Can a small monitor loudspeaker really outperform a pair of large floorstanding speakers when it comes to frequency response and dynamics? found that the Joseph Audio RM7si Signatures certainly could!
Many thanks go to Mr. Jeff Joseph for all his help and for providing the review sample.
JosephAudio RM7si Signature Loudspeaker
Two way bass-reflex enclosure.
Price: $1,699/pr. in natural or black oak - $1,899/pr. in rosewood.
(All specifications as per manufacturer)
Associated components used in this review: Adcom GFA-5800 power amplifier; Golden Tube Audio SE-40 tube amplifier; Sony CDP-X303ES CD player; Carver CT-23 tuner/preamplifier; Monster Original speaker cable; Standesign BB-75 adjustable stands; AudioQuest Ruby interconnects.
Setup and preliminary listening&
The Joseph Audio RM7si Signature loudspeaker is boxed as a matched serial number pair. As I opened the box and removed the speakers from the carton I could not help but be extremely impressed by the finish. All sides are finished beautifully, and the craftsmanship is of the highest order. In a nutshell - these loudspeakers are beautiful!
I installed the Signatures in my 11 x 15 listening room along the 11 wall in place of my reference loudspeaker (a floor standing tower system) - with the stands set to raise the loudspeakers 26" off the floor. Following the suggestion in the owners manual, I did most listening with the grills removed.
I found the Signatures to be very placement friendly. Even before any serious setup work was done, the sound was enjoyable. During my initial listening I read through the owners manual and found one suggestion that went against my common "rule of thumb" for loudspeaker setup - the suggestion is not to toe the loudspeakers inward and indeed they work very well facing straight into the room. The owners manual suggests using a audiophile setup disc such as the Stereophile Test disc series - I also use the Chesky Records Jazz Sampler & Audiophile Test Compact Disc volumes 1 and 2 (Chesky JD37 and JD68) for loudspeaker setup and placement adjustment. Along with fine music of various genres there are several test tracks that are very helpful in setup and evaluation of an audio system.
On track 10 of volume 1, a basic location/placement test, Bob Enders voice was reproduced exactly at the location across the listening field as indicated by the disc liner notes. Proceeding onto the Listening Environment Diagnostic Tests (track 11) I found that each time what I heard was confirmed by the liner notes as I referred back to them. While the scope of these tests in particular are beyond the description space of this review, I must say that they are both demanding and revealing of a loudspeaker's performance in imaging characteristics. My findings demonstrated fine attributes of the Signatures.
Moving onto Volume 2, there is a series of percussion imaging tests (tracks 14-33). These tracks demonstrate both dynamic speed and overall system capability as well as low level resolution as the drums are placed farther and farther away from the microphone. With the room lights out - I felt like I was there in the large room during the "Dynamic Drum Test". The "General Resolution and Imaging Test" (track 47) which reveals the speakers ability to resolve instrument movement around the room - even behind you, had me surrounded! A final note, during the auditioning of the Stereophile Test Disc One, there are warble tones for casual evaluation of bass extension capabilities - I was astounded to discover that as installed in my room the bass extended down to 32Hz with ease. I must say that at this point my experience with these loudspeakers had been of one pleasant surprise after another!
Listening and evaluation&
I conducted listening tests using two distinctively different power amplifiers - yielding distinctively different results. During listening sessions, I frequently switched between the 40w/ch Golden Tube Audio SE-40 tube amplifier and the 250w/ch Adcom GFA-5800 MOSFET based solid state amplifier. For CD playback I bypassed the preamplifier and connected the CD player directly to whichever amplifier was in use via AudioQuest Ruby interconnects. The results are following and listed by amplification used.
I listened to the The Lynne Arriale Trio "With Words Unspoken" (DMP CD-518), on the title track the acoustic piano sounded as natural as I would imagine the performance itself must have been. The acoustic bass line was easy to distinguish - more than just a bass line as each pluck of a string was easy to follow. The soft percussion was sweet and airy without even the slightest trace of hardness. It became apparent right away that these speakers were simply an open audio window.. left open to let the music flow through. Next up was an older Narada release, David Lanz "Christoforis Dream" (CD-1021) the track "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was so "fluid" and flowing that I found myself settling back to enjoy the music.
I wanted to put these speakers through an "acid test" and listen to how well they negotiate massed strings. I found a great example on the Chesky Records "Tenth Anniversary Special Edition" CD (CHE10). The 4th track of the "Classical Celebration" disc is The Four Seasons "Concerto in G minor (summer)" - the results were stunning! Silky smoothness combined with just enough "bite" and accurate timbre. From the same disc I listened to several cuts from the Chesky classical music library and found myself enjoying classical works reproduced in a very convincing way. Brass instruments had stunning "breath", and vocals were reproduced with utterly natural accuracy, so much so that I became wrapped up in the music.
As I enjoyed the performance I would rise from my seat and sort though other discs in my music collection that I was eager to listen to. This lead to my noticing a unique and pleasing characteristic of this loudspeaker. I found that as I moved about the room - between my seat and my disc collection - then to the system to load the player, I noticed the omission of a nasty trait that most loudspeakers have. No matter where I was in the room, standing up - to the side - near or far, the drivers demonstrated absolutely no averse interaction between each other. This clearly demonstrated to me the real-world benefit of the patented 120dB/octave Infinite SlopeTM crossover. Simply said, the tweeter performed its appointed job wonderfully as did the woofer - and they did not "step on each others' toes" at the crossover region. The result is a crossover transition that I could not perceive at any time during my listening.
