New Speakers ... Can't Stop "Listening"


I’ve had my new JA Pulsars for about a month now, and something really strange has happened ... I’m actually interested in "listening" to the music. With my old B&Ws, I’d put on the system and read or surf the internet; being "involved" with the music typically was not something I had experienced. Now, reading a magazine or surfing the ’net is virtually impossible. It's almost as if I'm compelled to pay attention. I never knew I could be so engaged by my system. Other than greater detail, what am I hearing now that I hadn’t heard before? Has anyone had a similar experience?
rlb61
Oh Yeah,
every listening session is like that for me and I don’t think about changing anything and just relax and take it all in.

Musical Nirvana.so nice that you found yours.

Enjoy,
Kenny.
firstly,those Pulsars sure get lots of praise. I emailed with Jeff Joseph
about auditioning a pair at his headquarters on Long Island,as I live here as well,but had to let the idea go because I just couldn't afford them. I subsequently home auditioned a pair of Harbeth P3s but decided to keep my speakers ...B&W 303s... That lead to a somewhat all over the map window shopping thread reading frenzy
since I had the 2 grand from the Harbeths burning a hole in my hand
so ended up somehow,and as a bit of a surprise to me, buying two sets of Nordost Heimdall interconnects instead for about $300 each, and they turned out 
to be a revelation,perhaps on a par with your Pulsar experience.
The Heimdalls were my first foray into " high-end " interconnects,replacing old Monsters that I had for years. The difference was astounding,and they have become at least for now the missing link,by default as it were, in my system of Eastern Electric cdp, Modwright 9.0 pre amp. McCormack DNA 1 amp,and the B&Ws.....with Signal Cable speaker cables. I feel my system,my stereo as I call it, has reached a good solid place,and I now listen
much more,even later at night at lower levels. Now,that being said,I still look at classifieds on all the sites,and would still like to check out various speakers of interest,including the Pulsars......and I've also through first hand experience concluded that at least as speakers go there's no substitute for in home audition,which I understand isn't
always possible, but for me I probably would have bought the Harbeths after listening at the dealers if I hadn't been able to compare them to my speakers. So apologies for the rambling....just so impressed and surprised at what an impact the Heimdalls had for
me .......  good luck with your Joseph Pulsars.
Sorry, your speakers were made obsolete by the TekTon Ulfberhts Be. Were did the name Ulfberhts come from anyway?
Yes I know my Silverline Bolero Supremes and Lawrence Double Bass are both Obsolete now,the Irony is that every other Tekton speaker before is also Obsolete as well.

Just more over the top marketing,Ulfberht is some Viking term as far as I know.

If given the chance I would like to hear them,but I doubt seriously I would buy them based on appearance alone.I say this after owning their double impact speaker for 10 months.

I will just have to get by with what I have for now,
Kenny.

To me, Joseph Audio always has one of the best sounds at the shows, and Axpona was no exception.  He gets that extremely lifelike "hear the vocals chords vibrating" insight that I normally only hear on very good, super-efficient speakers driven by low power SET amps.  But you need good, ample power to drive JA.  He had an enormous Rowland with a Doshi pre at Axpona. I'm just too cheap to pay the entrance fee, but if voice is a priority, few if any do it better.
Yes Joseph Audio always one of the best sounds at Capital AudioFest especially out of a smaller box.
Great to hear. But how long did you put up with B & W Speakers?  No surprises as B & W Speakers are the most "uninvolving" Speakers I've had the misfortune to hear.
@initforthemusic ... I had the B&Ws for several years, but really didn't pay attention to their uninvolving nature until I heard the JAs. After that, it was a no brainer. 
rib61,
What pair of B&W speakers did you have? Model#/series?
Agreed about the JA speakers.

My test for if a speaker might be for me or not is the "can I get up and leave or not?" when listening.  Some speakers just pin me to the chair making me want to listen to track after track, and the JA speakers do that for me when I've auditioned them.  It's that magic clarity, warmth and incisiveness.  They have the to my ears incredibly rare attribute of "surprisingness."  That is, the timbral nature of voices and instruments seems so clear and distinct, that I can't exactly predict how a new instrument will sound.  For most speakers once I hear drum cymbals, or a sax or a trumpet etc I pretty much know how those instruments will sound through those speakers from then on.  But the Josephs seem to mirror a more life-like sense of revelation.

