JBL M2 listening impressions

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JoshK

JBL M2 listening impressions
« on: 10 May 2016, 01:47 pm »
So I've read up a bit on the JBL M2 speakers and how so many studio engineers are raving about them.   I was very intrigued, despite having some minor reservations about the waveguide design.   I am mildly tempted by them, so I tried to find a dealer who might have them near Toronto, and no luck.   But then a fellow audiophile I know as we have had a number of transactions together emailed me and told me there is a studio in Toronto that has them.

I emailed the studio and they got back a day later and offered to let me come in and listen.   So yesterday I went to Deluxe Toronto.  They do a lot of mixing for DVDs/BDs of movie releases.   Their room that I was in was a 7.1 mixing room roughly the same size as normal residential home theater room, maybe a tad wider than typical.  They had the 3 M2s behind an acoustically transparent screen like I have my danleys.

http://www.bydeluxe.com/



So my appointment was for 2pm. I didn't really know what to expect. I show up, it is a really cool modern business.  They had 5 studio rooms that I could see. I was in #3 (shown above).  They said all of their rooms have M2, but the others were busy. They are also the first canadians to order the M2.

They gave me the room to listen to what I wanted for 1 hour. I said I didn't want to take too much of your time, he said non-sense, you have the room for an hour. He left one of the junior mixers in the room with me to control the gear and play my CDs I brought. I couldn't find all my normal references as I packed my discs away (everything is on my NAS, which I later found out that I could have brought a thumb drive), so I only really had a couple dozen to choose from. I chose mostly prog rock/metal as that is the CDs I could find as they were in my car. As I walked into the room, the junior eng was toying with Karnivool (prog hard rock, super awesome) and that started the convo as he liked all the albums I brought (he is a huge Between the Buried and Me fan; I saw them a couple months back), so we cranked Porcupine Tree, Tool, Opeth, some Radiohead and a bit of Gojira. Those were the albums I could find. I was missing Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Niyaz and a bit of Rimsky-Korsakov.

They said the room was eq'd for mixing movies, not really music and it sounded a bit dull to me (overall tonal balance, not detail).  The lead tech said the room follows an X-curve, which I later find out (had to look it up) would explain exactly what I was trying to put my finger on.  It was as if the tonal balance had taken just a tad bit of the life and presence away.

The X-curve


Thus the overall impression didn't blow me away, because of the aforementioned balance, it was still really good. I tried to focus on the speaker's attributes rather than the tonal balance.   They had some very wonderful traits that were blatantly obvious. The speakers were very dynamic, detailed, not in your face, super percussive bass. The other thing I noticed was that they imaged really well! There was zero harshness (lack of HOMs ostensibly), unless as with Gojira and some of Opeth it was deliberate and then it was as recorded. I played National Anthem by Radiohead and all that crazy brashness of the sax is very keenly evident, but that is what it was meant to sound like, so they aren't a look through rose colored glasses.

Everything that I loved about a big dynamic modern horn design was evident. Easily comparable with the Synergies and from memory, Dr. Geddes' setup with his Summas.   

With everything above said, I still feel confident that they would be one of the top speakers I've ever heard if they were setup more traditionally.  It also didn't help that I had a huge reflective mixing console in front of me the whole listen. 

PMAT

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #1 on: 10 May 2016, 02:47 pm »
Thanks for the write-up. I would also love to hear those speakers.

DaveC113

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #2 on: 10 May 2016, 03:40 pm »
Nice, I'd be very interested to hear them too. I think the waveguide is optimized for dispersion and needs DSP to correct for it as the passive JBL 4367 has a traditional horn. Just a guess though...

The X-curve looks like the high frequency roll-off is a little much.

richidoo

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #3 on: 10 May 2016, 03:48 pm »
Very cool! Thanks Josh. First review I've read from audiophile perspective.

They seem to be a huge value (in audiophile terms,) when you consider the price is $20k for the package system which includes the M2s and 4 channels of JBL class D amplifiers with built in active electronic crossovers. Lots of new JBL innovation. The CD/horn technology is very intriguing.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M2System

Did you "notice" anything about the bass? Impactful? Fast? Port sound? I guess the best answer would be didn't notice it at all, just enjoyed the kickass bass heavy music.

