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Revisiting Jim Rogers JR149s

Discussion in 'classic' started by Tony L, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Finally, after about 5 years of quietly looking, I now have a nice tidy pair of JR149s:


    I started my hi-fi journey with a pair of these and have been very interested to revisit them for quite a while - I remember loving them. I've been holding off for either a boxed pair or a pair locally and in as close to mint condition as possible as they are just something I'd like to have knocking around. This pair are boxed, though much to my horror when unpacking they were missing the top styrofoam insert that holds the tops apart - I was expecting them to be ruined as a result, especially as the only additional packaging the seller had thrown in was a few of those polythene airbag things. Amazingly they survived the jorney without any scars. UK Mail can be highly recommended as a courier! Cosmetically they are very nice indeed, clean undinged wood and scratch-free metal crossover bases. As nice a looking pair as I've seen in a long while.


    Ok, being really pedantic I'd have prefered a pair in whatever the dark wood finish my first red-logo pair were in back when I bought them (second hand) in 1978, I think they may have been rosewood, can't remember, but hey, 1970s teak is cool too!


    They even came with the original 'Serge Auckland-compatible' grey bell-wire, but I've stuck that in the box and re-terminated them with some thinish Van-Damme Blue studio stuff I had knocking around - I stuck some neat little spades on the end. It's actually about as good a cable as one could get into the speakers without modifications. It's good enough for sure.

    It looks like the speakers had been stored somewhere just a little damp as the fuses and crossover terminals have oxidised a bit. I swapped the fuses over with the spares that were still in their original plastic bags in the crossover cavity as they were a little less tarnished. I plonked them on some heavy sand-filled Soundstyle Z1 stands that I had knocking about from when I tried some little ProAcs a while back and fired 'em up. Ran a few sweeps to make sure all drivers were present and correct with no buzzes, rattles etc. All sounding good, though pink noise does have a very slightly different timbre left to right. I'll come back to that. I'm confident I've two good B110s and two good T27s.

    Initial impressions: Christ on a bike, these things have some treble! I was expecting no bass, but not this bright! I moved them as close to the record shelving behind as I could get them and still get records out and started listening. Sounding very good, but just too toppy for me. Given they had evidence of some slight oxidisation on the crossover I thought it might be a good idea to spray some switch cleaner in the tweeter trim-pots and give them a jiggle (remembering where they were, obviously). Lucky I did as I quickly discovered they were both set on maximum! Now, I've no idea where they are meant to be set, but I'm betting it's not full on - if it was there wouldn't be a trim-pot! I've now set them both at the exact mid-point in their travel and the speakers sound so much better.

    I've still got a very slight descrepency on pink noise, I suspect I may need to check the cabs are still properly air-tight, but that can wait. I also need to figure out if the crossover needs recapping - the caps don't look like electrolytics to me (they appear to be plastic with plastic film ends), but they do have 'Elcap' written on them, so I've no idea. Maybe someone here can advise. I know Falcon have a cap kit, so it's no issue if it needs doing. My aim is to restore these only, not tweak / "upgrade" them. I'll obviously be needing grills too, and, unbelievably annoyingly, the guy who has been making them and selling them on eBay has stopped doing so and has no intention of making more, so I'll have to get some custom fabricated (they've got to look right!). Luckily in the US seem to do it, and Graham (the eBay seller) gave me the specs so I'll get some ordered later.

    Off to have another listen…
  2. lexi

    lexi pfm Member

    Surprising how many people come back to where they started. Like fishing from the shore, then progressing to fancy boats. It all gets complicated and you end up back on the shore again .

    By the way, was that Pink Noise 1st album or their second? :D
  3. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    When I first got interested in hifi in the 70s I wanted a pair of Monitor Audio MA4s. Couldn't afford them at the time, but I now use a pair as part of the computer desktop system.

    I always likes the JR 149s too, I certainly don't remember them being as bright as Tony's were before they were trimmed.
  4. Mignun

    Mignun pfm Member

    A Rega Planar 2, Sansui amp and a pair of JR-149s at Uni. Many happy hours including one particular evening spent utterly hypnotised by The Sisters of Mercy album, First and last and Always, which totally got under the skin played back on that little system.

    I decided I had to revisit so bought a lovely pair of JR149s from a fellow PFMer a few years back. Yup, they still so it.
  5. Mr Tibbs

    Mr Tibbs Infinitely Baffled Member

    They are bipolar electrolytic caps. Had a look there at Falcon's replacement capacitor kit - basically like for like so not an upgrade as such so would be in keeping with your 'no-tweaking' aim. I'd be in there like a shot with some Solens if there is room for them but I can understand you wanting to keep them as original as possible. On that point, you might find those Elcap's will need some time playing music (maybe a week) before they settle down and give a consistent sound. I'd give them some time before reaching for the soldering iron - that's if you really want to keep them as un-tweaked as possible.

