Review samples supplied by Hexagon Audio
Retail prices in the NL including 21% VAT, per pair:
Black or White Lacquer, Matte: € 5.500
Black or White Lacquer, High Gloss: € 6.000
Any RAL color, Matte or High Gloss: +10%
One of the benefits of being a reviewer is that relatively unknown brands still have a way of finding me. Of course, it also helps if a given distributor (Hexagon Audio in this case) has an eclectic portfolio.
Established in 2011, Pylon Audio currently has a wide range of loudspeakers, of which I will be reviewing their top-of-the-line product Jasper 25.
The bass- and midrange frequencies are reproduced by a pair of 18cm Scan-Speak Revelator mid-woofers (18W/8531G00), while the upper mid frequencies are taken care of by a tweeter with one of the lightest domes in its category, the Scan-Speak D2608/913000. The drivers used in the Jasper 25’s design have been carefully selected, not only in terms of technical parameters but also in a series of subjective tests.
With the Jasper 25, Pylon has moved away from rectangular forms because bent surfaces reduce the formation of standing waves inside the enclosure. The profiled front wall of the enclosure is designed not only to increase the aesthetic experience and visual lightness of the structure but also to align the acoustic centers in the sensitive mid-high section. According to the manufacturer, this helps to achieve the consistency so important for the realism known from listening to live music and it also facilitates the location of instruments within the sound stage.
The Jasper 25’s are quite deep, especially when compared with the very shallow Magicos, but they are narrower and less tall than the S1 mkII’s.
At just over 100 cm tall, 20 cm wide, and 41cm deep, the Jaspers have a well-balanced appearance, relatively narrow from the front and relatively deep to achieve a good internal volume, and as a package neither too small nor too large and at 31kg’s, they are still easy to move around.
Specified at a nominal 4 Ohms and with a 90dB efficiency, the Jaspers should be compatible with a wide range of amplifiers. With a specified bandwidth of 32Hz – 20kHz, listening tests readily confirm that the Jasper 25’s go very deep indeed, and the bass is of good quality, too. However, as I found, their rich and full-bodied tonal balance does favor well-controlled amplifiers.
The Jasper 25’s will be listened to in a system consisting of the CH Precision C1 DAC connected directly to the CH Precision A1.5 power amplifier via a CH Balanced Link XLR cable. The speaker cables used are mainly the Jorma Trinity, although great results were also achieved with the FoilFlex cables. As digital sources, I will use the Antipodes K50 Music Server, the Aqua LinQ and the Grimm Audio MU1. The analog section normally consists of the Origin Live Calypso mk4 turntable with ViRA Aidas Rainbow cartridge, the CH Precision P1 phono stage, and Ayon Stealth preamp. As a very nice extra, I currently also have the AVID Sequel turntable with Dynavector 10×5 mkII cartridge available.
Starting with the Jaspers in-between the Magico S1 mkII’s, it soon became apparent that they needed more space, so I moved the Magicos off to the sides and that made a marked improvement. After having tried countless positions to the sides, for-, and aft positions of the usual location, it turned out that the Jaspers sounded best when in the exact same position as the Magicos. When moved closer, they would sound attractively direct and upbeat but the bass “gelled” best with the acoustics of my room, and the overall balance proved to be most even, when in the aforementioned optimized positions.
Starting with the digital section, it was readily clear that the Jaspers have a prodigious bottom end. So much so that I feel the upper midrange and treble are comparatively reigned in slightly, or at least that’s the case in my room. Interestingly, with many full-sounding speakers, this usually leads to congestion and an overly warm midrange, but not with the Jaspers. These speakers sound rich and colorful but also clean, open, and foot-tappingly direct, with great communicative powers.
Given that the manufacturer makes use of an anechoic room for their designs, I’m sure that the speakers don’t have a bass hump and actually measure quite linearly but that presumes an ideal room. Mine sure isn’t perfect but after my latest restructuring and treatments, at least all the reflections are dealt with and the room has great phase behavior and no longer gobbles up any bass. However, my room does still have some bass gain that I have been able to balance out but just cannot get rid of entirely. This leads to a great balance with closed-enclosure speakers such as the Magico S series (resulting in a linear balance with the S1 mkII as well as the S3 mkII ), but naturally, the balance is going to be different with multi-driver ported speakers such as the Jaspers, leading to a relatively bass-heavy reproduction. This is not to say that they don’t sound enjoyable, for that, they certainly do! In fact, I think that many music lovers will greatly prefer this over a lean and undernourished presentation.
