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JBL Conceal C83 Invisible Speaker Review

Rate this speaker: (do not need to be an owner to do so)

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 90 66.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 38 27.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 7 5.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 1 0.7%

  • Total voters
    136

TankTop

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I've often come across speakers like this when I was building high-end retail stores like Chanel and Dior. Those designers didn't want to see fire strobes, let alone speakers. They were fine for background music applications.
I would think with the ambient noise in any retail building almost any speaker would be fine.
 

ROOSKIE

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Probably need a paradigm shift and make the panel a driver (ie voice coil and spring and stuff) instead of just a layer for hiding the woofer and tweeter.
How would this maintain the integrity of the mud and paint applied?
Speaker is meant to be completely hidden. If the front panel moved on a voice coil it would crack the paint and mud would it not?
This is an exciter design by intention. The exciter design is the paradigm shift here.

I know nothing about products like these, but I have to assume that any filler/paint over the front surface will seriously affect the performance.

Is the front baffle/mesh/cover a hydrophobic weave or something to allow small holes for sound to pass thru or is it truly intended to be homogeneously painted over?

Doubt it, because holes would be clearly visible. Either way, nice product for people who are filthy rich and need something better yet less visible than a soundbar for their living room tv. For 99% of us this is a joke.

Regardless of the intended use case, it’s interesting to me that jbl with all of their R&D funding and world class engineers, made such basic errors such as the driver alignment, on a very expensive product. Did they even measure it?
Howdy, so why assume?
No, the paint should have almost no effects on these unless you applied something very usual or very thick.
Even decals or murals can be applied over the completely invisible speaker.
Even wall paper or veneer can be applied though that will affect the sound to some degree.
The 'filler', where the mud is applied only goes on the edge to create a seamless install. It will not affect the sound.
There are no holes, no openings if any kind. This is a type of exciter design.

The most basic version can be made for a few bucks via P.E. and H.D. runs.
spend 5 minutes on youtube and google.
Exciter designs can be made with a piece of glass, cardboard or even something like a plastic cup and a $5 part.
A 'viral' dipole exciter design was made from H.D. supplies.
to see many other DIY versions including 'in walls' just search 'exciter speaker' on YouTube.

These particular JBLs probably still sound very decent and better than what many are getting from current examples, which for the intended use cases is fine.

This is not a product for a great many hifi enthusiasts but it has a market.

The speakers were designed by Stealth Acoustics for Harman.

It can also be noted that due to the self contained design these can be installed in places other than wall and ceiling cavities and yet be invisible.

@simnick @ocinn We generally hear in 1/1 to 1/6 octave 'accuracy' depending on content, context/situation, individual listener skill and particular frequency area . Most often averaged as 1/3 so these graphs will be smoothed out by us alot.
Also the typical interpretation of the Spinorama and related data is not necessarily applicable to in-wall mounted speakers.
In-walls also sufer much less from some of the main SBIR effects.

The distortion is very low given the design. Try measuring one of those DIY examples.
 
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phoenixdogfan

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A shame it's not a better speaker. If JBL or some other company ever gives us a good, hidable, in wall speaker, it would be as revolutionary as the introduction of flat screen TV's were a generation ago. Right now, high end audio is in the RPTV era of speakers with all of these large, clunky monoliths we share our living space with, and I personally think it would be so much better to just have the sound and not see the system at all. Kind of like how some of us have all our books on a Kindle and have ditched the shelves and shelves of personally curated record albums and Blue Ray disks for streaming media.

Having the speakers become part of the wall would complete the revolution. Instead of all the gear and all the wires, just picture a space with more room for people, pets, and furniture. A living room dedicated to living. Imagine that.
 

uwotm8

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Ohh, again that game of hiding the speaker of all cost shows very poor result. My guess it sounds to ears like "through a thick cardboard". But maybe the idea is OMG WHAT A MIRACLE SOUND WITH NO SPEAKER SUCH MAGIC MUCH WOW:facepalm: Painted-to-color and almost invisible grilles? No no no, let's go hard.
 

Randolf

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Nice review! The frequency response is quite rough, but I would give DiracLive a try to improve that, it may make a big difference especially in the critical clearly audible midrange. Looks like it is a 3way design of exciters (or perhaps even traditional woofer?) behind Fidelity Glass. There are quite some manufactures of rather low costs exciters, e.g.: https://www.soundimports.eu/en/audio-components/exciters/. But you can also go much much higher (at least in price ;-) and buy this little guy https://aer-loudspeakers.com/aer-bbx/ from AER for 3600 Euro. At least AER combines it with DSP in their "Goldy" https://aer-loudspeakers.com/aer-goldy-2/ for 26000 Euro. I never actually heard any of these type of (almost) invisible loudspeakers/exciters, but I guess it's price/audible sound performance ratio is pretty bad.
 

