Product: Joey Roth Ceramic Speakers and Subwoofer
Price: $695.00 (subwoofer)/$1095.00 (two speakers + subwoofer)**
In this age of digital technology, listening to music has become a secondary pursuit, often pushed to the background as multi-task and commute. Finding a quality audio product that encourages the listener to become more involved is a rarity. Often technology trumps design, and we are left feeling uncertain or uneasy about a products function. But, sometimes materials come together in a way that encourage a specific use and reminds us to sit down and enjoy the music...
When a product is designed in such a way to evoke its purpose, you are left wanting to use it, and Joey Roth has created a set of porcelian speakers with a new matching subwoofer that beg to be used. The organic flow to the ceramic speaker enclosures almost demonstrate the movement of sound waves. And the tubular white sub continues in that tradition, providing the extended bass for a fuller sound.
Joey points out the thickness of materials used, tapering from one end of the cone to the other.
Speaker Design: Avoiding plastic altogether, Joey Roth has chosen to use more natural materials. A conical shaped ceramic body with a custom single speaker driver is responsible for the left and right speakers. In order to tune the speakers sound, the inside of each speaker is filled with varying densities of wool felt. The use of cork seals the rear of the speaker and provides a mounting place for the binding posts. Then, the white ceramic cones rests against a Birch wood frame. The power for these speakers is provided via one stereoTripass amplifier encased in a steel enclosure with volume knob. The weighted base of the amplifer prevents tipping when cables are connected.
The Subwoofer Design (prototype pictured above): Two 61/2" speakers are mounted in a porcelain tube providing bass extension down to 40 hz. One speaker receives power, while the other speaker acts as a passive radiator. As the active or powered speaker moves the passive speaker reacts correspondingly and furthers the bass extension. Providing efficient power, the Class D amp also doubles as a resting place for the soft white sub. A crossover in the subwoofer's amplifier allows users to adjust where the speakers stop extending, and where the sub kicks in. An absolute phase switch also provides another tool to get the sound right in your room.
Listening: Both Managing Editor Gregory Han and I were treated to a complete product description, setup, and listening demo with Joey Roth himself at Gregory's living room in Los Angeles. What better place to get an idea of what an audio system sounds like than in a real world environment?
Using a small bookshelf, Joey Roth placed the speakers/sub and began tuning the crossover (the point at which the subwoofer takes over for low frequency ) to the room. After the initial setup, we all sat back to a selection of music from Joey's iPhone (FLAC converted into Apple lossless files, for those curious).
These small speakers usually sound best when the listener is closer in - like between your computer monitor. But, once the sub was engaged, sound filled a small living room with rich musical tones. Whether we listened to electronic music or orchestral performances, the bass extension rendered the resonance of instruments better. Not only did electronic bass sound further extended, but acoustic instruments like violins and guitars had a richer sound. With the sub handling more of the low frequencies, the speakers are able to provide better details. This enhanced stereo image allowed us to close our eyes and pick out where the sound was coming from.
Listening to Fleet Foxes on the Joey Roth ceramic speaker set was glorious. The deep kettle drum sounded along side the acoustic guitars, and the stereo imaging was decent for these small speakers. Moving on to electronic dub step provided further bass emphasis, but balanced well with the stereo speakers.
The Joey Roth ceramic speaker set provide a way to engage in full stereo sound without committing tons of floor space for a hi-fi stereo system. With the addition of the subwoofer, you begin to experience the fullness to instruments, and the ability to fill a small room with satisfying sound. Unlike other single source iDocks, the Joey Roth ceramic speakers/sub reproduces sound with left/right accuracy and provides bass extension close to a bona fide stereo system rather than aiming for the oftentimes artificial processing or virtual surround popular today.
The subwoofer amplifier also cradles the tubular sub. Rubber pads keep the ceramic subwoofer in place.
Pros: sculptural modern design makes it as much of a conversation piece as audio system, provides improved stereo sound than single point iDocks, bass extension provides more realistic sound from acoustic and electronic instruments.
Cons: Fragile, subwoofer's hearty performance may not be neighbor-friendly, treble extension is limited due to single cone driver - but well balanced, requires wired connection from music source, price.
** Note: review was done after listening to a prototype model; some changes may be made cosmetically to the final shipping product. Expected shipping date is December 2012
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was demoed by the designer for testing and review purposes.