Review: VMPS RM40 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I owned the final iteration of this speaker, the one with the FST tweeter, Auracap X-over and Analysis Plus internal upgrades. I say "owned" because I no longer have them. I spent about 4 months of solid listening & tweaking before finally "letting them go".
At the risk of being "flamed" by loyal VMPS owners (I know there's many!) I am simply commenting on my own, personal experience with these speakers.

I'm 43 years young, have been an "audiophile" for over 34 years. I'm mostly a "panal speaker" kinda guy, having owned Maggies, and several pairs of 'Logans over the years, but I have also owned many excellent dynamic speakers (Hales T5's, B&W 802, Alon IV's).

I have a dedicated listening room, with dedicated AC lines, various sound treatment throughout, in the basement of my home.

I include this information because I feel it is critical, any time a slightly negative review is given on a popular item, so you the reader, are properly informed about the person giving the review.

Simply put -- despite over 4 months of listening, positioning, tweaking, and even different amps, I could NEVER get the RM40's to sound "right".

They were never musical, in an effortless, natural way. I believe that, despite some rave reviews regarding the ribbons used in this design, they (the ribbons) still possess a prominent resonance, which adds an unwanted "peakiness" to the character of sound.

Yes, I did adjust, re-adjust, and adjust again, the tweeter and midrange level controls. Shelved down, the speakers sounded dull & lifeless, at the factory settings, they had the proper tonal balance, but then the "stridency" would rear it's ugly head.

This was especially noticable on the upper register of piano notes, clarinette, and some female vocal, but again, the OVERALL character of this speaker was just too bright & hot.

After much experimenting, and through process of elimination, I deduced that it indeed was the midrange units that were the main contributor here.

The tweeter, on the other hand, is perhaps the best high-frequency transducer these ears have ever heard. Fast, ultra-clean, with NO discernable "ringing" or over-hang. Too bad the mids couldn't match this performance!

Bass: another area that I was a bit disappointed. With the woofer array in this HEAVY loudspeaker, I expected MUCH deeper bass response. The bass was always clean, just a little disappointing in it's lack of reach.

The imaging was first rate, both laterally and depth-wise, with a panoramic stage that was again, right up there with the best I've heard, however, I just could not get these beasts to "gel" in my system again, in a musically pleasing way.

I really wanted to like these speakers. I saw them as a possible "world class" speakers for the common man, and thought (mostly based on the reviews) that these would be the last stop for me on the speaker highway, but alas -- once I learned/heard their Achilles heal, I couldn't get rid of them fast enough.

Sorry loyal VMPS owners! Nothing personal! Like they say "you say tomaato, I say tomahh-toe..." To each his own. Perhaps in the right room, with different ancillaries, they would be magic, but for this audio pilgram, well, I'm sticking with my M.L. Prodigies.

Equipment used during ownership; Spectron Musician II, Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 CD, Antique Sound Labs "Hurricane" amps (by FAR the best match up), Analysis Plus Solo Crystal interconnects and speaker cable, Acoustic Zen Tsunami AC cords, Shakti Stones and On Lines, PS Audio P300, Quantum Symphony line conditioners, Well Tempered Classic V table, BAT P5 phono stage, Reference Line Preeminence 1B pre-amp, Granit Audio Silver interconnects.


Product Weakness: Overall chacter -- strident, hard, non-musical. Bass not as deep and powerful as specs would suggest.
Product Strengths: Best sounding tweeter I've ever heard. Great imaging.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Spectron Musician II, ASL Hurricanes
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Reference Line Preemince 1B
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Audio Aero Capitole 24/192
Speakers: Martin-Logan Request, Prodigy
Cables/Interconnects: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal, Granite Audio 475? silver
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Classical, jazz, prog. rock
Room Size (LxWxH): 24 x 15 x 9
Room Comments/Treatments: Metrofuser diffusion panals, ASC bass traps
Time Period/Length of Audition: 4 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Quantum Symphony, PS Audio P300

Associated gear
Spectron Musician II
Audio Aero Capitole 24/192
Antique Sound Labs Hurricane
Analysis Plus Solo Crystal cables
Acoustic Zen Tsunami AC cords
PS Audio P300

Similar products
MArtin Logan ReQuest
MArtin Logan Odyssey
Martin Logan Prodigy
Hales T5
B&W 802
Alon IV
Magnapan MGIII
I think your review demonstrates how important it is to listen to a product for one's self prior to a major purchase. Did you audition these thoroughly prior to purchase? Of course, that's not foolproof either, as things often sound better, or worse, in the store, and home auditions are difficult, if they can be arranged at all. In my case, the Summits sounded great in the store, but sound phenomenal in my home.

