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Jamo Concert 8 and Concert 11

[Jamo Concert 8 - click for the full-size image]
[Italian version]

product: Jamo Concert 8 and 11 loudspeakers
manufacturer: Jamo, DK
approximate price: ECU1500+500 (8+stands), ECU2750 (11)

A high-end speaker from Jamo. Even more, a serious high-end speaker from Jamo! What next?

After all Jamo is the Number One speaker seller of the Olde World, with - superficially at least - a product line seemingly managed by Pete Townshend: What with speakers sporting labels like 'Digital Ready', 'Laser Line', and 'Pro 600'? Or something like that. I'm not good at memorizing such trivia.

Who are these utterly non-dynaudioed, non-bee-'n'-oed Danes anyway? I, for one, remember seeing the brand first in 1983 or so, when my granddad bought a Goldstar music centre and a pair of small Jamo 2-ways. And guess what, these boxes were not bad, for the low amount of money they required.

That's what made Jamo big: all these years they have been selling masses of not-too-crappy cheap crappy speakers to the masses. Until they had made themselves a nice financial base, a foundation, to build more ambitious projects upon.

This started with the 07 series of speakers, some years ago (see right) : modern-looking tall columns with a stylish sound (although still too much of continental hi-fi and too little of real music for my tastes).

It sort-of culminated in the Oriel (see left), Jamo's gigantic top-of-the-line speaker that is unashamed high-end, sounding perhaps like a Wilson WITT, but with better bass. Oh, and with a better price.

Still, one spectacular sky-fi speaker is not quite sufficient to seduce real-world audiophiles like you and me, so something more affordable was needed. Enter the Concert series: the not-so-small 8 stand-mounted, the 11 floorstander, and the Center center channel, squarely aimed at the discerning audiophile, perhaps with some tendencies towards hometheater, and at the discerning videophile, hopefully not entirely lost to good music.

Concert 8

Let's begin with the little one, the Concert 8. Well, 'little' is relative, with its 38x24.5x31cm dimensions and a back-breaking weight. The black baffle is made of a sand-based compound, very inert, while the rest of the enclosure is of nicely veneered MDF, imparting the Jamos with a Sonus Faber-inspired Danish chique.

The driver complement is a Seas soft dome tweeter, and the new Seas magnesium cone woofer, which, incidentally, was pioneered in the Belgian Equation speakers (hmm, maybe an idea for a future review...). The speakers are ported at the back, indicating a position well clear of the back wall. Talk about position, Jamo make optional stands for the Concert 8, priced at ECU500 and looking quite unusual.

Concert 11

Take the Concert 8, extend it to a big floorstander, add a woofer for the low bass, while restricting the magnesium bass/mid driver's task to upper bass and mediums, and lo, you have a Concert 11! No more words needed.

Or do we? The back of the speaker is a bit unusual: there are bi-wiring binding posts, having the additional option of inserting in-built resistors into the tweeter's crossover leg. This is, in fact, a very very straightforward method for adapting the speaker's tonal balance to your room, your system, or your taste. It does not require cheesy tone controls on the amplifier (leaving your audiophile pride intact!), and it is utterly harmless as the crossover designer has taken all possible effects duly into account. More speaker manufacturers should do this, but to my knowledge only Magnepan (all models) and Tannoy (just a few) follow the same practice.
Still, even a not-so-handy DIY'er could easily insert resistors or inductors into the tweeter-lead of any biwirable speaker...

The Sound of Danish Butter Cookies

This being an outdoors-test (on known grounds, though), the system was not my usual Michell/Rega/Quad rig. Instead we used some old and new friends:

The software complement was made up of some of my test stalwarts, as well as new stuff: Tori Amos' "Under The Pink", 10000 Maniacs "Unplugged", Yo-Yo Ma's "Inspired by Bach", Mary Black "The Collection", and finally Loreena McKennitt's "The Visit". Apparently I wasn't in the mood for hard rock or new wave. But then, the weather was hot...

Concert 11

This is not an easy speaker. For starters, the full-throttle treble setting is unbearably bright. Bring it down top medium damping, and you get a nice tonal balance. Go all the way with the tweeter restors, and you throw out precious air and detail. So, only the medium position sounds fine. BUt even then there is always a trace of hardness on voices, and uncontrolled sibilance. You can work around this, but at the very least, this indicates that the Concert 11 requires a lot of effort in system and room matching, lest you end up with an overly nervous sound.

But pay them justice and, positioned 1m from the back wall, you are rewarded with a bass and midrange that are very neutral, very open, tight, and controlled. In fact, the level of detail and the utter lack of colouration in these areas surpasses my electrostatics. A fine example is Ma's recording: this is a solo cello that my own system (courtesy of that room-induced suckout at 200Hz) portrays as slightly thin and unnatural, a bit incomplete. With the big Jamo speakers the instrument simply was there, with its body, the strings, the bow, sometimes Yo-Yo Ma's fingers ticking against the wood, and natural, powerful dynamics. Quite wonderful.

And more: these speakers retain their character consistently over the whole dynamic range. If you want to bang hard they just do it without a flinch. Massed music or crescendi sound utterly composed and open, the several melodic and rhythmic strands lead bare in the plane around the loudspeakers.

Maybe a touch too bare, then. While Tori Amos and Mary Black did well too, 10000 Maniacs was revealed as only a mediocre recording.
Which brings us to another point: On my own system most of my music sounds pretty good. But the Jamos make you sift through the sofware, discarding less-than-perfect discs, which is not quite what a music system is about!

Concert 8

The smaller Concert 8 has the same upper bass, medium, and top-end as its larger sibling. Open, uncoloured, and a bit too bright, especially as the speaker lacks the treble controls in its crossover. Spaced 50cm from the back wall there is a lot of punchy bass for this size of loudspeaker, with quite fine dynamics and scale, but in the end the sound misses a real foundation. This means that the speaker is not balanced correctly, the treble going too far, being not compensated for at lower frequencies.
And this, in my opinion, spoils the '8 completely. It may be technically an accomplished product, but musically it is inferior to, for instance, the Quad 77-10L (grab them while you can!). Maybe that a tube amplifier proves to be a better match, but in my opinion Jamo really should re-think the tonal balance of this model: there is clearly enough potential here to make a decent speaker of it.


The Concert 11 is a rather difficult loudspeaker that nevertheless, given enough care in finding matching ancillaries, can deliver the goods. At its best, its combination of a neutral and controlled sound with excellent build quality and perceived value, makes it worth its asking price.
I have more problems with the Concert 8. As a small speaker it sounds unbalanced, yet with stands its cost is rather high: 73% of its bigger brother. I'd say: forget about it.

© Copyright 1998 Werner Ogiers - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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