Mikig

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same thing said for the other one tested. Speakers suitable for those who need to "spread" music and do not want to have the physical presence of speakers in the room. Thanks Amirm for the test.
 

peniku8

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That is very intriguing to read because when I used the very narrowly adjusted Q on an old analogue parametric active car crossover in my living room at about 18kHz decades ago I was realizing very fine detail improvements in the musical instruments far upper top end frequency response. It was so sharply defined after the Q was dialed in tight that people told me to back it off because it was too much for them but I loved it. It sounded like JBL Titanium Series tweeters on steroids but it was the usually very smooth KEF Reference Series tweeters.

Upon mounting them up and setting them firmly in place they will take on a very different sound. I think as long as they are firmly mounted to a baffle/gyproc with or without mudded gyproc they should sound the same. I think they are acoustic suspension design for the wall?
Toole wrote in this book that narrow peaks are somewhat less likely for us to hear, because the source material would need to excite the exact frequency of the peak and that might just not happen for some songs. Driver breakup modes like you allude to with the name of "JBL Titanium Series" (Titanium compression drivers typically have pronounced breakup in the last octave of our hearing) will be quite audible when excited. Generally, cymbals of a drum kit create a broad band noise in this area, so the breakup modes pronounce them and make them sound more 'detailed'.

Fun fact: B&C Speakers once improved their compression driver design to push the breakup mode out of our hearing range, which the OEMs (pro audio manufacturers) didn't like, because the tweeters now sounded 'less detailed' (because of the missing breakup peak). Then B&C went back to making technically inferior drivers (but they also offer different diaphragm materials now, in case you want a smooth hifi-like top octave!).
I also wanna mention that the driver is very efficient at the breakup mode, which means you can push the driver harder, which in some cases can be the only way to get treble to carry to the far away distances you need to cover in pro audio (50m+).

And on the case of narrow dips, yea these are typically inaudible, unless you know the source material and suddenly realize a certain note isn't as loud as you remember it to be.
 

peniku8

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I think some people here misunderstand that the high frequency drivers in this speaker are DMLs and not dome tweeters.
If you paint over dome tweeters you won't get any HF, but that's not the case for DMLs. JBL's website describes this as a 3-way loudspeaker btw, the two corner drivers seem to have different sizes.
 

wwenze

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Mud and paint probably wouldn't be too bad.

Acoustic wave theory isn't actually that far from optical / EM wave theory. Sound waves are reflected when it reaches a boundary where the a medium of impedance A meets a medium of impedance B, with the amount of reflection depending on the difference in impedance, yada yada.

A thin film of paint is analogous to having a thin film of coating on your spectacles / camera lens. And unlike the lens film which needs to be transparent, you don't even need the paint to be acoustically transparent in this case, since the panel itself is not transparent and a material of intermediate impedance might even reduce the amount of reflection by coupling the impedance better, but the effect would be minimal in any case.
 

Doodski

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Driver breakup modes like you allude to with the name of "JBL Titanium Series" (Titanium compression drivers typically have pronounced breakup in the last octave of our hearing) will be quite audible when excited. Generally, cymbals of a drum kit create a broad band noise in this area, so the breakup modes pronounce them and make them sound more 'detailed'.
This is the exact effect and exact instrument (Cymbals) that I was digging so much when tweaking the Q at the high frequency. Exactly! You nail'd it... :D
 

Timcognito

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Just use this with some thin fabric artwork over it.
 

EERecordist

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I have seen variations on this idea from flat screen TV makers - use the screen as the speaker. It might not be a bad idea supplemented by a sub on the floor, and very small supplementary tweeters hidden somewhere. I did a little research based on the yacht sound systems thread because a friend designed yacht interiors, for instance for Tiger Woods. Some yacht builders like these type of speakers. They certainly are more novel than linear.
 
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RobL

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I dunno, I think it’s a cool concept. No one’s going to try and mix music on these (I hope!) but I think they’d work pretty well for HT and such. VERY wide dispersion with distributed mode loudspeakers, and much less fall-off over distance vs. conventional drivers. Here’s a polar of a freestanding DML…almost omni at all frequencies!
 

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ROOSKIE

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Here is the link to the Stealth Acoustics LRX-83.
It is more or less the same speaker.
Tons of info on the linked page and additional links for PDFs with much more info.

Capture+_2024-03-15-13-45-15.png
 

ROOSKIE

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Ohh, again that game of hiding the speaker of all cost shows very poor result. My guess it sounds to ears like "through a thick cardboard". But maybe the idea is OMG WHAT A MIRACLE SOUND WITH NO SPEAKER SUCH MAGIC MUCH WOW:facepalm: Painted-to-color and almost invisible grilles? No no no, let's go hard.
Why would it sound like it is being played through 'thick cardboard'?
Surly as good or better than all tv built in speakers, most typical Bluetooth speakers and even many soundbar options. Many 'conventional/typical' in wall and ceiling options have measured much worse as well.

The install is not 'almost invisible' it is completely invisible and the speaker does not use any grills. That is the whole point of these.

Look at examples online. Some use cases are quite interesting.

These compete with Sonance Invisible, I wonder how their models measure here?
 
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