JBL Cabaret 4698B Speaker - BWC alert!

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by purr1n, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Look at what the cat dragged in!
    IMG_20190128_144534.jpg

    Released in the mid-80s, the 4698B (and 4699) were among the last of the Cabaret series released by JBL. Later stuff from JBL was more pro-oriented, that is to be stacked on stage for Atticus Fetch rock opera concerts. The 4698/99 are actually usable in home environments, although a moderate to large space is needed because the speakers are so big. They also need to be placed a few feet away from the walls per their design. The mid-80s were probably the peak of JBL (it can be argued that it was earlier). Speakers like this just aren't conceived anymore.

    The 4699 is supposed to be the full range playback system. The 4698, which I picked up, is intended for sound reinforcement for full range instruments (keyboards, electronic drums, etc.) The major difference is the high-frequency driver. The 4699 has a bi-radial horn crossed over at 2kHz instead of a butt-cheek horn at 3kHz as seen here. The butt-check horn has wider dispersion, especially vertically. The E110 8" 10" midrange and E155 18" (yes, that's 18, not 15) are the same on both models. Here a picture of the back of the E155 that I lifted from a sale at Reverb.com. That's a big ass magnet and an important contributor to the 103db sensitivity per JBL specs.

    E155.png

    I bet the Qts is super low (EDIT: it's 0.20, and the VAS is whopping 424.8!) Because the VAS is so high, the huge cabinet is needed to achieve proper low bass extension. I believe the speaker is rated to go down to 35Hz. Modern audiophiles, like those dinosaurs at Stereophile, insist that speakers go down to 20Hz in order to qualify for Class A. I'll tell you what, they are stupid. I'd gladly trade the last 10-15Hz of bass extension for 100+db sensitivity. It's not only because that allows me to run tube amps, but it's also because high-sensitivity drivers sound "faster". And for those who build speakers, note that the E155-4 (the 4-ohm version here) has a low inductance of 0.7mH. Xmax is just over 5mm (no long throw bullshit). This woofer has the specs that I would look for. Qms at 2.2 is a bit higher (more mechanically damped) than I would like, but it's probably needed the hold the cone in place. By the way, the resonant frequency is 30Hz.

    The E110 midrange is a relic of the past. I don't think JBL or most other pro-audio companies make any 8" or 10" midranges anymore. The trend now is big woofer mounted to a big horn crossover frequencies not that much lower than a large 2" dome tweeter. It's such a shame. Nothing beats a dedicated midrange driver assuming midrange duties with no crossover in the midrange area.

    The crossover is philosophically different from today's skinny audiophile speakers. The woofers are allowed to roll off naturally without any crossover components, much like the Seas A26 kit that @murphythecat put together. The midrange only has a low pass part on it (inductor), and the butt-cheek compression driver is 2nd order high pass (cap and coil). That's a total of four reactive passive components for three drivers. Not much to rob the speaker of life. Crossover points per JBL specs are 500Hz and 3000Hz. The driver transitions are seamless and coherent. The downside is that we do hear excess bleed from the woofers and mids. The upside is as tight, articulate, fast, and punchy - and monstrous sound when cranked up. Decay could be better, but that's paper cones - we take the good with the not-so-good. We can line the 4698B up with a 6WPC amp face-to-face against any modern audiophile speaker running 500WPC, and the 4798B will utter disintegrate the modern audiophile speaker.

    Unlike many super ghey modern audiophile speakers, the 4698B has two inputs for bi-amping and a level adjust for the highs. The jacks will automatically switch when it detects the mid-high socket plugged in. This is ideal for an SS amp on the lows and tube amp on the highs setup.

    IMG_20190128_144318.jpg

    This might be a fun project to sand down and paint white so my wife will let me bring them inside the house. Maybe replace the crossover components with better parts too.

    I bow down to the JBL engineer who designed this speaker. I bow down to the JBL of old that would even let an engineer design a speaker like this. I bow down to the engineers who designed the drivers. And finally, fuck you Harmon and fuck you audiophile speaker companies.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  2. LetMeBeFrank

    LetMeBeFrank Won't tell anyone my name is actually Francis

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    Wow those are insane! Restoring the cabinets would be really cool. Can't wait to see how this project evolves.
     
  3. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    Nice one putting the fostex lil guy in the pic for scale
     
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  4. spwath

    spwath Collegiate hijinks master

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    Nice. I've always liked the big old jbls and altecs, when the engineers got some free range.
     
