- Manufacturer & Model:
- JTR Speakers NOESIS 210 RT 2018
- $4598/each - Manufacturer Direct: $2499/each
- Extremely low distortion, benchmark soundstage and imaging (SS&I) capabilities, no subwoofers needed.
- Provides the upper echelon of available performance at a middling cost of admission.
JTR Speakers is well known for their heavy-hitting subwoofers and loudspeakers in high-end audio and the pro sound world. While owner Jeff Permanian has racked up many reviews for his hardy subs, no one has yet reviewed one of his extraordinary speaker designs. The focus of this review is to change that, while attempting to articulate the exceptional performance of the NOESIS 210 RT.
The review pair of 210 RT used a matte black lacquer paint finish over a heavily-braced Baltic Birch cabinet (custom finishes are available upon request). Huge footers and gargantuan binding posts are included. The cabinet, along with the drivers and large dual hand-soldered crossovers contribute to a hefty package weighing in at 125 lbs. per speaker. "RT" stands for "Reference Tower," the carefully sculpted horn, exceptional drivers and crossovers providing a reference-level parts execution, with 43" of height fulfilling the tower designation.
Speaking of, the very first item that draws attention is the large 12" x 12" x 8" horn that is seamlessly integrated into the baffle. A closer look inside reveals the ultra high-end coaxial driver beak protruding from deep within the cabinet. The ultra high-end driver claims a mere .02% distortion in the midband (100dB), which is an amplifier's level of distortion. This horn-loaded 2-way coax is physically stepped back, in place and in sync with the woofers, enabling all drivers to be time-aligned at the main listening position (MLP). The coaxial/horn combo handles 500Hz and up, and the dual 10" woofers cover everything below. This, along with the added efficiency of horn-loading, leads to lowered self-noise; the speaker gets out of the way just like a good amplifier should... just like more speakers should.
Most music listening was with my pre/pro engaged in Reference Stereo mode, sans DSP or subwoofer assist, as the 210 RT tends to ignore the room, is capable of producing low bass, and I really wanted to wring these attributes out. The 210 RT's L/R contribution to my 5.1 system was explored with multi-channel music, videos, and movies.
The speaker's binding posts are huge and will accept any sane and most insane sizes of cabling or consumer-grade connections. The normal-sized spades on my cables did not quite seat fully on the giant posts, but I was able to get them tightly secured. Cabinet knuckle-rap reveals – to my digits – that the enclosure is well-braced and the front baffle is thick.
I have a real-life listening room (not dedicated to AV) that also serves as a living room. It features asymmetrical walls, hardwood floors, coffee table, etc. Some concessions have been made, light flutter treatment, heavy on furniture (I like to entertain), odd furniture placement to accommodate an optimal MLP and Room EQ Wizard used to dial in optimal speaker placement. The 210 RT largely ignores room anomalies. Even in a less than optimal space, you will be paying less attention to the room and more attention to what the 210 RTs are telling you. Room contributions matter less with the JTRs than with conventional speakers.
One excellent and most useful aspect of the JTRs is the ability to change the soundstage width and steer images with toe-in and out. This is something that any good speaker can and will do, but holes can develop with too much toe-out or spacing, and that is where JTR separates itself from the norm. So big and full is the presentation that huge spacing between the speakers would be required to cause that type of deleterious effect. I’ve heard a pair (this pair, in fact), placed widely apart, fill an audio show conference room, an event I do encourage others to seek out and experience. Big or small, the 210 RT will make your room disappear, bringing you closer to the room or space the musical event happened at.
The horn, coupled with ultra high-end coaxial, contribute to outstanding sound stage and imaging (SS&I) traits that set this speaker apart from most others. Add in capable low-end response and you have an all-in-one package for a great 2.0 system or the start of a fantastic surround system. Want three, five or seven of these in a home theater setting? You have arrived!
No speaker in my room has ever disappeared like this! The 210 RTs are completely disconnected from the sound. Extremely low distortion, super high SS&I qualities, and glorious central imaging leave accompanying musicians etched into their own spaces. The JTRs will have your eyes looking toward the individual sounds, your head will turn too. My room is an average 12' x 16' x 8' space and the JTRs make for sound bigger than this room typically allows. It made my room's walls melt away, bringing me closer to the performance. I've laid ears on many systems in many rooms, most not as good as I have been able to coax out of my lesser room, and the JTRs delivered me closer to my favorite audio experiences because it ignored the faults in my room better than other speakers.
