Review: JMLab Utopia Speaker

Category: Speakers

This review is for the Micro Utopia. A wonderful pair of speakers, I have them in a 14 X 20 room and they shine with 50 wpc of tube power. Their strenght is certainly the midrange and the high end, bass freaks will not be happy maybe, but I am certainly content with the bass responce in my room, they have a lush enveloping sound with a great soundstage, I have had many larger full range systems, but these are my favorite to date, and a keeper. The finish is world class and they look as good as they sound with the dedicated stands. I would say the major weakness is the cost, but I find most high end audio is very much overpriced, but I can't help but love it, the look, feel, and sound of these high end toys is a pleasure that is hard to live without. Overall I would say they are top end speakers for a small to medium size room, certainly world class monitors.

Associated gear
Wadia 850 Cd Player, VAC Auricle Power Amp.
This review is for both the Mini and Micro, the two stand mounted models in JM Labs' original Utopia series. For any readers who may not know about the Utopias, they are among the world's best speakers. Many reviewers consider the huge, top-of-the-line Grand Utopia the best speaker ever made and the small Utopias among the handful of best small speakers available.

The Micro, described above, is a 2-way bass reflex speaker with an inverted dome tweeter and one bass/mid driver. The Mini, which I ultimately chose, has a taller cabinet and two bass/mid drivers. The Mini came out a few years after the Micro. Costing >$2,000 less, the Micro sounded so good it put a dent in the Mini's sales. The Mini is overall slightly more coherent and its bass is tighter (but not deeper - both go down to 40 Hz). But the differences are not great.

Like all the Utopia models, these speakers have phenomenal transparency and exceptional neutrality. I've never heard speakers so devoid of coloration, or with such crystal clear high frequency resolution without any trace of edginess. Their frequency response is ruler flat. Their imaging is vivid, with every instrument and voice so clearly positioned across the sounstage that the speakers themselves seem to disappear. They throw a wide "sweet spot," and work well placed any which-way, but it's worth experimenting a good deal with their placement to find the "perfect point" where the imaging becomes highly 3-dimensional.

The best thing about these speakers is that they're obsolete! The new Utopia "Micro Be" with a Beryllium tweeter and major innovations in the magnet structure of its mid/bass speaker is even better. So the previous generation of Micros and Minis will be showing up with increasing frequency here on Audiogon and will be about the best sound/dollar around.

Associated gear:
YBA 1 preamp with separate power supply
YBA 1 high current amp
Marantz SA-1 SACD player
VPI HW-19 upgraded to TNT level
SME 5 arm, Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge
YBA Diamond and VeraStarr cables
I have had a pair of Artemis Eos Sig.for 5 years and have really enjoyed them.But,I then heard the new JM Labs Utopia Micro Be and was blown away.The seemless fluidness and detail that can really involve the listener hast to be heard.I had them for 2 weeks with Klimo Merlin line stage and a loaner parasound halo 125wpc amp and Arcam fmj27 cd/dvd player.Then I recieved my Chapter 2 amplifier at 200 wpc and we are talking a different universe.I am so impressed with the micro be that I am actually upgrading to the alto just to make sure in the future I will not need another speaker set.Thanks,Jim
This is a follow up to the JM Labs Alto Be and the Chapter Audio Chapter 2 amp.After 1 month of break in I have never,ever doubted my Alto purchase.It is simply breathtaking.Also,I am so impressed with the Chapter 2,I am converting to complete solid state(from my Klimo Merlin)and add the Chapter Audio Preface preamp.Thanks to Ryan at Canadian Hi-Fi for complete professionalism and of course his liberal trade-in policy.
The Focal/JM Labs Micros are a terrific two way speaker. They can image with incredible transparency, you'll want to reach out and shake hands with the vocalist or the drummer. I have the non-Be series and am extremely happy, even though the new version has even more transparency. Many thanks to Keith and the gang at Premier Audio in Seattle.
Related equipment: C-J PV 14, MF2250; Magnum M-3 Speaker Cables; Audio Refinement CD.