A Visit to Jadis

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
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Since I was in the South of France, and many of my biggest customers use Jadis amplifiers, I paid a visit to the Jadis factory.

Jadis was founded by friends Jean-Paul Caffi and Andre Calmettes. Entirely hand-built in the tiny village of Villedubert near the ancient walled city of Carcassonne, the company is still the same boutique operation it was when founded. Now, it is run by Liliane Expert, the CEO who took over the share and operational duties of Jean-Paul, and Patrick Calmettes, the Managing Director who has taken over the share and technical aspects of his father Andre. Patrick's son is also in the company.

The company continues to adhere to the philosophy of the original - to produce products that are utterly musical - and the latest generation is taking this even further ahead of their original inspiration and philosophy. When I mentioned to my French distributor Alexandre the unreliability and how difficult it is to bias these wonderful amplifiers, all he did was shrug and say, "sounds wonderful, no?" I had to admit, "yes, sounds wonderful."

I had previously met Patrick a couple of times at various shows, and we've collaborated a couple of times with mutual customers. A customer wanted to tri-amplify his Genesis One. I designed a custom tri-amplifiable crossover with Patrick's advise and input for the customer - and I demanded that all three amplifiers be identical to maintain the coherence of the crossover.

He ended up with three pairs of JA800. Actually, three pairs mean six modules as the JA800 comes with separate amplifier module and power supply modules. What an over-the-top system! One day, I must go visit! But it will have to be in Winter - do you know how much heat 96 KT120 tubes put out? Especially since one of the trademarks of Jadis is high-bias operation??

Jadis is in the tiny village of Villedubert just outside the walled city of Carcassonne. It turned out to be a long drive West as I was in Nice, near the border to Italy, and Carcassone is near the border to Spain.


Long drive west.jpg

My kids love the board game Carcassonne, and I've played it with them on occasion, and I didn't realize that it was an actual place.


Carcassonne.jpg
 
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garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
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www.genesisloudspeakers.com
The village of Villedubert was a couple of minutes outside the walls of Carcassone.


Outside Carcassonne.jpg


Past some immaculate vineyards.


Villedubert.jpg

and we were welcomed by Patrick and Liliane. Since it was late Friday afternoon by the time we got there, the technicians had already gone home.


Sound Lab.jpg
Patrick Calmettes in his Sound Laboratory​


Patrick's sound lab looked much like mine - with wires everywhere. It was obviously a working laboratory, and not one in which they usually receive visitors. The Jadis factory was everything you'd expect of a small, boutique manufacturer.

One thing I learned - all the "bright work" of the Jadis products were imported from Germany! All components were French, as is the handwork and labor done. But the Germans still do the best work in highly-polished stainless steel and gold plate.

When I got there, he was comparing the sound of a pair of the newly-designed JA120 amps to an old pair of JA80's.
 
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garylkoh

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As a dutiful heir and successor, Patrick adheres to the practices established by his father, and has improved on them over the years.

Every single tube that they receive (they do not manufacture their own tubes) are burned in for 120 hours before being measured and matched. They they are burned in again, to ensure that the do not drift. That is why Jadis amplifiers are not easy to bias - they should be biased when new tubes are put in, and then they should be left alone. Enjoy the music! and don't obsess about biasing the tubes every session.

Burning-in.jpg

One of the machines they use to burn in the tubes date back over 25 years. Patrick showed me the back of the burn-in panel: it is built to the same standards as their amplifiers with direct point-to-point wiring and excellent components.

Burn machine.jpg


Every little tube used in a Jadis product is subject to the same quality process. I can only imagine the heat generated in the little room. Bikram Yoga anyone?


Small Burn.jpg
 

garylkoh

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The "Secret" Room

Patrick told me that one of the keys to the Jadis signature sound was the "secret sauce" in winding the output transformers. His father developed the formula and passed it down to him. He will in turn pass it down to his son.

Secret Room.jpg

This is the "Secret room" in which the transformers are wound. Encouraging me to take all the pictures I want, he was confident that no amount of pictures would reveal the formula. The transformers are designed for a distributed triple load, with separate windings for the anode, cathode, and the screen. Power pentodes like the 6550, KT120 and EL-34, are configured to function and sound like triodes but with considerably increased output.

