Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Joseph Audio's New Speakers at the 2014 CES

It's no secret that Jeff Joseph has discovered how to get a small speaker to sound like a really big speaker. Have you heard the Joseph Audio Pulsar? Have you ever heard a two-way bookshelf speaker do this nice of an impression of a floorstanding three-way tower before? Neither have I. Back at the New York Audio Show last spring, CCI lent a Unison Research Unico 50 integrated amplifier to the Joseph Audio/Channel D room. I walked in toward the end of the show and listened to a few demo cuts from Jeff--who has an absolutely encyclopedic knowledge of good music--and it was simply a breathtaking system with an expansive sound that broke down the physical dimensions of the room.

The Pulsars are expensive--$7700 per pair--but after a minute of listening you'll understand why. There are only a couple of two-way stand-mounted monitors that I enjoy more than the Pulsars; one is from Magico and costs $27K/pair and the other is from TAD and costs $37K/pair. I like the Pulsars a lot.

That's why I made a couple of special trips to the Joseph Audio room during CES--because I wanted to hear the Pulsars in action. I was surprised, however, to learn that Jeff was debuting two new speakers at CES--the $3700 Prism and the $7000 Profile. These new models don't look quite as opulent as his premium line (Pulsar, Perspective and Pearl3), but they have clean yet subtle angles that are very attractive.

Just as I approached a system that featured the small, stand-mounted Prism, someone told me--either Jeff or dealer Shayne Tenace--that the deep bass and huge soundstage of the Prism was going to remind me of the Pulsar. It did. While it's become an audiophile cliche to talk about mini-monitors that "defy physics" by creating extraordinary amounts of bass, the Prism could be the next bellwether for this type of thinking--all for a price slightly less than half the cost of the Pulsar. And while I suspect the Pulsar outdoes its little brother in terms of sheer size, it was almost shocking to hear the Prism create deep, tuneful bass that could instantly put a big smile on my face.

Of course the main event was centered around the Joseph Audio flagship, the Pearl3. The system was quite extraordinary--big Bel Canto Black monoblocks and other electronics, a Brinkmann turntable and arm (thanks, Colleen, for telling Andrea Brinkmann that she reminds me of my first wife), the Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge and Cardas Audio Clear cables. I'm shaking my head slowly because I wish I had spent more time in that room, listening to LPs on a completely mind-blowing audio system.

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