Ok, still waiting on Ozzy for the pictures, as he is a bit tied up apparently, but as soon as those are done, I will post more pics for sure...for now, I'll borrow some of Luke's stuff.
First, thanks to those who showed up, and more importantly, thanks to Carl, Amy, Manville, and gang, for such 1st class tour in a 1st operation! Those of you considering commercial offerings, you will be hard pressed to find a better quality subwoofer on the market, period! Also, I would like to ask Manville to please send our regards to Lucho and Andy and the rest of senior management for finding some time to spend with a few online enthusiasts...shows how down to earth the company leaders are, and it all trickles downward!! great personnel, world class operation, and class leading products.
The tour started on the right foot, when we noticed that Chuck and I arrived at the facility and as we looked for parking, they had roped off a section right in front of the office for us:
Talk about VIP! Once inside, Amy greeted us and took us to the lunch room/kitchen area, where there were bagels and drinks and fruits there for us. As folks started to arrive, Manville and Carl talked to us and gave us some preliminary information of the company, the tour and logistics, and general Q&A.
we introduced each member and their background, and from there we went on the tour....you can read the details of the tour on Luke's site, as he did a marvelous job keeping it short and to the point:http://www.audiojunkies.com/
You can read through all the details there, so I wont bore you with that.
I will just comment on a couple of things that surprised me:
* As mentioned before, the gotham's are made entirely of fiberglass, and it is an engineering marvel how JL was able to adjust the process of molding with Fiberglass to accomodate for such a huge enclosure with all it's challenges!!
Additionally, each single enclosure is paint treated, buffed, and sanded, and finished, BY HAND! that's right folks, By hand!!
As you saw on the audiojunkies website, they buff and wax it to a beautiful piano-gloss like finish by hand!!! This is "ferrari" like territory my friends.
Case in point, when they are cutting out the holes for it with the CNC mill, a special router bit was used to be able to cut through such a thick fiberglass, and even then, after each enclosure a new bit had to be used.......cost of each bit: $289 !!! Just one of the many things that go into the gotham.
And yes, for those wondering, the rumors have been confirmed by JL themselves: a Gotham DOES have better performance than two single Fathoms.
* As expected, the bread and butter of the company is still car audio, and they move a TON of product: in the magnitude of 1600 sheets of MDF per month:
Very efficient, excellent build quality, outstanding drivers, and competitive prices, and you can see why JL is still the class of the car audio driver market, eventhough there are a million competitors out there............this has only translated into the home audio world, which is a great thing for us consumers.
* The fathom is truly a huge performer in a tiny package. Having seen the insides of the velo DD18, Paradigm Servo 15 v2, and others, as well as a gazillion different DIY parts (drivers, amps, etc), the parts of these fathoms are no slouches:
There is almost no volume left on those enclosures once driver and amp are put in place, and thus, as physics laws come in effect, you need LOTS of power to drive them.......and this is why you have such hefty torroidal amps on them. Superb looking.
*If anyone has not mentioned it yet, the biggest thing I got from the facility tour was their Quality Control!! 100% QC on parts and finished enclosures. Massive amounts of temperature, noise, environment, and driver limit testing! Kippel machines to get detailed driver performance, solidworks modeling to see how different materials and shapes affect the cone surrounds, motor gaps and their effects of cooling, etc, etc, etc.........this ain't your flea market slap-em-together shop.
* For us DIYers, it was great to see lots of scanspeak, Seas Excel, and many other drivers out there which Carl and Company were using to test different driver layouts and what not.
THE ABSOLUTE BIGGEST thing I personally got out of the tour is that they are in for war!! Their venture into speakers is gonna come out with a huge bang! The clarity, soundstaging, and imaging that the satellites showed during the theater room demo was flawless. As nice as it was to hear 7 fathoms (6 f112s and 1 f113 in the back), the real killer were the front LCRs.....Can't wait to hear the final product.
I will post more insights once the rest of the pics are out, but for now, I want to once again give a HUGE thanks to JL audio and gang, for providing us with a 1st class tour! We are hoping that these will become an anual thing with participation from members from ALL over the country hopefully, and see it grow from there.
ps- thanks again for the kind words guys...hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.