I bought these used on Audiogon for $4600 + shipping. It was a pretty good deal;these are good enough that it will be hard to justify upgrading unless I get a new house with a large dedicated listening room. The seller was upgrading to a very expensive German Speaker (Audio Physiks or MBL?).
I bought these without seeing or hearing them first, mainly because of positive reviews in The Audio Critic of the RM7Si monitors. Jeff Joseph seems to have design goals mostly in line with those recommended by Floyd Toole, and I like the current lines of Infinity speakers designed according to those criteria.
I already had Infinity Interlude 40 speakers that were real bargains. I still use them in a bedroom system. They had an amazing wide lateral soundstage,but were lacking a little bass for organ music and movies (this is a dual-purpose system used for most of my TV viewing). I used a Velodyne sub for bass reinforcement, but I thought something closer to full range speakers would be nice.
The RM33Si definitely has enough bass for most music, even organ music. They won't shake the floor and vibrate your backside like Advents in the corners of a small room, but the bass is quite good. Actually, with the TV going in the next room, I can feel bass transients as I type this on the PC in the computer room. About the only time I feel something missing is with my Direct to Disk Virgil Fox albums (The Fox Touch Vol. 1 &2). You get second harmonics of the 32' pedal notes, but it's not quite earth-shaking. I measure the speakers with a corrected RS meter and Stereophile CD#2 at -3 dB at 31.5 Hz, -6 dB at 25 Hz and -10 dB at 20Hz. These are about as good as 8" woofers get.
The bass doesn't really stand out or seem overly prominent, it's just there when it's supposed to be. They basically sound like high-quality minimonitors with a good small sub. They seem very refined, with pinpoint imaging like a minimonitor, but bass transients are definitely there and are quite solid. They are sufficiently good even on movie sound tracks that I don't switch in the two Velodyne HGS-10 subs unless it's something radical, like T2 or Midway.
The human voice is reproduced extremely well, chamber music is excellent (harpsichord localization is pinpoint in Bach concerti for multiple harpsichords), jazz is not my favorite genre, but Kind of Blue sounds good. I haven't found a major weakness anywhere, though I'm betting that a great dipole speaker might give an even better sense of spaciousness (Orion or big Soundlabs?).
Soundstage depth and bass extension are the biggest differences between the Infinity IL-40 and the Josephs. The RM33Si also doesn't have the insanely wide lateral soundtage of the IL-40.The Stereophile #2 test CD has a band where someone walks around a church clapping. You get a better sense of the size of the church and a stronger sense of being there with the RM33Si. The Infinities seem to squash the space a little, like the church is a little smaller. The IL-40 has a somewhat recessed soundstage; the Infinity Intermezzo 2.6 had a forward placement of solo guitars, like the player was in your lap or on the coffee table. The IL-40 put the guitar just behind the TV, and the Josephs put it right between the speakers. Like Baby Bears porridge, it's just right.
If you need a relatively small, unobtrusive floorstanding speaker that looks good and sounds great, try these. I think these are the best looking Joseph speakers. The closest competitors appear to be the Merlin VSM's. Both are probably at their best in small to medium size rooms. They would not make great techno/heavy metal/hip-hop speakers. You might run into some dynamic compression and bass distortion if you like rock at true concert levels or if you put them in a large room, but these will play The Who's Quadrophenia at sane levels with plenty of punch and authority.
If you really want state-of-the-art speakers that work in a large room and go deeper in the bass with more efficiency, be prepared to get something that's bigger,too ugly for a living room and probably a lot more expensive than the RM33Si. Maybe Joseph Pearl, Wilson Sophia, B&W 801,Revel Salon,etc.
I was originally planning to purchase a pair of Joseph RM25sis when the word on the street was that Jeff Joseph had something special in the works. Since I considered the RM25si the best speaker I had heard under 5k hands down, I decided to take Jeff at his word and wait. I didn't realized at the time that wait would be over 14 months and that the final price would $1,500 more than originally projected. Nevertheless, Jeff Joseph is a man of his word, my patience was indeed rewarded and I consider the end product a great value.