Next up, "The Very Best of Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops" (Telarc CD-80401) is a favorite of mine for evaluation due to the wide range of musical selection and fine selection of "blockbuster" cuts. Starting with the John Williams work "Olympic Fanfare" , the sound can be summed up in a word - Majestic! The power and majesty of the full orchestra including the lowest bass forced though with astonishing clarity, and keep in mind the modest 40 watts per channel of amplification being used. Another favorite is Henry Mancinis "Theme from the Pink Panther". Aaaahhh - I could not ask for more.
Brute force power&
During my musical listening and evaluation I often switched between amplifiers and listened to the same musical selection - following are the results as I took off the "rose tinted audio glasses" and put sheer power, the Adcom GFA-5800 in place.
With the The Lynne Arriale Trio CD (see above), playing the title track "With Words Unspoken", the finesse and grace of the music gained an even clearer presence. Steve Davis percussion in particular was fleshed out, cymbals were reproduced with excellent timbre and shimmer.
Moving on to the Telarc CD-80401 disc listed above. I was again impressed with the majestic presentation of John Williams "Olympic Fanfare". Now with virtually unending power reserves at hand, I was extremely pleased with the results. The sonic integrity was retained - and the ability to play at insanely loud levels with ease and grace is astounding from a modest sized loudspeaker. I found myself turning down the volume as it - simply put - was too loud! I continued listening to this CD and the sonic blockbusters that it contains. If you are familiar with this disc, you have surely played Andrew Lloyd Webbers "The Phantom of the Opera" track. The crack of thunder at the "Chiller" introduction was truly a crisp "CRACK", followed by the organ bass notes that had the room rattling. Rattling?! I must reiterate that is a compact 15" tall monitor loudspeaker that utilizes a single 6.5" woofer!
In audio sometimes there is no substitute for sheer power, and that was the case with the dynamic riffs you find on any of the discs from Flim and the BBs. Armed with the 20 bit remastered gold edition "TriCycle" (DMP- GOLD9000) and "Big Notes" (DMP - GOLD9002) - with anxious anticipation I listened to discover how the new remastered versions compared with the original issues, and how the RM7si Signatures could cope with such demanding musical passages. I am pleased to say that the new versions are much more palpable and the Signatures performed wonderfully. The most demanding transients were handled with ease, with an impressive lack of dynamic compression which I have often associated with compact monitor loudspeakers when driven full range. I kept an eye on the distortion alert lamps of my Adcom just in case I was getting carried away - not a problem at any time. Simply stated the Signatures do not suffer the effects of dynamic compression that is often a failing of many compact monitors.
I was very pleased with the musical reproduction with both the tube and solid state amplifiers. Using tube amplification provided a wonderful view though the "musical window" as I call it. Solid state amplification on my system added both power and detail, allowing every musical nuance to flow through that open "musical window". Wonderful!
Home Theater considerations&
In this day and age of home theater installations, these loudspeakers come across as a natural choice in a first rate installation. Their agile dynamic mite, outstanding vocal clarity, wide imaging and compact size make them an excellent loudspeaker for a home theater where music is also a prime concern. With todays action packed films were special sonic effects are meant to be felt as well as heard, powered sub-woofers are the standard equipment. In order to find out if the Signatures would be at home in such a setup I incorporated my Audio Concepts Titan powered sub-woofer once my musical evaluation was completed. I used a 85Hz high-pass filter for the Signatures and tried both amplifiers as above.
The result once proper setup procedures were performed was excellent. With the lowest bass energy being handled by powered sub-woofer, this relieved the stereo amplifier from the task of dealing with special effect bass energy. For music reproduction I was able to obtain higher volume levels when using tube amplification as well. I am eager to point out that the heavy demand was taken away from the amplifier rather than the loudspeaker.
My feelings are simple here, if you plan in using the Signatures in a home theater setup, by all means be sure to use a high quality powered sub that can match the fine quality of these loudspeakers. If only for audio use, I cannot imagine requiring a subwoofer.
The time I have spent with the Joseph Audio RM7si Signature loudspeakers has been extremely enjoyable to say the least. This time has also been a real eye and ear opener as well. I have previously been a steadfast subscriber to the notion that a large tower loudspeaker system is at the top of the menu when true full range frequency response and dynamics are on the lists of desires.
The seamless integration of the drivers to the outstanding clarity and resolution of inner detail and impressive dynamics leave me with but one thing that comes to mind. For a loudspeaker that is offered as a "Signature" edition, the fact is they have no sonic signature of their own at all!
My hat goes off to Jeff Joseph and Joseph Audio for a job very well done, and to a loudspeaker that commands my highest recommendation.
Click here for more images of the Joseph Audio RM7si Signature loudspeakers.
2, Pineridge Road,
White Plains, New York 10603.
United States of America.
Telephone: 800-474-4434 Facsimile: 212-724-2509
Text © Alan L. Maier; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © SMR Home Theatre & Joseph Audio cannot be reproduced without permission.
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