JAS AUDIO THE SOCRATES
It has been more than six years since Jas Audio made their revorded high end speaker Plato showed at the 2006 CES trade show in Las Vegas. But that does not mean the engineers haven't been busy. Many new mid end to high end speakers have been built and tested at the factory, and at the 2012 CES trade show the Socrates where supposed to be reviled, but a tragic event stopped this from happening.
A well equipped speaker with only the best components in the chain:
The AMT Ribbon tweeter has a few challenges in it`s design, and one of them is their ability to perform at lower frequency without over spreading sound waves, the lower the frequency, the wider horizontal spreading pattern, this needs to be tamed and controlled. The upside is high sensitivity, and the most important moving mass to weight ratio that sets a new standard in speed and transparency.
Accuton midrange is a ceramic driver with neodymium magnet which makes sense for mating with the ribbon tweeter. The light weight of the ceramic driver combined with dampening for ringing and harmonic waves will in turn give a sense of speed and clarity much like the ribbon design.
Accuton bass is a sandwich driver with neodymium magnet system for very low distortion, and design to a 100% free airflow from the unit. This combined with 93 DB sensitivity enhances clarity and speed in the bass region. The voice coil former has almost no form for eddy current loss since it is made out of titanium, this will also ceep impedance relatively stabile at 6.6 ohm.
One other upside with the sandwich construction is that ìt is nearly impossible to deform or brake, unlike the ceramic drivers.
The basic Socrates is with bolt on spikes and three way speaker configuration with only single terminal for wire hookup. If you spend a bit more like on this sample, you will have feet with ball spikes or pointing spikes and a wider footprint. Also possible to tri wire the speakers. The X-over network on this sample has the latest components in the chain, and increasing the sound quality further. High grade audio capacitors used in the most important signal paths for the AMT tweeter : German made M-Cap MKP. And the 7" Accuton ceramic midrange driver: German high end grade M-Cap Supreme capacitors. A set off Jas Audio 100Khz super tweeter can be set on top off the speaker, kept firmly in place by the rear rubber feet that is flush with a grove on top of speaker.
AMT Ribbon tweeter : 4" Jas Audio driver
Midrange : 7" Accuton driver
Bass : 11" Accuton driver
Frequency range : 20-40000 Hz
Power rating : 200 W
Sensitivity : 91 dB / 2.83V / 1M
Impedance : 6 ohm
Type : 3-way bass reflex
Crossover Type: HF/3rd order, MF/2nd order, LF/2nd order
Crossover frequency : 220Hz / 1850 Hz
Internal wiering : Doble to triple silver wiring.
Dimensions WxHxD : 37 x 115 x 47 cm
Weight basic model : 80 Kg
Retail price: 39 000 USD
PRIMARY EQUIPMENT USED DURING THE TEST:
Anthem Statment D2V
MBL 9007 MONO
CLASSE CDP 102 DELTA
Perfect link, silver cable by Jas Audio
55% dampened and acousticly tuned. Meassures L X W X H 6m X 5m X 2,5m. Playing from short wall.
Two wooden boxes on one pallet arrived, and it was time to unpack The Socrates. Nearly 200 Kg of collie where hauled in to my garage, and just moments after the speakers where pulled out of their shipping boxes, I started unwraping the speakers after they where mowed in to the listeningroom. I spent some time inspecting the speakers for any imperfection from shipping, none could be found.
Must admit I was a bit surprised that Jas Audio had left the stacking configuration, and doble base units that Plato has in their design, so I am guessing they found a good way to stop harmonic vibertaion between midrange and bass internaly in cabinet, and that the single woofer does not suffer from poor reflections from cealing and floor that usually makes audible canselation frequensys.
To be a full range speaker, Socrates is not very sizeable, at only 115cm tall it will cast a shadow grater than competitors. It is not exactly a light weight speaker with its 80 Kg in basic weight, which also being a tail tail sign in built quality. Jas Audio claims that their design is comparable with Marten Coltrane 2 and Kharma Exquisite Classique. And I am the first to believe that since I am owner of their Plato speakers which are in many ways comparable to Marten Coltrane.
Socrates does not need hundreds off watts to perform. With impedance at 6 ohm and sensitivity at 91 db, it is sufficient enough with 25W tube amp to run these to a reasonable sound level.
Jas Audio`s extreme focus in details is not only evident in technical aspect, but also their attention in details during the bulid. The finish on the speakers are like a billion bucks. When looking at the reflection you will not see any riples ( orange peel ) in the reflection, but a deep colored Ball shaped Saple and deep black lacquer. The color scheme is almost like they dressed up the speakers in tuxedo. The black center stripe is iconic in the way it goes in front center from bottom and fades out in all black at the top, and I must admit my weaknes in the slightly sweept back cabinet with rounded sides and a narrow rear, this does not only set the drivers in phase, but also canseling rosonanse within the speakers. The design and quality of these speakers are only something the competitors will sought after at this price range. For "only" 39 000 USD you will eat stake at the cost of a hot dog, not many can rightously claim that they qualify to be taken to borderline ultra high end at the fraction of a cost.
