It may surprise my readership to learn that I'm a fan of classic JBL efforts. I mean, it's not like I have written about JBL products in the past...
JBL is one of the earliest high fidelity audio
companies, with its founder James B. Lansing having operated a machine shop that
produced some of the best-made, highest tolerance devices available anywhere.
There are many iconic designs, including the ubiquitous L100, the incredible
design of the Paragon, the groundbreaking 4430 monitor, the always interesting
Everest series, and many, many
others. Such an iconic brand has garnered a fair bit of attention over the
years, and one of the most interesting places on the internet is the JBL fan
site, the Lansing
Heritage Site and their discussion
This site is a fan based effort, but has received official support from JBL, this support driven primarily by individuals who did or do work at JBL. I am going to remain intentionally obtuse about names during this article, to protect any members who may not wish to be identified more publicly. One exception is the founder of the Lansing heritage site, Don McRitchie (who goes by his real name on the forum). The site is over a decade old, and the massive efforts of Don and many others have led to this site having a wealth of information, including JBL product literature, technical documents, discussions ranging from pure DIY using JBL components to detailed threads on meticulous restoration and company history. These guys don't mess around- People have built DIY copies of the biggest and most complex JBL systems, matched paint colors, come up with duplicated grills to match the shaped foam of the "Quadrex Grills" and much, much more.
As a community of people with shared interest, there are many friendly people, and three years ago one such fellow decided to open his home to other members of the community. The subject of this article is the Third Annual Lansing Heritage Awards, meaning that for three years running, forumite Titanium Dome and his wife have graciously hosted a bunch of JBL/Lansing fiends in their lovely home in Southern California. The stated purpose of these events are to honor key JBL designers/personnel, and forum members come from as far away as Winnipeg to the Long Beach area to do so. Some contribute funds towards the hosting (beverages, etc) or the forum, one gentleman is a professional chef and made us some incredible eats, and the JBL men contributed both their legacy of wonderful knowledge and key insights into the JBL world. Rather than plagiarize the summaries of these gentlemen's accomplishments and numerous other summary details, I'll refer you to the forum thread, which details the JBL gentlemen associated with the event and has many other details at this link.
In addition to the wonderful people of the event, there was also lots of great gear. Titanium Dome has a bunch of cool JBL rigs in his house, each with their own strengths and personality.
The "Timbers Arrays" are a custom three-way based upon modern
JBL componentry, and with the design skills of Greg Timbers behind them. Greg is
a prior honoree, and has been very active in the forum and provided a lot of
help to a lot of people. There are also JBL subs peeking out from behind the
stand mounted mains.
The garage was dedicated museum space, with everything from
cone kits to a variety of JBLs best woofers and classic parts.
There is a huge amount more in the forum thread, and in the forum in general. Don't miss it- there's a lot of fun to be had. I got to talk driver design with one of the preeminent designers from JBL history, Doug Button, who made me feel like a million bucks when he said "good idea" about my idea to balance a pair of mismatched drivers. He, by the way, was honored at the second awards.