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Janszen zA2.1 new review

108.216.110.56

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 11:03:58
M3 lover
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Let me introduce this with two qualifications.

First, the zA2.1 is an electrostatic hybrid, so some might expect this should be posted in the Planar Asylum. I chose not to do that for two reasons, 1) they do not project like a typical dipole (the rear of the cabinet is enclosed) so other than needing an AC connection, room placement will be more similar to non-planar speakers, and 2) likely more Inmates will see a post here than on Planar Asylum and I feel these speakers deserve that exposure.

Second, I'm "Mr. A" mentioned in the review who bought a pair. But I have no affiliation with the JansZen Loudspeaker Company other than being a satisfied customer.

In fact, I may write my own (briefer) review here once I finish amplifier auditions/selection. My current amps are way overpowered for the Janszens. For now I'll just say that if you heard the zA2.1 at an audio show, such as Newport THE Show, you didn't experience the capability of these exceptional speakers, a point I believe David Janszen would agree with.

With all that, click the link to read Roger Gordon's review.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

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Question, posted on August 16, 2013 at 13:03:46
gme109
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Have you heard the Jenszen zA2.1's with the side tweeter option?
Talked to David and he mentioned this to me, saying it adds some extra ambbience and spacious to the soundstage, along with less high frequency drop off when standing.
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RE: ambience tweeter, posted on August 16, 2013 at 17:36:22
M3 lover
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Hi gme,

David had zA2.1s with the optional rear firing tweeter at Newport THE Show. By his own admission the room left a great deal to be desired as a demo space. I did not hear enough difference (the tweeter can be defeated) to revise my order to include them. For me, it was subtle at best.

That is not to say they are not worthwhile in general or for you in particular. The more I listen to my own pair, the more I respect David as a designer. So since he believes they are a worthwhile option, my suggestion would be for anyone considering these speakers to try it for themselves.

I understand some may think this a "cop out" answer. But there are no absolutes in this hobby (note my tag line) and I honestly believe that advice can be helpful to narrow down alternatives or identify specific elements to watch for, but ultimately we do have different perspectives and goals so must make our own choices.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

RE: ambience tweeter, posted on August 17, 2013 at 09:07:31
gme109
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Tweeters are now placed on the sides of the cabinets. I'm guessing this is an improvement over rear firing tweeters.
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Sorry, my mistake, posted on August 17, 2013 at 15:00:11
M3 lover
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I should not have called it rear firing. The secondary tweeters are mounted toward the rear of the outside of the side of each cabinet (which are already designated L and R) and fire outward. That was another reason for my lack of interest and I should have included it.

My speaker placement is less than ideal. My right channel is 2' of the sidewall while the left channel has a 7' distance. Any side mounted drivers would invite an imbalance.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

heard them with the ambience tweeter, posted on August 17, 2013 at 09:55:39
Ozzie
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I heard them in DC with the side firing tweets. Much smaller in person than I would have expected, but a very nice sound. Great little soundstage. I have the MMG Magnestands in my br rig, and would swap for the Janszens in a heartbeat.

M3, will you be parting with the Maggies any time soon?

 

Maggies?, posted on August 17, 2013 at 14:50:08
M3 lover
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Hi Ozzie,

I don't want to violate the rules here but yes, I will be selling them. You can PM me if you'd like to know more.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

RE: heard them with the ambience tweeter, posted on August 17, 2013 at 12:11:20
gme109
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Did you get a chance to A B the speaker with and without side firing tweeters? Curious as to what kind of overall affect it had on the sound.

Thanks
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Have not heard them - nt, posted on August 16, 2013 at 13:11:11
jsm71
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Roger Gordon sure seems technically savvy., posted on August 15, 2013 at 21:22:35
MikeCh
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"With the help of a friend, I ran full room frequency sweeps..."

Who knows - Maybe he's better qualified to review speakers. :)

 

RE: Roger Gordon sure seems technically savvy., posted on August 16, 2013 at 05:37:07
jsm71
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My ears are the only measuring device I own. My prior speakers were Maggie 1.7s. Those and the JansZens are both rated down to 40Hz on paper. There is where the similarities in bass production stop.

I needed my 15" Velodyne sub with the Maggies. At thier rated limit they were in fact pretty much done. At the JansZens rated limit there is still quite a bit of reach, except subject to rolloff. I too am skeptical that the JansZens can reach to 25Hz +-0db. They do not produce bass like my Velodyne sub, but despite having the same lower limit on paper as the Maggies, my ear says they win the checkmark for all aspects of bass handling.

The absolute measured reach of the bass is not that important to me as how it sounds. The JansZen's bass quality is every bit as clean and tight as with the Maggies, but with the ability to punch much better. Mid bass has better weight. To be fair, the JansZens are more money and should sound better. Even against the Maggie 3.7s which I have heard many times I still prefer the JansZens.

