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Thread: M2 Master Reference Monitor Purchase

  1. #76
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Glad you are enjoying them looking forward to your impressions.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

  2. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don McRitchie View Post
    At this point I should launch into my second impressions - which I will later on. For now, I'm going back to just listen to the M2's and hope that this big fucking grin on my face, that developed shortly after noon today, doesn't leave me permanently looking like the Joker.
    You took me for an emotional roller coaster with your post, but that punchline made me lol hard!

    Congratulations on getting the M2. Albeit an entirely different league I'm keen to hear what you think about them in comparison to the 19's as I've heard those at my brothers house with McIntosh Mc602 several times (they rock hard). Also interested to know about the noise induced by the Crown amps, I'm using a QSC GX5 to power the woofers in 4343, and a fan mod was fairly easy and inexpensive, but the Crowns are probably harder, and I don't think you want to break the warranty (obviously), so probably get them to do it for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don McRitchie View Post
    Removing the last of the packing.
    Your room looks very cool! The speakers really blend. I tossed up between the S4700's and the M2's. In the end I figured it would take a little too much cash to set up the M2's. I am really keen to find out what they really sound like.

  4. #79
    Webmaster Don McRitchie's Avatar
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    Again, I've been sidelined with work issues. I should have a comprehensive assessment up by the end of the day. For now, some quick answers to a couple of questions posed above:

    Quote Originally Posted by DingDing View Post
    Also interested to know about the noise induced by the Crown amps,
    I think any average person exposed the fan noise when the amps are out in the open would call it distracting. They start up at high speed, and thus very noisy, but then settle down to a more reasonable level. For the first week of listening, I had the amps out in the open. I could live with their noise level when settled down, but I doubt everyone could. When playing program material at a nominal volume level (say watching TV), the fan noise is masked. However, at lower volume levels, the fan noise is noticeable.

    As you can see in the picture of my setup, I have a built-in equipment cabinet. I have now moved the amps into this cabinet and it completely eliminates the fan noise issue for me. After settling down from start-up, the fan noise is at nearly identical volume to the ambient noise levels in my condo and I have to stain to hear it even with no program material playing. However, care is required to deal with heat build-up.

    I ensured that the cabinets were built with a comprehensive convection venting system that allows cool air to be drawn from the bottom and front and exhausted out the top and back. The Crown's cooling system draws air from the front and exhausts out the back so that this ties in with the venting setup. Unless my cats decide to curl up over the warm exhaust vents (which they have), the amps never heat up to the point that the fans have to speed up beyond their idle level. However, placing the amps in a closed cabinet without venting would result in the amps overheating, even when played at low volume levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas_h View Post
    Any reason you went with two I-Tech's and not the 4x3500HD with 4 channels?
    I did this to prevent potential electrical overload issues, though in hindsight, the 3500HD probably would have worked without issue. I thought I had a potential problem when I saw that the 5000HD's had a stated requirement for 20 amp service and the 3500HD required 30 amp service. I only have 15 amp circuits and no ability to rewire my place to provide 20 or 30 amp service. I was told that the 5000HD's should work in a home environment on dedicated 15 amp circuits, but it was not clear whether the 3500HD would work on one 15 amp circuit.

    In actual practice, this doesn't appear to be an issue. I currently have my entire HT setup on one dedicated 15 amp circuit (2-5000HD's, Denon HT Processor, Sharp 80"LED TV, PVR and Blu-Ray player. I have yet to blow a breaker.

    Regards
    Don

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    Thanks, Don! Very glad to hear that noise is not an issue now that you've got them inside of the cabinet!

    About the cats, I've got no less than five snugglers (and yes, I'm single), lol. To keep cats away from certain areas you can put very, very little ammonium chloride (we use that here in Norway for cleaning purposes) on the areas you don't want them to be at. Their incredible sense of smell makes them avoid proximity to the place, but humans are not able to perceive the strong smell unless you go crazy with it.

    Looking forward to reading your impressions. I've got to hear M2 one day. Considering the LSR308 or 305 for my desktop speakers.

  6. #81
    Webmaster Don McRitchie's Avatar
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    Sorry for the delay in putting up a detailed assessment of the M2’s. Just when the M2’s arrived, my home province of Manitoba was hit with a 1:300 year flood. I work for the Province and have been tied up with the flood response and cleanup ever since. This just past long weekend has given me the first chance to catch up but it still took until today to complete the write-up.