  5. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Is the horn rotatable? I would think that would be a quick way to adjust the speaker to suit different hanging/room configurations.
     
  6. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    Just for scale, in guessing 30” wide, 36” tall, 30-ish” deep? I miss the old days, when my dad could afford a house big enough for something like that on a single income, and as you noted, it wasn’t considered madness to design something like those. The 60’s. Cool find, I’ll follow along and live vicariously....
     
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  7. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Eighteen Sound is a pro audio company that makes 10" mid drivers. Here's one example.

    http://www.eighteensound.com/Products/Articles/Detail/catid/4079/eid/3466/10nmb520
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Can't rotate the top horn. We are supposed the stack them up on a stage. The corner pieces have indents to facilitate this.

    Dimensions are approximately 40" x 30" x 20". It's wider than deep. I bet these would work well behind a perforated screen for dedicated home theatre rooms. The highs adjust knob would seem handy for such use.

    I think the price of these was about $3k. That's a little over $7k today. I bought these for $800 and they came with brand new compression driver diaphragms too. Expect any used compression driver to have worn diaphragms. Also, anything with Alnico magnets needs to be remagnetized. Pro gear gets pushed harder than home gear. The cones here have some discouloration, but the surrounds are good, and that's what matters.

    Hmm, collecting old big speakers might be a cheaper endeavor than collecting headphones. Oh the irony.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
  9. numbercube

    numbercube Acquaintance

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    Qms of 2.2 is super low already! DIY magazine Hobby HiFi repeatedly preaches that high mechanical damping is related to low mechanical losses RMS which is a sign for good microdetail reproduction.. Thoughts on that?
     
  10. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Could be aluminium former.

    He meant that the number is lower than ideal for him. Qms is counter intuitive and reciprocal to mechanical losses. Qes is proportional to electrical loss.
    Strong spider/suspension (high compliance - low VAS) and electromagnetically breaking former (made of metal) + dissipative surround/spider/cone (like dampers on car) will probably suppress low level vibrations, both good and bad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  11. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    @purr1n: how does the midrange not have issues with distortion because it's being fed bass frequencies? I'm guessing mechanical rolloff due to the midrange driver itself or driver+enclosure. What's your take?
     
  12. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    This is HT gold. I’d consider some simple mods to clean up the bleed around the crossover regions. Might make sense to experiment with the bass driver first to see how much you lose with a more forced roll off. I suspect that’s the more annoying of the two.

    Wonder where they fall apart in terms of upper SPL limit? I assume in stock form you’re looking at movie theater loud.
     
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  13. spwath

    spwath Collegiate hijinks master

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    Looking at the spec sheet, efficiency of 103 dB, max continuous power 400w, peak power 800w.

    That means from 3 meters away, continuous 133 dB, max 136 dB. I would say pretty loud...

    With just 100w 127 dB.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Took me a while to decipher the service manual (it's a rat's nest and low rez). Using the full / low input only, there is a set of x2 caps paralleled (one big and one small bypass), then a coil, then to the mid.

    The high input does not seem to have these caps - probably expects an active crossover for bi-amping.

    Maybe a simple coil. Would need a bigger one to keep DCR low. Best approach would be active crossover and bi-amping.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I would concur, noting what @Priidik pointed out. High Qms matters less for an 18" woofer that's going to be responsible for bass, but it would be crucial for a midrange or wide-band driver. This is one reason why I espouse bigger drivers with less excursion. The thick surrounds and stiff spiders of drivers with 30mm xmax just absorb the low-level signals. The second reason is that magnet strength varies according to the position of the cone. The curve isn't linear and turns to poop rather quickly. Best to not notice a cone move too much or at all. Inductance (Le) is another inter-related factor as high excursion drivers have high Le from their longer voice-coils. Lower Le drivers tend to sound "faster". It's not a just a high-end roll-off thing, but a distortion, and transient response / time domain deal. Of course, there is always too much of a good thing. It's getting the right balance and tradeoffs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    So during the latest Stooper Bowl, I kind of snuck these in from the garage when my wife was down the street visiting a friend. Hehehehe. She was kind of mad, but kind of expecting it. It's one of these husband and wife things you know. I've basically taken over every part of the house.

    IMG_20190203_184806.jpg

    The chain is Theta Data III (dying) -> Schiit Bifrost -> JLH 1969 Chinese Build -> JBL4698b. Wow. These came out better than I expected. The issues I heard while these were at Craig's are not so evident. Craig had them back against the walls at the lab, and here I able to get them about 1-1.5ft off the wall. I thought I would need more, but I didn't. In fact, I had them out further and shoved them slightly closer to the wall than seen here in the photos.

