Jadis Orchestra Black integrated amplifier Page 2

Happily, those and similar sounds became more listenable after my first week of daily listening with the Orchestra Black. During that time, I ran it in by playing background music (while I edited other people's copy). Then, while playing the new Blue Note Tone Poets LP reissue of Lee Morgan's Cornbread (Blue Note/Music Matters BST 84222), there came a surprisingly sudden moment when the notes I was hearing simply refused to be ignored: Muzak time was over as the Jadis grabbed my ears and said, "Listen to the timing of [bassist] Larry Ridley! Do you hear the subtle tension he's putting into every line of this bossa nova beat?" It was true—as were the physical presence and tonal beauty of Morgan's trumpet. The Orchestra Black's sound and its music-making abilities both made the leap from pretty decent to wow.

Last month, in his review of the Pass Labs INT-25 integrated amplifier, Herb wrote about the joys of listening to the Culshaw-Solti Wagner Das Rheingold (3 LPs, London OSA-1309), a historic recording that's also among my favorites. Heard through the Jadis, the opening E flat of Wagner's prelude, introduced by the double basses, had a distinct pitch—it wasn't just a deep noise, as I've heard through lesser amps—and it came across with very good weight, just shy of the best I've heard. As the E-flat in the double basses grew and was joined by a succession of other instruments (including a B-flat from the bassoons), the Jadis allowed that sound to grow in physical (spatial) size, drawing itself up like the relentlessly flowing water the music was meant to represent. The plucked strings and bubbling bass clarinet figures that follow Alberich's entrance weren't as physical as through my reference preamp and amp, but the scene's dramatic tension was put across and maintained very well: Again, this was compelling music—not background sound.

Later on, I used the now-broken-in Black to replay the Grumiaux Trio's Haydn LP and heard note attacks that were now more rounded yet no less precise. Also immediately noticeable—and enduringly, pleasantly so—was the Jadis integrated's much deeper soundstage compared to that of my Shindo electronics. At first, I took this as evidence of a more distant, less close-up sound, but that proved untrue: Some instruments and voices were no farther from my listening seat, yet others were now seemingly a considerable distance away. Scale was very good if not top-shelf.


While listening to the Benjamin Britten/Peter Pears/ London Symphony Orchestra version of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius (2 LPs, London OSA 1293), something about the Jadis amp's playback characteristics drew my attention to the harp, a key instrument in the work's introduction. Each plucked note had pretty good—not top-shelf, but perfectly satisfying—physicality of attack, but even better decays: maybe a slight bit too much overhang, but in a pleasant, musically consonant way. And the physicality of those notes: Wow! Every one was gorgeous, every one a mini event.

When it came to reproducing the sound of the strenuously played orchestral bass drum in this piece, the Jadis did not disappoint: The lowest notes had plenty of power and reach and a slightly frightening physicality. "The output transformers are obviously up to the job," I scribbled.

On the recording by the great mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker, with the Melos Ensemble of London, of Chausson's "Chanson Perpétuelle" (LP, L'Oiseau-Lyre SOL 298), Baker's voice was reproduced with very good presence and physicality. Her tone seemed to lack a bit of lower-midrange richness, yet its highest registers were unstrained, even in the piece's forte passages.

The very best I ever got from the Jadis-DeVore combination? Without question, that would be the utterly stunning way the amp played "Three-hour vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways" by the Max Roach Trio on their eponymous 1965 album (LP, Atlantic/Speakers Corner 1435). In this number, all three players—drummer Roach, bassist Art Davis, and pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali—attack their instruments with complete abandon. Hearing clearly the upper-limit dynamics of this shockingly good (and shockingly unbright) Tom Dowd recording requires a stylus that will stay in the groove and an amplifier that won't run into trouble. I had both. The Jadis acquitted itself with poise and control but also with color, texture, and extraordinary levels of involvement. The Jadis didn't just reproduce this number—it played it.