    Overall Assessment

    The impression that I had when first auditioning the M2’s at Northridge remains unchanged – the M2 system is the finest loudspeaker system I have heard to date from JBL. It’s up there with the finest loudspeakers that I have ever heard and could very well be at the pinnacle. It’s just that I have only had brief exposure to what I would consider to be other contenders at various audio shows, and some these I have not heard for over a decade.

    Very broadly speaking, there are five attributes for which I am looking for a loudspeaker to maximize –dynamic range, imaging, bandwidth, timbral accuracy, and lack of distortion – and M2 exceeds at all five. Dynamics and imaging are what first impressed me at the Northridge audition. I’ve never heard a horn based system image like the M2. It truly is holographic.

    At Northridge, the speakers were in the middle of the room away from any walls. This allowed a soundstage that was considerably wider than the separation between the speakers - the first time I have ever experienced this in a horn loudspeaker. My home placement has both speakers in corners. This restricts the soundstage width to the width of the room, but within that soundstage, the imaging is deep, precise and incredibly stable.

    Regarding dynamics, I can’t play the system continuously at the volume levels experienced at Northridge – though I have pressed the threshold for eviction for shorter periods of time. Regardless, the dynamic response is unsurpassed by any system I have heard. It is absolutely devoid of any dynamic compression whatsoever so that it sounds the same regardless of volume. The system just shines on high dynamic range recordings, where loud transients appear fill blown out of nowhere and disappear with no overhang.

    The attribute that I have grown to appreciate more than any other since having the system in my home is its bandwidth, and more specifically, its bass extension. There just is no JBL parallel to the M2 in this regard since the response is flat down into the 20’s and up into the 40kHz range. That JBL has accomplished this with a 2 way system is absolutely amazing to me. For example, the four-way 4345 with its 18” 2245 can’t plumb the depths of M2. The result is that I am hearing the full expression of recordings for the first time. Bass response is not just solid and lifelike, it has the ability to reproduce LF program material for which my previous speaker systems would just ignore.

    Timbral accuracy is almost an order of magnitude greater than the speakers I have previously owned. Vocal reproduction has a degree of realism that I have not experienced before. The near absolute linearity in frequency response results in an ability resolve incredible detail that is masked by the vast majority of speakers that I have heard. Regardless, it is in this realm that I do have some issues with my home setup, and I am fairly confident that they are room issues and not speaker issues. I’ll have more on this later.

    With regards to the final attribute - freedom from distortion, I have yet to detect any distortion products in M2 at any volume level. This is the most fatigue free speaker that I have ever experienced. I have listened continuously to the M2’s for hours on end where I have never been able to countenance more than a couple of hours of intense listening with any other speaker system before fatigue set in.

    Audio Background

    The following is my overall history as an audiophile which is intended to place my current assessment of the M2’s within a context. My audiophile days started in my teens in high school when a friend purchased a JBL 030 system and introduced me to the dynamics of the JBL sound. Even though the 030 could not be called an accurate loudspeaker, even in its day, it had a degree of sonic realism that exceeded anything that I had heard previously.

    For the next two years, I scrimped and saved from part time work to the point that I could afford my first sound system in 1975. I initially lusted after the big floor standing JBL’s, and in particular, the L300. I could not afford this, and in seeking affordable alternatives, was introduced to Altec Lansing speakers. I was told that Altec and JBL were almost one and the same since they were both founded by someone named James B. Lansing. I ended up with Altec’s penultimate speaker of the day – the Santiago, which at half the cost of the L300, had a similar configuration. It had a 15” bass driver that was very similar to a JBL LE15A and a compression driver/horn crossed over at 800hz.

    While the Altec’s had dynamics and decent bass extension, they were severely compromised in timbral accuracy. HF response was severely rolled off above 10k. Bass, while extended, was ill defined and boomy. Midrange response was overly pronounced and ragged. This was the single most fatigue inducing speaker that I have ever owned and it was that failing that led me to sell them after just one year.

    I was so disillusioned with this experience that I swore off “West Coast” speakers for the next two decades. Instead, I followed down the path of the then newly defined “high-end” market. I started with a pair of SAE Mark XIV electrostatic hybrids and eventually settled on a pair of Dahlquist DQ10’s that were my main speakers for almost 25 years. These were driven by a Threshold power amp and GAS pre-amp.