 

RE: Roger Gordon sure seems technically savvy., posted on August 16, 2013 at 07:07:01
delaney@rea-alp.com
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I'd like to listen to these. Q .. how narrow is the sweetspot? Compared to both Maggies that you mentioned?

 

RE: Roger Gordon sure seems technically savvy., posted on August 16, 2013 at 08:19:52
jsm71
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The sweetspot is quite generous with the JansZens, perhaps 3 feet wide. The monopole delivery however also allows for excellent stereo imaging completely off axis. I have two chairs in my listening room, the sweetspot and the other chair off to the left actually outside of the left speaker. It's a small 13' x 12' room. Even in the side chair you get full stereo effect. With the Maggies that chair only allowed you to hear the left speaker, and the sweetspot was more narrow.

David Janszen has set the panels (2 per speaker vertically) I believe just slightly off axis from each other to increase the dispersion. This approach seems to work perfectly and does not diminish imaging. The only other fully flat ESL panels I have heard have been the King Sound and Sanders. The Sanders beam the tighest sweetspot ever, and The King Sound kind of matched the sweetspot of the Maggies. The sweetspot and the overall sound stage delivery is simply very nice with the JansZens. Room setup is very flexible.

 

Manufacture specs mean little, posted on August 16, 2013 at 06:13:55
gme109
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Especially in the bottom end. My current speakers are rated down to 40 Hz on paper, but the in room response with room grain, allows them to produce useful bass well below 30 Hz. And not much I've heard can match them for bass punch and slam. I've also heard the Maggie 3.7's, and although I love the way they sound, I could not live with them without a sub woofer. My guess is they drop off sharply after 40 Hz, and the bass they do have, although very tuneful and tight, lacks weight and impact.
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RE: Manufacture specs mean little, posted on August 16, 2013 at 06:22:46
jsm71
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Nice woodworking on those speakers. I don't recognize them. What are they? With all those drivers I don't doubt they give some amazing impact.

 

RE: Manufacture specs mean little, posted on August 16, 2013 at 06:28:03
gme109
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They were custom built by Rick Craig of Selah Audio. They use a 45" ribbon tweeter from Newform Research.
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Wells Audio Innamorato , posted on August 15, 2013 at 18:41:13
gme109
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Posts: 17790
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This amp might be worth checking out.

Wayne Donnelly's review on Enjoy the Music.

Wells Audio Innamorata Stereo Amplifier
The best power amplifier you've never heard of?


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RE: Wells Audio Innamorato , posted on August 15, 2013 at 20:42:19
M3 lover
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Interesting you would suggest this gme. The Wells dealer in San Diego, Stereo Unlimited, is very enthusiastic about this amp. Based on that I searched them out at Newport THE Show and found them in two rooms, one driving a dynamic driver system, the other a full range electrostatic. That impressed me enough to invite Jeff Wells to come speak to our audio club.

So next Wednesday, the 21st, Jeff will be at Stereo Unlimited to discuss his company and designs and demo his amp, or maybe both of them. This is an open meeting of the San Diego Music and Audio Guild and will be gathering after 6 PM with the presentation beginning between 6:30 and 7. We're pretty informal. ;^)

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

RE: Wells Audio Innamorato , posted on August 15, 2013 at 21:10:58
gme109
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Posts: 17790
Joined: April 3, 2001
I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on the Janszen's being driven by the Innamorato. Two products I'm very interested in.

I had a change to hear the King Sound King III's, which I believe were the full range electrostatic you listened to. They were being driven by a Perreaux solid state amp. Although they sounded very good, when I listened to some demanding bass material, the ELS panel bottomed out quite easily. Something I just couldn't live with. From what I've read, the use of the dynamic bass drivers in the Janszen's, do not suffer from the same problem, and apparently they blend seamlessly with the ELS panel.
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RE: Janszen zA2.1 new review, posted on August 15, 2013 at 18:14:40
gme109
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Posts: 17790
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The review on PF along with this video report,(link below) has peaked my interest in these speakers. I'll definitely be checking them out.
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I have the vintage Janszen 130s and I habe a hybrid version that has a 12 inch alinco woofer , posted on August 13, 2013 at 23:49:27
Michael Samra
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and four panels in each speaker..Being a long time ESL owner having worked with hybrid like the Martin Logan Summits,I can tell you honestly that the HK Citation 5 would do those speakers justice..I know this because I run Martin Logan CLXs which are full range ESLs,on a pair of citation 2s in mono.The other amp that would work exceptionally well is a Mac Mc240.Both of these amps will put out about 45 to 50 watts but most of all,they can tolerate impedance shifts pretty well..
"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong" H. L. Mencken

 

RE: Janszen zA2.1 new review, posted on August 13, 2013 at 19:20:32
jsm71
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Location: Cincinnati OH
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As another happy customer of these speakers I am thrilled to see this review. It has stressed the most important design elements of this speaker, the most notable for me being the perfect flow between the ESL panels and the woofers. The ESL panel qualities are almost a given, unless the designer doesn't know what he is doing. This is not a problem for the Janszen family. Making a hybrid ESL not sound like a hybrid is the tricky part, and these are the best I've heard in that department.

