Jadis Eurythmie II loudspeaker Page 3
While pear-shaped is what I've used to describe the lobe of sound, it should be understood that sitting within that fruity lobe, the apparent soundstage for the listener was truly enormous in all directions. Unlike a pear, the rear of the soundstage never appeared narrower or smaller than what was heard at the front. Interestingly, the Eurythmies' sound off-axis as we moved about the loft was always pleasurable and musically fulfilling. It wasn't at all a head-in-a-vice experience.
Due to this projective nature, then, plus the system's transparency, some few over-indoctrinated audiophile typesat first blushfelt that sounds were coming a bit too recognizably from the speaker itself. But as I bid them listen further (Kathleen rubbing their tense shoulders, perhaps, I introducing a relaxed state with the rubberized 20 Pound Test ScullMallet, I'd watch as they'd relax into the music, seduced by the beauty on tap within the huge acoustic.
Because the presentation's spread and sheer musical breadth was often just beyond belief. Swapping amps, 300Bs, and wires all produced subtle shifts and balance changes in the sound, but the Eurythmies always projected before them an enormous, wide, free, airy, open, and above all acoustic soundstage. What a delight.
A tweak by any other name
What review would be complete without a nod to the three Shun Mook Monks? In this case, they arrived for a flash visit shortly after the French contingent had left. Alone at last? Not for long. After an intensive afternoon of listening and tweaking, we wound up with 10 Mpingos per side, located at strategic points about the Eurythmies with transfer tape. It would be beyond the scope of this review to illustrate their positioning, but any Eurythmie II owner can contact the magazine for details.
Two improvements stood out from the rest. The bass sounded tighter, deeper, better pitch-differentiated, and altogether more interesting with Mpingos in place. The other outstanding effect was on the tweeter. One disc behind each assembly, pointed to 11:00 and 1:00, tamed a certain slight aggressiveness that would, untreated, pop up from time to time on poorly recorded digital source material.
There are sure to be those of you who feel that at this price, one shouldn't have to do anything to an audio product. If you feel that way, there are a number of other high-end efforts to choose from. But I'll wager there are enough of you out there looking for total refinement who are willing to work for it. And that's what the Mpingos get you for your investment. Take what's there and make the small adjustments that bring it to full flower. You can certainly enjoy the Eurythmies as they are, or you can bring them into the top of their performance envelope by tuning and choosing the right associated components.
So, just what is the Eurythmies' performance envelope? As with speakers of whatever design, the Eurythmies needed time to break-insomething on the order of a hundred hours, minimum. Perhaps it's the very small movement of the compression drivers, coupled with the large excursions required of the double 15-inchers in the bass module, that's the cause.
The quality and power of the bass were very much dependent on which amplifier was driving the boat, along with the setting of the crossover. In general terms, it was just terrific. The Wavelength's single-tube 8 or 9W provided surprising power and impact in the bass, nicely pitch-differentiated and redolent with harmonics and overtones. Yes, it could be a little less than perfectly controlled around the edges, but tweaking the crossover ameliorated most objections. In any case, there was much more high-quality room-filling bass available than with the Reference 3As.
As for the Jadis amplifiers in the bass, they always had me thinking to myself, These simply can't be only 10 watts! They presented an attractive, tight, punchy, interesting, but not overwhelming, bass register. While deep, strong and well-controlled, don't imagine that it sounded like what the Kraft 400s or the LAMM Audio Labs M1.1s do down under on the Avalons. At lower volume levels, no matter the amp, the bass was somewhat small and lacked impact. Twist the JP80MC's ganged volume controls into the low-moderate to high range, and the bass was right there with you, providing the foundational underpinnings of the music in a very satisfying manner.
The Audio Note Kasai had the biggest bass of all the single-ended amplifiers here. I'll tell you all about its special qualities in a full review upcoming. The Aww-shucks Cary 301SE also made a nice-sounding, satisfyingly chunky bass. In all cases, we're talking real bass that never needed apology. (The active tubed crossover to come should paint a phenomenal picture in the nether regions!)
Moving up from 180Hz into the horn array, I'll begin by saying the integration of the upper-midrange horn (at the speaker's waist), with the small horn tweeter above it, along with the lower-midrange horn located deep inside the large upper structurethe butterflywas fantastic. I was never aware of any unseemly or disorderly progression from one driver to the next. (You need to put a little space between yourself and the speakers to achieve this integration howeverin our case, the listening chair was about 10½' from the Eurythmies.) The acoustic energy always sounded truly continuous and seamless. No transducer at this price, assaulting the very top of the statement product arena, could do otherwise. Importantly, this included the 180Hz crossover region where the bass module hands off to the horn array. Get the setting right, and it was as well-integrated into the overall acoustic as any moving-coil ever managed.
