Joseph audio perspectives, magico a3, ATC scm40 v2

I am deciding between three speakers for my livingroom setup:

Joseph audio perspectives (v1)
Magico a3
ATC scm40 v2

My living room area is 15ft by 24ft. I need to place the speakers very close to the back wall so i was considering closed cabinet design.

previously i was using ATC scm40v1 and enjoyed its midrange especially male vocals and live music presentation. My setup is prism sound dream da1 as DAC, conran jhonson pv5 tube pre (about to get a schiit freya plus in Aug) and still deciding on amps.

One option for me is to get the ATC40v2.

I auditioned Magico S1 mk2 and Magico S3 mk2 but not yet the A3. S1 and S3 are wonderful sounding speakers with tons of details, great 3d imaging and dynamics, but sometimes a bit too refined and analytical. I would say the mids are just different flavors in S1 and S3 compared to ATCs, but not necessarily better. Also a3’s appearance and weight are not too appealing to me.

I found a used pair of joseph perspectives for $6k. I heard good things about joseph audio perspectives. They look great and are perfect in size and weight for me. Can anyone share their experiences with sonic performance of the joseph perspectives compared to ATC40s, especially in the vocals presentation? Thanks a lot!
@hedwigstheme Thanks! The ATC40a are attractive. At new they cost $14k per pair. I am leaning towards buying an used pair of speakers for better value. If I can find a used pair it will be great. I find myself to be the kind that enjoys selling and switching gears after 1 to 2 years.
I don’t think the Perspectives will sound great placed close to the wall.
@soix  I see. Do you own them or auditioned them? What is the shortest distance between the wall and these speakers do you think I need to keep to make them sound good? Thanks.

Do NOT get the Joseph Perspectives if you have to place them close to the back wall.  They put out plenty of bass, a bunch of it from their port, and they do not do well close to wall boundaries.  (I've auditioned them in a space like mine before a few times, but where they'd been set up close to the back wall, and they were boomy in the bass.  So I always had the salesman pull them out further).

They need room to breath.  Mine are about 4 feet from the wall behind them and they sound beautiful.  I could go to 3 feet and they would still work pretty well, but I think it's pushing it to place them closer.
@prof  thanks, this is really helpful! My listening area is a open space combination of living room and dining room which is 15ft by 24ft or so. It is really hard for me to put speakers 4 ft from the wall since my kids are going to run into them. 

I was really intrigued by the properties. The size and aesthetics would fit me perfectly. And i really think its characters was what i would be enjoying.

Do you have any suggestions of alternatives that would suit me in the scenario where I have to put them close to wall? I like musical mids that sounds magical while still keeps the clarity and extensions. I feel like reading from your experiences of properties it does well in those ways. 

Much appreciated it.

I have my Perspective 2 about 20 inches from the back wall it’s a matter of no choice. I don’t find them boomy in the bass and I am not a bass fan. But I do run some DSP to attenuate the lower frequency that might be an option for you.

'I need to place the speakers very close to the back wall so i was considering closed cabinet design.'

Depends upon what you mean by 'very close'.

Almost every speaker I've had was designed to placed close to or up against the wall. Every single one of them benefitted from a couple of inches of space between them and the wall. 

Even the 2 Rega bookshelf models began to harden up a touch when pushed up right against the wall - and they were designed to be placed against the wall!

I think it depends upon the design and the boundary reflections.

As far as I know, there aren't many large speakers that don't need ample room (12-18 inches min) behind them.

My Tannoy Berkeley's need more than the 6 - 8 inches currently behind them for optimum performance so I probably only get around 90% performance from them. Unless I got some wheeled stands that's the best my domestic circumstances will allow.

In any case, at this level you should still make sure the sound fits you first and then the room - and not the other way around. I wouldn't be too surprised if the 3 that you mention all sound quite different, and you might have a strong preference for one over the others.
@cd318 I am talking about 10in or less against the wall. Had a couple of email exchanges from Jeff Joseph and he suggested me to try them at home first. I showed him my room and since there are two windows on the wall behind the speakers they can be used to vent the base. Maybe also use some bass traps materials. 

"In any case, at this level you should still make sure the sound fits you first and then the room - and not the other way around." Thanks for the suggestions. I do feel that the magico (s1 and s3) a bit too clinical for my liking and it draws my attention away from the music. I was hoping that the perspectives can do the magic for me. But it is hard to demo them somewhere local. For ATCs I am already familiar with their sounds signature, for the 40 v1 I feel the highs and lows extension can be better. They have really great mids though.

