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JBL Synthesis THX Ultra2 Certified SK2-3300 LCR First Look

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JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR

JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR

Summary

  • Product Name: Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR
  • Manufacturer: JBL
  • Review Date: November 10, 2010 06:45
  • MSRP: $TBA
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

3-way

THX Ultra2-certified

Ultra-high-frequency 1-inch beryllium diaphragm mated to a JBL Bi-Radial® horn

  • Delivers 60 x 30 degree coverage
  • Provides extended frequency response beyond 50kH
  • Horn shaped to provide optimum dispersion both on- and off-axis

3-inch beryllium diaphragm midrange/high-frequency compression driver

  • 100 x 60 Bi-Radial horn 
  • Horn shaped to provide optimum dispersion both on- and off-axis

Dual 10-inch woofers

  • Cones treated with proprietary JBL Aquaplas material
  • Dual 3-inch heavy-duty edge-wound voice coils
  • Neodymium motor structures
  • Cast-aluminum frames

Enclosure

  • Heavily-braced
  • Curved front baffle
  • Dual binding posts

Executive Overview

A couple of years ago we got our first look at the JBL Synthesis Project Everest DD66000 speaker. This extremely wide floorstanding speaker was geared toward the high end buyer where price was no object. At $60 to $70k a pair (depending on finish), you certainly weren't going to pick these up anywhere but at the a high end audio shop. JBL Synthesis released speakers that were designed as surrounds and a sub, but nothing that could function as a center channel. When you are dealing with such high end gear, you have to expect that looking for a full surround system is going to be the exception and not the rule. Generally, when you get into that kind of cash, you are looking at a buyer that is interested in speakers mainly for music, and more specifically, two channel music. Any home theater use would likely be incidental.

Apparently, JBL Synthesis has received enough requests for a dedicated center that they have put their engineers back to work. What they came up with is an LCR speaker that can be used as a center to compliment a pair of Project Everest DD66000s or in a trio as a the fronts and center. The JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR looks to be a bit shorter than the DD660000s which would put them in the really huge bookshelf category. Given they don't have the styling of their larger brethren, we imagine they will be a bit cheaper (though you'll probably have to choose between a Lexus and a pair of these) and are really meant to be installed in a home theater behind a screen or acoustically transparent fabric. Frankly, that's a lot of money for a speaker that you'll never see.

But if you're going to spend that kind of cash, you should get something for it. In the case of the JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR, what you get is technology based on the larger Project Everest. Rather than the 15" woofers of the DD66000s, the SK2-3300 LCRs have dual 10" woofers plus two ports, a heavily braced enclosure with a curved front baffle, and dual binding posts. You're looking at similar horn-loaded midrange and ultra high-frequency drivers with extension all the way up to 50kHz (which is easily 30Hz above what you can hear). High end speaker pundits will attest that extending the upper range past human hearing will create a feeling of more "air" in the sound as well as make producing other, more hear-able, frequencies easier to reproduce. 

The 1" ultra-high-frequency beryllium diaphragm driver is paired with a 60x30 degree JBL Bi-Radial horn and looks to be the same as what you get on the Everest. The horn shape is designed to increase off axis response as horn-loaded drivers are known for their directionality. The 3" beryllium diaphragm midrange/high-frequency compression driver (an inch smaller than the Everest midrange) is mated with a 100x60 degree horn, again designed to increase off-axis response. The 10" drivers are treated with JBL's Aquaplas material which damps the cone’s internal resonances for more accurate low-frequency response with lower distortion. The woofers incorporate dual 3-inch heavy-duty edge-wound voice coils, neodymium motor structures and cast-aluminum frames.

Probably the biggest surprise with the JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCR was the choice to have them THX Ultra2 certified. According to THX:

THX Ultra2 Certified products bring the cinematic experience to larger home theaters, 3,000 cubic feet in size, with a viewing distance of 12 feet or greater from the screen.

While we agree with THX that speakers of this size should probably be placed in a larger room, we are surprised that JBL Synthesis decided to get the certification in the first place. They certainly don't need THX's help in designing quality speakers - they've been doing that for years. Also, we are unconvinced that customers at this price point are going to be swayed by the THX stamp of approval. The one thing we do see as an advantage is for custom installers looking to set up a THX certified theater room. While you don't necessarily have to have THX certification on all your equipment, they must meet with THX approval in order for the home theater to be certified. At the price point we think the SK2-3300 LCR will clock in at, the certification is probably not a bad idea.

Conclusion

We only wish we knew how much the THX Ultra2 certified JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCRs cost. We've looked around online, and there is just no information out there. The speakers are large but not as large as the flagship Project Everest DD66000s. They incorporate similar technology as their larger brethren, however, so if the price is right, they could represent a significant value for those that aren't as interested in woodgrain finishes. In our book, if there was ever a speaker designed to be heard and not seen, the SK-3300 LCR is it. Designed to work in conjunction with a pair of Project Everests as a center or as a standalone speakers, the JBL Synthesis SK2-3300 LCRs may be the last home theater speaker you ever buy. Or you could buy a car. Up to you.

For more information, please visit www.jblsynthesis.com.

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About the author:

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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Recent Forum Posts:

DD66000 posts on November 16, 2010 16:27
Well, I heard the JBL Everest II in Japan last month, which this LCR is designed after, and the Everest was superb, in every way. Smooth, clear, precise, detailed, powerful. Certainly not yesteryear's horn systems.
3db posts on November 16, 2010 11:01
gene, post: 766676
Horns are an absolute must in large listening spaces like movie theaters or concert venues.

I have had a chance to listen to JBL Synthesis in a home environment and the system was excellent and I am by no means a “horn” person unless you add a “y” to it

You cheeky devil you!!
gene posts on November 15, 2010 20:30
Horns are an absolute must in large listening spaces like movie theaters or concert venues.

I have had a chance to listen to JBL Synthesis in a home environment and the system was excellent and I am by no means a “horn” person unless you add a “y” to it
anamorphic96 posts on November 11, 2010 20:37
just-some-guy, post: 765695
the ones in the theaters. they all sound the same, un natural .

i would bet the JBL home stuff sounds pretty good.

Sounds like you haven't heard a commercial theater that is properly set up and EQ'd.

Horns used in theaters can sound jaw dropping. Not just in dynamics and scale either. They can be every bit as subtle, natural and nuanced as a good home rig.
just-some-guy posts on November 11, 2010 19:57
Warpdrv, post: 765526
Which horns did you seem to have issues with….?

the ones in the theaters. they all sound the same, un natural .

i would bet the JBL home stuff sounds pretty good.
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