This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Reviewer: Joël Chevassus
Source: Audio Analogue Grand Maestro CD
Preamp/Integrated: Vincent SV-238
Speakers: JLA Acoustique Perspective 2 Signature & Stand 80, McIntosh LS360
Cables: Naturelle Audio XLR cables Live 8 and Live 4, Naturelle Audio loudspeaker cables.
Power Cords: Guzi
Stands: Quest for Sound Isol pads for CD player, Ikea stand for Vincent SV-23, Norstone AV piu for audio & video sources
Room Size: 56 square meters.
Review Component Retail: ca. €3100/pr in Europe (varies with country due to VAT)

Modern and elegant to non-audiophiles, suggestive of DIY to hifi fanatics, the appearance of JLA Acoustique's speakers isn't exactly consensus material. I confess that JLA Acoustique loudspeakers share two common points with DIY efforts - the Fostex banana-pulp FE166E widebander and the full MDF enclosure. At first glance, it's difficult to justify the selling price for what seems nothing more than an assembled Fostex kit.

Inspecting the finished product with greater attention, anyone can observe the build quality and elegance of the design. What one arrives at then puts us a bit farther removed from the usual DIY kits. JLA speakers also are not based simply on one full-range driver. They definitively operate as 3-ways. The current line-up consists of a rear-ported and larger front-ported monitor using Fostex midranges with dome tweeters, plus three separate bass modules to be coupled to the monitors. The flagship Evolution 600 consists of the larger monitor turned sideways, then sandwiched between two of the biggest woofer modules [below].

When deciding to launch the JLA company out of Canisy in Northern France, Jean-Luc Deregnaucourt meant to take advantage of the undeniable midrange quality of the Fostex driver but bypass its limitations in the low and high frequencies with additional tweeters and woofers. This in itself was a true challenge. How to filter the midrange driver while preserving the acoustic fluidity of the Fostex? How to extend bandwidth without losing the natural sound of the widebander?

This was no easy task but a conceptual starting point and Jean-Luc Deregnaucourt spent a few long years to find just the right balance, the perfect equilibrium. For a small manufacturer, the concept itself was also difficult to promote when many melomanes commonly believe that a full-range driver should never be filtered.

From what I have personally heard until today, most Fostex-based speakers using widebanders over the entire bandwidth suffer in both frequency extremes and even the midband could often stand improvement. I also had opportunities to listen to full-range Fostex efforts mated to active subwoofers. Each time was quite the disaster. That's why I always had a specific interest in JLA's work. Their particular approach frees the Fostex driver to focus on its best qualities, i.e. the vocal band.

Except for the bookshelf monitor which can be acquired separately, the Perspective 2 Signature + Stand 80 is today's entry into the line. Here the FE166 driver is mated to a Beyma T2030 aluminium dome tweeter with a front-mounted port at the top. The tweeter/midrange enclosure docks atop an elegant bass cabinet with two push-pull
woofers on the backside (one is mounted visibly, the other faces the same direction but mounts inside the enclosure).

The internal structure is double-walled for superior inertia. The bass cabinet stand for the monitor supports a black top plate with three inset nickel cups to receive the spikes of the upper enclosure. Two sets of binding posts on the back of the Stand 80 might suggest biwiring but the top posts are meant to jumper to the monitor. The crossover circuit inside the bass cabinet routes the mid and high frequencies to the top terminals of the woofer stand.

On the back of the monitor, a switch provides attenuation levels of -1.5 and – 3dB. This sensitivity correction can be useful to calibrate the relative balance to your ear and room. My personal preference is the intermediary position. The JLA pairing offers 38Hz to 20KHz bandwidth with an impedance of 8 ohms and a sensitivity of 91dB/W/m. The docked cabinets stand a modest 104cm tall, 28cm wide and 34cm deep. Approximate weight for both stand & monitor is around 24kg.

The sound
First off, JLA speakers offer a rich, coherent and natural sound. The JLA sound is definitely very lively and in its price range, transparency and detail are among the best I have personal experience with. This transparency may at times be unforgiving and JLA speakers must be associated with the right ancillaries but you surely do not need a nuclear power plant to drive them correctly. Choices are rather broad but the amplifier should lack aggression in the higher mids or the Fostex driver will remind you of the exact measure of the amp's limits. Single-ended tube amps or class A Mosfets are generally preferred but even a good class A/B or D amp will always do a good job. The Rotel RB-1092 power amp driven from the preamp section of the Vincent SV-238 offers a very detailed and accurate sound, less warm and charming than class A but a bit more neutral and free from any midrange harshness.