AJ is a tinker. AJ is an engineer. He always sits off-center, near the middle front, always with his notebook computer in front of him. Throughout several demonstrations of his latest prototype, he fiddles with this setting and angle, or that setting and angle. AJ always has a prototype he is tweaking. He streams one percussive sample of music and EQ from his notebook to his DAC to a solid-state receiver. AJ frequently asks for opinions, but then answers them with an engineer's view of various issues. He moves from side to side, concerned with the size of the sweet spot, while a half-dozen middle tweaking audiophiles are content enough to sit, talk and sometimes listen. Ammar Jadusingh (AJ) is powerful looking man; short cropped hair, quietly muscular and very direct in his opinions. AJ pronounces his last name as "Jadu (as spelled) sing (the h is silent)," but without a hint of an Indian accent. It is Indian (as in the subcontinent) from his father's side, while his mother was English.
AJ started marketing his loudspeakers with the Audio Expo of North America consumer audio at Jacksonville since it was only a few hours' drive from Tampa. I know AJ from the Suncoast Audiophile Society on Meetup, but I first saw his loudspeakers at AXPONA. He is always a font of generously given and valuable engineering information. The first and last loudspeakers of his I ever heard are his (as of yet still un-announced) signature "1812" flagships at AXPONA. They are still prototypes. The last iteration of the 1812s I saw recently were big, black, square boxes as AJ fiddles with drivers, cabinet designs, crossover, equalization, settings and angles. The 1812s currently have one barely moving, open baffle 18" driver per side in the middle, with boxed 12" sub-woofer on the bottom and a boxed horn-like coaxial driver on top. AJ says the final 1812 design will have a ribbon super-tweeter and rear drivers. I loved the 1812's then and now for their amazing clarity, dynamics, power and huge soundstage. When AJ said he had a smaller monitor was in production, I jumped at the chance to hear them.
In fact, the M2As have to use their own matching stands. Inside their stands are the plate amplifiers for the woofers. The M2As are two-way bookshelf loudspeaker with three drivers. There is a super-tweeter, crossed over at 14 kHz plus an optional rear firing 1" dome driver with shaped response for larger soundstage and improved ambiance. There is the front side 8" aluminum woofer, operating in the sealed cabinet. Strangely, the woofer crosses over right in the middle of the hypercritical range, 1 kHz, but I did not hear any mid-range notch or noise. AJ adds 150 Watt Class AB amplifiers into the matching custom butter stands. The amplifiers actively power the woofers, but not the other drivers. This leaves the relatively large, 9.5" x 6.5" planar magnetic horn-loaded driver to handle middle and upper portion of the hypercritical range of human appreciation, from 1 to 14 kHz.
Thus, the frequency response for these disarming simply looking babies is quite respectfully wide for bookshelf loudspeakers, 65 Hz to 23 kHz. It is also very nicely flat, within an important 3dB. Even better, within the hypercritical range (100-13,000 Hz), the M2As are very impressive, flat within 2dB. Wait, as the late night infomercial for Soundfield goes... there's more! Sensitivity for these butter babies is a very high 101dB/W/m. Equally impressive, while impedance is the typical 8 Ohm, but it is relatively constant (flat), dipping down to only 7.2 Ohms, meaning that the upper drivers are easily driven by impedance challenged low power/tube amplifiers. Finally, the M2As are only $2200 for the passive/active pair as reviewed, $1600 for available fully passive (no woofer amplifier) version. AJ says he is considering a version where the woofer amplifier is mounted on the rear, precluding the need to use his butter stands.
The big question for me was, with the woofer plate amplifier in the stands, and then the listener must use those matching Soundfield stands as if the M2As are two-part towers. Fair enough, bookshelf loudspeakers sound like crap unless they properly mounted away from the front and side walls on stands anyway. However, my question about the two-part M2As quickly becomes, "if you must include stands, why not just make the M2As into one-piece tower loudspeakers?"
The new buzzword is stand mount, which is more approximate than bookshelf loudspeakers. I do not know of true bookshelf loudspeakers that actually sound better in a bookshelf. Do you? All small loudspeakers sound best properly mounted at the ideal height and ways from the front and sidewalls. In this case, the stand mounts for the M2A are powered. The M2A woofer plate amplifier is in the stand mount. It handles the woofer up to 1 kHz, which is the crossover frequency to horn. It is not user adjustable like a sub-woofer, because AJ says that would allow change frequencies in the lower mid to horn transition (greater than 800 Hz), which is undesirable. "So the amplifier is "hidden" in the stand, with no possibility of user maladjustment."
