Gramophone Dreams #59: the Ojas System, EJ Jordan Marlow loudspeaker Page 2

The Marlow is just slightly larger than my BBC-licensed Falcon LS3/5a (13" × 8" × 7" vs 12" × 7.5" × 6.5")and weighs 6.6lb. Sensitivity is rated at 86dB/2.83V/m. Nominal impedance for the Eikona drive-unit is specified as 8 ohms. Recommended amplifier power is 10–70W.

The standard Marlow I am reviewing is sold direct and costs £1960 ($2626)/pair including free shipping to the US. EJ Jordan offers a deluxe-parts version, the Marlow CE, for £2280 ($3055)/pair. Both are finished in walnut veneer; rosewood veneer is a £160/pair option. Warranty is two years. Disappointed buyers have 30 days to return their Marlows, also with free shipping, for a full refund minus a £30/pair restocking fee.

Listening with LTA's Z10e
When the review pair of Jordans arrived, I made some quick, cursory measurements: In my room, positioned in my small-speaker sweet spot, the Marlows were +4/–6dB from 50Hz to 10kHz. The only anomaly was a 9dB dip at 130Hz. Playing all music genres, including lots of deep-bass dub-reggae and sub-bass ambient jazz, the Marlows went low enough to satisfy my listening needs. Not once during the course of my auditions was my music-listening focus interrupted by a desire for more energy at the frequency extremes.


I had forgotten how much havoc an energy-absorbing, phase-twisting, signal-molesting loudspeaker crossover could wreak. Within minutes of replacing my Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badges with the Marlows, I was stunned by how direct, quiet, and transparent the Jordans sounded. The Marlows evinced a crisp purity that made the Falcons seem a little misty-grainy. Reverb on Areni Agbabian's reverb-drenched album, Bloom (24/96 FLAC, ECM/Qobuz) came through as purer, less homogenized, and more minutely textured with the Marlows than it did through my Falcons.


The Marlow's fundamental character was exposed most clearly while playing Zurich-based composer Nik Bärtsch's composition "Modul 8_11." The last track on Bärtsch and his band Mobile's 2016 album Continuum (24/48 MQA ECM/Tidal), "Modul 8_11" is dominated by bass and percussion. It was recorded by ECM, so there was that special ECM reverb. When I played it through the Marlows, not once, even for a second, did I feel I was being shorted on reverb tails, low-bass information, or treble extension. There was open space in the Marlow's top octave and full, solidly detailed, pounding bass. Leading edges of percussive transients seemed accurately depicted. The Marlows exhibited a pristine, unmitigated clarity that I do not experience with the other speakers in my studio herd. The Marlow sounded dramatically less restrained than my KEF LS50s, DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93s, or Falcon Gold Badges. The Jordans delivered free-swinging dynamics with good, Brit-fi– approved pace, rhythm, and timing.

Powering the Marlow, Linear Tube Audio's Z10e integrated/headphone amplifier sounded faster, cleaner, and more sharply focused than it does powering my Falcons or the DeVore O/93s. In my room, the LTA Z10e made a lively, pleasure-inducing, overtly musical match with the Marlow. A recommendable combination.

With Pass Labs' INT-25
This effect is not subtle: Compared to all other amplifiers in my collection, I experience more reverberant energy when Pass Laboratories' famously transparent 25W (into 8 ohms) INT-25 integrated amplifier powers my Falcon Gold Badge speakers. The source signal, the reverberant body, and its decay tail are all well-described. The LS3/5a's ability to reproduce this musically essential phenomenon is one of the chief reasons I've stuck with them for nigh on 35 years.


Playing Hillary Hahn and Hauschka's album Silfra (16/44.1 FLAC, DG/Tidal), with the INT-25 driving the Marlows, the amount of fine-mist reverb seemed reduced, but it wasn't. Rather, that reverb sounded distinctly different through the single-driver Jordans. The Marlows replaced the misty ephemeral tails of the Falcons' expansive reverb with a denser, more tangibly solid rendition. Through the Marlows, all forms of reverb sounded more visceral.

