Jern 14 DS Speaker Review

Jern 14 DS Speaker Review


This is my look at the revolutionary Jern 14 bookshelf speakers, they are quite simply unbelievable.   In Danish Jern means Iron, the 14 in the name references their weight, 14kg, each.  The revolution is in their construction, the Jern 14 DSs are made of cast iron.

they are quite simply unbelievable

I have had a really interesting time with speakers recently.  A lot of speaker chat and cabinet materials development these days seems to be about the cabinet and this seems to be a recent realisation in the HiFi game to me.  Speaker cabinets are no longer ported square wooden boxes, like my beloved KEF R700s.

The Avalon Transcendents, that I had a while back, were really really heavy and arrived in a screwed down wooden box that resembled the ‘Arc of the Covenant’ arriving on the driveway.  The premise there was weight, but it was still wood, with thicker sides to reduce resonance.   Then I think of the Focal No. 3s I went to the launch of several years back.  Driven by the Naim Statement, they were again a wooden ply moulded cabinet but each driver had a separate cabinet volume to maximise performance, through reduced resistance.   Even the new Focal Kantas had a load of effort put into their cabinet design but again these wonderful speakers are a high tech wooden ply, albeit designed for minimal resonance.  All of these speakers, not to mention the new Q Acoustics 500s I reviewed last week, are simply big wood based ported boxes with a heavy emphasis on design to remove resonant frequencies.

Design

the finish is singularly beautiful

Jern 14The design of these speaker cabinets is in cast iron, given this the speakers are rounded as the one piece casting process facilitates this.   The casting is made by parent company Dansk Skalform A/S, a Danish foundry renowned for casting complex engine blocks for the likes of Rolls Royce, Daimler, Siemens, VW and the like.

The cast iron material is apparently over 50 times better at reducing cabinet vibration than conventional wood, no kidding!  In addition, the round organic ‘Russian Doll’ shape facilitates greater sound quality but it also adds to the aesthetic of these speakers.  Each speaker has a unique cast fingerprint associated with it making it an individual piece; following the casting the speakers are powder coated, the finish is singularly beautiful.

The Jern 14 speakers feature ‘off the shelf’, Danish, Scanspeak products to produce the sounds.  There is a 5 1/4″ midrange and a 3/4″ tweeter.  Scanspeak products are used in many higher end speakers in the UK and are widely well regarded.  The Jern 14 speakers are two way speakers with a Mundorf crossover.

Because of the closed design and focus of the two drivers to create an irresistibly accurate sound a sub woofer is required to fill in the gap in the frequency response from the Scanspeak drivers.  Effectively this is a 2.1 system.  In this case, Jern recommend the REL T/5i subwoofer and to maximise this subwoofer performance Jern has produced a 23kg cast iron damping plate onto which the REL can be screwed down (so it doesn’t take off!!).

Jern 14DSThe main driver has a very wide frequency delivery, facilitating accuracy and fine imaging.  The design of full range delivery facilitates the separation of the bass enclosure from the Jern 14 cabinet and this seems to enhance the experience.

The range features a straight 14, a 14 DST, a 14EP, then there is a DS and an ES.  They have varying modifications from the first model but basically they are very similar.  The DS is the most popular, this is the one I have, it includes sheeps wool for tweeter dampening, and cloth covers on the drivers.

Jern 14 DS Specification

From the site

Design Two way. Phase linear wide dispersion design. Sealed cabinet for best transient response.
Drive Units Woofer 5 1/2 inch 149 mm frame. Excellent midrange performance due to:
Low Damping SBR Rubber Surround
Coated NRSC Fibre Glass Cone
Die cast Alu Chassis vented below spider.

Tweeter 19 mm. Wide dispersion. Low distortion due to:
Long excursion
Textile membrane.

Low resonant vented pole piece by dual rear chamber technology.

Frequency response 100 – 20.000 Hz
Comments These loudspeakers are developed to work really well together with a musical subwoofer.
Crossover Phase linear 6dB/octave custom-made crossover using Mundorf audio grade components delivers a fine 3D soundstage.
Amplifier requirements 15 – 150W / 8 Ohm Sensitivity (2.83V/1m) 88 dB Impedance 8Ω

Quality

The powder coating finish on the cast iron speakers is absolutely beautiful.  I’ve spent ages just feeling and stroking these speakers, they are so nice.  Out of the box, each speaker is a solid mass to handle and pulling them from the foam inserts is a task.  Being a floor standing disciple, I have no speaker stands so I have opted to site the Jern 14s on my KEF R700s, a rather expensive speaker stand I have to say.  Having said that, there are stands available from Jern, as well as an ingenious rubber ring for perching the 14s on.

There are magnetic covers on the drivers, the tweeter covers are magnetic and have a tendency to drop off at the slightest prompting.

