JBL HDI-3800 Floor-Standing Speaker Review

TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Spin-o-rama requires a full 360-degrees of measurements on both the horizontal and vertical axis. I would need either a microphone array with a 2 meter radius, or a way to rotate the tower speaker on its side and use the tweeter as the point of rotation. Neither are practical. Besides that, the waterfall graphs are more informative than spin-o-rama regarding the speaker's behavior. Spin-o-rama is just a summary of a whole bunch of other measurements, but the waterfall graphs are the measurements that spin-o-rama summarizes. Not only are the waterfall graphs more helpful to understanding the speaker, I would also say they are more intuitive to understanding as measurement information.
You are absolutely correct Shady. However the waterfall plot confuses a lot of people for some reason. That is a pity.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Spin-o-rama requires a full 360-degrees of measurements on both the horizontal and vertical axis. I would need either a microphone array with a 2 meter radius, or a way to rotate the tower speaker on its side and use the tweeter as the point of rotation. Neither are practical. Besides that, the waterfall graphs are more informative than spin-o-rama regarding the speaker's behavior. Spin-o-rama is just a summary of a whole bunch of other measurements, but the waterfall graphs are the measurements that spin-o-rama summarizes. Not only are the waterfall graphs more helpful to understanding the speaker, I would also say they are more intuitive to understanding as measurement information.
Just to be clear, I mean it is not feasible to do spin measurements on the vertical axis for tower speakers. I always measure angles on the horizontal axis. The horizontal axis is a lot more important to sound quality than the vertical axis.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I am actually VERY disappointed to not see Spinorama measurement of this speaker. To me the whole review looses value if this crucial graph is omitted. Why then go through all the work of measuring the speaker if there is no Spinorama in the end?

Otherwise interesting speaker. Seems that objectively it has issues, but subjectively everyone praises it no matter what. I just don't think it is a significant enough upgrade over my JBL Studio 580.
In case you weren't aware, here is spinorama measurements for the HDI-3600 (not the 3800):
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
In case you weren't aware, here is spinorama measurements for the HDI-3600 (not the 3800):
Yikes there seems to be some problems with these speakers from that review

Maybe more qualified members can look at it when given a chance help clarify if hid measurements are right

I'm not sure I can make this lineup my end game speakers for the price with those measurements if they are accurate
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
In case you weren't aware, here is spinorama measurements for the HDI-3600 (not the 3800):
So KEW Amir seemed to have some real issues with the 3600 measurements.

I'm just wondering why the 3800 would ve so well reviewed here and the 3600 would be so far off Its bigger brother considering the price

Any thoughts on that review Amir likes to use a device that basically measures it in room and then uses a computer to remove any room interaction out

He claims it is as accurate as a anechoic chamber or can give similar results

How accurate is his testing procedure

He did end up recommending the 3600 and stated the farther away he sat the better it sounded

Plus he was only listening to and testing one speaker I believe?

Just wondering how accurate really is his testing on speakers?
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
For the subjective portion of Amirm's reviews, if it is a Revel product, it is guaranteed recommendation. Others are a crap shoot. I do not know his exact process, but it seems to me he measures first, listens second. Not that there is anything wrong with that but everyone here is always talking about "confirmation bias" - it goes both ways. Why he listens to only one speaker is beyond me... His DAC and amp measurements are what interest me most as they seem to be the most objective.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
So KEW Amir seemed to have some real issues with the 3600 measurements.

I'm just wondering why the 3800 would ve so well reviewed here and the 3600 would be so far off Its bigger brother considering the price

Any thoughts on that review Amir likes to use a device that basically measures it in room and then uses a computer to remove any room interaction out

He claims it is as accurate as a anechoic chamber or can give similar results

How accurate is his testing procedure

He did end up recommending the 3600 and stated the farther away he sat the better it sounded

Plus he was only listening to and testing one speaker I believe?

Just wondering how accurate really is his testing on speakers?
I'm certainly no expert on measurement techniques. However, I do know that he uses a pretty sophisticated measurement system. @shadyJ would be better to respond to this.
I do think that Amir has enough audio geeks looking over his shoulder that he would get called out for it if his measurement technique was not up to snuff and I know ErinH (link below) is very advanced with this stuff and chose to use the same measurement system.
As far as listening to one speaker, that is based on research at Harman Labs, and I have found that it is easier to pick out performance details when I am listening to a single speaker.. I am not convinced that this does not miss out on how a stereo pair presents the sound stage, so prefer doing both (stereo and mono), but if I had to chose one are the other for auditioning a speaker, it would be a single speaker.

I do know that Amir is pretty picky and his reviews of electronics pretty well condemn products which have no audible issues. On the one hand I am with him in that there is little excuse for the measurements not to be better in this day and age; but on the other hand, If you can't hear it, what does it matter?

Maybe a 3800 will cross his path before too long. Certainly the Revel are an option, but I know you prefer the way the horns give you a good reacharound grab while you are testing the port!!

