Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Focal/JM Labs: Small or Large?

I've been a big fan of Focal/JM Labs for several years. The beryllium and aluminum/magnesium tweeters have such air, and naturalness about them I just can't avoid being drawn to them. In addition their W material really stands out for their transparency and dynamic range which few other drivers have.

There is one thing I've noticed consistenly about bookshelf focals using their W sthough, and a recent Hi-Fi+ review points out. The bookshelves have a bit of a notch in the upper midrange. I think it's related to the small diameter voice coil, but here's a funny thing: The floorstanding speakers, with similar Mid/Woofers don't have this problem. This notch makes them sound a tiny bit nasaly. Good for low volume listening, but at louder volumes, compared directly with their floorstanding siblings, this problem is more noticable.

So, my quick advice: Focal's make awesome speakers, but before you shell out money for the bookshelves + a subwoofer, listen to the floorstanders. I think that for the same money, and footprint they are just better speakers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dave Wilson Owes Me Money

About a year ago I had promised myself I would never buy another issue of The Absolute Sound again. What got me so bothered was their coverage of the Wilson Duette. You can see the cover on the right. Mind you, I can see a reviewer going head over heels for a speaker or component here and there, but the sheer size of the review, including at least 4 full-color/full-page pinup shots of the Duettes was just ridiculous. Hell they devoted an entire page to a picture of the Duette's external crossover!!!! What an insane amount of free press for Wilson. This isn't reviewing, this is blatant advertising. If TAS is going to devote an entire section to advertising for a speaker brand, they should give the magazine away so at least we readers won't feel completely ripped off. In addition to that, it weakens the magazine's brand. Anyone with any sense (and money doesn't equal sense) is going to see through these "reviews" for blatant advertising, and will have serious quesitons about just how objective the reviews of all the products presented in the magazine. Whether TAS gave Wilson this coverage in exchange for past advertising or they got paid directly, or they were promised future advertising, I don't know, but no reasonable person would look at that coverage and conclude there wasn't serious collusion to sell Wilson speaekers in these two issues.

So, I should have learned my lesson, but honestly, lately I've been bored by the reviews at Stereophile, so I decided to stop by the news rack in Harvard square, and pick up TAS and hi-fi+ just to shake things up. I should have seen the Wilson Alexandria Series 2 on the cover, but I was so desperate that I didn't think about it and bought the magazine without opening it first. Damnit! Yet again, an endless set of pages of reviews, gloating, and interviews with Dave Wilson himself. Dave, if you are reading this, you owe me the price of two magazines. TAS, I promise never to buy your magazine again. This time it's for real.