The 2002 Products of the Year Joint Loudspeakers

2002 Joint Loudspeakers

Rockport Technologies Antares (review) ($41,500/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.25 No.8, August 2002)
Joseph Audio RM7si Signature Mk.2 (review) ($1799-$1999/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson & Chip Stern, Vol.23 No.8 & Vol.25 No.10, August 2000 & October 2002)

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
B&W Signature 800 (review) ($20,000/pair; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.25 No.6, June 2002)
Burmester Audiosystems B99 (review) ($47,880/pair; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.25 No.6, June 2002)
Dynaudio Evidence Temptation (review) ($30,000/pair; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.24 No.12, December 2001)
mbl 111B (review) ($17,000/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.25 No.8, August 2002)
Meadowlark HotRod Shearwater (review) ($3195/pair; reviewed by Chip Stern, Vol.25 No.9, September 2002)
Meridian DSP8000 (review) ($49,000/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.24 No.11, November 2001)
Revel Performa M20 (review) ($2000/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.25 No.1, January 2002)
Triangle Zerius ($1095/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.25 No.3, March 2002)
Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia (review) ($11,700/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.25 No.7, July 2002)

It seems that more than just one vote should separate speakers that differ by nearly 40 grand and 400 lbs, but the massive Rockport Technologies Antares barely edged out the diminutive Joseph Audio RM7si Signature Mk.2 in the face of astonishing competition from some pricey and superb-sounding contenders.

The Antares demands a painstaking 90 hours to build and 40 hours to finish in order to achieve its unique shape, marked by a tapered base and optimized for correct driver placement, reduction of internal standing waves, and diffraction and reflection attenuation. Rockport claims the complex, fiber-glass-shelled enclosure is " inertial reference," and the not-easily-impressed Michael Fremer readily agreed. In fact, what struck Mikey most was the Antares' lack of faults: "I have no troubling news to report, no nits to pick....I can confidently say that, with every kind of music imaginable, the Antares produced sound that was as good as I've ever heard, and probably as good as I ever will hear in my listening room." More than just another incremental step, the Antares is "an enormous leap" toward the ultimate goal for a loudspeaker: believability.

And, believe it or not, we move from a 4'-tall, 400-lb floorstander to a 15"-high, 27-lb stand-mounted unit to name our second winner. The Joseph Audio RM7si Signature Mk.2 is hard proof not only that good things come in small packages, but also that trickle-down technology makes the audiophile heart go thump-thump. Indeed, though small in stature, the RM7si Mk.2 is big-hearted, using the "Asymmetrical" recasting of Richard Modaferri's classic Infinite Slope crossover topology, which was first explored in Joseph's top-of-the-line Pearl and RM33si models. While the original Signature RM7 was definitely balanced on the sweet side, this updated version, with revised drive-units, packs more muscle. Our man Chip Stern noted a "bigger, fuller, clearer, and more open" sound, with "more tangible weight and impact, greater transient speed and dynamics, with enhanced midrange presence, detail, and focus."

Here is a tale of two speakers that could not be much more different—one based on fanatical execution and the might of size, the other on trickle-down technology and heart—yet that both succeed at communicating information and emotion with aplomb.