JansZen Valentina P8 loudspeaker

Although I retired as Stereophile's editor-in-chief at the end of March 2019, I still have an ongoing connection with the magazine. As well as contributing reviews and measuring the audio products that are being reviewed, I prepare the magazine's content for republishing on its website. So when JansZen Audio's David Janszen contacted me about reviewing his Valentina P8 loudspeaker, I looked through my back issues to find reviews of JansZen speakers that could be posted. The earliest review I found was by Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt, of the JansZen Z-600, in December 1966, which you can now find online. Gordon uncharacteristically gushed over the Z-600: "We have lived with a pair of Z-600s for several months now, and our initial enthusiasm for them has not dwindled in the slightest. They provide the clearest, most musically natural 'window' to the sound of any generally available under-$1000 system we have ever heard."

Although it was branded as JansZen, the Z-600 was manufactured by the Neshaminy Corporation. The JansZen connection was that it used two square electrostatic tweeters, mounted side-by-side and licensed from Arthur A. Janszen, who had presented a paper, "An Electrostatic Loudspeaker Development," at the Sixth Annual Convention of the Audio Engineering Society in October 1954. (His paper was subsequently published in the first issue of the JAES and reprinted in the journal's anthology, Loudspeakers Vol.1–Vol.25 (1953–1977).) Arthur Janszen subsequently joined KLH and was responsible for the legendary KLH Nine full-range electrostatic loudspeaker, which Gordon Holt reviewed in June 1966, subsequently writing, in 1968, that "this is probably the most nearly perfect loudspeaker we have tested until this time."

Neshaminy ceased operation in the 1970s, KLH was purchased by Kyocera in 1982, which decided to stop manufacturing audio products (footnote 1), and Arthur Janszen passed away in 1991. The JansZen Audio company was founded by David A. Janszen, Arthur Janszen's son, to honor his father's legacy.

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The Valentina P8
This full-range, floorstanding loudspeaker costs $9250/pair. Like the Z-600, the P8 uses two electrostatic tweeters, but here they are mounted one above the other in the center of the front baffle forming a panel measuring 7" wide by 16" high. Unlike other electrostatic loudspeakers, which have a dipolar radiation pattern, the P8's panel is loaded with a sealed subenclosure. Two 8" dynamic woofers handle frequencies below 500Hz, one mounted above the electrostatic driver, one below. These, too, are loaded with a sealed enclosure, which the JansZen Audio website says results in the best transient response, minimal group delay, and the best integration with the ESL array. The woofers' level can be increased or decreased by 3dB with a rear-panel switch. The level adjustment is performed using an autoformer rather than a resistive L-pad, which is said to maintain damping factor and cone control.

The electrostatic driver uses a diaphragm with a thickness less than 1/15th of a sheet of 20lb paper—"lighter than the air it is driving"—and is energized with 66-element, parallel-wire, stator electrodes, these supported by an injection-molded ABS frame. The two halves of the ESL panel are canted relative to one another, one tilted slightly backward relative to the baffle face, the other slightly forward. David Janszen explained in an email that this "opens up the vertical listening window from pretty much zero to more like 5° at 10kHz by breaking up the tall aperture." The ESL panel employs what Janszen calls "a half-split, 1.5-way" feature. This controls dispersion by reducing the effective width of the ESL unit. In conjunction with the capacitance of half the panel, a series resistance creates a first-order low-pass rolloff at 5kHz from each panel's inboard half—"dead simple and yet effective," said David Janszen. A rotary level control on the rear of the enclosure allows the ESL panel's level to be reduced by up to 6dB. The AC power supply for the ESL drive unit is agnostic about wall voltage.

The Valentina P8 is supplied with a previously optional feature, the "airLayer." An auxiliary 1" silk ring-dome tweeter is mounted outboard on each speaker, firing sideways toward the near sidewall. A rotary control at the top of the rear panel allows this unit's level to be adjusted from its maximum to completely off. Other than the airLayer tweeter, all the drive units are concealed by nonremovable grilles.

