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JM Labs electra 927Be review


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#1 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 06:12 AM

This review is for the JM Labs 927 Electra Be floor standing speaker. It is a limited edition of 500 pairs. The retail price is $6000. I paid $5300. It is based of the 926 floor standing speaker. The 926 retail price is $4125. The 926 uses 2 seven inch drivers to deliver the bass. The 927 uses two drivers that are 6 ½ inch’s for the bass. They are also designed with a new form of the W cone. The 927 has a weight of 62.8 pounds and its dimensions are (HxWxD 41-2/3"x9-1/8"x15"). It is also ported in the front. I choose the classic finish. It is just outstanding. It uses one mid range which is the same size of the woofers. The tweeter is the same one that is used in the Utopia range. It is made of pure beryllium. It has a rated frequency response of 40Hz-37 kHz at +-3db and the lower limit is at 31Hz at -6db. Sensitivity is listed at 90Db. More information is located at http://www.focal-fr....b/sommaire.htm. As with all of the JM speakers, everything is done in house. See my SW900 review for a few more details.

My previous speakers were Definitive Technology Pro 400 floor standing speakers. I was using them for about four years. They had a 1 inch tweeter, a 6 ½ inch mid range and two built in powered 6 ½ inch subwoofers. I was very satisfied with them. The bass that they could produce was really incredible. They did sound good. But when I started to really listen with a critical ear, at higher level speakers, I started to hear the differences. Differences in bass quality, not quantity. Detail was more revealing. I just started to notice more things that I was missing. I originally wanted the Diva Utopias but they were just too much for me to reach. Then I read about the 927 Be and jumped on them without even hearing them. I could do this because was very familiar with the sound of JM Labs and I knew I would love what I heard.

With these speakers as with my SW900, reviewed here as well, I had to adjust just a bit to the sound. Before when I would listen to music it seemed that all of the music and sound was just mish mashed together. But these speakers are able to separate and the sounds and blend them together at the same time. Before, I was mainly a home theater guy. But listening to these and other speakers has made me listen to a lot of 2 channel as well.

The set up is the following: Krell showcase preamp, a Bryston 4B-ST powering them, and the use of Transparent Audio cables. The sound is very pleasing to me. The bass is full but not bloated in my room. The mids and highs are incredible. With the 400’s sometimes it seemed that the music would just go to a certain spot and stop. Now it just keeps on going. I am somewhat varied in my musical taste. For example I can listen to Cream, AC/DC, Tool, Allman Brothers Band, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and Audio Slave to name a few. They all sound incredible. The detail that is extracted is really impressive. The soundstage is very impressive also. There were times, on more than one occasion, that I had to check and see if my center channel was on. The kick drum on the Audio Slave cd was solid. Some people might want more, but it does sound tight and clean. The songs “Show me how to live” and “Set it off” are incredible. The guitars on those cuts just shred. They are just so fine and precise. They say it is all in the details. Well this speaker has it. Detail is what this speaker is all about. But also the bass is well defined. The Tool album is just off the chart. I get a smile every time I give that one a spin. On dvd concerts they are just as good. The Rush in Rio concert is so good. I have an ABB concert that just sounds incredible. The slide guitar is just plain screaming and the bass come right on through. There is no fatigue with these speakers at all.

I want to add how these speakers sound with Hi-Rez audio. I bought a SRV SACD to see how it was different from regular CD. I was not impressed at all. I could not hear a difference. This was when I had my Def Techs. Maybe I heard a little somethething extra but nothing spectacular. Then I got the 927's. Wow! What a difference. I could hear the diifrence right away. Everything was cleaner and clearer over my standard cd's. I thought "this is the change I was looking for". Then last night I listened to it again. It sounded even better. The highs were like crystal. But the bass had a lot more weight to it. I guess they are more broken in now than before. This makes me want to try more SACD's and see what happens. The quality of the sound really shows through in this requard. Head and shoulders above what my Pro 400's ever did.

