When a company’s catalogue includes – typically – a £16,000 pre-amp and a £9000 CD player, well…is it any surprise that the brand is perceived as ‘expensive’? Jadis, the legendary French valvistes, have been fighting this image, the past few years seeing prices creep ever downward.
Whether it’s a response to their home market for high-end – so flat that it’s nearing the concave – or to a global trend, the company has issued its ultimate nod to the impoverished: The Orchestra System. And it even features the endearing detail of identical pricing for the its three constituents: an integrated amplifier, a CD player and a pair of speakers at £1099 per. Or, unbelievably, a complete Jadis system for £3297.
Equally endearing is the decision to name them, simply, the Orchestra Integrated Amplifier, the Orchestra CD Player and Orchestra Speakers. It’s matter-of-fact, it avoids the usual pitfall of companies from non-English-speaking territories embarrassing themselves with bizarre model names like Glowy or ProFeel, it’s crystal-clear and it’s probably Parisian-chic.
Remember: the Orchestra products come from a country with a capital city which once boasted an ultra-hip watering hole known simply as Le Bar. But the general feel is – ironically – British because of the minimalism and the overall concept.
At the heart of the Orchestra system is a all-valve integrated amplifier which, on its own, could have been sold for the £3k ticket in the days when high-end manufacturers didn’t have to worry about a dearth of wealthy clients. Measuring a non-inconsiderable 530x270x200mm (WDH), it looks classically Jadis, with its gold front panel, loads of chrome and wooden end-cheeks. Another nice touch, since they’re exposed, are finely-finished black covers on the mains and output transformers. The only tacky touch is the quartet of exposed capacitors, next to the caged valves. Perhaps Jadis could extend the cage by four inches?
Five line inputs are provided, and the front panel controls deal with source select, volume and balance. Another tip for Jadis: make the volume control, which has been placed in the middle, a bit larger. More than once I went to alter the volume and ended up swinging the balance. At the extreme left is a seriously robust on/off toggle, accompanied by a green lamp to indicate power on.
Around the back are multi-way binding posts, gold-plated phono connectors for all sources plus tape, an AC fuse holder and a captive mains lead. The unit arrives with the valves packed separately, so you’ll have to remove the cage, fit the valves and then replace it. But note that the thing weighs 20kg, so expect to exert some effort.
Rated at 40W/ch, courtesy of four EL34 output tubes and two ECC83s in the pre-amp section, the Orchestra drives all manner of speakers from 4-8 ohms without complaint. The rating itself doesn’t tell the customer that the El34 is a plucky little number, capable of all sorts of feats of strength. In the context of the Jadis system, it hardly works up a sweat because the speakers are a breeze to drive. OK, so 90dB/1W ain’t the highest sensitivity on offer, but these speakers seem to open up with the ease of a Pigalle hooker.
Measuring a substantial 520x275x220mm (HDW), the Orchestra Speakers work best on 18in stands. Nicely finished in walnut, they contain a 6.5in woofer (with nipple-like centre-plug) at the top, a 1in soft-dome