I was not sure how to label this because it is a review and a advice combo post.
Review SDA 2.3, vs JM Labs 815. Before anyone thinks is it not a fair fight, price on the 2.3 was about $2000 and price in 2000 on the JM Labs was $1800. The JM Labs have 1 7" woofer, and 1 7" mid, 1 tweeter. The 2.3's need no introduction here LOL.
Equipment used Sunfire sig II, Jolida cd with EI tubes, Carver c-19 pre and Ben's IC's with audio quest crystal bi wire speaker cables ( till the MIT shotguns come in LOL )
Music used Esperanza Spalding self titled cd, Moby play, Dave Brubeck further time out, black keys.
Now I have changed my basement and cut it in 1/2 so the room now is 13 X 18. I first tried the Polk's on the 18 foot wall 8 " from the wall 6 feet between them . This did not sound right at all! I turned the room 90 degrees and put the speakers on the short wall, 5 feet between them and that made one heck of a difference. I moved the couch up 6-8 feet from the speakers ( still deciding on the distance I like on them ) since 18 feet is too long for a sweet spot.
The JM labs did NOT like being close to the wall at all. Again on the short wall and not the long wall, they were moved out 2 feet from the wall, 6 feet between them. The couch was moved back so again it was 6-8 feet from the speaker.
All tests was done with the C-19 in in bypass mode with all tone disengaged.
The Polk's were 1st up.
Bass is strong, at times too much. With Esperanza and , her vocals seems a bit laid back, drums are nice, sharp but the cymbals seemed a bit recessed also. Not crisp and at times harsh. The bass ( instrument not bass in general) was very up front and had big authority shaking the room quite a bit. With Dave Brubeck I noticed the same thing. I could hear a lot in the background of that cd. People talking, things being moved around, someone humming at the same time as they were playing. Great cd to pick out details in the background of things.
Piano on Esperanza and Dave Brubeck seemed a hair recessed and not as up front as I would like them to be.
The sound stage was solid but to me, or in my room, it seem to lack a little bit of depth.
Change over to the JM Labs, vocal was much more up front, the cymbals were crisp and in your face. The drums again more in your face but never harsh. Bass was not as earth shaking as the Polk's ( how can it be) but, it seemed more refined. I did not miss the ground shaking bass once. They seemed a bit smoother overall and the presence all around was much stronger with the JM Labs.
Piano on Dave Brubeck and the Esperanza was neutral sounding. Very open and sounded like i was standing in the room with the piano player.
Sound stage was much wider then I thought it would be with the JM labs and in my opinion beating the Polk's! Yes I was using the SDA cable ( thanks Ben for the fine cable)
Question. Would the RDO give the 2.3 more of a sharper sound? Would it help bring them up a hair more? I would love to have that smoothness/refinement of the JM Labs with the strong bass of the Polk's. The Polk's are stock. I am thinking if i do the RDO upgrade and possible crossover upgrade to them, would this get them closer to the JM Labs for smoothness and that up front stage sound?
Rock and dance. 1st up Moby Play with the Polk's. OMFG the bass just is amazing out of the Polk's. Talk about room shaking. Very detailed, You could hear the scratches and surface noise on the background of the samples that moby used. This cd and the SDA go together extremely well. The highs again seems a bit recessed and not crisp but the mids and the bass were tight, right there in your face but not overbearing. The Black Keys, again a great cd, the bass on it shook the room with great authority and another great match up for the Polk's. The highs are again not as crisp but since the cd has a ton of distortion built into the vocals, it seemed to go right along well with the Polk's!
The JM Labs, Top end crisp and just so tight. Bottom end was lacking big time due to the 7 " woofer and could not produce it well at all. Moby sounded great up to a point till the bass hit. The JM's did not distort but, because that cd has such strong bass, it just could not keep up. The black keys sounded much better but, was missing in the bottom end. The top and mids of the JM labs no matter what music i threw at them are just so refined sounding. They do have bass but, for some music just not enough.
Question number 2. If I add a sub to the JM Labs, do you think this would help the bass while keeping the outstanding mids and highs they have? I want the smoothness of the JM's with the authority and slam of the Polk's.
On a side note cutting the basement room from a cement block to a 13X18 room, was one of the best things I have done to improve my sound. I feel like I have a new stereo! I kept going through equipment left and right and 90% of the time, the 26x26 cement block was the issue and NOT the equipment!
So, in short if you have made it this far, should I invest in a subwoofer for the jm labs, or rdo / crossover to try to get more of the jm labs sound or frontness/refinement, clairity out of the polks? I know without hearing them side by side like i have it would be a hard choice on both ends. If i didnt have the JM labs doing the rdo would not have even been a 2nd thought.
My next test will be the polks or jm labs VS vandersteen 2.3! Stay tuned!