Joseph Audio Perspective loudspeaker Page 2

I began my listening with the MBL Corona C15 amplifiers, which I reviewed in June. These monoblocks had proved a synergistic match with Vivid Audio's Giya G3 speakers, which had preceded the new Josephs in my room, but the balance, though very clean and articulate, was definitely on the lean side. This was particularly so in the upper bass, though the low bass seemed boosted. I suspect that the Perspective was voiced with a softer-sounding amplifier than the C15. The foam liners were in the Perspectives' ports, but removing them wasn't the answer—the excessive low bass then got in the way of the music. The solution was to replace the MBLs with the softer-sounding Pass Labs XA60.5s, which I reviewed in January. Although the upper bass lost a slight amount of clarity, this was more than balanced by the fact that the midrange was better fleshed out.

The Perspective's treble remained a little on the unforgiving side, however. I'd purchased Beck's Morning Phase (Capitol) from HDtracks as 24-bit/96kHz ALAC files, after reading Stephen Mejias's review of the album on his blog. While a controversial recording, given that some of the source files were MP3s and some, if not all, of the tracks were bandwidth-limited to 22.05kHz (not coincidentally, this is the CD format's Nyquist frequency), Morning Phase spent a lot of time playing through the Josephs while I was preparing this review. I love Beck's musical vision—this is a rock album with a mind behind the music making. But every time I played it, I wanted to turn the volume down: the Joseph's treble balance revealed too much of this recording's problematic provenance.

But with purist recordings—eg, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra's superb-sounding performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphony 2 (DSD64 files, Channel Classics 21604)—the Joseph Perspectives showed what they could do: a wide, rich sweep of full-range sound, with tangible stereo imaging. With pianist Hyperion Knight's Gershwin by Knight— recorded by David Wilson in December 1992, originally reissued as an LP (Wilson Audio W-9213), and to be rereleased as high-resolution files in February 2015—the sound of Hyperion's 9' Falcone piano was superbly palpable through the Perspectives, with a rich tonal balance.

614joseph.2250.jpgI had recorded Hyperion playing much of the same repertoire in 1997 (Rhapsody; CD, Stereophile STPH010-2), this time on a 9' Steinway D, and it was fascinating comparing Dave Wilson's recording with my own. I had gone for a slightly more distant picture of the piano, the acoustic of the Albuquerque Church where I had made my recording being more sympathetic to the music than the rather anonymous acoustic of Salt Lake City's Symphony Hall, where the Wilson was made. But the hi-rez Perspectives laid bare the superior sound quality of the prerelease Wilson transfers from analog tape I had been sent, in both DSD64 and 24/176.4 formats. My 1997 recording had been made at the Compact Disc's 44.1kHz sample rate with a mix of 20- and 24-bit converters, and while I've been very happy with its sound, the piano's higher registers sounded a little congested through the Josephs in comparison with Dave Wilson's recording.

The Joseph speakers' midrange clarity and lack of coloration, along with their well-controlled dispersion, was very sympathetic to recordings of the human voice. I've mentioned before how much I enjoy Hugh "House" Laurie's tribute to New Orleans music, Didn't It Rain (ALAC files ripped from CD, Warner Bros. 53893), on which he plays a mean piano. In Joe McCoy's "The Weed Smoker's Dream," Gaby Moreno's sultry singing raised the hairs on the back of my neck with the Pass Labs–driven Perspectives, but the kick drum needed firmer control of low frequencies than the Josephs could provide. Similarly, the bass line in Beck's "Morning" was just too phat-sounding, even as the Perspectives relished reproducing this track's multilayered reverb.

The low-frequency, 1/3-octave warble tones on my Editor's Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2) were reproduced with full weight down to the 25Hz band, but with the 32Hz warble tone significantly reinforced by a room mode. The 20Hz warble tone was inaudible at normal listening levels. With the half-step–spaced toneburst track on Editor's Choice, the lower-frequency tones spoke relatively cleanly, but there was some emphasis of the upper-frequency tones in the octave below 4.2kHz. This presence-region emphasis could also be heard with the dual-mono pink noise from Editor's Choice, though the Perspective's reproduction of this signal was otherwise seamless through quite a large vertical window, as long as I didn't stand up. The central image of the pink noise was appropriately narrow and well defined.

