Stereophile Reviews Jadis JS1 MkV Reference DAC

When first listening to an expensive DAC, I expect to hear playback that’s composed, well-sorted, insightful, and maybe a little buttoned down. What I don’t expect to hear is sheer fun. Which is why my first listen to the JS1 floored me. It didn’t sound like any DAC I’ve heard; what it did sound like is a great 7″ record minus the groove noise. Okay, that’s overstating things a bit, but the Jadis took almost no time in establishing its expansive, easy-to-listen-to, celebratory personality. It allowed the music to flow with not a trace of the edginess, glassiness, and grayness that plagues some digital components, allowing me to forget whether I was listening to a record or a digital file and focus on the performance.
In my system, the Jadis DAC did two things remarkably, uncannily well. First, it created a vast, shimmering soundstage that extended across the rear wall of my loft and encouraged me to spend hours enjoying the magic of stereophonic recording. The scale of the sonic images was as big as the recording allowed. 
Second, the Jadis portrayed instruments and voices with more tonal richness and vivid colors than I imagined a digital component could. Throughout our time together, the JS1 portrayed guitars, saxophones, trumpets, drums, and other instruments with remarkable vividness and materiality, making listening to acoustic music especially rewarding.
The French processor also excelled at tactility and presence. Through the JS1, their voices sounded embodied and physical, a sensation that lent more humanity to the technically astonishing performances. The Jadis made the recording’s ambient cues eerily present; singers moving across the stage became easier to follow. I might have actually flinched at the thunderclap at the beginning of Act 3.
The JS1’s generous personality was particularly kind to indifferent and poor recordings. The JS1’s ability to showcase flawed recordings in the best light never came at the expense of the music and always served to enhance my understanding and appreciation of the performances.
I can confidently say that the Jadis JS1 offers something that, if not unique, is at least highly distinctive: a digital source that uses tubes to offer a rich, colorful, tactile, propulsive sound, state-of-the-art soundstaging, complete freedom from digital artifacts, and an ability to breathe life into just about any recording. If that’s what you’re looking for, a world of fun awaits.
Alex Halberstadt, Stereophile, December 2021, Class A Recommended Component

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