On the one hand I like the English very much, and on the other hand I don’t think that I should ever feel at home in England, as I do for instance in France. Perhaps I admire the English more in some ways but find the French more congenial. I should always, I should think, be aware of a certain sense of confinement in England, and repression. T.S. Eliot
Jean Claude Reynaud and the late Jean Marie Reynaud.
JM Reynaud speakers are the most congenial, least confined, least repressed speakers I know of. They pursue the natural warmth, body, and immediacy that give many listeners their chief emotional charge from music. They are naturally warm and robust but there is also, especially with the latest generation of Reynauds, greater transparency and sense of spatial magic.
Reynaud speakers have a way of providing the perfect marriage of sonic information and musical expressiveness that seems to elude so many other designs. My zig-zag to Reynaud began with Kefs, proceeded to Meridian M-2 actives, Linn Saras and DMS Isobariks, B&W Matrix speakers, Spendors (BC1’s and 1/2’s), and on to Harbeths. The arrival at Reynaud was both satisfying and definitive. No speaker I have heard does as well at getting the elemental emotional feel of a live musical performance into our living room, which is their designer’s express goal. In contrast to the vivid kind of clarity that distinguishes some of the most popular contemporary ‘for a clear day you can hear forever’ speakers, Reynauds offer a natural but also spirited and energetic version of transparency, resulting in a physical immediacy that can take your breath away. To my ears, had the Spendor BC-1 evolved in a straight line rather than thinning out its heritage into the Classic line, it would have turned into a Reynaud.
JEAN MARIE REYNAUD LOUDSPEAKERS
Again, for more detail and a look at the full JMR line, go to the manufacturer’s website, http://www.jm-reynaud.com. All JMR equipment is available through Amherst Audio. Amherst Audio is the US sales agent for JMR as well as a retail dealer. A list of U.S. dealers appears at the end of the JM Reynaud section.
Below are subjective descriptions of my favorite Reynauds.
LUCIA, which means ‘the light’ in Italian, is a compact 2-way bookshelf loudspeaker system with harmonious proportions. Designed with the same rigor as the most advanced models in our range, it concentrates all the know-how of the JMR brand. To remain faithful to our tradition, we wanted to develop a small and extremely musical loudspeaker that is also notably affordable and that offers realistic tonality and a very good spectral balance. We have optimized its performance so that it can be used placed on a shelf or even on a desk… from JMR website
I have yet too hear the Lucias but they look very promising for the kinds of installations often cited but long ignored by most speaker companies…bookshelves! $1250
Well guess who’s back and better than ever? I would not have guessed this from talking with Jean Claude during the early/mid part of 2017, but folks, in the person of the new Folia Jubilee, the Twin and Bliss are back in new clothing (and with an advanced design) and sounding better than ever. The Folias are not quite as open sounding as the Bliss Silver (at twice the price) but they definitely sound like better Blisses…and Twin Signatures. The warmth we remember is there but also, depending on what electronics you use, more clarity in and amongst the warmth. And more excitement. Great energy and a wonderful firm sense of body. It’s not exactly a throw-back to the earlier JMR sound but there’s plenty of that there — along with greater definition. I started them out on my new Blue Circle 002i 80 watt solid state integrated and I heard notably better Blisses. Then I hooked up the BC amp’s optional EPS external power supply and on CD’s that wanted it, these little kids bloomed — from the inside out. A cello took on greater presence and reality. You don’t need an EPS — the 002i and Folias already sing the same song. But it does show you what they are capable of.
So we have a stand-mount entry level speaker back in the JMR line. I’ll say more as they settle in. $1400 in black or white. Magic Stands, $450.
NOTE: New Euterpe Jubilees are coming out as I type. More when I hear them. They will pick up the excellent tweeters in the Cantabile Jubilees for openers. For now, I’ll leave the description of the Supremes here.
The ideal for JMR has always been that elusive marriage of warmth and clarity we hear in the concert hall and jazz venue and that has eluded speaker designers for years. Over the dozen or so years that I have been listening to Reynauds, father and son, have steadily and conspicuously moved closer to this goal. But in the latest speaker iterations they have taken a giant step.
So what happens when you put a Bliss Silver in a larger box, with a properly tuned bass cavity (and a new crossover, Jean Claude reminds me — see below)? What is gained? Lost? According to the European audio market, a lot and, depending on taste, nothing. So they have driven the Blisses off the market, ending a long JMR tradition, at least temporarily, that began with the Twins many years ago. I understand why they did this. In my house, on a Resolution Audio Cantata 3.0 digital front end, a 120 watt Blue Circle 022i solid state integrated amp, and Crimson cable, these new Euterpe Supremes have the essential qualities of the Bliss Silvers with notably more bass authority. Articulate through the middle, especially noticeable with voices and guitars. Clear, crisp, and present. “The crossover for the EUTERPE Suprême is different than that in the BLISS Silver: the crossover point is a bit different and phase at the crossover point is much better, so normally it is more accurate and more precise in the high mid frequencies.” The result here is that the new latest High Kings (Irish folk band) leaps into the room. In addition to whatever the new crossover contributes, the extra bass seems to add energy the Bliss Silvers didn’t quite have. These are Bliss Silvers with more chutzpah.
