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Reviewer: Laurent Thorin
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Orpheus Zero CD player
Integrateds: Vecteur I 6.2 i, Plinius 9100
Speakers: JCT Acoustics Héritage A and AB
Cables: Acoustic System Liveline interconnects, Hi-fi Câbles & cie Thot interconnects, Hi-fi Câbles & cie Super Maxitrans speaker cables
Power cords: Hi-fi Câbles & cie Powertrans Plus, Carminis PL-25, Naim PowerLine
Stands: JS Audio three-tier rack, Acoustic System speaker stands
Powerline conditioning: Custom straight mains line
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System Platinum, Gold Special, Silver and Basic resonators, Acoustic System diffusers, Acoustic System TopLine interfaces
Room size: 13' x 12' x 7,5' section opens to 33' long room, hardwood floor on concrete, painted brick walls
Review component retail: €1.600 Héritage A, €3.500 Héritage AB

'twas hard to finish this review so I feel a little guilty for being a bit late. But the JCT speakers are so addictive that I spent too much time listening to music instead of talking about it. Too much time on Amazon buying CDs. Yes, this is a completely unknown design but you should pay attention to it nonetheless.

Who is JCT Acoustics and their so... ordinary looking loudspeaker? Let's dive into the deep and mysterious end of French high-end audio history. Enter Jean-Claude Tornior, an acoustic engineer who worked for ten years with Joseph Léon, the mythic R&D manager of Elipson during a time when Elipson was a leading reference. After this period during which he experienced a lot of truly innovative technologies, Jean-Claude founded Phonophone, a firm where he designed loudspeakers, amplifiers, preamplifiers and even one of the first audiophile CD players. Thereafter, he spent some time as a hifi journalist, then became the head of Technics, the audio department of Panasonic France, then landed at Cabasse and their R&D department. One sunny day during the mid 1990s, he discovered the unexpected influence of cables and eventually created a specialized shop in Paris: Hi-Fi Cables & Co. Listening to one cable design after another, he couldn't believe his ears
and began to make his own. The Maxitrans loudspeaker cable was the first in a long series of real winners. After that, inevitably, transducer passion rekindled and Jean-Claude returned to speakers, at first for personal use and as a compact full-range system to replace his huge Cabasse Pacifics. But at a certain point it became clear that the manufacturing challenge kept calling his name.

So JCT Acoustics launched in the spring of 2008 as the brand used by Jean-Claude especially for his speaker. There is only one model, a medium-sized monitor (Héritage A) optionally partnered with a dedicated subwoofer (Héritage B) to create the Héritage AB, a bit like a Hyperion Sound HPS-938 or a classic Wilson Watt/Puppy design. Used alone, the monitors must be placed on good speaker stands so I naturally chose Acoustic System's, best in this league! For the full combo, you simply put the monitor atop the sub via four small coupling pins. Then you connect the cable coming from the sub to the monitor's terminal and it's off to the races. Since no predrilled spike receivers are provided, I installed the speakers on Acoustic System Interfaces, which gave me the best performance. The 93dB/1w/1m sensitivity is the same of course whether you use the monitor alone or with the subwoofer. You will see with your volume control position that the twosome consumes more power but not by much.

The Héritage A is a classic two-way loudspeaker with an apparently standard bass-reflex loading. The difference is in the box, which is completely devoid of damping material. Instead you will find a large spiral of fragmented cardboard just behind the woofer. According to Jean-Claude, this permits a far quicker response without compromising precision. The Héritage A uses two eminently classical drivers from Davis Acoustics, a very respected French manufacturer who also provides units for Avantgarde, Goldmund, Apertura and Kinoshita. The tweeter is a 25mm soft dome with a big magnet assembly. The woofer is a traditional 15cm paper cone with multi-pleated suspension, the diaphragm treated with graphite. Once again the magnet is very impressive. The filter is simple (4kHz and 12dB/oct). It features a special coil which permits the use of a 0,6mm wire allowing for a sub 0.1-ohm resistance. Yes, big inductors are not very good in the mid/treble! The series capacitor is a metalized polypropylene unit bypassed with a metalized polyester cap. A damping resistor maintains symmetrical slopes at the crossover point. (
Frequency response: 50 to 20000Hz (Héritage A), 20 to 20000Hz (Héritage AB); efficiency: 93dB/1W/1m; impedance: 4 ohms; dimensions: 250 x 395 x 330mm (Héritage A), 250 x 1150 x 460 mm (Héritage AB); weight: 10Kg (Héritage A) and 20Kg (Héritage B); 30 Kg (Héritage AB)

The Héritage B is a much bigger box of identical width but significantly greater height and also deeper. Jean-Claude uses golden ratio relations to define the proportions of his two boxes. The subwoofer employs the same cardboard assembly and loading but with increased density. The filter (130Hz and 12dB/oct) comprises two massive coils with Mu metal cores. The driver is once again a Davis Acoustics unit of 19cm diameter with a synthetic diaphragm and a classic rubber surround.

