First my initial impressions of the 228HT after listening to them for a decent amount of time last night.
Excellent speaker - less of a treble bias than the 888 in my room and is a smoother
sounding speaker than the 888, again my
opinion. You can see in my signature pictures that my room is awfully reflective. I have no treatments and tile floor in a basement slab with two finished walls as external concrete walls. The 888 and my current eD Cinema 12's can be a bit bright, or even a bit harsh in my room - the eD Cinema 12 more than the JTR 888. But after my limited listening sessions on the 228HT I've detected none of that in my room. In fact the 228HT sounded a lot like I remember the Noesis 212HT sounding in my room. So I wrote carp and asked if he would be willing to host a face off between the big Noesis and the little Noesis at his place either this weekend or next. It's no real surprise that carp made his place available immediately! He also loves checking out new gear, and of course was curious in this new JTR line. So this morning I headed over to his place to meet up with stitch1 and mrsmithers - a couple local friends who also were curious about the 228HT. Thanks carp for hosting another little mini g2g. Your place rocks, as always!
As to the A/B testing -
As Stitch1 said, he and I were 'blind tested' in that we weren't to know which speaker was playing at which time. We could see the speakers, but the drivers weren't moving at the levels we blind auditioned on either pair and neither he nor I could physically tell from our listening positions or listening angle which pair was which, even when we tried. I truly didn't actually know which speaker was playing during this little testing. MrSmithers and carp setup the speakers, level matched (
at carp ) and then let them play. We each chose a few songs of some of our favorite music clips and then swapped speakers. For music we used a 100hz crossover from the mains to his Seaton HP Submersive. For movies we used an 80hz crossover if I remember what carp said accurately.
The first speaker audition ended up being the 228HT, but I wasn't really sure which it was at the end of the demo session. I honestly thought there was a bit more treble bias than I expected to be the Noesis 212HT, but not as much as the eD Cinema 12 nor triple eight's that I've heard in carp's room before in a previous blind test. I got chills four times during the 228HT audition. I felt as though the imaging was some of the best I've heard. Vocals in the main listening position were focused dead pan in the middle, while acoustic instruments were directional and coming from left and right. I felt like the vocal sweet spot was very strong and very centered between the two channels - but it was confined to a pretty narrow seating area sweet spot. The seat immediately to the left of the MLP did not have the same focused center channel vocal effect. Stitch1 described the 228HT vocals as sitting right there in his lap while sitting in the MLP. Sitting immediately behind the MLP was a similar cool front center sound imaging effect. I was pretty impressed with this, and figured this probably was the big 212HT because carp has had a lot of time to dial them in, yet the very slight treble emphasis was not something I recognized for music in carp's Noesis and I've heard them a bunch before. I was confused at this point because I felt like the 228HT did not have a treble bias in my room at all, so I didn't think it would be them either. At the end of the first audition I really had no idea what we had just heard. I know from previous time spent with the Noesis 212HT, that they can give me as many chills as a walk in freezer. I'd discovered this several times, but not more clearly than at a previous blind meet in DesMoines that avsforum member dlbeck hosted
. The fact that I get chills during an audition is always something I view as a positive, because it's not something that you can create - they must be earned, and are otherwise uncontrollable. However, despite the chills, at the end of speaker A audition I was pretty lost as to what was what.
We left the room and carp and MrSmithers wired up the second pair for the next audition and called stitch and I back down. We went through some of the same tracks and a a few new ones. I didn't get any chills the second audition, but I did feel the music was better overall and the audition more enjoyable. The soundstage was bigger
. I didn't hear the focused center channel imaging from the MLP, but now rather the entire front wall was the stage. It wasn't too long before I really began to suspect the second audition was the Big Noesis, even though I found myself hoping it was the smaller pair. Audition B, felt less precise, less perfectly setup, but overall of higher quality. Both Stitch1 and I ended up guessing correctly, and we both cited the same characteristics that delivered that guess. - Airy sound on Audition B, HUGE sound stage, no strain at any volume level. (we didn't have a set volume, and during the first audition a couple of the songs sounded a bit too loud, or that we'd reached a comfortable listening level and didn't need to turn it up --- whereas the second audition I didn't hear that happen -- a couple times we got to +8.5 dB on the volume dial with both speakers - so this was not quiet reserved listening through the entirety. We listened at many different levels - from quiet to pounding.) I found a strange contradiction to my normal thinking - even though speaker A gave me chills four times, I found I liked Speaker B's music audition better. It was just less like a speaker audition and more like a live audio concert. The big reveal in that the second audition was the 212HT just confirmed that they are just something uniquely amazing for music, and remain my favorite speaker I've ever heard for music.
