Listening to a Jean-Marie Reynaud speaker is a one-of-a-kind experience. In a certain way, it is a return to the basics of high fidelity, but it is always a pleasure above all. Often mistakenly portrayed as being intended for an audiophile elite, Jean-Marie Reynaud speakers are designed to offer a superbly enjoyable experience to any listener. The sound signature of the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé is extremely straightforward and outstandingly natural. The excellent timing of the speaker drivers throughout the sound spectrum, combined with a rigorous respect of the audio signal phase, results in a deep and wide soundstage which listeners can explore and enjoy with their eyes closed.
These extraordinary abilities are obviously no mere coincidence. In addition to Jean-Marie Reynaud’s expertise as a speaker manufacturer, the fact that the company is a family affair certainly has something to do with the speakers’ outstanding quality. Back when we reviewed the Lucia compact speaker, Jean-Claude Reynaud told us that some of the measurements were carried out in his own living room. In other words, the JMR Cantabile Jubilé was not exclusively developed in a lab environment.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: presentation
The JMR Cantabile Jubilé speaker was designed in 2017 for the brand’s 50th anniversary. The Cantabile is an iconic midrange model which has been revamped to give birth to the Jubilé. The Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé is a 2.5-way model with a decoupled tweeter. This technique consists in taking the tweeter out of the cabinet and placing it in a separate enclosure mounted on a small pole, thus ensuring optimal working conditions for the driver. A decoupled tweeter offers a distinctive, spacious sound and, if properly adjusted, a far superior restitution compared to any traditional speaker.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: new tweeter and technologies
The 2017 version of the Cantabile Jubilé features a brand new silk dome tweeter placed in a larger enclosure. Due to its lower resonant frequency, this tweeter has the ability to cover a more extensive frequency range. This allows for a lower cutoff frequency, with the mid driver taking over around 3 kHz.
The mids and lows are handled by two 5” drivers featuring a carbon and kevlar cone. The crossover filters are adjusted separately so that both drivers can work together below 600 Hz, while the driver fitted with a bullet-shaped phase plug (anti-vortex) covers frequencies up to 3 kHz. The JMR Cantabile Jubilé’s mid-bass drivers are held in place using a technique called axial fastening, which consists in using a metal brace to push the driver against the speaker’s front panel. The purpose of this structure is to create tension within the cabinet in order to eliminate unwanted vibrations and favor the restitution of micro-details. Trust us, this is not a marketing gimmick. The analytical abilities of the JMR Cantabile Jubilé are undeniable.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: the delicate art of filtering
The Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé’s passive crossover filter was entirely revamped to ensure optimal performance with the new tweeter. Although this new filter uses fewer components, every single one is handpicked. The idea was not to save money but to design the simplest filter possible in order to keep the impact on the signal to a minimum. While this process is no novelty, it is particularly difficult to implement. Not only is it essential to maintain the balance between the three drivers over the entire sound spectrum, but the signal phase also calls for great attention. One of the great assets of the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé is precisely its respect of the electric phase, which results in an impeccably well-arranged soundstage. The icing on the cake is the speaker’s wide sound diffusion, which means it is not absolutely mandatory to painstakingly direct it towards the listening area. In other words, the quality of the listening experience will not suffer if the listener is not sitting in the sweet spot.
The speaker’s impedance was also meticulously adjusted so that it wouldn’t require a particularly authoritative amplifier to power it. Simply put, the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé is easy to drive. JMR chose the filtering components (silver z-cap capacitors, extremely low-resistance self on a ferrite support…) so that the load may be as low as possible for the amplifier. Moreover, the drivers and the load have no incidence on the speaker’s impedance curve, as we were able to observe using the chart provided by Jean-Claude Reynaud with our test models.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: transmission line enclosure
Another particularity of this speaker is that the bass drivers are not associated with a bass-reflex port but are placed in a transmission line enclosure with a laminar, front-firing port instead. Being a particularly meticulous manufacturer, JMR paid close attention to the speaker’s timing and decided to do away with the bass-reflex port in favor of a triangle-shaped transmission line. This design allows the audio signal to gain momentum and be mechanically amplified over a given frequency range. The speaker can thus offer a clear and transparent sound restitution all the way down to 35 Hz. An impressive feat for drivers measuring only 5”, with no hint of theatricality.
Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé: listening impressions
We paired the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé with the Hegel H190 hi-fi amplifier (soon to be reviewed here), a powerful model capable of delivering up to 2×50 Watts into 4 Ohms. Note that even modest amplifiers should be able to drive this JMR speaker, as there was no need to push the H190 to enjoy Cantabile Jubilé’s full potential. We listened to FLAC files via DLNA and connected the speakers to the amplifier using Viard Audio Silver HD20 speaker wire. The brand recommends using Jean-Marie Reynaud HP1132 speaker wire -the same used for the speaker’s internal wiring- to ensure optimal working conditions.
We’re always a little bit apprehensive before listening to a speaker for the first time, regardless of the model, and this apprehension is more or less pronounced depending on the first notes we hear. Sometimes it is important to be patient, even a bit indulgent, to fully appreciate the qualities of the sound restitution. But the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé is one of those speakers which instantly reassures the listener. What is its secret? Probably the immensity of its soundstage, unquestionable balance, and excellent timing. A linear and well-layered sound benefiting from precise timing, is this the miracle recipe to ensure accurate timbres and a great restitution of voices and instruments? After listening to all of our reference tracks, our answer is a resounding ‘yes’. For example, the famous violin solo in the main theme of Schindler’s List is absolutely gripping. The violin sounds realistic, expansive at times, and it reaches very high frequencies with finesse, appearing to be right in front of the listener. We listened to David Bowie’s Space Oddity for a more pop-rock track. The strings and percussion instruments sounded rich and full, as did the vocals mixed on multiple tracks. Although the original soundtake tends toward saturation, we heartily enjoyed the ride and stayed captivated until the very last note. The sound restitution offered by the JMR Cantabile Jubilé has a rare energy.
We stayed in the pop music genre with the acoustic version of George Michael’s Everything She Wants. The strings sound bright and are well spatialized as the audience claps in rhythm. The singer’s voice combines power and finesse and is supported by a natural-sounding bass guitar. The kick drum is never overwhelming (the opposite would have been surprising coming from a pair of 5” drivers), but the wide range of nuances is sufficient to make it sound authentic without needing a massive impact. We even tested the speakers with a movie and watched the first scene of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. What the Cantabile lacks in frenzy during the opening cab chase, it makes up for with detail and accuracy. The screech of tires, long car drifts, and gunfire lavishly occupy the space without trampling micro-details such as the sound of fabric or the actors’ breathing. Even without the support of a subwoofer, the listening experience is a real pleasure.
After all these hours spent in the company of the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé, it is difficult to imagine them playing a track with anything but brilliance.
Lows: far from being overpowering, they are nonetheless well balanced and benefit from a compelling density for such slim floorstanders. The remarkable timing that we previously mentioned is unmistakable in this range.
Mids: undeniably organic, responsive, rhythmically precise, without the least bit of harshness or projection.
Highs: well-defined, bright, very smooth, absolutely beautiful… yet, the tweeter is “merely” a silk dome model.
Sound stage: there is a lot of space between each layer, so much so that the listener has no difficulty telling apart the various tracks in the mix. The voices are well centered and do not seem to hover.
Timbres: a lot of precision with a touch of brightness (this doesn’t impact the overall restitution), which very well might be responsible for the JMR Cantabile Jubilé’s sound signature.
You’ve probably guessed it, we absolutely loved the Jean-Marie Reynaud Cantabile Jubilé. This speaker stands out for its delicate restitution but sounds so natural and simple that it is an absolute pleasure for all ears.
What we liked:
- The coherence of the sound restitution
- The spacious soundstage
- The flawless timing
- The performance of the decoupled tweeter
- The slightly iridescent, pearl white finish
What we would have liked:
- To receive it a lot sooner