It brings so much pride to us each time we get a mention. Whether it be a show report, or review it is always the same feeling. Thank you to the following writers for your kind words.
Pride of ownership is Key...
SECRETS OF HOME THEATER AND HI FIDELITY
JWM ACOUSTICS KAREN 6 TURNTABLE REVIEW
By Francisco Licon • Posted: December 26th, 2016
Read more at: http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vinyl/turntables/jwm-acoustics-karen-6-turntable-review/
JWM Acoustics is a small, custom audio manufacturing firm located in Hawaii, and Austin Texas. Joshua Miles is the owner and master builder. He is also a successful sculptor who works with ceramics and wood as his canvas. Joshua Miles also happens to be a very passionate audiophile who blends his love of art and music to create unique musical reproduction machines. His product line includes studio monitor speakers and turntables of which one, the Karen 6 is the subject of this review. I met Joshua when he attended a party for the RCAS audio club that I was hosting. It was there and then that Joshua and I shared our love for big horn speakers and vinyl. Joshua kindly allowed me to review his middle of the line turntable the Karen 6.
The Karen 6 is a hand built turntable that sources it’s tonearm and platter from Rega, the motor and subplatter from Tangospinner, and the wood for the plinth from rare species of wood from Hawaii. The speed control box is sourced from Rega too, and encased in similar wood to the turntable. Modifications are done to the circuit to improve the speed performance of the control box. A record weight from Tangospinner is supplied to help flatten records to the platter. The cartridge recommended by Joshua is from Ortofon. My sample came with an Ortofon Black.
JWM ACOUSTICS TURNTABLE REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Turntable: 5” H x 19 ½” W x 16 1/2” D
Speed Box: 3 3/4” H x 11” W x 8” D
Plinth Wood Options:
Monkeypod, Sapele, Mango, Purple Heart, Maple, Wenge, Clear LVL, Blue LVL, Red LVL
33rpm and 45rpm
$2300.00 without cartridge
JWM Acoustics, Karen 6, Rega upgrades, Turntable review, Turntable Reviews 2016
The design of the Karen 6 begins with the tone arm, the excellent Rega RB 303. Many years ago the company Rega invested research and money in the development of an affordable tonearm capable of performing as well as the best available. They developed an award-winning design that through masterful engineering created a tonearm tube made of one continuous piece of aluminum. Beautifully balanced and featuring precise bearings the arm became a legend in the industry. The Rega RB 303 is the current model of that legendary tonearm.
What it does well is that it realizes near perfection in analog playback. In use the tonearm has almost frictionless movement up and down and side to side, with very little play. What that means is that the tonearm will hold the cartridge’s stylus in the groove properly during playback. Joshua Miles expertly mounted an Ortofon Black cartridge on the arm for me to use.
Joshua Miles hand crafts the most beautiful plinth I have ever seen. The lucky customer gets the opportunity to select rare woods like Monkeypod, Sapele, and Wenge sourced from Hawaii as the plinth. Drawing from his experience as a recognized sculptor using wood and ceramics he creates a unique and visually appealing base for the turntable. Using an accelerometer Joshua Miles has determined the design and the shape of the angles of the plinth for best sound. The Karen 6 turntable is beautiful and functional. A cross section of Sapele are used on my sample. The different density and structure of the Wenge and Sapele helps control the unwanted vibrations from reaching the tonearm and stylus.
The bearing is made of hardened stainless steel as is the subplatter and the two are sourced from Tangospinner. The motor has more torque than my Rega RP 6 and three belts used help stabilize and dampen the vibration from the motor.
The speed control box from Rega is modified as well. Wenge and sapele are used for the housing. Internally, Joshua replaces critical components for improved sound.
The platter is the same one from the Rega RP 6 that uses the float glass outer flywheel. A beautiful solid aluminum clamp and feet also sourced from Tangospinner finish the turntable.
Joshua kindly set up an Ortofon Black cartridge on the tonearm for me at his work space in Austin. When I got home I re-checked the tracking force (set to Ortofon’s recommended 1.5 grams). I set the Karen 6 on top of my equipment rack next to my Rega RP 6. What a unique visual analog fantasy this was! The handsome and exotic looking Karen 6 next to the neat, and beautiful industrially looking Rega RP 6.
