With the introduction of the SCS300.7 ($649 list), JBL has joined the ranks of manufacturers offering flat-screen-friendly speaker designs. Everybody's doing it, but few manufacturers manage to slim down their speakers without forfeiting sound quality. This 7.1-channel package--which features seven svelte satellites and a burly 10-inch, 150-watt subwoofer--satisfied our home-theater appetite but wasn't as fulfilling for music. The JBL SCS300.7's six 11.5-inch-tall satellites have a taut, elegantly sculptured shape, highlighted by silver-and-platinum plastic accents. The center speaker looks identical to the front and rear sats but conforms to the conventional horizontal orientation. The subwoofer's top and front baffles are sheathed in a dark-gray vinyl wrap, which contrasts with the side panels' matte-silver finish. The sub is fairly large, measuring 20.0 inches high, 13.75 inches wide, and 15.75 inches deep, and weighing an impressive 35.0 pounds.
Since they have rounded bottoms, the satellites can't stand on their own. Instead, they must be fitted to JBL's wall brackets or table stands, both of which come included, or to its optional floor stands (model FS1000, $250 list/pair). The speakers are also compatible with Sanus and OmniMount wall brackets.
We decided to use the supplied tubular-plastic table stands. They discreetly hid the wires, but we first had to thread the speaker wires up and through the stands and then insert the stripped wire ends into tiny holes on the speaker-wire clips. Over the course of assembling the seven speakers and stands, we got the knack of it, but it still took more than half an hour to complete the job.
For around $100 less, JBL's SCS200.7 speaker package offers an identical set of satellites with a smaller subwoofer.The JBL SCS300.7 is available only as a seven-channel system, although we suppose owners of standard 5.1-channel home-theater systems could use the remaining two satellites in another room or a second zone. There is one downside to this plan: the sats will sound bass shy unless you add a supporting subwoofer in the second room.
All seven satellites feature dual 3.0-inch drivers flanking a 0.5-inch titanium-laminate dome tweeter. The subwoofer's down-firing 10.0-inch driver is mated to a 150-watt amp.