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JBL HDI-3800 Floorstanding Speaker Review

hardisj

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I really, really hate testing large floorstanding speakers. Such a pain in the butt to move around for demos and testing.

Full review can be found on my site here:
https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/jbl_hdi-3800/

copy/paste below...


JBL HDI-3800 Floorstanding Speaker Review
  • Tuesday, Mar 23, 2021
DSC00445.JPG



Foreword / YouTube Video Review
The review on this website is a brief overview and summary of the objective performance of this speaker. It is not intended to be a deep dive. Moreso, this is information for those who prefer “just the facts” and prefer to have the data without the filler.

However, for those who want more - a detailed explanation of the objective performance, and my subjective evaluation (what I heard, what I liked, etc.) - please watch the below video where I go more in-depth.



Information and Photos

Note: JBL was kind enough to loan me this item for test. I was not paid for my review and was not told what to say.

The JBL HDI-3800 is 3-way Floorstanding speaker, standing approximately 45-inches tall with serious output capability. The below is from the manufacturer’s website:
Designed and engineered in JBL’s world-famous acoustic engineering facility in Northridge, California, the HDI-3800 is the flagship of the JBL HDI Series. This floorstanding loudspeaker features a 2 ½-way design with patented High-Definition Imaging (HDI™) waveguide technology, the patented 2410H-2 1-inch (25mm) compression driver, and triple 8-inch (200mm) Advanced Aluminum Matrix cone woofers for powerful dynamics and incredibly accurate sound reproduction. The HDI-3800 enclosure is heavily braced to provide a solid acoustic foundation, and incorporates a bass reflex design with dual rear-firing, computer-optimized flared ports. The sophisticated curved cabinet features a modern design finished in a choice of automotive-grade painted High Gloss Black, or furniture-grade satin Walnut or Gray Oak wood veneers. A black cloth, magnetically attached grille completes the elegant appearance.
MSRP per pair is approximately $5000 USD.

And here are some specs, again from the manufacturer’s website:
jbl_hdi3800_specs.png

DSC00465.JPG

DSC00466.JPG

DSC00468.JPG







CTA-2034 (SPINORAMA) and Accompanying Data


All data collected using Klippel’s Near-Field Scanner. The Near-Field-Scanner 3D (NFS) offers a fully automated acoustic measurement of direct sound radiated from the source under test. The radiated sound is determined in any desired distance and angle in the 3D space outside the scanning surface. Directivity, sound power, SPL response and many more key figures are obtained for any kind of loudspeaker and audio system in near field applications (e.g. studio monitors, mobile devices) as well as far field applications (e.g. professional audio systems). Utilizing a minimum of measurement points, a comprehensive data set is generated containing the loudspeaker’s high resolution, free field sound radiation in the near and far field. For a detailed explanation of how the NFS works and the science behind it, please watch the below discussion with designer Christian Bellmann:

The reference plane in this test is at the tweeter. The speaker was tested in ported configuration (the port was not sealed). All testing in this review was done without grille.

Measurements are provided in a format in accordance with the Standard Method of Measurement for In-Home Loudspeakers (ANSI/CTA-2034-A R-2020). For more information, please see this link.

CTA-2034 / SPINORAMA:
JBL%20HDI-3800%20--%20CEA2034.png

Early Reflections Breakout:
Early%20Reflections.png

Estimated In-Room Response:
Estimated%20In-Room%20Response.png

Horizontal Frequency Response (0° to ±90°):
SPL%20Horizontal.png

Vertical Frequency Response (0° to ±40°):
SPL%20Vertical.png

Horizontal Contour Plot (not normalized):
JBL%20HDI-3800%20Horizontal%20Contour%20Plot.png

Horizontal Contour Plot (normalized):
JBL%20HDI-3800%20Horizontal%20Contour%20Plot%20%28normalized%29.png

Vertical Contour Plot (not normalized):
JBL%20HDI-3800%20Vertical%20Contour%20Plot.png

Vertical Contour Plot (normalized):
JBL%20HDI-3800%20Vertical%20Contour%20Plot%20%28normalized%29.png





Additional Measurements

Impedance Magnitude and Phase + Equivalent Peak Dissipation Resistance (EPDR)

For those who do not know what EPDR is (ahem, myself until 2020), Keith Howard came up with this metric which he defined in a 2007 article for Stereophile as:
… simply the resistive load that would give rise to the same peak device dissipation as the speaker itself.

