It’s an amplified remote-controlled wireless-tower speaker configuration that should appeal to listeners that want something more than the typical receiver or component speaker systems that most of us are using and have been with us since the 1950s.
The Model 50/Jamaica Active Speaker System fills a unique space in the world of hi-fi, giving you a well matched speaker/amplifier system with the amplifiers built in to the speaker cabinet. One can debate whether a matched speaker/amp is a real world advantage, but the output of the Jamaica Active Speaker System is of very high quality and easily provided realistic sound at medium or high sound levels. The sense of space and three-dimensional sound was there, not always something easy for a speaker to accomplish.
- All the NSMT Loudspeakers Model 50/Jamaica speaker needs is a sound source. There are inputs for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optical devices and of course analog.
- Apple AirPlay® DLNA, Hi-Fly App compatible
- Lovely cabinet work
- Speaker looks good with the included grille or without it
- Very wide frequency response for music, but home theater use might require a subwoofer
- Spikes for carpet mounting are included
- Included speaker cable is too short for some installations
I’ve reviewed speakers from NSMT before, specifically the Chorus Wireless speaker system, which sounded quite good but was less ambitious in terms of fidelity. NSMT has always been well regarded for speaker design, and now they seem to want to create speaker/amp designs that will meet the needs of some audiophiles with special use cases. The Jamaica speakers are also available without amplifiers.
NSMT has been around a long time. Founded in 1990, it was originally known as NSM Loudspeakers. In the 1990s the name changed to NSM Audio. In 2011, the company name was changed to NSMT Loudspeakers, but has continued under the same ownership since the day it was founded.
Since most audiophiles likely have amplification in their systems, I doubt the Model 50/Jamaica Active Speaker System would be a first choice, while the non-amplified version should be on your shopping list. I see the Model 50/Jamaica Active Speaker System being the center of a newly created listening room or space, or for someone who has source components like a high quality CD/Blu-ray player and wants a single manufacturer integrated system with speakers and amplifiers.
2 x 30 Watts RMS (Class D)
AUX 1: 2 x RCA, AUX 2: 3.5mm Stereo, S/PDIF Optical: Toslink
Dual 5-way binding posts, RCA LFE (subwoofer) Output (80 Hz Xover)
115 ~ 230 VAC, 50/60 Hz, 80 Watts
V4.0 + EDR, Class II
Bluetooth Audio Profiles:
aptX, A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP
2.4 GHz, Apple AirPlay® DLNA, Hi-Fly App compatible
Signal to noise ratio:
42 X 9.5 X 8.75 (H X W X D)
28 to 20,000 Hz
60 lbs. each
red birch and satin black
NSMT, powered loudspeakers, amplifiers, stereo speaker systems, Model 50/Jamaica Active Speaker, Loudspeaker Review 2019
It’s probably a good idea to define ‘wireless’ here. These speakers require wires, first to an AC outlet, and then to connect the two speakers together. The 60 watt stereo amplifier is inside the left speaker, as are all the connecting terminals. The speakers are heavy; the shipping weight was about 60 pounds. I’d estimate the speakers themselves at about 55 pounds. Getting them into my listening room required a hand truck and then careful unboxing.
The speakers are nicely constructed tower speakers. They use a proprietary short dual transmission line design. Drivers consist of 2 8-inch paper cone woofers and one 1-inch soft dome tweeter. NSMT says the speakers are time coherent, with a minimum phase design. The speakers are an attractive red birch with satin black grilles. The speakers seem inert. Rapping on the side of either tower revealed no resonances, just a solid ‘thunk’.
Physically, the speakers can be floor mounted, and NSMT provides outriggers and spikes for each speaker to help with placement on carpeting.
There is a back panel on the left speaker with all the connections you need to get source components working. Inputs include AUX 1, which uses standard RCA analog connectors; AUX 2 uses a 3.5mm Stereo jack. There is also an S/PDIF Optical input. The Jamaica system also supports Bluetooth with these formats: aptX, A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP. Bluetooth has a range of about 30 feet. I wondered how I would pair a Bluetooth device without a screen, but the included remote has a BT button. When in pairing mode an LED behind the speaker grille flashes, and goes solid when pairing is completed.
To complete the wireless options, there is Wi-Fi, supporting Apple AirPlay® DLNA, and the Hi-Fly App.
NSMT describes the Jamaica Active Tower Speakers as a “two-way, time coherent simulated point source design that uses our proprietary short dual transmission line (DTL) cabinet technology to provide powerful bass performance limiting the need for a subwoofer.” The speakers are a two-way design, with a specially designed crossover that operates in a frequency domain outside most of the musical spectrum. The idea is to reduce the effects of a crossover, keeping phase anomalies to a minimum, and increasing the accuracy of the musical presentation.
The Jamaica Active Speakers also offer a subwoofer output, useful mostly if the speakers are part of a home theater system. The speakers come with a smaller-than-a-credit-card size remote that can control power, volume, mute, input selection, and play/pause/skip tracks when playing from a Bluetooth device.
As mentioned, the speakers are a bit unwieldy due to their weight, but I placed the boxes horizontally on the floor and slid the speakers out. Everything was neatly packed. The boxes contained a manual, a quick setup guide, and a nice explanation of setting up stereo speakers for the best results. The guide also discussed using the Jamaica Active Speakers in a home theater configuration.
