Roy Gregory Reviews Jadis DA88S for Hi-Fi+

Magnificent, vibrant, present and powerful…
This amp has so much body and gusto, energy and sheer musical enthusiasm that you could be forgiven for assuming there are two amps in the one box. Well, in a way you’d be right. Running four output tubes a side for 60 Watts of very serious Class A power, this is to all intents and purposes something akin to a pair of JA80 monoblocks built into a single chassis.
The DA88S is an absolute monster, grabbing hold of speakers and driving them with an authority and grip that belies its modest power rating. The DA88S is a phase-inverting design. This means that you should reverse the polarity of your amp or speaker terminals, as it results in a sweeter, tighter, more immediate and more focused sound – none of which are particularly subtle.
Its music is a sensuous deluge of intensely vibrant colour and energy. Play ‘The Echo Game’ from the Flying Daggers OST and you’ll see just what I mean. The opening drum-roll reverberates within a colossal acoustic, each additional instrument building, layer on layer into a thunderous crescendo that simply begs you to advance the volume control far beyond the sensible, wrapping you in the sound. The range of the colour, the individually in the choir of vibrating skins, the sheer energy and human effort they represent is quite intoxicating. Energy, drive and sheer musical enthusiasm are what it feeds off.
The Jadis is no one trick pony. Brass is almost always a pale imitation of reality on a hi-fi system, yet Josh Berman’s mournful trumpet break hits just the right tone, all restrained power and constraint. The big-band power and energy simply pours out of the speakers.
Play the second movement and you’ll hear the ability of the DA88S to deliver sudden dynamic shifts in density and level with convincing power, grace and presence. But equally you’ll also appreciate the natural sense of pace and delicacy, timing and placement. The ability to operate at both ends of the musical spectrum so successfully and even simultaneously is unusual indeed. It’s also vital to our ability to truly immerse ourselves in the performance. It’s what Harry Pearson refers to as continuousness and I’m coming to appreciate that it’s the most vital quality of all.
For the listener looking for a consummate musical all-rounder rather than the merely hi-fi spectacular, look no further. Dedicated followers of fashion will rail at a perceived lack of detail and resolution, but those who take the time to listen will realise that in reality, in musical terms, they’re missing nothing at all. Install, sit back and enjoy; as deeply unfashionable as it may seem, it’s the Jadis way.
Roy Gregory, Hi-Fi+, Issue 39

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