4670. Best I heard in that realm was the IMAX theater on Chicago's Navy Pier. I think at that point there are even woofers under the seating for impact?
 
As the "enabler" in this story (I thought that room looked familiar) I will provide a hearty "Amen" for all to hear. The story is true. Sacred cows were slain that night, we visited the Upside Down...and we liked it. Can't wait to hear what it sounds like when it's truly dialed in.

And yes, the Arials should be afraid. Very afraid.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
I totally get where you are coming from. Had my mind similarly blown by Altec 604E duplexes (even though they are not in optimal boxes...yet). There's just something visceral about what a horn-loaded professional system can do.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
great thread! i am using the bass bins from that system (minus the horn) for my 604Es. the altecs go in the top 15" cutout and the JBL woofer stays in the lower cutout (as helper woofers). huge cabinets but i'm single again so haha!
Oh, shit. Now you're giving me ideas.
 
Yeah not surprising really. more of a live performance vibe than any small speaker can recreate. How about playing a live concert performance by a favorite artist? You might need to install a drop down screen and add a projector so you can do that type of thing.
 
We are on it ! I have the projector already, and there's a windows PC running Qobuz in the space. Been watching CL for an old DaLite screen....

jblnut
 

Andyman

Junior Member
Well, I didn't get the 18" subwoofers for the bass, but my avatar Altec A7-MR994s spent life before Andy in a local cinema. I bought 3 to flip, but after a listen they kicked my JBL LE14A Econowaves to the curb driven with my 4.8 wpc Almarro A205. One got parted and sold, but the other two are keepers.
There's just something about the palpability, airiness and effortlessness these guys make music. I just moved some stuff around in my room and now literally face the music from my desk, so I need to give these a listen, as I have another system in play right now; Kegger's ST-70 driving AR 10PIs, which are the only speakers that come close to the A7s in head to heads down here.
 
I picked up a DBX Venue360 yesterday with the RTA mic and spent all day playing with it on my current system (Revels and Mac stuff). It's very transparent and the the auto room QA cured some frequency irregularities that have been bugging me for a long time. It's going to meet the 4670's later in the week but I have heard enough to make me believe in modern room EQs.
 
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