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JBL HDI-3600 Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL HDI-3600 floor-standing 3-way speakers. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. They cost US $3,800 a pair.

This sample came in "piano block" which I must say, really dresses up this speaker:

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker Review and Measurements.jpg


The horn looks a bit plasticy (sp?) but barely so. Between the white washed oak and this color, I take this.

This is a heavy speaker and had I not bought a lift to get it nearly 6 foot high to measure, I would be hurt already! For listening tests though, I put it my shoulder and carried it two floors up to my listening room, wondering what sin I committed to be doing this in later stages of my life...

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

All measurements are referenced to the tweeter axis with frequency resolution of 2.7 Hz. I used a high number of scans (over 1000 measurements) which was a good thing as the soundfield this speaker generates is rather complex. In the process I made a breakthrough in low frequency measurements. See below.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker CEA-2034 spinorama audio measurements.png


When I first ran this test, the low frequency level had a distinct dip and the shelving on the far left was far deeper. Examining the sound field, I realized with two ports in the back and two drivers in the front plus resonances from the cabinet, there is a lot of complexity. Normally it is assumed that the wavelength of low frequency is high enough that this type of mixing doesn't matter. But it does. I compensated in the numerical analysis and dialed out most of it. The shelving on the far left could not be fixed with software fix, requiring measurements at longer distance. I don't have much more room on that front but I will experiment with future speakers. For now, I doubt that much useful output exists at 30 Hz.

And yes, this applies to previous speakers I have measured with good bit of bass, especially if they show the shelving. As I get time, I will go back and regenerate the spin data for them.

Anyway, on to our measurements, we have a pretty flat response. The only issue is a small regression from HDI-3100 in that the off-axis around the crossover point is less seamless in 3600. And we have two of them rather than one since this is a 3-way speaker.

Efficiency is higher as advertised to tune of 90 dB.

Early reflections graph shows much wider variation when we look at different directions than the HDI-1600 which had these tightly grouped:

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker CEA-2034 spinorama Early Reflection Frequency Response audio measurements.png


Noticed the wide shelving down above 2 kHz. This impacts our simulated room response some:

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker CEA-2034 spinorama Estimated In-room Frequency Response audio measurements.png


Vertical dispersion is more of an issue here than horizontal as we see in this comparison:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker CEA-2034 spinorama Vertical Reflections vs HDI-1600 audio measurements.png


It is typical to get such dips but the one in HDI-3600 is wider, allowing more notes to hit and hence be more audible. Then again its upper bass is more flat than 1600.

There are dual bindings on the back so you can split the speaker into two. The bottom connector drivers the woofer and mid-range and the upper, tweeter:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker Crossover tweeter woofer midrange frequency response measurement.png


I applied partial compensation for the room below 700 Hz (can't apply full correction or it will attempt to flat the response to 20 kHz) to the woofer. This causes the bit of wiggliness between 700 and 1 kHz so ignore that.

Nice to see both the mid-range and tweeter being so clean in the crossover region. Neither seems stressed beyond their crossover point.

Distortion seems very well under control:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker THD+N Distortion audio measurements.png

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker THD+N Distortion Percent audio measurements.png


I have set a tentative target of 0.5% for myself and the HDI-3600 gets there in mid-frequencies where our hearing is most sensitive.

Impedance is a bit above 4 ohm which is a relief:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker impedance and phase versus frequency audio measurements.png


Horizontal directivity is good but not super wide:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker horizontal directivity audio measurements.png


Vertical though shows and amplifies the issues we have seen above:

JBL HDI-3600 Speaker Vertical directivity audio measurements.png


If you look to the left of the point of the arrow, you see that the highest amplitude points down which is due to the mid-range and then woofer taking over. In other words, the acoustic center is fairly frequency dependent. Vertical alignment of the speaker relative to your ears will be important.

Finally the waterfall:
JBL HDI-3600 Speaker  CSD Waterfall audio measurements.png


Speaker Listening Tests
I was ready to be impressed the moment I powered on the HDI-3600, and I was not! It didn't sound bad but didn't great either. I went through a bunch of tracks and same was true. With my back bothering me after lifting this thing two floors, I gave up and reclined back in my chair, only to have the fidelity improve substantially! It was then that I realized with my tall stand the HDI-1600 was placed higher than where the tweeter of the HDI-3600 was. The ideal position for the 3600 was with the ear level below the tweeter, close to mid-between tweeter and mid-range below it.

Close examination shows large variation as you move up and down close to the tweeter axis. This is why you saw the emphasis in those measurements in my review here. At standard height you have to put something under the HDI-3600 to elevated it to the right level if your seating is as low as mine. Alternatively, you can sit farther where this doesn't matter as much. Indeed as soon as I walked away, the sound become much nicer.

