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JBL SCL-5 In-ceiling Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 69 54.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 43 33.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 12 9.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 2.4%

  • Total voters
    127

Dj7675

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I can't picture spending $10-20k on these. They're already for people with fuck you money, but to build an effective surround system out of these takes more than just a dude with cash who wants in wall speakers. You're hiring a contractor to cut holes in your house. Tough sell.
A couple of thoughts...
-These would be used almost exclusively for ceiling speakers in a 2-6 speaker arrangement for Atmos. Not ever as in walls
-As a general rule, if going though a good dealer, cost will be quite a bit less (but still expensive)
-Also offered are the 5.25 inch model (SCL-8) which is 1/2 the price at retail $1100, but can be had for quite a bit less. Still expensive, but not objoxiusly so IMO
-Distortion should be lower but try as I may, in the 5.25 inch version I just can't hear it, even at loud volumes. Not sure whether it is because it is second harmonic, or related to it being a compression driver or what. Or maybe we are over valueing 2nd harmonic distortion being an audible problem (no idea) or maybe I am just bad at hearing this kind of distortion.
-Cost/Performance it is always better to find a good ceiling mountable bookshelf speaker. However if you want Atmos but don't want speakers hanging from your ceiling, or have too low of a ceiling, then these are a viable option if the cost is worth it. And if it is, look at the SCL-8 as an option.
-I have noticed that many people that have the biggest issue with these do not do home theater and are strictly 2 channel. I understand that home theater isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you are attempting build an Atmos/Immersive audio system sometimes you need a product such as this. Very very few flush mount ceiling are designed to be listened at 45 degrees. There are some with offset baffles at 15 degrees but hardly any at 45 degrees. Hopefully there will be more designs in the future.
YMMV
 
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dukanvadet

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I feel like the best use case for these is LCR in a discrete home theater system. You can have them in the ceiling and still get the sound coming somewhat from the front at 40° as the listening axis. It needs eq but as a ceiling speaker it has an USP. A coaxial would either be right above you or send the highest sound intensity straight to the floor to reflect.
 

Dj7675

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I feel like the best use case for these is LCR in a discrete home theater system. You can have them in the ceiling and still get the sound coming somewhat from the front at 40° as the listening axis. It needs eq but as a ceiling speaker it has an USP. A coaxial would either be right above you or send the highest sound intensity straight to the floor to reflect.
I suppose if there was no other LCR options but I would think there would be better on wall solutions to the sides and under the screen. When used in ceiling, the sound will be coming from above and not image on the screen. And if your LCR was in the ceiling that would really not give you an option of doing Atmos as you need to have a earl level/bed layer speakers and height speakers. If you put the LCR in the ceiling doing an Atmos system just wouldn't make sense.
 

hyfynut

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When mounted in-wall in-ceiling, all frequencies below 600 Hz will be amplified by some 5-6 dB, complementing that peak around 850 Hz, making more or less flat frequency response up to 1000 Hz. But that too low crossover point at 1300 Hz is deal breaking - too much distortion there by the high-frequency driver.
Are you sure? Without an enclosure, most ceiling speakers end up sounding pretty lean. I've not noticed any huge boost in lows in any in ceilings I've installed.
 

jhaider

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…to build an effective surround system out of these…

Yeah, that would be tough. Good thing, then, that they are designed to be the height layer in an immersive setup!
 

Vladimir Filevski

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Are you sure? Without an enclosure, most ceiling speakers end up sounding pretty lean. I've not noticed any huge boost in lows in any in ceilings I've installed.
Yes, I am sure - it is well known (up to) 6 dB boost resulting from 4pi to 2pi transition. If you measure conventional loudspeaker (with an enclosure) soffit-mounted in-wall (or in-ceiling) you will get up to 6 dB boost in low frequencies. If you mount any in-ceiling loudspeaker in a box and measure it's frequency response in a free field (or in a room), and after that mount the same speaker box soffit in ceiling and measure freq. resp. again, there will be up to 6 dB low frequency gain.
My response (#8) you quoted was before I realized that amirm measured the SCL-5 in a large baffle, so low frequency gain was already there (and not enough, apparently). That is why I asked for clarification in my post #14:
@amirm It is not clear - is the panel you used for mounting (and measuring) the SCL-5 is the same you used in measuring Revel W553L, JBL SCL-7 and Revel W990? In that case, there will be no 5 dB improvement below 600 Hz (my post #8), leaving that nasty peak around 850 Hz. That is poor crossover in my book.
 

