Not long ago, I had some friends over to listen to several sets of speakers I had in for review. After pouring over the same music tracks repeatedly, it was unanimous with the entire group that the smallest speaker ensemble of the bunch actually had the best overall performance. Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to speaker design. This is great news to apartment dwellers and homeowners looking for a smaller, and often cheaper, speaker system that brings excitement and realism to movies and music at home.
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Just as every television network has its own brand of reality show, speaker manufacturers each have their line of compact speakers. JBL's answer to high performance from a small package is the Surround Cinema Series of speakers. For a complete 6.1 home theater surround sound package, the JBL SCS160SI Cinema Speaker package uses discrete satellite speakers, a matched center channel and powerful subwoofer to envelop the listener in sonic enjoyment.
Unique Features - To achieve a 6.1 surround sound, JBL combined a center channel with five satellite speakers for the front left, front right, rear left, rear center, and rear right. The two-way satellites are larger than most other compact speakers, and integrate a half-inch titanium-laminate dome tweeter with dual three-inch mid-range drivers in a dark gray plastic cabinet with a black grille cloth. The center channel also has a half-inch titanium-laminate dome tweeter with dual three-inch mid-range drivers, but it is positioned horizontally on rubber feet. The speakers are video shielded for placement on or near a TV.
For down and dirty bass, a hefty bass reflex subwoofer enclosure with a FreeFlow flared port finishes off the package. The enclosure houses a 10-inch sub that is powered by an onboard 150-watt amplifier to match the high output of the satellites. The subwoofer enclosure has multiple wiring choices, including a dedicated LFE input from a compatible receiver.
Everything is included in the SCS160SI package to get started. JBL includes speaker cables for the subwoofer, surround and center speakers, and five wall-mount speaker brackets for installing the satellites on the walls.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
An alternative for the wall-mount brackets included in the system are optional JBL FS400BLK speaker stands. Sold in pairs, the stands eliminate the need to put holes in the wall and provide an easy way to adjust the location of each corner speaker to fit the size of the room. JBL was kind enough to provide two pairs of the plainly designed stands. Each stand consists of a heavy base, a three-foot tall metal rod and a triangular plastic bracket for the speaker to rest. The stands have an appealing look, but they are poorly designed. It's hard to imagine they are specifically made to hold the 2.65-pound SCS160SI satellites, because they shake and shimmy like that old hula girl lamp your father used to have. When untouched the stands are stable, but I was concerned my kids or dog would bump into them and they would come crashing to the floor. The wall mount brackets install easily with two screws each, but they can only be adjusted horizontally left or right, not tilted vertically up or down.
Read more about the performance of the JBL SCS160SI on Page 2.