Bass performance and ability to get loud is impressive. I turned it up as high as I could tolerate and I could barely detect any distortion. Mind you, it won't go super deep but what is there is clean and super dynamic. Despite playing only one speaker, I had no trouble getting the entire floor and my back to resonate! These speakers will be great for home theater, able to keep up with the dynamic range of a subwoofer.

Conclusions
There seems to be a bit of a trade-off between HDI-1600 and HDI-3600. Addition of a mid-range and more bass drivers allows sensitivity to go up substantially. On the other hand, the crossover points are not as optimal. Vertically there is a narrow sweet spot if you sit with 2 to 3 height of the speaker. So be sure to experiment with that and tilt the speaker up a bit if you need.

I am going to put the JBL HDI-3600 on my recommended list. Can't give it the highest honors due to pickiness regarding vertical placement and slight regression in off-axis directivity around the crossover point.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

I think it is prudent that I start to save money for a hernia operation at this rate. Shipped nearly 200 pounds of speakers and gear yesterday. And today, lifted nearly half as much all over the place to make this review happen. I expect serious donations from you since health care is expensive in US : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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franspambot

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#3
Is there a significant difference between this and the bookshelf in how loud either can get? I remember you commenting on how loud the bookshelf can get.

Between these and the Revels, I am starting to wonder if a small tower is worth it over a bookshelf of the same family with a 6.5" woofer if the plan is to use subs. The only advantage I can see for now is in loudness. I understand that a large tower is needed in a large room, but what about in medium sized rooms?
 

Ron Texas

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#5
High efficiency, but does not measure as well as the 1600. There is some explanation. Not sure if I can get excited about these personally, but I am happy to see this big floor standing speaker get tested. Thank you @amirm for another great test.
 

richard12511

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#6
Dang, still pretty good, but disappointing given how much more expensive it is than the cheaper(better measuring model).
 
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#7
Hi Amir,
Possible typo: I think you meant to say you're putting the "JBL HDI-3600 (not the "JBL HDI-1600") on the recommended list - from this review.

Thanks again for another speaker review!
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #8
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #9
Hi Amir,
Possible typo: I think you meant to say you're putting the "JBL HDI-3600 (not the "JBL HDI-1600") on the recommended list - from this review.

Thanks again for another speaker review!
Thanks. Corrected. :)
 

Robbo99999

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#10
Thanks for the speaker carrying up the stairs, yes bad backs are no fun!

I was surprised to see that this speaker doesn't extend into the lower bass frequencies as much as some other speakers, I thought by looking at the size of this thing combined with all the woofers then this would really be able to play low so to speak. Aren't there many other small speakers with bass extension into the lower frequencies equalling or better? I mean my JBL 308Mkii's extend lower into the bass than these, but I'm not saying mine are better of course, because there's more to a speaker than that, but it's a comparison. Yeah, and these speakers in this review are expensive too, so I did expect the bass to be better....or was that part of the problems you say you had with the measurements of the bass?

There's quite a few crazy dips in the frequency sweep further up too, like at 10kHz, and at 2kHz to a lesser extent. I'm kinda surprised.
 

MZKM

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#11
Thanks for the speaker carrying up the stairs, yes bad backs are no fun!

I was surprised to see that this speaker doesn't extend into the lower bass frequencies as much as some other speakers, I thought by looking at the size of this thing combined with all the woofers then this would really be able to play low so to speak. Aren't there many other small speakers with bass extension into the lower frequencies equalling or better? I mean my JBL 308Mkii's extend lower into the bass than these, but I'm not saying mine are better of course, because there's more to a speaker than that, but it's a comparison. Yeah, and these speakers in this review are expensive too, so I did expect the bass to be better....or was that part of the problems you say you had with the measurements of the bass?

There's quite a few crazy dips in the frequency sweep further up too, like at 10kHz, and at 2kHz to a lesser extent. I'm kinda surprised.
As he touches on in the conclusion, the 2 extra bass drivers are being used to increase sensitivity in the midrange, the SPL at 40Hz is identical to the 1600. They could have kept the SPL the same but deepened the bass response, but they chose otherwise.

The 3800 which uses 3 8' drivers (I understand the naming scheme now) states only 1Hz deeper than the 3600, but states 2dB even higher sensitivity. I have to imagine it'll measure even worse than the 3600, as now the tweeter is crossing over at 1800Hz, and I don;t believe the waveguide is different, so it's just a crossover change.
 