Overall, though its tonal balance was a little "hot" in the presence region, the Joseph Perspective was free from coloration, and offered a musically involving sound with surprisingly wide dynamic range. As I write these words, I'm listening, through the Joseph Perspectives driven by Pass Labs amplification, to a CD Sam Tellig recommends in his column this month: cellist Antonio Meneses and pianist Maria-João Pires's The Wigmore Hall Recital (CD, Deutsche Grammophon 4790965). Sam describes this "as one of the finest performances ever released of Schubert's Sonata for Arpeggione." I must agree, and this superb recording played to all of the Josephs' strengths: the sound was clear and detailed, with a warm balance that brought out the lower-register weight of the instruments, and the stable, precise soundstaging allowing their images to hang in the air between and behind the speakers.

Summing Up
When he visited, I asked Jeff Joseph what his design goal had been for the Perspective compared with the less-expensive Pulsar. "The Pulsar was designed to emulate the sound of a much larger speaker," he replied. "With the Perspective, when someone looks at a tower loudspeaker they already have an expectation of full-range performance."

The Perspective is definitely a full-range loudspeaker, with impressive low-frequency extension and weight for a speaker with a relatively small footprint. It is also one of the more beautiful-looking speakers I have had in my listening room.

But competition in the category of high-performance tower speaker is intense. The Perspective has to compete, for example, with the Revel F208 ($5000/pair), which Erick Lichte reviews elsewhere in this issue; and with the Monitor Audio Platinum PL200 ($9000/pair), which Robert Deutsch wrote about in April 2010—and the PSB Synchrony One ($5500/pair), which I favorably reviewed in April 2008, is still a strong contender. But all three of those speakers can be so competitively priced because they are manufactured outside the US, whereas the Perspective is "onshored," if you will. (As is, of course, the Vandersteen Treo, which costs $6490/pair.) So while its tonal balance will require careful system matching—that's where the experience of a good dealer will shine—I can confidently recommend the Joseph Perspective. It's a lot of high-performance loudspeaker in a beautiful, modest-sized, domestically appealing package.

Joseph Audio Inc.
PO Box 1529
Melville, NY 11747
(800) 474-4434

Naimdude's picture

Does the 13 000$ big ones get you the speakers, and that giant violin?

otaku's picture

Yes, it adds lots of "bass"!

JRT's picture

JA wrote, " fig.3, the upper woofer crosses over to the tweeter at a slightly lower frequency than the specified 2kHz, with a steep rolloff broken by resonant modes at 6.2 and 9kHz. These are well suppressed by the crossover..."

What I think we are seeing at 6.2kHz in your measurement is not a modal breakup resonance of the diaphram, but rather is the low pass crossover response above the notch at ~3.8kHz. The peak you measured at ~9kHz is more characteristic of the modal breakup resonance of Seas' Excel W15 family of woofer diaphrams.

The low pass crossover displays characteristic effects of an elliptical filter that combines a notch and low pass, with the notch steepening the intial rolloff of the low pass. For a description of this take a look at Albert Neville Thiele's US patent 6854005.

Jeff Joseph's picture

The magnesium woofer without a filter has resonances as JA correctly noted at 6.2 and 9kHz, but the woofer's highest peak is actually at 4.9kHz! (about 5dB above the 6.2kHz resonance). JA's measurements confirm that the resonances are well-supressed.

Anon2's picture

I have not heard this particular JA speaker. I have heard the JA Pulsar at an audio exhibition. JA speakers are out of my price range, but it was a privilege to hear the Pulsar.

The diminutive Pulsar projects an enormous soundstage that simply belies its size, and exceeds that of some larger, dare I say floorstanding, speakers. The build quality of these speakers is something that you have to see in person to appreciate fully, though they look great in this article, too.

The top-end Seas drivers used in these speakers are heartily capable, and maintain their composure, even at the highest volumes. They ably handle powerful amplification (I heard them with Hegel integrated amplification).

JA Speakers are fine products. I hope those interested get a chance to hear these speakers.