I tried the same recording during a brief window in which I got to hear the Jadis drive the new Rethm Maarga loudspeakers (reviewed in the March 2020 Stereophile), in which tones below 120Hz are reproduced by internally powered subwoofers. The results were a different presentation compared to the Rethm-DeVore combo: The soundstage was both wider and deeper, both considerably so, and the sound of Art Davis's bowed bass on the weirdly lovely "Hope So Elmo" was a little drier, yet what I took to be the greatest strengths of the Jadis—its ability to punch as well as deliver good color and texture (the latter a little too much so at times, but never to the point of artificial grain)—were all in place. The only drawback: The Rethms' treble range preferred the Shindo and Air Tight amps. The Jadis never sounded harsh through the Maargas, but it was a little dry.

My fondness for the performance of the more expensive Jadis Orchestra Reference MkII is a matter of record—and I enjoyed the sound of the less expensive Orchestra Black at least as much. As to whether the new model sounds distinctly and decisively better than the old, I can't say, as I didn't have them here at the same time for a head-to-head comparison. Were note attacks a hair more crisply precise through the Black—and was its sound just a shade more textured (realistically, pleasantly so)? Maybe.

Or maybe it's a case of economization bias: Maybe I'm reacting, positively but unconsciously, to the happy happy news that this amp is more affordable than its shinier stablemate by an amount of money that could buy, say, a brand-new Denon DL-103 phono cartridge, with money left over for a nice dinner out. That's a forgivable "maybe."

Whatever the case, I'm left in the enviable position of telling you: This one is at least as good as the other one, maybe better, and it costs less. Very strongly recommended.

Jadis S.A.R.L.
US distributor: Bluebird Music Ltd.
310 Rosewell Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4R 2B2, Canada

tonykaz's picture

It's still too dam much but it's getting close to tempting!

Another exciting piece of audio literature in the form of a product review.

Nice work

Tony in Venice

ps. Can someone Pleaaaasssseee contact Art Ferris and do a review of one of his latest Modulus Pre-Amps?

mmole's picture

...We shook hands at the N.Y. Audio show last fall. Since then I’ve purchased two sets of headphones and two phonostages, that were all DOA. Either you passed your curse on to me and you are now free, or what you have is communicable. Even after the current crisis is over I think I’m going to have to practice social distancing from you.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Orchestra Black is smiling even more than Orchestra Reference ........ See, Fig.6, in measurements :-) ........

shawnwes's picture

I'm commenting after only reading the first 3 paragraphs. That was the best intro ever to an audio review. You've always been one of my favourites but man you almost had me guffaw-ing!

windansea's picture

Loved the opening of the review.
"Dream of Gerontius" shows up in many of Art's reviews. Alas, I cannot say that I share his affection for the work.
I would have liked a bit more about the choice of tubes. Why 12AX7 rather than 12AU7 for instance? And which mark of 12AX7 and EL34s were selected by the maker?

Pretzel Logic's picture

C'mon Art, you should know that enjoyment of Pimms requires you throw some random fruit and a, uh, uh, cucumber in there with it.

Anton's picture

Great price, really, and seems like splendid performance.

Perfect for my demographic niche in this hobby.


Ortofan's picture

Is $4K really such a "great" price for an integrated amplifier that can only put out 14W into an 8Ω load (and only 6W into a 4Ω load) before the distortion level hits 1%? And one that lacks a built-in phono preamp and/or DAC?

The measurements beg the question as to what you are really hearing - the music or noise and distortion?

The $1,600 Denon PMA-1600NE won a Hi-Fi Choice comparison test:

Of the $3K Parasound Halo HINT 6, KM said it "worked well with every speaker I threw at it" - including the DeVore O/93 - and "I can't think of another integrated amplifier that offers so many options and has such solid, generous sound."

Also, both of these amps include a MM/MC phono preamp and a DAC. What more do you really need?

Anton's picture

I certainly hope you are not feeling coerced to buy it.

I don't like built-in DAC or phono preamps, preferring to handle those to suit my own wants.

I have nothing against the Parasound, either. It's not a purely binary hobby, I can love more than one approach.

I hope you get a chance to do some fine measurement listening today!