Joseph Audio, Jeff Rowland, Chord, VPI, Sonore, Roon, Transparent, and the Technicolor Dreamsound | Now Listen Here 2020

Reporting by Nan Pincus

Your hat and coat

You know the one thing that is guaranteed to hold a room? Hospitality. Walking around the exhibit space housing Joseph Audio Pearl 20/20 Graphene speakers at Now Listen Here 2020, I felt transported back to the story of Joseph, his colorful coat, and his brothers in Egypt (Jacob’s oldest son, remember? G’mar chatimah tova, yall). After stabbing him and leaving him for dead, years later Joseph’s brothers showed up at his house in Egypt. When they rang the bell, despite their dastardly past, he welcomed them into his home and, by all accounts, treated them as the perfect host.

The sweet spot’s still there, but the rest of the room gets service too

Jeff Joseph is absolutely worthy of his namesake. Everything about the experience of his equipment suggested thought and consideration for his listeners. That’s right, I said listeners. The speakers are designed to sound great throughout an entire space and to provide a superior and communal listening experience. Tweeters are dual section dome designs which utilize a unique Hexadyn magnet array for refinement and extension. The mid-range drivers of the Pearl 20/20 Graphene speakers are each made of a rigid magnesium cone structure and feature an epitaxial graphene nano-layer. The Pearl 20/20 is further equipped with custom infinite slope crossovers. Both mid-range and woofers are outfitted with low-distortion motor assemblies for speedier transients. Woofers specifically employ a robust four-layer voice coil, bumped back plate, and dual-magnets for struggle-free excursion. Internal wiring is sourced from Cardas Cable.

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Now Listen Here 2020 coverage brought to you by Tenacious Sound.

Joseph has designed (and redesigned) all of his loudspeakers to provide a wonderfully balanced sound to everyone within earshot. This is not to say that there is not a sweet spot in the room for listening–when you happen into it, the speakers become, dare I say, divine. Joseph’s hospitality extended to his personal interactions with every single visitor to his room. When someone asked to hear his bookshelf speakers (Pulsar2 Graphene) he was more than happy to plug them in and optimize their listening experience for the fellow.

Let me lend you my platter

Another moment came when a guest brought in an Electric Company Recordings pressing of Informal Jazz by Elmo Hope Sextet. Joseph quickly tuned it up on the Pearl 20/20. Balance, verve, comfort. Joseph’s hospitality and willingness to accommodate this small ask demonstrated that the experience of a room presentation is often less about the script than the relating to the enthusiasts present. What would you like to hear? When we care about what other people would like to hear, we care about each other. That’s timeless and as rare as any coat of many colors.

The Room Components

Joseph Audio Pearl 20/20 Graphene Speakers – $38,000 USD

Jeff Rowland Capri S2 Preamp – $4,349 USD

Jeff Rowland 625 S2 amp – $17,499 USD

VPI HW40 turntable – $15,000 USD

VPI Armpod – TBD

Chord Hugo TT2 DAC – $5,495 USD

Chord M-Scaler – $4,795 USD

Sonore Signature Rendu SE streamer – $4,490 USD

Roon Nucleus music server – $1,398 USD

Transparent PowerWave conditioner – $1,895 USD

Transparent Ultra Cables

Pearl 20/20 Graphene Specifications

Frequency Response 25 – 20000 ± 2db

Woofer – 8” Aluminum (2)

Midrange – 7” Magnesium/Graphene

Tweeter – 1” Sonatex Dome

Crossover – Asymmetrical Infinite Slope

Impedance – 8 Ohms Nominal, 6 Ohms Minimum

Size – 45”H x 11”W x 16”D

Nan Pincus, Part-Time Audiophile Contributor

About the Author, Nan Pincus

Nan is a graduate of The University of North Carolina and Duke University. She writes about music culture and radio technology of all kinds. She DJs FM radio, operates ham radio, and got her first job in high school to save up for a belt-drive turntable. She works in classical music and theatre, but she often puts down her work to drop the needle on Scriabin’s Preludes and dream in technicolor.