JBL HDI-3800 Floor-Standing Speaker Review

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
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?
I ain't no expert in readin' or nuthin, but it seems to me that the reason you aren't seeing a price match is because you are looking at the wrong speaker. You are looking at the HDI-3600 instead of the HDI-3800 which is what I reviewed. ;)
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
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.
Most of the products that I review don't occupy this high of a price point. But there is no way to cheaply do everything that this speaker does. The good news for those on much more modest budgets is that there really are great speakers that are a whole lot more affordable (I am working on a review of one right now!)
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
These two speakers look very similar on a web page, but the 3600 has small 6.5" drivers. It's a little confusing if you are not aware there are two models.

jbl.png
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
Most of the products that I review don't occupy this high of a price point. But there is no way to cheaply do everything that this speaker does. The good news for those on much more modest budgets is that there really are great speakers that are a whole lot more affordable (I am working on a review of one right now!)
ShadyJ, I love your reviews and I enjoy it when you review expensive as well as more moderately priced speakers. That's really the only way to see what you get in these different price ranges. It would be fun if Canton and Focal speakers were occasionally represented in some of the reviews too.

Some speakers I try don't really shine until they have plenty of power running thru them while others sing sweet and clearly even at low levels. That's a trait I find myself paying more attention too.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Now if these go on sale for over 50% off msrp like the Studio 5s (some of which are currently enjoying such a sale, fwiw).
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Indeed! Great review. We'll see whether I experiment with JTR or JBL. :p Too bad, Jeff isn't likely to run a 50% sale on the 215RTs...
:D
:cool:
 
D

DefTechFan

Audiophyte
These look awesome and thanks for the review! If I was in the market for speakers, I would definitely put these on my short list. I wish/hope they come out with a white finish - that would look great with the black drivers and horn.
 
B

Beave

Senior Audioholic
It's interesting how the JBLs match up against Revel's Performa3:

Large towers at $5k msrp
Medium towers around $3500 msrp
Bookshelfs around $1800-2000 msrp

JBL competing against Revel even though they're owned by the same company.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
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.
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.
I think that model is already out its the studio 6 lineup that replaces the studio 5 unfortunately they are only selling it in Japan not America

They use the exact same waveguide so it makes me think They are a trickle down speaker from the HDI's and they look almost identical

I'm thinking they are not selling them here to avoid competition with the HDI? At least for right now just a thought

What's fascinating is the flagship tower in that lineup is a true 3 way design makes me curious about it
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
I think that model is already out its the studio 6 lineup that replaces the studio 5 unfortunately they are only selling it in Japan not America

They use the exact same waveguide so it makes me think They are a trickle down speaker from the HDI's and they look almost identical

I'm thinking they are not selling them here to avoid competition with the HDI? At least for right now just a thought

What's fascinating is the flagship tower in that lineup is a true 3 way design makes me curious about it
Contrarily to comments from others, there are excellent 3-way speaker designs. To avoid serious phase problems, the builder has to implement the passive crossover filter frequencies at least 3 octaves apart. Several years ago, I built a 3-way enclosure which was very well rated, not by audiophiles, but by a group of audiophools in Montreal:

DSCF0656.(2)jpg.jpg
 
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KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Contrarily to comments from others, there are excellent 3-way speaker designs. To avoid serious phase problems, the builder has to implement the passive crossover filter frequencies at least 3 octaves apart. Several years ago, I built a 3-way enclosure which was very well rated by a group of audiophools un Montreal:

View attachment 36820
Is this your design, or someone else's that you built - IOW, is there a website you can link to for more information, or do you have a link to more detail on it?
What are the XO frequencies?
Are there measured plots?

Sorry, but I think you recognize the honesty of this reality check:
Saying that your new DIY speakers were "very well rated by a group of audiophools in Montreal" is not much different than a new mom saying that her new baby was rated beautiful by members of her church! In decent company, your enthusiasm and the radiance on your face as you are showing off your "new baby" ensures plenty of positive comments.
I think I know you well enough to know you would not casually brag on a speaker without substance behind it (like how you championed QSC amps which were mostly unknown here prior), so share a bit more - maybe start another thread and link from here for those curious...or link to an existing thread to avoid going OT!
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
I agree with KEW for the simple reason I would greatly enjoy learning more about your design philosophy and builds! :)

Cheers!
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
Is this your design, or someone else's that you built - IOW, is there a website you can link to for more information, or do you have a link to more detail on it?
What are the XO frequencies?
Are there measured plots?

