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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)
a Audio EnthusiastDate Reviewed:
September 7, 2009Bottom Line:
There is already a section for the L100T, to which several people have commented on their T3's. I wanted to add a new section to differentiate between the two. While they are remarkably similar (same drivers, even), the T3 uses an updated crossover which is widely regarded to put the T3 ahead in terms of overall SQ. I would also like to add that I am not as versed in jargon as others may be, and hope that you geniuses from the audio forums will eventually add to this new product section!
Firstly, let's get something out of the way: you will likely need to tackle a refoam job. My advice to you if you're refoaming this model (and you will be, if the previous owner hasn't) is to remember to adhere the foam to the INSIDE of the cone. This makes the job a bit more annoying than some refoams, but if I can do it, so can you. Total cost? About $30 and a lazy afternoon.
Onto the sound: One of my favorite characteristics of this speaker is that she doesn't completely lose her ass at low volumes, even sans tone controls or other compensation. While it's obvious that a 400W monster will need room to run, the T3 makes for a remarkably accurate and enjoyable low-volume/late night rig. This is a trait I've noticed regardless of amplification, and is also a handy justification should you find yourself wondering why you would ever stuff these into a NYC apartment. I wouldn't call a 91 efficiency rating anything really special, but the JBLs do not need a lot or even a moderate amount of power to spark up. They seem alive from the first watt. Very few amps will approach the T3's rating, so be responsible and beware of clipping (see tweeters).
Once opened up, though, brace yourself. On some material, the T3 had me struggling not to soil myself. Let's start with the woofer. Subterranean. I've heard all sorts of speakers over the years, but I don't think I've ever encountered a consumer woofer quite as robust as the T3's 2214 driver. It was used in a variety of JBL monitors, and I believe this incarnation has an "H" after it to denote placement in the T3, though the driver is by all accounts identical (someone please correct me if I am wrong). At any rate, this thing slugs your chest while still being accurate. You're definitely going to experience a bit of frustration with placing this woofer, as I've noticed unbearable room 'excitement' from even modest changes in location. At any rate, if you're looking for a near-bottomless receptacle of power, this is it. I've never approached the 400W rating (not even close) and I've caused damage to precariously hung or placed nearby objects. But despite the raw power, she's remarkably smooth. The low frequencies in some of the later Dire Straits recordings, for instance, feel like that first shot of whiskey permeating through my chest after a hard night at work. You'll also notice during your refoam that the woofer basket is made with enough iron to service a WWII tank. That's one of many earmarks of quality that this and all JBL speakers had prior to the buyout, when they were still just a company making speakers in California. Yes, this model was made in the USA, btw.
The titanium tweeter is insane and, despite my waxing rhapsodic about the woofer, my favorite aspect of the speaker. Though many of you rightfully shy away from metal domes as 'bright' or 'harsh,' that is not the case, here. I can only describe these tweeeters (035ti [a]) as having an insane amount of air or stage to them. Simply put, it's arguably the 'sweetest' tweeter out there and there is no shortage of people gushing on the internet on this very topic.
I can't comment on the mids other than to say that the driver is chambered and sounds, "competent." Why? I just don't know how to describe mids! They are most definitely there, requiring no adjustment from an EQ. I have never seen a frequency response chart for this model, but it's rumored to be remarkably flat all the way through. All I know is that I don't need to "dial in" a sound for certain genres as I find myself doing with many other models. Vocals are all very much alive as though you were sitting in a chair, sharing a stage with the band.
While the T3 is a great all-around speaker and suitable for use in your main rig, rock/pop is CLEARLY a forte'. It just has a more aggressive sound (not harsh or fatiguing, just a bit more assertive) than many others out there. This is nowhere more obvious than in the vocal. However, I'm also blown away every time I hear "Take Five" on this rig. Particularly that lumbering drum solo. Wow. Just...wow. While it's also a testament to superior production of that particular session, I've also heard a gajillion speakers fall on their face trying to produce that same solo.
For reasons unclear to me, the T3 is markedly undervalued as compared to the famous L100 (the speaker used in those Maxell "blown away" ads from the day). I've heard both, and the T3 outshines the original in every possible way. If you google, you will also find that this is the general consensus among JBL nuts. I think that JBL just sold so damn many L100's that they represent a sort of sentimental value for guys lo these decades later. The T3 is also far rarer than the original 100, with a manufacturing run of '89-'90 (I think). Sooner or later, people will wake up to this speaker and prices will leap. As they stand now, this is one of the greatest values in all of audio, let alone vintage JBL. I've seen them on Craigslist for $50 and mint pairs on eBay for as high as $750 (but almost always between $300-$450). Worth every single penny, and will last forever with that refoam we talked about and maybe some crossover attention down the road. If you adjust the inflation for $698 EACH in 1989 dollars, you'll quickly understand what a value this is.
Another great aspect of this speaker is looks. Let's face it, most of the older speakers we all love aren't exactly attractive to most people. And if they're from the 80's, they can be downright hideous. When you get your T3's, give them a good oiling down. I used basic lemon oil (Old English) from the grocery store, which is essentially baby oil with some extract thrown in. Anyway, this simple act restores the T3 to a remarkably handsome deep walnut...almost red (another distinction from the prior L100T). The wood also desperately needs it. Being a consumer model (though a very expensive one), many if not most of these cabinets will have been ignored over the past two decades. Remember, this is real veneer and not vinyl.
Since they're large, you may be able to sneak them past a wife or girlfriend as a lamp stand. Anyway, I happen to think this is among the better-looking 'old' speakers out there. Another consideration in regards to looks/decor: 36", 14.5", 13" (HWD), and they clock in at 60 honest-to-god lbs. each (another testament to when things were made worth a damn).
Well. I see that I've managed to waste a lot of time rambling about this speaker. Can you tell that I love it? I inherited it from my father after 20 years of dreaming of it and fooling around with expensive sub/sat rigs while trying to approximate the beauty of this speaker. During a visit I found them sitting unused, rotten, and dry as a bone. The rehab process was a labor of love. Though I don't have a huge place in the suburbs to really let these ladies scream, my ears are also no longer teen aged and into that sort of insane SPL, anyway. That's why I led the review by saying that the T3 is an outstanding low/moderate volume rig despite being able to rupture the internals organs of small mammals walking in front of it. The mark of a truly GREAT speaker.
That pair on Craigslist or eBay? Yeah, pull the trigger on it. Go on, man. Just do it already.
Used product for: More than 1 year
Duration Product Used: Audio Enthusiast
Product model year: Pre 1995
Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)
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