I remember putting on some vocal tracks - Chet Baker, Julie London, mono recordings - and I was absolutely struck at how they sounded like I'd never heard before.  A certain clarity all the way through the voice to the furthest away instruments and even though the instruments were all jangled together in the center (mono) each was distinctly clear with it's own timbral voice.  And the voices had a particular "that's a real person" realism.  A similar experience to hearing voices through Harbeth speakers, the way Harbeth "gets' the human voice in a way most speakers don't.  The JAs don't sound exactly like the Harbeths with voices but for me they do a similarly compelling portrayal of voice.
@rlb61 It's great when you can get really involved with your system. Enjoy!
@mr_m ... I had the original Nautilus 804s.
"Can't Stop Listening" That's how I feel about my new B&W 804D3s.
Sweetest, most musical speakers I've ever heard.
dweller,

Indeed.

This "can't stop listening" evaluation is obviously subjective.

I have a problem when people move from their own subjective reaction to a speaker/system to declarations of some objective form "this speaker plays music, others don't!" or "this speaker is one you can't stop listening to!"

Like any other audiophile, I've sat in front of systems that turn the crank of others, but which have left me cold and bored.  So I have no reason to ever say "B&W speakers are boring or don't play music in a captivating manner"  as if it were some objective truth.
Fantastic 
enjoy !!!!!!
Yeah congrats rlb61.  Years ago I got to compare JA RM25 directly to B&W Nautilus 804 and 803 -- all original versions of speakers.  There was nothing, and I mean NOTHING, either of the B&Ws did as well as the JAs (this was at a B&W dealer with their setup BTW).  Not that the B&Ws sounded bad on their own, but directly compared to the JAs they sounded just flat and uninvolving.  Very similar to what you described with your 804s, which is what reminded me of this.  Anyway, congrats again and enjoy!!!

This goes to show how important is the way speakers and crossovers are designed since the drivers appear to be commercially available SEAS components, albeit all top quality. He doesn't mention which models he uses but similar (or maybe the same) SEAS woofers and tweeters sell for around $300 each at Madisound. Assuming a similar quality part selection for the crossovers and adding it all up, that's a lot more than what most other high end speaker makers put into just raw components. More like 4X vs. a norm of 10X. Aside from the design elements, quality parts combined with a moderately high impedance load curve explains why they sound so good. They also look great which is the icing on the cake.
kalali,

Good post!

I agree about how speaker drivers behave in the hands of different speaker designers.

The first time I ever liked a speaker with metal drivers was encountering Paul Hales "Transcendence" speaker designs.  Paul was (is?) a wizard with crossover design and he brought the best out of those drivers.  I still own some Transcendence speakers, which use Seas drivers like the JA speakers.  The Hales have a purity of tone and lack of hash similar to the JA speakers.  So at least my first inclination is to attribute some of that signature to the drivers, but clearly both designers knew how to get the best out of them.

The Perspectives are near the top of my list of most attractive looking speakers.  It's a smart, contemporary look with a killer level of finish and craftsmanship.
I built very similar speakers myself using SEAS drivers. I made my own baffles using 1.5” thick solid ash. Cabinets are Parts Express 0.5 cu’ piano black units.
I spent quite a bit $$s on crossovers and they are big and therefore external. The sound? They sound amazing. Clear and very detailed.  I love to post a video of them here but not sure how. I will upload it somewhere and provide link here.
Overall, they cost me less than $1,500 for the pair ( not counting my labor/engineering).
I feel the same way about my Golden Ear Triton Ones !
Here is the link.
https://youtu.be/C8fwA3nPNls

Listening to Susan Wong on youtube from ipad. Signal is going through small Yamaha mixer to $100 basic Sony receiver. And sounds this good.

Let me know what everyone think?
No doubt that the SEAS drivers make a difference, but so does the Modafferi x-over which Jeff Joseph has improved upon. I can only describe the sound of the Pulsars as natural and unforced. There's an ease of presentation that I haven't heard in other speakers, but without being soft or rolled off  ... voices and instruments sound the way that they're supposed to sound. I just don't know how else to describe them. To say that I'm thrilled with the Pulsars would be a polite understatement.
Just found out. JA Pulsars cost around $7,700!!
WOW.. I bet I can run my pair against theirs and still smile..
Enjoy !  Its always nice to listen to the music and not the speaker if you know what I mean.   When you stop analyzing and scrutinizing every note and get sucked into the music you are on to something......
@pc997 ... I got a competitive trade-in on my 17 year old B&Ws, so the hit wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Bottom line is that I wanted the JA sound (which is very difficult to find used) and, as my mother has always said, "if you buy the best, you’ll never be sorry." So, I splurged a bit on something I had wanted for a long time, but at least I didn’t buy some monstrosity of a speaker that cost $189K per pair, either.
@oddiofyl ... Well said. That's exactly how I feel.
@rlb61 I never intended to say that you paid too much or anything in those lines. I am sorry if my posts sounded that way.
Everybody has different way of looking at things. And some things can not be measured in dollars. I am just happy that I can put together a set of speakers somewhat close to world class manufacturer’s.
@pc997 ... no offense taken. I agree that the Pulsars are expensive. I wish I had the skills to build my own speakers, like you, but I can just about hammer in a screw. :-) Happy listening.
  If given the chance I would like to hear them,but I doubt seriously I would buy them based on appearance alone.I say this after owning their double impact speaker for 10 months.
@kdude66  You know the offer is always open to stop by for a listen! I'll have the covers very soon. Maybe that will make the appearance more palatable for you. But they're still going to be 7 ft tall no matter what.  
I have not looked inside the JA Pulsars, but I have to say, the impedance curve and measurements lead me to believe these are fairly conventional crossovers, but Kudos to JA for being so well implemented. The curious thing is the dip just below 2 kHz, leading me to believe there’s probably a notch filter or something there. Probably to adjust those woofers.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/joseph-audio-pulsar-loudspeaker-measurements

