Janszen Valentina A8 speakers

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rfertel

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Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« on: 20 May 2020, 09:14 pm »
Since I first became involved with audio, I have purchased new speakers about every 12 years. After listening to a number of high quality speakers at audio shows and in the home of friends over the past several years, I decided that it was time to upgrade.

The criteria upon which the decision was made were based on three interdependent factors: suitability for my home environment; value; and sound quality.

First, since I don’t have a dedicated listening room, speaker size and visual appeal had to be taken into consideration. Second, a system budget in the 10 to 15 thousand dollar range eliminated a number of speakers. Third, I was looking for a speaker that had outstanding clarity, accuracy, and balance. I also wanted to do without a subwoofer, if possible. The Janszen Valentina active hybrid electrostatic speakers fit all of these criteria, and surpassed my expectations.

After I listened to a variety of familiar recordings from both my own ripped FLAC collection and Qobuz streamed through a Squeezebox Touch, the character of these speakers emerged. The clarity and imaging of the Janszens is outstanding. The images had excellent depth, and the presentation was effortless, with no sign of strain.  Like all electrostatic transducers, the Janszens have a relatively narrow ideal listening spot. In this position, the image is almost holographic. However, the speaker sounds wonderful no matter where you sit. In my room, the bass is solid to the high 20’s, and there is absolutely no discontinuity between the midrange and bass. This seamless integration holds even at a volume high enough to be uncomfortable. In short, the speakers felt as if they had limitless dynamics coupled with very low distortion.

One major advantage of the Valentinas is that the electronics integrated with the speaker include an amplifier, preamplifier, and DAC. While an external preamp or DAC can be used, they are not required. The only additional expense is for a connector to a digital source.

In terms of my criteria for purchase, I am more than pleased with the quality of the sound. With respect to value, the Valentinas required no additional major expenses to provide a complete system. Finally, the speakers are only 39” high and 10” wide, are beautifully finished, and are visually suitable for my room.

The Janszen Valentinas fit my needs perfectly.

Mike-48

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #1 on: 21 May 2020, 02:38 am »
I'm glad to see the Janszens gaining more fans. I have had a pair of passive Valentinas since 2014 (when they were called zA2.1, and active ones were not yet available). Recently, I upgraded to the P8 (passive, new woofers and xover) version. Next time, I'll probably pick the actives myself.

I think you've summed up the Janszen sound beautifully. At least what you have described is what I hear in my room, too.

rfertel

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #2 on: 27 May 2020, 02:39 pm »
This is the complete Valentina system from my listening spot.


Jon L

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #3 on: 27 May 2020, 05:15 pm »
Janszen Valentina A8's with the new 8" woofers are on my "short list." I presume it sounds purer compared to the non-active non-internal DAC version due to simplicity and shorter signal path/lack of cables. 
Audiofools do wonder, however.  Are the internal class-D amps and internal DAC modular and upgradeable in the future? 

Dsaldivar

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #4 on: 27 May 2020, 05:22 pm »
Hi!
Nice that you have found a speaker that makes you happy!
I tried to find additional information on the Janszen website but it seems at the moments they have very few information available. Your post has more details and information in general about these speakers. My question is when playing records do the speakers change the analogue signal into the digital domain?
Thanks,
Dan

daj

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #5 on: 27 May 2020, 09:09 pm »
J. . .   Are the internal class-D amps and internal DAC modular and upgradeable in the future?

Jon -- We currently offer an upgrade from the earlier active version, as well as from the passive to the active. If we find better electronics or woofers, we'll offer an upgrade.

Other upgrades are coming up soon. For instance, a Sound Everywhere option that allows a choice of direct vs. omnidirectional operation at a touch of the remote control, and a wireless option that uses a built-in Bluetooth aptX-HD receiver.

The latest active is built around Hypex NCore amps (dual 500W/4Ω in each cabinet) and associated Hypex peripherals. At the moment, I have trouble imagining they'll be improved upon, but that's what I thought about the earlier electronics.

