Cambridge evo 75 and JBL L100 classics, good match?

Docb16

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Jul 6, 2021
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Hi everyone! I am building my first system. After hours of online researching and really getting nowhere, I finally found the speakers I want, The JBL L100 Classics. I love the way they look and like the history behind them. All of the reviews of sound quality are great as well. I have an appointment to listen to them in a couple days and then hopefully will buy them.

My next step is choosing the amplifier. My main purpose for the system is to stream music. But it will also be hooked up to my TV for sports, movies, etc. The room is not very big, about 22x9 ft (6.5x 3m) with 8 ft (2.5m) ceiling. It is not a perfectly rectangular room and there is also an opening off to the side into a kitchen. I like to listen to music fairly loud but it is an apartment so I have to keep neighbors in mind of course and won't be blowing out the windows. I mostly listen to electronic music, classic rock, jazz/funk, some hip hop.

I have my eye on the Cambridge evo 75 because I again like the way it looks and the all in one functionality. The L100 classic's are 4 ohms and the RMS range given is 25-200W. The evo 75 is listed as 150 W into 4 ohms (not sure if that's peak or average). I have a few questions:

1) Is that power going to be sufficient for these speakers? How much better would they sound with more power, for example the evo 150 which makes 250W into 4 ohms? Don't really want to spend more on the evo 150, especially if it won't be a huge difference in audio quality for my purposes.

2) Do I even need a streamer? Could I just get for example the cambridge cxa81 (120W into 4 ohms) which seems to be highly reviewed and recommended and then somehow directly wire my phone into the amplifier? Or, if that's not enough power, any other amplifier that's cheaper than the evo 75 but puts out more than 200W in 4 ohms?

Any help or other product suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

millennia_one

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Sep 1, 2014
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Ok the L100 classic are lovely speakers. And given the right amp will keep you happy for years/a life time. They will need gobs of power regardless of what the jbl specs say, you need to control that woofer. Which is quite substantial.

And its a nominal 4ohm load meaning thats the where it will stay most of the time and will dip down further probably seeing 3ohm when the going gets tough and that large woofer gets moving. I'd say that Cambridge won't be up to it TBH. You need an amp that can drive 2ohm loads and states that in the manual.

Watch this review if you haven't already

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYkAnSXDsrI


John gives a very comprehensive look at them

If you don't need a streamer

Amp wise i'd be starting my search with Hegal or Musical fidelity you need the control these brands can bring


On a personal note I've had good experience with Naim and Harmon brands like Revel so might be worth a look Nap 200dr and up would be the min if you can swing the 250 even better. All naps are stable into 2ohm loads and dpnt let there small wattage number fool you. the Nap amps get their name from their 4ohm loads. You will need a NAC pre to go with these though. Naim may work with the JBL's

There is no getting around it these speakers are going to require power and it is expensive.

Have you given thought to Klipsch forte 4's? these are alot easier on amps.....

You need to go and listen to be sure.
 

nopiano

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Feb 15, 2009
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Whilst we shouldn’t necessarily be guided by price, I’d typically expect to spend at least £2000 on an amplifier for £4000 speakers.

I somewhat disagree with millenia_one because the JBL have a very high sensitivity at 90dB, so fifty watts or more will be plenty for your room. You are unlikely to want rock stadium volume in an apartment unless your neighbours are deaf!

As the Evo uses Nord class D modules they are tolerant of low impedance, but I’m unsure if you’d like the tonal match. That’s a very personal thing, and I’d seek the guidance of the dealer where you’re getting the demo. I’m pretty sure it won’t be at Richer Sounds, and hence they are highly unlikely to recommend Cambridge.

Make sure you love the speakers first. Try something else while you’re there. And see what they suggest for your budget.

Let us know how you get on.

PS. Yes, you need a streamer, unless you really want to use your phone only. I think you’d soon tire of this.
 

Docb16

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Jul 6, 2021
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Thanks for the responses! I started this search looking at towers and there are so many good options. But I like the look and big woofer of the box speakers. I did consider the Klipsch Heresy and Forte but I just really like the way the JBL's look and I remember those Maxell adds when I was a kid. I am no audiophile and it is very difficult to make any sort of decisions about any of this gear without being able to demo things side by side and compare which is pretty much impossible. Too many options especially at the prices I am looking at. I'm going to listen to the JBL's and see what the dealer has to say. At the price/quality range I am looking, I am fairly certain anything I get will sound good to me. So at this point I'm just trying to not spend too much money and focus on functionality and aesthetics and make sure the gear matches from a technical standpoint.
 

millennia_one

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Sep 1, 2014
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Why, he likes the L100. Just needs an amp to deal with them, unless they don't work well in his room.
It's an option that has similar virtues, and he/she hasn't to listen to any of this arn't you proponent of listening? and you answered your own question.