One thing I would recommend is that you buy one (or two) HDI 1600's from Crutchfield. They give you 60 days to check them out and you are only out-of-pocket for $10/ea when you return them. A-B them against your 530's (or even 590's) to get a sense of what to expect. You've got this Coronavirus stay at home time after work time, so when better to audition speakers?:

You can do the same with the towers, but it is a lot more trouble than the smaller speakers, and I think it may be something like $75 each (instead of $10/ea.) for towers.

I feel kind of bad about doing this when I really expect to return them, but offset any guilt by buying from them (especially instead of Amazon) whenever I can! I know Amazon is destined to become our future overlord, but like to slow it down where I can!
 
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S

SDX-LV

Audiophyte
OK I understand that it is very difficult to spin a tower speaker on a side. Thank you for clarification!

For the subjective portion of Amirm's reviews, if it is a Revel product, it is guaranteed recommendation. Others are a crap shoot. I do not know his exact process, but it seems to me he measures first, listens second. Not that there is anything wrong with that but everyone here is always talking about "confirmation bias" - it goes both ways. Why he listens to only one speaker is beyond me... His DAC and amp measurements are what interest me most as they seem to be the most objective.
Amir openly admits that he has a lot of personal interest and respect for Harman products, but nobody forces you to read his subjective comments - the data is there to interpret or analyze yourself.
Regarding "Why he listens to only one speaker is beyond me..." I would recommend reading the book by Dr. Floyd Toole or perhaps finding the answer in some of his or Harman articles.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
The Klippel system that Audio Science Review uses is very complex and I don't fully understand it. There are a lot of different ways to measure bass, and there are trade-offs for each method. I'm guessing there are trade-offs in the Klippel NFS system. Many manufacturers just rely on groundplane measurements, and you need to be at least 2 meters out, preferably further for better accuracy. It would be interesting to see groundplane measurements of the HDI-3600's bass response to see how it compares to the Klippel system.

Btw, I was sent the HDI-3800 by mistake, the original arrangements were for a review of the 3600 at my request. The reason why I wanted the 3600 is that it would have been a lot easier to carry that one up a ladder and mount it on a turntable nearly 5 feet high. There is a big difference in handling a 60 lbs speaker like the 3600 and an 85 lbs speaker like the 3800, and I wasn't sure I would have been able to handle a speaker that heavy. Imagine my surprise when the 3800s shows up on my driveway, and the palletized boxes are nearly as tall as I am, when I am expecting the 3600s. I just went with it though, too much time and trouble to send them back.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic
There is a big difference in handling a 60 lbs speaker like the 3600 and an 85 lbs speaker like the 3800, and I wasn't sure I would have been able to handle a speaker that heavy. Imagine my surprise when the 3800s shows up on my driveway, and the palletized boxes are nearly as tall as I am, when I am expecting the 3600s. I just went with it though, too much time and trouble to send them back.
I would love to see speakers reviewed with weight as a factor. If I can get a GREAT speaker at a reasonable weight, it adds value. Even lugging the 25lb Canton Vento Reference 9.2 bookshelf 7' off the ground on a ladder to place it on top of the 7' VMPS tower is a bit of a chore. I can't even imagine climbing my ladder with an 85 pound beast. :D
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
I'm certainly no expert on measurement techniques. However, I do know that he uses a pretty sophisticated measurement system. @shadyJ would be better to respond to this.
I do think that Amir has enough audio geeks looking over his shoulder that he would get called out for it if his measurement technique was not up to snuff and I know ErinH (link below) is very advanced with this stuff and chose to use the same measurement system.
As far as listening to one speaker, that is based on research at Harman Labs, and I have found that it is easier to pick out performance details when I am listening to a single speaker.. I am not convinced that this does not miss out on how a stereo pair presents the sound stage, so prefer doing both (stereo and mono), but if I had to chose one are the other for auditioning a speaker, it would be a single speaker.

I do know that Amir is pretty picky and his reviews of electronics pretty well condemn products which have no audible issues. On the one hand I am with him in that there is little excuse for the measurements not to be better in this day and age; but on the other hand, If you can't hear it, what does it matter?

Maybe a 3800 will cross his path before too long. Certainly the Revel are an option, but I know you prefer the way the horns give you a good reacharound grab while you are testing the port!!

One thing I would recommend is that you buy one (or two) HDI 1600's from Crutchfield. They give you 60 days to check them out and you are only out-of-pocket for $10/ea when you return them. A-B them against your 530's (or even 590's) to get a sense of what to expect. You've got this Coronavirus stay at home time after work time, so when better to audition speakers?:

You can do the same with the towers, but it is a lot more trouble than the smaller speakers, and I think it may be something like $75 each (instead of $10/ea.) for towers.

I feel kind of bad about doing this when I really expect to return them, but offset any guilt by buying from them (especially instead of Amazon) whenever I can! I know Amazon is destined to become our future overlord, but like to slow it down where I can!
I never realized that about listening to one speaker that's pretty cool to know I've read some things on Floyd and Harman that you guys have pointed out but I need to check out more with all the extra COVID time. Thanks for explaining it KEW !
 

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