'For ATCs I am already familiar with their sounds signature, for the 40 v1 I feel the highs and lows extension can be better.'

I agree that the ATC SCM v2 would be a decent step up from v1.

'I do feel that the magico (s1 and s3) a bit too clinical for my liking and it draws my attention away from the music.'

You definitely don't want that to happen. An audiophile's burden is already heavy enough.The Magico's do seem to get the occasional comment about being a little 'too accurate', maybe.

As for the Joseph Audio Perspectives, one the one hand the fact that both @prof and @djones51 run a pair speaks volumes in their favour, but as @prof said you need a lot more than10 inches behind them.

This is a big stumbling block as he probably knows more about them than anyone bar Jeff Joseph.

What to do? Well don't despair as there might be still be an answer. But it's now up to @djones51 and his possible DSP bass solution.
I've used Dirac on minidsp and now I am using Anthem ARC. Minidsp has units without Dirac that are cheaper where you can do EQ. Dirac and ARC are easy you position the Microphone where it tells you and they give you their best curve but you can tweak it if need be. 
Like I said I have mine about 20 inches and it helps on the boom of bass. I've never liked running subwoofers and I am not a fan of to much bass but I do like a natural tight bass on Jazz, older rock like the Beatles etc.. you can use Dirac or ARC to only adjust below 500hz. If you're familiar with EQ you can do it yourself in Roon or the cheaper minidsp units.
@ddones51 got it. Thanks a lot for the suggestion. Going to try it out to see if I can get it done. 
@cd318 Thanks for making the thread and my speaker hunting process going forward. : )

You're welcome. Those Joseph Audio Perspectives do look great and might just be worth the extra DSP effort.

With a bit of luck those 2 windows behind will help. Perhaps different port liners/ bungs could too.

Best of luck. 
If you do get the Perspectives play around with them before trying any DSP. I was listening to Sgt Pepper earlier and while it's not known for being bass heavy it will surprise you when McCartney's bass shines through. I haven't had a lot of speakers B&W, Paradigm  few others but the Perspectives just sound right?? I  stream an album of old Turlough O'Carolan played on single piano and the timbre sounds realistic. Not like a piano is on the room with you as I've read people claim they hear, IMO it would be to loud , more like you're sitting towards the back of a theater. I'm not very good at explaining, sorry, but if you get to hear them perhaps you'll understand. Even  a little tweaking with DSP it doesn't interfere with their sound. I could tell from my before and after plots I'm not doing that much with them mainly below around 200 hz. Anyway hope this helps.
@djones51 Definitely! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Now I am intrigued even more by the perspectives! Do you know how much it will cost for upgrading the perspectives to perspectives 2 graphene? I emailed joseph audio but have not heard back yet.   

I just auditioned the magico a3 today. It is less clinical sounding than the s1/3. I think the imaging is still very good as of the s1 and s3 but not as much detailed as them. The presentation of mids are similar for sure. Very good speed and transients. I don't know if it is the room set up or not, but the midbass and vocals sometimes are not separated enough and I almost feel it is a boomed bass mixed into the vocals at time. I started to miss the mids of ATC 40s.

For now I want to say I am narrowing down to joseph perspectives and atc scm40 v2, or atc scm40 actives. 

I hope I can audition the Joseph perspectives somewhere. Do you know if they have a dealer near bay area, CA? 

The Perspectives have among the most engaging, fun bass of any speaker I've heard.  It just has this beautiful combination of richness, tightness, punch the air reach-out-and-feel it.   It's one of the reasons I fell for the Perspectives.  I'm not a bass head, but the Perspectives did all the audiophile goodies of transparency, detail, tonal realism, but unlike many they don't sound too polite or buttoned down.  Fun music with funky or driving bass just boogies.  They are dancable. 

I admit I'd want to not screw with it too much via DSP if I could avoid that.  Fortunately I don't have to in my room.
Not sure where they have dealers. This was a year ago but I think it was about $3400 to upgrade them, might be more now. I have the invoice but I would need to dig it out. I bought mine blind, took a leap of faith. Very few places near where I am with dealers anymore. 
@yuhengdu_tiger I think you are fighting two battles at once: room acoustics and speakers.

