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VMPS RM30 Speakers Review by jonbee


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Model: RM30
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $3500
Description: Floor standing ribbon hybrid
Manufacturer URL: VMPS
Model Picture: View

Review by jonbee (A) on December 03, 2006 at 12:22:53
IP Address: 24.19.38.53
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for the RM30


One of the seminal events in my 39 years in this hobby occured when I heard a pair of Infinity Servostatics in 1969. I thought my system at the time was pretty good (Rectilinear III speakers, AR amp, AR turntable, Shure V15-II cartridge) but the version of audio reality served up by those big stats changed my view of audio possibilities forever. I don't need to preach to the choir about the virtues of good planars; but those of us whove owned them know the transparency, immediacy, lack of coloration, etc. are purchased at a price, and not only in dollars. Planars bring a new set of design difficulties, which dozens of firms have tried to conquer. A partial list:
Managing room interactions with dipoles- having large dedicated spaces which you can freely "redecorate" with wall treatments, etc.
Panel resonances which produce unexpected harmonic signatures
Beaming. A planar wavewfront propogates very differently than that from a cone or horn. This leads to narrow sweet spots, and commonly weird phase shifts when on moves even a couple inches (comb filtering, or "venetian blinding")
Low frequencies require large panels, accentuating issues 1&2 above.
Radiating a wide range of frequencies fom a single driver, particularly a wide one, introduces new types of distortions.

In order to put planars into normal sized rooms, many companies have gone the hybrid route, giving the lower frequencies to cones, thus allowing much smaller panels.
This, of course introduces a difficult problem of integrating a fast, low coloration planar with a slower cone, usually in a box, that has higher coloration and a different radiation pattern.

In spite of these issues, over the years I've owned stats from Infinity(2000A), 3 pair from Janszen, Quad ESL57 and 63, Maggie MG1,MG2,MGIII, Tympani iV, and ribbons from Infinity (RS2.5), VMPS 626R and RM30, Apogee Duetta, Diva, and Caliper Signature.
I've built several pair of my own hybrids, and of course I've heard many, many more.
The pinnacle for me was the Apogee Diva, a 6'x2.5' 3 way dipole ribbon that was the top of the Apogee line. It created a palpable full sized recreation of the music that even the most tin-eared bystanders were awed to experience.
They required a lot of space, and when I remarried a decade ago I lost that space. My 16.5x19.5 living room and the wife that comes with it simply cannot support dipole radiators. For the last 3 years I've happily lived with Thiel 3.6s in this room; they give up some tranparency and immediacy, but their excellent balance, integration, and musicality made a very enjoyable experience.

I'd been watching the development of the VMPS RM30 for some time, as it is sized and configured well for a medium sized room.
This year the cabinet finishes were upgrade from adequate to awesome, and the introduction of the Constant Directivity Wave Guide offered a promising solution to the planar bugaboos of beaming, comb filtering and narrow sweet spot. Also an outboard xover was introduced.

Brian offered to send me a basic version in the "C" config., which is designed to be used with a sub. After listening for about 5 hours
I knew Brian had gotten it right: he had produced a planar hybrid that had most of the positive qualities of the very best planars, and had finessed the problem areas listed above so as eliminate them or reduce them to irrelevancy.
I say "most" of the best qualities because as a monopole, there is not the "room filling" expansiveness of big dipoles; there is also a lot less problems with room interaction, so it is a mixed verdict on that point.
I won't go into audiogeek detail about the sound qualities; lovers of good planars know what they are; IMO the RM30s I bought, with
a stunning Piano rosewood finish, auricaps, Black Hole 5 lining, and external xover, simply are at or near the top of the breed in the areas planar lovers cherish- speed, clarity, harmonic correctness and imaging.
One area that is worth mentioning is the soundstage: on decent recordings, a 3-d holographic image of great precision from top to bottom floats quite freely of the speakers; it is nearly unchanged anywhere between the two speakers (about 10 feet apart, in my room), and even 45 degrees off axis, outside the speakers, which is where my wife likes to sit, the frequency balance is nearly unchanged, with a still credible image. I know of NO other speaker that can do this. I've owned Ohm Walsh 5s, and the RM30 gives you the soundstage width of that speaker, but with SOTA pinpoint delineation of instruments. I believe this is a product of the CDWG and associated xover changes made in 8/2006. I won't go into how this works, but I'm convinced that it surely does work.
The bottom line is that I've once again gotten really excited about my music. I've got a 3 foot stack of cds that I'm hearing as if it's the first time. This joy is what this hobby has alway been about for me.

I consider myself an audio bargain hunter. When I look at the high end speaker market, and listen to these RM30s, I conclude if ANY speaker on the market is worth $4-5K, it is this one. And my wife agrees-(her comment: "These don't look like speakers, they look like sculptures!")
Will everyone like these? Will Martians be at my Thanksgiving dinner next year? I doubt it. Those that like a warmer, denser, more resonant sound in particular probably won't. But if you love speakers, planars in particular,
and want to know what is possible in a real-world medium sized room system, you should hear this latest iteration (post-8/2006) and consider them as an option, preferably in a nice, quiet, relaxed environment, where one can take the time to appreciate what these very refined speakers can do.


Product Weakness: The flip side- no added warmth or sweetening- extensive adjustment period; need a sub for deep bass. (I use a Carver x'd over at 30 hz.)
Product Strengths: Holographic soundstage,vanishing coloration,explosive dynamics, yet very smooth,subtle and refined at the same time. W I D E sweetspot, amazing cabinetry, high WAF.


Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Modded PS Audio HCA2
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): PS Audio PCA2
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Maxed out ModWright/Sony 999
Speakers: thiel 3.6, RM30
Cables/Interconnects: Goertz TQ silver, .99999 pure silver/teflon braids for spkrs
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Lots, every kind
Room Size (LxWxH): 16.5 x 19.5 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: Lots of glass. High-rise condo
Time Period/Length of Audition: 5 weeks
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner


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