So what's the sound of this multitude of horns in the midrange and highs? Just...plain...wonderful. The exact quality, texture, imaging and tonal balance depended on the driving amp. The Wavelength could sound pure and startlingly pellucid, all subtle nuance and tonal shadings. Depending on the front-end and the software, the mids might sound lavish and warm to cool and transparent, but always with a complete lack of grain and of such integrity, in terms of musical presence, that you too may become struck dumb.
The Jadis amplifiers sounded just fabulous in the midrange and up; inviting, oh-so-musical, detailed and nuanced, with some kind of sexy mad exuberance of presentation that was positively infectious. You want to dance with the Jadis; know what I mean, jelly-bean? And perhaps wrap your arms around a bit more tightly than you might doing the rhumba with cousin Pearl.
And these glories of presentation are the Eurythmies' pleasures to bring you. The highs, as a separate issue, you ask? Let me sum it up for you. Oooo-la-la. Come to me, my leetle cabbage...They could be...sweet, charming, attractive, glamorous, sexy, come-hither with those bedroom eyes, er...depends. More detail as I describe the Jadises' sound. Suffice to say, the Eurythmies, in spite of the different nature of their presentation, are Reference Transducers from the point of view of the sound I enjoyed in the Ribbon Chair. ('Cor bless me if the measurements stink!)
Another huge difference in comparison to the Reference 3A Royal Master Controls was in the area of dynamics. This should come as no surprisethe single-ended amplifiers were only using a portion of the first watt or two with the highly efficient Eurythmies, with the occasional foray into the upper reaches of the power band only for the most demanding of passages. It was a chore to get any single-enders wired up to them into clipping mode, although it could be done with enough perseverance. My ears usually gave up before the amplifiers did.
Listening to the Mahler 4 with Solti and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (London ffss "Blueback" CS 6217), my listening notes (that I can decipher!) tell of a powerful and encompassing bass, but also of a sense of scale and impact that breathed life into the music. I'd credit the Eurythmies with doing "scale" to a remarkable degree, rather than limiting the description to a function of how good its bass or dynamics were.
Listening to Heifetz tear his way through the last movement of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the CSO (RCA LSC-2435) shows off this sense of scale and impact to a wondrous degree. Listening to Jascha's blazing reading, it was obvious the Eurythmies were able to expand the music out into am exciting, living, breathing, palpable and dynamic musical entity, brilliantly highlighting tonal contrasts and dynamics in both the micro- and macro- senses.
I heard this dynamic, soaring and exuberant through-the-pores feeling whether listening to the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Serkin, Laredo, and Parnas (Columbia "two-eye" MS 6564), or Ellington's Jazz Party in Stereo (Columbia "six-eye" CS 8127). But even on less over-the-top dynamical material, say the Poulenc Sonatas on a two-record set featuring such notables as Jacques Février, Yehudi Menuhin, and Pierre Fournier among others (UK EMI EMSP 553), smaller dynamic contrasts and expressive subtle nuance was there to experience and enjoy. Truly, grist for the horn mill.
And lastly, before turning our attentions to the beautiful Jadis SE300Bs, let's cover the Eurythmie's imaging. Within the context of the projective nature of the soundfield, the Eurythmies image in a world-class manner. As I suggested in my review of the Wavelength Cardinal XS monoblocks (January '96), single-ended triode imaging is somewhat different in nature than typical push-pull. That is to say, the special closeness one feels to the musical event is accomplished by single-ended's concentration upon the origin of the acoustic event, and its diffusion into the nearfield about the performer. Imaging, as an object in itself, is less important than the subtle communication of the overall acoustic event.
Given this enhanced harmonic triode slant, and given the Eurythmies' abilities to communicate this special musical presence, it must be said that they also managed to image like bandits. Perhaps not with the scary solidity of the Avalon Ascents on push-pull (champions at this, by the way), but damn close.
For example, a recording that requires a speaker with strong imaging, detail, and harmonic bloom is a French CD of Mozart's 12 Duos for Basset Horns, K.487 (Capriol/ADDA 581041). Let me tell you about the basset horn from the booklet. "Copies made in 1984 by Laurent Verjat and Giles Thomé after an instrument by Friedrich Cabriel A. Kirst (17501806) of Potsdam, now in the instrument museum of the Paris Conservatoire. The instrument is made of boxwood with ivory ferrules, equipped with 6 keys. Two 'ravalement' keys for the right thumb have been added for the fundamental or pedal-notes. The bell is made of copper."
The bizarre-looking instrument pictured in the booklet resembles a left- handed sewer-flute that Tomer, rather, Ed Norton would be happy to own. Ahhh, but the sound and the music are simply divine. Here we have a fairly specific imagea single instrument playing in acoustic spacewith the detail of the clacking keys, the ambient information of the caressingly reproduced fundamentals and harmonics diffusing into the nearfield, and the reflective nature of these sounds as they interact with the space of the original recording venue. All elements combine to deliver a breathtakingly musical experience of absolutely the first order.
Whatever else the Eurythmies do, irrespective of their horn design, they surely image superbly well. I don't think you can say that of past horn designs, where imaging (or lack thereof) was one of the key faults cited by critics.