JoshK

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #4 on: 10 May 2016, 04:44 pm »
I think they are super high value for the money when you consider the amps is half the price, and I-tech amps are the king of studio amps apparently, $6k/ea retail (street price much lower). 

I think that Harman has the money to spend on R&D and it shows.  Their economy of scale makes a lot of more boutique business products look slightly out of whack in terms of price/performance. 

I really would have loved to hear them without the x-curve.   That was the only neg I had for them.   It zapped the lowest bass and took a lot of the presence away.  Still you could tell that the speakers were doing something special. 

The bass I would just say was super articulate, no overhang or muddiness at all. 

jonbee

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #5 on: 10 May 2016, 04:57 pm »
I heard them once at a dealer. They were well set up in a pretty dead room.
I liked then a lot, although I didn't hear variety of music. Very flat response and very low coloration and they will play loud without changing character at all.
I could see how studios like them, as they seemed dead neutral and very clean, and will play loudly.
« Last Edit: 10 May 2016, 06:06 pm by jonbee »

JoshK

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #6 on: 10 May 2016, 05:03 pm »
That sounds about right.   I did notice that they sounded great at low volume but could easily go to 11 without sounding harsh.

Rocket_Ronny

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #7 on: 10 May 2016, 05:14 pm »
I like the speakers a lot but not the obligation to class d amps. Probably sound great but you are married the amps, unless you are brave enough to go it alone and set up your own crossovers and amps.

Rocket Ronny

JoshK

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #8 on: 10 May 2016, 05:21 pm »
You can get the Synthesis SDEC or BSS Soundweb London processor and JBL will give you the settings.   You aren't obligated to the amps.  When I asked for a quote from Canada's JBL dealer he quoted with and without the amps.  However, I heard from a couple people that the SNR is better with the crown amps with builtin DSP then external DSP + amps.  They were able to optimize even that bit.

kenreau

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #9 on: 10 May 2016, 05:35 pm »
.... They do a lot of mixing for DVDs/BDs of movie releases.   Their room that I was in was a 7.1 mixing room roughly the same size as normal residential home theater room, maybe a tad wider than typical.  They had the 3 M2s behind an acoustically transparent screen like I have my danleys.

Everything that I loved about a big dynamic modern horn design was evident. Easily comparable with the Synergies and from memory, Dr. Geddes' setup with his Summas.   

With everything above said, I still feel confident that they would be one of the top speakers I've ever heard if they were setup more traditionally.  It also didn't help that I had a huge reflective mixing console in front of me the whole listen.

That sounds like it was a blast, especially when you two had similar tastes in music.

At the risk of a thread tangent (and feel free to carry on in PM, or elsewhere) I am curious about your Danleys in a HT set up behind a AT screen.  I'm in the planning stages of doing something similar in my basement, building out a HT space with the intention of using 3 identical LCR speakers behind an AT screen.  From what I've read so far, the Danleys were recommended as better that the QSCs.  Is there something about the Danleys you did not care for?  Or, just looking for a change / upgrade?  That JBL system certainly looks impressive.

Thx
Kenreau

JoshK

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #10 on: 10 May 2016, 05:42 pm »
I love my DSL SM60Fs!  They are not going anywhere.  My interest with the M2s is for my 2 channel system upstairs.   The DSL's narrow pattern works exceedingly well in my narrow HT room, but tends to sound a bit different for [2ch] music (not as much of a reverb field).   I watch a lot of concert BRs and it sounds fantastic but I usually engage the surround when doing so which brings about the inclusion factor. 

« Last Edit: 10 May 2016, 11:39 pm by JoshK »

Kishore

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #11 on: 10 May 2016, 06:07 pm »

Besides TAD Ref series, Revel Salon2 and JBL M2 are among the speakers I have heard so far worthy or equivalent to Gedlee Summas. Two radically different designs but from same umbrella group.

The problem with M2 is you add on costs DSP/Amps it balloons up but it still great value for $$/performance anyways. SDEC with Harman SFM (uniform bass) is amazing DSP box to own- I wonder when this will show up in consumer products and be promoted.. dealer played with settings and I could feel and hear the difference in different listening positions. 

regards,
Kishore

JLM

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #12 on: 11 May 2016, 11:21 am »
Josh, was any of listening done with unamplified music (acoustical instruments) that hopefully you'd heard in person (live)?  Too bad all you had were "car jams" to conduct your 'chance of a lifetime' audition with.