Joshua had told me that the turntable was new and had not been broken in. He recommended that I run the turntable for 24 hours straight to help break it in. The Ortofon Black was new as well and from experience I knew I had at least a few weeks of break in on it before I was to begin critical listening. So I plugged in the Karen 6 to my new find (a Threshold FET 10 phono stage) and began to play records on this amazing machine.
One thing I noticed was the smooth rotation and start-up of the platter, no doubt the result of the up-graded motor and triple belt pulley system. I put the solid metal clamp weight down on the record and let the music play.
Having owned many Ortofon cartridges over the last 35+ years of music listening I have become familiar with the “house” sound of the Ortofon cartridges. I would say that what you will generally hear is a very clear sound that emphasizes the high frequencies, and this is what I believe you get with the Ortofon Black cartridge. Within a couple of weeks, I had switched to the phono stage in the Rotel RC 1590 preamplifier. I thought that the smoothness of the highs that the Rotel displays was a better musical pairing with the Ortofon Black cartridge.
I had received in time for review the excellent Rotel matching amp the RB-1552MII. This gave me a solid state alternative for my Klipsch Cornwalls. I normally listen to a custom modified vintage Magnavox SET tube amp.
Carly Simon “Secrets”
To warm up I put on an old favorite, Secrets (Elektra EKS-75049) by Carly Simon. Even at a low level (55-68db at listening position) I could easily hear the orchestration and I didn’t feel like I had to “turn it up”. I could hear the delicate ring of the acoustic guitar. Noise level was impressively low, and this allowed the music to flow beautifully from the speakers.
At a low level I could distinguish the fine details of the orchestration and the phrasing of Carly’s delivery. I could hear the delicate ring of the acoustic guitar. If a recording is reproduced well like it was you can hear distinctly the sound of the pick as it glides across the guitar strings. There was also a bell like quality to the ringing strings and the notes and harmonics floated out in space. On voices I could hear Carly’s use of her mouth and tongue to form the words. I could hear her artistic use of head resonance to add meaning and emotion to her music. This was especially evident on the song “The Carter Family”, and her signature track “You’re So Vain”. The clarity of the instruments and rhythmic flow was so good it became intoxicating to listen to. “This is what High End and Vinyl sound are all about”, I thought to myself. As the entire side of the record danced across my listening room I was left wanting more of that beautiful music reproduction.
Joni Mitchell “Court and Spark”
I decided to keep in a folk-rock vein with a female lead, Court and Spark (Asylum 7E-1001) by Joni Mitchell. I also decided to try the Threshold FET 10 pre-amp with the Karen 6 again. Experienced audiophiles know that audio equipment needs break-in time to sound the best. The Karen 6 and Ortofon Black are no exception.
It took three months of constant playing to get to this point. Since the turntable now had some break-in time I felt I should try it one more time. On the Court and Spark LP, I noticed a smoothness and relaxed detail that was wonderful. The slight irritating high frequency glare was gone, replaced a compelling immersive sound field to get lost in. I could easily follow the lyrics, which on lesser equipment is shaded or obscured. The reproduction of Joni’s voice was presented in a rounded, fleshed out way. As her voice floated between the speakers the presentation was so vivid that it touched my soul.
There was a sense of precision and authority to the music reproduction from the Karen 6.
Italian Prog group Le Orme “Uomo di pezza”
Records just kept spinning, one of those was Uomo di pezza (Phillips 6323 013 L) by Italian Prog group Le Orme (The Footprints). This is a very well recorded progressive rock album (my copy was purchased in 1973). I always loved the spacious and warm sound that preserved the textures of the voice and instruments.
The record has sounded almost 3 dimensional and with the Karen 6 in the system it was striking. On the opening track Una dolcezza nuova, the weight and power of the percussion and organ was thunderous, while the piano played sweetly on the opening track. The art work on the album is other worldly and the playback on the Karen 6 re-enforced that quality. On Giambo de Bimba the voice of Aldo Tagliapietra had a sweet, rhythmic balance. It was as if you could use his voice to describe what “singing” is all about. What I mean is that the tone of the voice was beautiful and there was a silky smoothness and wonderful musicality to the sound. The bells and the strumming of the guitar on this track rang out with glorious joy.
Melody Gardot “The Absence”
Listening to the Melody Gardot LP, The Absence (Decca 3700328) the Karen 6 kept the rhythms of the different instruments separate but together in time. On the track Amelia when the chorus came in I was startled because the voices seemed to come from the next room (my listening space has an opening to the kitchen on my right).
