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The 1970s’ Coolest Speakers Are Back—This Time With Cutting-Edge Sound

The latest iteration pairs the classic retro design with contemporary innovations.

Harman-JBL-L100_ONG_Pair_Hero-RT-1605x1605px Courtesy of JBL

The most famous loudspeaker of the 1970s was JBL’s L100, thanks to its widespread popularity and a unique foam grille made up of hundreds of tiny cubes. Testament to that reputation is the iconic Maxell tape ad featuring a long-haired, martini-drinking hipster in a Corbusier chair being blown backward by the JBL component.

Even today, the L100 remains the company’s best-selling speaker, and while not inexpensive at the time (a pair cost $560 in 1971), it was the preferred choice of well-heeled rock-n-rollers, musicians and engineers who wanted a compact monitor that could shake the house. It was also a favorite of architects and design-conscious music lovers who appreciated its orange or blue egg-crate grill—JBL’s signature colors—as the ideal complement to contemporary interiors. Out of production since 1978, the originals are collector’s items, thanks to their retro look and robust build quality, although the in-your-face treble and woolly bass are no match for today’s best monitors.

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Courtesy of JBL

Recognizing the appeal of a thoroughly modern version, the JBL L100 Classic, priced at $4,000 per pair, is a doppelganger of the original but reengineered, including three all-new drivers. The genuine walnut veneer enclosures feel right at home with any Eames furniture, and the new Quadrex foam grille, available in burnt orange, dark blue or black, is formed from plastic, for greater acoustic transparency and improved durability. Optional stands elevate and angle the speakers for optimal performance.

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Courtesy of JBL

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