My understanding is that the new L-100 has improvements over the original. In any event, according to the government's inflation calculator, $550 in 1971 is the equivalent to about $3,400 today. JBLs are often discounted, so today's price would be pretty close to the original.
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The box and grill are the same. I think the big attraction is how people remember they liked the sound of the original -- punchy West Coast sound with some emphasis on mid bass and treble.
I'm not sure how they would measure up against today's competition. But they are sure to make the music sound good to listeners of a particular taste.
I heard the originals many times. They had a VERY forward, brash character, the polar opposite of the Acoustic Research rather recessed/laid back "East Coast" sound. Around the time of the L-100, Infinity came out with their Model 2000A, which had the great RTR ESL tweeters, and was priced almost identically ($600/pr). The L-100 didn't stand a chance!
@rkmoyle, good point! Confirming that buying top of the line used speakers is the biggest bargain in audio.
Heck, some of these models actually start increasing in price with time. The brilliant L100's (originals) had a hear through clarity with acoustic recordings that I've never heard surpassed.
If the new models retain that 'you are there' clarity and can combine a hint more bass with a touch smoother treble then they are worth every penny.
As you say a direct comparison would be mist welcome. Perhaps Steve Guttenberg could arrange it. He did look at the new ones here,
but a comparison would tell us a lot more. As for magazines, hopefully their time is up. They've been virtually useless for decades peddling audio porn with next to no scientific or literary merit.
Things weren't always so bad, once upon a time...