Again a very holographic and warm sound emerged from the speakers. This is stereo at its best I thought. Switching to a pair of B&W CM6 the Karen/Ortofon Black sounded fleet of foot. The minute details of the layered instruments emerged with an immersive, sweet presentation. The Karen exhibited precision, speed, detail. The Karen/Ortofon Black allowed me to hear the fine details of the recording easily, while still maintaining a musicality that touched my heart and soul, and put a smile on my face.
Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”
Thinking that I had finally broken in the Ortofon Black cartridge and Karen 6 turntable I switched speakers again. This time I used the JWM Acoustics Alyson (review to follow) studio monitor speaker system. Wow, the best sound in my home I thought. Having binged on recent reissues I splurged on the new Mobile Fidelity 45rpm Kind of Blue (MFSL 2-45011) by Miles Davis.
Having heard this record countless times in the past, it is still one of my favorites. I poured myself some coffee, lowered the tonearm and sat down for a listen. “So What” and “Freddie the Freeloader” are familiar tunes, but it was like I was hearing them for the first time. Subtle phrasing, and quick flourishes appeared and disappeared in space, and I thought I never heard that before or at least in this kind of way. The Karen 6 provided a silent, black background. Kudos to Mobile Fidelity, but also to the Karen 6 turntable and Alyson speakers. The sound was vivid, live sounding with astonishing dynamics and clarity. Timing was superb, I had a hard time sitting still as the rhythmic pulse made me want to tap my toes and shake my booty. This musicality of the reproduced sound was an experience that made me want to stay up all night listening.
THE JWM KAREN 6 is a Solid, Beautiful Hand Built Turntable That Offers Quiet, High Resolution Playback for the Most Discerning Audiophile and Represents a Terrific Value for the Selling Price.
- Beautiful aesthetic design
- Solid build
- Incredible musical performance
Would Like To See
- Dust Cover for Turntable
Rejoice! If you love vinyl like me, then I say we audiophiles are living in a golden age. There are many new recordings and reissues of past classics on LP available now for the music lover. The same goes for new, modern turntables. To be sure, older, classic turntables can be reawakened to elevated performance from a new cartridge upgrade. However, newer turntables from VPI, Rega, Project, and now JWM Acoustics offer a higher level of performance for the music enthusiast than ever was possible before.
In this light the JWM Acoustics Karen 6 represents a tremendous value for its selling price of $2300.00, and is in my opinion a bargain for the serious audiophile. The Karen 6/ Ortofon Black combination offers musicality and soul when reproducing records. Adding to the spectacular performance for the price the proud owner will also have a limited, customized, and hand built turntable. The look, appearance, and finish of this turntable is unsurpassed. Rejoice, for you may find as I did in rediscovering my favorite LP’s from decades past that you are indeed fortunate to live in an era of sonic vinyl playback excellence. I highly recommend the JWM Acoustics Karen 6 turntable for the most discriminating music lover.
With Peter and Terry Breuninger
By Peter Breuninger • Posted: November 22, 2015
Read more at: http://www.avshowrooms.com/
We can’t thank Peter and Terry enough for visiting our room at RMAF 2015. For a small company specializing in hand made equipment, this is a real thrill and honor.
Just as I approach my art, our work is slow and meticulous and has a “one piece at a time” approach. Furthermore we treat each of our products as a one of a kind. Each one should be viewed as musical instruments that will last many lifetimes rather than just another piece of mass produced electronics. From the wood working to the electronics, “By Hand” is the key and always will be for JWM Acoustics.
Yes, the rumors are true, we have no CNC in our shops. Only traditional old school wood working methods. Just the way it should be.
Thank you again Peter and Terry
Joshua W. Miles
Day 2 from Sasha Matson
By Sasha Matson • Posted: Oct 7, 2015
Read more at: http://www.stereophile.com/content/day-2-sasha-matson#TvXUksPHIRqv7mJT.97
I had a Shanti-like good reaction to my first experience of JWM Acoustics of Kailua, Hawaii when I encountered them at T.H.E. Show in Newport this past spring. JWM would stand for owner/designer Joshua W. Miles, who made it further east this time to Denver. Handsome Josh has several products named after the ladies; the Jane and Alyson Loudspeakers, and Karen Turntables. Are there more to come? Actually I gave Joshua a productive marketing concept; when Obama retires to Hawaii JWM has to be ready with a "Barry" speaker model.
