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JBL LX55 Restoration

Discussion in 'The Lansing Legacy' started by jozeppy26, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    I’m just now getting to work on a pair of JBL LX55 speakers I picked up from goodwill a few weeks back for a whopping $4.99 each. I knew nothing really about them at the time but operated on the assumption that all JBL speakers are worth at least $10. Cabinets are a walnut VINYL veneer unfortunately but such is life with “newer” (post 1970s) audio components. The front is in good condition, veneer is peeling in the back but is intact and looks to be easily re-adhereable, the grill cover fabric is a bitted tattered requiring new fabric (super cheap at Joann’s), and the woofers need refoamed. Luckily the front foam (some sort of reflection damping material) is in great shape and cones aren’t dented. Thank goodness for grill covers! Research on audiokarma seems to indicate that these are fairly decent sounding bass heavy (has rear port) consumer grade speakers that originally sold for $400 back in 1989-1992.
     

     

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  2. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    Messages:
    2,217
    Just remember that the new surrounds get glued to the back of the cone and not the front.
    Any JBL types will look at that and can instantly tell if the person who refoamed them knew what they were doing (or not).

    Have 2 prs. LX-22 & 2 prs. LX-44 and love 'em,so I'd have jumped on these LX-55 for that price,that was absolutely a no brainer in my book.
    And despite being covered in vinyl,the cabinets on the LX series speakers are very stout & well braced to boot.

    And I would'nt call 'em bass heavy myself,The bass is accurate & tight so IMHO it's just right.

    Where folks tend to have problems with this series is the Ti tweeters. Some folks just dont like metal tweeters...
    Same as some folks just dont like horns (or any number of other various aspects of a given speaker).

    Another thing that affects the tweeter situation is the damping foam for those 026Ti tweeters.
    When that damping foam drys up and disintegrates they often become less listenable for many folks.

    Midrange is really nice on these speakers too,so yeah I like that 405G midrange.

    Be sure to post up some before/in-progress/after pics too. :thumbsup:

    Bret P.
     
    jozeppy26 likes this.
  3. kirkendoll

    kirkendoll Luke.kirk on instagram Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,176
    Location:
    clinton, arkansas
    The LX-55 speaks are probably my favorite speakers to pair with my single ended el84 tube amp. They have beaten out jbl 4312a, klipsch hersey, and Norman laboratories model 8s. They sound good playing a wide range of music styles too. Accurate just like Xero-D-hero said.
    1513564882244515903340.jpg
     
  4. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Exciting to hear! I can’t wait to listen to them after the refoam! I’ll definitely post pics before and after when the replacement surrounds arrive.
     
  5. Zonker92

    Zonker92 All shiny and chrome Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,197
    Location:
    Central CA
    I redid a $15 CL pair: Refoamed the woofers, plus I think (??) new crossover caps ... gave them to my son's buddy and he's loving them; I was impressed how good they sound considering the vinyl cabs and stamped driver baskets; really quite decent for the money.
     
  6. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Are there any speakers post 1980 that aren’t vinyl? It at least got way more rare right? What caps were in there? Electrolytic?
     

     

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  7. swechsler

    swechsler Frog Whisperer

    Messages:
    5,238
    Location:
    7th row center
    Plenty, but most of them were on the expensive side. There were a few exceptions, even from Radio Shack - the Minimus 7W and the Optimus LX-4 being two examples.
     
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  8. Zonker92

    Zonker92 All shiny and chrome Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,197
    Location:
    Central CA
    I barely remember whether I recapped them, but if I did, I'm sure the caps were 'lytics.
     
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  9. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Man oh man I miss RadioShack
     
  10. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Are the lytic caps old enough to be significantly out of spec? Other crossovers I’ve worked on have been 10-15 years older than these.
     
  11. Zonker92

    Zonker92 All shiny and chrome Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,197
    Location:
    Central CA
    I'm no expert on cap aging, but my vague notion is that anything over, say, ten years old is going to be a bit dried out and out of spec. I suspect it also varies with how much current (use) they've seen.
     

     

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  12. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Alright I finally was able to get to this project (The past few months had me busy moving, buying a house, unpacking, house projects, etc) BUT I finally managed to finish these.

    Before:

    DE891C43-43AA-4442-85E7-54AE88E18F15.jpeg DD0A9C4D-D448-4BB7-AAE4-1909E7964CC1.jpeg
     
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  13. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Alright first thing is first, foam surround replacement on those woofers. I’m very meticulous in removing the old adhesive and foam residue and of course shimming and replacing the dust cap.