A note from Dr. Jack Oclee-Brown of Kef (who supplied the formula for calculating EPDR):
Just a note of caution that the EPDR derivation is based on a class-B output stage so it’s valid for typical class-AB amps but certainly not for class-A and probably has only marginal relevance for class-D amps (would love to hear from a class-D expert on this topic).



JBL%20HDI-3800_Impedance_0.1v.png

Near-Field Response

Nearfield response of individual drive units:
Nearfield%20Response%20of%20Components%20~15cm.png


Harmonic Distortion
Harmonic Distortion at 89dB @ 1m:
JBL%20HDI-3800%20--%20Harmonic%20Distortion%20%2889dB%20%40%201m%29.png

Harmonic Distortion at 96dB @ 1m:
JBL%20HDI-3800%20--%20Harmonic%20Distortion%20%2896dB%20%40%201m%29.png

Harmonic Distortion at 100dB @ 1m:
JBL%20HDI-3800%20--%20Harmonic%20Distortion%20%28100dB%20%40%201m%29.png


“Globe” Plots
Horizontal Polar (Globe) Plot:
This represents the sound field at 2 meters - above 200Hz - per the legend in the upper left.

JBL%20HDI-3800_360_Horizontal_Polar.png




Vertical Polar (Globe) Plot:
This represents the sound field at 2 meters - above 200Hz - per the legend in the upper left.

JBL%20HDI-3800_360_Vertical_Polar.png



Directivity Balloon
JBL-HDI-3800-Balloon.gif



In-Room Measurements from the Listening Position

Below is a photograph of the speakers set up in my living room. The speakers were placed approximately 1.2m from the front wall (not the cabinets; but the actual wall). The listening position was approximately 4 meters from the speakers.
DSC00445.JPG



Below is the actual measured in-room response (with no DSP correction). This is a spatial average taken over approximately 1 cubic foot. As you can see, the actual in-room response aligns quite well with the prediction generated from the SPIN data. Pretty cool to see how anechoic measurements can reliably predict the actual in-room response. I feel many others often overlook this powerful benefit of the SPIN data.

Black = Predicted In-Room Response from SPIN data
Teal = Actual In-Room Measured Response from Main Listening Position
PIR%20vs%20MIR.png


The prediction is quite accurate down to approximately 600Hz. Below this we see more deviation from the prediction. This is expected. The room takes over as you enter mid-to-low frequencies. Aside from the room dimensions, my couch, the back wall behind where I sit, the end table and the lamp near the listening position all influence the measured response. The dip from 150-400Hz is caused by the rear wall and/or couch as when the microphone is moved into the center of the room the dip fills in. Overall, what we see here is that the anechoic data can be conveniently used to predict the actual response one would expect to see in their own room.