Sideways movement to the left or right of the MLP shifted images on the stage with minimal changes in tonality. And standing up resulted in NO difference in my room; the sound was the same as seated. I've heard all types of high/mid driver technologies – beryllium, diamond, domes, ribbons, and plasma, to name a few – and nothing I've heard etches details in stark relief like annular drivers loaded into a horn.
2.0 stereo impressions aside, some of my listening was done with my subwoofers active. Not that the JTRs are imbalanced, but because I am. My subs have been used with many speakers, painstakingly placed and optimized using Room EQ Wizard, along with subjective tweaks from myself and a few other pairs of ears that I highly trust. The JTRs had no problem keeping up with 96 dB sensitivity subs, even when I remotely advanced the sub level up (+3, 6, 10, or 12 dB...) all the way to lighting my Dayton's SA1000 half-power light more and more with the advancing gusto. Put simply: I'll need a new subwoofer amplifier if I am to keep up with the JTRs. My ears gave out quickly at this insane level and, while I'd like to explore the realm of JTRs rated 2000 watts of power handling, it would not be good for my health in a 12' x 16' room. -20 dB below reference-level is plenty for "normal" people at normal levels. Let it not be said I did not wring these puppies out with what I had! Back in the real world, the quite capable Emotiva XPA-2 Gen. 2 500 rated watts I hit the 210 RTs with is overkill and users can expect to reach reasonable listening levels with just a few watts.
The JTR NOESIS 210 RT hits the available upper echelons of performance in spite of its middling cost of admission. Open and honest, there is nothing closed in or small about its presentation. The only real complaint I could fairly give the 210 RT is that the treble does not have the type of "airy" room response one finds with other types of tweeters, like domes or ribbons, for instance. That's not even a complaint. It is a matter of taste and dictated by preference and design. One design has wide dispersion and uses the room, the other has controlled dispersion and ignores the room. These types are going to interact with the room differently and lend their own flavor to the sound. You can't have it all with any loudspeaker, and the 210 RT is no exception. The trade here is less room interaction and more precise SS&I, which I found lent to a presentation bigger than my listening room. I'll take that trade off all day long. That said, the 210 RT also delivers more focus because the distortion is vanishingly low. People talk about "clean" bass. Welcome to a "clean" midband and treble.
While the 210 RT does not require bass augmentation, it is my opinion that all speakers can benefit from a subwoofer-based bottom octave or so. The JTR’s inherent, genre-setting, lack of distortion is taken even further when bass duties are handed off to properly-integrated sub(s). If you do add bass augmentation, make sure to get a capable sub system that is heroic enough to keep pace with the dynamic swings the 210 RT delivers.
The carefully sculpted 60x60 horn with low distortion coaxial and a superior crossover is the defining factor that separates the 210 RT from the herd. That factor is ideal in normal-sized rooms, helping to avoid room interaction. I have witnessed this speaker fill a couple of very large rooms and have heard it in a couple of small rooms, too, so am confident that the 210 RT will work in any sized room. Do you have a ballroom? The 210 RT will accommodate the need (seriously).
This review has been a long time coming. Not just on my part, even though the 210 RT have been in my home for four-plus months. It is because these speakers have been in the wild, being so good for so long, yet flying under the radar of many audio enthusiasts. Well, let 'em soar, they are worth any audiophile’s consideration. Do investigate a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 arrangement, or just enjoy 2.0 super sweet candy, like I did. 2.0 monsters, a must-hear in the four-figure price range, as well as another digit up! SS&I problems? The 210 RT is here (hear) to help! The process is simple. Put yourself in a good MLP spot. Dial in the speakers to the room. Shift yourself left or right, play with 210 RT toe-in. That is all.
Let's dive into what led me to these impressions, shall we? All of these music tracks were streamed via TIDAL.
Natalie Merchant, Ophelia "My Skin" has a central image that pops with Merchant’s voice right from the beginning. The piano is the foundation for this tune, its position behind Natalie has ideal depth and focus; the tonality of that instrument is nicely portrayed.
