KFRT's JBL Venue Grills
Dye 'em Black!


I'm pretty new to the HT scene and started out a few months ago (September, 2007) with a set of JBL Venue speakers. I couldn't resist the deep online discounts and the free shipping. I originally bought a pair of Stadiums, a pair of Monitors, a Voice and a SUB12. A second pair of Monitors was added later for 7.1.

When the speakers arrived, one of the Stadium grills was warped. With a little research, I discovered JBL's online warranty department and ordered a replacement, which they sent me for free. One problem, though. The new grill was black and all the others were silver. So, pretty worthless, except I couldn't help noticing how much better the black grill looked. The price on the Stadium grill is about $35 and I'm not one of those folks who have to whine until I get my way, so I set out to find a way to make the Venues look nicer.

The first choice was to just make a new set of grills. These were made from 1/4" MDF with some black grill cloth from Parts Express. The MDF was cut on a table saw and the holes were cut free-hand using a jigsaw. After sanding, the grill cloth was "formed" and stapled to the back of the grill using a common Arrow stapler and short staples. The new grills were attached to the speakers using small pieces of Velcro. I think they turned out well, with a distinctive "generic" look. The grill cloth and MDF cost about $35 and was more than enough to do all the speakers (I already had the tools). Here's a Monitor with the original and new grills:

About a week ago, user salvasol in the AVS JBL thread posted pictures of his Venue grills that he had dyed black with common RIT dye. By now, my Venue grills are gathering dust in a basement closet, so you know what I'm thinking. Boxes of RIT dye powder cost about $3.20 here, and I bought three of them. A 2" sponge brush costs 57 cents at the local Home Depot, so this is looking like a fun experiment for $10-12.

I laid this out on a basement table, and went to work:

And I swear, the George Foreman "The Next Grilleration" box was NOT planted. That was a Christmas gift from my wife - her way of saying that if I don't give her better ideas next time, I can expect stuff that says "As seen on TV" on the box. It actually works very well!

Back to the plot... There are some useful hints I can give you if you undertake this project:

1] Mix the black dye with 1 cup of hot water instead of 2. Or use two packets of dye for two cups of water. This is in the directions. I also added a little powdered laundry detergent, but no salt.

2] Keep the dye solution hot and well mixed. I would suggest using a microwave-safe bowl so that you can reheat the dye if you need to. While working, keep the dye "agitated". You can "swirl" the container by hand for this. The container I used wouldn't fit in our microwave, but it was perfect for "swirling." Hot dye mixes better into the grill fabric.

3] salvasol's suggestion to use a foam brush is a good one. These are cheap and work well. When you dip the foam brush into the dye, let the dye "leak" out of the brush to keep it from getting too full before you "paint" the grill. It's useless to scrape the brush against your dye container to remove the excess -- just let it drip out. You don't want to SOAK the grill fabric.

4] If you get a little dye on the silver plastic parts of the grill, just wipe it off with Kleenex. Do this before it dries; no harm done.

5] The dye will "leech" into the fabric. Because of this, you don't have to get real close to the plastic trim -- just take it slow.

6] Make sure you have good light so you can see what you're doing.

7] Plan on at least two coats. Let everything dry overnight between coats.

How does this stack up against JBL's own black Venue grills? Well, it's not a perfect match, but it's not bad. The silver grills have a metallic component that the dye doesn't hide completely, but I doubt anyone would notice. Here's a dyed Stadium grill next to a gen-u-ine JBL black Venue grill (the factory black JBL grill is on the left):

The JBL grill is "flat black" and the dyed grill comes out with a "semi-gloss" finish. Most of the shine in this picture is from the camera flash. Here is the original Monitor with the new grill (sparkles are from camera flash again):

The SUB12:

All in all, a worthwhile effort, I'd say. But it'd be a lot better if JBL went with black in the first place.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a dye expert; your mileage will likely differ and I cannot be held responsible for YOUR results. Use this information AT YOUR OWN RISK. Beyond that, have fun. If you come up with improvements to this process, let me know in the AVS JBL forum, which can be found here:

JBL Forum

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Page last updated 1 Feb 2008