JBL L100 Classic Anemic Bass

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Dan S., Jan 16, 2024.

  1. Dan S.

    Dan S. Member Thread Starter

    kingsburg, CA
    Hi Everyone,

    I purchased a pair of JBL L100 Classics two years ago new from Music Direct and I have been significantly disappointed in their bass performance. I am powering them with a Yamaha A-S2200, which supplies 150 watts at 4 ohms, so there should be plenty of juice. I initially chalked the anemic bass up to a room issue. However, I have since moved into a new home with completely different room dimensions and the problem still exists. I messed with speaker placement quite a bit to no avail. I seem to get more bass response when the speakers are closest to the rear wall, as you would expect, but it is still lacking and even a bit more muddy. Not "punchy" at all. I purchased a couple of GIK Acoustics corner bass traps which helped a little, but the speakers still do not live up to their reputation of supplying clear punchy bass. I'm wondering if my speakers have defective crossovers? It would seem odd, though, that both speakers would have a crossover issue. Maybe one, but not two.

    I should also mention that I have tried other speakers in the same room with the Yamaha amp and the bass is significantly better than the JBL's so I don't think its a problem with the amp.

    Anyone else have this experience? Any suggestions? Magic pill? I was stoked to get these speakers because of their rave reviews and iconic look, but now I'm considering selling them and purchasing something else. Any insight would be appreciated.
  2. Lawrencer2003

    Lawrencer2003 Musical Omnivore

    Are they on the factory stands, angled up? What is your source material? Have you checked your interconnects? Speaker wire? I have the L82's and they are bass monsters. The L100's, I deemed too big for my man cave space. You've had them for two years so they are broken in. Lack of bass is something I'd never dream of accusing this line of suffering from. I'd look hard at my electronics. Then again, all our ears are different. They just might not be right for you.
  3. Ampexed

    Ampexed Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM
    I have the JBL studio monitors that the L100 was derived from, and if anything I'd say the bass is a bit ripe. I don't know if I would say it is 'punchy' however. Sounds like you just chose the wrong speakers.
  4. Dan S.

    Dan S. Member Thread Starter

    kingsburg, CA
    Thanks for the reply. The speakers are sitting on Deer Creek Audio stands made specifically for the L100's. The JBL manufactured stands were not available when I bought the speakers. The Deer Creek's are almost identical, though. The interconnects and speaker cables are all very decent stuff from Audioquest. Source material is FLAC files from a Roon server fed into a Marantz ND8006 network CD player as a DAC. I'm a guitar player so I'm in to Van Halen, big hair 80's, Zeppelin, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, etc., which I've been listening to for decades, I.E. I know what the music is supposed to sound like. I brought in some old Klipsch RB81 II's from the garage and the bass was on steroids compared to the JBL's. Not sure what else I can check.
  5. Ampexed

    Ampexed Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM
    Changing DACs, cables or other electronics is unlikely to make very much difference. It's just the way these particular speakers are.
  6. Dan S.

    Dan S. Member Thread Starter

    kingsburg, CA
    I chose the JBL's because they were supposedly fantastic for the type of music I listen too. I read tons of professional and forum reviews/opinions that said they were great for a big "rock" sound. Crack a beer, crank some Van Halen, and rock out, know what I mean? I do not have a high end audio store anywhere near me to demo gear, so my research was about all I could do. Not sure what else I could have done to make sure I didn't choose "the wrong speakers".
    Boltman92124, yenyen and bever70 like this.
  7. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Can you define "clear punchy bass?" Is the expectation that it will emphasize some bass frequency range?

    The reason I ask is that from JBL's own spec sheet I see a rated frequency response of 40Hz-40kHz (-6dB) which tells me they are missing the good part of lowest octave. And if that's where your "clear punchy bass" resides...

    Perhaps borrow (or trial) a suitably compatible sub that will get you that bottom end. The neat bit of luck is that your amp has "PRE OUT - MAIN IN" connections that would work great with a sub that has low-level pass-through circuits with HPF - which would allow you to do proper bass management. Ideally such a sub would have multiple selectable HPF crossover points (or better yet: continuously variable) rather than a single fixed point because (and this is just me spitballing) I'd probably choose somewhere between 50Hz-60Hz as a starting point. So, you'd add the missing low end and keep all of the other supposedly appealing characteristics of the L100s that drove you to buy them in the first place.

    I should note that I have never heard the L100s (although I'd really like to someday) and everything I've said above is based solely on spec sheets / owner's manuals and lots of personal experience tinkering with these sorts of questions.

  8. Vinyl Archaeologist

    Vinyl Archaeologist Forum Resident

    There's bass and BASS. Maybe try a vintage JBl like L150 or L220 or other hi end speaker with 12" driver and larger cabinet. You could try a power amp also - I have a As1200 and it's a nice balanced sound but no contest to the Mc 402 downstairs.
  9. onlysleeping

    onlysleeping Forum Resident

    Chico CA, USA
    Have you checked the speaker wire polarity to make sure it’s right? Were these brand new speakers or used? If used might be worth looking at the crossover to see if everything is hooked up the way it should be.
  10. RnRmf

    RnRmf Senior Member

    Orlando, FL and NJ
    I demo'd the L100 about 5 years ago when I was planning a second system. My local dealer had them so I got to listen to them in a pretty good room with a Simaudio integrated amp and streamer.
    I couldn't believe how bad I thought the L100's were. I expected these speakers would have decent quantities of bass from things I had read and the 12" woofer.
    But like the OP, I thought the speakers had minimal bass such that I couldn't do anything to tame the bright and forward sound that I heard from the L100's. I adjusted the speakers in the room but nothing seemed to work to my satisfaction.
    When I left, I couldn't think of anything good to say about them. Definitely not my taste.
    head_unit and Bern like this.
  11. ChefBrunch

    ChefBrunch Forum Resident

    I would bet in a side by side AB test you would choose a pair of Cerwin-Vega 15's.
    head_unit likes this.
  12. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Firstly, punchy bass is subjective. Gotta be careful with reviews and your expectations.

