JBL HDI-3800 Floor-Standing Speaker Review

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
HDI pair heroB.jpg
We at Audioholics were very excited at JBL’s announcement of their new HDI series at the 2019 CEDIA show. The HDI series uses the cutting-edge technology in waveguides and driver design in very nice cabinetry and does this all without hitting sky-high prices. This isn’t to say the HDI series is cheap, but compared to other speakers in the JBL Synthesis family of which they are a part, they are relatively affordable. We badgered JBL relentlessly for a review pair once they became available, and JBL has finally given in to our campaign of harassment. So, in for review today, we have the HDI-3800 floor-standing speakers, which are the big dogs of the HDI lineup. The HDI-3800 speakers are listed at a somewhat pricey $5,000/pair, and the review pair that was sent to us has a high-end furniture-grade satin-walnut finish. If you want something that has both high-performance and an aesthetically-pleasing furniture grade-finish, it isn’t going to be cheap, but if the HDI-3800 speakers manage to tick off both those checkboxes, its MSRP really would be a bargain.

READ: JBL HDI-3800 Floor-Standing Speaker Review
 

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Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
Siiiiighhhh just when I thought I was completely made up on JTR

You've really made my life more complicated

By the way great awesome review very well done
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic Chief
Sweet! Wow at that price point one would have to fight with themselves between that and the Revel F208.

+1 for the Shout out to "Knives Out." We saw it in the theater (remember those days? They seem so long ago...) and it was a riot. Think "Clue" for the 21st century. Easily recommended.

Think these will go on sale half-price 3 times a year like the Studio line? Ha ha yeah right!!! :p
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic
How would you compare the 1-inch (25mm) Teonex compression driver to BE driver or RAAL Tweeter? Thanks!
 
Old Onkyo

Old Onkyo

Senior Audioholic
One of the most beautifulest, ( it is a word because I just used it and you know what it means!) speakers I have seen.

I told my wife someone would have to deliver, unbox, move the the 590’s and install these, and even then, it’s hard for me to imagine how dramatically better the sound would have to be for me to keep them.

I know such speakers exist, but at 5 times the price, Shady should do the install! I am sitting out here minding my own business and here you go starting sh*t.

Great review!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Nice review James.

It really is nice to see a sensibly designed speaker. What a rare beast. That ticks all the boxes I have been hammering away at for years.

So we have a speaker with enough resources to handle the frequencies where the power really is required. That is 80 to 800 Hz. That is a good starting point.

The cross to the upper driver is selected optimally where a good passive crossover can be designed. So it is not a totally stupid passive crossover design in the 100 to 400 Hz range.

Next they have avoided building a three way and all the phase problems, and issues with difficult to drive impedances and phase angles. I agree any amp the can't drive those speakers is total junk and not fit to see the light of day.

Next it has sensible bass extension to match to a sub. You can tell from the impedance curve that box tuning Fb is around 30 Hz. Personally I would set those speakers to large, and ease the sub in at either 60 or 40 Hz. You won't need to drive the sub hard with those speakers. I doubt it would be easy to overdrive those woofers. I would have no worries driving them full range. I would bet that the difference running them with and without a sub or subs would be quite subtle unless the subs were over driven.

Now very importantly the speaker has a really flat midband response.

The crossover to the horn seems very well executed, with a sensible dispersion pattern.

The thing I totally fail to understand is why we have so few speakers that are designed with common sense. It really is not rocket science by a long shot. When it comes down to it a speaker is not that complicated. I have long been puzzled why so many, in fact most speaker designers, seem to make such a pigs foot of it.

I'm not at all surprised that you liked those speakers so much. They really measure like a speaker anyone should be able to live with. Not only that but the design indicates they should be able to hold those good qualities at power.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Another nice review of what looks like a well designed speaker. Well done James! At $5,000/pair I wonder how well it will sell.
The thing I totally fail to understand is why we have so few speakers that are designed with common sense. It really is not rocket science by a long shot. When it comes down to it a speaker is not that complicated. I have long been puzzled why so many, in fact most speaker designers, seem to make such a pigs foot of it.
You already know the answer to your question. In most commercial speaker companies, the marketing people swing a bigger club than the speaker designers. In light of that, Harmon should be congratulated for producing this design. If it sells well enough, I wouldn't be surprised to see them introduce JBL models that superficially resemble the HDI-3800, but compromise sound quality, and sell at lower prices.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
Rey nice review indeed. I’ve been waiting for this review for awhile. As I read it, I listened to the tracks that were used in the review. That is always fun, and really ties me to the review just a little more. I have older JBL studio speakers with 12’s(studio s-312II), and while I know they’re not in the same class, I kind of got to hear the 3800’s in my room. I think these are what I’ve been waiting for, to go to battle with my wife over. I’ve considered others, and naturally will just because. But damn! I want these.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
Rey nice review indeed. I’ve been waiting for this review for awhile. As I read it, I listened to the tracks that were used in the review. That is always fun, and really ties me to the review just a little more. I have older JBL studio speakers with 12’s(studio s-312II), and while I know they’re not in the same class, I kind of got to hear the 3800’s in my room. I think these are what I’ve been waiting for, to go to battle with my wife over. I’ve considered others, and naturally will just because. But damn! I want these.
It's time! LET THR BATTLE BEGIN!