But until then I am here to tell you these are some of the prettiest speaker gals you are likely to come across, with beautiful hand-crafted made-in-Hawaii cabinets that sound great, and look awesome! I heard from the Alyson AML Large Monitor ($5400/pair) a lovely, stand-mounted, two-way ticket to ride including dedicated stands. The Alyson moniker turns out to refer to the designer's sister, who Joshua describes as "a small woman with a powerful influence on me . . .Not a single piece in this system is over or under built. It is just as it should be. Like my sister."
JWM also offers the slimmer Net-1 minimonitor ($4012/pair). Turns out that Net is not some web-based acronym, but a nickname for JWM's wife, as in Jeanette. In between speakers and source JWM was running some fine electronics from Balanced Audio Technology, including their BAT REX preamp ($19,000), BAT VK-P12SE Superpack phono stage ($12,000), and BAT VK655SE power amp ($16,500). Paddling our board upstream gets us to the lovely looking JWM Karen Turntables, models 3, 6, and 12. Catchin' the wave gets you many a night with the Karen 12 Turntable and Karen Control ($4500). Turns out that Karen is the name of Joshua's oldest sister, and that during the design of the turntable he was searching for a sound that was "Warm and rich but clear and concise. Just like the sound of my sister's voice." And pretty Karen 12 was wearing an Ortofon Windfeld MC Cartridge for our date ($2500).
What can possibly do justice to this high-end family listening-wise? I heard, as Karen and I were getting to know one another, a recent 45rpm Analogue reissue of "Dream With Dean" and the standard "Fools Rush In." The smooth-breaking sound-wave sets were as tubular and rich as a good Mai Tai or Zombie served on the beach. "Mahalo" JWM Acoustics.
Aloha and Mahalo Sasha!
What can I say? We were told that moving a 10 year old custom studio monitor company into the world of luxury home audio would be a tough nut to crack. Indeed, this has been the toughest 5 years of my life all right. But I must say, the response from the audio community from the last 3 shows has been spectacular. We never expected to be greeted with such wide open arms as we have! Not only do we have you and the other writers to thank for this, but the folks who continually come back to our rooms scratching their heads and saying “Really”? Our answer is always “Yes, really”…
Again, I can’t thank you enough Sasha. But much of the credit must go to those lovely ladies you were so kind to mention in your Show Report. Jane, Alyson, Karen and Net. These beautiful women are the entire reason why I am here and why JWM Acoustics is here to stay. This is truly a family business Sasha and you are now our groovy uncle! Now grab your board shorts, wax up your deck and get your butt out here for a visit! We will leave the porch light on for ya…
The Absolute Sound
2015 RMAF Show Report – Loudspeakers Under $20K
by Andrew Quint | Oct. 08th, 2015
Read more at http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/rmaf-2015-show-report-loudspeakers-under-20k/
The most beautiful loudspeakers at RMAF, old or new, were those from the Hawaiian company JWM Acoustics, who also make turntables and accessories (e.g. cable cradles). Crafted from unusual woods—obtained in an environmentally responsible fashion—such as monkeypod, sapele, bubinga, and pretty much anything else you’d like for JWM to fashion an enclosure from, the two-way Alyson AML ($6900 to $7200/pr.) featured top-notch imaging and frequency extension.
Aloha and Mahalo Mr. Quint,
Net, Mom and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time you did to visit our room. I know it was only brief, but I’m so happy you could at least get a feel for what we are doing out on the islands. Your visit alone was more than a comfort to our little company. To be honest, it was an honor to have you come in. We have only attended three shows now and to have an encounter with you was fantastic.
We were told that moving a 10 year old custom studio monitor company into the world of luxury home audio would be a tough nut to crack. Indeed, this has been the toughest 5 years of my life all right. But I must say, the response from the audio community from the last 3 shows has been spectacular. We never expected to be greeted with such wide open arms as we have! Not only do we have you and the other writers to thank for this, but the folks who continually come back to our rooms scratching their heads and saying “Really”? Our answer is always “Yes, really”…
I assure you JWM Acoustics is here to stay and will continue our quest for the most beautiful products and most natural sound on earth.
