The classic Rob Roy cocktail is made from whisky and sweet vermouth; stiff and sweet. Lovers of 19th cocktails also know that a Rob Roy can be made “dry” or “perfect”, the former using dry vermouth, while the “perfect” contains both dry and sweet.
Even in old cocktails, our need to suggest superior quality, where preference is literally a question of taste, intrudes. The “perfect” Rob Roy is no more perfect than the classic.
Jadis Electronics was founded in 1983 by André Calmettes who had a singular vision — create an amplifier that offers the most precise musical reproduction in order to get back the emotion felt during a concert. Central to the quality of every Jadis amplifier, are the custom made transformers — the transformers are hand-made on a digital winding machine, following the basic principles born from the passion and research of André Calmettes. Inestimable expertise, and the cornerstone of the high-quality of its products, JADIS keeps its trade secret very carefully. The company does share that their beefiest transformers can handle up to 2500 W of power before saturation. That’s a lot of juice.
The DA50S, where “S” stands for Signature, comes with a quad of Tung-Sol KT120s, essentially a KT88 beam tetrode on steroids, running in Pure Class A, push/pull operation offering 30 stiff Watts of output power (into 8 Ohms). The driver stage consists of 2x ECC83/12AX7s and 3x ECC82/12AU7s while point-to-point high purity copper wiring is employed in all critical signal paths. From a bird’s eye view, we’re looking at a fairly classic approach. Again, Jadis’ claim to fame are those honking and heavy custom transformers which are largely responsible for the DA50S’ near-70lbs.
Those custom Jadis output transformers can be tapped for 4-8 Ohm, 8-16 Ohm, or greater than 16 Ohm output impedance by configuring the internal jumpers accordingly. The unit comes set to 4-8 Ohms so I did the minimal surgery required to jump to 8-16 Ohm operation to mate with the DeVore Fidelity O/93 speakers. There are five line level RCA inputs, tape in/out, and, unusually, two sets of speaker outputs.
The 19″W x 14″D x 13″H chassis is covered in mirror-finish non-magnetic medical grade stainless steel with a gold or silver face plate (your choice, same price). Did I mention the Jadis was heavy? All of the tubes are auto-biasing so once you set them in place, the company, and I, recommend screwing the included tube cage in place and keeping it there. This will protect the tubes from accidental bumps while protecting you from accidental burns. The DA50S runs hot to the — don’t touch those tubes!
The front panel houses a nice big old school toggle power switch, a power green LED, matching volume, balance, and source selection knobs, and a Tape / Source switch. The DA50S also comes with a gold-colored plastic remote for volume control. Along with the tubes and transformers, there’s a relatively small black heatsink mounted to the top plate and in front of that, a clear crystal nipple that lights up blue when you use the remote.
As you’d imagine, unpacking and setting up the Jadis was relatively straight forward and I’d imagine dealers will offer to set those jumpers for your required load if you ask nicely. Once set, put the unit on your rack, that’s the hardest part and make sure you have a sturdy rack!, carefully put the tubes in place, make your connections, plug her in, and hit that power switch. If everything is working as it should, you won’t hear anything coming out of your speakers as the DA50S runs silent even with my ear nearly touching the O/93’s drivers.
The review unit came with the silver faceplate, and I’d say the DA50S offers classic, rugged, and shiny good looks. While I’m not thrilled with the look of the heatsink and crystal nipple, I can be pretty picky. Keep a cloth handy to wipe away your finger prints after installation or better yet, wear a pair of white cotton gloves.
As mentioned, the Jadis spent its barn time driving the DeVore O/93 speakers while the totaldac d1-tube DAC/Streamer, Weiss DAC501, and Primare NP5/Denafrips Aries II took care of streaming. I also played with the Rega P3 turntable mounted with a Nagaoka MP-110 MM Cartridge feeding a Parasound zPhono phono preamp for spinning my records.
Shaken and Stirred
There’s nothing I enjoy more than finally sitting down with a new component or speaker and just listening to music. I call it the getting to know you period where all judgment is reserved for a later date and music remains the only focus.
Of course that’s the plan. I believe even the barn mice, and certainly this man, took notice of the DA50S after only a few hours of listening. We couldn’t help it.
I’ve been treated to a number of very fine integrated amplifiers in the barn of late, offering various topologies from all tube, to hybrid, to solid state. With all of their various voices in mind, which is different from hearing voices in your head, the Jadis struck me as sounding powerful yet refined. Rich, while not being loose or bloated, controlling the DeVore O/93s with a very firm grip that did an especially nice job down low. When my music was interrupted by the Jadis during those early hours of listening, the striking thing that captured my attention was a sense of superb ripeness. As if the Jadis was serving up my music at its peak of flavor. Not too dry, not too sweet.
During my weeks of listening, I went all over the world following my musical impulses wherever they led. I went big with Mozart’s Magic Flute (the 1952 Herbert Von Karajan EMI mono recording from a CD rip), to simple (including the Reverend Gary Davis’ Harlem Street Singer), and everything in between. With the Jadis in full control, music could get as big and as loud, and even louder, as I ever cared to go. Voices, spaces, movements, symphonies, quartets, trios, sextets, octets, and minstrel shows (I’m reffing to Tom Waits), anything, anywhere rendered in full scale with plenty of punch, i.e. dynamics, color, and nuance. Add all of these words up, and the result is captivating.
After digging into the heat of Marc Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos, where the Jadis kept perfect pace with all its sweet Cuban-ness, Roon Radio treated me to bassist Mark Dresser’s Sedimental You, from 2016. Dresser’s double bass stands out front and the Jadis did a fine job of conveying its rich, deep, voice. Think stiff yet sweet. Eric Dolphy’s stunning alto sax solo take on “Tenderly” from Far Cry is a 4:20 lesson in tone. The DA50S hung onto every squeak, squeal, and squall, capturing the notes, and the spaces in between, as deftly as a dancer.
Of late, I’ve heard some stunning reproduction in the form of the $16.5k Riviera Labs LEVANTE Integrated Amplifier (see review). While the Jadis doesn’t climb to the Levante’s heights in terms of holographic realness, it offers up a very healthy helping of finely balanced goodness. Tube amp tropes need not apply, as the DA50S remains in complete control regardless of the scale and complexity of the music under review.
For a somewhat more sensible comparison, price-wise but not apples to apples in terms of topology, I gave the solid state Ayre EX-8 some play time, using the Denafrips Ares II DAC/Primare NP5 combo that was in use with the Jadis. The EX-8 comes in at $5990 in its analog only incarnation (see review for all the details). Not surprisingly, the Ayre comes across as sounding a bit cooler than the Jadis, a bit less ripe, while pulling out more of music’s detail and nuance. The Ayre EX-8 has a robust presentation, weighty yet nimble. It also captures tones and textures in a very convincing manner. The Jadis kept pace with the Ayre in terms of weight and very nearly the same sense of quickness, while adding a richer tonal and textural sound, the cherries on top of the Jadis’ convincing musical cocktail.
I would give the Ayre EX-8 the edge when it comes to digging into music’s finer details combined with a faster, snappier presentation, offering up a more crystal clear view compared to the DA50S’ richer, fatter, voice. Which is better? Dry, sweet, or perfect? The one you prefer. Mated to the DeVore O/93s in the barn, I found the Jadis’ bigger, richer sound to be addictive.
When reproduced in a completely convincing manner, music can be intoxicating. The Jadis DA50S Tube Integrated Amplifier is an expert mixologist, converting the recorded event into a rapturously heady experience.
Jadis DA50S Tube Integrated Amplifier