My reference HT system is a B&W HTM61 center, B&W 684s for fronts and M-1s for rears. My secondary system, which I just purchased, is JBL ES90s and an ES25c for the front and center and JBL CSB6s for the rears. I paid well over $2k for the B&W setup, and just $800 for the JBL setup via J&R and Newegg. The JBL system is 85% as nice as the B&W (leaving subwoofers out of the equation), and, in some respects, better:
Bass: JBL, hands down, whether it is depth, tightness, sweetness, you name it. The JBL ES90s kick arse, period. This is what JBL does best. Always has.
Mids: B&Ws, hands down. This is what they do and there are none better for the money. JBls can have a laid back midrange, and these do. L series, per my understanding, may not be as laid back.
Treble: A tie; both have a great presence, detail and imaging, the B&Ws are a hair sweeter as the JBLs can get a little bright if you let them (but never annoyingly so), but not much. The JBLs however, with their dual tweeters, provide better detail oftentimes for special effects in movies over the B&W, at the ultra high end of the spectrum.
I learned long ago to never assume certain brands are better than others. Harman has a big portfolio of companies and an extraordinary professional division and the benefits of that trickle down into their mass market stuff. I could buy 2 of the JBL systems for the price of the B&W and be very happy, and that is a testament to JBL.
Originally Posted by Remonster
I doubt the JBLs are as good as the B&Ws. I haven't heard this particular JBLs, but based on overall experience with the brand I'd say B&W is in a different league.