JBL Synthesis CEDIA 2011 Demo Evaluation

Discussion in 'Loudspeakers' started by gene, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    I got to hear a $250k JBL Synthesis Demo at CEDIA 2011. They sat us down in a relatively small sound room isolated from the show floor. There were a few rows of seats but only 2 spots open in the front which we took. I was a bit concerned sitting so close to a horn loaded system. We must have been no more than 8 feet away from the screen.

    We demoed the gunfight scene of Open Range starring Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and others.... The surround envelop was quite stunning. Every little whisper and subtle sound effect was heard all around you. The gun shots produced lifelike dynamics unlike anything I've ever heard. My poor wife had to plug her ears the whole time. I used the SPL meter app for my iPhone and was surprised to find it was hitting a mere 90dB. Granted its not fast enough to measure peaks which were likely 10-15dB higher.

    We then listened to a Stevie Wonder concert to finish off the demo.

    As dynamic and lifelike the system sounded, I did have a few issues pertaining to vocal accuracy and bass depth. The vocals sounded very honky and a bit colored. It was obvious to me I was listening to a horn loaded speaker. The bass had great slam but very little depth and they were using massive JBL pro subs. Their subs featured a very high efficiency paper cone (see image below) and based on its appearance, I'd guess it was tuned somewhere in the 30-35Hz region.

    I was honestly expecting to be elevated to a new level based on all the research and hype surrounding JBL Synthesis as well as the well versed engineers behind setting it up and calibrating. The system employed their new ARCOS room correction & optimization system.

    Outside the demo room they were showcasing a massive JBL Sythesis tower pictured below.

    For those wanting a system that can play at ear bleeding levels and give you that live amplified performance sound, I could think of NO better solution regardless of price. Those desiring more finesses, may want to look towards other options.

    My wife much preferred a demo we heard at the next booth which ironically only measured 2-3dB lower but she never once plugged her ears. One thing is for sure, next time I sit in on a JBL demo, I'm taking a back seat and my wife will be waiting outside.

    Attached Files:

    • JBL.jpg
      JBL.jpg
      File size:
      87.9 KB
      Views:
      4,878
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2011
    gene,
    • Like Like x 5
  2. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Messages:
    4,933
    Likes Received:
    2,355
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    JBL has some really fine compression drivers and woofers...

    Bur the problems inherent to horn speakers are still kind od visible from looking at a picture of their horns... DIFFRACTION.

    Dr. Geddes has done a **** ton of research on 'horn honk' and has kind of suggested that the JBL horns, and most horns, don't really cut the mustard.

    I would love a JBL 476Be compression driver but if I were using it, it would be in a Dr. Geddes designed speaker.

    http://www.gedlee.com/downloads/Horn Theory reply.pdf
    • Like Like x 1
  3. vinicio Audiophyte

    vinicio
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    HORN´S honk !

    In my HT , used the Avant Gard TRio in front uno´s at rear, solo´s center, the Dinamic range is amazing , as the price, but the only system that can make that is JBL Synthesis, ARRAY ,1400,880,etc in a less $$$ world. the eficiency is the key. now i had the AG in listening room , and JBL in HT.
    The distance is very important , when we are listening to Master from studio, 192khz/24 , can´t be seated in front of the speaker , is the same as be in front of a SAX or Trumpet, the dinamics of real instrument it´s not easy to understand for people used to "stereos" with cd´s 44.1/16 mastered ina radio centric (compressed world). keep the distance and enjoy .
    The HT is NC20, used to mix sound design in a Yamaha DM2000, with steinberg Nuendo 4, all around JBL Synthesis THX cert. Lexicon MC12HD,9.6.
    I´m really involved in music and movies production , the reference is a must.
    HORNS are not to be near!, maybe that´s the problem!
  4. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    While I am a big fan and supporter of high resolution audio (192kHz/24 Bit) audio, lets not condemn 16/44. 16/44 can be extremely good if the disc is mastered correctly. 96dB dynamic range exceeds that of any loudspeaker system.

    I recommend reading:
    Dumbing Down of Audio

    And for the record, I am very sensitive to compression in music, hence why my reference speakers are these:

    RBH Sound T30-LSE

    That being said a speaker like this is very appropriate in a home theater environment but not a huge movie Cineplex or Arena. In those situations a horn loaded system like the JBL Synthesis is far more appropriate.
    gene,
    • Like Like x 1
  5. vinicio Audiophyte

    vinicio
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    Reference RBH!