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Electrical connection is via a rhodium-plated, solid-copper Cardas dual binding post. The review samples were fitted with the biwiring/biamping option, which adds a pair of conventional binding posts. The JansZen's well-braced enclosure features a 2.5"-thick, poly-and-wax-finished hardwood baffle, with profiled vertical edges. The other walls are 1" thick. The P8 needs to be tilted back so that the center of the ESL panel is aimed toward the listener's ears. To this end, the enclosure is mounted at an angle on a hefty base, which sits on rubber feet or carpet-piercing spikes.

Setting up
The primary music source for this review was my Roon Nucleus+ feeding audio data over my network to an MBL N31 CD player/DAC, which was connected either to a pair of Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks or the Luxman M-10X stereo amplifier, which I reviewed in the May issue. The JansZen speakers were single-wired with AudioQuest Robin Hood cable.

With its three level controls, the tiltback of the baffle, and the side-mounted auxiliary tweeter, optimizing the Valentina P8's setup proved complex. Fortunately, the extensive manual offered useful advice. It advised that, as shipped, the tiltback is correct for a listening distance of 8'–13' with an ear height of 39". It recommends using a mirror taped about 6" from the bottom edge of the rectangular grille with a piece of tape centered on the bottom of the mirror. Sitting at the listening position, with your head facing forward, the tilt is correct when you can see your right eye or ear at the marked position on the mirror. My listening distance with the speakers set up where the low frequencies sounded best-balanced was 10' 6". If I sat up straight, my ears were exactly on the intended axis.


Footnote 1: The KLH brand has been resurrected. See Ken Micallef's review of the new KLH Model Five, which includes a succinct history of the company.
COMPANY INFO
JansZen Audio
480 Trade Rd.
Columbus, OH 43204
(614) 448-1811
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
RH's picture

I've been waiting for Stereophile to review the Janszen speakers! They have always intrigued me, not only from the excellent reviews and user reports, but due to their approach to using electrostatic panels in a sealed box design.

To that end, the only thing that disappointed me in the review is that I didn't see addressed what to me were the intriguing questions about such a design:

What does the Janszen design sound like relative to other electrostatics or box speakers?

Does it still have an electrostatic speaker character? Or more of a box speaker character? Or something in between?

Electrostatic speakers have a reputation for sounding particularly "quick" and vivid especially with transients, along with that famous open-window "boxless" sound.

For me (and I know many others) there is also a sort of signature to most regular electrostatic speakers where, as vivid and boxless as they sound, there is a lack of palpability, of air-moving density, that you get with a typical box speaker. It's a bit more ghostly-sounding vs flesh and blood. You hear more than feel the sound.

I've always wondered how much this has to do with the use of electrostatic panels per se, vs the fact they just have no box, and also operate as dipoles which can energize a room differently.

So I wonder if the Janszen approach of putting the panel "in a box" edges the sound more towards a box speaker (including that added density and presence), so you get a sort of melding of box speaker/electrostatic sound, or if it still sounds like an electrostatic dipole speaker, with all the usual characteristics one hears in electrostatics.

Any comment on these comparisons, Mr. Atkinson?

Cheers!

MattJ's picture
Quote:

For me (and I know many others) there is also a sort of signature to most regular electrostatic speakers where, as vivid and boxless as they sound, there is a lack of palpability, of air-moving density, that you get with a typical box speaker. It's a bit more ghostly-sounding vs flesh and blood. You hear more than feel the sound.

Good description. I haven't heard any electrostatics other than Martin Logan's, but that summed up pretty well my reaction to them. I guess I'm not used to that type of sound, but it seemed kind of "hollow" to me.

MikeP's picture

KMD Orchestalls Reference speakers made in South Korea
"The World's First Speakers that Sounds Like LIVE MUSIC"
www.kmdeng.co.kr/KMD/elementor-1042/
More info on You Tube !

Jack L's picture

Hi

Really? What a HUGE claim !

KMD claims their products "faithful to make ZERO energy loss" from electrical signal to audio signals.

Technically, how can any dynamic drivers like those made by KMD achieve "zero energy loss" in converting electrical energy to sound energy ??
This is physics, my friend.

KMD also claims their products were "The World's First Spealers that sounds like LIVE MUSIC. That's a huge claim !

I wonder how KMD defines its "Live Music" ?????

Listening with own ears is believing

Jack L

MikeP's picture

They were using very cheap gear, cables and CD Player too !!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtrziEh2S6s&t

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