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Sound - a
selection of recordings used in the review: Abba, Gold. Complete Edition, Polar Music International AB/Universal Music [Japan], UICY-91318/9, 2008, 2 x SHM-CD; Brian Eno, Another Green World, Virgin/Toshiba-EMI Limited, VJCP-68658, 2005, CD; Clan of Xymox, Darkest Hour, Trisol, TRI 419 CD, CD; Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus, Mute/Reprise, 921328-2, 1989, MP CD;  Eva Cassidy, Imagine, Hot Records, G2-10075, 2002, CD; Frank Sinatra, Nice’N’Easy, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 790, gold CD; ...

... Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90035, HQCD; JS Bach, Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Yo-Yo Ma, Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd/Sony Classical, SM2K89754, 2001, 2 x CD; Madeleine Peyroux, Standing On The Rooftop, EmArcy/Pennywell Productions [Japan], UCCU-1335, CD;  Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé Sings Fred Astaire, Bethlehem/JVC, VICJ-61457, K2HD CD; Porcupine Tree, Deadwing, Lava Records, 6793437, CD; The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-25125, 2007, CD; Thom Yorke, The Eraser, XL Records/Warner Music Japan, WPCB-10001, CD.

The JAF loudspeakers replacing Harbeth M40.1 showed how differently a loudspeaker built specifically for tube amplifiers can be realized (at least that’s how I view both of these and what they were really designed for). This is a completely different sound. It has many similar aspects but at first more differentiates than connects these designs. I will start with tonal balance. When we take the sound of the Hansen Audio Prince V2 as a reference in my room, the Harbeth would have a similar midrange and treble and the JAF would be higher across the entire spectrum. But the latter would resemble almost completely the tonal balance of my previous Harpia Acoustic Dobermann speakers. The bass would be lighter and not as fleshy as from the Hansen never mind the Harbeth which have this range more elevated than it should be compared to live sound.

The JAF seems more extended on top than all the other mentioned loudspeakers and here resembled what I heard from the German Physiks HRS 120 Carbon and the small Monitor Audio Gold GX50 bookshelf speakers. In both cases we do not deal with conventional tweeters but, respectively, a DDD bending-wave driver and a ribbon. This could explain why the Bombard sounded so vivid, unconstrained and open. The sound of the cymbals, vibraphone and even cello in a large church was very natural in the sense that there was no trace of compression, no impression of information congestion although I knew how there was more information than usual.

I can truly confirm how these are incredibly fast loudspeakers. They seem to reproduce the attack impulses far quicker than most. Even Avantgarde Acoustics hornspeakers which are already exceptional in this regard seem to lag behind just a bit as though they needed more time to think. Their presentation is almost the same as the JAF - faster than classic constructions but slightly slower than the Krakow speakers.

This also relates to high resolution. Here is not as brilliant as the Harbeth—let’s not even mention the Magnepan MG 20.1—but combined with speed of response and lack of compression it generates exceptional results. The first thing to notice after plugging the Bombard into the system is their incredible differentiation power of image sizes, of how close the microphones were during the recording and how the sound engineer set things up in the mix including even how the instruments were located vertically. Depending on our previous loudspeakers this will either come as a shock or deep amazement - but it should never be less than moving.