Thread Number: 69461  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
JBL L15 Bookshelf Speakers to Sing Again
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Post# 923367   2/23/2017 at 13:20 (424 days old) by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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...i hope. Found these yesterday at a thrift store and they called out to be saved.
Sorry no before pics...just imagine dried out, scuffed up walnut veneer with white wall paint added here and there for effect.
The brown dust covers are intact but not pictured.
Linseed oil really made these pop.
The foam speaker surround on the woofer is toast, as is to be expected. Should i just replace the whole driver with something else, or save this one?

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This post was last edited 02/23/2017 at 13:51

Post# 923413 , Reply# 1   2/23/2017 at 15:31 (424 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I'd just replace the foam. There are refoam kits available, plus some audio service people can do it.


I suppose replacing the driver is an option. But I figure the design as a whole is intended to have a specific driver in place.


You might as well plan to do both speakers at once. If the foam is goodbye on one, chances are it's not far behind that point on the other.

Post# 923414 , Reply# 2   2/23/2017 at 15:40 (424 days old) by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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It looks like the other woofer has already been replaced.

Post# 923440 , Reply# 3   2/23/2017 at 18:10 (423 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I re foamed my Bose SA-1000's and my next door neighbors Advent speakers. Takes about an hour per pair. I got my kit from Simply Speakers in Florida. They got foam for almost every speaker. I ordered mine on the phone and the kit was in my mailbox 3 days later with complete detailed instructions. Both pairs sound better than new even being 30 years old.

Post# 923481 , Reply# 4   2/23/2017 at 20:58 (423 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

you want to keep the original woofer-especially since this is a ported enclosure,designed to work with the specific woofer characteristics.I have pair of Cerwin Vegas from 1987 I need to refoam :)

Post# 923508 , Reply# 5   2/24/2017 at 01:24 (423 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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If the other speaker has had a replaced driver, then the situation becomes more interesting. I can't say this for certain, but my guessing as a hypothesis is that it's best to have matching drivers on each speaker. Particularly since these would also presumably handle midrange frequencies, which is the most important part.

  • could either refoam the bad driver, and find a correct driver for the other speaker. (Which may not be easy or cheap.)
  • One could replace the bad driver with the identical driver on the other speaker. (If doing so, first make sure that other driver is a decent match. If the previous owner just grabbed "something that will fit!" at RadioShack, then it would be better to replace both drivers.)




Post# 923551 , Reply# 6   2/24/2017 at 09:19 (423 days old) by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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These were $10 so i'm not going to sweat it. I will get the one speaker a new foam suround and enjoy.
Perfectionism is a false god and ruins the fun; two speakers can have slightly different construction
and not matter, especially in casual listening situations which is all i do.

Post# 923569 , Reply# 7   2/24/2017 at 11:46 (423 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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These were actually quite a nice little pair of bookshelf speakers, they were a steal for $10.

If they have a matched pair of drivers I would have them both re-foamed with identical foam kits (even if the one surround is intact). Assuming they have the original JBL drivers still these are worth a proper restore. Restored, these would be easy to sell on Craigslist for a profit if you decide you no longer want them.

Post# 923578 , Reply# 8   2/24/2017 at 13:23 (423 days old) by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Btw I found this compelling site whilst sorting out these JBL's.
This guy builds/sells from scratch DIY speaker kits. He also essentially reengineers quality vintage speakers with modern crossovers, driver mods, and/or cabinet reconstruction and sells kits for that. Extensive documentation including a letter from a former JBL project leader...very good stuff here.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO Stricklybojack's LINK

This post was last edited 02/24/2017 at 16:51
Post# 923580 , Reply# 9   2/24/2017 at 13:32 (423 days old) by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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KbOnes, yes I vaguely recall the smaller JBL's being panned as costing a decent sum, nearly as much as their big brothers, but suffering limited low end. This being the days before subwoofers were common..
At my price I get to enjoy these as they are regardless...but may hook them up with a sub too, or sell on...dunno yet.

This post was last edited 02/24/2017 at 17:53
Post# 923597 , Reply# 10   2/24/2017 at 14:58 (423 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
nice little JBLs...

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we've had L-26 and L-36, all were excellent. JBL woofers of that era typically had white cones so the replacement might be JBL as well.

Anyone who wants want a good deal, heads up!!:

NEW DaytonAudio 2-way bookshelf speakers ON SALE NOW for only $33/PR! at Parts Express, even with shipping, only $40 TO YOUR DOOR!!!

You can't beat that anywhere! We bought a pair last month for the office to replace some little ads speakers with rotted foam. Now we can read AW.o online while listening to JS Bach using a little 10 watt Heathkit tube amp and a cd player - great sounding... and cheap!

Post# 923608 , Reply# 11   2/24/2017 at 16:03 (423 days old) by DaveTranter (Central England)        

I always thought that a 'Sub Woofer' was a U-Boat commander's dog!!

Ok.... I won't give up the day job ;-)

All best

Dave T

Post# 923619 , Reply# 12   2/24/2017 at 17:05 (423 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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These speakers date to 1981 (they were made up until 1983). These were an early product of the new Harmen International owned JBL.

These speakers indeed weren't cheap, they sold for ~$300/pr. Of course they won't have significant bass extension below 50-60Hz or so. That isn't all that big a deal as we have to remember that the fundamental note of the lowest string on an electric bass is 40Hz. Still a quality pair of 2-way 'bookshelf' speakers in this size class are a force to be reckoned with. If I were to ever hit the lottery I'd buy a pair of B&W 805 Matrix speakers which are a 6-1/2" 2-way that sell for ~$1900 a speaker.

There were Subs for home use back in the 80's but they hadn't become popular except for the high end users that knew what bi-amplification did. Speakers back then were generally pretty capable and the idea of the miniaturized boom-sizzle Bose systems was still a ways off.

In 1986 I bought my first pair of commercial speakers, they were JBL L-216's which were almost identical to the L15 (although seriously cost cut). I built the equivalent to the JBL B380 subwoofer with one of their 15" drivers that I used with those 6-1/2" 2 ways for a few years. That 15" with a 400 watt amp did yield a significant bottom end ;)

Post# 923628 , Reply# 13   2/24/2017 at 17:44 (422 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        
Parts Express

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Roger, what do you really think of that pair of speakers? I have pondered them as extensions before but they just seemed WAY too inexpensive to meet my expectations.

A while back I built a pair of 6-1/2" 2-ways from this kit from Parts Express. The pricing varies on these, I got them on sale for $99.95/pair but they are currently $180. Overall I am VERY pleased with these, I find them to be better then my L216's. They were a easy and fun kit to toss together too. They were a steal at $100 + sweat equity.

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Post# 923763 , Reply# 14   2/25/2017 at 14:14 (422 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        

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depends on expectations, for my purpose and intent they are fine, only 2-3 ft
either side of my office desk, and I'm not doing serious listening here, so I'm pleased with them for what they are and considering cost... My main LR set were Altec Valencias until replaced by much smaller modern Klipsch to satisfy the swmbo factor, so that you know where I'm coming from - it's so indivdual. They are not in the same class of the small bookshelf 1980 ADS L-10s that they are temporarily replacing until I can fix them, and will likely end up in garage or shop when I do, but they are quite pleasant in the non-demanding role they have... quiet jazz or classical at close range and fairly low volume, no Metallica or Ode to Joy at top volume!
btw PE also sell the same speaker with a ribbon tweeter at about 2x the price, still cheap, but knowing the L-10s will be fixed didn't opt to go for the somewhat "hotter" top end. My $.02!

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