Ever since I accused a set of thin tower loudspeakers of being good as surreal art décor items yet crap as sound reproducers, I have had to fight my prejudice against skinny 'designer' speakers. To me, thin towers equalled thin, reedy sound, with little or no mid-bass and no lower frequencies; I'll trust huge boxes to produce big scale, accurate sound and tend to distrust the skinny.
Of course, I'm in the minority. As the explosion in wall-mounted flatscreen TV technology continues to gain momentum, the demand for neat, tidy screen-surrounding speakers rockets, too.
There are many configurations one can have of the A 7. My review sample was a 5.1 system, with an example of each of the product range included. I had a pair of very small A 702s as rears, a pair of towerstyle A 775s, an A 7CEN centre enclosure and one A 7SUB active woofer.
The A 702 comes with a wall-mounting bracket affixed to its back, but for a fairly stiff extra £50, you can buy a bookshelf stand. There's nothing bar a small 3.5in so-called mid-bass driver and a compact .75in tweeter in there.
The mightier towers at front-left and-right, the A 775, have a 'huge' 4in speaker to go with the same tiny tweeter. The towers are ported in their fl anks, via a rubber port that provides laminar fl ow of air and energy, yet is moulded to fi t the aluminium extrusion's vertical lines. This probably looks a bit intestiney inside, as the small cubic and small surface area of speaker cone, however far it is able to go to and fro, is still able to generate a real low-end with suffi cient weight to believe the quoted lower frequency extension of 65Hz. Amazing! You can tune a 4in driver to deliver 65Hz, given enough cubic...
The centre enclosure is a sort of hybrid between the A 775 towers and the small A 702 rears, in that it uses that impossibly tiny 3.5in main driver and yet has more cubic area than the rears. It can play down to 100Hz, which is still impressive.
Mr. Subwoofer is a single 10in driver that the makers have located at the rear of the unit. Oddly, it stands upon what most makers use as the back plate. The mains and single phono in and out sockets are found underneath the speaker. You get a simple knob to set cut off frequency between 50Hz and 200Hz, and a sweepable phase knob underneath there, too.
The volume is nowhere to be seen. Then you position your item and look at the cartoon manual. (needs to be, the warranty is printed in 23 languages!) The volume knob is actually the whole chromed surround to the funky cool lit up round bit on the top. The sub is pretty enough to leave on show in your room. So, not much in the way of controls, and obviously only meant for pukka home cinema LFE output owning punters as it has no speaker-level inputs or outputs. Still, two sets of gain adjustment - one on the sub and via your LFE control - is better than relying solely on the LFE output's voltage.
My prime test movie for this review was the new ...Narnia flick. I confess to being a lifelong CS Lewis fan, and can confi rm the fi lm was made lovingly and with great respect for Lewis' dialogue. However, they have fi lled in the sparse narrative; where, for instance, in the book it was a given that the Pevensie children had been shipped to the country as evacuees, here we see some of the blitz over London and fi ll in detail on some of the kids' characters. Thus, the film opens with a frighteningly real bomb raid over London, inside German bombers' cockpits and down with the bombs to trash the capital. As is so often the case, a seriously challenging movie sequence is the best way to reveal a system's performance in no time at all.
It was clear that, despite the huge differences in size between the various enclosures, the voice matching of the Jamo system is excellent. This has to be down to the use of properly-matched tweeters all round. Giving the smaller speakers the same quality HF driver is a great rule to follow.
That the speaker models vary by lowerend cut-off is not that apparent, as the subwoofer, although ultimately quite limited in performance both for level and profundity, nonetheless manages to take over very well from the other speakers and provide a reasonably melodic lower end.
The ratings of said lower-end extensions on each speaker type are entirely believable, too, as the impact and fullness of lower mid-bass events is seemingly anchored in the system, not off to one side, even though most of the weight and feel of the sound comes from the subwoofer, with only the lower mid-bass biff effects based within the fi ve speakers surrounding you.
The A7 system boasts great dynamics and, as described, far more weight than you would imagine. There is a richness that seems to belie the speakers' size, with vocal clarity and defi nition that comes through even during air raids. Meanwhile, in Narnia, Aslan's roar and Jadis' shout are capable of raising fear-induced goose bumps. Only possible with a quality set of kit. That said, the quieter sequences are also a treat, with great placement and soundstaging even at lower levels.
Jamo's A7 might just be the set to finally nail the pretty-versus-performance compromise, since essentially there is no compromise involved here. What's not to like?