Joseph Audio RM33si Signature loudspeaker

People come to high-end audio with different needs and expectations—some fairly reasoned, some slightly more highfalutin. Some listeners want to get as close as possible to an immersion experience, be it of a live performance or of some more idealized studio ecstasy. Others are enraptured by the status and sex appeal of big, hot-rod components, and simply dig gear—much as they might dig the visceral rush of a high-performance car. Still others compulsively upgrade their equipment in search of some unattainable perfection. But no matter the initial motivation, all roads eventually lead back to a love of music.

While I've always loved good sound, it wasn't until spring 1994, when I returned to Manhattan from Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood with DATs and analog cassettes of a recording project with Ginger Baker, Bill Frisell, and Charlie Haden (Going Back Home, Atlantic 82652-2), that I began to realize the limitations of the gear I was then using—particularly the loudspeakers. Every time I played my tapes through another set of speakers, they sounded as if they'd been completely remixed. I was so taken aback by the multiplicity of aural perspectives that I began to seriously investigate what might constitute the ideal loudspeaker.

Did that ever turn out to be a long-term project. On one hand, I discovered that there were certain attributes that I considered seductive and pleasurable. On the other, I felt the need for something so unfailingly accurate and revealing that, were I lucky enough to be involved in another recording project, I could bet my life on what I was hearing—I needed to know precisely what had gone down and what adjustments, if any, needed to be made.

As it turned out, I ended up writing for Stereophile, but I still needed—perhaps even more than before—to judge precisely what was going on with associated gear upstream in the signal chain, and to report on the audiophile qualities of someone else's recording projects.

Greetings, Pilgrim
The push of subjective values vs the pull of objective standards drives audiophiles to audition countless loudspeakers in search of one that satisfies their wants and their needs. I reviewed Joseph Audio's floorstanding RM22si back in the November 1998 Stereophile, and shortly thereafter began using their minimonitor, the front-ported RM7si Signature, as my reference loudspeaker. (It superseded the rich-sounding, dynamic Celestion A3, a resoundingly full-bodied, floorstanding design in the grand tradition of British midrange performance, but which proved to be a little too forgiving for my purposes.) I found the RM7si Signature exceptionally fast, accurate, and revealing without tending toward the coldly analytical. Its clarity and pinpoint resolution gave me a dependable portal through which to observe the relative merits of all the associated gear I've evaluated in the past three years.

Still, as my system and listening skills evolved, I got to wondering just how good an extended-range variation on the RM7si Signature theme might be. So, apparently, had Joseph Audio's design team of Jeff Joseph and ex-McIntosh innovator Richard Modaferri. This led to the development of the new RM33si, a modestly configured yet amazingly sophisticated three-way, full-range, floorstander that seamlessly integrates a side-firing 8" aluminum-cone woofer, a 5" magnesium-cone midrange, and a 1" soft-dome tweeter, all from SEAS in Norway, in a slender-baffled, downward-ported design that should slip comfortably into any décor without horrifying any significant others.

The RM33si represents the culmination of everything Joseph and Modaferri have learned from the development and implementation of their Infinite Slope Crossover technology, an ingenious passive design Modaferri devised to minimize driver interactions.

The RM33si is in some ways a radical re-thinking of the now-discontinued Joseph RM30si, a three-way, full-range design (albeit with non-metal-cone drivers) in a forward-firing array employing an 8" bass driver and a 10" passive radiator. However, I think it's more accurate to trace the RM33si's lineage as having trickled down from the technology developed for Joseph's no-compromise Pearl.