JBL Classic

JBL's AXPONA presentation began with a nod to the iconic "Blown Away Guy" tape ad for Maxell featuring the original JBL L100 speakers. This nostalgic touch set the stage for a compelling demonstration of JBL's latest equipment.

The setup included the JBL Classic SA550 ($1999) and SA750 ($3000) integrated amplifiers, and three sources: the MP350 Classic music player/streamer ($799), CD350 Classic CD player ($699), and TT350 Classic turntable ($999).

Starting with the compact L82 Classic MKII speakers ($2900/pair) powered by the SA550, Lake Street Dive's "I Want You Back" played beautifully. The speakers utilized their 'big' bookshelf size effectively. Remarkable soundstage and imaging were evident during Buddy Guy and Tracy Chapman's "Ain't No Sunshine," particularly considering the modest 5' spacing between speakers. Aptly described as "little ass-kickers" in my notes, they did pack a punch.

Switching to the L100 Classic MKII speakers driven by the SA750 amplifier—which features Dirac Live— highlighted the differences in the speakers. The larger L100 MKIIs brought more depth and power while retaining a sense of intimacy. The increased dynamics elevated drums, showcasing a fuller and more impactful audio experience than their smaller counterparts.

These all-JBL systems offer retro styling and modern performance at reasonable cost, what I heard fit right in with similarly priced systems at the show.