I have long been an advocate for Jern speakers, my reaction to them was immediate, incredible even. I sourced a pair of Jern 14DSs within weeks of their first appearance at the Birmingham HiFi Show in 2017. With my recent experience of them being enhanced immeasurably by the REL Tzero MkIIIs last month, how could I turn down the opportunity of listening to one of the first pairs of Jern 15 loudspeakers in the UK?
Jern means Iron in Danish and Jern speakers come from the Danish company Dansk Skalform, which is a precision casting company. They cast parts for the automotive sector, like manifolds, suspension turbocharger housings and many other precision parts etc. Jern speakers use a special grade grey cast Iron (called Vibrakill), with a high amount of Graphite mixed in the Iron to create a virtually inert cabinet for the speaker drivers. The Jern range is numbered from 11-15. Whilst the ‘cabinet’ remains basically the same the range varies by the speaker drivers installed and the other components, like the crossovers and the packing material inside the cabinet. I have the 14DS which was the top range when I bought it, but it has been superseded by a 14EH that features a gold dome ‘hiquphon’ tweeter (Interestingly, I hear I could get my hands on the hiquphon tweeter ‘package’ and replace my tweeter with it myself, thus relatively easily upgrading my 14 DSs, but that’s another story).
The Jern 15 has a new bespoke 14cm SEAS long-throw woofer with a 104sq cm come area and a new bespoke 22mm Wavecore tweeter. The larger cone enables the frequency range to be pulled down to 59Hz from the usual 90Hz, though a subwoofer is still advised. The Jern 15 is stuffed with lambswool for internal damping purposes and there is an improved Mundorf crossover, not to mention gold plate binding posts!
One of the key features of the Jern speakers is they can be placed right next to the wall given their inert nature. For those looking for a smaller audio footprint, Jern is bringing out a woofer stand to complement the 14 range and obviate the need for a subwoofer solution. This range is numbered 514.
The Jern speakers come in a powder-coated black, grey, red, or a polar white finish. I have the polar white finish which is beautiful to look at and touch. I’ve not seen the red ones in the flesh, but they too look rather special.
The speakers individually are cumbersome to move about, I find. Weighing in at 15. 5kg they are solid, and they need a decent heavy stand to sit on. The dimensions are 30 cm tall, 19,5 cm deep and 21 cm wide.
The Jern 15s do not seem to have the WBT Nextgen binding posts that are very high quality, this is a fraction disappointing though I’m sure Jern will address this matter as these binding posts are a feature of my 14s. As with my black 14s, the dust covers struggle to stay in place and I generally run the speakers without them for this reason.
The Jern 15 is distributed by Audio-T in the UK, there are other suppliers. The Jern 15 loudspeaker is priced at £2,998, enquires can be made to the current sales agent in the UK Brian Welch. There is a list of dealers here. You might prefer a subwoofer or two, take a look at the baby REL Review too.
I’m listening to the Jern 15s supported by a pair of the REL Tzero MkIII subwoofers. I’m just using a Bluesound Node 2i as a source which is perfectly acceptable and an Anthem MRX AV 740 driving the speakers as they are currently in our rigged-up cinema room. I happen to be using Vertere cabling with the Node 2i and Kudos KS-1 speaker cable.
There is a heck of a lot of noise coming from such a tiny footprint here
Initially, I’m finding the Jern 15 loudspeaker easier to drive and a touch louder, possibly because of the increased cone area over the 14s. This increase in air movement was quite noticeable with electronic dance music, like Zomboy’s Terror Squad. In this track, the Jern 15 loudspeaker remains particularly articulate and clear, despite the mayhem they are delivering. There is a heck of a lot of noise coming from such a tiny footprint here. The twin baby RELs though, are definitely on the edge; if you are into electronic dance music, you may have a preferred subwoofer arrangement anyway.
I feel I have more weight with the 15s…with a slightly fuller vocal
The key feature of the Jern speakers is their imaging and this remains with the 15s. The first point of call is to Fleet Foxes to see how their wall of guitars is handled. In Helplessness Blues (Qobuz 24 bit, 96kHz) there are layered acoustic guitars that can sometimes get lost in the crescendo of noise but with these 15s the rhythm guitar feels thrown out wide and clearly separated pulling the song with it. The vocal remains clear and centred creating a wide and very satisfying musical experience.
In comparison with the 14s I get a similar image, the soundstage is supported by the pair of RELs in both cases but I feel I have more weight in the high midrange with the 15s and I prefer the upgraded Wavecor tweeter with a slightly fuller vocal. Indeed, the vocal is enhanced with the 15s listening to Newton Faulkner’s version of Teardrop (MQA Studio, 44.1kHz). I have no complaints through with my 14s but I get that firm feeling of ‘a fraction more’ with the Jern 15s (I’ve done a lot of swapping!).
…without subwoofers, the Jern 15 loudspeakers are hugely capable and retain their presence and razor-sharp resolution
Since the 15s are designed with a different philosophy to the 14s (designed purposely as a 2.1 speaker) in respect of the fuller frequency range arcing down towards 59Hz I thought it would be interesting to listen to the 15s without a subwoofer combination. I’ve moved the Jern 15 loudspeakers to my listening room with the Moor Amps Angel 6 with the Angel preamplifier and an iFi Pro iDSD DAC (I’m using Mconnect on Android with the iFi Audio). I have the Tellurium Q Ultra Black II speaker cable here too. It is a thrilling, powerful presentation with such detail.
Necessarily, I put Newton Faulkner’s version of Teardrop and wait for the ‘take off’ at 1’28”. The guitar taps at the introduction retain their detail and crispness. At the crescendo the bass is deeper than I was expecting and is satisfying enough, you need only moderate volume to get this weight but I’m using an Angel 6 which has 150W/ch and it is barely sweating at this point. Nevertheless, without subwoofers, the Jern 15 loudspeakers are hugely capable and retain their presence and razor-sharp resolution.
…the Jern 15 loudspeaker is an improvement on an already strong range…
Over the last few years, Jern has been improving their already impressive range of loudspeakers by advancing the woofer driver and tweeter combinations as well as the crossovers to provide a choice for all, and the Jern 15 loudspeaker is an improvement on an already strong range that I have built a whole listening room around. I would favour the REL Tzero combination without hesitation to support the impeccable imaging from these speakers.
Snow white finish
Soundstage with REL/subwoofer
WBT NextGen binding posts
Hiquphon gold dome tweeter
Full details of the Jern 15 loudspeaker is on the company’s site