No matter what speakers you choose, your room size and placement constraints close to boundaries create issues in terms of room modes and resonances. Serious acoustic treatment will be worth every penny, starting with bass traps in all corners and acoustic panels on the front wall. Also much cheaper than new equipment!

On speakers, I have 2 more suggestions. The first is the Living Voice Auditorium series. These are really excellent, deeply musical speakers, which still have a compact footprint similar to the SCM40s, but far higher sensitivity so much easier to drive, and have a strong synergy with tube amps. Though they are also not EDM bass monsters, they have higher cone surface area from the dual woofers for lower frequencies, and fantastically integrated mids and highs. They are absolutely worth adding to your shortlist.

The second is the SCM19A tower version. Same footprint as SCM40, all the benefits of ATC active biamping, and the new ATC tweeter. Going active should result in better dynamics, detail and bass authority than the SCM40 passive, even foregoing the separate mid driver. Note that the SCM19/20 has the SL midbass with the mid dome grafted onto the cone. Nobody argues that the SCM19 is preferable to the SCM50, but many users have  found they preferred the SMC19 to the SCM40. They both share the same basic sound signature, but some find the 19/20s drivers sound more integrated. This was actually my experience when I demoed the passive v1s.
@prof  Thanks for your reply. The perspectives are now top 1 on my list even I have no where to audition them so far. May I know which amp do you pair with them? And how do you feel about their mids/vocals presentation? My music are vocal oriented (recordings an lives) and this is the most critical department for me. 

I feel your description about the bass. Seems they have really visceral bass and still tonally balanced to be musical. Thanks! 
@djones51 Yeah, if I can't find a dealer then I will probably do a blind buy like you did. They are high on my list now.
@motokokusanagi Thanks for the suggestions. I have auditioned the scm19a (no tower version) and to my ears the scm40 just sounds more full. The scm19a sometimes offers a more realistic and detailed mids though. If I go for the ATC route, I was considering getting the ATC p2 amp and pair with ATC scm40 v2. How do you feel this p2+atc40 passives would stack up against the atc40a?  The atc40a is a bit pricer than the passives combo though.. Since I can only find new ones of them which is $13k a pair.

I use Conrad Johnson Premier 12 mono block tube amps (140W side).The combination works great.  The Perspectives are supposed to work well with tube amps even though they aren't very high sensitivity, due to their benign impedance which tends to stay above 6ohm.
That said, I still think the Perspectives benefit from an amp with power and control.  They sounded most "in grip" with some powerful SS amps.Fortunately one of the great aspects of the CJ Premier 12 amps is that, for a tube amp, they have excellent punch and control right in to the bass region.

The other tube amps I heard with the Perspectives were Mac.  75W I think.  Sounded amazing, though with a bit more bloat on the bottom (which could also have been due a bit to room placement at the dealer).
@prof Thanks. I use Conrad Johnson PV5 as tube pre. I always found the CJ pre amps to give the best 3d sound stage and magical mids that I was looking for. I have used CJ pv10a and pv5. Both pairs fantastic with my SS amps. I use prism sound dream DA1 as DAC.

How do you feel about the mids presentation of Perspectives? Or you don’t listen to a lot of vocals in general? It would be great if I can get a sense of what the mids feel like in the perspectives using ATCs as a reference point. Thanks.
@yuhengdu_tiger , I live in Berkeley and I welcome you to take a listen to my Perspectives. I hope to upgrade to the graphene model. Private message me. 
@yuhengdu_tiger Re private messaging: I was thinking of Us Audiomart.
My username there is raptorbander.
The Perspectives are very good sounding speakers, but they do have serious limitations.  You have to understand that they are small tower speakers with small drivers.  Jeff has done a great job at making them sound very full and big but with that comes a lot of driver excursion to achieve that output.  This compromises the mid-range, especially the louder you play them.  If you have a medium to large room or you like to listen fairly loud, you'll want to go with a larger 3 way speaker.


I agree that someone should have his expectations in check to a degree.The size of the sound and the bass that comes out of the Perspectives is really surprising.  However, yes, we are talking about fairly small drivers (though long excursion, and low distortion).

Not sure what you mean by "compromises the midrange" the louder you play them.  One of the features of the Perspectives is that they remain clear, clean and grain-free even at loud volumes.  That's what I hear, and John Atkinson made a point about that also in his review.

