access all areas 5 titanium cones, the sadly hidden-behind-thescreen Project Array enclosures are big, bad and purposeful-looking, with that typical professional audio feel of a gangster dressed up in a smart suit. The logo plate and the lustrous look are gorgeous, but they still appear dangerous, as do the plain rectangular subwoofers. These have large ports and ribbed paper cones in the front that seem a bit old school, but nowadays they have insane motors on their behinds. Having been sensible and done all my notetaking first (just in case I came over all excited and useless once I’d had my demo) it was finally time to fire up some multichannel material. JBL chose a scene from Pixar’s Ratatouille – the intro sequence with the old lady with the shotgun – which is probably what I’d have picked, too. The first thing I noticed from the Synthesis setup was an incredibly taut yet unstrained snap and attacking front edge to all the bangs, crashes and tinkles of glass. Then there was its breathtaking dynamism (or ability to get suddenly louder) and absurd panache when resolving detail in the midst of mayhem. All things a home cinema system demands, in fact.
Then, when the sequence moves onto a sewer as the rats all escape, the watery noises and placement were mind-blowing – the sheer wetness of the effect had me ducking. It must be in the performance of the high reaching compression drivers, called Ultra High Frequency transducers, that makes this happen. All I know is it made every hair on my body stand up.
And as for the bass end of the system – well, it was stupefying.
Massive and effortless in scale, yet tight and visceral, so that the whole experience had the professional bent of a ‘real’ high-end commercial cinema, but different. That difference was that it was simply better...
Top of the pile If you can afford one, a JBL Synthesis system is at the very top end of home cinema audio. The build, technology and level of service provided is first-rate, and the overall experience of hearing one of these setups in full flow is phenomenal. This isn’t about bird song and tinkling streams – it’s more soaring eagles’ cries and thunderous waterfalls
➜ Specifications JBL Synthesis 1400 Project Array BG L/R (£4,250 each) Drive units: 1 x JBL 14in bass; 1 x 3in compression driver; 1 x 1in compression driver Enclosure: 3-way ported Frequency response: 32Hz-40kHz Sensitivity: 89dB Power handling: 10-300W Dimensions: 394(w) x 1181(h) x 483(d)mm Weight: 52kg Connections: Binding posts JBL Synthesis 880 Project Array BG centre (£2,800) Drive units: 2 x JBL 8in bass; 1 x 3in midrange; 1 x 1in compression driver Enclosure: 3-way sealed Frequency response: 70Hz-40kHz Sensitivity: 90dB Power handling: 10-200W Dimensions: 730(w) x 311(h) x 279(d)mm Weight: 21kg Connections: Binding posts JBL Synthesis PT800 Performance Series surrounds (£1,250 each) Drive units: 1 x JBL 8in bass; 1 x 4in midrange; 1 x 1in tweeter Enclosure: 3-way sealed Frequency response: 80Hz-22kHz Sensitivity: 91dB Power handling: 50-250W Dimensions: 343(w) x 610(h) x 152(d)mm Weight: 17kg Connections: Binding posts JBL Synthesis S2S subwoofer (£1,400) Drive units: 1 x 15in bass Enclosure: Front-firing quad-ported Frequency response: 25-80Hz Sensitivity: 94dB Dimensions: 533(w) x 699(h) x 401(d)mm Weight: 50kg Connections: Binding posts
F F: CSE’s audition room features luxury seating and acoustic treatments to match the high-end hardware G: With its grille in place, the surround speaker blends in seamlessly with the décor
JBL Synthesis S1S-EX Everest subwoofer (£2,200) Drive units: 1 x 18in bass Enclosure: Front-firing triple ported Frequency response: 20Hz-200Hz Sensitivity: 97dB Dimensions: 533(w) x 876(h) x 559(d)mm Weight: 58.6kg Connections: Binding posts Five x JBL S820 Amplifiers and 1 x S5165 Amplifier SDP-40HD system processor SDEC 4500 for digital EQ and crossover Cables by Straightwire
G Home Cinema Choice
Exclusive look at JBL's flagship home cinema speakers, from Home Cinema Choice magazine