Jadis JPS8 and JA50 Page 2

Once a few teething troubles were solved by the inestimable Pedro Jorge-Luis of UK distributor Absolute Sounds, and I'd allowed the amplifiers a long run-in period, I was thrown back to a time when Jadis was a name on everyone's lips. As the brand now languishes in semi-obscurity, it's easy to forget that less than a decade ago, it was one of the most desirable of high-end marques, especially in the USA.

But if Jadis suffered a fall from greatness, it deserves a comeback. Why? Because the product itself never stopped being 'great'. It's baffling only in that it'll sadden those who still believe that a sublime product can transcend fashion, inept distribution, cretinous reviewers, retailers or other non-sonic challenges. It's to the brand's credit that it continues not only to survive despite undeserved tribulations, but to excel in the crowded and competitive field of high-end valve amp production. Even a brief lesson will reveal that the JPS8/JA50 combination is so special as to be breathtaking.

sqnote The Full Reveal
Once the system was warmed up, I sat down with some subtle and delicate recordings, mainly vocal, certainly intimate and – above all – supremely well-recorded so as not to cause distraction. They were as pure as I could find, given my lack of either a phono stage or an open-reel tape deck with balanced outputs. The results weren't merely staggering... they were downright revelatory.


A classic push-pull amp, the JA50 monoblock uses two EL84, two ECC83 and two KT90 valves while KT88s or 6550s can also be employed. Unlike the JPS8 preamp, which comes with its valves in situ, here the numbered tubes must be installed into their sockets by the user

I'm as guilty as any of ignoring Jadis. My last hands-on experience was exactly five years ago, when I reviewed the company's 'budget' range, the Orchestra series. In the interim, I've heard some truly luscious sounds from some of the world's most respected manufacturers. Meanwhile, there was Jadis, producing some of the most luscious of all, a sound as golden as the company's preferred trim colour. Now the lesson has been learned, and I confess to being deeply embarrassed. This stuff should not be overlooked.

Take the midband, for starters. You know damned well that no valve amp, however good it might be, will ever match the sphincter-tight bass available from big solid-state amps, that Incredible Hulk-grade 'slam' is the province of the transistor. So you think 'horses for courses', and address the prejudices I mentioned in the beginning. If you don't like tubes, look elsewhere. If you bang head, ditto. But if you wallow in vocals – sweet and feminine or textured and masculine – and think that strings are the instruments of the gods and find that nothing tops a good ol' piano for satisfaction from a solo instrument, this Jadis combination could be your vehicle.


The JPS8 preamp sports knobs for left and right volume alongside a source selector for CD, Tape, Tuner, Aux 1 and Aux 2. The unit contains four EL84s, four ECC82s and two ECC83s

Butter Believe It
For me, Jadis has redefined the concept of 'intimacy', a session with it being truly a deux. You hear the 'air', you almost feel a presence. To create this sensation, first the Jadis duo has to showcase that midband in a convincing space. I've always known Jadis as a brand with a penchant for and skill in recreating three-dimensional soundstages. Whether through the WATT Puppies or the LS3/5As, the amps produced a fabulously deep and enveloping stage which extended in front of and behind the speakers in a way reminiscent of Dave Wilson's overhead drawings (in his audio journalist days!), a big fat oval with the speakers in its middle. Feed it a choral group, sans instruments, like Alison Krauss' 'Down To The River To Pray', some King's Singers, or The Persuasions, and you have the basis for experiencing one of those 'I can't believe it's not butter', in-the-room events.

I dug out vintage doo-wop, Simon & Garfunkel, loads of Temptations. This package doesn't merely handle voices: it caresses them. It's a champion of the midband. But, you're possibly musing, that's Kessler saying that the frequency extremes suck. Uh, no. The bass, while hardly a match for the Tri-Vista or even the C2200/MC2102, was actually more to my taste; regular readers might know that I'm not obsessed with weapons-grade lower registers. Clearly, Wilson's Puppies were neither taxed nor threatened. Then again, neither was I dissatisfied.


The preamp's separate power supply unit is connected via a multi-pin umbilical cable. Inside the casework can be found an EF86 valve and a KT90, which is mounted horizontally

Heady Company
Logic suggests that, should you be so enamoured of bass that you need something 'more', you look either to transistors, or to the JA50's bigger brothers. But then there's the treble, that zone where aggravation can be an issue, where softness can lead to disappointment. It's here that we start talking tubeware, an area where solid-state doesn't get a look-in, and it's why valves continue to exist in the 21st century.

The extreme treble is silky or diaphanous as required, yet pin-sharp and precise, too. I'm currently undergoing a Clapton jag and the Jadis amps handled both his liquid electric guitar playing and his gutbucket acoustic blues with finesse and grace, such that I sat through three discs in a row.

The JPS8 and JA50 combination is one of the most musical and satisfying pairings I've ever heard, vying with the all-Nagra package, mint Radfords, Marantz's Project T-1 and original Futtermans. Heady company, which almost makes the prices – £5900 for the JPS8 and £5890 for a pair of JA50s – sensible. But I'd feel a helluva lot better if they were made in the UK or USA.