As far as home theater goes they are excellent in that regard as well. There are some movies in which I heard voices or detail that I did not hear before. They can handle the strains of movie sound tracks with no problem. The Bourne Identity, Kiss of the Dragon and many others just sound incredible. The city sounds just come through with such clarity. There were times when the phone would ring in the movie and I had to make sure that it was not my phone. In a movie like X2 they really were impressive. When Night Crawler was in the White House and moving from speaker to speaker it was instantaneous with no delay. And the sound track sound very clean. Saving Private Ryan is especially good. The waves in the beginning of the landing have power to them. You can hear each bullet whizzing by and clanging off the barricades. It is much more clean and clear than my pro 400’s ever were. There are countless movies I could tell you about how clean and crisp these speakers are. They just sound like they are doing their job. Ambient sound effects come through crystal clear. Movie dialog that presents itself in the left and right speakers’ sounds as clean and clear as my center speaker. Another good characteristic of this speaker is that it still sound very good at a low level. All of the characteristics are still there. I just wish I could explain the sweet sound that these speakers produce. Acoustic musical material also sounds very good. You can hear each finger pluck and strum as it happens. Voices sound very natural. Not bass heavy or nasal sounding. As I stated before, the sound just keeps on going. But in addition there is no emphasis on one area of the frequency response.

Other speakers that I was thinking about were mainly from Dynaudio. But the 927’s just out played them. I understand that the 927’s are quite a bit more money, but to me they are well worth it. I get a smile every time I play them. The Dynaudio model was the 2.5T. What I liked more about the 927 is the smoothness, if that is a word. What I mean is the Dyn’s had to me a sometimes dull sound. I found this out only after I heard the JM speakers. The Dynaudio speakers were not bright. They were just strong. I did like the sound of them, until I heard speakers form JM labs. Then the Dynaudio sounded dull to me. The bass seemed dull and plastic sounding. Granted they are not in the immediate price range, but for the price that I got my 927’s for, it is a fair comparison. Also the mid range just seemed lifeless to me after I heard JM speakers. As for the highs it was no contest. The Jm was just more open. There was a time, before I woke up and looked in my bank that I was thinking about the Wilson Sophia speaker. Much more money than what I paid. The Sophia’s have a sound that to me is right in your face. Everything is so elevated with them. The output that they are able to produce is impressive. They are able to get very loud. They are also able to be very detailed. But that comes at a price. After a while they can start to sound fatiguing in the highs. This happens if the level gets to insane. But I have heard other JM speakers at that level that the feeling of fatigue does not happen to them. Is the Sophia a very good speaker? Absolutely. Many people like their sound very much. And let me just say that it is not that I did not like them, it was a combination of price and what I was looking for that kept them out of my room. Again what “I” was looking for. All this listening was done at the store where I bought my gear. Understand, I was there every single Saturday for about 3-4 hours listening to speakers. I had many hours listening to all of these speakers. Through that time I was able to gain a critical ear.

The only “weakness” I can imagine people having is in the bass with plain CD's. I don’t think you will ever tear the wall down with the bass in these speakers like you can with the Wilson’s. For the price of these speakers I am sure that many people will want more bass then these give you. But it is not like they are anemic either. It sounds good. They are just not overwhelming. But as I said before, I do not mind. Do not let this one little item prevent you from considering these speakers. If you look at the entire package, it is very hard to beat.

. I do not know if JM Labs is sold out of these yet or if they are going to make more. If they are unavailable I think that people should look into the 926 or 936. They both sound very good and the 936 is about the same price as the 927Be. It is All in All a very complete speaker. With out a doubt I have no complaints or feelings of regret.
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#2 of 63 Craig Chase

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:20 AM

Very nice review, Mike. There is nothing like knowing your system is always there to enjoy this much... is there ?

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#3 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:30 AM

Thanks Craig. I am no professional but I am trying Posted Image. No there is nothing like it. I know that after I come home from work I can put a movie or music on and just enjoy it.
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#4 of 63 Craig Chase

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:35 AM

Mike... Keep this in mind: Professionals built the Titanic, and an amateur built the Ark.

You did a great job conveying what these speakers do for you.

When you get a chance, check out the Onix Ref 3's ... They are mid-sized towers with a fairly similar layout as your speakers. We have a pair here, and It would be a blast to try an A/B comparison sometime... just for kicks.
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#5 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:54 AM

Quote:
Mike... Keep this in mind: Professionals built the Titanic, and an amateur built the Ark.Posted Image

I just looked at the Ref 3. It does look like a good match up. But just like with my sub, it is a pain for me to try and break everything down. I don't know if you could, but maybe you could try to get a pair and compare them. It would be cool. Just a thought.
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#6 of 63 itai

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Posted October 07 2004 - 10:21 AM

mike
thanks for the intresting review on the electras,
jmlab allways seems to me like a future quality speaker to "growup" to someday!...
have you considered paradigm's new signature line at all?

#7 of 63 DarrylP

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Posted October 07 2004 - 10:24 AM

Great review!

I've listened and am seriously considering them too but cannot get advice as to what centre to use with them.

What are you using?

My usage is 100% HT and no music ever.

