Jadis Eurythmie II loudspeaker Page 2
"A horn speaker's design is based upon calculations that determine the correct shape to amplify a certain range of frequencies. Hence our optimized four-driver system: Bass, Mid-Low, Mid-High, and Treble." See, it's Franglais, but it gets the point across. "With the Eurythmies, the bass crossover frequency of 180Hz allows a maximum of fundamental tones to be reproduced by the horn transducersthe pitch, the treble clef, and the bass clef are present in frequencies from 180 to 800Hz. We have therefore prioritized this range and kept the advantages of a drum..." (that's a dynamic moving-coil driver, which they dub isodynamic) "...for the bass range. That's the best compromise if you want to have a speaker with reasonable dimensions, that is transportable, and has a pleasant aesthetic. Too many concessions would have to be made for a bass horn. Of course, restitution with a horn in this range is the ideal solution." But of course...
They're not small: about 60" high, with a width at the front face of almost 28", and a similar depth at the base. In spite of their size, they don't visually overpower the room.
"Above 180Hz the horn system is in three-ways to respect some important design parameters such as directivity control and distortion. The Mid-Low horn (180Hz to 700Hz) is separate from the Mid-High horn (700Hz to 7kHz) in order to improve directivity and to get away from reverberation problems. (It is better to minimize the effect of the room because reverberations confuse and mask some information). The Eurythmie's directivity is perfectly controlled and optimized, and is more marked than with other horn speakers."
We'll come back to this directivity issue in a few moments. Wading on through the documentation... "Horn distortion problems are real and you can calculate them precisely. Bad quality horn speakers only add to the subject. A horn working through a too wide frequency range (for example 150Hz up to 7kHz) will compulsorily generate distortions above 200Hz, the high-sensitivity range of human hearing."
We'll ratchet-in now for a closer look at each module.
Bass (up to 180Hz). Here we find an unusually shaped bass-reflex cabinet with two 15" drivers mounted face-to-face in an compound or "Isobarik" configuration. The bottom upward-facing driver is secured to a 2mm-thick wooden baffle, and the second driver is mounted on the other side of the same baffle, facing its twin and wired out of phase for push-pull operation. "They are installed in a push-pull configuration to gain the following advantages: 1) The reduction of a half of the load volume for a moderate floor space. 2) The annulation of the speaker's distortion by phase opposition." Annulation meaning, of course, elimination.
Mid-Low (180700Hz). "The Mid-Low horn uses the same manufacturing technology as the bass cabinet, bent plywood inner sides proper to Jadis." That is to say, proprietary to Jadis. "It is driven by the famous 6½" from Audax which is notable by its moving mass of only 9.2 grams. It fits perfectly for this use, the efficiency reaching 30% (12 times more than with an isodynamic driver.)"
Mid-High (700Hz7kHz). They feel that what's right for a dynamic driver is also right for a compression driver. "The Mid-High is a 1" model with a 4.4mm titanium diaphragm spooled with aluminum wire onto Kapton. The phase plugs are very precisely shaped. The 135mm magnet generates an induction of 7,000 Gauss in the air gap. The horn is made of mahogany plywood and produces no resonance in this range. Its expansion is proper to Jadis and is optimized for this type of driver. It is also notable that a wide horizontal dispersion (100°) is achieved, constant from 1kHz to 10kHz."
Treble (over 7kHz). "The tweeter is a small compression model, with an annular diaphragm and an ultra-light coil of 20mm, not very directive due to the weak diameter of its horn. We can easily understand that this sort of tweeter, excellent in the extreme treble, will not work well from 4kHz, just as in the manner of many other 'normal' drivers. Only the match with a Mid-High horn like the one used on the Jadis Eurythmie, allows the tweeter to work in optimal conditions." Well said, mes ami.
First impressions As you can see from the photo, this is a remarkable-looking speaker, to say the least. I've head it described as resembling a flower, a butterfly, and even a giant tooth! (That was XLO's Roger Skoff...his poetic license seems to have expired.) Interestingly, women fell easily under its spell, preferring the Jadis every one to more obdurate and boxy shapes. They seemed equal parts fascinated and engaged by its agreeable presence as well as the quality of sound it made. Ahhh yes, that's something to do with it also.
Horns have always put me off. I now realize that may have been my preconceptions voiding the warranty, so to say. What I mean is, horns present sound quite differently than moving-coil loudspeakers. I'm accustomed to hearing dynamic drivers in the relative nearfield, fairly well spread apart, in a free-field away from all room boundaries. (For details, see "A Matter of Taste," June '95). This way, even the Avalon Ascents disappear with the same sonic sleight-of-hand as do smaller monitors, like the Reference 3A Royal Master Controls.
We're used to a soundstage that wraps around the speakers, extending somewhat forward, and often way back. And I don't mean recessed, of course. We also, as detailed in June, normally listen against a back wall treated with Harmonix RFA-78 Room Tuning Wall Dots (as is the whole listening area and beyond) plus a pair of RoomTunes angled back against the rear wall just behind the listening position. (See MF's review of the Audio Physic Virgo speaker, September '95, for a cogent explanation of near-rear-wall listening theory.)
But the Eurythmies didn't work well with this setup. They blossomed only when moved much closer to the listening area's rear wall, and when toed-in to converge just behind the listening position, which itself was moved forward into free space about 5' forward from the normal rear-wall listening spot. Actually, we keep another chair against the wall behind the Ribbon Chairit's a valid secondary listening position. The two seats differ in that the forward-optimized listening position is richer, more amazingly ambient, and so airy you can feel the breeze. The rearmost seat delivers a more transparent sound that resembles more what moving-coils deliver: a spread of sound in a more rearward-biased soundstage. After hopping back and forth, most listeners preferred the Ribbon Chair to the rear-wall position.
And we had a lot of listeners. They came out of the woodwork once word got around that the Eurythmies were here. That was fine with meI wanted witnesses, as I told everyone who sat in wonderment listening to the system. While that was fun, one of the more telling moments occurred during a visit by Steve Guttenberg. He'd brought a new Chesky release with him, Nicola Frisardi's performance of Mozart's Piano Concertos 9 and 27 (CD136). It was recorded in the Mozarteum, Grosser Saal in Salzburg, Austria. (A wonderful recording I can recommend to Mozart Kugels everywhere.)
After careful listening, Steve told us the playback sounded the way the music sounded in the Grosser Salle during recording. Hearing that from one of the recordists means something, even from one so polite as M. Guttenberg. Ascribe to it what you will. I can tell you, it made me think about things. For instance, I'd have to say that to this point I've regarded a high-end system's prime directive as recreating the master-tape as faithfully as possible. Somehow, despite the quality and elegance of some of the statement products we've had here for review, my opinion never really changed. But what if that were to change? What if...what if you can get really close to...being there?
Letting that question dangle provocatively in the air, let's get back to the Eurythmies' sound. What put off some audiophile visitors on first listen was the manner in which they project the soundstage before them, rather than wrapping it around themselves as do box speakers. To illustrate, I'll use some impressions gleaned from my notebook. "Listening to Milla's The Divine Comedy (SBK/EMI 8 27984 2), especially the opening of the first track where the phase-manipulated musical effects were stunningly recreated in an enormous ambient field of illuminated sound that, by the projective nature of the horns, existed not wrapped around the speakers so much as wrapped around the listener!
Ah-hah! It's truly an exquisite experience. I feel I've never been so spoiled and catered to by a music playback system as I do at this very moment." Ah-hah, indeed...