My Story I was searching for a small set of speakers for my
bedroom and came across these monitors. A quick internet search revealed
mostly positive opinions and because I really enjoyed listening
to JBL L26 and L100, I thought I would give the L20T a go.
The speakers, apart from a couple of scuffs here and there, turned out
to be in very good condition.
Please note - usually before reviewing vintage speakers, I
recap the crossovers to ensure that capacitors are within
manufacturer’s specification. On this occasion, caps were within
spec from the original schematics, so there was no need for a
Following the success of JBL's L Series from 1970s, JBL
decided to release another L Series in the mid-80s. As previously, the whole
series was a domestic version of JBL's studio monitors from that
era, and included the following models: L20T, L60T, L80T and L100T. The studio
equivalent of the reviewed speakers
were the JBL 4406 - nearfield studio monitors. The L20Ts were a
compact two way bookshelf speaker, that according to JBL, are supposed to
offer extended frequency response, great dynamic range and
reproduction of the full sound stage. They feature JBL's
acclaimed titanium high frequency transducer, O35Ti, which
allows them to go way above the audible frequency range.
Considering their size, they offer extremely high power
handling, which combined with their average sensitivity of 87dB,
means that they can be played very loud.
Look & Feel
The finishing quality is very good. The
enclosures are made of chipboard,
finished in a real wood veneer and dampened with open cell foam.
Quite rigid and relatively heavy considering the size.
The drivers are very neat and remind me a bit of the units from Yamaha
NS-1000s - very industrial and solid. The tweeters feature domes
made of titanium, whereas the bass drivers feature cones made of
polypropylene, suspended on rubber surrounds. These are driven by
relatively hefty ferrite magnets, mounted on the back of rigid cast
The crossovers are pretty standard and feature decent components
(in comparison to JBL crossover's from the 70s).
Having experienced and being impressed by older JBL monitors,
I had really great hopes for these little bookshelf speakers.
When I plugged them in for the first time, they very much
reminded me of my laptop speakers (i.e. raising frequency from
500Hz to 10kHz).
It felt as if something was missing in the midrange, which made
them sound a little bright. I was hoping that this feeling will
go away as I spend more time listening to the speakers.
Unfortunately, regardless of how many attempts I made, it
did not go away, and I constantly felt a lack of something.
Because of this, my perception is that
midrange and treble are not well balanced.
Clapping sounds more like rain and I do not enjoy the saxophones.
Furthermore, the speakers give an impression of a relatively small
sound stage - this is especially noticeable, when I compare them
directly with my Yamaha NS-1000. When I switch from Yamaha's to JBLs, everything becomes smaller and shallower (of course the
distance between the speakers was the same for the two sets). This
means that instead of creating an illusion that I am at a
concert, they just make me feel like I listen to a set of
speakers. The vocals and guitars tend to sound ok, but nothing
to write home about.
Bass-wise, they go quite low for the size,
however, because of the amount of treble they generate in
relation to bass, they sound quite thin. This is very noticeable
on recordings with pianos and double bass. Drums sound quite
dynamic, but not the most realistic.
Overall, and despite trying very hard, I struggled to find
anything that I would like about these speakers. Which is
interesting, as I have seen plenty of positive comments on
various forums. It clearly shows, how subjective our sound
Not very enjoyable and not very engaging to
listen. Thin and relatively cold sounding. Good attack for the
size and impressive power handling.
Balance of Sound:
Neutrality of Tone:
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mean be the descriptions above, hover you mouse over them.
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