Aloha, Joshua W. Miles
PS: Come out for a visit any time! We love company and always leave the porch light on...
SECRETS of HOME THEATER and HIGH FIDELITY
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2015: Robert Kozel and Carlo Lo Raso-Day 2
By Carlo Lo Raso • Posted: Oct. 8, 2015
Read more at http://hometheaterhifi.com/features/show-reports-film-festivals-concerts/rocky-mountain-audio-fest-2015-show-report-day-2/
These beautiful speakers are from JWM Acoustics in Kailua, Hawaii. The cabinets are made from woods like monkey pod, purple heart, and mango. The larger speaker is the Alyson AML which retails for $6,900 – $7,200 depending on finish. The smaller monitor is the NET-1 which retails for $4,900-5,350. Each speaker is handmade and they sounded excellent in the demo.
Mahalo for including JWM Acoustics in this fantastic show report! As a small company on the rise, we truly appreciate it. AND NICE PICTURES! It was a delight to meet you both and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Newport Ahoy: Sasha Matson's Day 1
By Sasha Matson • Posted: May 30, 2015
Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/newport-ahoy-day-1#67pubmpJdpvoizhK.99
SM: I am glad to know that hard work still pays off in this country. At least if you live in Hawaii, like JWM Acoustics owner/engineer/designer Joshua Miles does. I really enjoyed my brief time visit to this room. Things felt, and are, made by hand. With really nice finishes on the speakers and turntables that Joshua designs. I heard the JWM Alyson AML, which is a 3-way floorstander ($6900/pair and up depending on finishes) and sounded very full-range, with a burnished warm dimension to the sound. Front end was the JWM Karen 3 turntable. Lots of wood and priced at an extremely reasonable $1500 with arm. JWM also offers several other models of speakers, but I did not hear these. Everything was being amped by a hefty and serious VK 6550SE amp ($16,500). A favorite room so far, in early innings.
JWM: Mr. Matson and Stereophile Magazine!
Your description of the sound coming from the ALYSON AML as “very full-range, with a burnished warm dimension to the sound” is EXACTLY what we are aiming for. Being accurate to the source does not mean that one needs to have laser beams aimed at their ear drums. Nor does it mean the need for 8 foot tall cabinets full of huge drivers. Especially for the recording engineer who must sit in front of monitors for 8 hours a day. Our speakers may have a pedigree that originated in the studio, but we feel that taking the studio-to-home approach in speaker design is working beyond our greatest expectations.
Also, Thank you for recognizing the “hard work” that goes into hand crafted equipment. I for one, never want to see “Hand Made” disappear. The art of building speakers, turntables and other pieces in our shop is taken extremely serious. Except for the machine we use to burn in our logo, no CNC is used at this point and we will hold out as long as we can. If one is to spend so much time and expense seeking out that perfect piece of equipment for their musical passion, it should have all of the same attention to detail as a fine piano or cello. After all, should it not last for as many generations as well?
THE Show Day 3: the Reichert Report
By Herb Reichert • Posted: Jun 3, 2015
Read more at http://www.stereophile.com/content/show-day-3-reichert-report#yA7t5pPDGBDcRg0X.99
HR: Joshua W. Miles is an artist. He showed me his paintings in a book and I loved them. His mother is a painter too. She was beautiful and I loved her smile and motherly ways. But, most of all I admired the shear beauty and luscious detail of the sounds Joshua's Alyson AML Large Monitors ($6900–$7200/pair) and custom Karen 6 turntable ($1700) were making in the room. In my notes I drew a picture of the loudspeaker with hearts and stars flying around it.
Everything in the room except the Balanced Audio Technology electronics, Ortofon Winfield cartridge, and turntable hardware by Rega, was made "one-at-a-time" by Joshua's own hands. JWM Acoustic is located in Kallua, HI and specializes in using locally grown hardwoods to fashion one-of-a-kind custom loudspeakers and turntables that are tailored to each customer's desires. I walked out reminiscing about my own mother—she was an artist too.
JWM: To you Mr. Reichert of Stereophile Magazine. “I’ll take hearts and stars all day long”! I can’t thank you enough for the amazing words in the Reichert Report. The description you used, “Luscious detail” nailed it. There is a secret place that exists somewhere near laser detail and a true warm live experience. We hope to bring each and every music lover into this place.
