Joseph Audio RM22si Signature loudspeaker Page 2

The RM22si presents a small, elegant footprint, and is intended to combine the spatial coherence and room-friendly coupling of a two-way minimonitor with the bass extension of a larger box. The cabinet itself is constructed of ?" MDF and is 36" high, with the two drivers occupying the top third of the enclosure. (The pair I auditioned featured a deeply faceted, dark rosewood veneer in a high-gloss finish.) The speaker is only 8.5" wide and 10.5" deep; its rear back quarter functions as the bass port, a cavity going up about 2' into the cabinet. There's a rectangular hole at the base of the back panel where the mouth of the port is, then a compartment in the bottom front of the cabinet that houses a cavity with a 2"-diameter circular hole, into which the user can pour sand to add to the system's mass.

Joseph has a rationale for this novel bass port: "The wider you make the mouth of the port, the more efficiently it couples to the air, so the more bass energy you get out of a very small cabinet. Bringing it out of the bottom also means that you don't see the damn thing, so we're not spending money on detailing the lip of the port. And by pointing it in the direction it's going, any midrange resonances that form within the port are directed away from the listener, so they're sonically innocuous."

The bottom of the cabinet is then coupled to a separate base and plinth with spiked brass isolation feet, which add another 2" or so to the speaker's height. The dual sets of mounting posts are thankfully of a size that can accept a wide variety of spades and banana plugs.

Jeff Joseph brought the speakers to my listening room fully assembled, their internal cavities already filled with sand. We employed the adjustable brass feet to give the cabinet a slight upward tilt, positioning the speakers approximately 6' apart, 4' from the back wall, and 3' from the side walls, with only very slight toe-in. Listening in the nearfield was done from about 5' or 6' away, and anywhere from 8" to 10' away in my not-so-easy chair.

I auditioned the Joseph Audio RM22si Signature over the course of several months in a variety of settings, and it proved to be a superb blank canvas on which to paint a wide range of synergistic sonic pictures. The RM22si was extraordinarily revealing without ever sounding etched or analytical. Over time I found that this speaker told me a great deal about other components in the signal chain, especially the amplifiers: with the Mesa Tigris, the overall presentation was lush and euphonic; with the Baron/C-J PV5 combo, sweet and dynamic; with the VTL MB185/C-J PV5 combo, spacious, detailed and mellifluous—like swimming in sound.

The VTL's ample reserves of power offered enhanced bass focus, greater soundstage depth, and progressively more volume. But even with the low-powered Tigris I was able to drive the RM22si to satisfying volume levels (by normal community standards) without sacrificing resolution or dynamic range. However, if you routinely listen to opera or symphonic music at front-row levels, or like to feel the visceral impact of drums and bass, by all means—more power. In fact, while the RM22si operated splendidly driven by pure triode configurations, it seemed as though an increment of pentode or tetrode power seemed to really make the 6?" driver snap to attention. I found each of these modes quite musical in its own way, so it really comes down to how forward you like the presentation, how much impact you crave, and how deep you're prepared to dig to articulate dynamics and bass transients.

My first impressions of the RM22si were those of speed. Joseph has achieved extraordinarily fast piston motion with this aluminum-cone driver. Move air? Try blowing smoke rings across the room? Early on, the RM22si's woofer gave me some funny wake-up calls. Due to space limitations in my room, my computer and monitor jut out into the room just east of the soundstage. There's also a low writing table, but it doesn't really obtrude into the soundstage. But sometimes when typing (facing east with the speakers facing north), my right ear will be 4-5' from the left speaker.

Anyway, once when auditioning "Lonesome," from Bill Frisell's Gone, Just Like a Train (Nonesuch 79479-2)—a fat, spacious, dynamic trio recording—I felt this gentle, insistent breeze on my cheek, as if Astrud Gilberto and Sade were softly intoning the word "plum" from across the other end of the couch. The RM22si's aluminum driver reacted so quickly to Viktor Krause's huge upright-bass sound, and it had such a long throw, that I could feel an insistent rhythmic puckering on my cheek. Far out.

Did I say "fast"? The woofer's attack was so quick, the fundamentals so firm, that the cone seemed to damp itself; I never had the sense of it lingering on any one frequency or imparting any particular tonal color. The tweeter's performance was also exceptional. Clear, sweet, and involving, it never reached out to draw attention to itself, as if to say, "Howdy, I'm your tweeter." It was precise without being etched, mellow yet uncolored.

Taken together, woofer and tweeter sounded remarkably coherent and transparent. Whether the source was analog or digital, and no matter the style or complexity of music, I was never really conscious of the drivers or of their transition points—only of the music.

Joseph Audio
2 Pineridge Road
White Plains, NY 10603
(800) 474-4434