    Overall, I was relatively happy with this setup. It had a high degree of timbral accuracy, albeit within a restricted bandwidth – there was just no significant bass response below 50hz. Imaging on the DQ10’s was excellent and arguably its greatest attribute. However, dynamic response was its Achilles heel. Dynamic compression became readily apparent at only moderately high volumes.

    I never lost my love for the dynamic response of the JBL’s that started my audiophile quest and it was a nostalgia for this sound that led me to start the Lansing Heritage website with a couple of friends in 2000. In 2004, I had the opportunity to acquire a pair of Altec Lansing Model 19’s, which were a significant improvement over the Santiago’s that I used to own. My desire was so great to recapture the dynamics that first got me into this hobby that I dumped the Dahlquists for these speakers which became my mains for the next decade. Around the same time, I also acquired a second system for my bedroom which consisted of a pair of JBL 4328P monitors and 4312P sub.

    Comparison between M2 and Altec Lansing Model 19’s

    I have to say off the top that this is in no way a fair comparison. We’re talking about a 35 year old speaker design compared to the current state-of-the-art in design, materials, and DSP. Nonetheless, many have asked for this assessment.

    As I said above, the 19’s were a significant step up from the Santigo’s I used to own. They were the first Altec’s that I experienced to have a reasonable HF extension due to a redesigned compression driver diaphragm. Bass extension approached that of the Santiago through a much larger box with lower bass reflex tuning. However bass dynamics were greatly improved with the much higher efficiency 416B LF driver that provided much greater definition and punch than the Santiago’s 411 driver. The cross-over on the 19 was raised to 1200 Hz from 800 Hz which removed much of the coloration from throat distortion on the small diameter throat 811 horn shared by both systems. The 19 crossover was the first used in a large Altec system to contain equalization that smoothed out the midrange and HF response.

    All that being said, the 19 still had major issues. Bass extension was still lacking in an overall sense. The 811 horn is notorious for ringing and this led to a very uneven midrange response. The midrange still seemed over prominent with the crossover EQ setting turned all the way down. Imaging was not great, coming across as two dimensional and restricted in width.

    I did use an outboard parametric EQ on the Altecs that I thought was a great improvement. I could only EQ by ear since I lacked comprehensive measurement equipment. I won’t pretend that I could EQ an accurate response through subjective listening, but I was able to subjectively improve the overall timbral response to my liking and to the point that the system was satisfying for the time that I owned it.

    Nonetheless, the M2’s have proven to be an order of magnitude improvement over the 19’s in four of the five main attributes that I listed at the start of this post. The fifth attribute – dynamics – is the only one where both systems are in the same ballpark, though the M2’s are still noticeably superior.

    Bass extension on the M2’s is another octave deeper compared to the 19’s. I used to think that I had very significant room issues judging by the 19’s uneven bass response. I do have at least one room mode (more on this later), but the M2’s demonstrated that the uneven bass was largely an attribute of the 19’s and not the room. The M2’s untuned room bass response is remarkably flat in comparison with the exact same placement.

    Timbral accuracy through the midrange and HF is probably where the 19’s and M2’s depart most significantly. The M2’s reproduce the human voice in a manner that is strikingly life-like. In contrast, there was never any doubt that you were listening to a compromised vocal reproduction through the 19’s. Again, the peaky midrange resulted in the onset of listener fatigue after only an hour or so.

    Comparison between M2 and 43XXP Monitors

    This one surprised me. I thought that the 4328’s had a fighting chance of besting the M2’s in timbral accuracy at moderate to low volumes. They are close, but the M2’s were immediately obvious as being superior. Again, vocal reproduction demonstrates this contrast. Joni Mitchell on her Both Sides Now LP is just mesmerizing on the M2’s. While there are no obvious errors in reproduction on the 4328’s it just doesn’t have the same level of nuance and detail as the M2’s.

    I have been very happy with the 4328’s overall and highly recommend them, but they are no match for the M2’s and shouldn’t be at their price point and design objective. They can’t project a large soundstage like the M2’s, nor can they match the bass response of the M2’s even with the 4312 subwoofer. I do have significant integration issues between the 4312 and 4328, but this is probably placement more than anything. I have the sub located underneath the desk where the 4328’s sit, but I had to turn the sub around firing into a back wall so I wouldn’t inadvertently kick the unprotected bass driver.