However, I'd say there does seem to be a bit of a limitation in terms of going super loud, where it seems like you turn up the volume but they hit a point where they don't seem to be going much louder.    But, for me, that only just barely begins to happen when I'm cranking them to listen from another room down the hall in my house.  They go louder without strain than I need when in my listening room.

But, yes, if you play really loud you might want a larger speaker, or one with more/larger drivers (well designed of course).
@dznutz Thanks for the input. I don’t listen very loud actually I often listen quite small volume since I am putting the speakers in the living room area where my 2 kids are around. I normally sit either 11 ft or 15 ft from the speakers though.

The dilemma for me is that I can not go for a too large of a pair of speakers (such as atc scm50) since I will have a hard time to get a wife approval. That’s why I limit my options to be small foot print speakers in the first place.

Anyway, I get to audition the perspectives next week and I will see if they will work for me. 
I was considering getting the ATC p2 amp and pair with ATC scm40 v2. How do you feel this p2+atc40 passives would stack up against the atc40a? The atc40a is a bit pricer than the passives combo though.. Since I can only find new ones of them which is $13k a pair.
@yuhengdu_tiger Good to know you've already compared the SCM19A and preferred your SCM40s. That's significant! So again we figure that SCM40As would be the ideal solution for your room but I completely empathize they are so expensive new, and finding used/demo pairs is almost impossible.The P1/P2/SIA2-150 are all perfect matches for the passives, but they can't match the full performance of an active tri-amped pair. But recall also that there is the option of passive biamping and triamping.

Very crudely, and with some margin of error, let's figure that: 
  • SCM40A = 100% sound potential (active triamp)
  • SCM40v1 + P1 = 65% (passive stereo)
  • SCM40v1 + P2 = 75% (passive stereo)
  • SCM40v1 + 2 x P1 (passive biamp) = 80%
  • SCM40v1 + 3 x P1 (passive triamp) = 85%
  • SCM40v1 + 2 x P2 (passive biamp) = 90%
  • SCM40v1 + 3 x P2 (passive triamp) = 95%
If we consider the cost of each config, we hit irrational returns with passive triamping, as we exceed the cost of the SCM40A itself, but there are some interesting options before that. 

The amp ratings for each SCM40A are: 150w for the bass driver, 60w for the midrange, 32w for the tweeter. Which would let you play at higher listening levels than you wrote that you ever do. So let's call that 100% performance is also an overkill.

I suggested before you may get really good improvements in clarity and poise from passive biamping (one amp per speaker; one output dedicated to the bass terminals + remove the bass-mid jumper, the other amp outut goes to the mids or tweeter terminals + keep the mid-tweeter jumper). 

Is there any way you can try this out? It doesn't necessarily need to be ATC amps, even though they are proven matches technically and sonically; there are going to be many great amp matches out there. You'd need two stereo power amps with the same gain (thus easier to do if they're identical). Compare the difference using one of the amps for both speakers, vs one amp per speaker, and one amp channel each for the bass terminals.

P.S. The pro audio versions of the P1 and P2 (same inside as the consumer ones!) can be bought new from pro audio stores much cheaper than from hi fi stores, weirdly.

Well I have done that!  I have tried every combo of passive with ATC amps (which is not so difficult when you are the importer).  The active wins every time on the same issues: detail, image, transparency, dynamics.   I've even done that demo at a trade show, AXPONA 2 years ago.   Its not hard to hear. 

BY the way, no apparent improvement in detail, image or transparency adding amps in the passive biamp or triamp method.  Some improvements in dynamics due to increased power.  But imaging is what I like out of actives and there is nothing I can do to the passives to equal the actives in listening, consumer or pro.

To be fair there are some people who will not be able to hear the difference.  It is NOT like two different speakers.  The timbre, the balance and the "tone" of the speaker was the same between active and passive.  Just the resolution, the quality of the image, the overall speed of the speaker was very different. 

I know that from a technical perspective there will be a big difference between the passive and active in the linearity of phase.  The actives will look perfect, the passives not perfect.  This is a by product of a passive crossover, all that cable, and lack of ability to adjust phase of individual drivers- all those problems go away on a active designs.


Fair enough, Brad. I was just trying to give the OP some options to upgrade, cause the SCM40A new cost is prohibitive, and he'd mentioned driving the passives was an issue, and they couldn't find any used actives. Maybe you could swing some other options for them!
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