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JBL ES-90 question with Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K

3694 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Squashie8
I am new to the Home theater stuff, so bare with me. I just bought a bunch of the JBL ES series speakers for my first real home theater setup to be powered by my equally new Pioneer VSX-1018AH-k reciever. So far everything sounds clear except I don't seem to be getting that "punch" from the 8" woofers in the ES-90's. I am moving up from using computer type surround systems such as the Logitech Z-5500 and Klipsch Promedia 5.1 Ultra. In any case the Promedia had two 8" subs in the subwoofer. I have to say that system rocked in terms of "punch" and sound. With that said moving from that to the JBL's I would think I would be rocking with serious bass while listening to just stereo sound, but I'm not. Some reviews I read said the JBL's sounded good without a subwoofer, but I haven't heard it yet. This leads me to the question of whether I need more power "WATTS" to the ES-90's? I am more familiar with car audio, but I imagine it is the same concept, but I am not as familiar with the products in home audio. In car audio when you add more watt's/power with an amp to the sub or any speaker you can see the woofer move, jump around, or whatever and tell a sound difference. So far none of these 8's have moved. They are putting out some bass, but nothing like you would think for listening to just stereo sound. Any thoughts or suggestions on what I may be doing wrong or need to do to get this thing jamming? Thanks in advance.
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Set your receiver to small speakers, and make sure that you use subwoofer cable, not the cable that came with it.

Hope this helps.
( joash, I think the op is not using a subwoofer and was expecting the bass rock from JBL ES-90's...)

If that's the case, I think you are in one of the following two cases.

First, maybe you expected too much from your ES-90's. ES-90 is designed to pump out a wide range of frequencies, not just bass. Looking at the spec, it covers 36Hz to 40KHz, which is a full range. And the 8-inch woofers covers everything below 500Hz looking at the crossovers. 500Hz and lower are a lot of mid-bass and low-bass to cover, and obviously it is not going to spend all of its time to pump out "punch" bass like a subwoofer, which normally covers only 80Hz and lower. I hope I don't come around as too lectury(?), but speakers move back and forth to create the sound, and the lower the bass the more it has to move. So, your 8-inch woofers (even though there are two) cannot spend all its time to produce really low bass. That's why there is a subwoofer even for speakers like ES-90 with dual 8-inch woofers. By giving all the low bass work to the sub, ES-90 can focus on producing sound from 80Hz to 500Hz, which is plenty of work for any music. For my home office setup, which is stereo playing music 100% of the time, I still use a dedicated sub because it produces a lot clearer sound with each speaker working on narrow range of frequencies rather than trying to do everything. And to add one more point, even with a subwoofer, you are not supposed to hear the sub while playing music. What I mean is, the subwoofer should pump out the right amount of bass to complement your fronts in a stereo mode, not overpower the fronts. The ideal music listening setup is when you feel like all the sound are coming from your fronts. Bass is not something you should be able to locate. If you can, it is way too high...

The second case is what probably makes your experience worse. If you like to have real "punchy" bass, I assume that you used to have the bass turned up a little too much in your previous setup. There is nothing wrong with it, but it is just not what the sound engineers intended. Put back your old Promedia speakers, and get a SPL meter from RadioShack to measure your sub sound level. You can do it by outputting the test tone from your 1018. If bass level is higher than your front speakers, your bass level is too high. If this is the case, your ES-90 won't be able to give the bass you want. 36Hz is pretty low, but it is just not designed to rock like some car woofers. It is good at producing the accurate sound with a balance between high and low frequencies. So, if you want boomy bass, you definitely need a dedicated sub in your setup.

I've owned various models of old JBL E series (equivalent to new ES series), and they are indeed excellent speakers. I would not add a sub to E-50 fronts that have 8-inch woofers as long as I want to listen to music as it is recorded. For music, they are fine because music doesn't go as low as some movie tracks with explosions, etc. But, if you want to beef up the bass, you need a sub. ES-90's just won't be able to do it.

Since you already have the Promedia sub, you can hook it up to your 1080, or get a nicer sub. I definitely think though a much better subwoofer is more fitting to your setup, which already has really nice ES-90 speakers for your fronts. Hsu, Velodyne, Bic, SVS, and Dayton are a few names you might want to look into.

People have different tastes of sound, so there is nothing wrong with wanting more bass. However, I would recommend listening to music just with your ES-90's and see if you can get used to it, because that's actually what the musician wanted you to hear... ES-90's are more than capable of giving you that.

Just my 2 cents...
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Check to make sure you have your front speakers set to large / full range. Modern receivers can filter out low bass content for when you use a dedicated subwoofer. This setting would prevent low bass from making it to your speakers in the first place. If you can't get any real woofer movement then I'm guessing this is the problem.

Check to make sure your phase/connections are right. One +/- being switched will kill the bass (but you should still have cone excursion).

Positioning matters a lot in home audio. Having your speakers in corners, ~2-3 feet from each wall will typically produce the best bass response. If you have a large open area, or the speakers are far from any wall, or your listening position happens to fall in a "dead" spot, all those things can lead to weak bass performance.
I will try your suggestions and maybe it's because the system is so new. I have been pleased with the clarity so far. I just thought I would get more sound out of the ES-90's as large as they are. I guess I need to play around with the large/small speaker settings on the amp you referred to. As far as the sub etc...I bought a matching of JBL's including the 12" sub. I will have to play around with positioning of the speakers as suggested as well. Right now I am limited on room until I move, but I was overall concerned with the speakers sounding too flat. Anyhow, that was great information and I really appreciate the help.
I have the same setup as you, pio 1018 with JBL ES Series speakers except I added an Adcom GFA-555 amp to drive the front speakers. I have no sub and have no plans to get one. I just got done watching WALL-E and had no problems with bass. I am far from an audiophile but I love my JBL speakers. After I ran MCACC I copied Memory 1 to Memory 6 and then went into manual EQ and tweaked the settings to get better sound for music. I listen to hard rock, metal and punk and I frickin love my JBL'S they rock, of course thats just my opinion so whatever. Hope that helps.
That is exactly what I wanted to do with my front as well, but they seem weak and flat. Other than that I love the clear voice and looks, but it is missing that bass. I couldnt ever feel any air moving from the port in the back. I was wondering if I should have an amp....I will look into that. I hooked up my Klipsch promedia computer speakers last night to my PS3 with the Klipsch DD-5.1 digital decoder through the optical connection and played the same music cd and they put these JBL's to shame in the bass department and they are literally 20x smaller.
john1528golf....How did you hook up your ES-90's? They have 2 sets of wire connectors jumped together with that metal bracket right now. Did you seperate the connections out?
As I was playing around with my Pioneer 1018 reciever I stumbled across some nice information on page 59 in the manual about bi-amping the front speakers. Assuming you aren't using 7.1 surround (I'm using 5.1) you can take the surround back speaker jacks and run another speaker wire to the second set of wire connectors on your speaker....removing the metal bracket of course. That now gives me another 110 watts to each speaker. On paper anyways. I could definetly tell there was more bass in the music. It wasn't extented or as deep as a sub makes it but it was an improvement. It isn't what I would expect from woofers as big as these, but I can live with it. Especially having a 12 in sub to compliment them. I guess I've been use to having a sub with every system I've owned car and home.

As far as john and not needing/having a sub. I would definetly look into getting one. It does bring out some nice added sound. Thanks again for the help.
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