Sunday, January 9, 2011

Joseph Audio at CES 2011

Right next to the Cardas Audio room at CES was the Joseph Audio room, where Jeff Joseph was showing off his new speaker, the Perspective. This slim floorstander fits nicely between his flagship Pearl2 and the premium bookshelf monitor Pulsar. I was able to hear both the Perspective and the diminutive but mighty Pulsars for some time, where they were driven by Bel Canto electronics and hooked up with Cardas Clear.

I told Jeff I couldn't believe it's been 20 years since I first heard his RM7s in an audio store in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC. I remember pointing to the little two-ways (which still exist in his line in an XL version) and asking about the company. The salesman replied, "Don't know much about them, it's a brand new company." After auditioning them, I almost bought them on the spot. The only reason I didn't was that I was po' at the time.

20 years later, Jeff and his loudspeaker company are still going strong, even though they've maintained a relatively low (albeit steady) profile. I've heard many of Jeff's speakers over the years at various audio shows, and I've enjoyed every model. Right now, my favorite is the Pulsar because I love really high-quality small monitors. I love the way they disappear in a room and image like crazy. The Pulsar, however, go very deep in the bass for their size. Jeff was even bold enough to play some pipe organ music for me (an organ-only version of Pictures at an Exhibition) and I was extremely impressed with their combination of solidity and delicacy.

The new Perspective, however, went even deeper. These are gorgeous speakers (sorry the pics are so dark, but the lighting in the room was on the sultry, seductive side), and extremely well-crafted. Jeff even upped the ante by playing vinyl on a Clearaudio table with one of those exotic strain gauge cartridges from Soundsmith. First of all, every cartridge should be lighted from within (it helps with cueing, and it looks awesome). There was just something about Jeff's room that was relaxing, classy and very satisfying.

I was also a guest at his wine and cheese event and went a little overboard with both. (I also ate more than my share of M&Ms). At the same time, I cracked open a bottle of Lagavulin single malt scotch and shared a couple of glasses with Jeff's brother David as well as a few others. So it evened out. Congratulations to Jeff on a fine new speaker!

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