- David

daj

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #6 on: 27 May 2020, 09:24 pm »
. . . it seems at the moments they have very few information available. Your post has more details and information in general about these speakers. My question is when playing records do the speakers change the analogue signal into the digital domain?
Thanks,
Dan

Hi Dan,

Sorry about the web site. We recently launched a new one, and migrating the content from the old one has a long way to go. At least it looks nicer than the old one. :) Please stay tuned.

In answer to your question, the electronics in the speakers are essentially power DACs, so yes, they must digitize what comes in on the analog inputs. The ADC's use high grade AKM chips, so the result is very analog-like.

There are two analog inputs (one RCA and one balanced XLR that can be run single ended with an RCA adapter) and three digital inputs, all independent, and the speaker will scan and automatically select whichever is getting a signal. Between the self-selection, the high input sensitivity, and the remote volume control, no preamp is needed. That cuts down on the amount of circuitry in the signal chain, which is good obviously for signal integrity, but also for the budget.

If you PM me with your email address, I can send you the owner's manual. That goes for anyone else who wants to see it, too.

- David

Mike-48

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #7 on: 28 May 2020, 01:57 am »
This is the complete Valentina system from my listening spot

Beautiful setup! I'm sure it sounds great, too.

jsm71

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #8 on: 3 Jun 2020, 09:49 pm »
I also really like the simplicity of your setup.  For those whose music source is mostly/only digital, these are a great choice.

I recently also upgraded my older Valentina passive speakers to the latest improvements and I can't say enough about how worthwhile that was.  I'm 95% analog in my listening so I've remained with the passive model.  Regardless of which type you think works best, these are keepers.

Phil A

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #9 on: 3 Jun 2020, 10:24 pm »
Hi!
Nice that you have found a speaker that makes you happy!
I tried to find additional information on the Janszen website but it seems at the moments they have very few information available. Your post has more details and information in general about these speakers. My question is when playing records do the speakers change the analogue signal into the digital domain?
Thanks,
Dan

The manual is online too - https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0333/4045/7100/files/JansZen_Valentina_A8_Owner_s_Manual.pdf?394

highstream

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #10 on: 31 Jul 2020, 12:52 am »
rfertel, what was your system before this? The first question I have about the A8 is if it would be at least a lateral move sonically for me. My current system is a heavily modified Oppo 203 (digital only, spdif), Lampi Atlantic TRP dac, Supratek Chardonnay preamp and ATC SCM19A (active 2.5 way floorstanders), with a PS Audio P15 regenerator in front (and a cable box/HDTV). There'd be no point in getting an A8 unless I were sell most of that, save at least the Oppo.

rfertel

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #11 on: 3 Aug 2020, 04:36 am »

rfertel, what was your system before this? The first question I have about the A8 is if it would be at least a lateral move sonically for me. My current system is a heavily modified Oppo 203 (digital only, spdif), Lampi Atlantic TRP dac, Supratek Chardonnay preamp and ATC SCM19A (active 2.5 way floorstanders), with a PS Audio P15 regenerator in front (and a cable box/HDTV). There'd be no point in getting an A8 unless I were sell most of that, save at least the Oppo.
[/quote]


The speakers the Valentinas replaced were the JSE infinite slope model 1. These were the predecessors of the Highly regarded Joseph Speakers. When we moved, I sold these to the people who bought my house, and they were lucky to get them. I considered them neutral. The Valentinas are even more neutral. I believe that they neither add nor subtract from the recording. They have the clarity typical of electrostatics.

In my setup, there are only four wires: two power cords, a digital cable to connect the two speakers, and an optical cable to connect my digital source. All of these are standard. The digital cable is from Blue Jeans.

For my purposes, the DAC and preamp controls that are part of the Valentina are more than sufficient. The resulting elimination of boxes and wires results in an uncluttered look that I like, and I am very pleased with the sound.