Your report brought smiles to my wife and I and a tear to the eye of my amazing Mom. The time you spent in our room was above and beyond. For a new guy on the scene, it means the world. You certainly have a new fan out here on the islands and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
GREENHIFI.COM Wrapping up THE Show Newport Beach 2015 – Green Hits & Misses
By Michael Koetsier ~ Posted: June 8, 2015 Read more at http://greenhifi.com/greengblog/2015/6/8/wrapping-up-the-show-newport-beach-2015-green-hits-misses
MK: Joshua W. Miles of JWM Acoustics is a custom speaker designer and turntable rebuilder hailing out of Hawaii. The gear was beautifully finished and sounded great as well. But what was a surprise was that without prompting he started talking about how they only use fallen wood and that they actively go out and replant trees. He also explained how being green was a guiding principle for him, not just because this is important on an Island like Hawaii, but also because it is simply the right thing to do. Now I hadn’t said anything about my interest in the same things before he started talking about using ecological principles in his manufacturing, so this was a pleasant surprise. I do hope to follow up JWM Acoustics as this is right in line with what we do here at GreenHiFi.
JWM: Aloha Michael,
I can’t thank you enough for the write up on GreenHIFI.com! Although we are not perfect stewards of the planet, by golly we are trying. My wife Jeanette and a few of her friends, including the amazing furniture maker Thorbin Wuttke, have truly influenced us over the years. They have made us aware of the simple things that anyone can do yet few bother to put in motion. For instance, saving our sawdust for the local farmers. We also create accessories such as Cable Cradles and turntable record clamps from the smaller cutoffs in the shop rather than discarding them. In addition we collect small scraps from other wood workers to be repurposed. As JWM Acoustics grows, we will continue to implement conscience practices to balance our production.
If you are ever interested in how we offset our audio material use by planting trees and donating to the Hakalau Forest Reserve, look me up and I will be happy to elaborate.
Again Michael, thank you and mahalo for the mention and for recognizing our effort towards sustainability. Being green does not require that we compromise quality on the quest for perfect sound. For us, the two just work together. Simple as that.
Joshua W. Miles
Lone Star Audio Fest 2015 Show Report
07-25-2015 | By Norman Tracy | Issue 80
Read more at http://positive-feedback.com/show-reports/lone-star-audio-fest-2015-show-report/
NT: Let me begin reporting on JWM Acoustics with a disclaimer. What I discovered displayed in the Embassy Suites Carrollton Room pushed so many of my buttons aligning with what I personally want from luxury high end hi-fi that what follows is as much new convert gushing as detached objective reporting. The beauty of the product is immediately stunning. Determined not to be taken in by just another pretty face I tried to find fault with the sound or underlying technology and failed. My conclusion is I was looking at and listening to, especially in high-end audio's loudspeaker space, The Next Big Thing.
JWM Acoustics loudspeakers line is presently three models deep. The two driver NET-1 monitor, the three drivers Alyson AML large monitor, and the four driver Jane JKM floor standing flagship. These were being driver by Balanced Audio Technology electronics, REX Preamplifier, VK-P10SE Phono Stage and the VK-655SE amplifier. Source for digital playback OPPO BD-105D as both disk and file player. Most of the time I listened it was in the analog domain using JWM Karen 3 or Karen 6 turntables via Ortofon cartridges. Cables loom by Nordost rounded out a system that should satisfy all but the most snobbish audiophiles bona fides. With JWM Acoustics at the front and back end of the demo system let's start at the front with the Karen turntables.
Look at those curves and bevels. If you are as into fine woods as I am you have already noticed this is a different piece of wood and both examples are not just the next length to come off the raw board. Grain patterns like these are the result of a craftsman's eye selecting first the raw lumber and then where on the board to cut.
Recovering my audiophile sensibilities it was apparent and confirmed by Jeanette Miles who was running my initial demo that JWM Acoustics bases the Karen turntables on OEM components from Rega. Subsequent listening showed the recipe of hardwood plinth and proven English platter, bearing and motor is a winner.
The logo and model name of the Karen turntables and the speakers are cut into the wood and along with its fine grain and color sparkle out from under the finish.
JWM Acoustics accessories include the Karen Control power supply for use with the turntable and the Cable Cradles cable lifters.