The fit and finish of the speakers was nearly flawless. My only gripe was that I wish the binding post for the speaker cables were 1/4 to 1/2 longer. If your speaker cables have thick spades, screwing the clamp on may be a challenge. Secondly, one of my speaker grilles doesn't fit quite as snugly as I'd like.
If you buy a pair of these speakers, plan on 4-6 week break in period. During that time, the speakers sounded a bit heavy in the upper mid bass and the centering of images wasn't as palpable. Once broken in, all of that changed.
As mentioned in by a previous reviewer, these speakers extremely fast. They project the speed and imaging approaching that of Martin Logan speaker, without the narrow sweet spot. The sweet spot these speakers project is broad and high. Unlike an earlier reviewer, I've found these speakers to be seamless from top to bottom. (Possibly due later refinements). The dynamics, both macro and micro, are first rate all the way.
With a good source, the RM33sis have a tremendous ability to give you that illusion of live sound in your living room. You'll even notice it when you're not in the same room! Bottom line: If you want a speaker that you'll still be impressed with 5 or 10 years down the line because it does justice to every type of music, you can't do better than the RM33si without spending a whole lot more money.
FYI: Associated equipment includes a Theta Dreadnaught amp, Theta Casa Nova SS Processor, Cardas Neutal Speaker cable, Harmonic Technologies Silway Pro II interconnects, NAD CD with Monarch DIP.
Hans van den Berge
a Audio Enthusiast
Date Reviewed: February 11, 2002
I listened to this speaker at a demo at A&B sound in Vancouver and was in total awe of this and any other Joseph speaker. Unlike the previous reviewer, I especially enjoyed the best three driver integration that I have ever experienced.
The 33 is an excellent speaker, Joseph's best available work to date. It is typically mated with the Classe line of amplifiers, maybe as a result of a cross marketing deal. I don't know for sure, but I have always seen the Josephs demo'd with a Classe amp. The sound tends to the cool, but never dry or spitty, and surprisingly non-fatiguing. Fundamental/overtone relationships come out right, and the 33s are FAST, but not quite electrostatic fast. When all is right, and you have a good recording, you can drop into the music trance mode and lose the dreaded equipment focus syndrome. As with all revealing speakers, garbage in-garbage out. Joseph tells me that the Pearl will be available by the end of Summer, 2001, as soon as he gets the final production details worked out. The Pearl will cost twice as much as the 33, but its all foreward firing design will probably solve the bass/midrange discrepancy problem. The crossover itself is unique, and totally scrubs any low frequency information before it reaches the metal midrange cone. Resulting in a purity that wasn't available with metal cones. Metal drivers have traded speed and dynamics for a pingy clang type of distortion before. It sounds like keeping low frequencies off the mid cone does prevent the excess energy from exiteing these clang tones, so the cone doesn't sound traditionally metallic. Maybe more like a ceramic, but with greater dynamism. One thing for sure, this speaker handles meso-dynamics exceptionally well. All the major stuff going on in the wide center of the music is correctly projected. The filagree of micro-dynamics isn't up to superspeaker standards, as if the inductive coupling of the crossover does shave off the finest textures of the music. Your choice of amplifier and cable will be critical in preserving the micro-dynamics as much as possible to let the 33 shine. One the other end of the scale, it can play big, and is at least competitive in the macro-dynamic department, but you still get a somewhat intimate sound , but only in comparison to a seriously mighty speaker. This speaker is perfectly suited to the timbres and dynamics of Jazz. It could have been voiced as the ideal product for the fanatic jazzbo. Rockers may want more heft, and string quarted aesthetes could go for more micro-subtlety. Overall, this is a screamingly good product. Not heard yet with other types of amplification, but the reviews suggest that the manley 750 watt brunhilde would sound out of this world with the 33. A lot of my commentary may be biased by the sonic print of Classe amps, too