Audes Jazz loudspeaker Page 2

A big problem remained: The sound came distinctly from the two enclosures—even with mono sources. I found myself listening to the Jazzes standing up, walking around, or passing through, but seldom when sitting down in the "sweet spot," because the sonic image had no center-fill at all. I can't tell you how frustrating it was to have two speakers, each of which sounded decent independently, that just wouldn't talk to each other.

The solution was suggested by my preference, independent of other variables, for spacing the Jazzes farther apart. The hell with the manufacturer's recommendations and standard practice—I switched left for right, so that the tweeters were outboard, and started over.

Da capo
Again I powered up the Bel Canto eVo2s, and again the Jazzes swung into action with the Ray Brown DVD-A. But this time, we were rolling. The Jazzes' wide-range sound was now enhanced by center-fill and a sizable spatial presentation. Instead of Ping-Ponging instruments, Ray Brown had an ensemble.

The overall sound was balanced, fairly smooth, and decidedly not "hi-fi." The bass was full but not truly powerful or extended. Not that I missed sub-40Hz bass on anything other than stress-test recordings. Ray Brown's double bass was excellently rounded and weighty, with good definition. On Scelsi's "C'est bien la nuit" (Simax Classics PSC 1136, footnote 1), Björn Lake's bowed bass fiddle was even more impressive, especially for a speaker in this price range, since it requires a careful balance between bass and midrange levels. The midrange was pretty much a nonissue, with male and female voices balanced between weight and sibilance, and with good detail.

Treble detail was adequate without noticeable brightness, but from time to time a piano note or similar sound would jump out, suggesting some irregularity in the overall response. This was confirmed when, somewhat unreasonably, I turned up the volume until there was a shift from smoothness to a little hooting in the crossover region. For example, Hilary Hahn's recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto (Sony Classical SACD SS 89649), which has just won a Grammy as I write this, was clear and powerful, but the Jazz could not be pushed loud without Hahn's violin jumping out from the orchestral ambience. As long as I stayed below this threshold—and unless I'm torturing speakers or listeners, I do—dynamics and balance were just fine.

Spatial presentation, with Variations 6 and 8 of Britten's Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (Simax Classics PSC 1111), was quite good in the longitudinal axis, with decent depth and fill between the now-reversed speakers. Laterally, the soundstage was adequate, but barely extended beyond the speakers. Still, all things considered, the Jazzes presented an excellent re-creation of a chamber orchestra in a fairly rich reverberant field.

Is that all there is?
The above comments apply to the Audes Jazz when driven by the Bel Canto eVo2 monoblock, which is among the most powerful and neutral power amplifiers I've ever used. The eVo2 is a bit more amp than the Jazz is likely to be mated with in the real world. A single stereo eVo2 was equally successful, as was the McCormack DNA1 Rev.A. In no case was there any problem driving the 4 ohm Jazz, as judged by the relatively low settings of the volume control on my Sonic Frontiers Line-3 preamplifier, compared with those used for the 8 ohm Revel Studios.

Footnote 1: All of the Simax Classics tracks cited in this review are from a marvelous demonstration sampler, Ensemble Highlights Collection 1 (ECL 20031), from the Swiss electronics firm Ensemble. This CD, compiled from the Simax and Aurora catalogs, consists of 18 tracks of classical excerpts ranging from solo instrument or voice to chorus and chamber orchestra: no headbanging or augmented symphony orchestras, but consistently lovely and revealing sound.
US distributor: Audes USA
58 Winding Brook Drive
Matawan, NJ 07747
(732) 921-1241