In my opinion, the best way to make an informed decision about an audio system is to listen to your music in your room, so if what you have heard about these speakers intrigues you, it will be worth your while to audition them.


highstream

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #12 on: 3 Aug 2020, 12:55 pm »
Thanks for the information. In my PM alerting you to my post, I asked another question, about tonality: on the cool - “neutral” - warm continuum, where do the A8’s fall? For me, experience has taught that getting a sense from others, reviewers and users, about how a component — in this case three combined — matches up with my tastes tonally is an essential part of deciding whether or not an audition is worth it, all the more with something the size (and cost to ship) of the Valentinas. So far I’ve not been able to find any information about their tonal quality.

daj

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #13 on: 3 Aug 2020, 05:08 pm »
" . . . about tonality: on the cool - “neutral” - warm continuum, where do the A8’s fall?"

If I may jump in, here, a central characteristic of JansZen speakers is that they have practically no tonality of their own. I once contemplated the tag line: No voice of their own, but thought it might be misinterpreted.

I should mention here that I think that the practice of "voicing" speakers does a subtle disservice to music lovers. This notion comes naturally, because our company thing is electrostatics, which are capable of unparalleled transparency and neutrality, and my personal thing is hearing recordings as clearly as possible.

I'm not saying this is the end-all for everyone, though. Do I like a little sugar in my coffee? Sure, but I don't care how black coffee tastes. I do care how recorded musical performances sound. People with other tastes will probably be seeking sound elsewhere.

Still, that said, when one starts with a neutral speaker, it's easier and more cost effective to add sugar and cream within the signal chain than by trying different speakers. Tube warmth, for instance, might be added by connecting a tube preamp, such as your Chardonnay, to the speakers' analog inputs.

If you proceed with an audition, however, I think you might find that you prefer the extra transparency when you connect directly, as does rfertel. This is a sound you're not likely to have heard before, even if you've listened to other electrostatics, because in addition to being electrostatic, our designs are not dipoles, so the coloration caused by prominent room ambiance is absent.

DAJ

highstream

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #14 on: 3 Aug 2020, 05:24 pm »
Since the speaker is a 3-in-1 and you say that cables don't matter with the A8, there's not a lot of room for tone control. Every component has a tonal characteristic, as the designer prefers. It's particularly unusual, though, that both the PTA review and the OP here have nothing to say about tone, even to say "neutral," as if the subject is not important to them. I've never come across that before, and certainly didn't with the ATC actives, which I bought blind from overseas except for a thorough TAS review and a few user posts and YouTube videos. In any case, I don't find what's called neutral appealing, to say the least, and if I'm listening to transparency, I'm not listening to the music but the hardware. Oh well...

daj

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #15 on: 3 Aug 2020, 08:05 pm »
True, most speakers have an identifiable tonality, and if I were to bend the definition of tonality, I'd say ours is full and natural. FWIW, someone writing for Consumer Reports in the 1960's once accused the KLH Nine of sounding warm, and my father, who designed them to be consummately neutral, wrote a tangy letter to the editor in frank admonishment.

Maybe the issue here is that we disagree about what neutrality and transparency mean. In my view, as flogged above, these are the characteristics that make it possible to listen to recordings unadulterated by any form of coloration -- what goes in is what comes out.

It does not guarantee a lack of adulteration, of course , because the equipment, room, and speaker positioning can color the sound. Our designs, however, assume transparency and neutrality of the equipment, and a decently knocked together setup, leaving as clear a path as possible from the recording to the air and thence to the ears.

Maybe the issue is that I have no idea what warmth or coolness mean. I'm not sure everyone agrees on the definitions, but these terms do appear to represent forms of coloration, and a key characteristic of the JansZen sound is a lack of coloration.