By the way, what do you own now?

I can think of another speaker that had great reviews that I personally hated, waaaayyyy more than you seem to have disliked the VPMS. BUT, I only listened once, and maybe I was "wrong". If everyone liked the same speakers, one brand would probably take over fairly quickly, I suppose.

I've not heard the VPMS, but it was one recommended to me by one of the posters to my "Which speaker to buy?" thread.
A lot of people seem to really like them. This is an interesting hobby.
I have an audio friend that went through the same experience you have. I listened to his system over the course of 6 months as he tried to get the VMPS RM40's to sound good. He has a dedicated room with great gear in front of it. All the tweaking and time he put into that speaker still left the sound well - not right.

He owned the Belles 350A monoblocks, Tom Evans Vibe/Pulse pre, AA capitole MKII SE CD player and good cables all around. He called the builder numerous times and tweaked everything as he was told. Still the sound was not right.

On the other hand some of the reviews I read say this is the best speaker ever made! Strange to have these opposite experiences. More strange is the fact that this listening room was an ideal size, with sound treatments and great associated gear.

No matter what a reviewer says, what sounds like the best speaker ever made to one does not sound right to another. Both people have well seasoned and experienced ears. Very strange indeed.

Yes, listen for yourself. We all have a "sound" we like or dislike. No one speaker can be best or worst. A speaker will sound good to one and poor to another based on personal preferences.

Same is true of amps, CD players, wire and all else. I have purchased gear based on reviews that I had to sell off right away as they sounded aweful to me.

It takes work!

No doubt personal preference is (and should be) the rule on what to buy and keep. If they don't make you happy - move on!

On the other side of the equation I had a set of RM40's and I loved them. I have previously owned Thiel 6, Wilson Watt 6, ML CLS, Wilson cubs, and a host of other products. It did take some time to get them right, but the result was well worth it. Properly set up they are magic. I spent a lot of time working on the bass Q and once set it was easy to set the mids and highs (I think this may be opposite of what VMPS recommends. I think the speakers come WAY over damped from the factory).

A few weeks before we moved my wife asked if we listening to music in surround mode instead of my customary stereo. We weren't. The music was really holographic. Our new house will be ready next month and I'll have a set of VMPS there, I just haven't decided which ones.

Happy listening to all!
I still own a pair of RM40's purchased in April 2005. I find them to sound harsh in the midrange and have not been able to correct this amusicality with putty pinching and L-pad level controls.

No fun! Ear bleeding sound with the AVA electronics in my room.

As you are all aware there are many complex speakers regarding optimum set up, as well we all know that the "room" itself is a main contributor. Also the larger the speaker seems to be that much more of a challenge... I personally have had just as disastrous situations with ProAc top of line speakers (no bass no matter what) Tannoy Westministers Royal, no bass or way too much bass, Genesis big towers and Infinity IRS systems (nightmares) and many more.

Perhaps its time for anyone with BIG bad boy speakers to consider decent room correction devices, today even the great ones are seriously well priced and very very effective. The pro's have been using this technology for years with excellent results. For me the very best one is the DEQX line as well I have good experience with Trinnov as well..

To make my point; I have a friend with the VMPS 40mk2, we didn't even waste time, we put them into an intelligent postion that suited the rooms aesthetics, gutted the xover, tossed in a pro multichannel amp from Ashley (around 3000.00)(made in USA) used the DEQX processor pre amp and a couple of hours, we were chilling to Double Trouble and a great bottle of Grey Monk unwooded Chardonnay another great deal around 16.00 ..

Good luck to all you guys,