As one would expect, the improved bass has an effect on the speaker’s overall presentation. These are Bliss Silvers with not just mouth but chest: you can hear that immediately in the added natural richness of the saxes and the baritone voice of Matthias Goerne. And they have viscera: you can hear that in low brass and organ. Five more Hertz of bass information and three times more cabinet volume to increase bass energy make the overall presentation of the Euterpes considerably weightier than that of the Bliss Silvers. Bass was distinctly impressive on Bliss Silvers, coming almost as a surprise. Some of my customers were looking around for the subs. Here with the Euterpes deep and solid bass feels more expected: it is less a specific attribute than a natural completion of the musical presentation.
I said that “depending on taste” nothing is lost moving from Bliss Silvers to Euterpes. A richer and deeper bass can create the impression of a slight loss of speed. But when you hear the defining snap and snarl of a solo cello as it attacks a piano in a Schnittke cello sonata, you are right to question whether anything has appreciably slowed down! Still the kind of audiophile who prefers the lighter overall presentation of stand-mounts will be free to demur here. We remember that the classic Trentes were preferred by some to their floor-standing big brothers, the Evolution Threes, a decade or so ago. Designers make choices about what is most important and so do we listeners.
I have always felt that floor-standing versions of stand-mounts had trouble getting out of their own way as imagers. Ever since JMR introduced their tension rod technology to reduce driver/cabinet interaction, this ‘problem’ has disappeared, at least with Reynauds. Euterpes (and Cantabile Jubilees and Abscissa Jubilees) image just fine. And with the introduction of the Euterpe Supreme, the upper bass hump and resulting thickening of the lower midrange in stand-mounts that JMR had to design the Magic Stand with a Helmholtz Resonator to get rid of, has also disappeared. The Magic Stands were magic indeed but I (and Bliss Silver owners with cats and children) am not sorry to see them go.
So my lament for the loss of Bliss Silvers has been short-lived. I now consider the Euterpe Supreme a fine entry level speaker if the new Folia Jubilees aren’t enough for you. And now, since I wrote this, we have the new (and more affordable) Blue Circle 80 watt 002i integrated to pair them with. That should be an ideal combination. My O22i is almost overkill here.
What do we get when we move up to the new Cantabile Jubilees? A more open and refined sound. Five more Hertz of bass and 3000 more on in the treble. Worth the additional $1300? Sure, if you have it. But if you don’t, stay here with the Euterpe Supremes and count your blessings, which are many. Bliss Silvers with chutzpah. For now, the price in the U.S. is $3150…and single wired!
For all of its obvious appeal, I found the previous edition of the Cantabile, the Supreme, somewhat on the light side, a lyric speaker: a cantabile, a singer. Like the 6SN7 based Blue Circle DAR amplifier with which I often paired it, it was an extremely pleasant, dulcet speaker. Sometimes lovely but never quite exciting enough for my taste. I preferred it on Symposium Sveltes rather than on its own spikes: the Sveltes seemed to add a necessary bit fullness and weight. They bloomed a bit on the Sveltes. In re-reading what I wrote about these speakers here, I feel I may have over-sold them a bit in an effort to be fair. I knew they were extremely popular in Europe: they were loved for what they were, not what I wanted them to be!
Paired with the new Blue Circle O02i solid state integrated amplifier and sitting on their own spikes, the new Cantabile Jubilees just here (and with fewer than 20 hours on them), make an absolute virtue of what I felt was the characteristic shortcoming of the Cantabile Supremes. Their lightness, which is still there, now feels like grace; and it is accompanied by wonderful, liquid clarity. These new Cantabiles are more agile, articulate, and ever so slightly sweet. They have an utterly natural clarity throughout their range (they go to 35 Hertz) that the Supremes couldn’t really approach. They are still absolutely Cantabiles — they still sing. But where the earlier speakers blended things a bit for affect, the Jubilees have no need for that. Their beauty strikes me as totally unaffected. These Cantabiles now have a distinct identity of their own that some listeners may find is exactly what they’re looking for in a speaker, something larger speakers for all of their other qualities may not have. That is exactly what I’d hoped for.
Percussion, brass, winds are all dramatically and brilliantly present, but without a hint of over-assertion or stridency. Their trace of sweetness is especially audible in trumpets, for example. It gives both Iris Dement and her piano a wonderful smidgen of personality.