Parting / Random Thoughts
I encourage you to watch my YouTube review for more details but a quick few notes:
  • At 45-inches tall and 83 pounds of pure awesomeness with triple 8-inch woofers these speakers command your attention.
  • Overall tonality of these speakers was good but I wouldn’t put them on par with their Revel counterparts.
  • There was something in the lower midrange (I ballparked it at about 200-300Hz) that I just didn’t like where lower female vocals tended to sound more boxy than I felt was right. At this point, I’m not entirely sure what the culprit is. When looking at the horizontal radiation pattern you can see the data shows approximately a ±100° radiation pattern at around 300Hz but then sharply drops to about 50-60° by 350-400Hz. This could be what I was hearing as problematic in this region. This coincides with a slight ripple in the impedance graphic around this frequency as well. Food for thought.
  • Horn designs tend to be looked at with this nostalgic tendency to think they are “shouty” or “boxy”. Good waveguided-horn designs to not exhibit this characteristic. The JBL HDI-3800 possesses a great waveguide. There is no “shoutiness” that plague the designs of old (or current, lesser designs). If you are predisposed to having that bias against a waveguide design you can throw that out the window here.
  • Panned music heavy in midrange content was placed at the upper midrange drive unit and resulted in a discontinuity in soundstage height between the midrange and the tweeter (main listening axis). This stood out to me when I listened to Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” as the guitar at the intro is panned left, right and center. When panned to either side, the soundstage height was “split” between upper and mid frequencies. The vertical contour plot shows an angular shift in intensity as you move from midrange to treble frequencies. This is exactly what I heard.
  • Imaging and focus (the ability to place items within the soundstage and provide proper “size” to those items) was quite excellent. There was no ambiguity as to where placement of instruments / singers were throughout the soundstage which is a testament, in my opinion, to the nice off-axis response control of the waveguide.
  • While the horizontal radiation is well controlled, the soundstage wasn’t as wide as I personally prefer. I attribute this to the radiation pattern of ±50° (above the bass region) whereas other speakers I have preferred in this regard were closer to ±60-70°.
  • The HDI-3800s get downright loud. The best part was there were no mechanical limits being reached (i.e., port chuffing, speakers bottoming out). I had these playing at 105dB at 4 meters and they could have kept going if I had a larger amplifier (I used a Parasound Integrated 200 which is rated at 110 watts at 4/8 Ohms).
  • The speakers are very low in distortion. Objectively and subjectively.
  • The relatively-high sensitivity helps provide more “dynamics” as the amplifier has more “headroom” to play at louder levels while still having enough dynamic range to hit higher peaks with well-produced music.
  • I really feel these speakers would benefit from a subwoofer below 40 or 50Hz.
  • I believe the sweet spot for these speakers lies in the use of a mixture of music and movies. While they don’t have the fidelity, in my humble opinion, of some other speakers I have tested, they do have a mostly neutral response, plenty of output capability and do not require much power to get loud. I think this is a tradeoff for a speaker used in a setting where the listener will use them both for music listening and movie watching.
As stated in the Foreword, this written review is purposely a cliff’s notes version. For more details about the performance (objectively and subjectively) please watch the YouTube video.



Support / Contribute
If you like what you see here and want to help me keep it going, please consider donating via the PayPal Contribute link below. Donations help me pay for new items to test, hardware, miscellaneous items and costs of the site’s server space and bandwidth. All of which I otherwise pay out of pocket. So, if you can help chip in a few bucks, know that it’s very much appreciated.
https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/contribute/


You can also join my Facebook and YouTube pages if you’d like to follow along with updates.
 
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OP
hardisj

hardisj

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Here is the zipped data for you guys to do what you want to with it:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/fhicwsk4hsfh6ke/JBL HDI-3800.7z?dl=0
(@MZKM @pierre)


And, that's it. I'm exhausted. It's only Wednesday and this has been an exhaustive week between trying to get this review completed, my day job and my family. So, I hope you guys appreciate the effort and get something useful out of it. If you don't like the info I have provided or you want something I didn't do this time, wait a couple days before complaining about it. ;) :D
 
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Helicopter

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Thanks Erin.

These would be great in a HT, especially with surrounds and subs. With the sensitivity, you could even use the amps built into your Denon AVR if you wanted.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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The video which is on your website will not play and produces an error "An error occurred. Please try again later. (Playback ID: 8Um5nGBpGNbD9Yyg) ". I've tried this on my work computer and at home with the same results.
 

Beershaun

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What the heck happened above 10khz? That looks really...like there is a whole other super tweeter on a different curve up there.
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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The video which is on your website will not play and produces an error "An error occurred. Please try again later. (Playback ID: 8Um5nGBpGNbD9Yyg) ". I've tried this on my work computer and at home with the same results.

Thanks for the heads up. Old link. Updating now. Should be good in about 5 minutes.
 

Sancus

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I really, really hate testing large floorstanding speakers. Such a pain in the butt to move around for demos and testing.

Uh oh, but the community has already declared you "the floorstander guy" in contrast to lazy Amir who only measures bookshelves ;)
 

amirm

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CTA-2034 / SPINORAMA:
JBL%20HDI-3800%20--%20CEA2034.png
Erin, this measurement indicates to me that the full response of the bass is not captured. Whenever you see that inversion in the sub-bass output, it indicates a problem. Did you measure this speaker vertically and if so, what was the mic distance?

FYI here is the ground plane measurements from Audioholics:

image


I don't know how accurate James' measurements are in this regard but the gap between his and yours is fairly large. Did you confirm your response with ground plane as well?