My life experiences with full-range drivers suggest that when we get rid of the tweeter, especially one that operates below 3kHz, we eliminate a layer of fuzzy, splashy, phasey blurring that we didn't know was there. Sans tweeter, the sound is more direct and accurate to the source.

By reducing mistiness, the Marlows exposed more of each recording's dense core, which in turn placed musicians and instruments more affirmatively (than the Falcons or KEF LS50s for example) in an explicitly rendered soundspace. The Marlows excelled at being clear, solid, and specific.


They also excelled at presenting the delicate tonal filigree of the traditional Norwegian and Catalonian songs performed, on Chants du Sud et du Nord (24/44.1 MQA ECM/Tidal), by singer, composer, and harpist Arianna Savall with her group Hirundo Maris, which includes her Norwegian singer-musician-partner Petter Udland Johansen. With the INT-25 powering the Marlows, the performances of these traditional songs, which link the Mediterranean and the North Sea, appeared in a haunting, fully resonant, precisely mapped soundspace that helped trigger a wide range of blood memories.

I idolize Arianna Savall, the divinely talented daughter of early music deities Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras (Hespèrion XX). Her diverse recordings represent everything I find beautiful, sensuous, and timeless at this point in my long audio and music-listening journey. The modest scale, saturated tones, and intimate, vibrant energy of Arianna's music mates perfectly with the Marlow's modest 4" drivers powering my small room.

What about the 300B?
Once I realized that these Marlows could play more sweetly, cleanly, and delicately than any other speaker I knew, I had no choice but to try them powered by the Elekit TU-8600 single-ended 300B amplifier, which delivers less than 10Wpc. Switching from the pristine purity of the INT-25 integrated, I immediately noticed a small amount of electronic (second harmonic?) haze between me and my beloved Arianna Savall. A similar haze obscured Fred McDowell: The Alan Lomax Recordings (16/44.1 FLAC Global Jukebox/Qobuz). Accompanying this electronic mist was an enjoyable uptick in vocal texture and tone color. The Elekit-Jordan combo made good tone but weak transients. The Marlows made the fastest, freshest bass on the Elekit's high (8–16 ohm) output tap, but, compared to the Pass Labs and LTA amplifiers, bass was less than full density and slightly rounded on its leading edge.

What about the Parasound Halo A 21+?
All bass-response inadequacy disappeared with the high-watt Parasound A 21+ Halo pouring current into the Jordans' exposed voice-coils. From 50Hz to 10kHz, the Marlows sounded fantastically pure. The sharpness of detail and specificity of images was exciting to observe.

With the dCS Bartók driving the big Parasound A 21+ direct—no preamp—into the little Marlows, Chants du Sud et du Nord was hauntingly spacious; detail was distinct and lace-like. The sound was radically clear, but the medieval magic of Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen's inspired performance was overshadowed, or mitigated, by the Parasound-Jordan's emphasis on mechanical precision and enforced clarity. I preferred the more relaxed and colorful presentations delivered by the Pass Laboratories and LTA amplifiers.


Dear Reader
The above-described EJ Jordan Marlow offers a unique form of unmitigated clarity that will not be easily matched by conventional boxes with multiple drivers and crossovers. Its superfocused imaging and extraordinary transparency made recordings sound unusually direct and unsullied.

Nevertheless, the Marlows will not please everybody. Their unique pleasures are, by design, limited in scope: the Marlow's 4" Eikona driver cannot move enough air to sound big, strong, or real. And of course the Marlow cannot deliver commodious deep bass or play loud (footnote 2). I didn't care. The Marlow satisfied my hunger to peer into recordings as directly and excitedly as possible. I fell in love with its petite, truth-telling charms.

If I were not a professional reviewer, I might marry this fetching full-range speaker, settle down, and live happily 'til death do us part.

Earlier in this column, I shared my experiences as Shokyaku in front of a sprawling, gray-painted sound system that is physically larger than most audiophile systems. Devon Turnbull's Ojas system projected a soundfield that was Midwest-stormfront huge. It played music and moved air with a more natural lifelike force than any conventional audiophile system I am familiar with. Better than big, Devon Turnbull's system played sweet, delicate, and thrilling at whisper volume.

