Jadis Defy DA30
by Steve Harris
Of course it deserves a longer
review than this, any Jadis product would. A justification for the
brevity here is that only the dedicated few will line up for a 30W
French valve amp with no phono stage that costs £2450.
The Defy DA30 is a single-chassis version of the JA30,
with a line-level-only pre-amplifier. The massive chromed chassis/base
measures 480 x 350mm, while the four 6550 output tubes bring the
height to about 180mm. Rotary controls cover volume, balance and
source selection between five inputs (two CD, two 'aux', tuner.
There is a tape-monitor loop, and direct inputs for 'pre-amp in'.
Inside, all is hard-wired. Electrical noise levels are
low enough. I found there was a slight mechanical hum. not too obtrusive
in a large room.
Analogue listening started with
the Roksan/Artemiz/Shiraz, used alternately via Roksan's Artaxerxes
m-c step-up and a Musical Fidelity pre-amplifier. The jadis is not
a product that takes much getting to know before you can appreciate
it: as soon as the glowing tubes have warmed up, it takes effortless
control. The effortlessness may be a valve virtue, of course, but
the jadis achieves it while avoiding (in the mid and treble) the
stereotypical valve failings which sometimes cloud the picture.
The overwhelming impression is of a very 'live' quality, particularly
striking on vocals, with excellent stereo imaging in terms of width,
depth and solidity.
On good recordings the Jadis
gave a superior portrayal of ambient details, displaying that delicate
recovery of the 'edges' of things, which is (perhaps) what analogue
is all about. The bass was thought extended, if a little soft.
Switching to CD, there were moments when the Jadis seemed
to be unveiling new levels of detail with stunning realism. It conveyed
for example the feeling of a wind player's breath pushing through
the instrument at the start of a note or the hint (felt rather than
heard) of key operation. This wasn't a matter of exaggerating these
'tactile' details: the detail and delicacy were associate with a
pure, 'liquid' quality of sound which was genuinely transparent
to the quality or otherwise of the source material and source components.
Again, on suitable recordings, the DA30 showed the ability to 'sort
out' the complex sound of a reverberant acoustic which all too often
replays as a strident jangle.
With rock material
on CD, the impression is of a full, softish bass, sometimes less
than well-defined though not really lacking tunefulness.
Omitting the phono stage certainly makes life easier for tube-amp
makers, and the state of the CD art has now advanced to the point
where a good tube amplifier can bring real satisfactin from CD replay.
The DA30 will prove transparent to the failings of lesser CD players,
and that doesn't just mean cheap ones. Given a good enough source,
this superbly committed design will play music in the most delightful
and convincing manner. It deserves the best: the dedicated few will
not be disappointed.