How do you improve upon a classic? If you're JBL, you revive a classic speaker like the iconic 1970s L100 Classic by keeping the retro charms but modernising it with new engineering and technology for today's audience, and still deliver a hugely thrilling, capable sound.
And so we had immense fun listening to the revived and popular JBL L100 Classic loudspeakers when we reviewed them a few years ago, praising their big, bold, enthusiastic character that also handles the delicate, insightful aspects when needed. But JBL clearly isn't content to sit on its laurels for too long. So how do you improve upon a new five-star Classic? Why, you bring out a second edition with improvements throughout, of course!
Say hello to the new MkII editions of the L100 Classic and its smaller sibling L82, both of which have been revealed at High End Munich this week. The two new models have had "significant internal upgrades" courtesy of the company's "Performance Package", which promises a significant step up in sound quality over the MK1 predecessors.
What does the "Performance Package" update entail, you ask? Well, all the drivers in each speaker have been refined, for starters. The woofer (30cm in the L100, 20cm mid/bass in the L82) has an upgraded design to improve its linearity, which should minimise distortion even further. Meanwhile, the tweeter – a 25mm titanium dome used in both models – and the L100's 12.5cm midrange cone have been treated to "refinements that deliver higher performance levels," says JBL.
Other changes include updating the crossover design to accommodate dual inputs for bi-wiring, and polishing up the binding post terminals with two new sets of "premium gold-plating" to offer a more "secure connection" to a wider range of speaker cables and connections.
The rest of the speaker design remains the same, including the vintage aesthetic defined by a walnut veneer finish and the configuration (three-way in L100, two-way in L82). Both Classic MkII speakers still sport those incredibly quirky and appealing Quadrex foam grilles in either orange, blue or black. These new editions will be available in the second quarter of 2023.
What does this update do to their pricing? Rather surprisingly, there hasn't been a huge jump up at all from the predecessors. The JBL L100 Classic MkII will cost £3998 / €4500 / $4800 per pair (the previous L100 cost £3999 / $4000 when we tested them in 2019), while the smaller L82 Classic MkII will cost £1999 / €2250 / $2400 (originally £1999 / $2500 when we reviewed them in 2020).
Will the new editions live up to their promise (and our expectations set by the predecessors)? We can't wait to find out, once we get review samples into our listening rooms in the coming months.
Check out all the latest hi-fi news from High End Munich 2023
Read our full JBL L100 Classic review