JM Lab Micro Utopias


Here is a list of the equipment being used.

Highly modded Thorens Td 850
Audiomods tonearm 
Benz m0.9
Highly modded Thorens Td 150
Michell Tecnoarm
Benz Glider SoundSmith ruby upgrade
Acoustech ph1
Audible Illusions 3a 
Rogue m120's triode mode
2 MK 150mkii subs
Benchmark HDR
Oppo 103

Lots of other stuff, too.
Well, I sold my Maggie's and purchased these as a way to save space. They actually arrived in mid June but, alas, a driver was damaged in shipping. I sent it back to the seller, who ordered a new driver from focal and honored the sale by making it right. It took about a month to get it in from France and back to me. The repaired speaker arrived today, so I set them up and kicked out the jams for the past 3 hours. 

My initial impressions are positive. However, keep in mind that I am using 2 MK 150 subs with them. I'm still dialing them in but I feel they will integrate well. The good news is that nothing stands out and they seem well balanced. They are a bit more midrange prominent than my highly modded MG 3a's and they don't throw as large as sound stage. More listening will tell me if they go as far back.

During the repair interim I've was using a pair of Celestion SL6S's that I modded, which are true over achievers. The Micros of course are better but not by a large margin. There is more clarity and extension but the Celestions are certainly a good speakers and the mods I've done allow them to play louder without breaking up or compressing. 

Are the Micros an improvement over the Maggies? Well, only time will tell. Right now they are pleasing but the ribbon in the Maggies are truly world class, as well as the large sound stage they deliver.

So, here is what the Micros offer over the Maggies; smaller foot print, more pronounced mids. The rest is yet to be heard and determined over time and longer listening sessions. What can be said is the the person who bought my Maggie's got a screaming deal and world class speaker. If I had more room, my family is needing more space, I would be happy with the Maggies till the end of time.

More listening and further thoughts..........

A little low volume, late night listening and the Micros played well. This is an area where the Maggies always struggled. Often, with the Maggies, you feel like you need to continue to turn up the wick to get engaged in the music. During the day time this is no problem but at night when the family is a sleep it is problematic. You either had to strain your ears and suffer a bit or grab the headphones to fully get into what you are listening to. The Micros allow you to listen at less volume and enjoy it more. Therefore, the Micros allow you to listen in the open air of your music room. That in my book is a good thing, as I don't always want to wear headphone. Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

So, the Micros seem to play well at low, moderate and loud volumes and in doing so they do not lose their balance, while providing even handed impact, both micro and macro.

Now, I can't wait until tomorrow morning when I can get some alone time with them and really give them a shakedown!  

The next day.......

I was able to give them a good run this morning before leaving for work and my general impressions are positive. However, I feel strongly that my Maggies MG3a's out perform them in the areas that impress me the most so here is the run down.

                                                          Maggies                              Micro Utopia

Sound stage width and height              X                                                                    
Maggies throw a huge stage!         

Sound stage depth                               X                                              X                      
About the same, which surprised me.

Overall transparency                                                                            X                      
Slight nod goes to the Micro's but the Maggies have it in the highs.

High end                                                X                                                                    
Maggies ribbon can't be beat but the Micro's tweeter is very good.

Midrange                                                                                             X                      
My Maggies are a bit laid back in this range and the Micros give more presence and jump.

Upper bass                                                                                         X                      
The cone has got some punch.

Low bass                                               X                                                                    
The Maggies can go lower but what the Micros have is very good and can be used without a sub.....however, they won't be full range.

Play loud                                               X                                          X                      
Both play loud and with in the mid 90's they keep dynamic shadings. 

Moderate levels                                                                                  X                        
The details really come out at moderate levels with the Micros

Low level                                                                                            X                        
Maggies don't really play well at low levels they need to be goosed. The micros keep the dynamic shadings even at low levels.

Truth to timbre                                     X                                            X                        
Each has a different sound signature. I preferred the Maggies but the Micros are natural with maybe a touch of midrange favoring. 
Placement and adjustment might take care of this. 

Ease to drive                                                                                      X                        
The Micros can be run with less watts and quality watts cost money. Nod to the Micros.  

WAF                                                                                                   X                        
Smaller foot print, tradition but exotic look favors the Micros.

Overall                                                   X                                                                    
I love the Maggies and after my kids leave the home I will be going back to them. That being said, the Micros are a speaker I can live with until that 
day.

