JBL S119

October   1 9 8 8 october 1988

No, this is not an Aquarius 4 : this an S119.

If looks are almost identical, the internal structure of the S119 is completely different than that of the 1970s Aquarius 4.

The original Aquarius 4 was a two-way with an LE8T placed horizontally, firing upward to a conical diffuser for 360° dispersion, and a back-firing LE20 placed at the back of the top enclosure, also with its own (small) diffuser.

The S119 simplified matters a lot, in terms of manufacturing : out went the LE8T, out went the back-firing LE20, in came four LE8T-2 tweeters placed in the corners of the top opening - 360° dispersion at little cost !

The lower bass-reflex vent was kept but rectangular, much smaller and lower than that of the original Aquarius 4 ; it is partly closed by a metal grille with tiny little holes.

The terminals of the S119 are located at the bottom of the enclosure ; they are very cheap standard plastic pinch types allowing only very small-size cables to be used.

The filter itself is placed atop the 108H, at the bottom of the top enclosure.
Said top enclosure was therefore maintained for the looks and the added bass resonance it could give, but for nothing else...

Finish is visibly not too high-end, despite the very consequent pricing : basic MDF with thin veneer added.
Three finishes were nevertheless available :
S119WX : basic wood veneer,
S119BK : piano black shiner,
S119WH : semi-shiny white.

The S119 clearly was an attempt at selling an old idea rehashed with little effort into markets which go coo-coo at the mere pronunciation of the magic JBL word :)

And the market there was propitious to such efforts : among other models, JBL kept versions of the famed (and magnificent) Paragon available in Japan later than anywhere else.
Even Acoustic Research made a revival of its AR3a 1950s masterpiece (which I have owned and regret) around the same timeframe.

However, the S119 drivers were all shielded and therefore could be used in an A/V system for luxurious home-theater thrills. Thrills which, in 1988, in Japan, were already starting to boom (boom) loudly - now the marketing image looks clearer ;-)

At 256,000¥ per pair, Harman doesn't seem to have sold many pairs but surely made hefty profits on each.
But that much money could buy much better speakers, even at JBL, especially at JBL.

The history of the (real) Aquarius of course at audioheritage.org.

An S119 with a clearly shown structure at hifi-do, another one still at hifi-do showing the BK dust-gatherer version... and... the real thing.

JBL S119, image 1 JBL S119, image 2
JBL S119 specifications
Title Value
Type : 2-way bass-reflex
Drivers : 1x 108H (20cm)
4x LE20T-2 (2,5cm)
SPL : 86dB / W /1m
Nominal impedance : 8 Ohm
Frequency response : 40Hz...20Khz
Input power : 100W
Peak input power : 400W
Crossover : 3Khz / 12dB/octave
Dimensions : 101,6 x 25,4 x 25,4cm
Weight : 20kg.
List price : 2x 128,000¥ (reissue, 1988)
111,000¥ (Aquarius original, 1972)
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