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REVIEW: Jolida JD-9A Phono Preamp

Model: JD-9A
Category: Phono Preamp
Suggested Retail Price: $450.00
Description: Tube Phono Preamp
Manufacturer URL: Jolida
Manufacturer URL: Jolida

Review by tubesforever (A) on November 08, 2006 at 12:58:33
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This review intends to discuss how closely a budget phono section can come to delivering high fidelity sound reproduction. When my highly modified Precision Fidelity C7 tube phono preamp’s power supply sizzled, the power zapped other areas of the preamp so I have retired it until I can begin a complete rebuild. I needed a low cost yet high value phono section so I could begin recording a friend’s Jazz LP collection to DVD-A. Several inmates reported overall success using the Jolida JD9A so I thought it would be a good fit for my intended use.

I purchased my new unit from a fellow inmate who is an audio retailer. He shipped this to me and I had it within a few days. Right out of the box I was impressed with the weight and build of the Chinese phono section. It is built from heavy gauge steel with a brushed aluminum face plate. The Jolida is a good looking phono section and has a substantial platform should you need to stack equipment on top. It has a blue neon power on/off switch that conflicted with all my other equipment’s power indicators, yet I eventually began to enjoy it. Viva la difference.

One of the things I found while researching the Jolida is that the unit comes with DIP switches on the back that allow the user to select between three different gain levels and to properly load the resistance and capacitance for the cartridge you are using. The outstanding gain of the Jolida is accomplished by op amps and the circuit utilizes two 12AX7 tubes as cathode followers. I found the gain to easily drive my .25mv Denon DL103R and did a great job with a variety of high output MM cartridges as well. It has one set of RCA inputs and two sets of RCA outputs. One set is attenuated so you can use the Jolida with a high gain line stage. I preferred the sound from the full output RCA’s.

I had been listening to my receiver’s mid fi phono section for several months so when the Jolida was installed and playing I was floored by the dynamic and expressive sound. The overall sound balance is very good. The unit was making an impressive first statement.

Soundwise, I have owned a variety of high fidelity phono sections and the one thing that struck me was that the Jolida sounded two dimensional with its stock tubes. There is width and height to the sound but it lacks the 3D sound stage imaging that my other phono sections have delivered.

The Jolida JD9A comes packaged with Shugaung 12Ax7 tubes private labeled as Jolida. I have a great deal of experience with these tubes and I enjoy them for their strong bass and solid midrange but they lack extension and air in the upper frequencies.

I rolled in some other 12AX7 tubes, including Teles and Groove Tube Mullard style issues. A fellow inmate sent me four other tube types to evaluate as well. The Teles are a good match for the Jolida. They provide faster tighter bass, a more 3D soundstage and wonderful air and special qualities. I would describe their overall sound as being crisp and dry.

Then I rolled in some Groove Tube Mullards. These are copied from the 1950’s era 12AX7s which are considered Mullard’s finest sounding 12Ax7’s. I have found these tubes to have outstanding bass response with growl and finely textured detail to the low registers. The midrange is ultra realistic with instruments possessing proper timbre and proportion. The highs with the Jolida are simply delicious. The Jolida excels at high hat, cymbal, woodwinds and brass instrument details.

I feel these Groove Tube Mullard 12AX7’s are a dramatic improvement to the overall sound on the Jolida. So consider evaluating these if you purchase this phono section.

Over several months I played a great number of my all time favorite recordings. The Jolida expressed dynamics and prat much greater than I could have expected for such a small investment.

My sole overall concern is that the Jolida sounds very direct. It portrays the musical event as if you are seated in the first five rows. Different tubes will give you different tonal qualities but this same seat perspective remains in spite of the tubes I rolled. This was a benefit to a lot of my older rock and roll albums but I found it less satisfying when listening to well recorded classical music.

I grew to really enjoy the Jolida for what it does well. I began to really appreciate the musical qualities of the high fidelity phono sections I have owned. Armed with a little extra bonus money, I decided to upgrade to the Audio Research PH-3. This phono section is a Stereophile class B unit and Michael Fremer claimed it knocked right at the door of class A in his opinion.

Comparing these two phono sections might seem unfair. One is a 500 dollar phono section and the PH-3 retailed for $1995.00. What I will say is that the Jolida expresses over 90 percent of the dynamic contrast and bass slam of the PH-3 The PH-3 goes deeper and stronger but the Jolida gives you a solid taste of the good stuff. The Jolida falls short of the inner detail, midrange flesh and delicacy of the PH-3. Interestingly, the Jolida kicks anything I have owned in reproducing highs.

So there you have it. The Jolida is a solid leap away from the basic mid fi phono section. I sense you will be right at the base of the hillside leading to high fidelity sound reproduction. Perhaps the modifiers out there could get you further along the hillside if you want to go the hot rod route.

I enjoyed the Jolida while I owned it. It was much better than I had expected and was easy to work with. I miss the DIP controls and flexibility of the Jolida, but the PH-3 makes my jaw drop to the floor.

I enthusiastically recommend the Jolida JD9A to anyone desiring a new phono section and possessing a budget below 500 dollars. You simply cannot go wrong. The Jolida is one great value for the money.

Product Weakness: Sounds two dimensional with the supplied tubes. I found Groove Tube Mullard style 12AX7's to deliver outstanding sound.
Product Strengths: Excellent slam, decent bass extension and bass detail. A clear view to the midrange and highs that just sound perfectly natural. Great value for the money.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Precision Fidelity M7A
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Aunt Corey buffered passive preamp
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Rek O Kut idlers and belt drives, Technics SL1210MKV, Thorens TD165MKII
Speakers: DIY speakers
Cables/Interconnects: DIY silver and AudioQuest brand wires
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Everything I own
Room Size (LxWxH): 25 x 13 x 15
Room Comments/Treatments: I have a vaulted ceiling providing good bass extension and detail
Time Period/Length of Audition: Several months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Monster and PanaMax line conditioners
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): Bedini 250 MK II amps driving two 12 inch Peerless XLS-12 sub sonic reinforcement drivers.

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Topic - REVIEW: Jolida JD-9A Phono Preamp - tubesforever 12:58:33 11/08/06 (12)

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