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Jadis Orchestra

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40 watt - valvole EL34 - 6550 - KT90


2350,00 € anno 2008 - Punto vendia di Sbisa' Giovanni e c snc Via Grosoli 6 41012 Carpi MO tel 059-685054







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My system is analogue based. Since the Orchestra does not have a phono stage, I had to install one between the Well-Tempered Table and the line-level inputs on the back of the amplifier. I contacted Chris Johnson at Sonic Frontiers and he was happy to loan me one of their new Phono 1 dedicated phono stages (full review forthcoming). My Lyra Lydian cartridge has an output of about 0.4mV, so I requested a Phono 1 with 62dB of gain - the maximum possible. This turned out to be more than enough in combination with the 28dB gain of the Orchestra and the high sensitivity of the Quad ESL-57 speakers. I used my reference Kimber PBJ interconnects between phono stage and amp, and Kimber 4TC speaker cables.

If any of you were wondering whether the $2495 price of the Orchestra includes a Jadis active line stage, the answer is no - the Orchestra's pre-amp section is entirely passive. That's not really an important issue, however, because the amp is dead quiet and has enough sensitivity to easily handle digital sources straight in. Regarding phono noise, the Phono 1 gain stage is a champ and is a formidable accompaniment to the Orchestra.

What is it like to listen to the Jadis for the first time? It's like going from an English four-banger to a car with one of those quad-cam sixes that the Japanese seem to excel at putting in their top-line vehicles. This is a piece of equipment that is grainless and effortless to listen to; utterly smooth and timbrally true to nature. It simply sounds more like real music than anything I've heard outside a show setting.


The EL-34s aren't triodes but, if properly applied as such in a circuit, they can exhibit surprisingly good linearity, approaching that of the real thing. And they have guts too, with the verve and dynamism of forty push-pull Watts that sound more like one hundred - something I'd expect with the unit running in high 'A/B' bias. What I didn't expect was the relatively cool-running chassis and transformers. It runs hotter than my old ST-70 and certainly hotter than the KT-99a tubed Sonic Frontiers SFS-50 I used to own, but nothing to be alarmed about by any means. I have to say I was slightly skeptical about leaving the Orchestra powered-up while I wasn't in the room for the first few days, but I soon came to realize that this is a stable and reliable piece of hardware. I'm now in the habit of leaving it on all the time, even when I'm out of the house without any concern at all. I leave the Phono 1 on constantly as well, so the whole system is fired up, and ready to roll whenever I am. For those less daring, I must say that from cold, the sound of the Orchestra improves after about one hour. I found this a subtle but noticeable change.

The first record I listened to after the system warmed up was the ensemble Tashi playing Takemitsu's Water Ways (RCA ARL1-3483). It opens with two harps calling to each other across the soundstage. Then a vibraphone joins in. I'd never heard the treble floating above the ESL-57s with such purity and integrity. Soon other instruments further down the sonic span join in: piano, clarinet, violin, cello, trombone, horn, and bass drum. The bass is surprisingly firm and powerful.

The Orchestra possesses an extraordinarily smooth balance throughout the spectrum, providing a stronger impression of live music than I have yet experienced with the Quads. The power level seems to suit the ESLs well, the soundstage is expansive, and they sound dynamic and full, especially in the mid-range. This amp has a superb and enchanting midrange, which I speculate is the result of the harmonic balance that Jadis has purposely tuned into it.

By reducing the output of the Phono 1 slightly, I discovered that I could listen to that pop war-horse, Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat (Cypress Records LAT1227), with the gain control wide open. The emotion that the singer pours into the poetry of Leonard Cohen was revealed with new conviction and candor. The moment in Bird on a Wire where Leonard Cohen doubles behind and an octave below Warnes, is remarkable for the grainless resonance of the bass voice. Even the most impassioned moments on Joan of Arc are handled with ease and the impression of great power in reserve.

As I grew accustomed to the sound of the new components, I became aware of the extraordinarily low noise floor they exhibited. I once thought noise in an audio system meant 'tube rush', or that muted sizzle that cheaply made solid state amplifiers spew when there's no music signal and you've got your ear up to the speaker. These artifacts should be inaudible at normal listening levels, right? I've learned that the problem of noise is much subtler. It invades and infuses the music with something that irritates and whispers, 'turn it off, turn it off…' somewhere in the back of my brain. There was none of that with the Orchestra. No grain, no etching, no brittleness. Just, to quote Charles Baudelaire (poet and hashisheen), "Luxe, calme et volupté".

Jadis has a remarkable entry-level product here. It completely puts to rest the myth of Jadis reliability and affordability. It is on an entirely different plane from other audio components, and I suppose, in the end, that is what Jadis is all about. Their pursuit is music and the most natural reproduction of sound they can possibly achieve. Don't be afraid to treat yourself. Life's too short.




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