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Author Topic: JM Labs Micro Utopias  (Read 2019 times)

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Offline raymonda

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JM Labs Micro Utopias
« on: July 26, 2016, 07:49:50 PM »
Here is a list of the equipment being used.
Highly modded Thorens Td 850
Audiomods tonearm
Benz m0.9
Highly modded Thorens Td 150
Michell Tecnoarm
Benz Glider SoundSmith ruby upgrade
Acoustech ph1
Audible Illusions 3a

Well, I sold my Maggie's and purchased these as a way to save space. They actually arrived in mid June but, alas, a driver was damaged in shipping. I sent it back to the seller, who ordered a new driver from Focal and honored the sale by making it right. It took about a month to get it in from France and back to me. The repaired speaker arrived today, so I set them up and kicked out the jams for the past 3 hours.

My initial impressions are positive. However, keep in mind that I am using 2 MK 150 subs with them. I'm still dialing them in but I feel they will integrate well. The good news is that nothing stands out and they seem well balanced. They are a bit more midrange prominent than my highly modded MG 3a's and they don't throw as large as sound stage. More listening will tell me if they go as far back.

During the repair interim I've was using a pair of Celestion SL6S's that I modded, which are true over achievers. The Micros of course are better but not by a large margin. There is more clarity and extension but the Celestions are certainly a good speakers and the mods I've done allow them to play louder without breaking up or compressing.

Are the Micros an improvement over the Maggies? Well, only time will tell. Right now they are pleasing but the ribbon in the Maggies are truly world class, as well as the large sound stage they deliver.

So, here is what the Micros offer over the Maggies; smaller foot print, more pronounced mids. The rest is yet to be heard and determined over time and longer listening sessions. What can be said is the the person who bought my Maggie's got a screaming deal and world class speaker. If I had more room, my family is needing more space, I would be happy with the Maggies till the end of time.

Later that night.

A little low volume, late night listening and the Micros played well. This is an area where the Maggies always struggled. Often, with the Maggies, you feel like you need to continue to turn up the wick to get engaged in the music. During the day time this is no problem but at night when the family is a sleep it is problematic. You either had to strain your ears and suffer a bit or grab the headphones to fully get into what you are listening to. The Micros allow you to listen at less volume and enjoy it more. Therefore, the Micros allow you to listen in the open air of your music room. That in my book is a good thing, as I don't always want to wear headphone. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

So, the Micros seem to play well at low, moderate and loud volumes and in doing so they do not lose their balance, while providing even handed impact, both micro and macro.

Now, I can't wait until tomorrow morning when I can get some alone time with them and really give them a shakedown!

The next morning.

I was able to give them a good run this morning before leaving for work and my general impressions are positive. However, I feel strongly that my Maggies MG3a's out perform them in the areas that impress me the most so here is the run down.

1. Sound stage width and height: Maggies
Maggies throw a huge stage!

2. Sound stage depth: Both
About the same, which surprised me.

3. Overall transparency: Micros
Slight nod goes to the Micro's but the Maggies have it in the highs.

4. High end: Maggies
Maggies ribbon can't be beat but the Micro's tweeter is very good.

5. Midrange: Micros
My Maggies are a bit laid back in this range and the Micros give more presence and jump.

6. Upper bass: Micros
The cone has got some punch.

7. Low bass: Maggies
The Maggies can go lower but what the Micros have is very good and can be used without a sub.....however, they won't be full range.

8. Play loud: Both
Both play loud and with in the mid 90's they keep dynamic shadings.

9. Moderate levels: Micros
The details really come out at moderate levels with the Micros

10. Low level: Micros
Maggies don't really play well at low levels they need to be goosed. The micros keep the dynamic shadings even at low levels.

11. Truth to timbre: Both
Each has a different sound signature. I preferred the Maggies but the Micros are natural with maybe a touch of midrange favoring. Placement and adjustment might take care of this.

11. Ease to drive: Micros
The Micros can be run with less watts and quality watts cost money. Nod to the Micros.

13. WAF: Micros
Smaller foot print, traditional but exotic look favors the Micros.

14. Overall: Maggies
I love the Maggies and after my kids leave the home I will be going back to them. That being said, the Micros are a speaker I can live with until that day.

Further thoughts: Listening to my mixes and masters on the Micros fulfilled my wishes in a small monitor. They have beat out every monitor I have played with and modded over the past 2 years in search of a replacement for my Maggies. Further tweaking and set up should push them to a higher level and bring even more satisfaction. But what the past 2 years have demonstrated to me is that my Maggies are world class speakers that are hard to beat.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2016, 10:08:16 PM by raymonda »

Offline raymonda

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Re: JM Labs Micro Utopias
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 10:49:22 PM »
So, I made a few adjustment, which improved imaging and over all tonal balance. I moved my listening chair closer by about a foot and changed the connection from the amps to 4 ohms from the 8 ohm taps. Apparently this speaker does dip down to about 4.5 ohms at some frequency. I'm not sure where but this did seem to even out the midrange and gave a much more balance presentation.

Later in the evening the family went to the pool to cool off and I had a few hours of listening time. After kicking out the jams I was felt that the changes were taking these speakers in the right direction and that over all this seem to better match my preferences for tonal balance by cutting back a bit of the midrange peek and giving better depth to the sound stage.

I was really rockin the dial and the speakers did not strain. Coupled with my subs the sound easily filled my medium size room, giving a great presentation to Dire Straits, Paul Simon and Van Morrison.

All is well in my listening room!

Offline raymonda

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Re: JM Labs Micro Utopias
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2016, 11:39:02 PM »
Well, I've got another month into the Micro's and have learned a lot about them. Set up is a bit fussy. It is not that they will sound bad in a position that is good enough, but rather they respond to small adjustments and will pay off with continual work getting them in the perfect position.So, if you pick up a pair spend the extra time getting them there.

Also, I find the top to bottom coherency very good. Although, as I indicated above, the Maggie ribbon is better, the titanium tweeter is very good and has not pooped out or come across as harsh. I have found it to be very organic and comfortable sounding. Note that I am using a tube amp and tube preamp. Although the Audible Illusion M3a is not your typical romantic sounding tube pre.

At this point in time I have to now place the Micros ahead of the Maggies in all things soundstage. I have basically gotten them to disappear in my room.

One last thing, blending the subs is much more difficult than previously indicated. Too much sub alters the timbre of the speakers and thus the timbre of the instruments they are recreating. You really have to play with positioning and levels to find the "momma bear" setting. Now that I'm there I am really enjoying the speakers. I've gotten detail, timbre, soundstage and impact at a level that makes me sit up in my sweet spot and smile. At times I have found myself thinking, "can it get better than this". Well, the answer to this is, "of course it can" but right now this is where it is at. And, that my friends is said with a smile on my face.


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