Daft Punk/Panda Bear, Random Access Memories “Give Life Back To Music." This track has many details in the background that are buried in the distortion of lesser speakers. The 210 RT brought out these details, without bringing them overly-forward. They stayed in the back of the soundstage, kind of like real memories, which is what I like to think the artists might have been going for.
"Doing It Right" nails the synth bass, showing me that the 210 RTs stand on their own without subwoofer assistance. Blunt as a 10 lb. sledge hammer, the dynamic bass swings took my breath away. There is zero impression of a one-note bass quality, the midbass notes are noticeably separated from each other. The subtle ringing sound beginning at 2:32 has a nice sustain to it, giving a sense of space greater than my listening room dimensions. The auto-tune vocals had me checking my pre/pro settings to make sure I was in Reference Stereo and not in surround mode with the center speaker playing. I was prompted to do this often with other songs, as well.
Blue Oyster Cult, Fire of Unknown Origin. Queuing up "Burning For You," my all-time favorite song, ever, I found the song's typically light bass guitar line was a little more pronounced than I am used to hearing, which is a very good thing. If only the recording mix brought the kick drum to bear with the same force. Ah well, can’t have it all.
Enjoying what I heard, I leaned into the rest of the Fire Of Unknown Origins album and let it play to the end. Then, TIDAL segued into an album I've not critically evaluated before (Cultasaurus Erectus). While I'm not entirely familiar with this album, it encapsulated a theme with the 210 RT, as I found myself looking for and listening to old songs of yore, ones I've liked but never heard properly.
For one last BOC song, I dialed up “Godzilla." Oh boy, what a treat that was! "Live" feel was had, a you-are-there-type of sound signature delivered in a way that made me feel like I was outdoors, standing General Admission-style, while sitting at home on my living room couch. Permanian’s pro sound experience comes into play when voicing his loudspeakers, that is self-evident with songs like this.
"Danse Macabre Saint Saens" by John Debney had a huge soundstage, pinpoint imaging, frequency extremes explored and fully realized, with equal weight given to both the low frequency and high frequency percussion. That led me to another common 210 RT theme: audible soundstage width that exceeded the speaker's physical placement, combined with stage depth that punched through my front wall. Images sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, a brilliant vivisection laid bare, allowing the listener to “see” all.
Oscar Peterson Trio "You Look Good To Me" the piano took the lead in this song and I could hear accurate instrument tonality, which is an acid test for any speaker aspiring to be high-end. The 210 RT gets a solid "A+" in this regard.
Peter Schilling, Dann trügt der Schein "Major Tom" once again showed the ability of the 210 RT to articulate challenging midbass notes, as demonstrated by the bass guitar as it took over as lead instrument at 0:53 mark, hammered home with the killer fret-climbing riffs. Schilling’s vocals were front and center, bigger than any other instrument on the stage, making itself known as the REAL lead instrument in this song.
Golden Earring, The Continuing Story Of Radar Love "Radar Love" reinforced my initial willingness to cycle through old favorite songs. Live sound realized, I was taken from my room and transported to the event, making me feel "there" from the comfort of my own home.
My last (for the purpose of this review, that is!) 2.0 channel listening demo was Sepultura's “Orgasmatron." This track nailed down one very important JTR impression for me. Jeff Permanian knows bass and builds it into the 210 RT. This song nailed all of the bass cues, especially when it came to double kicks at the 3:43 minute mark. I had to do like I’ve done with most every track
listed here (gotta make sure I heard what I thought I heard!), rewind, listen again and go “WOW!”. Not only deep, but left/right feet kicks were well-delineated. Good job, JTR!
Two channel TV viewing (Narcos), was cinematic. The staging was just as with music, as it should be, wiiiide with nicely placed images. Switching to 5.1, I integrated the 210 RT into my existing surround system and it proved extremely satisfying. Left and right pans were so large that it made me realize I need a much bigger screen than what I have to do the soundstage justice. Those of you with large acoustically transparent screens will love the scale these speakers are able to create.
Playing Gorillaz Demon Days on DVD in 2.0 had a spacious soundstage, wide and deep. The JTR placed images appropriately, even seemingly inappropriately, shockingly wide on "O Green World." The faux vinyl scratching appeared well outside of the left speaker, almost knocking down the wall!