P.S. Yes, I am doing to you what the membership did to me when I first measured tower speakers! :D
 

amirm

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Uh oh, but the community has already declared you "the floorstander guy" in contrast to lazy Amir who only measures bookshelves ;)
Watch him learn my lessons quickly enough. :D

Sad for me, I have some large speakers to measure still.....
 

thewas

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Excellent review like always, thank you!
There was something in the lower midrange (I ballparked it at about 200-300Hz) that I just didn’t like where lower female vocals tended to sound more boxy than I felt was right. At this point, I’m not entirely sure what the culprit is. When looking at the horizontal radiation pattern you can see the data shows approximately a ±100° radiation pattern at around 300Hz but then sharply drops to about 50-60° by 350-400Hz. This could be what I was hearing as problematic in this region.
I think it could be also due to the large vertical directivity rise around 500 Hz due to the all 3 woofers still active there. It can be also seen in your in room response which is too low between 300-700 Hz

1616663515443.png


compared for example to the D&D 8c

1616663534914.png


Imho a 2.5 way is an unnecessary compromise (especially with 3 woofers) at the price class and would be the reason for me not to buy those.
 
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McFly

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That looks like tweeter breakup or poor waveguide loading at 15khz on up. That will be tiring IMO.
 

richard12511

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Erin, this measurement indicates to me that the full response of the bass is not captured. Whenever you see that inversion in the sub-bass output, it indicates a problem. Did you measure this speaker vertically and if so, what was the mic distance?

FYI here is the ground plane measurements from Audioholics:

image


I don't know how accurate James' measurements are in this regard but the gap between his and yours is fairly large. Did you confirm your response with ground plane as well?

P.S. Yes, I am doing to you what the membership did to me when I first measured tower speakers! :D

This makes sense. The Bass Response did look suspect to me. Is this the same problem you had with the Revel F328be? With that speaker, your measurements showed very poor bass extension, but it was obvious from the subjective listen that it was wrong. If so, do you know how to fix it?
 
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hardisj

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Erin, this measurement indicates to me that the full response of the bass is not captured. Whenever you see that inversion in the sub-bass output, it indicates a problem. Did you measure this speaker vertically and if so, what was the mic distance?


The speaker was measured on its side. I used the r-axis extension and the mic distance was somewhere close to 0.90 meters from the DUT. I have to send the data to Klippel to get it 'signed' via the new beta software and as part of this process I have been in talks with them to make sure the measurement data looks correct as the speaker was measured on its side. This was their feedback when they sent me the signed data file:
Regarding your measurement setup: Your setup looks well. The adjustment of reference point and reference axis is well and using a laser as you did is a very useful method. Maybe we can learn from this for our next measurements here at KLIPPEL.

The only possible problem with this loudspeaker position might be, that the scanning surface might become flat relative to the optimal spherical shape. This might be problematic for lower frequencies. But as you have a sufficient low fitting error at low frequencies, this seems to be no problem in your case.

FWIW, I talked about this and posted some pictures in my other thread. So, all good here.
 
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FrantzM

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HI
I thank Erin for the service to the audiophile community and cause.

I know speakers are subjects to contentions when it comes to interpreting their measurements and extrapolating those to how they will sound in one's environment. It seems to me however, going on a limb and based on those measurements/graphs, that one could do better than those at $5000/pair, even considering their ability to play very loud, which would make them good candidates for Home Theater. The list of speakers + subwoofers that would provide, on paper, better results would be long.
All that IMO, YMMV and the usual qualifiers.

Peace
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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HI
I thank Erin for the service to the audiophile community and cause.

I know speakers are subjects to contentions when it comes to interpreting their measurements and extrapolating those to how they will sound in one's environment. It seems to me however, going on a limb and based on those measurements/graphs, that one could do better than those at $5000/pair, even considering their ability to play very loud, which would make them good candidates for Home Theater. The list of speakers + subwoofers that would provide, on paper, better results would be long.
All that IMO, YMMV and the usual qualifiers.

Peace

Yea, I wasn't as impressed with these as I had thought I would be. You can tell that from my review(s). I was hoping for more neutral-ness in the response and expected more lower end. The response isn't bad. Certainly miles better than the Klipsch Heresy. It just wasn't Revel-quality and I guess I was going in to the review expecting that. I still think they're a great speaker if you want output with neutrality/accuracy but the edge goes toward the former. Lots of great qualities in this speaker but some aspects kept me from being super enthusiastic about them.

I've got to test the center channel yet and then pack all this up and send it back to JBL.
 
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DSJR

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Is it just me, or are they really ugly, pictured naked with no grilles?
 
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