    M2 Issues

    I have just two issues with the M2 that I am pretty sure are room related, but won’t be able to prove or rectify for a bit of time. The first is an apparent room mode somewhere in the 50-80 Hz range. There is a single bass frequency in this range where output is apparently doubled since a recorded bass note at that frequency comes across as noticeably pronounced. As I said above, the Altec’s led me to believe I had multiple room modes given noticeable bass peaks at more than one frequency. However, the M2’s are actually much better behaved in the bass frequencies than I imagined. If I had no ability to do room tuning with the M2’s, I could still happily live with the bass response as is.

    The second issue is a small degree of edge in the upper midrange. Given that the vast majority of reflective surfaces in the room are hard, I think this is a result of the room construction (brick walls, large glass windows and hardwood flooring). Again, I am hoping that room tuning will have the ability to mitigate this to a large degree.

    Room Tuning

    I have yet to attempt room tuning as I have only now assembled the necessary gear and work issues haven’t allowed me the time to get up to speed on the technology, methods and practices. The gear I have assembled is as follows:

    • Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 USB recording interface,
    • Dayton Audio EMM6 measurement microphone calibrated by Cross Spectrum Labs,
    • On Stage Stands MS7701B Tripod Boom Microphone Stand,
    • Room EQ Wizard (REW) software,
    • Harman System Architect,
    • ASUS Windows 7 Laptop.

    The microphone was back ordered and just arrived at the parcel service I use across the US border. I won’t be able to drive down there to get it until this weekend, so room tuning is still a bit of time away.

    System Plans

    It remains an objective of mine to use the M2’s as the centerpiece of a HT setup in addition to stereo playback. To that end, I have purchased a Denon Pro DN-500AV 7.1 channel pre-amp processor. Originally, I thought I would set up a 4.1 channel surround system, forgoing a centre channel speaker, but have now decided on a 5.1 system. I have a second pair of 4328P’s that I picked up inexpensively on EBay and plan to press them into service as rears. I’ll also move the 4312 sub from workstation duty (where it is overkill) to the HT system.

    For a centre channel, I have ordered a single LSR305 that should show up later this week. This couldn’t be more of a mismatch in price at just over $100 for the centre and $25K for the L&R mains. However, since the 305 is described as the little brother of the M2 and just fits under my TV, I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. I need to have the measurement gear up and running to set up the HT system since the Denon does not have a built in level matching capability for the five speakers. Regardless, I am very impressed with the Denon unit both sonically and feature wise. I really like its ability to automatically disconnect the sub, rears and centre whenever stereo playback is selected. My current AV receiver attempts to distribute a stereo signal through all speakers unless the rears and centre are manually set to disabled.

    The sole audio source that I am using is a Bluesound Node music streaming device and DAC. I long ago moved to music streaming as my primary source with the Logitech Squeezebox. However, that device recently died and Logitech has discontinued that product line. That led me to seek out a replacement which is where the Bluesound Node came in.

    It’s been up and running for about three weeks and I am really impressed. It is the only high res streaming device currently on the market and is controlled through either iOS or Android apps. All of my music is ripped to a hard drive on my bedroom desktop PC as uncompressed FLAC files and I have a wired Ethernet connection to the Bluesound unit in the living room equipment cabinet. The Bluesound unit is wireless capable, but I like the stability of a wired connection. I also really like the convenience of having all of my music at my fingertips while remaining seated at my listening position.

    As a bit of background, Bluesound is a Canadian company, owned by Lenbrook which makes NAD electronics and PSB speakers. As a result it was readily available in my home town of Winnipeg at what I considered to be a reasonable cost of just over $500.

    Summary

    As I have said numerous times, I could not be happier with the M2’s. It’s like I have finally reached the destination of a journey that I have been on for nearly 40 years. I still have a fair amount of experimentation and refinement ahead, but the current state is more than I could have hoped for.
    Regards

    Don McRitchie

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by DingDing View Post
    Considering the LSR308 or 305 for my desktop speakers.
    Just do it. Unbeatable bang for the buck.

  8. #83
    Senior Member Mostlydiy's Avatar
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    Thank you Don for the detailed review!