Next, I watched most of Thor: Ragnarok (Netflix) in 5.1, up until the end when Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" backed the climatic bridge fight. I let the scene play in 5.1, then paused, engaged Reference Stereo on the pre/pro, and watched it again. I was drawn right back into immersion, quickly forgetting that I was watching a movie in 2.0, so much so that I let it go to the end of the show without considering a reversion back to surround sound.
People often ask about the difference between a music-only or theater-only system. What if you can only have one? My final mixed music/movies impression is that, for people squeezed for space or wanting to start out with a 2-channel system as a base for moving up later into surround, the 210 RT is a solid, one-size-fits-all recommendation. A pair gives an audio soundscape that is large in scale, plumbs the depths and hits any SPL requirements one might need. I went on a sans-subwoofer sabbatical at the end of the review period that involved no surround channels or subwoofers for both music and video. Yeah, sure, I missed the first half octave sometimes, but the time coherence was spot on and more than made up for any last little bit of bass energy that might be missing, way down low where a small percentage of actual program material explores. Yes, subs can matter. Yes, they are beneficial when properly integrated. Yes, add subs when needed. The 210 RT helps mitigates the need and most people will not need them at all. The fact that the speaker achieves this distinction at such a low price point places it in a category all to its own. To all of you apartment/condo/townhouse dwellers: look no further. This is a speaker that does it all without the subterranean disruptions that can upset a neighbor (considering sane volume levels, of course). And if you want to cut loose and shake the floor, just crank the amplifier up and enjoy.
With the rig I have, I found that medium/high levels were hit with aplomb and 99% of listening needs were met. For that last 1%, I went to a high pass crossover with subwoofer augmentation simply because the distortion of the 210 RT is so low and the power handling capability is so high, adding biamplified subs takes a good thing and makes it a little better.
Just to prove the prowess of the 210 RTs, I invited a guest over and let his eyes feast on the imposing front end of my media room (which includes dual subs and a center channel). I then secretly fired up the 210 RTs in reference stereo mode and let the sound wash through the room, only to inform my guest that the center channel and subs were OFF. Inevitably, he had to stand up and check for himself. Yes, these speakers are that impressive.
The 210 RT's basic presentation is natural, laid back a bit, but not so far back as to be excessively recessed. That means the listening position at home emulates what you'd experience a few rows back from a stage at a venue. And that's what high fidelity is all about. Wide as can be, the JTR's had my head turning in an instinctive attempt to focus on particular images that popped in and out of existence in my listening room. Vocals are given their own spotlight separate from other instruments, brought forward in the mix for leads or recessed into the background, as proper imaging on a real-life stage would be. Like I said, the stage is wide and there is a lot going on. Listening to music on the 210 RT is akin to watching video on a huge screen.
Listening to your favorite songs for the first time, the right way, is great fun and that's what these loudspeakers do differently from almost everything out there. Certainly different from anything anywhere near its price. The JTR Speakers NOESIS 210 RT rates highly and should top a list of considerations for music and home theater needs.
JTR Speakers NOESIS 210 RT Specifications
- Frequency: 38hz-24khz (+/- 3db)
- Sensitivity: 95db (2.0 volts, free air)
- Usable Output: 128db (calculated peak 131 – 3db compression)
- Recommended Amplification: up to 2000 watts RMS (program)
- Impedance: 4 ohm
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 43″x12.25″x16.5″
- Weight: 125lbs
- Construction: 24mm, 18ply, void free, Baltic Birch
- Standard Exterior Finish: Matte black lacquer paint
- Connectors: Binding Post
- Warranty: 5 year Manufacturer defect
- tesseract Senior AdminStaff MemberThread Starter
- Nov 12, 2016
- Likes Received:
- Lincoln, NE
AV Equipment List
- Emotiva XMC-1
- Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 2
- Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 2
- Dayton SA1000
- Sony BDP S590 & Pioneer DV-610AV
- JTR NOESIS 210 RT - L/R mains
- Chase SHO-10 - Center
- Chase PRO-10 - Surrounds
- Chase VS-18.1 x 2 - Subwoofers
- Vizio E550VL
- h/k TC35C/Ortofon Super OM10/Pro-Ject Phono Box S