It all started last April when I went to the 2005 Home Entertainment show at the NY Hilton. I walked into the JAS Audio room and was immediately welcomed by Alfie Lew of Gini Systems. Alfie was very enthusiastic that I listen to his JAS Audio speakers. They had the 2 way standmount Orior hooked up, and after a short demo it was I that the one hooked! I took some pics and left my card with Alfie telling him that it was the floorstander Orsus that I really wanted to hear. Flash to one week after the show, and I get a call from Mr. Lew asking if I would like to review his Orsus speakers. I immediately said yes!
About the Company
JAS Audio is a Hong Kong based maker of both speakers and tubed audio components. It got it's start in 2002, and their world distributor, Gini Systems, is just now importing the JAS Audio products to the North American market. Gini Systems is based out of California, the speakers shipped to me from there UPS ground
I'm always a little on edge when I get something that was shipped UPS Ground. The UPS guys are legendary for being able to break things no matter how well packed. So it was with great trepidation that I opened the two large boxes. My fears were unfounded though, as Gini Systems had TRIPLE boxed, and used form fitted closed-cell foam for the inner protection next to the speaker. Everything was undamaged. Score Gini Systems: 1, UPS: 0
There was one glitch that made my heart skip a beat. After getting the speakers feet assembled I couldn't wait to get them hooked up. I undid the cables from my Magnepans, and hooked up the JAS Orsus and was greeted by a speaker with almost no high frequency response. It was like you put a blanket over the speakers! My heart sunk into my stomach, I thought for sure that something was broken. After a few seconds of terror, a little voice in the back of my head said "check the tweeters" and sure enough there was a FURTHER protection over the true ribbon tweeter. Whew! did I feel better, And boy did the speakers SOUND better after I removed the protective layer!
The JAS Orsus use a single set of 5-way binding posts. These posts are large, well designed, and are excellent at getting a grip on whatever you are using. I tried them with both spades and bananas. Finding the right position and toe-in for these speakers was pretty easy, as they have excellent dispersion. I placed the speakers about 3 ft from the front wall, and a little less than 4ft from the side walls. I tried several toe-in angles and the best seemed to be with the speaker axis crossing about 8ft behind my head. This positioning also made for a relatively wide sweet spot. I decided that because it gets nearly continual use, the best place to break these speakers in was as mains in my Home Theater setup. After two weeks of break in I switched the speakers into my audio setup for evaluation.
Right out of the box the tweeter's response was excellent, flat and extended. After about 100 hours of break in the midrange to woofer blend has smoothed out beautifully, along with quite a noticeable amount of added depth to the bass. Bass, that was at first impression lightning fast, now has in addition, much more weight. I found it quite shocking that these sleek towers with dual 6" woofers can provide such satisfying bass. Kick drums really hit you in the chest, and the bass has a taught lighting fast quality to it. These speakers use a very unusual Titanium dome midrange. The driver is manufactured in Germany, and it covers a good part of the frequency response, from 700hz, up to 5khz. It has excellent dispersion characteristics, and even way out of the sweet spot you get rock solid, lifelike sized images. Besides the imaging, the speaker has a lack of coloration through the midrange that, while not unusual for speakers in this class, is because of the excellent dispersion, available across a much larger seating envelope. Traditional larger cone midrange sometimes have problems with beaming in the upper registers, but this dome simply does NOT beam, or gives any sign of breakup under any of the conditions I put it under. The tweeter in this speaker has resolution that is second to none that I've heard in this price range, period. A true ribbon design, they have placed two pure aluminum ribbons side by side to create more of a point source, rather than a line source. The great advantage of a ribbon is its low mass. Without a cone, voice coil, former, or spider, a ribbon can react more quickly to the signal. Technical points aside, this means this tweeter lets the shimmer of cymbals, and the airiness of good recordings shine through. While I've heard some speakers with ultra-extended response get strident with brass, this speaker was totally non-fatiguing even after extended listening. These speaker produces some of the most detailed and sonically accurate music I've heard from floorstanders in this price range.
Since the speakers excellent finish reminded me of a high quality Grand Piano I decided to start with some Piano music. On Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 20 in G., as performed by Alfred Brendel, the notes seemed to hang in midair, the depth of the soundfield extending far behind the speaker plane. Not one of my oft played recordings, this one drew my daughter downstairs to investigate why, as she puts it; " there is a piano playing downstairs" On to Tchaikofskys Sleeping Beauty as performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, the Orsus were able to reproduce both the with and breath of this powerful performance in great detail. Even the subtle tinkling of bells came though with great clarity. For Violin I chose Vivaldi's Four Seasons "Spring" with Joseph Silverstein on Violin. On this recording the speaker produced an psyco-acoustic image nearly a foot higher than the top of the speakers. It brought new meaning to the words "Soaring Strings". Female vocals were also handled with the same tall "standing in front of you" images. As good as that was, the real standout for this speaker is in it's reproduction of Jazz music. Intimate close miced recordings simply draw you in. Brass, whether it be a Sax or Horn is magic played through these speakers. There was several times I got that feeling that my room had been transported to a small club, with a Jazz band performing just for me. If you like Jazz, this is the speaker was made for you! About the only music that I this speaker might not be the best for is bass heavy techno/dance, and rap-(didn't even try!).
This speaker is an excellent choice for someone looking for an audiophile grade floorstander. I would put them up against ANY of the European brand floorstanders in the $5000- $10,000 range. There are some American & Canadian made floorstanders in this price range that I really like, but the resolution of the tweeter/midrange combo in the JAS Orsus trumps what's available in this range. While these speakers worked great with my Hybrid solid state amp, the well damped bass, 8 ohm resistance, and extended high frequency response these speakers might also make them a good match for a quality tube amp.
·Excellent Imaging & dispersion.
·World class resolution.
·Exquisite finish Weaknesses:
·Some bass compression at high volume (techno music)
Related Equipment: Magnepan 3.6R speakers Arcam Alpha 9 CD player PS Audio IV pre amp PS Audio HCA-2 Amplifier Musical Fidelity A3cr Amplifier Nordost Blue Heaven RCA Homegrown Audio Super Silver RCA Zion SP-2 Speaker Cables