JBL’s mighty little tower speaker is a keeper



JBL’s Stage A 170 tower audio system


In late 2018 I spent some high quality time with a few high-end JBL horn audio system, the 4429 and S3900. Good, however the 4429 sells for $5,000 a pair and the S3900 for $10,000 a pair! Excessive-end to make certain, so I additionally needed to spend some ears-on time with JBL’s significantly extra reasonably priced audio system and see how a lot of the magic trickled down. A number of emails have been exchanged and the corporate despatched the Stage A170 tower audio system to my house. They promote for simply $200 every on Amazon, how would they fare?

The A170s price as a lot as an honest set of stand mount audio system, however they take up the identical quantity of house and also you needn’t purchase stands.

It is a “two and a half means” design with a pair of 5.25-inch polycellulose woofers, and a 1-inch aluminum tweeter set right into a waveguide that focuses the A170’s high-frequency dispersion. The 2 and a half half means the 2 woofers are assigned barely totally different duties. The decrease woofer works solely as a woofer; the higher woofer goes simply as low, but additionally reaches increased to mix with the tweeter. The A170’s impedance is rated at 6 ohms.

The black vinyl wrap end is not fancy, however the general construct high quality is sweet. Black material grilles are included, and the rear baffle hosts two bass ports and durable bi-wire speaker cable connectors. The A170 is 37 inches tall, however simply 7.5 inches broad and due to this fact is likely to be by chance tipped over, so JBL contains outrigger toes that may be fitted with both carpet piercing spikes or rubber toes to boost stability.

The Stage lineup options two extra bigger towers, the A180 ($280 every) and A190 ($360 every), and two bookshelves, the A120 ($160 a pair) and A130 ($250 a pair). If you happen to’re fascinated by a house theater multichannel setup add one of many Stage middle channel audio system, the A135C ($250 every) or A125C ($200 every), and a powered sub, both the A120P ($450) or A100P ($350). Arising in a number of weeks I am going to assessment the A130 bookshelf speaker.


The entire JBL Stage lineup


The sound of JBL

I auditioned the A170 with a NAD C 316BEE built-in amp and an Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray participant for many of my listening assessments. Late within the assessment I moved as much as a Schiit Aegir energy amp operating immediately off the ‘203’s analog outputs, and my respect for the thin A170s sound solely grew stronger.

The A170 made very ample bass, and it wasn’t simply the amount of the bass, but additionally the high quality of it. The sound took me again to the heady days of the 1970s when JBL was almost each rock music fan’s dream speaker. These roots run deep.

The heritage shone via: This speaker made a joyful sound; even when performed fairly loud it did not overtly pressure or flip harsh. Bass definition was good, nevertheless it’s the midbass texture/definition that grabbed and held my consideration. When the necessity arose the A170 may ship the nice and cozy growl of a baritone sax or the woody resonance of an acoustic bass.

The midrange was properly dealt with as nicely, there was a very good sense of physique and heat on vocals. The tweeter may sound a tiny bit aggressive when the audio system have been angled in, firing immediately on the listening place. The repair was simple sufficient: Simply cut back the toe-in; the treble smoothed out, and the sound was sweeter that means.

The A170 wasn’t as vivid because the Klipsch RP 600M bookshelf speaker ($550 a pair), and that one’s dynamics kicked more durable general. Then once more, the ‘600M did not have near the bass oomph of the A170. Each have been terrific, however most A170 homeowners would not want so as to add a subwoofer for music, the ‘600M would profit with some low bass help.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s 2010 album Mojo had loads of stand up and go. I like that the sound of this album is straight forward, with out flashy studio methods, only a nicely honed band laying down terrific tracks. Particularly Steve Ferrone’s drumming, he is driving the tunes, and the A170s actually delivered the products.

German prog-rock pioneers Can‘s Future Days album positively lit up the A170s! The fierce polyrhythms have been performed with gusto, and the sheer great thing about the melodic strains of this 1972 album may nonetheless flooring me. Future Days’ stereo combine is expansive, and the A170s did a very good job presenting the soundstage depth that makes this music so particular.

The JBL Stage A170 is a slam-dunk winner, and constructive proof that “giant” audio system have it throughout equally priced bookshelf, aka stand mount, audio system! If you happen to’re simply now beginning to get critical in regards to the sound of your music, the A170 deserves your full consideration.


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