I followed this with an expose on a tiny, conventional-looking speaker that played small, never loud, but uber-clear and super-direct with a single 4" transducer.

These two radically different audio systems were more alike than anyone would have expected. Both sounded like fine electrostatic speakers. Both delivered blur-free pictures showing the inner workings of recordings. Both let music stimulate and intoxicate the deeper parts of my brain. Both are supremely well-suited for ceremonial listening.

I could live happily with either. Could you?

Footnote 2: The Marlow's measured performance will be published in the May 2022 issue of Stereophile.—Ed.

thethanimal's picture

That EJ is rather insensitive compared to other speakers based on full-range drivers that I’ve seen. Because it’s tuned for higher excursion to coax more bass out of a 4” driver?

I still would like to hear your take on high-efficiency full-range drivers mated to the Elekit and (borrowed from Steve G?) Decware.

remlab's picture

Just click on "Jordan" to see the different measurements..

Herb Reichert's picture

I've been using a JX92X for over 20 years


remlab's picture

..distortion is on that driver. Literally Scan-Speak levels!

MattJ's picture

The man clearly has no pets! My dogs and cats would destroy that in about 10 seconds. But WOW that subwoofer! Elephants in India probably think their cousins in Africa must be talking to them. O_o

remlab's picture
Look at the price!!

Anton's picture


chtgrubbs's picture

Hey, it says if you buy quantities of to-10,000 you get a 10% discount!

tres hombres's picture

for introducing more music in 1 review than all others in a year - an artist of words for the blind.
Thank you sir.

remlab's picture


Turnerman1103's picture

Poor little Falcon Gold Badge’s . Herb has proven to be a heartless fickle lover . After years of Herb convincing many of us that the Falcon’s were the greatest thing since sliced bread - suddenly in the blink of an eye , his beloved Falcon’s, that he just recently described as “conspicuously grainless ” and “unabashedly liquid “ are now callously referred to as “ misty and grainy” . Herb dumped his faithful little Falcon’s (faster then KK could dump Kanye for Pete D ) for a pair of “ lively pleasure inducing “ Marlows and their “pristine unmitigated clarity “ . Alas , all is fair in love and war ..

Herb Reichert's picture

Those Falcons that sound like headphones will always be my reference — they are my truest love. We are married for life.


Turnerman1103's picture

Thank you Herb - I don’t doubt it ! My “Fickle Falcon” post was all in good fun . I’m forever indebted to you for turning me on to Falcon Gold Badge Ls35a’s . I’ve owned literally dozens of different speakers ( including 3 different sizes in the Harbeth range ) over the years and none have brought me as much joy as my beloved little Falcon GB’s . We shall never part … that is unless Falcon introduces a platinum version lol

Jack L's picture


Sorry, I would NEVER placed anything between the front loudspeakers & "listening chair" & between the left & right loudspeakers!

Acoustically, the music soundwaves should travel from the front loudspeakers to our ears without any obstruction, reflection & deflection in order to get the best livelike reproduction. Anything placed in the way of the soundwave propaganda is undesirable, affecting the sound. Period.

My humble audio+TV system in my house basement is placed some 6ft BEHIND the front standspeakers (including the L & R active subs).

Only the L+R channel active sub is allowed, without choice, to be placed lowly on the floor in betweem the L & R front standspeakers. Thanks goodness, the lead-granules+fine-sand stuffed loudspeaker spiked steel tripods are well taller than the lowly sub box. So the soundwave interference between the L & R standspeakers caused by the centre sub should be redued to minimum !

Not forgetting the music 'softwares'. Hundreds of CDs/DVDs/cassettles are all placed on a DIYed wooden super shallow wooden shelf hung against the left sidewall away from the left standspeakers. My 1,000+ LPs are housed in carton boxes (shaped like those in record stores) placed side by side on the floor against the left sidewall as well. Unaffecting the loudspeaker soundwaves radiation at all.

In a nutshell, NOTHING should be placed between the front loudspeakers & the sweet spot.

Above said, I have seen quite some home audio setups, including my 2 friends large multi-cellular horn+bass boxs, similar to the Ojas setup above. Visual display of the hardwares seeminlgy comes before the sound !

