Joseph Audio RM33si Signature loudspeaker JA Follow-up part 2
Fig.5 Joseph RM33si, sample 2, complex sum of nearfield midrange, woofer, and port responses (supplied by Joseph Audio).
Fig.6 shows the individual nearfield responses that I measured on this sample. The picture is broadly similar to the first sample's (fig.3), but the midrange unit, in particular, is significantly different in that its response no longer tilts down below 500Hz. There is an odd notch at around 150Hz, but overall this driver seems better balanced with the woofer, despite the large overlap between the two.
Fig.6 Joseph RM33si, sample 2, nearfield midrange, woofer, and port responses.
The complex sum of the second sample's nearfield responses, again spliced to the farfield response averaged across a 30 degrees horizontal window on the tweeter axis, is shown in fig.7. This is very similar to the first sample's behavior, shown in fig.4, but with more lower-midrange energy apparent.
Fig.7 Joseph RM33si, sample 2, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30 degrees horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with complex sum of nearfield midrange, woofer, and port responses plotted below 350Hz.
Fig.8 shows the RM33si's spatially averaged response, taken in my listening room with the speakers in approximately the same positions as the Revel Performa M20s (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), and coupled to the floor with the dedicated Sound Anchors stands. Setting the speakers up according to the "L" and "R" labels on the serial numbers resulted in the side-mounted woofers being sited on the speakers' outside walls. Low-frequency extension is excellent, and the overall bass level does not appear exaggerated, as might be expected from fig.7.
Fig.8 Joseph RM33si, sample 2, spatially averaged, 1/3-octave response in JA's room.
The lacks of energy in the 50Hz and 63Hz bands are characteristics of my room that I have not yet managed to solve. The lacks of energy in the 160Hz and 200Hz bands are due to boundary effects. I did quite a lot of experimenting but could not get a woofer-midrange transition significantly better than this in my room. The problem is basically the broad overlap between the midrange and woofer. I could hear this lack of lower-midrange energy as a lack of body to well-recorded piano, but it was less audible with rock or classical orchestral recordings.
Of more consequence is the rising trend through the room sound's treble. In his review, Chip Stern did comment that "It's easy to misconstrue the RM33si's extraordinary levels of clarity and resolution as being cool, dry, bright, or analytical." In my room with my ancillaries, however, there was simply too much treble energy. While this was not a problem with good recordings, it did make the Josephs somewhat unforgiving when it came to CDs that were themselves mixed on the bright side. I would have liked the tweeter balanced about 1dB lower. (This may not seem a lot, but as the driver covers a three-octave range, this would result in significantly less treble energy in-room.)
But as Chip noted in his review, the RM33sis did present an astonishing wealth of recorded detail, and their soundstaging was simply superb! Individual images benefited from rock-solid positioning, with none of the "splashing" to the sides that would indicate resonant or drive-unit problems at some frequencies. Coupled with the holographic imaging was a complete absence of treble grain. I was swept into the meticulously crafted soundscapes on Joni Mitchell's 2000 Both Sides Now album (Reprise 47620-2), with virtually no barriers between me and the music. Impressive.
About the only serious criticism I would make of the RM33si concerned its bass quality. Chip enthused about the speaker's low-frequency extension, ending his review with a friend's comment after he had auditioned his favorite techno record: "Man, why would you ever want more bass than that?!" Yes, there was weight and extension—the Kingsway Hall subway rumbling on Barbirolli Conducts English String Music (EMI CDC 7 47537 2) was readily apparent—but the bass alignment was a little too rich for my tastes.
This was certainly not a problem with classical orchestral music, where it added majesty to the presentation. The Chesky Gold reissue of the 1962 Reiner performance of Brahms' Symphony 4 (CG906) sounded awesome, for example, the speakers and my room disappearing to make way for the spacious acoustic of Walthamstow Town Hall. But on high-level kick drum, such as on the Jacques Loussier Trio's Baroque Favorites (Telarc Jazz CD-83516), the speaker added a "thudding" quality that, while initially impressive, bothered me more the longer I listened.
I don't envy speaker designers when it comes to deciding upon a woofer alignment. Choose a tuning that will satisfy a reviewer as fussy as I am, and the speaker will probably sound too dry in the dealer's showroom. But I do believe that for long-term listening pleasure, better-damped low frequencies are what I would want from the RM33si. Even so, the Joseph RM33si is still the best speaker yet to come from this Long Island manufacturer, and, at $7500/pair, is very competitively priced.—John Atkinson