What I value when listeng to music is the ability to distract my attension from fault in the sound. The easiest way of doing so is by grate soundstage, and good pinpointing. Tonality does not have to be linear, but nothing can can be far off before I lose interest in the system. Then it is the time-domain which includes transients, phase, and speed that must be coherent. Oh, yes, don`t forget about dynamiks and natural presentation of the music. This should prety much cover the bases, and give you an idea what I preciate in good sound.
For a long time before I recived Socrates, I where trying to imagine what to aspect from the new arrival, and what can be compared with predecessor Plato. It didn`t take no longer than few seconds of the first song to realize they are nothing alike. Surprisingly enough my attention got drawn twoards the unprecedented details surpasing many other speakers at this price range and above that Ivè heard. This being a long chain of high end speakers from Marten, Wilson, Von Schweikert, and Avalon to mention some of few. Why the surprice? Well I was biased that diamond, ceramic, and berylium tweeters had the best details in sound due to their rigid light weight and timber sound, but the Jas Audio`s fearly huge AMT tweeter has less timber while more information being delivered to the listener. The AMT tweeter where blended perfectly with the Accuton`s midrange. This ability opens for a wide range of amplifier to combine with Socrates without the fear of sounding harsh.
Being used to diamond tweeter and the way they set sound image high up on the wall, it was some getting used to when the sound image was not lifted quite as high, but cept the whole sound stage more together in hight. My fear for the AMT tweeter to be overspreading is absolete, I discovered the panorama staging not to be controled by the physical boundaries from the room, but exiding beyond the rooms width, while maintaining prestine pinpointing.
SET YOUR MIND FREE:
After going back and forth with some of my reference music, I found the speaker to be nutural in sound, and the base just enough to ceep me in my couch and listen to music. This is the type of base that increases the ability to present surtain music in a vivid and alive way in the listeningroom. To put it this way, I hear the impact of the drumbeater and the ringing does not last as long as it does on for example Marten Coltrane. The cabinets have so litle resonanse that it is simular to a open baffle construction, and only the room can make an effect on the ringing.
As I was listening to the different types of music, I realized there are very litle harmonic destortion between base and midrange, well nothing that I could pick up from listening to a variety of classic, rock, acoustic and easylistening. The speakers are revieling, but not in a ovarly clinical way, The texture in the vocals, as well as in the instrumentation, was exemplary and resilient.
As I moved around in the room i discovered a grater veriation in base compared to Plato, so I still think two base drivers narrows down this effect and give you more playroom for setting up the speakers.
I realy wanted to put the speakers to the test, so I decided to pump up the volume to see if I had any compressions in the room, or if something got out of plase from playing to loud, but all i heard was the same firm, dry base thru any of the lsitening stages. Normaly when I have done this manuver, the base usually get compressed or overwhelming in such a way it is not pleasent. Or the symbals with some vocals get to agressive. I grabed my favorit alternative rock music with a lot of kick from the drums and details from symbals and placed it in the CD-player. I caught my self with a open mouth when I experienced no deviation in sound quality, the only thing that changed was the listening volume. I have not heard many speakers ( if any ) that creates the same amount of base and maintaining tonality in fullrange witout anything sticking out at thise volumes. Later on I invited a fellow audiofile to confirm that I was not just blinded by the surprice. Him being experienced audiofile and pro Marten Audio also got captured by the pure, clear and unrevealed sound in my listeningroom. He claims this being in top five of all the speakers he had heard.
In this review i wanted to ceep the focus on Socrates, and not Socrates with a 100KHZ ribbon tweeter on top. Two main reasons for this. One and the most important is that the speakers does not need the extra resolution to optain very good imaging and details in sound. Two is that the 100KHZ tweeter looks out of place on top of the otherwise slick speaker.
It is not hard to make a conclution on Socrates beacause it is up there, way up there. All of my reference recordings, which is among the finest recordings, sounded vital and alive as I have ever heard them, and if it was something I would have more of, it would be a bit more wet base. In my secondary listeningroom which is not as much acousticly treated, and with tube amplification, I experienced the base to loosen up and got to my preference, but the soundstage colapsed a bit outside the speakers. I would`t expect a 2500 USD integrated tube amp to perform as well as amplification more then 10 times the cost! The midrange where bloming with a tad of rounded tweeter, some would say it sounds a bit more romantic. Though Socrates benefits from good electronic, they will make the most sound like a billion bucks, and with the right combination you will meet your demands for sound. As one of my friends said: ( The way thise speakers adapt, and preform with the different electronic, makes Socrates a chameleon ) I couldn`t agree moore in that statment. It all boils down to matching a full system to meet the demands, and my demands where met allmost perfectly, infact so good that I am now a owner of Socrates.
It seems like the teacher is still the wiser from taking advise from the student, in this case Socrates taking advise from Plato and correcting the tiniest thing to become perfection. And yes, I did in fact set my mind free, and still do.