These are the transformers of my favorite Jadis amplifier - the Defy7. They are stereo amps, but I like them best when they are configured with both channels paralleled as monoblocks (not bridged).

Defy7 transformers.jpg

They were being readied for a new generation of Defy7 - with all direct point-to-point wiring. Patrick told me that they are slowly improving all the designs by eliminating as far as possible the PCB. One of the most complicated designs was the JP80MC - and he proudly showed me the bottom of one.


JP80MC.jpg
 

garylkoh

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All their transformers are potted to reduce resonance in their "secret sauce".


Potted.jpg


and their power transformers are still being vacuum-impregnated with varnish in the same vacuum chamber and oven used by his father.


Vacuum oven.jpg
 

garylkoh

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So, where's the turntable I came all this way to see??

The Thalie was still in Germany! It seems that the special stone that they make it out of is extremely rare and difficult to work with and they only had enough to make 5 units in the first year.

But, we spent some time spinning tunes on the 25th Anniversary JP80MC, and the Calliope.

Calliope.jpg

Something Patrick was particularly proud of - a ganged stepped attenuator for the 25th Anniversary JP80 designed by him, and manufactured in Monaco!


Ganged.jpg

Both channels are matched, and a gear turns both knobs together. Yet, the right knob can be disengaged from the gear momentarily to adjust left/right balance.
 

garylkoh

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We listened to a few tunes, and I re-discovered an old favourite CD of mine in their collection.

Jonasz.jpg


.... and then it was back to Carcassonne to the "Maitre d'cassolet" for a - you guessed it - Cassoulet before the long trek back to Nice.

Auberge des Lices.jpg
 

Peter Breuninger

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That's a great write up Gary. I owned a JA-500 for years and just parted ways with it in 2012. I had a hard time moving the four chassis around and found that it was impracticable as a reviewing tool for base line testing. Also, I found a modern amplifier that surpassed it sonically (but not visually).
 

Jazzhead

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Gary .. thanks for that lovely pictorial depiction , thoroughly enjoyed it , great insight . Have you heard or had any experience with their JS1 DAC , any feedback would be welcomed .
 

MylesBAstor

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We listened to a few tunes, and I re-discovered an old favourite CD of mine in their collection.



.... and then it was back to Carcassonne to the "Maitre d'cassolet" for a - you guessed it - Cassoulet before the long trek back to Nice.


I've had the CD since the '90s but have been looking for the LP. Hard to find and not cheap. Was just beaten out on the last copy which went for $62. :(
 

jazdoc

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Gary, I'll join the 'thank you' chorus. Very cool to see how the son respects the methods of his father...
 

puroagave

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I've had the CD since the '90s but have been looking for the LP. Hard to find and not cheap. Was just beaten out on the last copy which went for $62. :(

i got mine off epay a few months ago from a french seller. pressing quality is ok, not great but the music that emerges from grooves smokes the cd. i paid ~50 delivered.
 

MylesBAstor

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i got mine off epay a few months ago from a french seller. pressing quality is ok, not great but the music that emerges from grooves smokes the cd. i paid ~50 delivered.

Yes that's why I stopped my bidding at $60 because you add another $20-30 for int. shipping and it becomes a $100 record :(
 

microstrip

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Gray,
Thanks for the great pictures and mostly for showing the burn-in stations. I have been saying it for long in WBF - Jadis are reliable and easy to bias if you use quality proper matched and well burned-in tubes. Perhaps now that people are seeing the stations photos they will believe it!
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,599
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Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
Gary .. thanks for that lovely pictorial depiction , thoroughly enjoyed it , great insight . Have you heard or had any experience with their JS1 DAC , any feedback would be welcomed .

The DAC we were using was the JS1. As with all Jadis products, it was golden, sweet and extremely musical.

Now, riddle me this. If the Jadis is coloured, then adding more Jadis components will make the system more coloured, right? However, that's not been my experience. I have customers with full Jadis systems that are just more supremely musical, but not more coloured as a result.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
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Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
Great photos and what a beautiful part of France.

Thanks Gary

I'd like you tell us more about the TT you were hoping to hear

I was hoping to find out more about it, but it wasn't back from Munich yet. So, all I have were the pictures from Wizard. It will retail at 47000 Euro including arm. So, much cheaper than Air Force One plus Vertere Reference arm.
 

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