TAVES 2016: Harman International shows Mark Levinson, Revel and JBL
By Richard H. Mak
Here is a room which I would not have found if it wasn’t for the majestic sound of trumpets from Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollände (The Flying Dutchman). I followed the sound down the corridor and found the Harmon International room blasting music on a pair of Revel Ultima 2 Series (CAD $36,000). Front end equipment is a computer sending digital signals to a Mark Levinson No. 526 Dual Mono Preamp with DAC & Phono (CAD$ 28,999) and a single chassis No. 534 Dual Mono 250W Power Amplifier (CAD $28,999). Also on display is a No. 585 Integrated Amplifier (CAD $ 19,500). I was unsure as to which amplifier they were playing, but whichever amps it was, it had sufficient oomph to fill the big room with Wagnerian sounds. Before I had the chance to listen further, they asked us to turnaround to face the other direction as they were just about ready to play the JBL Everest.
The LEGO happy faced JBL Everest DD67000 (CAD $ 120,000) is a daunting speaker which immediately grabs your attention. With dual 15″ woofers and a width over 3 feet wide, one will need to factor in real estate considerations before thinking about buying these behemoths. I imagine the room will have to be at least 20-25 feet wide in order for them to look aesthetically proportional.
I bought my first pair of JBL L56 when I was just 12 years old and have been a fan every since. I still own them to this day. I’ve also had a pair of the famous blue faced JBL 4343 which I later sold to a Russian buyer for more than what I paid for them.
They demoed a variety of short 1-2 minute clips from Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme, “Jazz Variants” from the Ozone Percussion Group, and also “Tin Pan Alley” from Steve Ray Vaughan, obviously trying to show off and grab as much of your attention span as possible before you hit another room- and they did convincingly. The name Everest is quite an apt description as they sounded majestic, it is the most realistic and lifelike sounding system of the entire show, and if you were standing outside of the room you would have probably mistaken it to be a real band playing because the sound of instruments was weighty, solid and BIG! JBL has also done a great job cleaning up the boxy nasalish sound of the old blue faced 4344 or 4354. They carry a top end which reminds me of old Altec Lansing horns, maybe not as quite airy or open, but there is definitely a strong resemblance. Vocals are seductive, while mid frequencies are natural and organic. With dual 15″ woofers, you bet they can kick ass if they wanted to. For a full scale large setup, the JBLs are definitely my cup of tea. Whether my wife would allow me to place a pair in the living room, that’s another story. With their grill on one can easily mistaken them for a furniture cabinet.
The rest of the system consist of a No. 519 Digital Audio Player (CAD$ 28,999), and pair of 400W No. 536 Mono Power Amplifier (CAD$ 24,100 ea).