Thanks

Darryl

#8 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 10:44 AM

DarrylP,
Thanks for the kind words. I use the JM Labs CC-901. It is the bigger of the two and it is fantastic for home theater. It is very full and powerful sounding. But I must warn you. It is Big. It is much bigger than my previous center. This is basically a scaled down old center utopia. Not the new one. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed. It is most likely one of the best out there. The store where I got it from basically said that. Like everyone says, the center is either one of the most or most important speakers in your system. Just get it and sleep well at night Posted Image
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#9 of 63 DarrylP

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Posted October 07 2004 - 10:48 AM

I've looked at it and it's actually no bigger than my existing speaker.

What worries me was the match with the 927 Be tweaters in the mains?

The dealer has offered me a loan and I'll probably fetch it and try it on Tuesday/Wednesday.

I'll let you know.

Thanks again Mike.

Darryl

#10 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 10:52 AM

Itai,

Thats exactly what I did. I grew up to them. I am glad that I did. I have had these for a few months, before the new signature series came out. So no I did not compare them. But I will tell you the truth. That beryllium tweeter does make a difference. I have a whole new out look on "full range". When I see a speaker that goes up to 22Khz and I know mine can reach 40, I just smile on the inside. I am sure that the Paradigms sound very good. But I am not loosing sleep over the fact that I did not hear them. But everybody has different tastes. They should definitely be on your short list if your are thinking about speakers in this price range.
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#11 of 63 Kiet

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Posted October 07 2004 - 03:06 PM

Hi Mike,
Another great review of the JMlab speaker. By the way, how many days have you had this speaker for? It just released not long ago. And I think the speaker can do much more on top of what you were saying. Since JMLab speakers tend to have a much longer burn in period. They will sound better in time.

#12 of 63 itai

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:29 PM

thanks
i'll look into jmlab, because i was thinking of the dynaudio's as an upgrade (currently i have paradigm studios), so your berrylium story is worth checking!
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#13 of 63 DarrylP

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Posted October 07 2004 - 07:35 PM

Hi Mike

Please help me with my compatibilty question regarding the 901cc match with the 927 Be tweeters in the mains?

Thanks

Darryl

#14 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 07 2004 - 11:55 PM

DarrylP,
Sorry for the delay in the post.
I have not noticed any major tonal difference at all between the tweeters. When action or a scene pans the front stage, it is continuous. Trust me. I was thinking the same thing, but it is a none issue. It will sound fine. Trust me. Posted Image
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#15 of 63 DarrylP

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Posted October 08 2004 - 12:37 AM

Thanks Mike

I'll borrow the 901cc and try it.

Darryl

#16 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:23 AM

Kiet, I got my 927's on June 11 2004. Since then they have been played quite a bit. But they still may be getting better. Sometimes It just clears itself just a little more. That tweeter takes a long time to break in.
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#17 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:25 AM

itai,

Yea. You should check them out. But when you hear them you may leave with them Posted Image
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#18 of 63 DarrylP

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:39 AM

Mike, the reason I'm considering the JMLabs is that althought I've agood amp and preamp I've a particular problem I'm trying to eliminate.

We're using the top of the range Definitive Technology speakers in an acoustically corrected room with a good amplifier and pre-amp.

We find that when there are loud sound effects or background music rising to a crescendo both my wife and I cannot hear the dialogue.

Raising the centre channel only helped very marginally.

The preamp has a built-in room correction package and additionally I've had the centre channel checked in the room and its putting out an almost totally flat response.

Darryl

#19 of 63 Kiet

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:42 AM

Mike,
I think the JMLab sounds very different from the Dynaudio. Which Dynaudio line did you compare it with?
To me the sound of the Dynaudio is very neutral and detailed, the bass is also very tight.
While the JMLab to me always sound very lively, light and fast, and transparent.
Also it is very dependent on the amplifier that are driving the speakers. Because JMLab are very good speakers for almost any amplifiers. While the Dynaudio are very hard to match the right amplifer with it. If they are matched properly, I can say the Dynaudio is really hard to beat.


That is just my opinions though. (Because I am also deciding between Dynaudio and JMLab).

#20 of 63 MikeDuke

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:46 AM

You should have no problem hearing the dialogue with that center. It is very full sounding. What Definitive Technology speakers are you using? My first "real" system was Def Tech. It consited of Pro 400's, a C/L/R 1000 for center, and an older 200 watt powerfield 15. The difference's in all cases have been very dramatic. Check out my review of the SW900 to see my equipment.
I know what I like when I hear it