JBL L100 Classic Review
JBL is a well-known company and one of the oldest audio manufacturers that rock the music world since 1946. The company has created many legendary speakers recognizable in studios, concerts, cinemas, and people’s homes in its history.
But the truth might be that the original JBL L100 is the most popular product created by this company.
No matter that JBL L100 came out in 1970, its retro design is still popular, once again proving the immortality of this bestseller. JBL recognized this fact and that people can be nostalgic for some better, happier times, so they used the original model’s appearance and mixed it with today’s technology.
- Amazing design
- Powerful low frequencies and bass
- Impressive dynamics
- The grilles are not subtle
It is funny that JBL still considers these speakers as bookshelf models. I know they were born in the USA, where all things might seem more significant, but I don’t believe you can mount them on a bookshelf.
JBL L100 are three-way stand mounters that are 63 x 39 x 37 cm and, to be honest, a small fridge size. I am not so sure you can put them without any problems on a bookshelf.
That is why they come with a pair of metal frame stands that lift the speakers 20 cm from the ground and tilt them slightly, so the sound goes directly towards the listeners. Unfortunately, the metal frames are not at the speakers’ price, and you have to buy them separately.
When you look at L100s, you don’t get an impression of something luxurious, but you can tell that there is a quality build. Another proof of that is the 27kg weight of the speakers.
The front side and the backside are black, the other panels are walnut, which is about all the choice you have for the finish.
Usually, grilles are never an essential topic for most speakers, but with L100, they are vital. Similarly, as with the originals from the 70s, JBL has provided the same orange foam grille. The orange one is so distinctive and memorable, but also the blue version is striking too. I think black grille is the most popular because it can fit more easily into the home decore and less prone to deterioration over time.
But, besides the fact that the grilles contribute to the speakers’ vintage look, the foam affects the sound. When the technology is advanced, and the drivers and crossover are so much better and improved, nobody wants to buy a speaker that looks like it is from the 1970s and sounds old.
So if you like to enjoy the music, you should take the foam covers off. You can use them as protection if small children are visiting or when you listen to some soft pieces of music in the background.
So let’s talk about the drivers that make the JBL L100 unforgettable as they are.
The bass driver is 30 cm, modern, massively built with a powerful motor system and a cone made of ribbed paper. Above it, a front-firing port ensures that this speaker with a large cabinet will deliver a lot of bass and high volume.
The mid-range also has a paper pulp cone coated with a polymer for better resonance control. It is a 13 cm unit at 450 Hz.
The titanium dome tweeter is responsible for the frequency range from 3.5 kHz to 40 kHz. It has a soft surround to damp dome resonances and an acoustic lens that have a function to control the dispersion.
JBL managed to create harmony between these three drivers with a high-quality crossover that smoothly divides the drivers’ efforts.
On the left, from the tweeter and mid-range, there are output controls. You can use them to optimize the sound according to your taste.
When it comes to sensitivity, L100s are rated at 90 dB with nominal impedance at 4 ohms, so you should use them with an amplifier.
JBL L100 Classics are known for more amusing and providing entertainment than bringing analysis of the track. But that doesn’t mean they lack details.
As you can expect from the large cabinet and bass driver, excellent and powerful bass frequencies are delivered with ease and finesse. Even the lows have a nice texture and definition.
The mid-range is crisp, and the treble is clear. L100 might not sound as sophisticated at higher frequencies, but they are insightful enough in revealing differences in productions.
Stereo imaging is excellent. The speakers deliver an expansive soundstage where you can distinguish all the instruments and sounds.
They are great at lower volume levels, too, so you can listen to them late at night without sounding lifeless.
For the best audio experience, you should make sure the speakers are positioned right. It is advisable to put them a meter away from the walls and clear of the side. For better stereo imaging, you should angle the speakers towards the listener.
Like any other piece of audio equipment, JBL L100s are not perfect. There is no such thing. But when you look at the shortcomings JBL has, none of them are deal-breakers. In some aspects, these speakers are better than the rivals. In some, they are behind.
If you are looking for entertainment and not for analyzing, JBL L100s are definitely for you. For the money you pay, be sure you receive an extra charm and character.