Now for something curious - - -Movie auditions
. We listened at about 3 different volumes to the same several clips. -10, -5, and reference, most clips were at -10dB. Each clip was listened to in stereo instead of DD or DTS since we didn't have a 228HT center channel. Honestly, I don't think I could tell a difference between the two speakers for movies.
Even the AC/DC song on the IronMan Clip sounded fantastic on both speakers to my ears at reference levels. For the movie clips I sat in the seat immediately to the left of the MLP. I'd have to imagine that as the volume increases to well beyond reference the characteristics of maximum clean dynamic playback might be noticed on the 228HT before the 212HT - but we didn't take the volume on the movie section high enough to get to any limitation on either speaker at reference playback levels. The fact the 228HT went toe to toe with the 212HT in movies, a speaker costing 2x's, and my personal favorite speaker ever --- was just plain excellent!
Now here's the quandary I find myself in.
1) I think spending $3K is crazy on a front LCR main speaker soundstage (I've always been a bass head and don't have a problem spending $3k on subs.) However, after spending some time with the Noesis 212HT in my own room, as well as auditioning them at five different meets (PA
) - I've found I love the 212HT Noesis so much that I've changed my views on how much a good set of speakers matters, and what is rational to spend on a set of good speakers. Perhaps the reason I don't own the Noesis 212HT right now is that I couldn't up and change my long held principles on max speaker budget as quickly as could carp. (carp decided the first day he heard the Noesis - cost be darned - he wanted them. --- I envy him, in a carefree way
2) The Noesis 212HT are, IMO, standalone as the best overall speaker that I've ever heard. The Noesis 228HT are the second best speaker I've ever had in my room, but not necessarily the second best speaker I've ever heard (they have to contend with the Seaton Catalyst line, Desertdome's LS6 and Brausch's DIY Statement speakers, and I'd have to hear these all in one room, same conditions, same day to pick a victor! Now the gotcha is that all of these other secondary options are significantly more expensive than the 228HT. So price to performance I think the 228HT definitely holds a golden crown.
3) If I'm crazy enough to spend ~$3ish K (intro price) on a front soundstage, am I crazy not to spend ~$6ish K on something that is the best I've ever heard? Is the old adage spend once, cry once true? Is it worth saving for another full year to get the 212HT? Are the 212HT twice as good? No!
Am I someone who always thinks about a purchase and wonders what if? Yes!
I'm going to spend some additional time with these speakers and get them really setup correctly in my theater (I've not even run Audyssey on them yet to set distances and dB levels) and then going to sleep on my decision for a while. I suppose if I don't keep these 228HT - the Noesis 212HT are most likely in my future! Oddly the 212HT pricepoint, is just not anything I'd ever thought I'd consider, but then again their quality is something I never knew I'd encounter. The fact that the Noesis 228HT sounded identical to my ears for movie use to the Noesis 212HT in A/B testing makes the idea of spending double on the 212HT a hard swallow for a budget conscious enthusiast, on the other hand, I can see where the Noesis 212HT would be worth double the price for someone who heavily favors music use (as carp will attest). In pursuit of "BEST" you'd better be prepared to pay. Where will I fall out on this quandary? Time will tell. Funny enough - Stitch1, my fellow blind auditioner, said that if I decided against keeping the 228HT, I didn't have to send them back to JTR, he said he wants them. The simple summary of this whole matter is that Jeff hit a homerun with the 228HT, it is probably the best speaker for the money on the market today. With a intro price of $999, anyone who values quality movie and music reproduction should take a long hard look at this offering!