The tension-rod technology, which now exists throughout the speaker line, enables these speakers to image like stand-mounts, even more impressively than the Supremes which also had that innovation. I will not miss the Bliss Silvers (or their need for Magic Stands) any longer, having heard these new Cantabiles, though I realize the Euterpe Supreme is the fairer comparison. Let’s just say, I will now be likely to push customers toward these speakers where before I did not. The Cantabile Jubilees have a level of refinement that I’m finding irresistible.
Bass is better here (especially with an 022i in place of the 002i) than in the Cantabile Supreme. Not dramatically deep — their size would seem to preclude that; but solid and clear. Its notable clarity compensates considerably for absolute depth. Once I adjusted to their presentation, I didn’t find myself missing that. And as woofers are the last drivers to break in, I’m expecting more avoirdupois later on. 35 Hertz is 35 Hertz. As I say, if you want more bass, which often comes with more power, try the 022i. As I say in my description of the new 002i, that amp with its available EPS power supply makes an interesting comparison with the 022i. More warmth and conspicuous bass with the more powerful amp, more midrange clarity and grace with the 002i. The new Cantabiles go fine with both.
The speaker’s main attributes that I hear are speed and openness: everything is immediate and spread out before us in an open space. The top mounted tweeter clearly has a lot to do with this. Speed, openness… and grace!
I am coming to love these little (and they are little — just 40 inches high) floor-standers. In a modest sized room (though mine is 5000 cubic feet!), they may well be all some customers ever need. They do not quite rock out: they can do rock fine, but they won’t slam you in the solar plexus with enriched upper bass punch. They sing like birds — when called for, substantial birds. I’m sitting a room away as I type this and they still sound beautiful playing Jordi Savall’s Saint Colombe on bass viol. The late Jean Marie would be weeping. There is a lot of him in these speakers, though the clarity is all Jean Claude…Easy to drive at 91 dB, $4600.
Judging loudspeakers is a time-sensitive and of course highly personal affair. In 1958, the “best” speaker I’d ever heard was the Altec Lansing 803 Voice of the theatre with its 15-inch woofer and huge sectoral horn. As time moved on, the “best” in roughy chronological order, became the KLH Four acoustic suspension speaker and best of that breed; the Meridian M2 active speakers; Linn Isobariks; Audio Note E’s, and then finally, after brief flirtations with Spendors (BC1’s and SP 1/2‘s) and Harbeth M40’s, the beloved Jean Marie Reynaud Offrande Supreme V2’s, the perfect marriage of truth and beauty.
I could honestly say, frequently did say, that each of these was my all-time favorite. I loved every one of them. If I still had them and had not met their successors, I am confident I would love them still. They each gave me what I wanted and needed at the time. People who still own them are absolutely right to treasure them. Each of them gets some essential things right.
The Offrandes held sway with me for the longest tenure because, as Jean Claude concedes, they made people love them. Music lovers loved them, frequent listeners of ‘live’ music harbored some doubts. I did not. I loved them and love is strong stuff. But it is time to concede, once we get away from our Offrandes for a week or two (it took three or four here), that Jean Claude’s new Abscissa Jubilees, teach (remind?) us that what we love is the true sound of voices and instruments faithfully rendered. When I listen to these new Abscissa Jubilees, I am not swept up by music as I have been by my Offies, I am swept into it and both entranced and delighted by all of its sonic qualities. Our emotion as a listeners of ‘live’ music is different — less general and more specific — than it generally is when we listen to domestic audio: in the concert hall, it not about the music, it is the music. That is what my new Abscissas are teaching me. At first grudgingly. Truthfulness is underestimated in audio. I have underestimated it for years, probably because I haven’t heard it, until now.
The Abscissa Jubilees are the most truthful speakers I’ve ever heard. They now make even mostly faithful speakers sound like compromises, as if they are holding something essential back. Jean Marie’s speakers made it clear to me that other speakers, especially Harbeths at the time, were withholding the essential emotional component of musical performance. Jean Claude’s new Abscissas take the next step. The emotional component is still there but, again, we feel it is coming from the voices and instruments — and the spaces between them. We sometimes prefer our home music systems because they produce a simpler experience, a comforting one. These new speakers are giving a more complex one, one full of individual voices to attend to. There is more emotional pleasure in detail than we remember.