I mentioned above, Jeanette Miles was running my initial demo and between records she was telling me about the products including explaining the design and build is the work of her husband Joshua. As it transpires the 'JWM' in JWM Acoustics are the initials of Joshua W. Miles. Prior to starting JWM Acoustics Joshua has excelled in multiple media in the fine art crafts including work in ceramics, sculpture, painting/lacquer work, and photography. His impressive resume includes fine arts degrees followed by work as a professional artist and teaching fine craft.
I call my company Audio Crafters Guild because I draw inspiration from the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The legacy of that movement is the fine arts craft artists working today in wood, glass, metals, fibers, and ceramics to elevate the object to the level of art. Or shall we say bring art to the object? Hearing his resume while standing in the presence of and listening to the objects Joshua W. Miles created I understood why I was having such a strong reaction to what on one level are just another line of speakers and a couple of turntables. Sure and the three generations of Moulthrops just make wood bowls (link).
So, let's check out Joshua's speakers.
The Alyson AML close-up above is the only photo I managed to take that even hints at the beauty and fine craftsmanship evident in these speakers. The contrast between the color of the wood baffles and the black piano lacquered sides is stunning when seen in person. The optical flatness and polish of the sides and wood panels is the equivalent of what one sees on a high gloss finish optioned Yamaha or Steinway grand piano. The Jane JKM external crossovers each the size of a big amplifier speaks to the seriousness of the design intent.
So, they are gorgeous, how do they sound? The short answer is if you are in the market for a pair of high-end luxury speakers put JWM Acoustics on your short list.
Being audiophiles we are by nature borderline obsessive compulsive so I expect you would like a bit more detail on the sound.
I auditioned the Alyson AML Saturday evening and NET-1 Sunday morning. Alas by the time I arrived the big Jane JKM had been relegated to static display due to simply not working in the room, drop ceilings and flimsy conference room walls the eternal curses of the hi-fi show exhibitor.
First impressions of the Alyson AML were of a nicely balanced neutral and detailed speaker. No POW BANG ZOOM ZING beating the listener over the head. As Jeanette DJ’ed more album cuts for me I was more and more impressed. My experience is with top flight high-end speakers this is typical as so much of what one is paying for is what is not present. Chasing out extraneous distortions, noises, phase glitches, and resonances is expensive and time consuming. At first listen the effects these efforts yield are subtle because their absence has left more of the music and the brain's initial reaction is "sounds like music." The longer the audition went on the more impressed I was with the speaker's balance. High-end speaker designers walk a tightrope balancing hundreds of tradeoffs between a sound juicy with tonality at the expense of transparency vs. the all too common sin of hyper-detailed and transparent sound leaving tones bleached out. The Alyson AML and upstream components exhibited the fine balance of that tightrope successfully mastered. Audiophile disks showed expensive tweeters well served really are worth it with finely filigreed high notes and overtones and fast but not over sharpened transients. Deluxe pressing of Blue Notes let all sorts of delightful details of the instruments' sounds' and artists' intent shine through. Being a bit perverse in an anti-audiophile pro-my-music way when I spotted Jeff Beck's "Guitar Shop" LP in the stacks I asked for the song "Bigblock" to be played. Alyson AML morphed from sweet Dr. Alyson Jekyll into raucous Ms Hyde as Beck pounded out his homage to American muscle cars. So your audiophile speaker is full of exotic crossover parts and top line Scan-Speak drivers, sure but can it rock? At the drop of a hat Alyson downshifted and out poured the drum kit and the bass player locking into the groove and Jeff's Fender in all it's soaring sweet then grungy glory.