"Unless they don't work well in his room"
 

nopiano

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Thanks for the responses! I started this search looking at towers and there are so many good options. But I like the look and big woofer of the box speakers. I did consider the Klipsch Heresy and Forte but I just really like the way the JBL's look and I remember those Maxell adds when I was a kid. I am no audiophile and it is very difficult to make any sort of decisions about any of this gear without being able to demo things side by side and compare which is pretty much impossible. Too many options especially at the prices I am looking at. I'm going to listen to the JBL's and see what the dealer has to say. At the price/quality range I am looking, I am fairly certain anything I get will sound good to me. So at this point I'm just trying to not spend too much money and focus on functionality and aesthetics and make sure the gear matches from a technical standpoint.
It’s hard to advise when you are judging in many ways by appearance, because it’s so personal. I’d simply say don’t rush to decide, definitely hear a couple of alternatives, as there are many fine speakers in the £2000 plus range.
You might find your eyes and ears are captivated by something completely different. Bear in mind that the JBLs need stands too, for £375, and there are many excellen floorstanders (towers) for a lower outlay, which might be easier to accommodate in practice. Add a streaming amplifier like the Cambridge, or one of many similar devices, or a separate streamer and amp.
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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For a small apartment at low volumes the JBL L100 may be overkill…how about the JBL L82 at half the price on some nice stands? Plenty left over for a nice streamer/amp. 🙂
 

Docb16

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Jul 6, 2021
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Nah I love the L100's. Love the big woofer and want floor standers. I'll probably move to a bigger place at some point and I want these to be my speakers for a long long time. But I have to like them when I listen to them before I pull the trigger. I emailed the folks at cambridge and they corrected me. The evo 75 actually does 125W into 4 ohms and that is RMS. Evo 150 does 250W into 4 ohms. They said either would be fine to power the L100's.

Also emailed with an engineer at JBL. He recommended a higher wattage amp. His favorite with L100's was the Arcam PA240. Also said that the Arcam SA30 would probably pair well. Both are harmon products and he couldn't comment on anything outside of the Harmon umbrella. Overall he recommended at least 100W of RMS power or 200W of peak power which technically the evo 75 accomplishes.
 

Docb16

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Pestered the JBL engineer a bit more and his final answer, for what it's worth, was it would be a "disservice" to power the L100 classics with anything less than 175W. So I'll probably get the Evo 150 or the arcam SA30. $3000 US is already more than I'd like to spend so I'm not spending a penny more than that but would prefer an all in one streamer/amp. The JBL SA750 is another option but looks like it won't be available until the end of August. I don't know if I can wait that long as I'm quite honestly fiending at this point :p

Going to listen to the JBL's tomorrow and found a klipsch heritage dealer and will try to listen to the heresy and forte's as well before I make my purchase.
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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Pestered the JBL engineer a bit more and his final answer, for what it's worth, was it would be a "disservice" to power the L100 classics with anything less than 175W. So I'll probably get the Evo 150 or the arcam SA30. $3000 US is already more than I'd like to spend so I'm not spending a penny more than that but would prefer an all in one streamer/amp. The JBL SA750 is another option but looks like it won't be available until the end of August. I don't know if I can wait that long as I'm quite honestly fiending at this point :p

Going to listen to the JBL's tomorrow and found a klipsch heritage dealer and will try to listen to the heresy and forte's as well before I make my purchase.
With respect to your ‘JBL engineer’…he’s talking out of his reflex port! It’s current not watts that controls speakers. At reasonable volume levels in your living room I doubt you would be drawing more than 2 watts anyway! This is where class D is a greater benefit than class AB amps. Power scales up when impedance drops… the EVO will drive them fine. 👍
 
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Docb16

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That was my original thought. I won't be listening loud enough for it to matter how powerful the amp is, as long as its within that 25-200 range specified by JBL. I find this whole process to be very confusing and everyone has different opinions. Maybe they'll have some different powered amps tomorrow I can listen through.
 

nopiano

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That was my original thought. I won't be listening loud enough for it to matter how powerful the amp is, as long as its within that 25-200 range specified by JBL. I find this whole process to be very confusing and everyone has different opinions. Maybe they'll have some different powered amps tomorrow I can listen through.
The JBL guy will be playing at stadium volumes in huge demo rooms, not thinking about your apartment. It is theory over reality I’m afraid. I agree with Tinman’s comments.
 

Docb16

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Listened to the JBL's today and they were beautiful. The bass was fantastic and every sound was crystal clear. And it wasn't even lossless audio! Just apple music airplay (couldnt get the Apple music lossless to work). It was a tiny listening room, even smaller than my living room. They were powered through a Hegel H120 which actually has slightly less power at 4 ohms than the evo 75. And there was more than enough juice to make things uncomfortably loud. Bass was tight and thumping. I already know my neighbors will not be happy with me. The dealer had some $10k Sonus Faber speakers as well and honestly I preferred the sound of the JBL's. I like the thick bass and the rock n roll feel and the vintage look.

So I'm going to be fine with the Evo 75. Although the dealer said he may be able to get me a deal on the Arcam Sa30 through the Harmon rep. So if I can get the SA30 for close to the price of the evo 75, I'll probably do that. Gonna listen to the klipsch tomorrow but it's academic at this point. I'm in love :love: Thanks for the help all!
 