hyfynut

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Yes, I am sure - it is well known (up to) 6 dB boost resulting from 4pi to 2pi transition. If you measure conventional loudspeaker (with an enclosure) soffit-mounted in-wall (or in-ceiling) you will get up to 6 dB boost in low frequencies. If you mount any in-ceiling loudspeaker in a box and measure it's frequency response in a free field (or in a room), and after that mount the same speaker box soffit in ceiling and measure freq. resp. again, there will be up to 6 dB low frequency gain.
My response (#8) you quoted was before I realized that amirm measured the SCL-5 in a large baffle, so low frequency gain was already there (and not enough, apparently). That is why I asked for clarification in my post #14:
That just doesn't compute. I install in-ceiling/in-wall speakers on a weekly basis. Have for about 17 years. Most we install are without a back can or box. Our speakers in our showroom mounted into a 1 cubic foot box in our display have more bass than those same speakers installed in a customers ceiling or wall in an infinite baffle scenario.
 

Vladimir Filevski

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"More bass" like more output at 100 Hz and nothing below? Like speaker frequency response coming from a too small closed box volume (high Qtc)?
In a much bigger volume (speakers without a back can, mounted in ceiling) Qtc will be smaller (around speaker own Qts), with slightly extended low frequency response and smaller (or zero) bass peak - giving impression of "less bass" (ceiling leaking also may contribute to that). Majority of the in-ceiling speakers (midbass drivers) have rather high Qts - arround 1.
I am also in the audio business (16 years), specializing in custom-made loudspeakers, including in-ceiling.
My previous posts in this thread were about the 6 dB difference in bass SPL between the same speaker mounted in a box - but in two different situations: loudspeaker (in a box) measured in free field and the same loudspeaker (in a box) measured when mounted in the ceiling. That is the well known 6 dB difference between 4pi and 2 pi environment (measured in the room that difference is smaller).
 

hyfynut

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"More bass" like more output at 100 Hz and nothing below? Like speaker frequency response coming from a too small closed box volume (high Qtc)?
In a much bigger volume (speakers without a back can, mounted in ceiling) Qtc will be smaller (around speaker own Qts), with slightly extended low frequency response and smaller (or zero) bass peak - giving impression of "less bass" (ceiling leaking also may contribute to that). Majority of the in-ceiling speakers (midbass drivers) have rather high Qts - arround 1.
I am also in the audio business (16 years), specializing in custom-made loudspeakers, including in-ceiling.
My previous posts in this thread were about the 6 dB difference in bass SPL between the same speaker mounted in a box - but in two different situations: loudspeaker (in a box) measured in free field and the same loudspeaker (in a box) measured when mounted in the ceiling. That is the well known 6 dB difference between 4pi and 2 pi environment (measured in the room that difference is smaller).
I see. I totally agree. My incorrect assumption than. I appreciate the clarification
 

C. Cook

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All very detailed and comprehensive as usual, but I don't really get the whole home theater thing insofar as it needs to be as sonically perfect as two or two + one channel audio. Bass go boom. Sounds come from where they should (center, right, left, above, behind), dialog sounds clear and seems to emanate from the center, and plenty of power behind it for the big dramatic moments. I just don't get spending this kind of coin on a couple of ceiling mount speakers for what must be primarily a system on which to play/listen to movies. Call me a luddite I guess, just happy as can be with the built-in Harman "sound bar" on my LG OLED or if I really want the theater experience, I run it through the DAC and Hypex amp then through the JBL 4349s. No need for a center channel speaker even. If I want "center" dialog I can run the TV's sound and the external system at the same time. Flame away, and thanks for reviewing/measuring, but I'm honestly not trying to be a troll.
 

