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JBL LS Series Speakers First Look

JBL LS Series Speakers

JBL LS Series Speakers


  • Product Name: LS Series
  • Manufacturer: JBL
  • Review Date: September 04, 2009 10:00
  • MSRP: $1,998 to $3,998
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

JBL is a name that you might know from any number of different AV applications. They've had their collective fingers in just about every pot. When you are as large as JBL, you've got remarkable resources at your fingertips. Sometimes this translates into mass market products that follow the current trends faster than smaller companies can ever hope to compete. Sometimes this means making sure your name and your brand are ubiquitous enough that even the most uninitiated recognizes it (even if they don't remember where they heard it). Sometimes, however, it means you can put all your resources and skills toward making a cutting edge product.

For those that are paying attention, the JBL LS series is not new - they've been shipping overseas for a bit now. They are new to these shores and will be making their debut at CEDIA this year. The LS series consists of the LS40 bookshelf, LS60 and LS80 floorstanders, the LSCENTER (self explanatory) and the LS120P subwoofer. We were unable to secure actual pricing but it has been reported that the speakers will range from around $2k to $4k a pair. Certainly not introductory pricing to be sure.

JBL is very proud of the aesthetics of these new speakers. The front baffle is gloss black with tapered side panels and curved contours. The side panels of streak-ebony mahogany wood veneer with a high gloss finish. There are lots of rounded edges and clean lines on these speakers which sort of distracts from the fact that they have essentially a rectangular box enclosure.

The driver compliment differs by model and size but the types are a 6.5" pulp cone woofers, an Ultra High Frequency" (UHF) horn loaded 3/4" polyester-film ring radiator with a neodymium magnet, and a high frequency 2"  pure-titanium compression driver in a  Bi-Radial horn. JBL claims that the UHF transducer can play past 40kHz though only your dog will know for sure since the best human hearing barely clears 20kHz and most of use don't quite make it up that high. All of the speakers (sans the sub) have at least one of each type of  high frequcey driver with two woofers except the LS40 bookshelf which only has one woofer. The LS120P subwoofer sports a 12" PolyPlas driver with a 400 watt amp. The sub is rated down to 25Hz. At 20" high, 14" wide, 17" deep and 57lbs, it packs a lot of weight and performance into a relatively small box. Of course the LS120p has the same aesthetic cues as the other LS speakers.

When looking over the specs for the LS speakers, it's easy to imagine that some of them are rated conservatively. The bookshelf is rated down to 50Hz (well beyond the 80Hz THX recommended crossover point). While that's really quite good for a bookshelf, this isn't your classical small speakers. At over 20" tall and 13" deep, it takes up a bit of space. Surprisingly, the LS60 floorstanders are only rated a bit below the bookshelves at 48Hz with the flagship LS80s at 46Hz. Either the floorstanders are rated conservatively or someone forgot to carry a one on the measurement of the bookshelf. With the driver compliment and the size of the floorstanders, we're guessing the former is true. One feature that JBL touts is that the crossovers in the LS80 and LS60 employ a unique 3-1/2-way crossover network that allows the woofers to operate in different frequency ranges, a configuration that provides a smoother transition between all drivers for more balanced sound over a wider listening area.

Regardless, the LS series is obviously meant to be used at the very least with a subwoofer but also most likely in a home theater sort of environment. This is were the disconnect with the speaker system comes to the fore for us. While we couldn't lock down any definite pricing as of now, the numbers being bandied around are upwards of $4k a pair. We assume that the LS80s would weigh in at that price. While the speakers certainly look good enough for that kind of cash, many times people are expecting a bit more low end out of a tower at that price. At least into the mid to low 30's.


While JBL might not be a name that you immediately turn to when looking for high end home theater speakers, they are looking to change that. The aesthetic quality of the new LS series of speakers can't be denied. The streak-ebony mahogany finish certainly catches the eye. But the horn loaded drivers and the emphasis on high end response (much past the range of human hearing) over low end (a ~$4k speaker that only dips down to 48Hz) leaves us a little puzzled. This type of focus we usually associate with esoteric speaker offerings and we're not sure that the JBL name will attract many of those buyers.

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

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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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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