The JM Lab Alto is a very good speaker. It's strength is it's musicality and high end air. The weakness is the low end extension.
None of the other speakers seem to do more for me than the JM Lab, but another speaker you should look at is the Von Schweikert VR-4SR or VR-5SE. They excels with all music, especially stong in the lower frequencies with terrific clarity and cohesiveness.
I have very similar front end gear. I really, really want a set of JM Labs's but just can't get over the cost....I'd want 5 of course (HT setup also, the center is way spendy).
They sound great, but I know with enough time spent looking something close can be had for far less.
Sorry about not disreagarding price here, for me it's the only thing holding be back from this line.
it's very hard to ignore the price. I liked the Altos a lot. They didn't blow me out of the water. Maybe if they had more bass extension? For $17k, I want bass without a sub. I think they are overpriced, like all of their Utopia line. Also, their tweeter (upper end) is great, but it's not the best out their. They'll have you believe that. They are excellent marketers of their products. The audiophooishly naive will believe that berrylium is the only way to go. It's toxic to work with, and that makes it expensive. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Altos. I want more than love for $17k. Man, if I had the room (lots of room) and the money for the necessary quality (huge wattage) power, I'd go for the big Maggies in a jiff. You'd save $5k. peace, warren
I have been listening to the JM Utopia for the last three years.I have not had any of the problems you mentioned.The key to the Utopia good sound is the right amplifier.I have settled on the Gryphon Antileon Signature the Boulder amp is a good match as well.You can buy on audiogon the JM Utopias for a fraction of the original price,and there are currently some big Gryphons on sale.
You simply must look at the Revel Ultima line. The Studios and Salons are amazingly neutral and they have full range capability. I have an awesome front end (modded Denon 2900, SS output stage) with, in my opinion, the best preamp and amps (Thor Audio's equipment). Its magic.
Getting back to the speakers, I listened to a lot of speakers, but I really don't think there is better bang for the buck than Revel's line of speakers. They really aren't too room dependent, and the imaging, neutrality and clarity of the design is mindboggling too.
With that said, they are not "musical". They are neutral.
I would strongly recommend you listen to a lot more speakers before you plunk down your cash - listen more then let your ears guide you would be my $0.02
You seem to be drawn to the high advertising lines so far. Just an observation. Perhaps it is an availability thing. I dunno. Not that any of those are bad necessarily, but JM and Dynaudio are not my personal cup of tea to be sure. I think you can get a LOT more musical at a lot less money. Of course you have to fund those gorgeous ads... =P Frankly, even ignoring price I would (and consistently have) looked elsewhere...
On your list the Sophias are capable of some magic in the right setup, though I know that is a VERY contentious statement around here. I've heard it once though (one setup out of 4 now for the sophias - and that was with Classe Omegas).
Jtinn - Surprised to see you approve of JM actually. Your lines otherwise cream JM in almost every parameter IMO... and they don't seem to fit in with your general musical sensibilities. Hope it doesn't appear otherwise - I don't mean to single out your comments, particularly since you and I have consistently shared more opinions than not over the years (and several thoughtful conversations). Rather, I am inquiring for precisely that reason. Hmmm... Just struck me as odd.
Thanks for your remarks ...
What other brands or particular speaker models would you strongly recommend ? What lines does Jtinn carry that would cream JMlab.
Thanks for your help.
I have heard the three major contendors listed and would put the JM Labs at the top of the list though the Wilsons and the Dynaudios are also very good. If you are looking at this price point then the speakers you have listed are good options. To the extent you have ambivalence, the JM labs and the Wilsons will probably command the best resale value should you decide to change later on.
The Revels are worth listening to as well, Whenever I hear the Revels I really enjoy them but for whatever reason they have never moved me enough to buy them. Just my opinion.
I doubt very much that any speaker will "cream" any of the ones you have listed, though perhaps some might be more magical in the right setup. Some other speakers to consider at this price point or below: (1) Genesis 501 - this is a fabulous speaker and in the class of the ones you have listed at only $10,500; and (2)Meadowlark BH II - also a very good contendor.
At this level of speaker much of one's success and enjoyment will be attributable to system matching and the nature of your room. I have found the JM Labs speakers I have heard quite dependent on the right amplifier matching. With the wrong amp the bass can be muddy and the high end etched.
If you are willing to spend a little more for that extra magic then I would listen to the Aerial 20Ts (which I own) and which IMO is more capable of magic than any of the speakers you have listed though also more expensive.
The Kharmas 3.2s are also worth listening to and are fabulous though for me during the limited times I have heard them left me cold. Most opeople seem to have a different reaction than me, however, and love them.
Similarly, many would suggest the Vandersteen 5As, also a great speaker but to my ears also left me cold. Most people again, would probably disagree.
If I were you, I'd identify a few remaining contenders. take a listen and then decide. I too like the JM labs and if our ears are similar would recommend, given your choices, going for them, but taking a quick listen to the Genesis 501s for a reality check.
Jwaugh: My statement was based on the speakers Thom_y was comparing to.
I also think you can do better than JMlab. My person preference is the high end Coincidents - specifically the Total Victory, which for my tastes knocked a pair of JMlab Diva Be completely out of the ring recently.
My complaint is that I don't hear enough presence and life (microdynamics?) from JMlab speakers overall. They just sound too polite to me, and the bass isn't what it should be for the money. The Coincidents don't suffer from these faults at all. They sound very alive, with great dynamics and very deep bass. They are an extremely engaging speaker, a true "statement" product at a lower cost than most of the ones under discussion.
Quick comment in agreement with JWaugh above- for the price range you're considering, listen to some more speakers, if you can.
I'd recommend looking into-
The new Linn models (Akurate 242s are the floor-standers, I believe)
Whatever Avalon product fits the price range
Merlin VSM (the favorite of a lot of folks around here)