Without that dip, this looks like a very very normal impedance and frequency response charts. What IS unusual is Stereophile liking something that measures so well. - HAH!

There is usually about a 10x markup between drivers and sales price, so I think the $7,700 retail price is not bad at all. These are pretty high quality parts. 

E
erik,

Since you are here....

A very common reaction to the JA sound, one that I have as well, is finding it to be particularly clear and grain-free.  A really "black background" as it were with a particular purity to the sound.

Can you notice anything in particular about the design that might account for this?
By the way, as I was looking for something entirely different I found a Seas 2.5 way tower kit at Madisound, using similar parts. Worth checking out, especially for the price! 

Around $1,800 for the drivers with crossovers. You could probably get Lee at Taylor Speakers to build cabinets for you for $1k, or assemble them in their entirety for a little more. 

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/2.5-way-speaker-kits/seas-delling-excel-kit-pair/

http://www.taylorspeakers.com/


erik, I saw that kit. It'll make a great sounding speaker and with the right cabinet will compete with $10K-$15K commercial speakers. Makes for a great summer project.
OK, I'll bite. JA claims that the SEAS drivers are customized for them. They claim also that the Modaferri xover is unique to them as a licensee. So, even if you bought the kit and had it installed in cabinets, would it sound similar to the Pulsars for 1/2 the price? I have no regrets about buying the JA's, but I'm curious about the extent to which it is an off-the-shelf speaker, if at all.
The agon members here ( you know who you are) that disparage tekton in totally unrelated threads remind me so much of the snowflakes who take every opportunity to cry about what happened in November of 2016. You guys are NOT flattering yourselves. Just move on with life. This is just a hobby, not serious business.

And this is someone with no dog in the fight observing from the outside, take it for what it's worth............

Oz
@ozzy62  ... Oz, I enjoy your posts very much. However, I don't know what the post above has to do with the Pulsars.
I owned the Pulsars for a few years and loved what they did in my system and would highly recommend them to anyone in the market for a two-way design. I ended up replacing them with Sonus faber Olympica 3’s. And..as in all things audio..as much as I liked the Pulsars... the 3’s are in another class altogether. But,in reality..at nearly twice the cost..they had better be. Enjoy the music!!!
@ozzy62 not complaining at all. I am just enjoying the comedy show that initially started on Nov 2016..
:-)

Oz, I enjoy your posts very much. However, I don't know what the post above has to do with the Pulsars.
Scroll up to the top of the page on 4/16 for the posts in question, they are back to back. It will all become clear.

Oz


hi @rlb61 - Well, without measuring there is no way to tell exactly what was done for Joseph Audio. This is quite typical work by the way. Changes to the impedance, or suspension to accommodate target enclosures or crossovers are often done, plus they make the drivers "unobtanium" for the average consumer. 

Note that those are a little smaller than the drivers in the kit I was recommending. 

As for the crossover, I don't know what they are actually using. Perhaps that notch in impedance is evidence of their unique style? 

Still, every audiophile should build their own speakers at least once in their hobby's lifetime. These are top quality parts engineered by experts and an excellent value. 

Imagine the fun rolling your own capacitors and tuning the levels yourself instead of swapping amps and cables. 

Best,

E
Found the review for the JA Perspectives,

https://www.stereophile.com/content/joseph-audio-perspective-loudspeaker

which are closer in line to the SEAS kit I was suggesting.

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/2.5-way-speaker-kits/seas-delling-excel-kit-pair/

Around $3k for the kit, assuming cabinetry from Lee Taylor.

http://www.taylorspeakers.com/

Around $13k for the perspectives.

