Pros: Accuracy, dyanmic's, soundstage & imaging!!!
UPDATE July 25, 2012: No Change to my subjective review - still love the 7.1 JBL Studio Series Speakers w/SVS 25-31PCi Powered-Sub!!! The latest 3D (like Avatar, Captain America, etc.) & Blu-ray (like REDS, Star Trek - 2009, Star Wars, etc.) movies hi-resolution audio really shines @ near REF Level with my HT Setup!!!
I added a new Associated Equipment list below.
UPDATE March 30, 2012: (updated links for Jul 1, 2001 article “OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY" by Scott Wilkinson)
Still enjoying my JBL 26s / S-Center, w/crystal clear highs, dynamics & discrete seamless surround sounds from my 3D Movies (6.1/7.1 Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio ) like Avatar, Captain America, The Adventures of TInTIn, etc.
UPDATE April 16, 2009: (some links removed or updated in original subjective review)
NO CHANGES to my original subjective review below except that the JBL S26 / S-Center & SVS 25-31PCi is even more impressive after REFERENCE CALIBRATING the whole 7.1 HT Setup using, ... the Audyssey 2EQ / Onkyo TX-SR606!!!
Read my Onkyo TX-SR606 epinions subjective review, link below ...
Observation quote (from my review) ...
"The 360-degree seamless surround sound was smooth around me, w/more distinct discrete effects, the dialog track was very clear, balanced to the action scenes around it, and it sounded like the Onkyo was breathing life into a very familiar movie soundtrack effortlessly!!!"
APRIL 21, 2002
ACCURACY: One of the JBL S26 hallmarks is the accuracy in reproducing encoded musical sounds from my CDs / DVDs like, a violin sounds like a violin, a trumpet sounds like a trumpet, a tenor sax sounds like a tenor sax, a Grand Piano like the Grand Piano that Diana Krall uses in her "Live in Paris" DVD (I own a 6' Yamaha Grand in my HT/family room), etc. What is unusual for this price range, is the S26 ability to reveal subtleties and the resolution of the high frequency characteristics within the encoded music/instruments, sound/movie effects, . . . they are just more evident with the JBL S26 vs. other speakers in this price and some costing more; i.e. with close mike recording of an acoustic guitar, you can hear the artist fingers (George Benson; Earl Klugh; Russ Freeman) sliding up and down the frets; you can tell that that two violins are playing a melodic line, rather than just one violin; the air harmonics off the crash or ride cymbal sounds, just like our Tama Rock Set Zilgin cymbals; Diana Krall breathing during some of her songs Intro (Live in Paris DVD). Here - I do chalk up the sound quality to JBL S26 1" Pure Titanium Dome Tweeter, which is same size used in JBL TEC Award Winning LSR PRO Studio Monitors.
SOUNDSTAGE: The left to right placements of instruments & voices are excellent, providing a precise, very wide, beyond the speakers soundstage. The JBL S26 front to back (depth) soundstage is also excellent, as well as the dynamic's resolution (soft vs. loud) in playing back the encoded instrument sounds which helps provide excellent location placement of the instruments. Though the front to back soundstage can be a result of how close the microphones were to the instruments, no doubt, the quality of the best recordings, will be revealed by this speaker and the opposite is also true, poor recordings will be revealed as poor. The JBL S26 plays back all my Jazz CD Music with relative smoothness, with no surprising in-between the eyes, unnatural frequency peaks because of it's super flat & wide Pro Monitor like frequency characteristics. I also own the JBL N24 (JBL NSP1 PKG) which was raved by Brent Butterworth for its super midrange playback (voices) and in direct comparison, the JBL S26 is equal to task providing the same balanced, natural, clear unstrained playback! (Samples: "Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim" 1967 Digital remastered DDD Music CD; Diana Krall "Love Scenes" & "The Look of Love" Music CD).
IMAGING: Another characteristic that the JBL S26 displays is its ability to image the specific instruments across the soundstage, with a floating in front, side, quality sound presence comparable to some floor standing speaker, though its point source is more precise due to the smaller cabinet side. The S26 JBL's low-diffraction cabinet geometry feature curved, large-radius cabinet edges to eliminate diffraction, which ensures precise imaging and localization. I love the JBL S26 ambience reproduction in my room, because it gave me the feeling that "you are there" and if the recording is from a live concert, the ambience provided the right amount of reflections to make you think your listening to the performance outdoors, or in the symphony hall. (Smothers Brothers The best of Sibling Revelry; DVD "The Corrs - Live at the Royal Albert Hall"; Diana Krall "Live in Paris" DVD).
4/24/03: I upgraded my AV Receiver = Yamaha RX-V1300 (100w x6) and added another set of JBL S26's (wire in-series) for my REAR Center Channel. No changes required for original JBL S26 review above, but, ... let me tell you, ... that adding the RX-V1300 did raise the 2-channel & HT experience and overall sound quality w/subjectively observed improved imaging, vocal / instrument presences/locations/placements; a more dynamically linear and w/expanded soundstage / depth vs. my ole's Yamaha RX-V995 & JBL Studio Speakers/SVS 25-31PCi setup. Read my Yamaha RX-V1300 Epinions Review by clicking the following link ...
