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Paradoxically the death of JBL’s founder facilitated a cash infusion. Jim Lansing had secured a high life insurance in the name of his company. Now payment of this policy helped save the business. It was company treasurer William Thomas who reactivated James B. Lansing Sound Inc. After buying one-third of its shares from Lansing’s wife, he became its sole owner. In 1969 JBL was purchased by Jervis Corporation, part of Harman Kardon. Now Jervis Corp. changed its name to Harman International Industries Inc. and Arnold Wolf, creator of the Paragon's industrial design, became JBL's president. It's worth noting that Wolf is also credited with the JBL logo.

JBL Everest DD66000

As the iconic product of early JBL years, the Paragon was referred to as the company’s second project speaker. The first had been the Hartsfield. In 1980s an urgent need arose to develop a new flagship or third 'project'. The Project Everest became the brainchild of Bruce Scrogin, president of JBL International. Since the Paragon whose production ended in 1983 sold almost exclusively to Japan, it was decided that the new flagship speaker would be targeted exclusively at that market. As consultant JBL hired Keizo Yamanaka, one of the best-known Japanese audio journalists (such co-operation between audio journalists and manufacturers is quite common in Japan where almost every prominent editor has a contract with one of the big companies).

The project originally meant to create an upgraded version of the already existing design consumed much time and money. However its extensive evolution led to a final configuration that was based on a new concept unlike anything created before: the DD55000 Project Everest. DD stood for defined directivity, an original Don Keele concept to provide a wider optimum imaging area by using asymmetrically positioned speakers. Project Everest was a giant success. Over 500 pairs sold. Given their price, that was a staggering number. It remained in production until the 1989 launch of the smaller K2. Design work on the latter had begun a year earlier. The plan was to introduce a new flagship speaker every four or five years. Whilst the Everest had been a singular model, K2 was designed to launch an entire speaker series. The basic premise was a two-way looking similar to the Everest but with a simpler design. T
JBL Everest DD55000

The K2-S9500 range topper's concept again came from Bruce Scrogin who assembled almost the same team of engineers and designers as before to execute it. All drivers and crossovers were from the ground unlike the Everest which used pre-existing drivers. The K2 featured a bi-radial horn and in 1989 the K2-S9500 and K2-S7500 were presented to the press. In 1993 the smallest K2-S5500 joined them. I happen to still remember its European début at the Berlin IFA show. Harman Kardon had rented the entire Berlin Opera to hold demonstrations, concerts and associated events. It was the first and only time I spent a six full days at any audio show.

The K2-S5500 pioneered a crossover referred to as 'charge-coupled linear definition dividing network' by using used a battery to maintain a constant biasing voltage. This was to minimize distortion by preventing the music signal from crossing the capacitors' dielectric zero-point [a technique once again used by Avantgarde Acoustic – Ed]. Although the smallest of the series, the speakers looked fantastic and sounded just as good.

JBL Everest DD66000

At the beginning of the 21st century or 2003 to be precise, we had the launch of the K2 S9800 followed by the K2 S9900 a few years later. Both were based on the Project Everest. As early as 2002 however work had begun on the revitalization of the original Everest. Planned for the company’s 60th anniversary and presented in 2006, the DD66000 was destined for success. It received awards all over the world, especially from the Japanese Stereo Sound magazine which had similarly awarded all of its previous incarnations. The story ends with a broadening of the Everest series. A few years ago JBL launched the DD65000 and this year the most expensive DD67000 with its distinctive front baffle of carbon fibre.

JBL Everest DD67000

It so happens that during CES and thus also in 2013, JBL presented one of its least expensive iterations of these speakers as the S3900. That's a three-way with a 25cm woofer and medium-high frequency driver covering 850Hz to 12kHz. Jim Garrett, director of sales and marketing for the Harman Luxury Audio Group and Loudspeakers, says that one of its design objectives was to be easier to set up and position than the S4700 introduced a year earlier whilst maintaining the advantages of the Project Everest DD67000 and Project K2 S9900. The design uses dual paper cone woofers with very large 3-inch coils. Its 175Nd-3 medium-high frequency driver with AquaPlas treated Titanium diaphragm and neodymium magnet loads into a bi-radial horn. The 138Nd ultra HF driver with its pure Titanium diaphragm also loads such a bi-radial horn.