29 June, 2020

JBL L300 Le85 LE15B 2045 Cary SLP-98P JVC XL-Z 1050

New York Diary (20-20): Technology and Green Credentials in Our Daily and Audio Lives

Revised 6/30/20: More details on the JBL system added. Also, filled in on Simon's vinyl credentials, as well as his servicing of vaccum pumps.

Technology is a doubled-edged sword. While raising our standards of living and health care, our environment is being ruthlessly destroyed. Advances in many fields, ranging from transportation to farming, have probably done more harm to the environment than coal-burning plants. And it can be argued that growth is not equitable - it benefits the have's disproportionately more than the have-not's.

I pride myself on my Green Credentials, but this pandemic makes me re-examine myself, and how things are done. First of all, understand that I have never owned a car, and I live in a neighborhood where most big national chains do not have a nearby presence (exceptions being BJ's, Target, Best Buy and pharmacies like Walgreen).

I have tried my best to curtail my desires and online orders. I don't order food or easily obtainable household items online. But I did end up with still more orders than I'd have liked. One reason is, as I have relayed before, all my old computing devices gave up on me, so I bought computers and accessories. First a cheap Chromebook, than another cheap Windows laptop and an iPad. Some extras too, like wireless mouse and keyboard. Another important reason is, many items are not available in-store. It is a fact that during the pandemic things tend to fly off the shelves and re-stocking can be slow; but it is not only that, and the pandemic made me gain some insight into the logistics of operations.

Rather, the illogical, and immensely wasteful way of doing things. Say, I order three things from Walmart or Staples and it comes in THREE packages from different warehouses. What a waste of cardboard and packing material! Making this even worse is that some items come in packaging much bigger than their sizes mandate. I discussed this with Andy and he finds the same thing. He thinks they are just packing things into the same few boxes available. I also think perhaps they are spending less time than before in packing due to labor shortage. In any case, these make me feel much guiltier than usual.

Green Credentials in Audio Let's face it, while music is essential, audio, as practiced by fanatics like us, is not. No matter what, we waste quite a bit of electricity. Tube, which consumes more energy, is the Archilles' heel of my green armor. Right now I feel better, as I am streaming via bluetooth to a low consumption all solid state system which I shall later write about. Manufacturers, particularly those in the "high-end", should re-examine their own lack of environmental concerns in their excesses: to name a few, low efficiency loudspeakers with terrible impedance curves (which require muscle amps to drive); solid chunks of aluminum just for looks (most of these in solid state amps that do not sound great); large chassis for meager content (particularly prevalent in digital equipment and preamps); futile Class-A solid state attempts to emulate tubes (I have heard a lot of them, from Gryphon to Krell to Pass; I used to own the Aleph 3, which though good was not a 300B amp by far). Low powered amps and high efficiency loudspeakers are the way to go. Now, there are some who are deserving of praise, like David Berning and Linear Tube Audio (LTA) for the efficient and great sounding ZOTL design and, in the case of LTA, very beautiful but compact and not extravagant industrial designs.

The Greatest Advance in Audio What do you think it is? Sampling Frequency? Class D?  Super Earphones? None of the above. It is Social Media. Manufacturers, critics, dealers, everyone has taken to social media, and Youtube. If not for social media, I'd not have been able to bring you Virtual Home Visits (many more coming).

Virtual Home Visit (3): JBL Horn System

If you are a regular reader, you would have encountered Simon before. He is in Andy's entourage. Simon is quite an experienced audiophile but now he has long sold just about everything and just keeps a simple system. That's commendable and environmentally friendly. As I have said many times before, good enough is indeed good enough. Forget about endless upgrades.

Simon is a JBL expert, and has considerable experience with different JBL horns and components. As a matter of fact, he is behind Andy's sorrowfully under-utilized JBL system (here). Whenever the gang get together, the heated topic of JBL vs Altec invariably comes up.

Simon is a technician who services dental equipment. His expertise comes in very handy for people like Andy (and by extension R, whose fabled lunches had been featured on this blog many times) when their vacuum pumps (for their turntables) break down. God knows how many times I have watched them do repairs. In the case of R, he would make us wait for lunch and go famished to make sure work was done. Fanatics!

Simon had once been an avid vinyl collector. His work takes him all over Manhattan, and over the years, whenever possible, he would pop into the record store and spend a few minutes sifting through the New Arrivals. By Andy and his own accounts, he had once owned every LP on the original HP list. Again, being such a sensible fellow, Simon sold off all those he did not really care for, which was a lot. Simon is a seasoned Classical Listener. I particularly remember his comments on how weary he feels after listening to Mahler. Again here, in terms of possessions, Simon serves as a model for those of us who wallow in excesses.

According to Simon, the JBL horn system is basically a DIY variant of L-300 (my model of choice). The mid-drivers are Le-85 horn,16 ohms (same as L300); Woofers are LE15B, 4 ohms; JBL 2045 tweeters. DIY Crossover (which evolved over a long time). The "L300" critically retains the soul (midrange driver) of the original. Apparently, Simon has had the iconic 375 but prefers the original's Le85. As for the original's 077 tweeters, he's had them too but he prefers the 2045. It should be noted that the woofer enclosure is a DIY variant of the Tannoy GRF! Boy, a lot of work there!

Ancillary equipment comprise: Cary SLP-98P Special Upscale Audio Edition Full-Function Preamp; McIntosh MC-225 amp; Technics SL-1200 Turntable with old Audio-Technica OC-9 Cartridige  connected to his friend's no-name SUT; JVC K2 CD Player.

I didn't get to hear this present setup, but did hear a slightly different previous iteration with the same partnering equipment, and it was quite enjoyable.

Editor's Notes: 1) I am not a fan of Cary, but I have heard a lot of their stuff. This particular preamp uses the larger 6SN7 tubes in the line section, and is definitely much better sounding than the previous models which use smaller tubes, as Art Dudley mentioned in Stereophile; 2) I am pretty sure the JVC CDP is the legendary XL-Z 1050 (without suffix TN) with JVC's proprietary K2 circuitry (here and here).


  1. AnonymousJune 29, 2020

    Excessive package is definitely a big environmental problem!!
    Eric L

  2. Indeed, this hobby can just spiral out of control into a life of excess, if we are not self-aware and careful. Need constant reminders like this post to curb that endless pursuit. Stay safe!

  3. McIntosh MC-225 on my to-do list!