    Then speakers like the L100 will not punch as hard as say a Marten speaker, which does cost a lot more. Also, it’s difficult to get the sort of bottom end that you hear from a good pro-PA set up, at home. Unless you are willing to dish out big moolah for speakers and the amplifier.

    I have a small room of merely 13’ x 10’. At present my set up is the Rogers LS 3/5a with a REL T7x. It gives me the impression of punchy bass, does satisfy me but it’s not gonna be as visceral as the concert set ups that I do. I live with it.
  13. mattsob1

    mattsob1 I enjoy distortion

    Grand Rapids MI
    Actually the CV 12s hammered well too, I had a pair back in like 1990.

    I've heard the JBL L100 and they definitely aren't what I would describe as proficient with bass. If you like to rock out and play loud I think selling these and getting some Cerwin Vegas is a good idea. You'll probably put some money in your pocket in the exchange too.
  14. ChefBrunch

    ChefBrunch Forum Resident

    I would bet on even the cerwin-vega SL12's being prefered to the JBL 100s, you just have not seen any good reviews on them, almost all a let down.
    The Vega's have been making the same models for 12 years strait. for good reason. And the new ones will give a lot of more expensive speakers a run for their money.

    The new LA series is fantastic, I can't wait to see what else they bring to the table.
    mattsob1 likes this.
  15. A Grain of Sand

    A Grain of Sand Forum Resident

    Riverside, CA
    Does fiddling with the bass knob help any? As I get older, my treble knob does wonders. I don't care what the purists think about tone controls.
  16. ChefBrunch

    ChefBrunch Forum Resident

  17. A Grain of Sand

    A Grain of Sand Forum Resident

    Riverside, CA
    I have a pair of SL-12s. With my Luxman L505u, they were nothing to write home about. Heavy on the midrange. I will try them with my Yamaha A-S701, which has a variable loudness control.
  18. tagomago

    tagomago Original Wrapper

    I have the exact same combo as the OP. I wondered about bass performance myself so I got a SVS SB-3000 subwoofer and a measuring microphone.
    I'd say the L100 are fine down to about 40 Hz, just as specified. Most rock music does not go down lower anyway.
    With electronic music I find that it's very hard to set a consistent volume level for the sub cause it's either not noticable or too loud.
    I could live without the subwoofer, there's nothing more annoying than too much bass that you have a hard time to control.
    In general I'm really happy with my L100 classics.
    head_unit likes this.
  19. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    My first thought as well.
    drh likes this.
  20. SubtiltyCypress

    SubtiltyCypress Forum Resident

    Levittown PA
    Never listened to them admittedly, but if there was a way to trade them in, the Klipsch Forte IVs sound like what you are looking for. They rock pretty hard. They are a bit more, but there are places that will sell a pair for 3800 if you are okay with B-stock, which just means the wood may not completely match but are still brand new, that would be a great option

    A sub would also be a good addition, but that can only go so far.
  21. Joshua Tree

    Joshua Tree Forum Resident

    Hamburg, Germany
    Their lack of bass was the reason that I chose the Wharfedale Lintons over the L100's, despite all the hype that had been created by JBL.
    Gizmo90 and head_unit like this.
  22. j.barleycorn

    j.barleycorn Forum Resident

    MN, USA
    I bought a pair of L100 Classics and took delivery about 2 weeks ago. I find that they have plenty of bass and they are far from being broken in. I’m not a subwoofer guy either.And my last speakers were restored Quad 57s which I’m still keeping. The 100s are lot punchier than those. The 100s are in a 13.5 x 22 room, 2ft out from the front wall, firing down the long wall. They play plenty loud in that space and are being driven by restored Mac MC240.

    I wanted a different flavor of speaker and hadn’t owned any JBLs since the 80s. They don’t do things the Quads do, nothing does. But the 100s certainly rock. I have a hard time understanding that someone would find these lacking in bass. I’ve got 6 weeks left to decide to keep them. The first week I wasn’t crazy about them but they are slowly settling in. If that continues over the next month I’ll keep ‘em. I’ve got 6 weeks left to trial them.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2024
    head_unit likes this.
  23. bever70

    bever70 Let No-one Live Rent Free in Your Head!

    Yeah quad 57 don't have bass, so you thinking the L100 do have bass is quite understandable but only 'compared to your quads' :winkgrin:.
    izeek and jonwoody like this.
  24. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    You probably have the mk2 classics whereas Dan S bought his 2 years ago and probably has the mk1.

    When the L82 mk1 came out a lot of comments said they sounded fuller in bass than the L100, I think this was the result of a frequency boost in the lower frequencies.

    I wonder if they've put a similar boost on the L100 mk2?

    Dan could you put in some tone controls (Schitt Loki?) to see if you can get the sound you're looking for?
    Lawrencer2003 likes this.
  25. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Senior Member

    Iowa, USA
    L100 low bass output is a surprise for me. I had no idea. Only heard good things until now.

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