Customer Reviews: JBL S38BE 3-Way Bookshelf Speakers (Beech)
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on August 15, 2001
I searched for months for the right speakers at the right price. These are it. (You can get them cheaper elsewhere).
The JBL S38 speakers are perfect for home theater, with warm mids, decent bass and crisp highs. I'm still looking for some decent stands, though. They are large for bookshelf speakers, and not light. Get the beech. They are more attractive, which is especially important if you have a wife.
Ideally, I will add a JBL PB12 subwoofer at some point, but movies sound great even without a subwoofer with these babies.
One warning: JBL does not honor its 5-year warranty unless bought through an AUTHORIZED online dealer. I learned this the hard way when one of the speakers' woofers blew after a few months. Also, make sure you have good quality cables (I use 12-gauge).
You can check them out at Best Buy, by the way. They sound twice as good as the cheap speakers from Sony or Bose.
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on September 22, 2000
I know someone who has the Bose 301 Direct/Reflecting speakers and the JBL's put the Bose to shame. I have heard speakers that have cost up to $5,000 and I honestly believe these sound very similar. I bought the beech series and like them a lot more then the black ones due to the fact the wood blends well with the woofers and the cast-aluminum frames. These are a must buy for anyone who is looking high quality pair of bookshelf speakers that don't cost as much as a KIA.
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on June 24, 2000
First time i saw them i fell enlove with their design. First time i heard them i just couldn't believe the perfect sound i was hearing. These are not very big speakers, but they have a very powerful sound (mostly the bass). I highly recommend it. YOU JUST WONT REGRET IT YOU BUY IT! AND THE PRICE IS REALLY SMALL FOR SUCH A PAIR OF SPEAKERS.
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on August 7, 2003
Although they are a bit larger than I wanted, the sound from these speakers is the best I have heard. Extremely clear at high or low volume for Coltrane or Zeppelin. I sat for hours in front of them slipping in CD after CD and marvelled at the clarity and depth. They also sound great from other rooms--they virtually fill space with sound. This is definitely one of the best buys you can make in a bookshelf speaker. They out-Bose Bose by a long shot and the price is truly incredible for this quality.
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on September 27, 2002
In looking for audio equipment you should seek companies that produce professional gear. On those the home line always benefits from the improved technology in the professional line. Whereas home users dedicated companies (Bose) usually work mostly in reducing the size and changing the colors ...
JBL is in the sound industry since 1927. 9 out of 10 live concerts I've attended were using JBL speakers. And Studios all over the world select JBL as the reference speaker of preference.
I'm a music passionate for over 30 years, and I've listened to many many speakers. JBL is my preferred choice due to the sound quality, price and durability.
The S38 is a small 3 way vented box, well designed and good looking. It has a big WAF score (Wife Acceptance Factor). The box may sound boomy depending on the proximity of the wall, and in my opinion it lacks a bit of high (tweeter) volume. Still, it has a fantastic sound way better than any box hundreds of dollars above its price. (Check Harman audio store at eBay for a good deal on those).
One thing I've found along the years as a quality measure is that if you don't realize you are listening to music a bit too loud until someone else complains about it (like your wife), you can be sure you have a dam good set of speaker (or a terrible ear). Those speakers will keep a smooth and pleasant listening experience, even in loud sessions, and your ears will not get tiered or irritated as when you listen to bad speakers.
Of course there are better deals out there (Even JBL has better speakers, but if you are willing to pay considerable more $$$ for a unit), but in this price range, nothing beats the S38.
And of course, go check them on a store. I'm positive those will be your speakers of choice. I have them for 2 years now and still love them. Of course now I'm looking on a ribbon tweeter speakers like the ADAM, but I need to work out a plan to bend my wife into accepting the fact that a $2000 speaker is a matter or life or death for me. Well, I may have to stick to the JBLs for a bit more. But hopefully those will still be an awesome set of speakers.
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on April 11, 2001
I got 2 pairs of these, along with the S-Center, for my home theater system, and they just sound great! I especially like the Beech color. Just be aware, they are pretty big for bookshelves, and if you use them as surround speakers, make sure you have some pretty sturdy stands.
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on February 24, 2016
I just got through reading a 2010 opinion of the S38's, and the poster stated they sound "honky in the mid-range"....anything but! They sound excellent in all the spectrum's. The bass won't take the tiles off your ceiling, but the lows are accurate for an 8" driver. (My JBL L80t's will shake the room IE a 10") One test I put the S38's through is listening to crappy recordings, and they show them up as the same. They are accurate with little to no discoloration, and a joy to hear hour after hour. I highly recommend these. Grab them while you can, and if you can find them. With that said I am referring to the Beech color, made in the USA. They are Quality personified, and in their price range sound as good or better than speakers costing twice or three times as much.
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on June 2, 2002
These speakers are worth looking into.
I have my set on speaker stands.
They are the main left and right speakes of my AV system.
They look good and sound good.
I use them along with the JBL S-center.
I have S-26 for the rear along with two Infinity Interlude il100 subwoofers.
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on March 30, 2003
I currently own one pair as part of my A/V system and will be purchasing another pair as soon as I have the dough so that I will have 360 degress of total, blissful sound. These speakers as surrounds really bring any movie to full and rich life, and they also sound great when playing cd's. You can't go wrong by purchasing a pair of these speakers, the price is great and as others have stated you would have to spend much more to find as good or better speakers than these.
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on March 10, 2014
OK this is kind of a weird review in that the product is no longer being made. But, suppose you find a used pair of these somewhere... should you get them? If they are in good condition, the answer is a resounding YES! The JBL S38 speaker is one of the best (albeit largest) bookshelf speakers you'll ever hear unless you venture into higher-end audiophile territory. I have had a pair for many years and after all that time they still impress me. At one point I was given a large pair of Klipsch floorstanding speakers and I hooked them up expecting to be selling my S38s soon after. But, to my surprise these JBL's bested the much higher end and more expensive klipsch speakers in terms of clarity, imaging, and balance. The klipschs had a touch more bass--but I already had a subwoofer that made that a non issue. These are exceptional speakers and If you can find a pair, get them!
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