JO 45 Stereo Loudspeaker
Being ostensibly a full range unit there's no need for a crossover, and indeed the loudspeaker comes with captive cables (using Chord Epic Twin), hardwired onto the drive units and entering the enclosure through an airtight aluminium marine deck gland (sourced from Index Marine based in Poole, Dorset).
Overall, the quality of build and finish is absolutely excellent, with cabinetry to shame virtually everyone else in the industry.
In essence, it's an 'easy' speaker to listen to in the sense that it's musically communicative and direct. There's little feeling of artifice or contrivance; instead it just plays music in a fluid and fun way. For example, The Police's 'Roxanne' was conveyed with tremendous brio – the JO45/1 just gushes enthusiasm. It was a joy with Miles Copland's machinegun drum work, which it counterpointed brilliantly with Andy Summers' rhythm guitar playing. With no crossover and no other drive units to time align, it all came gushing out from one pointsource at the same time. The result is great prowess rhythmically, and a really lucid vocal sound too – again this sensitive region is unsullied by a crossover putting its proverbial hobnail boots in and mixing things up. All this made for a very enjoyable rendition of a track that fizzed with energy, yet which can often sound as if it's had the life sucked out of it.
Moving to some classic jazz funk courtesy of Alphonze Mouson, and 'By All Means' sang like a bird auditioning for the dawn chorus via the JoSounds, the speakers setting up a firm bass guitar line that was wonderfully fast and fluid.
I was also struck by the definition to the snare drum, the JoSounds showing excellent transient speed here. At the same time, those metal cones gave a lovely tonal rendition of the rasp of the brass section, along with imparting its rhythmic importance of the song in a highly erudite way. All the various instruments in the mix sounded wonderfully syncopated, making it pure pleasure to listen to.
As you might expect from a single drive unit loudspeaker, they're exceptional in terms of imaging, making any conventional multi drive unit box loudspeaker seem vague and muddled in this respect. Mozart's Symphony 29, 'Allegro Moderato' (Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras) on Linn Records showed how well these speakers could convey the spatial dimensions of the recording venue, with orchestration placed with pin-point precision left to right, and a good deal of depth too.
Just as it had done well with the brass on Alphonse Mouzon, so it carried the texture of the massed strings with skill here. Again I noticed I could hear the 'tune' of the music in a very direct and unmediated way.
Again the JoSounds really grabbed me and pulled me in to the event, in the way that most box loudspeakers cannot.
....they can make music quite magical. The result is an articulate and erudite speaker, and one that's quite unlike pretty much any other at its price. Well worth auditioning...
- David Price, Hi-Fi World, September 2011
JO 33 Stereo Loudspeaker & JO 20 Sub-Woofer
Here we will address one of the intermediate (there are still more superlative versions of these speakers, equipped with a field coil driver), which remains the flagship of the brand.
It integrates in the centre of its "wheel" a wide-band driver of Germanic origin, very high-end, extremely expensive and high-performance. It renders all frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, with a sensitivity of 96 dB which makes it ideally adapted to tube type triodes (KT88, see push-pull 300B). The loudspeakers, weighing 95 kilos each, remain totally undaunted regardless of the playback volume, which can reach indecent levels without the slightest acoustic accident.
As we said earlier, no need for exceptional or complex electronic components. The source, one Musical Fidelity M1 Clic and a M1 CDT CD drive. M1 Clic serving as a preamplifier, directly attached to ICON AUDIO MB 90 MK II mono block tube amps (KT120), used in Triode mode. Ultralinear mode is not used, though it produces higher output power, it does so at a lower qualitative level. The loudspeaker efficiency is such that it does not need much power to produce high sonic output.
We spent a good part of the day listening to the JO 33/1 in the company of the Big Sub subwoofer, which takes kicks in below 50 Hz. No auditory fatigue after several hours of playing at very high levels, we want more !
Our first impressions indicate a very dry sound, with a surgical side that only the very lightest coned drivers can provide. The thought that we had on the use of bamboo is confirmed, there is absolutely no colouration related to the enclosure, which remains totally inert.
The objective of Joe Jouhal in terms of sound stage is reached. It is stable in space, and especially is not over-represented. All proportions are kept, the instruments have their proper place and fair size: a bass kick-drum does not sounds like a 3 meter diameter Japanese drum. This is an extreme example, but previously experienced.
Having no phase anomalies, gives a rather surprising result in terms of the placement of voices. Where usually they are placed at the level of the speakers, they are, in this case, tens of centimeters above the transducers. This completely detaches the music from the enclosure and adds even more realism to the whole. The performance of the artist is completely independent of the technical and material reproduction, and enclosures are forgotten, such that by closing the eyes, there is no detectable point of sound emission. Better yet, on the live by Mylène Farmer in the France stage (a rare recording, track "Interlude - Avant que L'ombre"), we had the impression of being in a multi-channel installation!
These loudspeakers are fast, very fast, and the often difficult exercise of a closely miked piano recording, the knocking of the hammers on strings is explosive. Same observation on stringed instruments, where the micro-details related to the friction of the bow jump to the ears and reinforce the impression of natural reproduction that we already had.
The loudspeakers were being accompanied by a subwoofer, Big Sub, that is a large piece of furniture and runs in true stereo, we could not resist to put it to the test. We chose a high definition recording of a Nordic organist Iver Kleive. On one of the tracks (Om nogen til ondt meg vil løkke), Iver Kleive pushes somewhat on the pedal and launches a sheet of infra-bass that leaves 99% of loudspeakers on the market on the tiles. 33/1, not filtered at the bottom of the spectrum, valiantly attempted the exercise and the Big Sub reproduced improbably low frequencies without toil or showing any signs of saturation or pounding of cones. Ultimate test, the end of 1812 Overture (of Tchaikovsky with Erich Kunzel in command) comprising of real cannon able to instantly destroy most classic loudspeakers, has been rendered with a striking realism.
Then, the subwoofer was cut to allow the 33/1 the possibility to express themselves only on their range of operation. Various musical styles were passed, including recordings completely without dynamic compression, which can be dangerous for the speakers. Bet won by Joe Jouhal, any musical style is rendered accurately, as the artist would have wished it. It is important to note that such versatility is a huge advantage when several people use the system, for example the already seduced wife.
Finally, without a subwoofer and listening to pieces using the lower part of the sound spectrum, 33/1 proved to have exemplary linearity, with a totally tight bass without any "boom boom" effects.
Joe Jouhal has worked 23 years, at highest levels, in computing and was thanked in 2007 with a nice pay-off. Rather than getting deflated, Joe, fired by passion, wanted to evolve the reproduction of all styles of music, both in terms of the performance and of design.
JoSound loudspeakers (other models will be detailed soon) are timeless objects, by far and wide like none other available in the production market. The technical choices here do not obey a requirement of simplicity or obscure marketing constraint, and took months and months of successful or unsuccessful trials to achieve a result that corresponds to the idea of music that Joe has
- Thomas Mancio, CineNow.Fr, June 2012 (approved translation)
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