Haint

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#12
The piano black finish and design looks great in Amirm's shot, MUCH better than the chintzy looking wood veneers. I'm not convinced JBL actually designed and conceived of these to be Synthesis line speakers though, they're about double the price they should be IMO. My gut instinct tells me Samsung might be pressuring them toward higher margin product, their M.O. is reshuffling product stacks and relying on marketing/branding to push up prices without the specs/performance/materials to actually back it up.
 
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Robbo99999

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#13
As he touches on in the conclusion, the 2 extra bass drivers are being used to increase sensitivity in the midrange, the SPL at 40Hz is identical to the 1600. They could have kept the SPL the same but deepened the bass response, but they chose otherwise.

The 3800 which uses 3 8' drivers (I understand the naming scheme now) states only 1Hz deeper than the 3600, but states 2dB even higher sensitivity. I have to imagine it'll measure even worse than the 3600, as now the tweeter is crossing over at 1800Hz, and I don;t believe the waveguide is different, so it's just a crossover change.
I don't know a whole load about speaker design, because I'm quite new to this field, but I find it strange that they've seemingly got 3 identical drivers there....if they wanted to dedicate two towards increasing sensitivity in mid range why didn't they choose some different sized/type of drivers for midrange and have a proper big woofer delivering some proper bass.....my relatively uninformed intuition tells me they're not optimising the drivers for their correct usage?

(EDIT: maybe it saves them avoiding having 2 cross overs, plus if they had a bigger woofer they'd have to make the tower wider or oblong, and it might not look as good....just thoughts, no idea).
 
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wwenze

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#14
I think this plus a few other floorstanders measured so far examplify the issue with directivity when u place too many drivers along an axis (without using CBT magic). Hopefully this blows away the misconception that floorstanders / more drivers automatically = better.
 

ROOSKIE

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#15
Thanks for the speaker carrying up the stairs, yes bad backs are no fun!

I was surprised to see that this speaker doesn't extend into the lower bass frequencies as much as some other speakers, I thought by looking at the size of this thing combined with all the woofers then this would really be able to play low so to speak. Aren't there many other small speakers with bass extension into the lower frequencies equalling or better? I mean my JBL 308Mkii's extend lower into the bass than these, but I'm not saying mine are better of course, because there's more to a speaker than that, but it's a comparison. Yeah, and these speakers in this review are expensive too, so I did expect the bass to be better....or was that part of the problems you say you had with the measurements of the bass?

There's quite a few crazy dips in the frequency sweep further up too, like at 10kHz, and at 2kHz to a lesser extent. I'm kinda surprised.
These get deep enough for most music. This way you get 90db sensitivity and very loud max volume. At this price point it is assumed home theater folks will have subs and music bass heads will as well. Why stress these drivers? Go for dynamics instead. Let the sub shake the house as it should.
 

richard12511

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#16
These get deep enough for most music. This way you get 90db sensitivity and very loud max volume. At this price point it is assumed home theater folks will have subs and music bass heads will as well. Why stress these drivers? Go for dynamics instead. Let the sub shake the house as it should.
This is exactly what I wish most tower speakers aimed for. Much rather have the extra sensitivity than the extra extension.
 

dinglehoser

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#17
Thanks, Amir. Relative to the 1600, it does look like this was optimized overall for longer listening distances - about 6-7dB higher ultimate SPL (when accounting for both sensitivity and specified power handling), and pickier horizontal and vertical directivity. On the flip side, the PIR looks better (deviations are higher Q) and there seems to be much lower distortion at equivalent SPL, both around the crossover points and into the bass frequencies.

Looks like the bass roll off knee is around 42Hz, with a clean distortion profile down to around 60Hz. Set up properly in the room and with a couple of good subs, I bet these things would melt your face off.
 
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#20
I don't know a whole load about speaker design, because I'm quite new to this field, but I find it strange that they've seemingly got 3 identical drivers there....if they wanted to dedicate two towards increasing sensitivity in mid range why didn't they choose some different sized/type of drivers for midrange and have a proper big woofer delivering some proper bass.....my relatively uninformed intuition tells me they're not optimising the drivers for their correct usage?

(EDIT: maybe it saves them avoiding having 2 cross overs, plus if they had a bigger woofer they'd have to make the tower wider or oblong, and it might not look as good....just thoughts, no idea).
Well, there is the question why Jbl have the crossover frequency as high as 900 Hz for the two woofers?. They should instead have the crossoverpoint where the baffle-step correction is needed. And thats a bit lower, maybe at 500 Hz.
With different woofers they also could have had a lower tuning frequency. Maybe 10 Hz lower. But in that case, a three-way crossover would have been needed.
Maybe the selling- target for these loudspeakers are hometheatre? And used with a subwoofer?
 
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