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This review first appeared in the December 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Wharfedale Jade 5 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Wharfedale - Ed.

: Tobias Zoporowksi
Sources: Analog - Transrotor Insigne with Rega RB 300 and Goldring 1042 GX, phono stage Lehmann Audio Black Cube Statement, tuner modified Sansui T-80 – digital - Lua Appassionato und Yamaha CD-S 1000, modified Advance Acoustic MiP-Station, Musical Fidelity vDAC, Naim DAC
Amplification: Symphonic Line RG 9 MK IV, Yamaha A-S 1000
Loudspeakers: Magnat Quantum 905, Nubert nuVero 14, Klipsch RF-82 II
Cables: in-akustik loom, also WireWorld and Eagle Cable
Review component retail: €1.998/pr

The moment right after I unpack a new review loaner always has my special attention. It feels a bit like Christmas. It tickles the innards and creates anticipation about what might emerge after cubits of styrofoam, wrappers and such have been removed. With Wharfedale’s latest, the floorstander Jade 5, this joy quickly turned suspicion over having been shipped the wrong model. What I had on hand was a heavy bow-shaped furniture-quality model in upscale Cherry veneer with a sculpted tweeter assembly. At first I thought I’d received a well-known product from a competitor whose identity you might guess. That boat-hull cabinet combines fetching cosmetics with hard acoustic advantages. Absence of parallel walls minimizes internal standing waves and further resonance control addresses in conjunction with proper matching of all parts demonstrate comprehensive attention from the design team. To recognize it is neither the providence of an individual or a few chosen makers.

What’s noteworthy in this context is simply that the Wharfedale team managed to offer such a brilliantly finished quality box for €2.000/pr. That's not chopped liver but considering what's on offer does appear quite modest and clearly high value. I’ve already covered appearance. What’s not apparent to the eye is the in-house developed Crystalam material whose damping factor is claimed to be far higher than the ubiquitous MDF. The ol’ knuckle wrap thus elicited a solid dry ‘pock’ but whether an equivalent MDF chassis would have responded any differently I couldn’t vouch for of course.

At about 1-meter tall and resting on four easily adjustable carpet spikes, this enclosure houses four drivers. Two 15cm woofers cover the foundation. Also developed by Wharfedale, their Acufiber cones combine glass and carbon fibers for low resonance/distortion figures with claimed high impulse response. Whether and how that translates I’ll cover anon. But for the low frequencies there’s yet another solution I personally found really clever.

If you asked me whether the Jade 5 works as a bass reflex box I’d say "not really but". Inverse queries about being sealed instead would elicit an equivalent "not exactly though"...

To stop obfuscation, there are two round down-facing ports. They simply don’t terminate directly into the room. Instead the woofers’ rear emissions ‘breathe’ through a resistive porous foam which fills the gap between box bottom and plinth.

This aperiodic loading scheme is claimed to combine vented/sealed advantages, i.e. add extension without boom. This turns the Jade 5 into a very unfussy placement proposition. Or so claim the Brits. Without revealing my cards early, I’ll confirm that this goal has been squarely met.