Jadis Diapason Luxe Integrated Amplifier Page 2

The result is something that sounds especially inviting, appealing and beguiling – far more so than you'd expect from most similarly priced solid-state designs. The Diapason Luxe goes about reproducing music in a completely different way to most mainstream amplifiers, one that's strongly appealing to a certain type of listener and/or music fan. On the other hand, it has conspicuous limitations that mean it is not for all. Perplexingly however, it often makes the listener forget these, to the extent that even ardent valve critics may be left grumpily admitting that it sounds 'rather gorgeous'.

Take Sting's 'Englishman In New York' [Nothing Like The Sun; A&M Records CDA 6402] for example. There is so much about this song that annoys me; as a former Police fan, I've always thought it to be glib and false, the singer going through the motions. Yet the Diapason Luxe made me sit down and listen, grudgingly, and I rather enjoyed the experience.

It does three things particularly well, all of which were showcased by this excellent quality recording. First, this amp has a lovely tone. There's no getting around it for everything is imbued with a silky texture that's not too overdone. The hash, mush and grain of so-so amplification is nowhere to be heard here and, instead, one focuses in on a wonderfully pure and natural vocal presence. What's more, the timbre of instruments such as saxophones and drums is also beautifully carried.


Seen from underside is PSU transformer [bottom centre] and two audio transformers [bottom left/right]. Note ALPS volume/balance pots [top right], local input switching [long rod], WE WCAPs [red] and Vishay caps [dark blue]

Ethereal Feel
Second, despite its lack of power, the Diapason Luxe images extremely well. I found the different elements in the mix floated before my very ears. Switching to the German Physiks HRS-130 speakers – which are highly revealing of stereo space and ambience – I felt there was a slight vagueness at the very centre of the soundstage, but it wasn't an unpleasant effect. Rather it gave the recorded acoustic a slightly ethereal feel, one that was enchanting in a way few 'plain vanilla' amps might achieve at this price, power notwithstanding. Its handling of The Cocteau Twins' 'Lazy Calm' [Victorialand; 4AD CAD 602] only reinforced this. A beautiful mid-'80s ambient recording, it proved as spacious as it was tonally sweet.

Time And Motion
Thirdly, this amplifier does that archetypal tube amplifier trick of making music flow. The aforementioned Sting track sounded annoyingly jaunty, forcing me to keep listening when normally I'd have reached for the stop button. The contemporary psychedelic pop/rock of Syd Arthur's 'Coal Mine' [Apricity; Harvest Communion Records COMM158], with its heavily syncopated rhythm guitar and snare drum, and unusual time signatures, saw the Diapason Luxe knitting the music together better than most amplifiers I've heard. Instead of trying to reproduce the last tenths of the track's dynamics, it settled into a subtly compressed but infectious groove.

Ask an audiophile to describe the stereotypical 'tube sound' and they'll very likely paint a picture of this diminutive Jadis amp. Direct competitors such as PrimaLuna's 40W EVO 300 [HFN Mar '21] show it a clean pair of heels with a good deal more grunt, powering along tracks like Simple Minds' 'Someone Somewhere In Summertime' [New Gold Dream; Virgin 32VD-1038] with more gusto and drama. Yet it just doesn't have the sheer charm of the baby Jadis – super as it is, there's less of a sense that you're in the presence of greatness.

Indeed, the Diapason Luxe seemingly sprinkles a little magic dust on everything it touches, and it is special stuff that's normally only the province of truly high-end designs. And this, in turn, rather cleverly conceals the amplifier's limitations – provided you keep the volume control well away from '11'. At modest-to-reasonable listening levels it's really not so obvious that you're auditioning an 'inexpensive' valve amplifier.

So I loved what it did with the first movement 'Allegro Ma Non Troppo' of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony [EMI Classics 0946 2 75812 2 3]. The sweet string tone was a joy to behold, as was the expansive recorded acoustic with its surprisingly decent stage depth. Only on those big orchestral crescendos did the Diapason Luxe display its modest means, otherwise the music seemed always to sashay along in highly infectious style. Colour me addicted!

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Rather than attempting to be all things to all audiophiles, the Diapason Luxe is unapologetically a baby Jadis valve amplifier. Its low power output is an issue, but you'd know this if it was on your audition shortlist anyway. So it's neither a direct rival for powerful solid-state integrateds or do-it-all budget valve designs. Instead, you get a charming sound that's not strictly accurate, yet still lovely to listen to.

Villedubert, France
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909