Well, about a month ago, my Mastersound Due Venti went on the nod. I listen to music a LOT, so I was mortified. Scrambling for a temporary replacement, I discovered(much to my dismay) that all of my other amps(FM Acoustics, Quad, Bryston) were tied up in the studio. So.., not knowing what else to do, I shot an email to Duke Lejeune, the owner of AudioKinesis and the designer of my Jazz Modules to see if he had an amp kicking around that I could borrow until I got mine back. Duke is , without a doubt, the nicest guy I have ever met(too bad that he is currently in truck driving school instead of doing hifi full time), so without missing a beat he told me that though he did not have any amps around, save the one he used to demo his speakers(and to listen to).. he would be more than happy to order something for me. (he mentioned Jolida because he has an account there, knows all of the guys, etc) so, I had him order a Jolida 102b integrated amp(push-pull , 25WPC). Duke, being the amazing guy that he is, had the guys do the special "Factory Hotrodded" edition(basically stock components are replaced with Rikon resistors,Angela polypropylene resistors and high speed Hexfred diodes).. not only that, he had them bump up the shipping, and I got it one day before Christmas!
the amp was easy to set-up. Bias is adjusted via 4 pots on top of the unit(no taking it apart to get to the bias), and the instructions for the Bias process are clear and
concise. tube component-4 x EL84, 2 x 12AT7, 1 x 12AX7.
I let it warm up while wife , daughter and I went out caroling. When I returned, I popped in "Cantate Domino"(proprius SACD, a Christmas Favorite) since I am very familiar with it. The first thing I noticed(and yes, my foot is firmly in my mouth, I dont mind admitting ), was that the Jolida was very, very different from the mastersound, perhaps due to its push-pull provenance.. The Mastersound, while also tube(SE) has a very clean sound, with an unusually extended top and bottom, it is perfect for me as it has all the benefits of say a good solid state amp("fast", good transient attack, low noise, transparent) with no trace of the hardness. The Jolida was very, very different in that it has a very thick, honey-midrangey sort of sound.. it sounded like my vision of what a "token" tube amp would sound like, very euphonic, laid back . pardon my expression, "warm". I also noticed that, with the Jolida, the background noise, the "space", reverb tails, etc around the performers had moved up a few notches on the order of merit..... The highs and lows do not seem to be as extended as with the Mastersound, but it is only in passing that I mention this. I was too caught up enjoying my listening time to notice any problems.
The Mastersound seems to bring all the music forward, while the Jolida 102b brings out the atmosphere. Id compare it to sitting in the say...10th row, center vs the 25th row, center. both good seats with very different perspectives.
Considering that the Mastersound is around 4,000 USD and the Jolida is around 700 USD, I am very, very happy with my new toy. It will most definitely be sticking around.