I've always been drawn to tube amps, but never really ponied up the cash for a high end tube (I've been kicking myself for missing out the deal on Antique Sound Lab's $99/each wave8 monoblock tube amps).
Well, I was in the middle of a move, and I decided to get a new amp (since the input selector was dying and cutting out the L channel).
I had the Magnepan MGMC1s, along with an HSU-STF1 subwoofer and an Arcam Delta 290 amp (a sweet little solid state amp).
However, it wasn't until I popped in the Jolidas, that I realized how poorly the Arcams were driving the maggies.
The soundstage opened up, and the red carpet rolled out in front of me. Diana Krall descended from the heavens and sang to me with a voice full of presence, seperation, without a hint of sibilance or muddiness. Her voice hovered right in front of me, as the background instruments swelled and surrounded me.
I opened my eyes to realize I was still in my living room. The Jolidas did something the Arcam could not do - seperate and image each instrument/sound, and pay each of them 110% attention. The subwoofer had new life breathed into it as well - extended lower, and the bass was tighter and faster. It blended with the maggies like butter.
I can't say enough good things about the amp. The sweet glassy glow just tops it all off. Stereo Unlimited of walnut creek included the cryo tubes as a bonus, but I have no other tubes to compare with, so I'm not sure how much of a difference they make.
Late 2005 found me itching for an upgrade to my two channel, solid state system. I started the obsessive research native to our kind and was starting to settle on a NAD system when I happened upon a write up of a Jolida tube amp. I haven't owned tubes in over 20 years and frankly thought they were well outside my price range. After researching Jolida here, there and everywhere, I decided to take the dangerous next step of auditioning tubes. Needless to say, I was hooked and the rest is glowing, glass tube history. For the money, this amp is fantastic. It is extremely transparent and capable of playing anything you throw at it. I have it mated to a Music Hall 25.2 CD player and Totem Acoustic Hawks. I decided I wanted to add a sub (Totem Thunder), so I also purchased the Jolida preamp (used on eBay). (I know, no self respecting 2 channel guy would do this. Take my membership card.) This added preouts for a sub and remote control of volume and muting.
What does it sound like? It has all of the characteristics of a tube amp. It sounds really clean and natural without any digital edges. What is recorded is what you get. If the source recording sucks, it really sucks coming through tubes. If a piece is well recorded it sounds extremely life like. The amp has good range and creates a deep and wide soundstage. Some reviews question the low end power of this and other tube amps and it doesn't drive as deep or hit as hard as quality solid state equipment. If deep, teeth shattering bass is what you crave, add the preamp and incorporate a sub. Many reviewers comment on tubes helping them 'rediscover' the joy of two channel music and this little amp is no exception. I truly enjoy kicking back and listening to music again. For the price you can't go wrong. A word on swapping out the tubes. I swapped the Jolida tubes for 'better' russian tubes and while it did change the sound, I thought it made it less enjoyable. On a business trip, I stopped by Jolida's headquarters and bought a fresh set of factory tubes. To my ear, they sound much more life like. Remember, no matter what the audiophile crowd tells you about this widget or that tweak, it really is all about what you hear and what you enjoy balanced by what you can afford. I can't say enough positive about this amp.
For the record, I listened to a 503B as well and I prefer this model. It offers a more versatile platform for listening to a wider variety of music for my ear.
If you are looking for a way to get back to two channel music and want the sound that tubes provide but aren't made of money, give this a listen. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you get for the money.
I already have a great Tube amplifier - a Jadis Orchestra Reference with KT90 tubes.
I wanted a second, backup amp, that I could "roll" tubes with and upgrade for fun. So I took a shot and bought this Jolida based only on the other Jolida products which I have heard in the past.
The Jadis amp is a hand made French product - second to none in quality of workmanship and sound. However, the Jadis costs approximately Three times the price of this Jolida 707A - So I wasn't really expecting a close race.