Like the OP, I am also trying to circle in on the best amp for the zA2.1s with a new one on order as I type this. These speakers are much easier to drive than my prior Maggies and I'm aiming at much lower but better quality power now.




 

RE: Janszen zA2.1 new review, posted on August 13, 2013 at 18:00:38
G Squared
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Contributor
  Since:
December 0, 0000
Heard them at the Capitol Audio Show and agree with much of the review. Sounded like music not audiophile.
Gsquared

 

RE: Janszen zA2.1 new review, posted on August 14, 2013 at 05:14:21
Dave Pogue
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I heard them too at the Calpitol Audiofest and thought they were awfully bass-light, but that could have been the source material or any number of other issues.

 

RE: Janszen zA2.1 new review, posted on August 14, 2013 at 06:44:36
jsm71
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The zA2.1s are not light in bass support. I can attest that different amps have a great affect in bass output as well as the setup of course. Suffering bass suck out in show rooms doesn't help at all. I heard David's setup at the Chicago Axpona show and that didn't create the right impression. I get acceptable bass in my setup but I recently found out it could be much better.

A local friend brought over his Decware Zen Torii tube amp to try on the zA2.1s and the bass dropped my jaw, not to mention the overall sound in general. I had no idea the JansZen's bass was that good. My current SS amp has tons of power and sounds great, but does not do this. The Decware amp only has 25 watts but it is all class A power. That might be the key, or it may just be a testament to the Torii's design.

I was fully happy with the sound I was getting with my amp but I have that Decware amp on order currently for myself. Comparing only two very different amps is hardly conclusive but these speakers really reveal the attributes of what is driving them. Hearing the bass driven right gave me a whole new respect for what is possible with twin 7" woofers.



 

It could be the Decware has little damping factor, posted on August 14, 2013 at 12:48:05
Ktem
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And that would compensate nicely for any lightness in the bass.

The manufacturer specs it to around 35 or 40. That positivef review claimed in room to 25. I'm skeptical of that latter claim - any room gain differences are not going to make that big a difference. (Just using some spl meter in room uncritically doesn't mean it was giving useful output to 25 hz, even if that is what some person wielding the meter thinks.)

 

Measuring in-room response, posted on August 14, 2013 at 14:28:37
M3 lover
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can admittedly be tricky. But in this case I happen to know it was not done with "some spl meter", say from Rat Shack for example. Rather it was a professional Real Time Analyzer.

Even so, delivering measurable in-room bass at 30 or 35 Hz is not too shabby for a pair of 7" woofers. But for me the integration of electrostatic and dynamic drivers as jsm71 mentioned is more important than sub-40 Hz response anyway.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

Again, that review claimed in room response to 25 hz, posted on August 14, 2013 at 19:49:53
Ktem
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Not to 30 or 35, so I'm skeptical, whatever meter it was.

 

Ktem, since you are skeptical,, posted on August 15, 2013 at 10:37:06
M3 lover
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Location: SW Mich
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have you voiced your concern at PFO?

I only posted the link for information. I can't verify or deny any details beyond what I've already offered.

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

What an odd response, posted on August 15, 2013 at 14:19:00
Ktem
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Why would I contact that online publication just because their claims about this speaker contradict both yours and the manufacturer's?

How strange to even phrase these facts as "skepticism."

Your suggestion sounds more like denial than a suggestion.

 

A mountain or a mole hill?, posted on August 15, 2013 at 16:40:21
M3 lover
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Hi Ktem,

1. You ask why you should contact the source for the review? It seems reasonable if you have any questions about how the measurements were made or their accuracy then that would be a logical place to raise your issues.

2. You suggest the review claims contradict my own. Please identify where I made specific claims about bass response I observed for the Janszens. I said nothing about 25 Hz and used a broad example of "30 to 35 Hz" as amazing response from a pair of 7" woofers.

3. You consider it strange to phrase some facts as "skepticism". My reply merely lifted a word you yourself used in two separate responses.

Maybe we simply need to agree we have different perspectives here, but if you don't agree with the message, why question the messenger rather than the source?

"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

Since your claims depart from pf online, you contact them, posted on August 15, 2013 at 20:43:30
Ktem
Audiophile

Posts: 1910
Joined: September 27, 2012
By your logic, anyway, you ought to.

No, it does not "reasonable" if I have questions about a review to contact the publication. Why would I?

Is that what you post to anyone who says anything here about a review in "Stereophile"? That they should contact them? Of course not.

You're blowing smoke, but one thing is clear: pf's claimed frequency response does not scan with what the manufacturer and other users claim. And it's not off by a mere rounding error, either. That's fact, whether it upsets you or not.

 

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