    I like a lot RBH´s , used to be RBH dealer , are really good ,remember the wood´s sample´s for the high end finishing : Zebra, Birdeye and so on ..
    A little power hungry the top of the line´s dáppolito´s config with 15"woofers in the extremes! but really like them !
  6. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    19,587
    Likes Received:
    4,307
    Location:
    Oklahoma City
    Gene and his wife's experience with the $250K JBL system confirms my overall beliefs that the limited human ear/eye/brain can only "appreciate" so much stimuli.:D

    Still, it's always a fun experience, and I would always love to attend such events.:D
  7. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Messages:
    4,933
    Likes Received:
    2,355
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
  8. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    As I believe I mentioned in my first post, those are NOT the speakers they were demoing. The subs were similar but the speakers were smaller and behind a cloth to blend seamlessly with the screen.
    gene,
  9. todd.packer Audioholic Intern

    todd.packer
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gene, it is too bad you sat in the front row. As you state properly this was too close, for the size of the screen and speakers, but we had no choice simply due to the space left over after we had our racks in the back and the size of the seats. Also, we had to turn down the bass due to getting complaints from the room next door, and CEDIA officials threatening to shut us down due to that. This most negatively effected the bass in the front row. Anyone who sat in the back row or stood behind the seats had a very good experience. Those extra few feet allowed the big subs to better integrate with the main speakers. I suggest playing either of the selections we used (Stevie Wonder Live At Last "Superstitious"; Open Range "gunfight ch12/14") in your home and see how it compares.

    Todd Packer
    Harman/JBL
  10. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    Todd, thanks for coming on here to give your perspective. I recall someone in the demo room stating that the seat to seat variation was only +-1dB which I find a bit ambitious regardless of how good any room correction or properly placed subs can yield.

    I do agree the front row was way too close but I still wrestle with the coloration I was hearing in the voices at all power levels. Also there was plenty of slam in the bass but little depth. I am uncertain that simply raising the levels would have fixed that issue, especially since those subs are tuned more for max output over extension. That being said, we would be happy to test one of your subs per our new Subwoofer Measurement Protocol and our Bassaholic Room Size Ratings both of which adhere to CEA 2010.

    I still would like to hear a full JBL Synthesis system in a room size more appropriate. I have to rent "Open Range" since I've never seen it and the movie looked to be pretty good.

    Thanks again for chiming in and I look forward to hearing more Synthesis demos in the near future.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
    gene,
  11. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Messages:
    4,933
    Likes Received:
    2,355
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    I would love to see the Infinity 12" sub tested myself, because it appears to be a high performance budget design, and people are always looking for subs in that general price range where even internet direct is slim pickings, especially when it comes to multiples.
  12. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    7,663
    Likes Received:
    1,824
    Location:
    Milwaukee area
    I'm not sure why anyone would try to set up a speaker system of this caliber at a trade show unless they were in a separate building and could control everything. In the aisles, the sound from one booth always bleeds into the other booths and when someone wants to increase the level a bit, it's not always possible because someone is trying to talk to a dealer (which is why I didn't stay to hear the smaller Synthesis speakers at the booth). It's a similar predicament to the way Steinway-Lyngdorf had their speakers set up right at the aisle- not the best way to demo them but a good way to get peoples' attention.

    However, keeping the limitations in mind, I liked what I heard.
  13. todd.packer Audioholic Intern

    todd.packer
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    4
    I agree, in even the best room +/-1db is hard to acheive, though we have done it when we built from the ground up. the CEDIA room is more typical of a regular room.

    The actual number for this room is about +/-2.5 db, which is still very good.

    I am now going to do something that no other company probably can or will do, and be totally transparent and who you EXACTLY how the room was effected and improved.

    ALL BELOW PICTURES ARE AT 1/12 OCTAVE RESOLUTION AND HAVE NO ROOM EQ APPLIED. THIS IS ALL JUST SUBWOOFER OPTIMIZATION.