I was absolutely astounded at the performance of the less expensive Jolida,
It came so close to the Jadis in sound, that it took several back and forth swithes to hear any significant differece.
In some ways the Jolida has an overall sweeter sound. The KT90 tubes of the Jadis put out a slightly clearer, brighter, more present sound, but not enough to warrant an extra $2000 as far as I am concerned.
I am a trained Musician with a degree from Berklee in Boston. I played for many years and I actually know what live music sounds like. This amp reveals whatever music is on the CD - period.
I replaced the power tubes with SED 6L6 gc- "winged" tubes- the sound changed slightly - not particularly better than the stock 6P3 tubes that Jolida sent - just different. The (Chinese- I assume) tubes that came with the amp were not bad at all - I kinda liked them - a little brighter that the 6L6's. The 6L6's give a slightly more powerfull sound - is the only way I can describe it.
I listen to Jazz and some Rock - I drive these amps with a Consonance 2.2 tube output CD player that puts out a very detailed smooth sound. The amp goes out to Spendor S8's - two way speakers that are extremly accurate, detailed and about as evenhanded a speaker as anyone has ever made - with, what I call, an "easy bass" that just sounds like real music.
This system is so good that I can hear a difference when I change the interconnect or the speaker wires.
The Jolida 707A integrated amp is a very musical, detailed - but never harsh, amp. It performs far above its price point. My guess is it will drive any speaker with a db rating of 87 or above into tube ecstasy.
I am through testing and comparing these amps - now I just listen to the music.
When I couldn't audition this amp at my local dealer (model not on demo) I turned to Underwoodwally.com, a web-based audio dealer with impeccable standards and a reputation that is second to none.
To make a long story short, I purchased the JD-707 unheard. Having owned several other Jolida amps in the past, and I liking their sound very much, I felt the risk of buying the JD-707 without a dem was minimal. My assumption was correct. However, this is not your typical sounding Jolida.
Before I get into the specifics about this amp I must point out that, immediately upon unpacking and setting up the amp, I swapped out all the stock tubes for matched pairs of NOS RCA black-plate 12AX7s, NOS RCA "Command" 12AT7s, and a matched quad of "Winged C" 6L6 tubes.
Where other all-tube integrated amps I've used in the past fell short at delivering harmonic reproduction and depth, the JD-707 excels. I have never heard deeper into a soundstage with any other amp, Jolida or otherwise, than with the JD-707.
The JD-707 is a detail retriever. But not the sort of hyper-detail that other amps thrust out at you, saying "look at me." The JD-707 has style and finesse, and the sort of detail that makes one sit up and take notice, even when volumes are only at background music levels. That's how much detail this amp can unravel.
One can clearly hear the vibrato in pianos, basses, and other stringed instruments that lesser amps simply paint over. Music takes on a whole other dimension with the JD-707. Voices, harmonics, and tones, all have excellent body and weight not found in lesser quality amps. There’s no denying that the extra costs involved in building the JD-707 have yielded a significantly better sounding (and looking) amp. You get what you pay for.
The soundstage it presents is wide, deep, and focused, too. It is very easy to follow individual instruments and voices within a song, as the JD-707 can unravel even the most complex musical passages with ease, even picking out background vocals hidden deep within the mix.
But the real shocker for me has to be its bottom end. When the music calls for it, bass is weighty, and has real depth, but adds nothing artificial like so many other amps do. It sounds balanced from top to bottom, but has a lovely mid-band full of sparkle and finesse. I can go on and on, but I think the point has been made.
This is an amp for the person who loves music, instruments, and voices, and how each one interacts to become a collective whole. It has the ability to stir the emotion with its golden portrayal of rich textures and harmonics. Simply put, it makes music. If these things are appealing to you then this is the amp for you.
CD Player: JVC XL-Z1050TN
Loudspeakers: Magnepan MG-1
Speaker Cables: Audioquest CV-6 DBS Interconnects: Audioquest King Cobra