    They look great BTW. Never heard a pair so am interested in what you make of them.

    Mr Tibbs
  6. spet0114

    spet0114 REMPI Member

    That's a real shame - did he say why?

  7. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    Am I the only person zooming in on the software on Tony's photos? Yep? Ok.
  8. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Had a good play for a couple of hours. The 149s seem to like being a fair way out into the room and a fair way apart, I've got them a bit further forward and wider apart than the Tannoys or MEGs. In that position they produce a very wide and well defined soundstage and gain stature in the process - it plays to their strengths. Since adjusting the tweeter they no longer sound bright, just very clean an open, and obviously rather lean in comparison to 15" Tannoys! The bass is actually really good; tight, fast, clean and surprisingly deep. I'd take it over any ported speaker of their size I've ever heard - it plays no stunts: no chuff, no blow, no hollowness etc. Very easy to follow basslines etc if ultimately lacking weight. I bet they'd cross beautifully to a sub.

    The top and mid are lovely. Far better than I remember from my first pair (which I never knew how to setup properly). I'm sure much of the 'tizz' the T27 always got accused of (though not in the 149 as I recall) was down to the likely incorrectly loaded and overly-light-tracking MM carts etc of the day. I've only played digital through them so far and the top is beautifully clean and extended to my ears, which admittedly don't go up anywhere near as far as they did when I owned the first pair....


    That was my bedroom as a 16 year old! I had a lot to learn!

    Thanks for that, I'll run them for a few weeks and see what they do. Here's a better shot of the crossover:


    I think just running the speakers for a few hours today has woken everything up a bit. As is often the case with overnight couriers they arrived remarkably cold, they must store parcels in a fridge, I guess it will take a while for the driver surrounds to loosen up again etc.
  9. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    What's the LP on the bed Tony?
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I have absolutely no idea! I tried to figure it out when I scanned the neg a few months ago, but there's just not enough cover visible to go on. The pic would have been before the 'great new wave clearout' of 1980, so could be anything from prog to punk.
  11. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    Get some Kans..............
  12. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    Nearest thing I can think is the 12" single of Elvis Costello's A Man Out Of Time...which was too late being 1982...
  13. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    It's nice to see no signs of overheating around the power resistors in the crossover. This means that they have not been thrashed
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I've had three pairs of the things, surely that's enough! ;-)

    PS FWIW I'm convinced these are a lot better.

    I've never owned that one. Looking at it the picture is really early (the Lenco still had the M75EJ with a 'straightened' cantilever that came with it, plus no Quad FM3). As far as I can make out looking at a higher res image in Aperture the Lenco is on 33, but I can't be sure. It must be just after I got that system, so I'd have actually only been 15, and at that point I had little in the way of punk or new wave, probably only Devo's 1st album, Stranglers Rattus, Pistols NMTB and Power In The Darkness by TRB. I was a real Floyd fan as a kid, so there's a chance it might be an obscure bootleg, and I'd never recognise that sort of thing now. I also had a some T. Rex, Hawkwind plus some suff like Man, Nektar, Groundhogs and a little Kraftwerk, but probably only a foot or two of records all-in. I don't recognise the cover from any of that. The other thing that's odd is the record is in a poly outer, and I didn't use them until decades later, i.e. it may actually have been someone else's record!

    DAVEDWACK pfm Member

    Hi Tony,

    Funny you mentioning a sub, just in case you weren't aware Jim Rogers did also produce a matching sub with the very nice ingrained leather top which doubled up as a very cool 70s looking circular coffee table. I was desperate to buy one when I bought my JR149s but alas it broke the bank buying the 149s as I (vaguely) recall.

    They look very nice by the way, wish I still had mine. I think I replaced them with a pair of HB3s when I moved house and had a massive 30' lounge, felt I needed a bit more welly, strange that since I then replaced those with a pair of Kans....go figure!

  16. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    I'm a tad worried about all the pills on the shelf Tony.
  17. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    It's likely that Falcon supplied those caps to Rogers in the first place, or else assembled the crossovers for him. They were the source for those little black and red ELCAPS, and supplied for about 2/3rds of the British loudspeaker industry in the 1970s.
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I remember the subs, though never heard one. They were available both active and passive as I recall, the active one having a high-pass filter to cut the bass from the 149s too, which should make them a lot more volume-capable.

    I was an asthmatic as a kid, that what all that is. I just kind of grew-out of it in my 20s, as I believe a lot of people do.
  19. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

  20. Mr Tibbs

    Mr Tibbs Infinitely Baffled Member

    There were a few in my Gale 401s;


    Mr Tibbs

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