    /Mostly

  9. #84
    Webmaster Don McRitchie's Avatar
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    Current setup pics.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

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    Excellent read

    Reading this sure makes me want to listen to them. Next time I go to Oslo, I hope they've got S3900, S4700, K2 S9900 and M2 on demo. Mostly the latter two, as it would be cool to listen to both in one day. As "young", very early 30's, the K2 S9900 is the best speaker I've ever heard to date. Can't afford it anytime soon, but some day (even if I've got to wait until it is vintage like my 4343b's are now! )

    You have a very nice place too. I think they fit in real well with your decor. Like the black look a lot. On youtube someone commented that the LSR series looks like Batman's speakers.

    Had to smile when you told us you've gotten a single LSR305 @ ~$100 intended to be used as a center channel with these speakers. I'm 99,9 % positive you will be far better off sending the center channel info to the M2's because of dynamics, tactile impact, bass exstension etc. I wonder how a third M2 as center would work though.

    You will have much fun with REW. In the early stages of playing with it myself. The ability of measuring in the home environment is really fun and educational.

    Congratulations on purchase well done. Very happy for you, and always a pleasure to see someone find something special that they've been looking for after many years of having this hobby!

  11. #86
    Senior Member ivica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don McRitchie View Post
    Short answer is that they are everything I hoped for
    Don
    Hi Don McRitchie,

    many thanks for your M2 presentation. it is very nice that you have been satisfied with them much.
    some thing involked my hesitation
    -bas response that can be comparable to 2245- "older brother"
    -unexpetable horn loading for relative low frequency (700Hz) for the compression driver
    -clear and wide UHF reproduction difficult to expact from the large horn without defraction coloration(congratulation to JBL engineers).

    looking to your more expressions.
    regards
    ivica

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    M2 Center

    I have M2's in a similar arrangement as Don. My room is a bit wider but the arrangement is basically the same. Before my M2 purchase, I spoke with Charles Sprinkle about selecting an appropriate center channel to use with them. I ended up with a third M2! It sits behind my projector screen upside-down (furniture arrangement would not allow me to place it on the floor). The performance is awe inspiring.



    Quote Originally Posted by DingDing View Post
    Excellent read

    Reading this sure makes me want to listen to them. Next time I go to Oslo, I hope they've got S3900, S4700, K2 S9900 and M2 on demo. Mostly the latter two, as it would be cool to listen to both in one day. As "young", very early 30's, the K2 S9900 is the best speaker I've ever heard to date. Can't afford it anytime soon, but some day (even if I've got to wait until it is vintage like my 4343b's are now! )

    You have a very nice place too. I think they fit in real well with your decor. Like the black look a lot. On youtube someone commented that the LSR series looks like Batman's speakers.

    Had to smile when you told us you've gotten a single LSR305 @ ~$100 intended to be used as a center channel with these speakers. I'm 99,9 % positive you will be far better off sending the center channel info to the M2's because of dynamics, tactile impact, bass exstension etc. I wonder how a third M2 as center would work though.

    You will have much fun with REW. In the early stages of playing with it myself. The ability of measuring in the home environment is really fun and educational.

    Congratulations on purchase well done. Very happy for you, and always a pleasure to see someone find something special that they've been looking for after many years of having this hobby!

  13. #88
    Webmaster Don McRitchie's Avatar
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    I have no illusions that an LSR 305 centre channel is in any way capable of keeping up with the M2 mains. It's just that I have no ability to place another M2 as a centre and I just can't resist the fun factor of playing around with a $129 Mini-Me version. At that price, it can fail entirely in that role and still have value as a silent M2 homage art work, displayed on top of my equipment cabinet. It would look cute as hell sandwiched in between its much more massive brethren.
    Regards

    Don McRitchie

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4313B View Post
    Just do it. Unbeatable bang for the buck.
    Seconded- heard 308s at the heritage awards- very impressive indeed! I'm hoping to finagle a pair somehow, they'd be pretty slick combined with a minidsp and a big bass section

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    Quote Originally Posted by badman View Post
    Seconded- heard 308s at the heritage awards- very impressive indeed! I'm hoping to finagle a pair somehow, they'd be pretty slick combined with a minidsp and a big bass section
    So I guess you finally changed your mind
    http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/multi...ml#post3852473

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