I make the above points just in case there are others who stumble on this thread, and who also doubt that a lack of warm or cool tonality is a virtue, but may be receptive to the notion.

highstream

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #16 on: 3 Aug 2020, 11:46 pm »
Unfortunately, we can't readily be in the same room to compare notes, and I wouldn't want to mention names here. The thing is that everyone claims to offer a natural sound, and aims to deliver exactly what's on the recording, so I don't find that gets me far. Rather, my simple test is that if I find myself repeatedly listening to the "sonic effects," or consciously trying to block them out -- render them background -- so I can be immersed in the music, that's not good (for me). In my experience, that's consistently translated as not warm and not enjoyable (and sometimes angering, as in wanting to throw system out the window). Some people get their primary pleasure with transparency, sound stage, detail, PRAT and such, while others start looking for emotional involvement with the music and performance. It's not a matter of judging one or the other, but picking gear to match one's preferences.

So I ask developers and users for their thinking and perceptions, and decipher the sometimes coded language as best I can. I can usually get a feel for the direction of tonality from a few or several responses -- unless I'm lucky enough to be told directly. But not here so far, however, and not with the 2016 PTA review of the earlier Valentina active version. In that review, John Grandberg wrote, "Tone? Definition? Brilliant transient response? Check, yep, and absolutely." That doesn't tell the reader anything. So it seems that I'll just have to be patient for what others have to say. Thanks,


BruceSB

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #17 on: 4 Aug 2020, 02:37 am »
I guess that the reason that I love electrostats is the absence of distortion.
No one mentions that very often - maybe it is covered somewhat by transparency, neutrality, lack of colouration, and so on.
When I go to a HiFi show that is what I listen for.
I suspect that I am particularly sensitive to distortion because it really seems to get under my skin!
At a HiFi show I listen to the 'flavour of the month' speakers, the 'expensive' speakers, and the 'big name' speakers and I invariably come away disappointed!
Sometimes I think, 'that speaker was somewhat electrostatic-ish", and I smile.
At the last HiFi show that I went to I listened to a big name, expensive, super highly reviewed speaker, loved by web posters - for thirty seconds!
Then I had to walk away because it gave me listening fatigue!!!
But here is the thing - different people look for different things in a speaker!
What I like you may not like and vice versa.
If you like ultra low distortion and a relatively compact size then David's speakers may very likely suit you to a tee!
Trouble is you really need to listen to speakers - you can definitely not trust the reviewers or the website posters to tell you what you like because they only tell you what they like!!!
I will say, however, that electrostats do sound very similar - call it a strong family resemblance!
Also electrostats do sound quite different to most other speakers.
I think JansZen have some sort of deal whereby you can listen to a pair in your own home - I am sure that David can fill you in on the details.
On a personal note I am contemplating new speakers (electrostats of course!) and I am so confident that I would buy the Valentinas or the particular model from the other electrostat company sight unseen and unheard!
Will say that I live on the other side of the world - about as far from the US as it is possible to get!
Distance is certainly a factor!!
Will say there is something else that is important to me.
That is the ability to have the speaker customised.
JansZen will offer any colour and any set of options that you can think of!
Hope that has helped.
All the best on your journey and your research.
Bruce

Jon L

Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #18 on: 4 Aug 2020, 03:57 am »

But here is the thing - different people look for different things in a speaker!


This point can't be emphasized enough.  People like what they like, like flavors of ice cream. 

highstream

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Re: Janszen Valentina A8 speakers
« Reply #19 on: 4 Aug 2020, 06:40 am »
"Trouble is you really need to listen to speakers - you can definitely not trust the reviewers or the website posters to tell you what you like because they only tell you what they like!!!"

Trusting those willing to tell what they like (and don't) is exactly the goal! And it's something to note when they are not willing to do so in a meaningful way. Over the past several years, I've come to use this approach as a first step in deciding if something that piques my interest is worth trying out or not (it also includes asking dealers and online ones like the Cable Co.). Obviously, this makes sense from a practical standpoint when it comes to auditioning heavy, expensive floorstanding speakers, since they demand a much greater commitment and a lot greater disruption than a single component or cable. Doing it this way has steered me toward gear that I like way more often than not, along with the benefits of having learned a lot and developed online friendships and found generous advisors and helpers across the country and continents.