The Abscissa Jubilee, is the second edition of the first JMR speaker from Jean Claude Reynaud’s hands alone. It was designed to bring some of the fullness and low end authority of the Orféos into smaller rooms but it has gone far beyond those modest aims. There is a new Heill transformer tweeter, the same used in the Aldara, a limited production Reynaud, which has a silicon diaphragm covered with extremely light aluminum. The new tweeter is naturally clear sounding and audibly faster and more dynamic, though less sweet than the ribbon used in the Offrandes, Orféos, and earlier Abscissas. The Aldara (which I have not heard) is an active speaker — and to my ears the new Abscissas sound a lot like active speakers: fast, clear, and immediate with great definition of both voices and space. Those who regularly attend ‘live’ performances will recognize it soon enough. It is a ‘live’ sound for a domestic venue.
It is in April, 2018 the “best” speaker I know of.
$6500 in black, grey, or white. Jean Claude likes these “modern” finishes, so there we are…
If you are one of those who crave the full and natural weight of an orchestra…or of a bassoon…or of bass baritone Matthias Goerne, the new Orféo Jubilees may just have to be your speakers. There is a great deal more to them than that — a wonderfully fleshed out, saturated — not artificially warm — mid-range that gives new life to cellos and organs (Sol Gabetta’s new recording of Peteris Vasks’ Second Cello Concerto is pure and savory magic), strong reserves of dynamic energy, a degree of overall ease not heard since the 3-way Concordes, which these new Orféos have driven from the product line. They need lots of power — in my house the 300 watts of the new Blue Circle NSW solid state stereo amp. They need a good-sized room, though Jean Claude tells us not so large a one as their predecessors: just enough space to get them three feet (?) or so away from the room boundaries. But with sufficient power and some room, they are impressive music and sound machines with all of the virtues of their predecessors but several steps beyond them in all respects. Like the Supreme, V2’s, they are still mid-hall in their perspective, but it is a better hall!
They do not sound like larger Abscissas. They play their own game. They are more confident and effortlessly full-range. Everything feels larger, heartier, richer and more substantial through them. There is no question that these Orféos get more of the lower end of a piano than Abscissas. Their sheer physicality can be stunning. Even their subtlety and nuance is more bold and forthright, if that makes any sense. Clear but less delicate. Are they darker than Abscissas? In an A-B comparison, yes; but on their own, from their own point of view, perhaps not. Abscissas sound less weighty, so that may be what we hear. And dark or light compared with what? Both the Abscissas and Orféos convince us they are telling the truth in this matter. Abscissas, with less deep bass energy and on an 80 watt Blue Circe 002i/EPS integrated, seem more open, articulate, and graceful; but they would. Nature of moderate power on less than full range speakers. All instruments have more body through the Orféos: a Shostakovich string quartet is bolder, less insinuating. A harpsichord is larger and more resonant but again less delicate. It will be interesting to hear how the larger speakers change as they break in. Mine are still pretty young beasts, as is the Blue Circle amp.
Large speakers are different from small speakers, we must remind ourselves. The best of both can challenge our established ideas about what is true. In my college room my roommate’s Janszen/AR1-W fought out this issue with my Altec Lansing horns. Some Abscissa lovers may find the new Orféos insufficiently deft and lithe. Some Orféo lovers may find Abscissa insufficiently substantial. Orféos Supremes to a degree were marvelous rhinos that could dance — and dance very well. Orféos are lions. And to complete this silly analogy, Abscissas are black panthers. As absurd as these analogies may seem, they do represent the fact that there is no absolute better or worse here. Until we have the impossible ideal speaker that can do all that live music does, we must make choices.
Details: Same new Heil ribbon tweeter as in the Abscissa. New mid and bass drivers, new crossover.
Bandwidth: 32 to 25khz (30hz to -6db).
Impedance: 4 Ohms (minimum 3.8 ohms)
Power required: 90 to 300W (400W in peak)
Sensitivity 91db / W / m (2.83V)
Price: $10,000, cherry stained anigree
$10,300, black satin, pearly grey, pearly white
NOTE: The CONCORDE SUPREME has been dropped from the JMR line. Reasons given are (1) the new Orfeo Jubilees make them redundant and (2), the companies who made their drivers have gone out of business!
MAGIC STANDS. JM Reynaud has resumed production of the famous Magic Stands, designed specifically to improve the performance of stand-mounted speakers, the Bliss and Bliss Silver in particular — and now the Folias. Making use of the principle of the Helmholtz Resonator, Magic Stands not only clarify low end performance dramatically, they also have the effect of evening up response in the midrange. Price, $600 plus shipping if ordering without speakers. For a definitive presentation of the theory behind the Magic Stands, go to:
JM REYNAUD DEALERS in the U.S.
We are saddened to report the news that Craig Jensen of
Great Plains Audio in Chaska, Minnesota has passed.
West Palm Beach, Florida
East End HiFi
Coram, NY 11727
Osage Audio Products
P.O. Box 232
Hallsville, MO 65255
164 Red Gate Lane
Amherst, MA 01002
There is now a Canadian importer for JMReynaud speakers and will soon be a Canadian network of retail dealers.