Listening is believing

Jack L

PS: Sorry, mult-cellular horns are not my cup of tea !!!!!

JHL's picture

...I've ever heard came from multicells. And, by current standards, in the least acoustically-correct space and room.

The experience was absolutely exquisite.

Anton's picture

Think of his floor as a diffuser!



Jack L's picture


Whatever you want to name this massive music-wave blocker, be my guest!

Ignorance is not a guilt.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Anton's picture

"Wave blockers!"

As Colonel Kurtz would say, "The horror!"

Heck, think of all those musicians in front of other musicians blocking the musical waves.

You make a great point: some audiophiles are best listening alone with open floor space.

It's interesting some audiophiles just know how someone's system sounds without ever hearing it.

It can be a solipsistic hobby.

Jack L's picture


Yes & no, my friend.

For a concert, the musicians play on the podium overlooking the attendance from a height. So the music blocking will be minimized if we sit not too far away from the podium.

That's why my favourite seat will be some 13th row centre to reduce the frontal music blocking & sound impairement by the hall PA system & hall reverberaton.

At home, there is no podium like a concert hall to raise the audio system to a height to avoid music wave blocking. That's why we should not put anything, not even a coffee table, in between the louspeakers & the sweet spot to get the best possible reproduction.

If you check again my above posts, I never mention about how good how bad would be Ojas sound system as I never heard it. Though I did audition quite a few similar massive large multi-cellular horn systems in different homes with similar pile-up like Ojas's. So far I am NOT impressed yet.

I simply point of the acoustical aspect of the reproduction of the massive hardware there. I can promise if all such massive centre pile-up be removed out of the way, the sound will be much much better. I've done with mine at home with flying colour.

This is physics.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Glotz's picture

is why I love Herb's writing and audio passions... I always learn something new and turned on to new music as well.

Wavelength's picture

The DQ10 used a piezo not a ribbon tweeter. I remember meeting Jon when I was in college as I ran an audio store there. He was a great guy and I think the version we sold was a DQ10-K.

In college (and I still have the letters) I sent a bunch of ideas to Jordan. We built a number of arrays of the 50mm driver with KEF B139 woofers in a bi-amped arrangement. I designed my first circuit board with blue & red tape for a 24dB electronic xover, yes silly, 12dB would have been fine. I was young didn't know better. I had an 8 array 50mm speaker with a super modified ST70 on the top and a solid state 50W amp I designed for the bottom.

Fun times, Herb keep it up good article.

Herb Reichert's picture

but I couldn't bring myself to buy one of those $3 piezos on Canal Street.



Wavelength's picture

But the piezo made it easier to design the xover :) That was the reasoning, all those drivers were making the nextwork too complicated and the piezo made it easy.
I couldn't stand those things. But back then I was making pretty low effecient speakers and higher powered amps (EL34PP and 6550/KT88PP). It wasn't till 1988 that I built SET stuff.

Hope your doing well. BTW I emailed you a while back I have a stack of really old stuff I dug up the other day. Have too much stuff if you want it email me.

Jack L's picture


Agreed. Only a cap with a bypass resistor will do the job.

But piezoelectric tweeter can be horn type & paper-cone type. I would NEVER go for horn type. Sound way toooo horny !!

Even a soprano sounds horny to my skeptical ears.

I'v settled down with Motorola 15D paper-coned piezo tweeter to supplement the infamous Danish SEAS 87H soft impregnated fabric dome mid-tweeter (1KHz X-over frequency) for my KEF front standspeakers since day one decades back.

I chose this mellow sounding Danish wide-dispersion soft dome mid-tweeter to replace that original KEF T15 Melinex dome mid-tweeter which drove me nut with its ringing. Thanks goodness, no more ringing with the Danish dome tweeter.

Yes, I also used my upgraded TRIODED Dynaco ST-70 power amp to drive my passive DIY-bi-wired KEF standspeakers for so many years until I replaced it with my DIYed all-triode 5W+5W SET power amp some 6 years back. SET sounds better than PP, IMO !!!!!!!

It seems we both DIYers share pretty common interest !