Without those stipulations it's my opinion that you're only comparing one system with another and that live acoustical instruments provide the only possible gold standard to compare against.

JoshK

Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #13 on: 11 May 2016, 01:39 pm »
Josh, was any of listening done with unamplified music (acoustical instruments) that hopefully you'd heard in person (live)?  Too bad all you had were "car jams" to conduct your 'chance of a lifetime' audition with.

Without those stipulations it's my opinion that you're only comparing one system with another and that live acoustical instruments provide the only possible gold standard to compare against.

No as I stated above.   I was really looking for my Rodrigo Y Gabriela CD which I did happen to see live as well.   You can discredit my observations if you want, but like the thread title says, it was listening impressions, not a review.   The whole curve thing made it impossible for a serious review. 

Dragon_vibe

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #14 on: 11 May 2016, 03:43 pm »
That sounds like it was a blast, especially when you two had similar tastes in music.

At the risk of a thread tangent (and feel free to carry on in PM, or elsewhere) I am curious about your Danleys in a HT set up behind a AT screen.  I'm in the planning stages of doing something similar in my basement, building out a HT space with the intention of using 3 identical LCR speakers behind an AT screen.  From what I've read so far, the Danleys were recommended as better that the QSCs.  Is there something about the Danleys you did not care for?  Or, just looking for a change / upgrade?  That JBL system certainly looks impressive.

Thx
Kenreau


I had the Danley SH50 and DH69 if im not mistaken on the model number. The sides were all Danely as well. Sold it off to a Fellow on AVS forum. The Quested System outclassed it across the board. Not that the Danley are crappy speaker. It caused listener fatigue after an hour. They are one of the best speakers i have had but had its own problems too. Just not suitable for home use in my opinion.

Quested LT10s i have are smoother and warmer sound yet very transparent and  dynamic as the horn on the danley and dont cause any listening fatigue.  They have a smaller footprint and can punch well above there size. Even if your theater is larger then 10 meters long. They cost more however.


poseidonsvoice

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #15 on: 11 May 2016, 05:15 pm »
Great summary Josh! One day, I'll have to drag you down to NC and hang out at my chateau :thumb:

The trickle down JBL speaker that is not married to Class D amplifiers is the JBL 4367; I would love to hear it: https://www.audioholics.com/tower-speaker-reviews/jbl-4367-preview

Best,
Anand.

sonicboom

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #16 on: 11 May 2016, 06:22 pm »
Josh,

Thank you for your impressions on the M2's. Glad to also get an opinion from someone that has experience with other horn and CD waveguide speakers.

On a side but admittedly sad note, it seems that JBL has turned away from their 'higher end' offerings going forward. The OP at the link bellow is none other than Greg Timbers, the lead designer (until recently) of JBL Pro. He was behind all the great studio monitors of the last four decades, as well as the more recent Everest and K2 offerings (DD66000, K2S9900 etc.), with his last design being the 4367.

http://www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?38066-Another-sad-day-for-JBL


poseidonsvoice

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #17 on: 11 May 2016, 07:40 pm »
Thanks for the update sonicboom, that's indeed very sad news and something to take extremely seriously given the direct correlation (imho) between a designer's technical prowess and the end product, specifically in the 'audiophile' loudspeaker design industry. Usually my first question with any new loudspeaker is...who designed it?

Best,
Anand.

sonicboom

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #18 on: 11 May 2016, 08:49 pm »
Well said, Anand. My feelings exactly.

I know JBL doesn't resonate much with the average American audiophool and I guess it's rightly so, since the company during the last 40 years has ignored the US market while concentrating its efforts in the far east. However, up until recently they were really serious about R&D and some of the transducers they developed are technically state of the art. It is sad when such capability and know-how go to waste and just disappear.

JLM

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Re: JBL M2 listening impressions
« Reply #19 on: 11 May 2016, 09:22 pm »
Sorry Josh if I came across harshly, but JBL is making some really good professional monitors nowadays.  I had a friend's little $300/pair 2-way LSR305s for a week, most enjoyable near-field in my 8ft x 13ft x 21ft room.  Like the M2, the 305 reflect decades of quality monitors to support studio, mixing, and mastering work.  Don't take their absence in the western home audio scene as being time wasted.