Jean-Claude Reynaud is the CEO of Jean-Marie Reynaud and the designer of the Jean-Marie Reynaud Emma speakers. He agreed to answer our questions regarding this new floorstanding speaker.
S.V.: Jean-Marie Reynaud and Son-Vidéo.com have been collaborating for 18 years: would you like to share your perspective on this experience?
J.C.R: JMR was one of the first truly audiophile and artisanal brands to be included in Son-Vidéo.com’s catalog. We’ve been placing our trust in Son-Vidéo.com since shortly after our company began.
I remember the first conversations we had with my father during a meeting with Hugo La Hutte (Editor’s Note: Purchasing Manager at Son-Vidéo.com). Our generation was, at the time, responsible for writing the future of the profession. We both knew that our field of work was rapidly evolving and that Internet sales would quickly gain ground. From the beginning, we were confident that the JMR brand and its associates would be part of these developments.
As a family business, it is essential for us to build strong relationships with distributors who wholeheartedly believe in our products and, above all, support our philosophy. This is how we came to foster an enduring partnership with Son-Vidéo.com, and we did our best to respond to its team’s request as thoroughly as possible. It can be said that we’ve learned a lot from each other along the way.
The Lucia compact speaker was produced with the aim of allowing a wider audience to discover the JMR signature sound. You’ve followed up with the Emma, a second entry-level model: how does this fit into the brand’s approach?
Throughout the brand’s history, JMR has always worked toward making a truly hi-fi experience available to a wider audience. I believe that it is our duty to push the boundaries of what is considered possible. It is my priority to make true musical emotion accessible to as many listeners as possible: accurate timbres, no gimmicks or frills, and as much realism as possible.
In response to our efforts, our speakers have been widely celebrated for their excellent value. We are not a brand which is solely concerned with commercial success and profit margins. In my opinion, an entry-level product is above all an opportunity to welcome a new member into the brand’s community. The trust our listeners place in us is enviable–certain listeners are steadfast fans from one generation to the next. The owner of a JMR speaker will highly recommend a JMR to anyone looking for a true hi-fi experience, starting with a Lucia, or an Emma for those looking for a little more right off the bat.
The Lucia is an eminently successful speaker designed to offer a very pleasant experience for a great value. In my eyes, the Lucia is the doorway into the JMR universe and a fundamental element in the range. In the same manner, the Emma has been envisioned as a gateway to this universe, but as a floorstanding model it offers more energy, more details and more power for larger rooms.
What objectives did you set for the Emma?
My objective was to allow a wider audience to enjoy a rich and detailed sonic universe, one in which accurate timbres make music come wholly and vibrantly alive. At the same time, the Emma had to respect the brand’s philosophy by finding a subtle balance between smoothness and energy, and it had to provide an enthusiastic restitution with no hint of harshness. This is more difficult than it sounds, especially when staying within a reasonable budget.
I’m not interested in making overly demonstrative products. I think that products which try to make too big of an impression in the beginning often prove disappointing in the end. Such products don’t know how to “disappear,” rather, they systematically make their presence known. Meanwhile, I believe that a well-made speaker should know how to disappear and let the music unfold, to create harmony with simplicity and humility. When listening to a great speaker, technical terms such as lows, mids and highs… What should immediately stand out is the music, the performance and the emotional response of the listener. No matter what technologies are implemented, they must be respectful of the music first and foremost.
I wanted to make a small-scale, easy-to-use speaker which doesn’t require any special expertise to install and which can be paired with most any entry-level amplifier on the market. Easy to drive, easy to set up, and ready to enjoy right away, without having to spend hours looking for the right angle or the perfect amplifier… A speaker which is intuitive, straightforward and easy-going.
Considering the price of the Emma, did you have to make compromises?
I never make compromises when I design a speaker. Obviously, there is a set list of specifications, and an entry-level speaker is designed under certain constraints that don’t apply to a more ambitious product. In the end, it’s harder to design an efficient speaker with a tight budget in mind than it is to set a price for a new model once it is produced.
What I had to keep in mind was that this floorstanding model would be priced at less than €1,800 per pair. I had already drawn up a few blueprints, and I knew that the Emma would be a compact, slim and elegant speaker with harmonious dimensions.
I wanted the Emma to be a testament to fine craftsmanship and a proud tribute to the hands which contributed to building it. I also wanted its components to be made in France in order to shine a spotlight on our nation’s expertise in the domain. As such, I made no compromises in terms of components. They are relatively simple in terms of technology (no exotic or complex materials), but they have proven their worth in terms of musicality, reliability and longevity… no question of planned obsolescence here at JMR! Each component is made with a great amount of care and attention.
Building on the success of the Folia EX (optimized version of the Folia distributed as a limited edition series by Son-Vidéo.com in 2016), I asked Hugo if he would be interested in an exclusive model, since we needed an ambitious partner for this project. In order to finance the development and production of the Emma, a certain number of units needed to be made. We thus confirmed the partnership with Hugo, who gave the Emma speaker its name. Four months later, we delivered the first 50 Emma speakers to Son-Vidéo.com and posted photos of their fabrication on our JMR Forever Facebook page.
JMR speakers are known to offer remarkably accurate timbres. Is this the case for the Emma?
The Emma is an authentic JMR speaker in the noblest sense of the term. This is a speaker which truly sings and which evokes an awe-inspiring depth of emotions. There isn’t one JMR product that I wouldn’t welcome into my own home. Even though I have access to more ambitious products, I make a point to ensure that all models meet my expectations in terms of balance. The prototype of the Emma spent several weeks in my home while I worked to make some final adjustments. I can tell you that I enjoyed this process from beginning to end, and I never felt frustrated by what I heard. The Emma has the soul of a true JMR speaker and carries all the same DNA as its predecessors. It provides accurate timbres, and it knows how to disappear in order to let the listener become immersed in a stable, well-built soundstage.
Your speakers apply the principle of a triangular transmission line in order to optimize extension in the lows: what are the benefits of this technique?
The benefit of a triangular transmission line is that it ensures even delivery. Thanks to its form, this line prevents any part of the cabinet from being parallel with another. Consequently, virtually no acoustic absorbing material is required, and the speed of the signal is preserved. Meanwhile, the pitfall of dull or stifled lows–a consequence of using a lot of insulating materials–is avoided. Compared to a bass-reflex system, articulation and timing are superior in the lows. For a relatively compact enclosure, there is also more extension than with a classic bass-reflex design. On the other hand, correctly calculating and optimizing the transmission line requires a good deal of expertise. This type of enclosure is shared by all of JMR’s floorstanding speakers.
The port at the end of this line is found at the front of the speaker, thus allowing for easier installation and placement closer to a wall in without jeopardizing the proper functioning of the enclosure.
How do you choose your drivers: are they made specifically for each new JMR model?
All the drivers we use have been produced according to our specifications. The drivers used for the Emma were made in France (tweeter and midrange). We do not use anything out of a catalog.
Is Emma a demanding speaker in terms of amplification?
No, and the Emma can even be easy to drive, as its sensitivity rating is excellent for its size (89 dB/W/m) and its impedance curve never dips too low. This is a 4-Ohm speaker which requires a bit of current but not necessarily a lot of Watts in order to reach its full potential.
This post is also available in: French