Jamo S 805

Meet the smallest floorstander in Jamo’s new Studio 8 range. HFC finds out if its heart is bigger than its cabinet

There is a school of thought among some loudspeaker buyers that standmount designs are a bit of a waste of time. To be clear, this is not referring to those small speakers mounted on wall brackets or tucked away on a shelf, but rather those that are positioned in their own space on the floor atop a pair of stands. 

Their reasoning is simple enough – if the amount of space taken up in the room by a pair of small speakers on stands or a slim pair of floorstanders is exactly the same; then why not go for the latter? You’ll get more bass, more depth and more woodwork for your money – all good points. But as with most things hi-fi related, it’s rather more complicated than that. As a proponent of the school of loudspeaker scale, I’ve always felt that there’s a lot to be said for going straight for something bigger.

However, every now and then, a company comes along with a ‘bigger’ loudspeaker that stretches the definition to its limit. Totem Acoustic did it with the Arro (HFC 353), Quad did it a few years back with the 21L and now it is Jamo’s turn with the arrival of the petite S 805.

The S 805 is the smallest floorstander in Jamo’s new Studio 8 range, which was unveiled this year to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. Founded in 1968 in Glyngøre, Denmark, by Preben Jacobsen and Julius Mortensen, Jamo has been through a varied history right up to its current position today as part of the Klipsch group, which purchased the company in 2005.

The Studio 8 range has a pretty comprehensive lineup, consisting of two standmounts, three floorstanders, two centres and a Dolby Atmos module, and as with any loudspeaker range that’s been designed for both stereo and multi-channel installations, the company also manufactures a matching slim subwoofer.

In technical terms, the S 805 is bang up to date. Bass duties are handled by a 127mm polyfiber bass driver that is loaded by a front-firing slot port. This then hands over at 2kHz to a 25mm soft dome tweeter with shallow horn-loading, courtesy of Jamo’s WaveGuide, which stands out nicely thanks to its rather tasty wood finish. Grilles are supplied that attach to the front of the cabinet using hidden magnets, but in this case it seems a shame to hide the baffle.

The cabinet is available in white, black and walnut finishes, with the tweeter WaveGuide being walnut on the white and black models and black on the walnut cabinet. Finally, a sub-flush trim panel around the base of each floorstander is finished to match the WaveGuide colour, and four silver outrigger feet are supplied that need to be fitted before use. These add a final styling flourish and increase the footprint for added stability, but, unfortunately, have no threads to accept spikes – just some rubber pads. This limits the absolute stability of the S 805 on carpet.

All in all, the cabinet is well made, even if the white finish doesn’t look that dissimilar to some self-assembly furniture I have dotted around the home. More disappointing is the owner’s manual, which is less a set of instructions and more a collection of random illustrations and smiley face logos. This irritating trend started a few years ago, and it needs to stop.

Sound quality
With the Jamo warmed up and connected to a Yamaha A-S500 integrated amplifier (HFC 364) and Cambridge Audio Azur 650C CD player, it is soon clear that this loudspeaker punches well above its weight. From the first bars of music it surprises with the sheer depth and impact, while the poise and detail it serves up is quite impressive at times.

Does is do bass? Yes, absolutely! It has a bottom-end solidity that similarly priced standmounts miss out on, endowed with a fine level of detail; it’s not just a resonant thump added to make things sound ostensibly impressive. Dance bass lines like that from Underworld’s Jumbo pound out with confidence and pleasing weight, while the double bass on Diana Krall’s Popsicle Toes has a pleasingly woody ‘bloom’ to it. Each note is clear and nicely separated from its neighbours, and the S 805 always seems to be having fun.

In fact, during the audition, I find myself searching out increasingly punchier and funky tracks to really test its low-end limits, which is something I really did not expect. Fortunately, it takes it all in its stride; synth bass notes have good attack and bass guitar lines are pleasingly rounded and tuneful. Of course, there is a limit to this and it comes when the material starts to get a little busier. Here, the bass lines seem a little overpowered, but even then, the Jamo does not give up and fall apart. Instead, the low-end action simply shrinks in on itself a little and fades into the background somewhat. As a result, tracks like The Cinematic Orchestra’s Everyday start well during the double bass-only introduction, but lose some drive and impact when the bass drum kicks in. Still, this is a fine result for such a compact design. After all, as a well known Star Trek chief engineer is known to say: “Ye cannae change the laws of physics...”

At the top end, the S 805 is clean and insightful. Yes, of course it would be unreasonable to expect Air Motion Transformer levels of delicacy and fluidity from £350 loudspeakers, but it has a damn good try. As a result, cymbals have a meaty sense of crispness to them and yet the delicacy of gently struck percussion lurking in the background is never lost. When things are pushed louder or the source material is less than sympathetic, the S 805 tends to harden up somewhat, but it just stops short of sounding openly strident.

And what of the middle ground, where bass and treble meet? Well, it is here that I find its trump card. Lead vocals are remarkably open and detailed, with a fine level of central image stability and backing vocals lined up neatly behind. The Jamo even has a good bash at a sense of scale, although this is limited by its diminutive stature. I would suggest a reclining listening position on a low futon or bean bag is the best way to experience its charms. This done, you will find that it captures the innate nature of both electronic and acoustic instruments well and rarely sounds crowded or confused in imagery terms.

You could listen to this loudspeaker’s weaker areas and excuse these by reminding yourself that it’s not a costly design. However, during my time with the Jamo I find myself doing the exact opposite – namely being impressed by its copious strengths and, on several occasions, marvelling that, yes, it really is a pair of floorstanders for only £350. There are times when I’m gently reminded of this, but frankly, the time it spends pounding out a rollicking tune with joyous abandon makes any real criticism seem churlish. It’s almost impossible not to fall for at the price. AS

Product: Jamo S 805
Price: £349
Origin: USA/Far East
Type: 2-way floorstanding loudspeaker
Weight: 9kg
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 191 x 787 x 252mm

● 1x 25mm soft dome tweeter
● 2x 127mm mid/bass drivers
● Quoted sensitivity 88dB/1W/1m (8ohm)

Distributor: Henley Audio Ltd.
Telephone: 01235 511166
Website: henleyaudio.co.uk

Read the full review in July issue 438