The first question is with or without sub? It will depend mostly on the size of your listening room. You must understand that the complete system (AB) is capable to deliver true low bass with energy so you need a room with sufficient volume to avoid overload and boom.

Used alone on AS stands, already the Héritage A monitors are very serious contenders. The first impression is of incredible clarity and impressive speed. These speakers are really extremely dynamic across the whole spectrum. Their reflexes are one of their biggest strengths. Furthermore, Jean-Claude says that he mainly works "in impulse mode". That's completely evident. The Héritage A is free of compression. It's quick but coherent, not quick for speed's sake but in alignment with the natural sound. You can follow the different melodic lines without any confusion because the intelligibility of the Héritage A is truly incredible. It's one of its most impressive virtues! Whatever you want to recreate, it will do without stress or distortion. So the Héritage A is a true rhythm master. With this speaker you can listen at high volumes over long periods without fatigue.

The sound is crystal clear and very transparent but perhaps a bit dry for some listeners so the choice of the ancillaries is crucial to the final result. Don't incriminate the Héritage A. It's often elsewhere the problem really hides. You should use a very resolving wide-bandwidth source and an amplifier with perfect energy control to have this loudspeaker reach its full potential. You can use very exotic products with the Héritage A. Its precision will do justice to great products. Common electronics will merely reveal their flaws. You can begin for example with an Atoll 200 CD and matching amp, or an Isem Ego 4 and Xtasis. Those will give you very sensible results for the money. Afterwards you can reach higher. For wires, use Jean-Claude's from Hi-Fi Câbles & cie. If you can, the new Acoustic System Liveline is a totally hallucinatory cable invention you won't ever give back!

The tonal balance is very natural without coloration. You seem to get exactly what's stored on the disc. The treble is like a mineral, with an utter lack of aggression. It is very sweet when it should be and amazingly full of energy when necessary. The midrange is organic and palpable. The bass is surprisingly full even though you realize well how the first octave is lacking. But the most important revelation is how those two drivers offer shocking coherence exactly like a unique widebander.

Imaging is pinpoint precise. To a certain extent, you can position the monitors at quite a distance without collapsing the center image. But keep in mind to have them sufficiently close to the front wall (no less than 20cm in a small room). The spatial presentation is characterized by a sensation of freedom with a lot of air around the instruments. With the Héritage A, the soundstaging is airy and precise but above all, very stable and with excellent localization in the stereophonic triangle even if your listening position is far off. Music flows in front of you.

Of course, when you add the two subwoofers, you must significantly reconsider the position of the speakers in the room. Now you should observe a distance of at least 30cm to the front wall even though the port fires forward. And don't forget that the sub's depth is 46cm. When the position is locked down, you clearly feel that you have it all. The low end of the Héritage AB is deep and muscular, never too much but really impressive in precision, tension, texture and speed. Yes, there's always speed with the Héritage team. The bass is very controlled but never dry. It's dense and firm.

Of course, the imaging is drastically better in terms of depth and height (yes, the subs are higher than the marvelous Acoustic System stands). The great foundation provided by this deep solid bass seems to boost the soundstage in every direction. And the sound is quieter too, a bit like moving from an excellent 6 cylinder engine to a V12. More serenity, more power reserve and more violence on acceleration. Textures are noticeably denser and you can still listen at insane volume levels with complete serenity.

Granted, you don't know this French brand. The look is quite unusual to not call it blatantly common. And, it's not so easy to listen to it if you don't live in Paris. So you are obliged to trust me. All I can say is that I have used these
speakers now for six months and I'm very satisfied. They will remain in my reference panel of products even if their production is mostly a secret still. They embody a certain form of perfection in terms of speed and clarity within a no-compromise approach which everyone should deeply respect. More than this, they are the logical progression of a great French acoustical tradition: the quintessence of the good sensitivity, minimalist paper cone design, not a marketing-driven experiment but a true and genuine music lover's philosophy. Of course Jean-Claude Tornior makes excellent cables with a real technical background and great success too. To which I'll merely add that his new speakers are in the same league.

Quality of packing: Good. Classic cardboard box.
Reusability of packing: Basic.
Quality of owner's manual: Good but not necessary.
Condition of component received: Excellent.
Completeness of delivery: Perfect.
Website comments: Brief but good.
Human interactions: Professional, helpful and friendly.
Pricing: Very well positioned.
Final comments & suggestions: Use Acoustic System Speaker Stands with the monitors alone!

JCT website