    9C88BF34-EAE5-4BCA-9DC3-150834EA4609.jpeg 90DE28AD-EB23-4AFC-9BA7-4AAF498D7E68.jpeg 86469608-BE55-47A3-8F94-0C913D57574B.jpeg 1D5D8FC7-59C4-4D28-BF14-04374C785D72.jpeg

    Side note:
    I found a lollipop melted inside. Yay I got to clean that up. :wtf:

    93BE7305-B9F5-4420-AD26-9A204135A0B0.jpeg

    Now checkout what I found inside the other cabinet. Yep, that’s a pacifier.

    4DB4732B-0B43-4C5B-8F8E-F0F9C76938EF.jpeg
     
  14. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Next it was cleanup time. The great thing about them being vinyl is all I had to do was grab a bottle of generic multisurface cleaner spray and some paper towels. I got lazy and also did this on the foam along the front. I ALMOST got fancy and used ethanol/water mix but I was lazy. I did use a lint free cloth for this however. I used the same lint free cloth and tap water to dust off the midrange cone and surround and plastic tweeter cover.

    I used small trips of clear tape to pull out the punched in dust covers on the midrange cones.

    812D25D2-F05E-426B-984A-31CDC9805A10.jpeg CD15D499-ABB3-4484-B0F3-FACFB150E851.jpeg 1D4C64B0-D59D-45DD-BFAE-6C0382EB7B9B.jpeg


    Grill covers were cleaned but have numerous snags and a few dime sized holes. I’m afraid the fabric just needs to be replaced. I’ll do this eventually (especially if I plan to sell these) along with replacement JBL badges for the grill covers.
     
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  15. jozeppy26

    jozeppy26 Active Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    General Sound Impression:
    Punchy, upfront, and unremarkable.


    At first they sound bright but this seems to be fairly inconsistent. At certain times you start to think you’re about to develop fatigue. Other times you crave an almost crisp harshness that it’s lacking. These highs aren’t often blended well with the rest of the “body” of sound.

    By body I guess I mean mids. It sounds very disjointed and separate to me. If I’m listening to “Yellow” by Coldplay, the line “oh yeah, your skin and bones” I can clearly tell that the tweeter is pushing the crisp “Ssss” sounds and the midrange is pushing the rest of the word. The music at the chorus sounds muddled and undetailed here as well.

    This unfortunately isn’t always backed up by the woofer either. These sections are lacking in that “oomph” or depth. Yes it’s punchy but again disjointed. Something isn’t blending well, although it’s blending in much better than the mid and highs. The bass also doesn’t extend very low either. Don’t get be wrong they have bass, it’s just this bass is primarily mid and high bass. A kick drum is present and at a good volume BUT you don’t feel it at all. There’s a lot of low low bass that’s completely absent. On a positive note, however, these speakers really do not sound all that “boomy” to me. It really excels here in my opinion. The bass is also pretty musical and not at all like an explosion played through a cheap subwoofer. And this bass isn’t too quiet compared to the volume of mids and highs. The volume across the board is pretty balanced. Other speakers will often play low low bass but at a very quiet volume when compared to the guitar. These JBL speakers just drop the low low bass and play low to mid bass at a balanced volume with the mids.

    The soundstage is fairly narrow. Music lacks a ton of air and “width”. It’s like you pushed a rock band closer together on a small stage. You feel like you’re in a small room.

    All in all these speakers, while balanced in volume across a relatively limited audio spectrum, sound small and undefined. They’re punchy and sound best with loud pop music. These aren’t your “China cat Sunflower” speakers that make you want to lie back and and absorb every detail as music surrounds your body and soul.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  16. jblnut

    jblnut Don't Overthink It Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,475
    Location:
    Boston Area
    The LX44/55 sound great, right up until you have them next to a pair of 4410/4412 or something similar. Then all of the cost cutting in the LX line becomes fairly obvious and you realize how much distortion the cheaper drivers and crossovers are adding. I still think they are a great value (especially with prices on the other JBL's going outta sight), but they are what they are - an early 90's "Big Box" speaker system built to a price point.

    I'm keeping my 44's until my kids are all outta college. They'll make a fine dorm room system I think and I wouldn't sell them for the small amount they are worth.

    jblnut
     
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