Dj7675

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All very detailed and comprehensive as usual, but I don't really get the whole home theater thing insofar as it needs to be as sonically perfect as two or two + one channel audio. Bass go boom. Sounds come from where they should (center, right, left, above, behind), dialog sounds clear and seems to emanate from the center, and plenty of power behind it for the big dramatic moments. I just don't get spending this kind of coin on a couple of ceiling mount speakers for what must be primarily a system on which to play/listen to movies. Call me a luddite I guess, just happy as can be with the built-in Harman "sound bar" on my LG OLED or if I really want the theater experience, I run it through the DAC and Hypex amp then through the JBL 4349s. No need for a center channel speaker even. If I want "center" dialog I can run the TV's sound and the external system at the same time. Flame away, and thanks for reviewing/measuring, but I'm honestly not trying to be a troll.
Luddite :)
Couple of things
-These are expensive but there are $100-300 options that do the job well too. In addition, outdoor speakers with built in mounts have been used by many to very good effect too.
-A movie theater experience simply can’t be replicated with 2 speakers or a sound bar. It can be enjoyable for sure but can’t replicate a movie theater experience.
-Center channels are critical, in particular if more that one person is viewing to anchor the action and dialogue. Phantom image can work pretty well for a single person is much worse for off axis listeners.
A properly set up Atmos theater is really an amazing experience. Not everyone may the space, budget, inclination etc but many do enjoy it quite immensely. But that is OK… many running multichannel setup for movies and music don’t understand the fascination with running 2 speakers in stereo either. :)
 

nick-v

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All very detailed and comprehensive as usual, but I don't really get the whole home theater thing insofar as it needs to be as sonically perfect as two or two + one channel audio. Bass go boom. Sounds come from where they should (center, right, left, above, behind), dialog sounds clear and seems to emanate from the center, and plenty of power behind it for the big dramatic moments. I just don't get spending this kind of coin on a couple of ceiling mount speakers for what must be primarily a system on which to play/listen to movies. Call me a luddite I guess, just happy as can be with the built-in Harman "sound bar" on my LG OLED or if I really want the theater experience, I run it through the DAC and Hypex amp then through the JBL 4349s. No need for a center channel speaker even. If I want "center" dialog I can run the TV's sound and the external system at the same time. Flame away, and thanks for reviewing/measuring, but I'm honestly not trying to be a troll.
There are plenty of multi-purpose systems out there where the goal is high fidelity for 2 channel music, multi-channel music, TV, Movies, Gaming.

My media room system is one example of such a system (it uses 4 of the little brother SCL-8 as overheads):

IMG_20230211_104418_215.jpg

20221023_101325.jpg
20220806_163105.jpg
 
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Adi777

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My media room system is one example of such a system (it uses 4 of the little brother SCL-8 as overheads):
It's hard for me to imagine that the SCL-8 and SCL-5 have any audible problems. Indeed, they are expensive.
 

Blackdevil77

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This probably wasn’t touched upon because of the rather alarming measurement results, but what did you find the actual sensitivity of the speaker to be with 1 watt? Another concern is for this speaker to hit reference level at any realistic difference. Based on the 86 db rating and 125 watt power rating, it seems like this thing could barely hit reference at 1m.
 

Dj7675

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This probably wasn’t touched upon because of the rather alarming measurement results, but what did you find the actual sensitivity of the speaker to be with 1 watt? Another concern is for this speaker to hit reference level at any realistic difference. Based on the 86 db rating and 125 watt power rating, it seems like this thing could barely hit reference at 1m.
The one thing missing is that these are not installed in free space, they are installed in a wall. With boundary reinforcement from being in wall and crossing over at 80hz I can’t imagine it being an issue in an installed environment.
 

Blackdevil77

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The one thing missing is that these are not installed in free space, they are installed in a wall. With boundary reinforcement from being in wall and crossing over at 80hz I can’t imagine it being an issue in an installed environment.

That was my thought as well but JBLs 86 db rating is a 2 pi rating.
 

Blackdevil77

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@amirm I know the focus of the discussion was on the frequency response and distortion, but can you comment on the speakers output capabilities? I'm somewhat surprised/disappointed that a speaker with a CD has a sensitivity rating of only 86 db and is rated to only handle 125 watts, meaning this speaker can't go very loud. The KEF Ci250-RRM without a CD shows a higher sensitivity rating and power handling, which I found surprising when comparing the two.
 
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