For what it's worth, I heard the demos of these at the NY 2004 show (set up as a theater with an audience) and thought the the nova-be's were a little bass heavy and forced, but, curiously, the giant grands were more balanced and relaxed and refined. I remember a Mick Jagger solo & thought the vocals on the grands were very natural and 3D. They do not sound overwhelming despite their size.
Again, this was just show conditions, but I really thought the grands were in a different league than the novas. So I guess you get what you pay for with JM Labs. (I actually thought that, again from previous visits to the NY show, that the old Utopias & Mezzo Utopias had more listenable bass than the the new nova BEs.)
I've got Kharma 3.2s, just to let you know where my taste in speakers lies. I really can't stand loose or pushy bass.
I have heard these at shows in San Francisco and in Montreal a few years ago. At the SF show the demo was Dark Side of the Moon's "Money" track. I was not impressed. They simply did not rock, nor were they convincing. My wife looked at me and asked, "what's all the excitement about?" And how can anyone justify the cost of these when they don't even accurately convey the harmonic structure of timbre contained in the signal from any amp? I shudder to think of how the money that would go into a pair of these could instead buy a pair of Thiel CS7.2s or Vandersteen 5As some top notch electronics and sources with plenty left over for cabling and media. And all for one pair of these speakers. No way they are worth it.
I have Thiel CS6s and Vandersteen 2Ces, not top of each manufacturers' lines but darn sure more accurate than anything made by JM Labs, so, like Rgs92 above, you know where my taste in speakers lies. I really can't stand inaccurate harmonic content of timbre.
rgs 92-- i appreciate your candid comaprison between the novas and the grands. the novas do have some tendency to bloat the bass. hence the search.... :-)
stevecham-- well, what can i say-- we all have our tastes in what musical timber should sound like. i think that the new be line from jm lab is one of the better ones in capturing that elusive timber, but that's my take on them. thanks for you input ,really.
I bought the Grande Utopia Be's only after an in-home audition. They sound light years better in my sound room than anywhere else I've heard them. And getting them to sound fantastic was a lot of work. Changes of toe in of an eighth of inch affect the sound. Not an easy task to muscle around 500 pound "grande dammes". The distance apart and from the surrounding walls is all critical, as are the associated electronics and cables. But I expected this from laboratory grade equipment. Once tuned in, they are magical, producing extremely natural timbre (my most important criterion for any loudspeaker - I used to spend 2 to 3 nights a week listening to live, unamplified music), dynamics, and soundstage. Room treatment is also important, and I could stand to do some more work there.
But to your question, are they better than the Novas? I have heard the Novas in 3 different forums, and I think they are very fine speakers. The presentation may be a bit more "forward" than the Grandes and somewhat less refined in the midrange, and the soundstage is not as huge. I came very close to buying the Novas as I think they offer a much better value than the Grandes. But I think the Grandes are better speakers...but are they worth the difference in price? I know it sounds impossible, but require an in-home audition before you buy. Only then will you know if they are worth it to you. Set up and associated equipment are critical for fantastic results, but I think well worth the effort.
As a side note, they have been absolutely trouble free and a joy to own.
By the way, I think JM Labs offers some superb sounding products in the lower price ranges. Methinks the high end offers disproportionate increases in sound quality as prices increase.
Ozy, my questions:
Can you help me understand why anyone would want to hear timbre and harmonic content that is anything but accurate as possible upon transducing the signal fed by the amplifier?
I mean, why would you want to hear only some of the harmonic content of a clarinet, for example, that is contained on the recording? Why would you not want the speaker, which we all agree is the critical motor that conveys the musical content at the final stage of music reproduction, to provide you with as much as possible by minimizing harmonic conent loss due to phase errors, intentionally imparted by the speaker designer?
Why anyone would choose a speaker that does this intentionally, by design, and that is the key issue here, is something I simply cannot fathom, unless most simply do not understand what they're missing.
I truly belive that as you get better at listening and enjoying all there is on recordings, both good and bad, these things become ever more important. If you learn to hear them, they do matter. But to be fair, this also requires spending time with speakers that, by design, demonstrably present as much harmonic phase accuracy that timbre is built upon at the current level of the state of the art.
And just why in heck does JMLab (and Wilson) have to charge such large $um$ at the top of their product lines to not even care to address nor even attempt to achieve this? So, in the end I have to conclude that extremely expensive, inaccurate timbre is preferred by some hobbyists called audiophiles? I find that simply fascinating. Perhaps the process of accurate timbre appreciation is just a matter of time...but in the end, more will find, as I did, that it does matter.
