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JBL 4312SE - crazy

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
330
121
19,070
My dealer was very excited when he got these, a while back, and he said he must have a pair. I was also very curious, so I went to audition them today, even though I can't fit those in my room, even if I could get them past my partner.

When I got there, a system comprised of MSB Technologies DAC, a Jadis power amp and Piega Coaxial floorstanders (I think these are around 10k USD each, or somewhere in the vecinity). I sat and listened, and was VERY impressed with them. Granted, it was all Jazz recordings, which didn't let me evaluate how they would fare with complex (as in lots of very busy passages) stuff, but everything was good. Great even.

On the side, a Nac 202 + Nap200 were warming up, so I could hear the JBLs with something close to my own system. Source was still the MSB Dac, and I ran out of time before I could hear the stuff with the more modest Arcam CDS27.

After some 10-15 songs or so, my dealer brought the JBLs in. Room is still being refurbished, so I got to hear them in a room that wasn't 100% optimised, which is good in my view. Also, they don't have stands for them yet, so they had to use stands that were too tall for them. It was an impromptu audition, and more like a curtosy to me, so no critique from me, as he is my favourite dealer, just explaining the context.

Also, some of you might think that I like a VERY forward sound, because I use Naim gear. But I built my system so I can avoid an edgy sound, I hate sybilance, I hate overhyped treble (and bass for that matter), and very propulsive amps from Naim (like the SN2) make me unconfrotable (too much of an amp for my room). Which is why I like the Piega Premium range and don't like Neat, for instance.

The JBLs are... just plain ugly from a hi-fi point of view, but gorgeous from a (my) geeky point of view. The dealer told me before they sound raw, and (with the Piegas being played beforehand) before he hit the play button he said "ok, prepare for fireworks". OH MY GOD.

I can't describe into words the joy they gave me. They are not perfect. Take the word "RAW" and multiply it by 100, that's how they sound. They would be tiresome for longer than 3 or 4 albums, I think. BUT. It is the first time I instantly forgot about the gear and just listened to the music. It was a pure, joyful "LIVE" experience. They are forward, but in an "efortless" kind of way. It's a paradox. The music does slap you across the face, but not "PUSHED" against you. In the same measure it would in a LIVE setting, and it NEVER slipped into complete harshness or grating. I didn't smile during the audition. I mean I did, but it was inbetween the many moments when I just couldn't help but burst into laughter, or swearing or mentioning the Messiah. It was pure joy. The music coming out of those ugly (but gorgeous) boxes was pure joy. Some BB King duet was absolutely spectacular. On another recording, I felt I was in front of the band. In front of the drum kit. Not in the control room, but in front of the actual drums. Just... brilliant. At some point, I thought someone pushed the "volume up" button. No-one did, the other instruments joined in and nothing got compressed, it was a music flood.

These should be on everyone's audition list, at least as an experiment. If I had a bigger room and zero neighbours, I would buy these in a hartbeat. Best experience so far in my hi-fi journey, and only almost rivaled by the revelation the Naim brand was for me. I didn't hear speakers, or Naim or cables. I heard music. Just music. Gobsmacked. Awesome.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
163
49
18,620
It certainly shows what higher sensitivity can do in a speaker designed that way. Much more ‘live’ feeling than a typical Hi-Fi speakers.

I saw the £2,500 4312se at the Windsor Show, but they were playing the bigger 4367 (£6,000), which is similar but more so! Off about thirty grands worth of Mark Levinson streamer and amp they were pretty spectacular.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
739
298
5,270
Only seen Ellisdj's video of what you're describing and was blown away. I actually like the look of them. You instantly have an expectation they will sound good as most people would call the ugly.

I admit I would like a pair of original JBL even the domestic L100 which can be had for much less. Just to satisfy curiosity. There's only so much that new designs can do to mitigate by using smaller bass drivers. It just sounds different.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
739
298
5,270
Only seen Ellisdj's video of what you're describing and was blown away. I actually like the look of them. You instantly have an expectation they will sound good as most people would call the ugly.

I admit I would like a pair of original JBL even the domestic L100 which can be had for much less. Just to satisfy curiosity. There's only so much that new designs can do to mitigate by using smaller bass drivers. It just sounds different.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
4
0
Someone cought the Westcoast sound bug.


You should really hear the bigger JBLs. Unforgetable.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
330
121
19,070
Vladimir said:
Someone cought the Westcoast sound bug.

You should really hear the bigger JBLs. Unforgetable.
I heard something in their Array range (the 800 or 1400 I think) and yes, they were very good - but amplification was lacking a bit, as in I was comparing Nac 172 with 272 on a Nap200, and clearly they deserved better amplification. The Nap200 wasn't struggling or anything, but after hearing the 4312SE, I can only imagine how their higher range would fair with appropriate amplification. But again, the Array range is 4 times the price of a not-so-cheap speaker. Which makes the 4312SE unbeliavable imo.

And again, about the looks, I love them :)
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
48
4
18,545
Such a pity these look like 'Disco' speakers. I can't imagine anyone giving them house room.

Surely JBL could re-style these along the lines of Harbeth, thereby maintaining the 'retro' appeal and giving them a modicum of domestic acceptability?

If they did, I could be tempted.....
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
739
298
5,270
Infiniteloop said:
Such a pity these look like 'Disco' speakers. I can't imagine anyone giving them house room.

Surely JBL could re-style these along the lines of Harbeth, thereby maintaining the 'retro' appeal and giving them a modicum of domestic acceptability?

If they did, I could be tempted.....
Does Harbeth have any speakers with 12" woofers?
 

Al ears

Moderator
insider9 said:
Infiniteloop said:
Such a pity these look like 'Disco' speakers. I can't imagine anyone giving them house room.

Surely JBL could re-style these along the lines of Harbeth, thereby maintaining the 'retro' appeal and giving them a modicum of domestic acceptability?

If they did, I could be tempted.....
Does Harbeth have any speakers with 12" woofers?
Surely 10 inch is the best compromise.... ;-)

If infiniteloop thinks these are disco speakers he's obviously not American..
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
48
4
18,545
Al ears said:
insider9 said:
Infiniteloop said:
Such a pity these look like 'Disco' speakers. I can't imagine anyone giving them house room.

Surely JBL could re-style these along the lines of Harbeth, thereby maintaining the 'retro' appeal and giving them a modicum of domestic acceptability?

If they did, I could be tempted.....
Does Harbeth have any speakers with 12" woofers?
Surely 10 inch is the best compromise.... ;-)

If infiniteloop thinks these are disco speakers he's obviously not American..
I visit the US on average about 6 times a year on business and know it reasonably well, but I'm not American, no.
 

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