When I got the speakers in their proper left and right places, I plugged the AC power in and then connected the supplied speaker cable between the left and right speakers to get them a signal. I also attached an audio server to the Aux 1 analog inputs so I would have a variety of high resolution and CD quality music to listen to.
I must pause for a word about the provided speaker connecting cable. It’s too short. The most length I could get between the speakers was seven feet. I would expect a proper cable that would work in just about any room should be about 15-20 feet in length. I’m not sure what the NSMT people were thinking with that short cable, but a $2500 speaker system should come with a longer cable. I made my own cable to get the speakers the right distance apart for my room.
I turned the power on, and saw the little blue LED light come on indicating the amplifiers were on. This is all done with the small remote NSMT includes. I had a few issues with the remote. A few times lowering the volume raised it instead. Also, it sometimes failed to respond to the mute command, even though I was only about 10 feet away and pointing at the front of the left speaker where the remote receiver is. During another listening session, I powered up the speakers, and then turned on my source which is always on Aux 1. There was no audio. I powered down the speakers, powered them up again and the audio was there. I suspect the remote is a bit underpowered, and if I was a user with a universal remote, like a Harmony, I’d teach that remote the commands and hope to have more reliable control of the speakers. The no audio on power up is a bit strange. It usually worked fine, but not always.
For my listening I put the speakers 10 feet apart on a long wall in my listening room, using my own speaker cables.
Listening was a joy. I auditioned a variety of music including jazz, rock, acoustic folk music, classical including symphonic large-scale works and more intimate quartets and choral music. In all cases, I was very pleased with the sonics of this system. Strings were very smooth, as were high frequencies from cymbals and other percussion instruments. Plucked strings on guitars were very lifelike. I did not opt to plug a subwoofer into the system, wanting to see how the bass sounded with no augmentation. I felt the bass was clean, with clear, non-distorted output down to at least 40 Hz.
The built-in amplifiers certainly allowed robustly loud playback without strain or distortion. NSMT says you use the speakers in a bypass mode without the internal amplification and they can be driven quite loudly by even a 1 watt amp. I did not test this, but clearly the speakers are very efficient and can be driven to undistorted high levels with the provided 30 watt per channel amplification.
Some of the highlights of my listening included:
This is a lovely and mystical work for chorus. The sound spreads nicely between the two Jamaica speakers, with perfect center fill. You can hear some front to back depth, as well as the room acoustics. It’s a tough test for any speaker system, and the Jamaica’s passed with no strain.
This is a wonderful acoustic and vocal album that again demonstrates how well the Jamaica system can recreate the sound of a live performance. Vocals never sounded ‘boomy’ or ‘boxy’, an artifact many speakers display. The voices sounded decoupled from the speaker enclosures, and simply sounded realistic. Plucked strings had excellent dynamics and again, they sounded ‘live’.
I listened to the track ‘Outer Space’ for the classic film, The Day the Earth Stood Still. This is a new recording of the score that mixes an orchestra with electronic music. The bass is very deep, while the percussion had impact. The Jamaica’s again were able to provide lovely center fill between the speakers, giving a very coherent soundstage.
This album was remastered in high-resolution. The standout track for me is ‘Moonlight Shadow’. It has voices, and a mix of electronic keyboards and acoustic instruments. The Jamaica system again provided a realistic spread between the speakers, as well as obvious front to back depth cues.
This is a bit tricky, because there are not a lot of amplified speakers in this class to compare the NSMT LOUDSPEAKERS MODEL 50/JAMAICA ACTIVE TOWER SPEAKERS to. Given the sound quality on offer, and included matching amplifiers, I would judge the speakers to be an excellent value.
- Excellent build quality
- Included outriggers and spikes are nice to see included
- Excellent sound quality with all types of music
- The phase coherence and design give solid imaging
- Very good documentation and setup advice
- Integration of wireless protocols is very nicely done
- Longer speaker cable to allow more flexible setup
- Remote seems flaky at times, and must be pointed with care, so a re-think of the remote is in order.
I liked the NSMT Loudspeakers Model 50/Jamaica Active Tower Speakers very much. They are first rate performers, and competitive with other speakers in the price range. I even tested them against my beloved Magnapan MG III panel speakers. Although they are 20 years old, they are still my benchmark for realistic sound. The Jamaica’s held up well, and although a very different design from my dipole Maggies. I found the Jamaica’s to have a very similar open and airy sound. This left me with the impression that sound was not coming from the speakers, but that my rear wall had come alive with a 3D presentation. This is exactly what good stereo should do, and a tribute to the NSMT Loudspeakers engineers work with phasing and the special crossover design.
I did not use the Jamaica’s in a home theater configuration, as that would entail mixing them with other speakers. I did listen to a couple of good movies with excellent sound in 2-channel mode and found excellent directionality and good, but not spectacular low bass. Movies I watched included the new 4K release of First Man and The Prestige, which has stunning bass and highly directional sound. If I were using these speakers in a surround home theater, I would plug in a subwoofer to get the deepest bass notes and sounds.
This powered tower system is not for everyone, as I stated earlier in this review. I think most of our readers in the market for speakers will have good receivers or high quality amplifiers. So the use case for these speakers is perhaps someone setting up a new listening room and who needs only a source or two. Having said that, these speakers are available in an un-amplified version, and I would urge our readers to consider them to replace speakers in an existing system.