Performance

Set-Up

The Jern 14DS speakers were sent to me with a Parasound zamp and are complimented by a REL T/5i subwoofer.  This integrated amplifier was supposed to help me get the best sound from the Jern 14s and the REL subwoofer combination.  However I have not been able to get the Parasound zamp working (could be a fuse) so I have defaulted to the stupendous (still) T+A AMP 8 in combination with a streaming pre amplifier, the Oppo Sonica DAC, using balanced cables between them.  I am using Atlas Mavros speaker cables to the Jern 14s and the supplied REL interconnector, bare wired into the speaker terminals of the AMP 8.  I am also using the Oppo UDP-205  as a CD player.

I first saw and made contact with Jern at the Birmingham Audio and AV show, a few weeks ago.  At the time I had just wandered into the Jern room after seeing the unbelievably un-affordable (yet sensational) £120,000ish Metaxas Sirens.  I recall wondering how you could possibly achieve such quality at an affordable price and then I came across the Jern room opposite.  The Jern 14DSs  were amazing then and they are now.

I thought I would note here, in respect of set-up, I have had no bother at all in setting up the Jern 14 speakers in terms of alignment to get a decent stereo image at all.  Unlike the Q 500s I had last week where I had all sorts of bother getting them lined up, this has been a breeze.

Soundstage and Resolution

In respect of resolution and detail, I have not heard Ryan Adams …. sound this good since I had the Sopra No. 2s

Whilst we all accept the CD player/streaming DAC and amplification are also of importance here, the sound stage delivered from this powerful power amplifier and Jern 14/REL combination is a sound to be heard.  It is truly head turning.  I’ve played this set-up casually to a couple of friends and they have noted the detail from this set-up immediately.  The ensuing conversation about price and relative value for money accentuates he point.

I find the soundstage to be powerful and dominant, I see a 3D image from the sound stage with vocals pin point and crystal clear.  Jack Garret’s ‘The Love You’re Given’ is a great track for listening to an open and wide presentation and it beautifully presented here with fabulous vocals too.

In respect of resolution and detail, I have not heard Ryan Adam’s ‘Sylvia Plath (Live at Carnegie Hall)’ sound this good since I had the Sopra No. 2s.  Another Track for resolution that I use is ‘Faust Arp’ by Radiohead; it is spellbinding, wonderfully crisp and detailed (then I listened to ‘Reckoner’, ‘House of Cards’, ‘Jigsaw..’etc).   Finally my USB delivered 24 bit copy of ‘The Numbers’ was as good as I’ve heard for a while now, with all the background chatter.

Tonality

For proper bass extension you need to listen to the end of ‘Rooting for You’ by London Grammar.  Here the REL subwoofer takes over and compliments the track perfectly, ending the track with that fabulous rumble.  Before then the Jern 14s have presented Hannah Reid’s vocal perfectly, the clarity and pitch are perfect.  This really is a remarkable combination, though having the subwoofer and mid/higher ranges separated by equipment designed for the purpose makes for a heady delivery.  It is like having a CD transport and a DAC separate, it just sounds better, when it is done properly.

Another true workout for your speakers if you need to explore the lower frequencies in a demo room could include the soundtrack from Blade Runner.  The track ‘2049’ is a brilliant workout and here the Jern 14s and the REL excel.

Rhythm and Dynamics

I have found the Jern 14s to be very lively, bright and dynamic.  There is no hint of cluttered presentation or confusion between instruments.  Of course, with a subwoofer placed separately from the other drivers you may generate timing issues, but I have not experienced this at all, and I was looking for it!  The rhythm and pace of tracks are perfectly delivered and, yet again, I have spent a long time delving into my own library and wandering around Tidal.

I felt I should explore wider musical genres as I was getting such a positive feeling from mainly vocal led pieces.  I had a listen to Van Halen’s ‘Panama’, a crazy, bouncy soft rock guitar led anthem.  And yet again the vocal was crystal clear with the driving pace all around the room.  ‘A Whole Lotta Love’ was similarly noteworthy for clarity and delivery.

Overall

I cannot commend these speakers enough, for the money they are out of this world

With a pair of these Jern DSs retailing near £2,000 and the REL 5 near £550, for £2,550 or so you are looking at, and listening to, an exceptionally high quality output for a relatively modest outlay, in my view.  Forget all the ‘bass extension’ nonsense and the ‘wide sound stage’, just have a think about how much money you want to spend and the quality you demand.  I cannot commend these speakers enough, for the money they are out of this world.

Love

Value for Money

Resolution

Cast iron fingerprint

Like

Flexibility

14 kg hulk

Wish

For nothing more

I could keep them

The Jern 14 DS speakers retail currently near £2,000.  The REL T/5i subwoofer retails near £550.  The Jern subwoofer cast iron base is retailing near £500.

Karma AV is the place to go for distribution of the Jern 14DS.

 

 

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