Sorry, but I think you recognize the honesty of this reality check:
Saying that your new DIY speakers were "very well rated by a group of audiophools in Montreal" is not much different than a new mom saying that her new baby was rated beautiful by members of her church! In decent company, your enthusiasm and the radiance on your face as you are showing off your "new baby" ensures plenty of positive comments.
I think I know you well enough to know you would not casually brag on a speaker without substance behind it (like how you championed QSC amps which were mostly unknown here prior), so share a bit more - maybe start another thread and link from here for those curious...or link to an existing thread to avoid going OT!
Several years ago, I started a speaker company so I built that 3-way speaker enclosure as a flagship model. The cabinet was built by a cabinet maker with the design and dimensions which I had given him. It was my own design from the start to the end. Each driver I had chosen for the design was tested for its Thiele/Small parameters and the passive crossover components had to be chosen base on them. I designed the 3-way passive crossover, using a 2nd order Linkwitz-Riley filter between the sub driver and the two mid-bass drivers, and to divide frequencies between the mid-bass drivers and the tweeter, a 2nd order L-R filter for the lower frequencies and a 3rd order Butterworth filter for the high frequencies. The filter frequencies are 270 Hz and 2900 Hz. A 12 inch RSS series Dayton subwoofer was used, SB Acoustics mid-bass drivers and an Airborne AMT tweeter completed the system.

That was my only pair of 3-way speakers built. I closed the shop shortly after because of strong competition and insufficient funds. That project involved a lot of hours of planning and designing but I had a lot of enjoyment in doing it with passion for a well designed product.
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Indeed! Great review. We'll see whether I experiment with JTR or JBL. :p Too bad, Jeff isn't likely to run a 50% sale on the 215RTs...
:D
:cool:
He's already discounted them to $3599 from his msrp of $7198! ;)
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Contrarily to comments from others, there are excellent 3-way speaker designs. To avoid serious phase problems, the builder has to implement the passive crossover filter frequencies at least 3 octaves apart. Several years ago, I built a 3-way enclosure which was very well rated, not by audiophiles, but by a group of audiophools in Montreal:

View attachment 36820
I'm not saying that you can't build a decent three way. But the issue is that in performance dollars you will come out far ahead on price. A three way that performs like the speaker under review would be much more expensive. In addition the impedance and phase angles are very unlikely to be so benign.

Take these three ways.



They sound excellent and measure well. The crossover uses the impedance correction approach of the late Raymond Cooke. Crossovers are 400 Hz and 4 KHz. However the cost of the crossover components alone was over $400.00. So to produce a comparable speaker you would be up at $8000.00 per pair and likely more.

In addition the number of midrange drivers that have a really good response over the speech discrimination band and adequate power handling are far and few between.

Now lets take a look at the difficulty of driving the speaker.

Here are my left and right two way in wall speakers.



Now the center. The woofers are the same but we have added a mid range driver. Centers are a problem, where the only good options are a full range driver, a coaxial driver or a three way. Otherwise lobing issues are insurmountable.



Not terrible for a decent amp, but probably trouble for most of the current crop of receivers.

The only reason we add drivers is because of their limitations.

If really good full range drivers were plentiful we wold not be having discussions about crossovers. Having to add crossover point is an admission of the limitation of drivers. The whole issue is to get round the limited pass band response of drivers, and not to inherently improve speakers. If there were better options everyone would grab the opportunity.

I'm certain you could not produce speakers of the performance and power handling where it counts of the speakers under review, for $5000.00 per pair with a three way design.

So three is not inherently better than 2 or better still one, which wold be optimal but essentially remains out of reach at this time. I do believe though that with enough perseverance and imagination it could be solved.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
I'm not saying that you can't build a decent three way. But the issue is that in performance dollars you will come out far ahead on price. A three way that performs like the speaker under review would be much more expensive. In addition the impedance and phase angles are very unlikely to be so benign.

I'm certain you could not produce speakers of the performance and power handling where it counts of the speakers under review, for $5000.00 per pair with a three way design.
Here are the impedance and phase angle curves of this 3-way which I had built. I think they are pretty good and are far better than the curves that we see on most commercial speakers, even expensive ones. It clearly shows that the subwoofer cabinet is tuned at 22 Hz.

With regard to power handling of the mid-range drivers, when you normally use 3 watts or less per channel and never exceed 60 watts on peaks as I do , I don't think it represents an important aspect for the 3-way loudspeaker design.

img051.jpg
 
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Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
Several years ago, I started a speaker company so I built that 3-way speaker enclosure as a flagship model. The cabinet was built by a cabinet maker with the design and dimensions which I had given him. It was my own design from the start to the end.
Here is the frequency response of the 3-way speaker I built several years ago (Taken at 1 meter distance). The impedance and phase angle curves are shown in previous post just above this one.
img050.jpg
 
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TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Here are the impedance and phase angle curves of this 3-way which I had built. I think they are pretty good and are far better than the curves that we see on most commercial speakers, even expensive ones. It clearly shows that the subwoofer cabinet is tuned at 22 Hz.

With regard to power handling of the mid-range drivers, when you normally use 3 watts or less per channel and never exceed 60 watts on peaks as I do , I don't think it represents an important aspect for the 3-way loudspeaker design.
View attachment 36857
No, the box is tuned to 70 Hz. The nadir of the saddle tells you Fb.
 

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