CheshirePete

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Oct 12, 2020
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Listened to the JBL's today and they were beautiful. The bass was fantastic and every sound was crystal clear. And it wasn't even lossless audio! Just apple music airplay (couldnt get the Apple music lossless to work). It was a tiny listening room, even smaller than my living room. They were powered through a Hegel H120 which actually has slightly less power at 4 ohms than the evo 75. And there was more than enough juice to make things uncomfortably loud. Bass was tight and thumping. I already know my neighbors will not be happy with me. The dealer had some $10k Sonus Faber speakers as well and honestly I preferred the sound of the JBL's. I like the thick bass and the rock n roll feel and the vintage look.

So I'm going to be fine with the Evo 75. Although the dealer said he may be able to get me a deal on the Arcam Sa30 through the Harmon rep. So if I can get the SA30 for close to the price of the evo 75, I'll probably do that. Gonna listen to the klipsch tomorrow but it's academic at this point. I'm in love :love: Thanks for the help all!
The SA30 will also give you Dirac Live so you will be able to fine tune the sound to your room.
 

Docb16

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So the Harmon guy is giving me a really good deal on the SA30 with the L100's. I'm kind of 50/50. The evo 75 looks beautiful and has bluetooth. The SA30 has more power, comes with room correction, but isn't nearly as nice to look at and oddly comes without bluetooth.

I would imagine the SA30 will sound better and of course be better tailored to the space with Dirac Live. The evo 75 will look better and I don't know if I would even notice the sound quality difference in a blind test. My gut tells me the SA30 is the right move as looks are... just that, superficial. And the flexibility to tailor the sound with Dirac is probably worth the extra cash. Unfortunately there is now where I can demo either of these bad boys.

I went to the listen to the Klipsch forte's as well. It was a very high end niche loft style setup by private appointment. They sounded gorgeous through this fancy tube amp and then not as gorgeous through an NAD M33. The dealers there were recommending the NAD M10 with the Klipsch for my budget/level. I'm over the moon with the JBL's so there was pretty much nothing the Klipsch could do to sway me. But I found the bass to be less satisfying than the JBL's hitting you in the chest, but it was a much bigger space. And the JBL's have a front firing port, unlike the Forte's. The dealers said the Forte's were their best selling speaker and they actually preferred them to the La Scala and Cornwalls which they also had but I didn't hear. They also had some Oma speakers which are very cool but way out of my league to even listen to :LOL:. Interestingly made in Pennsylvania out of all places. Check them out if you've never heard of them. https://oswaldsmillaudio.com/loudspeakers

Finally they showed me their Audio Note room, all audio note speakers and amps. One tube amp they played was $40k. Honestly I didn't really like Audio Note. Too much clarity. Kind of reminded of Bowers and Wilkens 702 s2 I heard. Kind of unforgiving, you can hear all the imperfections in the vocals. It seems like a lot of audiophiles are chasing that sort of sound, but I don't think it's for me. I like the more pleasant down to earth sound of the JBL's with the thumping bass and rebellious rock n' roll vibes. Definitely making the right choice for me with the speakers. Now only have to choose the amp. Your opinions, if you have any, are welcome. Thanks again for the input and help!
 

Docb16

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The dealers emphasized the tonal qualities of matching speakers and amps as being extremely important. I know that is fairly subjective but, can any broad generalizations be made about tonal qualities of Cambridge vs Arcam?
 

Docb16

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And now I've discovered the BlueSound POWERNODE (N330, 2021) which seems to be very well reviewed. Its inconspicuous, has the minimal connections I need and is a 3rd of the price. This is my first system and I'm thinking maybe I should start small. I can afford the more expensive options but something tells me it's not worth it for my first system. Maybe I can order the bluesound for a trial period.
 
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Tinman1952

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And now I've discovered the BlueSound POWERNODE (N330, 2021) which seems to be very well reviewed. Its inconspicuous, has the minimal connections I need and is a 3rd of the price. This is my first system and I'm thinking maybe I should start small. I can afford the more expensive options but something tells me it's not worth it for my first system. Maybe I can order the bluesound for a trial period.
I don’t know why your dealer is playing a 40K amplifier….sounds barmy.
Looks (the design….) is extremely important. Don’t underestimate the ‘pride of ownership’ factor. The Arcam will NOT necessarily sound any better….and their app is pants. The app interface is really important these days when streaming and choosing music. It adds to the whole experience.…🙂The Cambridge and Bluesound apps are well designed and fully featured…the Arcam not so much.
 

Docb16

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Yeah after much deliberation, I'm going with the Bluesound. It has all the functionality I need, has stellar reviews, and is significantly cheaper. This is my first system and I don't need to be splurging. Also I have 30 days money back guarantee on the blue sound, in the off chance that I don't like it.
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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Yeah after much deliberation, I'm going with the Bluesound. It has all the functionality I need, has stellar reviews, and is significantly cheaper. This is my first system and I don't need to be splurging. Also I have 30 days money back guarantee on the blue sound, in the off chance that I don't like it.
Good choice…🙂
 
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