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JBL S26
29 Reviews
rating  4.55 of 5
MSRP  320.00
Description: Sensitivity dB @ 1m/2.83V: 87 Impedance (ohms): 8 6" PolyPlas™, 1" Pure Titanium dome, 48Hz -- 20kHz Crossover: 2000Hz


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Reviews 1 - 5 (29 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by NewMexicoNoob a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: October 19, 2008

Bottom Line:   
These are terrific little speakers--soooo much better than the L26 namesakes that filled many a dorm room what 35 years ago, but which I still remember fondly, ;-D

These are the speakers that caused me to sell my Infinity Preludes which cost roughly 30 times as much. Now in fairness, this was after using my DEQX processor to correct the JBL's. After dialing them in, they sounded so close to the flagship Infinity's my jaw dropped. Bought the DEQX, sold the Preludes, and then went into DIY land.

Still I'm reminded after moving to New Mexico where I haven't the room to set up my big system, that even uncorrected these are superb little speakers--do so much right and so little wrong; they wallk all over the majority of similarly priced speakers I have heard at Best Buy, Ultimate Sound, etc.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $180.00

Purchased At:   Harmon Online



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by ProRecordingGuy a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 12, 2004

Bottom Line:   
This review is for model S26II, in the apparently popular black ash finish. I purchased four of these loudspeakers for $38.50 (that is thirty eight, there is no missing digit!) each on clearance from The Great Indoors.

Before I get into this review let me say that I approach my notes on speakers somewhat differently than the rest of the signal chain. Technical performance aside, loudspeakers are by nature much more emotional and subjective to discuss than the electronics in your system. The audible, significant differences between a $200 receiver and a $2000 receiver are few and ultimately difficult to quantify. The same comparision between a $200 pair of speakers and a $2000 pair is entirely different. Engineering approach, environment, personal preference, there are so many variables. So take my comments and notes in context, and ultimately decide for yourself by auditioning any speakers you’re considering in your home.

The S26II is a two way system with a 6” poly woofer and a 1” titanium dome tweeter on a proprietary “EOS” waveguide. Connections are via 5 way gold plated binding posts. The boxes are largish considering the mid-woofer size, with a single front facing port located below the woofer. These weigh a solid 22lbs each. There are no grossly apparent resonances when rapping the surfaces of the well-damped cabinets. Build quality is very good, comparable in fact to speakers costing many times as much aside from the simple finish.

My last review was of the new Infinity Primus 150, which I auditioned after reading a favorable review in Stereophile. While they presented a lot of strengths, their ceramic-metal tweeters ultimately proved too bright. So it was with some reservations that I approached these JBLs with their titatium domes and their reputation of bright, metallic high end. I also had read reviews here talking of a lack of mid-band response.

Auditioning was via two systems: System A with a Sony DVP-S5600 DVD/CD player connected via digital coax to a capable Yamaha surround receiver. System B was an RCA STAV-4090 (aka Pioneer VSX-D412) receiver and a Pioneer DV-563A hybrid CD/DVD/DVD-A/SACD player, using the Pioneer’s DAC for CD and stereo analog for the stereo layer of DVD-A and SACD discs. High quality oxygen-free 16 gauge wire was used for interconnect.

Test material was my standard line-up. First up is always Victor Wooten’s Yin and Yang, followed by a mix of Steely Dan Everything Must Go on both CD and DVD-Audio, Jimi Hendrix Experience Hendrix on CD, and finally the Stereophile Test CD #3.

Well, my initial fears of how the high end would sound were immediately silenced. Simply put, the high frequency response of these speakers is in a class well above their modest price. Extended but never fatiguing, offering up incredible transparency and a very listenable soundstage. I have speakers that provide more detailed imaging than these, but overall I would typify the imaging and staging as very natural.

But beyond the high end, the real surprise is the bass performance. The largish boxes are not for naught, they are the foundation of a low end foundation that belies the small 6” woofers. I would guess at a relatively solid curve down to below 50hz, and useable response down close to 40hz. Located close to back walls or corners provides a somewhat hyped bass curve, out into the room on stands smooths it out but it is still there with authority. At volume you can really feel these speakers, remarkable for their size. While my Paradigm Atoms do a famous job of suggesting lower octave material below their cutoff, these JBLs really deliver it.

Also remarkable is that the spectral balance, low distortion, and coherency of these speakers remains up into high playback levels. Given some solid material like Victor Wooten, and some clean power (the RCA-Pioneer is 100wpc at under 1%THD) these speakers can really rock a medium sized room.