    A couple of observations:
    1. The speaker is neutral. At least more neutral than any headphone period (and add a lot of audiophile speakers to that too). I thought it might have been too bassy or boomy, but this is not the case. Voices are not boomy. I don't even think it's warm. It's more of matter of inherent warmth (rather than outright warm poo - distortion) that I heard from these big drivers.
    2. I was initially thinking (from an audition at Craig's lab) that x-over mods might fix some of the issues with the 18" woofer bleeding into the mids. I do not plan on pursuing this. I think what's going on is that there is a slight peak on the 18" woofer as it rolls off in the mids. Just a bit of honk with some recordings - nowhere as bad as the Fostex honk of shouty mids. A simple crossover would mean an inductor. This also means more resistance, and it also might not work. The inductance is fairly low, but it's not that low, so more components might be needed to make a first order low pass effective. I'll take the good with the bad. Not going to doubt the JBL engineers on this one. Those guys knew their shit. They pulled off all sorts of tricks like using a 0.01uF bypass cap with the bigger caps in the x-over.
    3. I also initially thought the decay might have been slow. Not really the case. These drivers are damped well. The bass is incredibly clear and articulate. There's no smearing or blurring. This is true "Moffat" bass, diametrically opposite to "PCM1704 bass".
    4. I reduced toe-in from the above photo for best imaging. The butt-cheek tweeters are super extended and cover 3k-22k seamlessly. Overall, this is so much smoother than my horn / OB woofer system. Both of my speaker setups
    5. The heft, not only in the lower registers but also from the mids, is quite incredible. This is by far the most physical "home" speaker I have experienced. There is other stuff that booms, stuff that rattles. But with these JBLs, there is an ease to how sound vibrations are palpable to the human body, even at low volume.
    6. It gets you in the bones, in the heart. The wife absolutely loves this effect. I put on some k.d. Lang and she actually took a bit of time to listen intently. I am allowed to keep them inside, provided I set up a digital system that she can actually operate without too many confusing switches or buttons. Her words were along the lines that the sound of these are "less thinking" and "more grooving".
    7. Julie commented she prefers these over the Oris / Lowther horns and 15" OBs. Their physicality kind of tricks you up, but after direct comparison, the 15" OBs (an sub) sounded muddy. The difference is like going from narrow tower speakers with x2 10" drivers to OB 15". It's a jump, although not too unexpected. The Eminence Beta 15s are dirt cheap with a not very powerful magnet (which strangely is actually needed for OB). The JBL E155 woofer has a huge magnet but requires 2/3 the volume of a refrigerator to have any kind of bass extension. If anything good came out of this, such a large box minimizes the boxy sound of a speaker. I've said this before. Give me OB bass, or stick a woofer in a gigantic box.
    8. The compression driver in the butt-cheek horns isn't as resolving as the better wide-banders. Worthwhile tradeoff though. Compression drivers are fast and tight. In a normal as opposed to an electrostatic transducer kind of way. Then again, I could be wrong. I'm using a $200 AliExpress amp which is cap-coupled on the output.
    Finally, who would have thunk that in 2019, it's cheaper to build a BETTER sounding speaker system for less money than a headphone system. Fuck you Head-Fi.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  17. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

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    Any noticeable holes or dips in midrange like with a lot of older JBL speakers?

    It's about to get even worse. Samsung bought Harman and reorganized it. Most of their talent, who designed the first modern JBL speakers to not be landfill worthy, left to start Kali Audio (https://www.kaliaudio.com/) and take on the JBL 305 directly with better drivers but simpler waveguide. Samsung JBL 305 version 2 cab weighs even less than the horrifically underbuilt version 1. Who knows what will happen with the Russian scientist who made the compression drivers in the higher end stuff not suck.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    TBH, not a fan of of the Kali LP-6. Tuning wasn't as neutral and woofer sucked. Would have taken the LSR305 over it any day.

    P.S. Stop bullshitting and inferring shit through the Force. I had all this shit sitting on my desk with 3m and listening position measurements. Sometimes I don't post stuff for a variety of reasons.
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    If you feel HD600s are normal sounding in the middle/upper mids then yes. They will have a hole in the mids - for just you.
     
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  20. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    You are subconsciously scared to throw in the 45 and Vidar.
     

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