    PICTURE 1: ONLY ONE SUBWOOFER
    This is typical, for the 8 locations (seats) they are very different. 67 hz has almost +/- 6 db of variation.
    [​IMG]

    PICTURE 2: 4 SUBWOOFER WITHOUT ANY DSP
    This is what we published in AES 8 years ago and why we do multiple subs. You can see how much better the room is already, and now the worst place is at 52 hz with almost 4db of standard variation.
    [​IMG]


    PICTURE 3: 4 SUBWOOFER WITH SOUND FEILD MANAGEMENT
    The worst spot at 52 hz is now under +/-2.5. Which means that it is almost 50% better. And that the biggest swing from best to worst has been reduced by 3db, which is a large amount. Plus the rows are much closer below that point.
    [​IMG]

    I hope that everyone finds this as interesting as I do!
    • Like Like x 3
  14. GranteedEV Audioholic Ninja

    GranteedEV
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Messages:
    4,933
    Likes Received:
    2,355
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    Hi Todd, i've got a question about Sound Field Management.

    My understanding is that it sets the subwoofer drive levels differently. IE one sub at 0db, another at -6db, and the other two at -12db for example.

    Now this makes sense to an extent, but i'd imagine that only one of the subs is handling the infrasonic stuff adequately. Do you that this limits the dynamic range of the infrasonics in a multisub setup to the limit of just a single subwoofer? Or am I way off base? I presume at least that the subs used in this demo use digital compression algorithms?

    I only ask this because Gene noted a lack of bass depth, even though that particular measurement appears to show flat response, I'm unsure how flat the response remains as drive level rises.

    Cheers, and thanks.
  15. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    Todd,

    Thanks for posting the plots. They look way too smoothed to be 1/12th octave. I've never seen any in-room measurements look like that, especially the one sub measurement. I will post some typical in-room measurements at 1/12th octave when I return to the office.
    gene,
  16. todd.packer Audioholic Intern

    todd.packer
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    4
    I am reposting the last picture, it looks like it got moved on my server.


    [​IMG]


    Gene, these are 12 octave smoothing. It just looks different because we are zoomed very far in. Here is another look. As you can see the measurement stops at 500hz.
    [​IMG]
  17. todd.packer Audioholic Intern

    todd.packer
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    4
    SFM has 3 parameters it uses on each of up to 4 outputs, (1) delay, (2) single parametric eq and (3) overall gain. For our use we never lower the overall gain so that we maintain maximum output at the expense of some seat to seat deviation. basically we give up 1 db of variation but keep 6 or 12 db more output. This is the difference between research and real world use.

    There is no digital compression whatsoever in any JBL Synthesis system, except what might be built into any powered subs (they all use some), but in the passive subs such as we used at cedia, there is no compression, limiting or dynamics control at all. the system is linear until the woofer or the amplifier cannot cannot keep up.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    Todd, the top graph looks smoothed whereas the black and white graph scaled fullrange does appear to have more resolution. I guess I'd like to see the image expanded and see 10Hz to 200Hz to get a better idea of what's going on.

    The top graph shows the subs are likely set about 5-7dB too low compared to the rest of the system. Having a flat line from 20Hz to 20kHz is not a very desirable goal. Bass should gradually boost at low F and treble should gradually taper off at high F. I can see by your graphs that the system lacked low end as I heard in my evaluation.

    Here is an article I wrote about setting up multiple subs which talks about our methodology:
    http://www.audioholics.com/tweaks/get-good-bass/multiple-subwoofer-setup-calibration-1

    Here is a graph of all 5 seats in my theater system employing 4 subs and global Audyssey room correction. My room is L-shaped which makes it very difficult to get good bass but I did pretty darn good considering:

    [​IMG]

    The dark trace is a spatial average of all 5 seats. Only 1 seat has a significant dip at 50Hz but its relatively high Q and its where the mother-in-law sits anyways ;)

    Notice how I show bass down to 10Hz. It's important to know how the bass rolls off below 20Hz as that contributes significantly to perceived bass felt.

    What measurement system are you guys using? Or is this part of your room correction system that is measuring the before and after calibration response?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
    gene,
  19. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    7,663
    Likes Received:
    1,824
    Location:
    Milwaukee area
    To me, it just looks more like the graph's divisions are farther apart, not smoother (although it appears smoother when the graph ends at 80Hz, rather than 500Hz). That's one of the reasons I don't like random graph settings in magazines, online forums, etc- they don't show the data with any consistency WRT divisions, amplitude, etc.
  20. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Messages:
    7,824
    Likes Received:
    3,411
    Location:
    Florida
    The Harman graphs are only 2 octaves long. I personally like to measure bass from 10Hz to 200Hz to see how the subs roll off on both ends and how they blend with the front channels. This is what I measure when calibrating systems but it doesn't look as smooth as a 2 octave wide measurement of course.
    gene,

Share This Page

  • EMPTek.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
  • CEDIA