As for the mid-band response lamented by so many here: at first I thought I heard what they were saying. But after extended listening I have to say that the speakers don’t seem to missing much. Perhaps the prodigious bass response is masking the mid-band performance for some? Placed at ear level into the room I find nothing to complain about, and I would hazard a guess that these boxes are flatter in the mid-band than you might think.
Overall, I strongly recommend these speakers. Their ideal application is mains in a stereo-only setup, or for Front and Rear use in a music oriented surround system (can you say 4.1?). A subwoofer helps solidify the bottom half-octave, but they are very useable on their own.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $79.00

Purchased At:   Great Indoors



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by dinon a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: August 16, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have been collecting alots of different affordable bookshelf speakers under $200. ANh this is the review for the S26II. This is among very few speakers which have the best built quality and look.
First the S26II has very impressive finish with high gloss veneer allover. It quite big as a bookshelf and heavy(22lbs). Very attractive look overall.
Next, the built quality is outstanding for $200 pair of speakers. well constucted inside and outside. With all-metal, 5-way, gold-plated binding post terminals. Crossover is assembled with high quality components. Amm inside walls are stuffed well. In general, for less than $200 you can never have this kind of built quality.
The speakers sound every inpressive right out of the box for hometheater with crisp hight full mid range. But the lower bass is less refined, little muddy(just like the Bose 301). For music, the speaker is abit bright(since it's loaded with titanium tweeter). I would definitely recommend it for smooth jazz and classical(and for all other non-vocal music). SInce the mid range and upper bass is abit muddy, it wouldn't be fit with vocal music. the speakers are best value for less than $200. but over $200, there're better speakers.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Price Paid:    $200.00

Purchased At:   local speaker outlet



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by baseballgod a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 9, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Follow up review on the s-26: I still think this is a good speaker and good value for the money but after evaluating and listening to lots of speakers priced similarly and slightly above I have come to find a couple shortfalls. All in all its a really good speaker especially for home theater, and "LOUD" music...nu metal, techno, hip hop, as the bass output is very good for a smallish speaker and the Ti tweeter will not be overpowered by the boomy stuff. where this speaker falls a little short is in the midrange area. it just dosent seem to output all there is to be heard. compared to my nht sb2's it just seems like i'm missing something, especially on alt/modern rock, acoustic rock, and swing type recordings. I think this was a compromise by jbl to keep it affordable and have the bass extend lower than normal, but next to the sb2 the bass is emhasized, the midrange is supressed too much and the highs are a tad harsher than they should be...also the more throw sound around the room than pinpoint an image. good in the home theater environment. so while im not as endeared with these speakers now, I still think they are a fine product and usually can be found around 200-280 bucks. They will serve as surrounds in my system for the time being but i plan on converting to nht's soon

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $160.00

Purchased At:   myharman



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Doug H a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: March 16, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This is actually a review of the s26II model (just a touch different and newer).

Great speaker. I found a burn-in time of about 6 days at mild volume really helped them open up. I have them mated with a HK CDR 30 and HK 3370 receiver. They all work well together. The speakers can handle upright bass with aplomb, never really shking it up but not missing any essentials. The mids and highs are help convey the source well. I've found jazzy piano high notes in solos to come off crispyly with a lifelike decay. Similarly, when I play rock and bigger jazz combos I hear electric bass distinctly from kick drums and lower saxaphone notes. Even in a small room, this small speaker creates a bigger soundstage than I had expected.

My HK receiver has so-called 'vmax' virtual surround processing which sort of adds a ton of echo and reverb to get a surround sound like feel. On some CDs (such as Lyle Lovett's "Joshua Judges Ruth" and Cat Power's "You Feel Free") these speakers can put out a lifelike, full spectrum sound that literally has my guests smiling in amazement. Given the proper setup, these JBL s26II's can really kick it out.

When I was looking to buy some new speakers, the choice came down to JBL's s26II and s38II. While the 3 way put out a bit more low end, the s26II was more lifelike and coherent. The s38's got the mids a bit mixed up (perhpas it's a bad crossover design) with the rest of the sound. I spent quite a bit of time auditioning and listening to both (thanks to the great folks at Spokane's Huppins!) and can heartily recommend going with the s26II.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $270.00

Purchased At:   Huppin's Hi Fi




Reviews 1 - 5 (29 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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