This week we tested the Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia speaker, the French brand’s new compact model notable for its remarkably competitive price.
Does Jean-Marie Reynaud still need an introduction? Since 1967, the French manufacturer has been a member of a small circle of hi-fi artisans, and its speakers have been systematically praised by music lovers. Relying on word of mouth instead of an elaborate marketing campaign for the past 50 years, Jean-Marie Reynaud creates speakers recognizable for their impeccable musicality. The Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia speakers represent a turning point in the brand’s history, as this compact model is available for a much more accessible price. Can this model preserve the legendary soul associated with Jean-Marie Reynaud speakers despite its price tag?
Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia: presentation
The JMR Lucia speaker is a 2-way compact model which integrates two drivers into a 19-millimeter-thick MDF cabinet. Among these is a 5” bass-medium driver (made in France) with a treated paper cone, half-roll suspension and bullet-shaped phase plug. The phase plug’s mission is to prevent turbulence from affecting the sound wave in the middle of the cone and thus preserve the coherence of the sound message. This driver is set in motion by a dual magnet. The tweeter is a coated fabric dome (also made in France), cooled and damped by a ferrofluid and set in motion by a neodymium magnet.
The Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia speaker has a sensitivity of 85 dB/W/m, a relatively low figure inherent to the speaker’s linear frequency response. In other words, the speaker does not color the sound by placing excessive emphasis on the mids, for example. The speaker’s impedance, which varies little and ranges from 4 to 6 Ohms, ensures its compatibility with most amplifiers. Lastly, the JMR Lucia has a frequency response ranging from 60Hz to 22kHz and a power handling of 80 Watts (120 peak power). Note that 60Hz is already a very low frequency and that “pushing” a 5” driver lower is counterproductive (inferior transient response, distortion, etc.).
Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia: enclosure and particularities
The Jean-Marie Reynaud speaker features a bass-reflex enclosure which enhances the 5” driver’s reproduction of low frequencies while protecting it from excessive excursion at high volume. A front-firing laminar port prevents noise related to airflow at high volume. Its position allows the user to place the speaker close to a wall, although this placement doesn’t necessarily procure better results (this applies to any speaker). The tweeter and the bass driver are surrounded by a piece of felt which serves to control sound reflections along the front panel. Lastly, the tweeter’s dome is horn-loaded for superior directivity.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia: test conditions
We listened to the JMR Lucia speakers with several different stereo amplifiers and home theater receivers: the Moon Neo ACE, Hegel Röst and Onkyo LX-50. Depending on the model chosen, the speaker cables we used were either the Viard Audio Silver HD 20 or the NorStone W250. Several sources were used via either a digital S/PDIF or HDMI connection, or an analog connection: a USB flash drive and a Panasonic UBP-900 Blu-ray player. In addition to a number of FLAC audio files, we viewed a few film excerpts. As such, our review takes into account both stereo hi-fi and home theater performance.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia: listening impressions
The balanced and coherent soundstage produced by the Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia speakers is immediately recognizable. The restitution is smooth and remarkably rich in details. Rare qualities for a product at this level–or at any level, really–and by far not the only essential advantages these speakers offer. The Lucia’s most striking asset has to be its clarity and homogeneity. This crystal-clear restitution is not obtained by highlighting mids or highs–a recipe which, regrettably, is a frequently used in acoustics. The JMR Lucia are rather linear, and their energy is evenly distributed from lows to highs, without favoring any particular register. This is evidently the result of a sophisticated design and efficient filtering. Moreover, the dimensions of the sound stage are enormous, and vocals are centered between the two speakers without the need for the listener to ceaselessly seek out the most advantageous listening position.
Each sound layer is placed correctly, with audible results such as a remarkable ability to locate each instrument within the listening space. And that is indisputably the trademark of a good speaker.
For hi-fi listening, amateurs of string instruments will delight in the articulated low-medium register, which adds tightness and texture to a bass guitar or saxophone and convincing depth to human voices. The Lucia’s sound signature is gratifying – as is that of any Jean-Marie Reynaud, in fact – and there was not one instrument that we couldn’t hear clearly. Evidently, the fact that the frequency response only reaches down to 60Hz doesn’t allow for much exploration of the first octave, and low notes played on a piano or the harmonics of a bass drum slip through the Lucia’s fingers. But the frequency range covered benefits from so much harmony that the speaker can easily be used without a subwoofer in a small room.
In a home theater installation, the Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia has a knack for surprises. The characteristics described above are just as easy to appreciate when watching movies or TV shows. Human voices are perfectly distinguishable from a constant stream of sound effects. And that’s putting it lightly. For example; the opening scene of Batman v Superman, with all its collapsing buildings, is captivatingly mastered. Whereas a “conventional” speaker often places emphasis on the breaking glass and crumbling concrete, the JMR Lucia does not cover up the microdata (fabric rustling, doors slamming, breathing…) and follows the action on the screen with great skill. Clearly, it lacks the infrabass required for a physical home theater experience, but this is not the role of compact speaker.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia: conclusions
What we liked: the fact that this model is easy to power, the timbres, the dynamic balance, the steadfast musicality.
What we would have liked: we can’t find anything to criticize.
The Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia are, indisputably, a step toward democratizing the French hi-fi offer. We are neither boastful, nor partial, but sincerely objective. This little speaker shines for its very dependable performance and proves to be at ease in both hi-fi and home theater settings–for the latter a high-quality subwoofer should be added. Any amplifier will make the Jean-Marie Reynaud Lucia sing, and that makes it a rare find indeed. The best entry-level compact speaker we’ve heard to date.
This post is also available in: French