No speaker system at AXPONA 2017 could hope to compete with the 7-channel rig JTR Speakers showed at AXPONA 2017. It’s not a practical outfit for someone like me who lives in a Philly row house. But, in terms of capability plus methodology, the system JTR founder and speaker designer Jeff Permanian showed—featuring seven of his Noesis 215RT ($3299 each) was a stunner.
Have you heard people claim that a speaker system doesn’t need subwoofers? With this setup, it’s 100% true. Each passive speaker essentially has two 15″ subs built into the vented cabinet. The result is a frequency response specified as 18Hz to 24kHz +/- 3dB, which is a rarefied capability for any speaker.
But, these are not just any speakers. I first encountered the Noesis 215RT at an October 2014 AVS Forum GTG (get together). It was an influential speaker, listening to a pair at the time helped convince me they offer the performance audiophiles seek. Low distortion, unconstrained dynamics, great imaging, and true full-range sound reproduction are available in a speaker that can rightly be described as a bargain at its $3299 manufacturer-direct price.
With 2000 watts RMS power handling, 4-ohm impedance, 95 dB sensitivity, and 128 dB of usable output per speaker, you can just imagine what seven of them can do. And the AXPONA demo was designed to do that.
This system used a Windows 10 HTPC running Jriver media center ($50 for Windows, Mac, or Linux) which handled bass management. The only EQ used with the system was to adjust the bass response for the room. Michael Boeker (DesertDome of AVS Forum) of High Impact AV gets the credit for making the rig work in that space.
With this rig, LFE content went to all seven Noesis 215RT speakers. With a pair of Lab Gruppen FP10000Q pro amps providing power, there was no shortage of wattage to run the show. These four-channel amps output 2100 watts per channel into 4 ohm loads, a perfect match for the speakers.
A short video showing the demo space and a bit of footage from the Elton 60 concert video.
With over 14,000 watts of power on tap, there’s more than enough juice to drive fourteen 15″ drivers. Add the boost in sensitivity using a ported enclosure adds to the equation and you’ve got a recipe for recreating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Jriver fed seven channels of audio to a Motu 1248 audio interface ($1495) which in turn sent analog audio to the amps.
The sound was clean, smooth, and energetic at both low and high volume. Live music sounded live, there was never any hint of strain. Sound like this is intoxicating, you can listen to a low-distortion system all day long and never grow fatigued.
Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 on Blu-ray sounded so excellent, I decided to jot down “supergoodness” in my notes. Plus the video looked fantastic, thanks to the combination of a JVC DLA-RS4500K laser-phosphor 4K projector ($34,995) and a brand-new, never before shown acoustically-transparent screen material from Seymour Screen Excellence.
Elton John’s concert video from Madison Square Garden, Elton 60, looked and sounded fantastic on this rig. This Blu-ray is a demo staple and the JTR rendition was rousing and realistic. Piano and vocals sounded tonally accurate and the percussion sounded plus felt solid.
The HTPC rig used madVR to apply a 3D LUT (look-up table) for absolute color accuracy as well as to upscale 108p to 4K in the best manner possible.
The Enlightor-Neo screen material used in the demo is a 0.8 gain, matte, woven but texture-free material that offers a lambertian surface. You can place a speaker as close to an inch from this material, and total attenuation caused by the fabric is only 1.5 dB, with no peaks or dips.
In person, the 2:1 ratio, 162″ (diagonal) screen looked as seamless and texture-free as a solid screen. Chris Seymour made me go right up to the screen and press my nose against it to see if I could spot texture. Nope, none to be seen.
The surface smoothness, neutrality, and the JVCs incredible color and contrast made the image quite compelling, especially given the ad hoc nature of a show setup.
Not only did the screen look good, but it provided a proper cinematic effect by taking the notion of being acoustically transparent literally—unlike perforated screens. The Noesis 215RT located behind it may have been invisible to the eye, but the screen was invisible to the ear. Exactly what you want! This impressive material will be featured at CEDIA 2017.
The highlight of the demo was the opening to Roger Waters The Wall on Blu-ray. Although there are no height channels in the system, the Atmos mix was super crisp and delivered some of the best-produced audio you can get. Not that you’d expect anything less from Mr. Waters. When he plays a trumpet in a graveyard, its heart-rending. And then with a bang we’re in the dystopian world of The Wall. Or rather, a massive live concert concept film based on Pink Floyd’s seminal The Wall, with pitch-perfect renditions of the famous rock classics. It was excellent.
I managed to catch a couple of tracks of two-channel music playing on these monster towers. In my notes, I said that “Perfect World” by Broken Bells on After the Disco confirmed that with this rig, what you are hearing is what’s in the mix, period. Also, close your eyes and there’s no notion that you are listening to towering behemoths. It can be tight, delicate, and render sounds to proper scale.
The quality of the bass from this system is particularly euphonic, you feel it, you hear it, but it never bloats, never overwhelms, never sounds imbalanced.
I love, and I mean really and truly love seeing a proper HTPC system with mighty Lab Gruppen amps powering a speaker system with near unlimited capability. And to have it matched up with a projector and screen that can deliver such a seamless experience is a special treat. The Noesis 215RT system was overkill, yet markedly minimalist.
Bravo to everyone involved in putting together this room. It demonstrates a compelling way to achieve outlandishly excellent performance. It happens to be the all-pro, baller, AVS Forum best practices way to do things, so for that I give it a Best of AXPONA 2017 nod.