The following highlights why I wrote what I did above in my above subjective observations ...
• May 20, 2000 - Home Theater Magazine - JBL Studio Series
It's important to keep in mind that the JBL system measured very flat in the lab; in fact, it had the flattest response of any ensemble in the roundup.
Overall, the JBL center was very impressive for its size and displayed excellent impact with onscreen information.
I recommend the JBL ensemble for people who tend to listen to their music flat, with no enhancements on bass or treble. The JBL Studio ensemble offers excellent bang for the buck for those who are looking to get their feet wet in home theater.
• Bob Pletka / "EUROTUBES" wrote about the JBL S26's ...
... a good friend of mine Brian Hadley had just purchased the smaller S26's and couldn't wait to test drive them with the JJ amps. We threw everything we had at the little S26's from Thomas Dolby to the very rare 1961 pressing of Michael Rabins Paganini concerto No.1 in D with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the little JBL's handled everything with ease. They were also able to play at volumes that I've rarely heard from an 8" two way. Needless to say we were very impressed, ...
You can't touch the sound quality of the JBL Studio series with speakers that cost two to three times what the JBL's cost. These are not a mid-Fi speaker, they are truly Hi-Fi
(review is no longer online)
• Jul 1, 2001 article “OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY" by Scott Wilkinson for Electronic Musician revealed that the JBL S26 was ranked as the best speaker on most clips vs. a Boston Acoustics CR8 & a B&W DM601 by several audio journalists, performed in Harman International built blind-testing room, called the Multichannel Listening Lab (MLL). Read the entire article by copying the following link to your browser ...
• May 20, 2000 - Home Theater Magagazine - Objective Benchmark reveals why Clint wrote "JBL Studio ensemble offers excellent bang for the buck"...
This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of all woofers) frequency response of the Studio series' S26 mains/surrounds ...
On-axis response of the S-Center center measures 2.7/-2.0 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 76 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 60 Hz.
On-axis response of the S26** L/R measures 1.7/-1.4 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 48 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 43 Hz.
Associated equipment during subjective review:
__ AV RECEIVER: Yamaha RX-V1300 (APR. '03) (read my Epinions review)
...... Fixed crossover = 90 Hz
...... Tone Controls = Bypassed
__ SPEAKERS: JBL Studio Series CENTER: S-Center (Feb. '02) / FRONTS (Apr. '03); SURROUNDS & REAR CENTER (Feb. '02): S26
__ PWR-SUB: SVS 25-31PCi 320w 12" Sub-woofer (Apr. '02)
__ NEW DVD PLAYER: Panasonic DVD-S77s Upconverting 480p - 1080i (FEB 2006)
__ NEW TV: Toshiba 56HM195 56" 1080P 16:9 HDTV (FEB 2006)
__ CD: Technics SL-MC410 110 1 Mega CD Changer
__ DUAL CASSETTE DECK:Teac W-505R Dolby "B" AutoReverse
__ VCR: Panasonic PV-8661 4-Head Stereo HI-FI
__ CABLES: Monster & Interconnects
NEW: Associated equipment:
AV RECEIVER: Onkyo TX-SR606 4 HDMI INputs, 90w x 7.1, dts-HD Master Audio/TrueHD 5.1 - 7.1, Audyssey 2EQ / Dynamic EQ
SPEAKERS: JBL Studio (Original) Series Speakers:
.... 1) CENTER (Feb. '02): .................... JBL S-Center
.... 2) FRONTS (Feb. '02): .................... JBL S26
.... 3) SIDE SURROUNDS (Feb. '02): .... JBL S26
.... 4) REAR CENTERS (Apr. '03): ......... JBL S26
PWR-SUB: .................................... SVS 25-31PCi 320w BASH Amp 12" Sub-woofer (Apr. '02) w/the New NSD 12" woofer upgrade. (Sep. 16, 2006)
BLU-RAY DVD PLAYER: ................ Sony DMP-BDT310 1080i/p HDMI Blu-ray (Sept. 16. 2011)
HD DVD PLAYER: ......................... Toshiba HD-A35 1080i/p HDMI HD DVD (Nov. 23. 2007)
HDTV: ........................................... LG 55LW5600 55" 3D LCD HDTV (Sept. 21, 2011)
CD: ............................................... Technics SL-MC410 110 1 Mega CD Changer
DVR / HDR: ................................... RCA DRC8030N 80GB HDR-DVR Recorder
DVR/VCR: ..................................... Samsung DVD-VR330 DVR-VCR Combo
CABLES: ....................................... Monster & Interconnects
Sounds even better!!!
Visit my new HT Website by copying the following link to your browser ...