My father was the family audiophile growing up. From obsessing over his McIntosh setup (MC-240 amplifier and C-22 preamplifier) and Altec Lansing Valencia loudspeakers, to his obsession with quadrophonic sound (anyone remember CD-4?), he always kept pace with the newest technologies. In 1975, he brought home a pair of JBL L-100 Decades with those iconic foam grilles. They gave me goosebumps with their killer mid-century looks and a sound that stopped me in my tracks. It was truly a speaker to die for.
Indeed, since its introduction in 1970, JBL's legendary L-100 has remained in the minds of customers who talk about it with me to this day. Many remember how impressed they were with its distinctive sonics. As TONEAudio's Jeff Dorgay noted, "Just like the auto-racing philosophy of selling on Monday what you ran on Sunday, the audio enthusiast...saw the L-100 as something to aspire to." Heaven knows I wanted a pair. JBL's uber-dynamic sound and rich bass notes remained indelibly etched in my head for eons, even as speaker after speaker and electronics of every shape and size crossed my path over the years.
So, imagine my surprise when, during our annual January trip to the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, I saw a pair of suspiciously familiar speakers, complete with orange-colored grille covers. The L-100 Classic was unveiled that week to journalists and industry pros with considerable fanfare. Its updates include all-new parts and a slightly larger walnut cabinet. Harman Luxury Group (JBL's parent company) Director of Product Strategy and Marketing Jim Garrett gave me an overview of the product's evolution (along with a nod to JBL's 40th Anniversary model, the 4312SE) during an interview we posted on Facebook earlier this year. When he rocked out a Molly Hatchet track with only modest electronics powering the L-100 Classics, I was swirling in their sound, head bobbing and feet tapping.
L-100 Classic is a far cry from its predecessor, and for good reason. With an all-new tweeter, midrange, crossover, and front port, plus woofers culled from JBL's 4312, L-100 Classic's sound goes far beyond its "Classic" branding. Its responsiveness to micro details, deep, authoritative bass, and focused mids are just a few of the strengths I noted upon my first listen.
I got to hear more when Music Direct unveiled the L-100 Classic to consumers during the recent AXPONA show. During demos, our room was jammed wall to wall with showgoers entranced by the speakers' enormous sound. Everyone expressed excitement over the fact L-100 Classic was going into production.
I am thrilled to see these speakers coming to Music Direct and encourage you to get your hands on a pair. Whether you want to kick out the jams or give a new release a spin, L-100 Classics will not disappoint.
For a deep dive on the speaker's evolution, and to see why one engineer predicts L-100 Classic is the speaker "you'll play 'Freebird' on," click on the videos below.