I think that if you are at all interested in building a kit, and want to try for something similar this is a worthwhile investment. Again, a major advantage to this is the ability to tune the entire speaker to taste with a little measurement and a little know-how. You may never buy fancy cables again. :)

Best,

E
Shame I can't post images. So looking at the Stereophile review for the Perspectives, and the data at Madisound, the crossovers are entirely different. 

One of the main results appears to be the lowering of the tweeter / woofer frequency with the JA. The kit crosses around 3 kHz, the JA around 1.8 kHz. In order to support this, you need steeper crossover slopes so that the tweeter gets cut off faster. JA appears to use 18 dB/octave (3rd order) while the kit uses about 10 dB/octave (closer to 2nd order). 

If you knew a little about crossover design you could attempt this without using a magical crossover though. Also, there are some overall differences. JA's tweeter is tuned a little bright, and they deal with a slight hump of the drivers around 1 kHz which the kit does not. 

So, will they sound exactly the same? Probably not, but high quality parts with different directions were taken. Fun place to get started in DIY. 

Best,

E
I have owned the Pulsars and now have a pair of Perspectives.  Wonderful speakers. As far as kits go, you do not understand cost accounting and, without a direct comparison, have no idea as to whether they sound as good as the JAs. Good luck if you ever want to sell them used. 

I am am willing to pay for the overhead, quality control and intellectual property that goes into the Joseph Audio products. 
@markalarsen 

I think you have a wonderful perspective! 

And yes, selling kits used is a B, but on the other hand, you did not invest that much to begin with. 

Direct comparisons matter a great deal, and it is horribly unfair to designers at JA to attempt a side by side, spec only based comparison. 

Still, you should build a kit once in your hobby lifetime, you would learn a great deal, no matter which kit you build. 

Best,

E
I don't think there's anything that special about JA cabinets or drivers, so to me the special sauce that makes their speakers sound so good and different from others (at least to me) is mainly the crossover.  So unless you can reproduce the infinite slope crossover design JA uses and implement it correctly with the specific drivers and cabinet being used (to me this is the real value added), you might make great sounding speakers but I seriously doubt they'll have that certain JA magic.  I know I can't do it, so some day I'll be happy to cut Jeff Joseph a check.  But I agree that building speakers would be a very worthwhile, educational, and fun exercise that I'll definitely give a shot at some point (probably after we boot the kids out of the nest).
The discussion or perhaps digression around the kits and similarity of the drivers was not intended to imply that folks who buy "designer" high end speakers are being ripped off. Building these kits is work and takes patience and tuning them to taste is an acquired/learned skill. And it takes a special type of person to go the DIY route, just like changing your own oil in your car or replacing windows in your home. Will you save money at the end, probably yes. Will you know what you're going to end up with, probably not.    
Hi @kalali - 

This is a digression. 

I'm not saying everyone should design their own speakers, nor do I think saving money is the reason to do so. 

I do think every audiophile should get their hands at least a little dirty at least once in their hobby. Even if you only buy a $50 kit with all the parts ready to assemble, the learning experience of making your own speakers is priceless, as is the ability to tinker endlessly. I feel strongly that if more audiophiles went from amateur speaker engineers to actually building even a single pair of speakers our hobby would be better for it. 

Best,

E
@erik_squires 
Completely agree. Sometimes DIY hifi is more satisfying than buying equipment. Especially your DIY actually comes close to purchased equipment.

My own:
https://youtu.be/C8fwA3nPNls

Good job pc997! 

(I feel like I just spoke a line from a Star Wars movie...)

How do you find your speakers compare to some of the comparable commercially built models?

Thanks prof,

I took that youtube video with my iphone. The Susan Wong song was being played on youtube (ipad) and the amp was a $100 basic Sony unit. There were no high end components anywhere - except, of course, speakers and the crossovers.

I listened (took a CD with me) to some stand mount (bookshelf) speakers in local Magnolia (using Marantz equipment). My speakers clearly has better sound than B&W 705 S2 however can't hear any differences with 805 D3s (I am sure 805s diamond tweeter would sound better if I played them side by side). I also listened to Focal Chorus 706s at a different store. Focals are about the same as 805s - however nothing really jumped making me want to take them home. My diy speakers are also much better sounding than my B&W CM7.5 wall speakers which is expected.

I am extremely happy with what I have built (mostly proud of the crossovers). I will be getting some stands, put the crossovers into more presentable boxes, and hook them up to a better equipment, better cabling and make another video. They should become much better.


I still would love to have a pair of B&W 802 or 803 D3s... ;-)