Further thoughts: Listening to my mixes and masters on the Micros fulfilled my wishes in a small monitor. They have beat out every monitor I have played with and modded over the past 2 years in search of a replacement for my Maggies. Further tweaking and set up should push continue them to a higher level and bring even more satisfaction. But the what the past 2 years have demonstrated to me is that my Maggies are world class speakers that are hard to beat.    






raymonda
Wow so much information.

......and yet I wonder if it's enough for some?

Well, I've got another month into the Micro's and have learned a lot about them. Set up is a bit fussy. It is not that they will sound bad in a position that is good enough, but rather they respond to small adjustments and will pay off with continual work getting them in the perfect position.

So, if you pick up a pair spend the extra time getting them there. Also, I find the top to bottom coherency very good. Although, as I indicated above, the Maggie ribbon is better, the titanium tweeter is very good and has not pooped out or come across as harsh. I have found it to be very organic and comfortable sounding. Note that I am using a tube amp and tube preamp. Although the Audible Illusion M3a is not your typical romantic sounding tube pre.

At this point in time I have to now place the Micros ahead of the Maggies in all things soundstage. I have basically gotten them to disappear in my room.

One last thing, blending the subs is much more difficult than previously indicated. Too much sub alters the timbre of the speakers and thus the timbre of the instruments they are recreating. You really have to play with positioning and levels to find the "momma bear" setting. Now that I'm there I am really enjoying the speakers. I've gotten detail, timbre, soundstage and impact at a level that makes me sit up in my sweet spot and smile. At times I have found myself thinking, "can it get better than this". Well, the answer to this is, "of course it can" but right now this is where it is at And, that my friends is said with a smile on my face.


@raymonda I just now saw this thread and glad to hear your situation was resolved and you got the Micro's up and running. Pretty spot on review as well but glad to see a month in you were able to really make them sing. A couple thoughts, that brand new mid/bass cone probably needed some break in time so not surprised that you were finally able to make them disappear. One thing I've found with my pair is every improvement I've made in my system has made the Micro's sound better, they've never been the weakest link. In my very small listening area they do so much right and nothing really wrong.
I was listening to a mix I did of Marty Ehrlich back in 2006. I was frozen in my seat for 1.5 hours. They did an excellent job of recreating the event, soundstage, timbre and dynamics.....and my room ain't small.

I have achieved some really good system synergy and the sound I'm getting is first class. I really appreciate the resolution these speakers project. The are really doing justice to great recordings, as well as they are equally engaging at low, moderate and loud volumes. 

I'm feeling great about the purchase, as they now complete my change from high watt solid state/Maggies to tube/dynamic. 

During the transition I was starting to think I might have a changed system but not an upgrade. That concern has been now laid to rest.
Raymonda that's great to hear! Just got home from Phish at Dick's  and finally in front of my own system which is singing after a recent retubing. Nice to have another Micro owner out there. Another benefit to your new speakers is greater amp flexibility than your Maggies. I run mine with 17 triode watts per side and they can go louder than I would ever care to listen and sound great. So if you ever want to check out a lower powered amp than your Rogue that option is there. One question how much do you have the Micro's toed in? Mine are basically aimed just outside my ears so slightly toed in I sit about 8 feet from the speakers.
Mine are at an equilateral triangle of 86 inches and with the inside edge aimed at my head.

Phish Show? Although I'm ok with Phish, I've seen them maybe 10 times since 1995, I would bet our taste in music covers some of the same ground.

I have my amps set in triode mode, which puts out 60 watts, and yes, it is more than the speakers require. However, played within their wattage window, it is a very good match.

I've had tube amps with less watts but the m120's are really a great sounding amp with great flexability. In pentode mode they put out 120 watts and drove my Maggie's 3a's without a hiccup.

Yes a Phish show 3 actually outside Denver at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. I've been catching 5-10 shows per year in the 3.0 era which began in 2009 and can say that the band is as good as ever. I highly recommend checking them out at 78 shows and counting myself.
And sounds like you have the virtually same toe in as me good to know. And glad to hear you like your Rogues so much they sound like good amps. My own amp and preamp from Deja Vu Audio are built with more vintage parts and I tend to like a richer warmer but still transparent sound and the clarity of the Micro's balances that out nicely.