Hi Stevecham - I am puzzled by your indictment of the timbre of JM Labs products. As I said above, that is my priority in a speaker - and I find the timbre very accurate, natural and beautiful. And this based on many evenings in concert halls listening to live, UNAMPLIFIED music. I have been an audiophile for 36 years. I am trying to replicate the real thing as closely as possible. Perhaps your conclusion is based on a poor demo. Since I don't care to slam either of the two fine products you mention, I will say that one of those brands interested me and I found the mids and highs so hard as to be unlistenable. Again, probably a bad demo as both speaker brands you mention not only have a great reputation, but they couldn't have stayed business as long as they have by building a bad product.
My point is this - you must listen to a product in your home with your own equipment to determine whether it's going to work for you. And rejoice in the banquet table of products available to the audiophile! We don't all have the same tastes or priorities in music reproduction. If you enjoy your system, then count yourself a blessed man and enjoy the music. But why try to convince someone that JM Labs builds a bad product when many believe they build a great product? I am curious though, what you base your conclusion of timbral accuracy upon - are you a musician, or do you listen to a lot of live acoustic music such that you have the "real thing" as reference point when you buy audio equipment? If you do, you are doubly blessed to have built a system that replicates the live experience.
For others who may be reading my rambling on and on, I would caution that reproduction of a live jazz concert in an intimate acoustic is very different from the reproduction of a full orchestra playing full tilt with chorus and soloists. Some systems simply can't handle the big production, but do a really nice job on the jazz. If you're trying to replicate the experience of a rock concert, then I would suggest that you buy what sounds good to you on this music, as the "real thing" is amplified and played through speakers that probably wouldn't sound good in the home anyway. Again, buy a system that works for you, in your home, with the music you listen to.
...reproduction of a live jazz concert in an intimate acoustic is very different from the reproduction of a full orchestra playing full tilt with chorus and(/or) soloists
Quite so. I often have trouble explaining this.
As s/one put it, "reproducing an audiophile recording of "girl with guitar" music, is different from tackling Mahler 8.
Gotta love these people who make sweeping generalizations of a brand based on a couple crappy hotel room demos! That speaks volumes doesn't it? too funny.
the 2 speakers that you had mentioned as "surpassing", the jm lab ,are ,with all due respect ,not even in the neighborhood of the jm lab , and i am refering to the utopia be line.
you are really making very general statements ,that can frankly ,be said just about any component out there.
every speaker ,or any gear ,for that matter ,has drawbacks. but i find ,the jm labs ,in my room ,and with my familiar settings ,to be very musical , with the right sonical timbre and presentation.
but let's not turn this into a "mine is better" kind of thing- i really wanted to hear what fellow a/goners ,with the grand utopias bes have to comments on these SPECIFIC speakers, before i decide to upgrade my nova bes to the grands.
Go Ahead and try to auditon the New "Grande Utopia EM" !!
Hurry up !
I am not familiar with the Nova but I have listened extensively to a well setup Alto - let me say these are indeed awesome speakers. However, if I am nit picky then I share your concerns about the bass - that was pretty obvious from the get go - dynamics were also not as strong as I was expecting in such a large speaker. However, I was also puzzled by the imaging. I did not get precise definition in the soundstage. On Roger Waters Amused to Death Track 3 there were some great effects (very wide soundstage - extremely impressive sound from the left and in your left ear) - however, contrary or in the opposite vein - the female vocalist was not precisely or soldily centered nor was Roger Waters (centered but vaguely so - such as you would not be completely convinced they were there standing in front of you).
Anyway - those were my findings - it may simply have been colored by something else in the chain (the DAC for example - it was all high end SS gear). FWIW: They are absolutely stunning looking speakers, which is why I had to listen to them - but I did come away ever so slightly disappointed given their price.
Very Interesting. I have owned two pairs of nova be . Original utopias Grande be Sound lab u1s Aura + with the new px mylar. I sing In my church choir . I go to live events. Unamplified Is my favorite. I recently was fortunate enough to see beethoven symphony no 9 live , no amplification. I find that most audiophiles simply need to listen to more live unamplified concerts. Most people do not know what real live music sounds like. Venture out of your sound room go to a show. If U2 pink flyd etc. Wear earplugs. I dare you to try and listen to your system for a few days after that experience. Now try and reproduce that 200 foot wide stage 150 feet deep. with 6 full size basses. cellos , violens kettle drums and a huge choir. Fire up the audio system after that. I do not care how much you spend It will not be better than live. I have heard many audiophiles claim that the sound they have Is better than live. Wake up. Anyway I hope I did not offend anyone just shooting straight. Anyway the nova be vs the grand be. Is It better ? The grands beat the novas yes but not worth the extra because the novas are awsome. If you have the money to throw around buy the big boys. I have the factory novas with matched drivers. I love them. I also have the aura + as well. Sound labs with the newer mylar are pure music. Bring power they need It. The nova also over the alto Is simply huge.