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Near field heaven - JohnBlue JB3

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I got a pair of JohnBlue JB3 from Ken at ALO.
Click pictures to enlarge.


I have been using Audioengine A2 for my PC setup and I was happy. However, I recently upgraded my sound card to DAL CardDeluxe which is designed for studio pro use. The result is a huge step up from former ONKYO consumer sound card. My previous card was PCI200 limited that is their flagship but the CardDeluxe wins hands down. DAL CardDeluxe sounding like a decent audio equipment, this is not a sound of PC peripherals anymore.
So I am thinking to upgrade other PC audio equipments as well. Oh boy, what a chain reaction ..

I already decided to use NuForce Icon as a speaker amp. Icon is a great little marvelous. I wanted a pair of passive speaker that is small enough as well as the sound is good.
I found some good small speakers domestically in Japan, but they are a bit expensive or a bigger than I expected. Nuforce S-1 could be another choice but I wanted a step beyond.

After some struggle on the net research, I finally found a good one - JohnBlue JB3.
As for detailed information about JB3, you can check the good review on the 6moons. JB3 has been chosen as their award winner.

Here is a manufacture link.

JB3s are well build for the price and the glossy finish is nice.
JB3 is a bit bigger than A2 but not so much heavier than it looks. JB3 still stay on desktop size category anyway.

I hooked it up with NuForce Icon using dedicated CAT5 cables. I also use NuForce enhanced power supply for Icon.
First, I was amazed by the unusual sense of spatial presentation. It's a true holographic 3D localization of the music instruments. This is something similar to surround DSP effects but needless to say no such implementation on this setup. I was just stunned.
I can easily point out the location that the sound comes from the empty space. A2 has a good localization too, but comparing to JB3, A2 lacks depth and space.
Yes the power of the Nuforce Icon surely contributes this magic, but I think the single driver of JB3 produce such a finesse. As single full-rangers are good to reproduce pin-point sound imaging without no phase problem caused by multi-drivers.


That's a strength of fullrangers, but people say the fullrangers always lack highs and low bottom end. But I hear huge bass response from JB3, include a bottom end. In fact, I made 25hz sign wave on the PC, JB3 responded to the low signal with faint tone but still listenable.
Highs are crisp and well extended. The dual cone of the JB3 driver would be the key as the Whizzer cone helps to reproduce the highs.

Overall impression on this Icon-JB3 combo is fairly good, they reproduce fine texture of the music instruments. The notes are popped up from the blacker background.
The sound is well defined but I do not think this is so analytical. I also noticed the sound signature difference to Audioengine A2.
A2 something sounded like a monitor. I meant it less colored and neutral. This is not bad at all. I guess this is because A2 was designed based on studio monitors like Genelec monitors or Yamaha NS10s.
However, JB3 sounds more richer and fuller, timbre is beautiful. JB3 delivers a sound for audiophile.

JB3 is a good companion for PC based near field listening setups. A bigger sound from a tiny package, JB3 brings a near field sound heaven. Check the price, you will be amazed
post #2 of 3
Hi Sasaki, I absolutely agree with you on how beautiful the NuForce Icon >> JohnBlue JB3 sound as nearfield speakers.
I almost did the exact same as you back in October '08 in considering what speakers I should purchase.

My PC Rig is as follows:
- FLAC/ALAC (Apple Lossless) [currently rebuilding my music collection into lossless]; MP3 (Lame Codec); AAC >>
- Asus Xonar D2X PCI-E soundcard >>
- NuForce Icon Desktop Amplifier (connected via Belkin 3.5mm interconnects. This will soon be replaced via Zu Audio's Zu Cable PIVOT/GEDE cables).

Since I started listening to my then new AKG K 701 and NuForce Icon early in 2008, I started to reject my current speakers at the time, the Logitech Z-4 2.1 PC speakers. They could not compare to my portable gear or my new desktop headphone gear, so I started saving money in order to buy an audiophile loudspeaker.

When I purchased the NuForce Icon, I decided that when the NuForce S-1 speakers come out and are reviewed, that the will be my next speakers. Right upto October, after much reading and carefull thought, I decided to not by the S-1's since they will require a subwoofer, and I wanted something a little more bespoke in both sound and looks (something that had a more audiophilic presentation of music than the S-1; something better).
I really wanted the Anthony Gallo A'Diva Ti loudspeakers, since they are highly acclaimed speakers that can (in the far future when I am not University student) be modified into a future home cinema setup, or combined with one of my favourite speakers, the AG Reference 3.1 speakers (but I now prefer the Reference 5LS). Yet these A'Diva's are sold individually and require a subwoofer also, so were out of my budget.
The AudioEngine A2 and A5 caught my eye, and I would have bought the A5 if it had not been for a review that I remember reading a few months before.

The JohnBlue AudioArt JB3 speakers, reviewed by 6moons.com.

The bass is so immense and articulate that I couldn't believe my ears (whereas I was once a very heavy bass head , as the Logitech Z-4 were ridiculous for its “destroy all music with bass” presentation to music, the K 701’s and these speakers showed me the ‘truth’ about bass).
The high's are crystal clear (but a little rolled off when compared with my AKG K 701's), and the treble is quite possibly the most appealing bit about these speakers.
But mostly, I love the clarity. They are so clear, just like my K 701's and my Etymotic ER-6i's canalphones (my Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 Pro's are very since, but are not as clear to me).

I love showing of these beautiful speakers to my friends (since we are all students, there music tastes, especially in rock, are similar to mine, but most have never heard of clear audiophile music, and appreciated music other types of music through my desktop rig). They are extremely amazed at the bass and clarity, and a few even went as far to say they that these are the best speakers they have ever heard (that also goes for my K 701’s after they listened to them).

It is unfortunate that I cannot get a hold of the upgraded power supple for my NuForce Icon in the UK, nor do I have speaker stands that can extend bass and soundstage (since my speakers are on my desk, against a wall, I cannot hear the full bass as it is reflected from the table and the wall. When I place my head closer to the wall between my speakers, the bass is far more pronounced).

I am considering in the (nearer, but still a long way off yet) future to buy a proper DAC (such as the DAC’s by Mhdt), use two valve amplifiers (say from Glow Amp or Woo Audio) as preamplifiers (or buy two valve preamplifiers), and then use two transistor amplifiers/power amps (such as Kingrex, or better).
This, I believe after much reading and research, will be a good setup, and will get the best of valve/transistor amps. I can also experiment and reverse the order, and use the transistor amps as preamps and the valve amps as power amps

In any case, thanks for your impressions and I am glad that someone out there also listens to the JB3’s with the NuForce Icon

“Day One Will Suffice”
The One In Yellow
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi The One In Yellow,
Thank you for your review! That is detailed and much informative, very good review.

I am now trying some 96/24 high-sampling sources on the PC setup. This is quite impressive experience.
Hope you will find a great DAC and that makes sounding even better.
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