I’ll be the first to admit that I was more than a little dubious after uncrating and surveying the Jadis DA88S MkII integrated amplifier.Every preconception that I had was laid waste within a few seconds as I listened to an integrated amplifier that wasn’t merely good—it was spectacular. The Jadis demonstrated a dynamic alacrity and vividness and prowess that placed it in the very top echelon of audio equipment regardless of price. There was no syrupy sound here—just superb dimensionality, iron grip, and unrelenting drive. The jump factor of the Jadis is off the charts. Put otherwise, it sounds as stunning as it looks.One of the first things you notice about a revealing system is a sense of flow—a sense of the almost microscopic nuances that transform a musical passage from rote reproduction into a singing line. The Jadis delivered those tiny details with truly stupefying fidelity, at a level that I would hitherto never have credited to an integrated amplifier.The firecracker speed of the amplifier was fully on display in the waltzes. What was so striking about it, apart from the tremendous presence of the brass choirs, was the wonderful tonal fidelity with which the Jadis captured the rapid antiphonal effects. There was no hint of blurring, smearing, or elision. This quality also endowed accented notes with a crystal-clear, explosive pop when the trumpeters were performing particularly dramatic passages.The common rap on tube gear is that while it may capture harmonic richness, it tends to round off notes and sound a little sluggish. Not here. My sense is that the Jadis’ dynamism allows it to transcend such shortcomings. The Jadis delivered every cymbal swish with great clarity while maintaining the bass and piano in proper proportion. Which leads to another fundamental asset of the Jadis—its soundstaging. Whether it’s an orchestra or a jazz trio, I was consistently impressed by the ease with which the performers could be located in space.Another myth that the Jadis helps to dispel, particularly remarkable in light of its fairly low power rating, is that tube amplifiers can’t properly reproduce bass. While the Jadis does not produce the very deepest notes, it excels at delivering prodigious and harmonically rich bass that has a propulsive quality. The sumptuousness of the Jadis, the drive, has to be heard to be believed—and frankly, until now I would have disbelieved anyone who claimed that a 60-watt integrated amplifier could output this kind of power in the nether regions. It isn’t simply or merely that the Jadis has punch, though it has that in spades. It’s that the bass has a rolling quality to it, one that suffuses a listening space.The virtues of tubes come to the fore, as the decays seem to linger on forever. This quality endows the piano with a grandeur and resolve that are transfixing. Piano chords have resounding sustain. Ditto for the drum whacks on the sublime ‘Big Noise From Winnetka’. Everything that makes the Jadis such a standout is present —the drums situated way in back, the granular level of detail, and the seemingly unlimited crescendos. Rimshots simply have to be heard to be believed.It offers great performance for any amount of money, delivering the whole package—a coherent, thoroughly thought-out sound. Indeed, as you might expect from its previous efforts, the Jadis has a beautiful tone color, a limpidity, a gracefulness, and tenderness. But what makes the DA88S so distinctive is that it builds on these traditional strengths to offer an amplifier that is so palpably powerful, vivid, and authoritative that listening to it can become an utterly engrossing experience. So it was for me.– Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound, May/June 2015.
Winner Product of The Year