P.S. I got a room over here if you need a place to crash if you lose :D
 
afterlife2

afterlife2

Audioholic Spartan
Thanks Shady(Speaker dude of the house). Any bookshelf version? Price if available? They look stunning.
 
K

kini

Audioholic
We at Audioholics were very excited at JBL’s announcement of their new HDI series at the 2019 CEDIA show. The HDI series uses the cutting-edge technology in waveguides and driver design in very nice cabinetry and does this all without hitting sky-high prices. This isn’t to say the HDI series is cheap, but compared to other speakers in the JBL Synthesis family of which they are a part, they are relatively affordable. We badgered JBL relentlessly for a review pair once they became available, and JBL has finally given in to our campaign of harassment. So, in for review today, we have the HDI-3800 floor-standing speakers, which are the big dogs of the HDI lineup. The HDI-3800 speakers are listed at a somewhat pricey $5,000/pair, and the review pair that was sent to us has a high-end furniture-grade satin-walnut finish. If you want something that has both high-performance and an aesthetically-pleasing furniture grade-finish, it isn’t going to be cheap, but if the HDI-3800 speakers manage to tick off both those checkboxes, its MSRP really would be a bargain.

READ: JBL HDI-3800 Floor-Standing Speaker Review
Thanks for another great review. No one does it better.
If you had to pick, HDI (3600 and center) or the Polk L600 and center which would be your preference. Mostly HT and some music.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
Great review on some exciting speakers! +1 on Lorn - excellent release.
1591202619620.png
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic Chief
It's the HDI-1600 and retails for $900 each.
View attachment 36785
Amir did a review of those a couple months back, also.

 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Thanks for another great review. No one does it better.
If you had to pick, HDI (3600 and center) or the Polk L600 and center which would be your preference. Mostly HT and some music.
There is no doubt that the Polk center will have a superior off-axis response by virtue of its three-way design. The JBL center is bound to have significantly higher sensitivity. I would say if its just for listening done in the 'sweet spot,' the JBLs might be the ticket, but if you are concerned about multiple seating locations, the Polk would be my choice.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic
Another nice review of what looks like a well designed speaker. Well done James! At $5,000/pair I wonder how well it will sell.
Stock market +40% in two months, moving to all time high while 1,000 Americans die from Covid-19 each day and 25 million out of work for 18% unemployment. If you live in the right neighborhood you have more cash than ever before. Those folks can buy $5,000 JBL easy. :rolleyes: :D:eek::oops::cool:

Weird times.... the income divide in America has never been so wide.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Audioholic
Excellent review, James. I'm happy to see JBL offer this line of speakers as they seem to be excellent performers at a reasonable price. These are the types of speakers I gravitate toward--well controlled directivity, capable of impressive dynamics with low distortion, etc. It's good to see such a speaker offered in a more "aesthetically pleasing" package that'll allow people to consider them that otherwise wouldn't.

That's great because I personally believe many people, particularly those with larger rooms/home theaters, would be better served with a speaker like this than so many other choices on the market.

That's not to say these are perfect--there is a slight directivity mismatch at the crossover--but comparatively it's a pretty small nitpick in the big picture.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Crutchfield (as well as other outlets) has these in 3 different finishes for $1900/ea. or $3800/pr. so very close to 25% less!
The strange thing is Crutchfield does not show this as a sale price so I wonder if this is JBL's actual price?!
@shadyJ do you have any thoughts on where you got the $5000 price vs Crutchfield's price?

Unfortunately, the bookshelf version is not less than $900/ea!

Edit: I am mistaken, this is the HDI-3600 with smaller woofers! See ShadyJ's post below.
 
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