Wharfedale’s new Jade range is one of 2011’s big hi-fi launches. And, the first model up for evaluation is the Jade-5, a stocky, yet elegant floorstander.
Wharfedale has pulled out all the stops designing these new speakers. The curved cabinet is made from a proprietary new substance called Crystalam.
Instead of using MDF, Wharfedale claims that its new multi-layer composite helps to dampen and reduce the effect of cabinet vibrations.
The Jade-5 also uses Wharfedale’s new cone material, Acufiber. The company claims it brings together the best elements of glass and carbon fibre with a self-damping woven matrix for a responsive yet neutral sound.
The Jade-5’s twin 15cm bass drivers and single 7.5cm midrange driver both use this cone material.
A traditional 25mm aluminium dome tweeter competes the three-way driver arrangement.
Hard-hitting but detailed
Instead of using a bass port or a sealed cabinet, Wharfedale has used an unusual solution – aperiodic bass-loading – and their bass makes its presence felt.
Low notes sound weighty and powerful, yet they’re handled with great care and control.
Spin The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die and, given the brute force of the track’s bass output, the level of composure shown by the Jade-5s is outstanding.
But besides revelling in heavyweight tracks, they can handle the pitter-patter of more delicate tunes and instruments with equal aplomb.
A play of Sufjan Stevens’ Jacksonville highlights the detail that the speakers pick up. Leading edges are crystal clear: you can peer into the soundstage and follow any instrument that takes your fancy.
You might be worried about integration between the four drivers, but the Jade-5s knit each element together well. It’s only when you bi-wire that that the track starts to unravel: single-wired gets better results.
Take extra care when matching them up to a system, though. Using our reference Bryston amp the Wharfedales sounded a little lean in the midrange and treble.
Switch to an amp with a richer, fuller sound, such as the brilliant Roksan Caspian M2 (£1595), and they’re an instant hit.
These are seriously capable speakers. We wonder how the rest of the range will fare…