Listening is believing

Jack L

Jack L's picture


I thought I was a cheapie enough cheapskate. Yet I won't go for a $3 piezo from those thrift shops.

FYI, the Motorola 15D paper-coned piezeoelctric tweeter is posted on eBay today for $49.99 each. I assume paper-coned piezo should cost much more than horn piezo.

Jack L

Briandrumzilla's picture

Yeah, from that angle it does remind me of "Doc" Brown's giant speaker.

mcrushing's picture

Interesting that you mentioned this system's appeal for art students, Herb. Photos of earlier iterations of Devon's setup (the fireplace was still visible) started appearing in my Pinterest feed a while ago.

Most often, it was posted by people interested in interior design.

Pinterest doesn't always offer much in the way of context, so I had no idea who the system belonged to at the time. Later I came across another amp and speakers unmistakably of the same design aesthetic, this time as part of a gallery installation from artist Virgil Abloh. I'd later learn that setup was Devon's work and that he and Abloh, who sadly passed recently, were close friends.

Devon's current setup looks more 'artist's studio' than 'listening room.' That's a huge plus in my book. I think some folks neglect the roles of the other four senses when it comes to experiencing music. It's the visual beauty of copper coils and vacuum tubes that inspired me to start tinkering lately, and it's also worth noting that my most enjoyable recent listening sessions have been in the company of non-audiophiles.

Seems to me the more inviting I've been able to make my listening space and the less fussy I've been about getting folks into the sweet spot, the more time I've spent enjoying good music, good wine, and good conversation while the album sides get flipped.

Thanks for a great column, Herb. And Devon, if you're reading...a chance to listen to your system is officially on my bucket list.

Jack L's picture


I have visited enough second-hand audio shops having similar massy yet messy hardwares display offshore during my annual business trips years back.

Affordable pricing to get the sales & sound matching good or not is none of those vendors business. Final sales, period.

Jack L

Anton's picture

We used to use "Middle Grey," which IIRC was "18% grey" when framing black and white photos.

I like the speakers' esthetic.

thethanimal's picture

Herb, until I can stop by Bed-Stuy or you can swing through Atlanta I’ll gladly share the virtual tea ceremony with you. I see all your excellent music recommendations this month and raise you Arooj Aftab’s 2021 album “Vulture Prince.” I’m listening in MQA from Tidal right now — meditative soundscapes, shading, dimension, reverb, and a pervasive feeling of longing jump out at me. Evidently she’s based in Brooklyn, so you might be able to find a live show nearby.

Herb Reichert's picture

I am listening to Vulture Prince as I type. You are right I love it – especially the pacing of the songs
keep the recommendations coming


MBMax's picture

...all the angst over acoustics with all that gear in between the listening spot and speaker array, but you know what I like about this?
It looks really, REALLY fun.
Fun gear, ability to flip and change out records quickly, ability to change source, amp, preamp, etc. on a lark, on a whim, on a spontaneous impulse.
Regardless of audiophile "shall-not-be-dones," the system apparently sounds amazing and is just crying out for extended sessions of music with rum or whiskey, conversation and laughter, planning and scheming over other amp and speaker ideas. A little slice of heaven in a really rough world.
And Herb, when you decide you've had enough of the little Falcon ladies, please let me know. In addition to a fair price, I'll even throw in a lovely bottle of your favorite sipper.

RiteofSpring1961's picture

If you really like to hear a single-driver speaker with some decent bass, you need to find a pair of Alpair Super Pensil 12.2ps. I know they're DIY, but they really sing. I built mine two years ago and I'll be hard-pressed to change.

PECwines's picture

Herb - I’ve been interested in the Sibelius speaker from Pearl Acoustics for some time now. They use bespoke 4” drivers in transmission line cabinets of somewhat unusual construction. From what I have read, the Sibelius is an especially good single driver speaker, with bass performance that is much better than expected.

If you can get a review sample I’m sure many here would love to read your impressions. The only drawback is that currently Pearl Accoustics has no formal distribution in North America unless that has changed very recently.

CXB's picture

As usual Herb, your column re-enforces what drives the passion around music and listening and always brings an extraordinary perspective. Thank you