Joshua Miles returned to the room just after our excursion to the land of the Guitar Gods. Shortly after our introduction as more audio show appropriate music played Joshua picked up the re-sleeved "Guitar Shop" and with dismay in his voice asked Jeanette "you played this!?!!" I found it priceless as I was pointed out as the culprit I swear he was holding that LP like a first time father holds a poop filled diaper. I was forgiven (I think) and we continued to spin disks on the Karen turntables and the occasional streamed digital file. Joshua DJ'ed and the music from the unscathed by her rough treatment Alyson AML poured out in the highest-fi. During this part of the demo between cuts and at the back of the room I switched out of music lover mode and into engineer geek pop quizzing Joshua about the design and execution of his speakers. What about cabinet resonance control? Multiple laminated layers of woods and damping material's. I believed him as they exhibited the boxless sound of speakers with low noise cabinets. Wondering if the exotic hardwood front baffle was an excuse to show off his woodworking talents I asked what about that wave guide around the tweeter? That answer was like a information flood gate had been opened as he pointed out the tweeter is further recessed better aligning the drivers' acoustic centers. I thought to myself that is a win-win with better phase integration between drivers and fewer crossover components to get there. Miles continued that with the drivers mounted between the outer hardwood baffle and inner sub-baffle he has designed a method to de-couple the drivers keeping their reaction energy noise out of the baffles further lowering enclosure noise. Spend enough time hanging out on diyaudio.com and you can talk the speaker designer tech talk too. While Joshua talked the talk his speakers walked the walk the highness of the fi serving to establish his credentials to me in real time. Just when I thought I had the measure of the Alyson AML Joshua tried a DSD track through the Oppo. The DSD streaming had only recently been established so I believe Joshua was as surprised and delighted as the rest of us when that cut showed the Alyson AML was effortless capable of another octave of really deep and defined bass. It is a class act (a.k.a. low bass distortion and excellent driver box parameters alignment) when a speaker can go that deep and you have no clue with typical program materiel and then along comes the deep bass and WOW.
By then it was late Saturday night as I bid Jeanette and Joshua Miles goodnight with repeated congratulations on what they have accomplished for a young startup about to burst onto the scene. I had entered the Carrollton room while looking to meet up with other exhibitors and attendees for dinner. That opportunity was by then hours past so back to my suite for room service dinner just me and my system playing chill out music as I buzzed in the afterglow one gets after an unexpected encounter with the state of the art and its dedicated practitioners.
Sunday at LSAF is a short show day. Most exhibitors are open for a couple of hours in the morning then pack up to be out by the noon checkout time. After showing the ACG room to a few more guests I packed it up. Had to stop by and say good by and good luck to Jeanette and Joshua. They were not packing up yet in fact something special was happening.
Dave Thomas of Raven Audio had brought down his Blackhawk Limited Edition Amplifier and it was hooked up to the NET-1 speakers. Ignore five hour drive home and back to day job on Monday departure immediately postponed to check this out. There is no way that small a monitor on a 20 watt per channel amp should be able to fill that big a room with that much music. But it was. Tube watts are jumbo watts and the Scan-Speak drivers are known for punching above their weight class. No point in trying to figure it out I just spent the time luxuriating in the hi-fi as it communicated the music from the choice cuts filling the room. In a high-end audio world preoccupied with the massive statement systems this little pairing of Dave's Blackhawk and Joshua's NET-1 seriously asked the question "isn't this all you really need?"
I give you the New Wave of Made in USA Hi-Fi. Raven Audio of Texas and JWM Acoustics of Hawaii.
I had intended on apologizing to the Miles for taking this picture Sunday morning rather than Saturday evening when they were all dressed up for exhibiting. Jeanette had an especially pretty dress on. Then I remembered "they live in freaking Hawaii, island casual is what its all about." These are wonderful people deserving every success in the high end audio industry, but I'm taking back that apology.
I have to admit, while Net read your amazing show report to me I had a tear or two well up in my eyes. You may or may not know this, but LSAF was the first of our very first three shows we had scheduled for the year. Actually our first mainland show EVER!
To have you speak so fondly of our products means more than you will ever know. For you to recognize the hard work we put into the sonic qualities as well as the recognition of the hand finished nature of our products is so heartwarming and important to us. Not only that, but to have you mention our name in the same paragraph as the Moulthrops really hits home. As a lifelong artist and designer, combining my passion for music through these industrial designs has been a dream for many years. I hope the world continues to accept them as you so clearly have. We cannot thank you enough.
We hope to come back to this amazing show every year now. I guess it is true what Dave Thomas of Raven Audio told me about it before signing up. LSAF is a family. A close family. It is also a place where little guys like us can plant a seed in the HIFI world and have it watered by writers like you. A show where even the humble beginner can confidently setup their creations and allow the public to witness the conception of the “Next big thing”. LSAF may be a close family, but I have never been as welcomed into a home as I was into this one. For anyone reading this and who never heard of, or never attended LSAF, don’t miss it again!
As for the cowhide mats! “WHEN IN TEXAS”! And they work…
Mahalo again and Aloha
Joshua W. Miles