As with everything AJ does, the cable from loudspeaker to amplifier is not quite normal, but it is well thought out. The cable is also unique. It is a Speakon connector cord, mostly used in professional audio systems for connecting loudspeakers to amplifiers. The male connector is a large round pin, with an interlocking button. "It is foolproof. No chance of reversing polarity, or shorts, like you have with dual bananas." The Speakon connector is a very solid connection. It cannot connect in any other way to any other component in a home theater music and movie reproduction system, except another Speakon connector.
Therefore, the M2As are an active version, which must be purchased together as a "system." There is a passive version of the M2, but like every passive speaker, the maximum sensitivity is tied to the woofer, something this active version circumvents. The passive is a more typical efficiency, 88dB/W/m, as an outboard amplifier has to drive everything versus the very high efficiency of 101dB/W/m for the active version, where the plate amplifier drives the woofer. AJ also mentions that there is also no impedance "hump" as with a passive crossover. The impedance of the M2A is near ruler flat - perfect for low or no feedback tube amplifiers, which is what he aimed the M2As squarely towards achieving. There is an option for a deeper "subwoofer" type bass driver, at additional cost. He says the output of the standard woofer is never lacking and most AXPONA "show attendees who heard them agreed the bass output/depth made a sub unnecessary." The idea, AJ says, perhaps pandering to my distinct Big Ole Horn loudspeakers tastes is "to get a taste of Klipschorn sound with two watts, with far more room friendly decor."
In addition to the signature 1812s, AJ is also working on a VSFT-3 model for the next AXPONA. It will slot between the 1812 and VSFT-2 (which you heard at Mike Ks). Similar concept as the M2A but with dual amps for the subwoofers, one open baffle dipole, the other sealed. Finally, he adds a separately driven (remote controlled mini-amp) rear "indirect" radiator. This is an evolved and fleshed out realization of his "Variable" Sound Field (tower) concept. Like his previous models, this would again be active 12" open baffle (dipole) and 10" sealed subwoofers, seven inch ScanSpeak mid-bass woofer, 9.5" x 6.5" Planar Magnetic horn loaded mid-tweeter, and one inch ribbon super-tweeter. He is also planning / working on a replacement for his M1 - Bookshelf coaxial/powered sub.
Being a local company, AJ did not ship the M2As to me. I met AJ each time to pick-up and drop them off. When I review electronic equipment, double boxing is meaningless to me, but I do like to see at least two-three inches on Styrofoam on all sides for "back of the truck" bounce protection, plus a moisture barrier inside. I have seen dented boxes, in hundreds of shipments though; I have not received any damaged equipment. AJ ships with 2" low-density polyethylene foam packing in a double-walled box. He uses a clear plastic bag for moisture barrier. AJ ships everything via Pilot Freight. The speakers are on pallet, which he says largely negates the need for super-duty packing. The truck driver should take the loudspeakers off the pallet on arrival and bring them into the home.
Ron May's loudspeakers are still online. His Carnegie Acoustics CST-1 Leaning Transmission Towers are slim, phase-aligned, backwards-leaning towers with a planer magnetic tweeter and 5.25" VipaCore woofers. The CST-1s are "incredibly flat 2dB frequency response, within 20 Hz to 20 kHz, in a slim $1999 tower!". Also in that competitive $2000 range are many used Big Ole Horn loudspeakers, such as my Klipsch classic corner horns, LaScalas and Belles. Big Ole Horn loudspeakers are excellent choices for dynamic, clear sound with tube amplifiers and solid-state sub-woofers.
Booty to Hold
Compared to typical name brand passive cone loudspeakers costing as much as $7000, the M2As are a solid bargain. Because of their value, I easily award the M2As four Blue Notes in the Value category. In all other Enjoy the Music.com categories, the M2A are a solidly average (three Blue Notes) across the board. I found no serious deficiencies in their sound, efficiency, looks, construction or specifications. They join a thinning market as one of the most competitive and compelling loudspeakers available. I hope we see more of this company.
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