Incidentally, in terms of the in-room bass heft, the Jaspers behave similarly to the Kroma Audio Carmens (that actually use the same woofers) and the Wilson Watt/Puppy 8. These are both speakers that I loved for many reasons but that ultimately did not match ideally in my room due to their bass response.
Like these aforementioned speakers, I would say that the Jaspers probably prefer playing relatively large spaces and at the very least need to be set up free from the side- or rear walls. Most average living rooms have adjacent open areas such as kitchens that may or may not balance out the bass behavior but I wouldn’t use them in small rectangular concrete or solid gypsum-walled rooms. In these cases, or if the intended position is flanking a cabinet and relatively close to the rear wall, then I’d suggest looking at the smaller Pylon models.
Having said all that, the Jasper 25’s have a way with music that is communicative and inviting. Regardless of their full bottom end, they never sound in any way woolly or cluttered. Rather, there is a distinct absence of complexity to the way that they make music that, combined with their great rhythmic- and dynamic behavior makes them rather engaging performers.
Compared with Magnepans, Magicos, and Martin Logans, there is a moderate amount of coloration in the lower midband that I think is partially cabinet-induced and partially stemming from the midbass drivers but the timbre comes across as very natural (more so than the Logans) and it is certainly very far from synthetical.
Meanwhile, the tweeter seems to do its job anonymously, sounding articulate and direct but never edgy or hard. Compared to the aforementioned speakers, the Jaspers do not sound as airy or as delicate and refined, but I also wouldn’t say they are dark, even if their full sonic balance may suggest this. Their imaging, focus, and resolution are not exemplary but the speakers do project a nice soundstage that does not stick to the enclosures and actually extends deeper behind the speakers than with the Magicos.
Of the available music server options, the Antipodes K50 has a richly smooth and organic presentation but in this context, I felt that the tighter and more articulate presentations of the Aqua LinQ and the Grimm MU1 led to the best results.
Also beautiful in black, the Jasper 25 is available in any RAL color.
To spike or not to spike
The speakers’ bottom plates have threaded holes but rather than spikes, Pylon has included flat-ended screws that have felt attached. Of course, I tried these and while they aid immensely in freeing the sound from the enclosures and result in an overall much better balance than when using the speakers straight on the floor, the felt-covered screws don’t yield the best bass.
What turned out to make the speakers sound the best was using standard spikes with Artesania floor-couplers. This made the speakers sound tighter and more articulate and this is how I used them throughout this review. However, the supplied felt-covered screws are a nice alternative that can come in handy when one wants to make the speaker sound calmer or friendlier.
The Jasper 25’s come with beautifully minimalist magnetic individual speaker covers. However, as with any speaker grille, I would only advise using these when the speakers are in danger of finger poking.
When I switched from digital to analog, it seemed that the Jaspers were truly even more into their element. Whether using the Origin Live (for the widest and most deeply-layered presentation) or the AVID turntable (for the most robust bass and hardest-hitting dynamics), the performance was immensely engaging. Somehow, when playing records, audiophile aspects such as resolution, linearity, and air don’t seem to matter anymore. All that matters is whether or not the musical message comes across and let me tell you, that the dynamic and communicative Jaspers do exceedingly well. And I’ll gladly admit that the extra extension and fullness down low only served to further increase the musical pleasure. My friends know that it’s rare for me to play entire LP sides but with the Jasper 25’s, this is exactly what happened.
In conclusion, it’s worth noting that the Jasper line will soon be extended with a Monitor speaker. If it inherits all of the 25’s qualities as I heard them during this review, it may well prove to be an ideal variant for smaller and/or difficult rooms.
Best used in large rooms and free from the rear- and sidewalls, the Jasper 25’s excel in extracting the musical message from everything you feed them. With their voluptuous, full-bodied, and colorful delivery, they steer away from the typical audiophile (c)lean & precise presentation. But there’s more to the Jaspers than merely a full tonality. They are also strikingly dynamic and exceedingly communicative, with a remarkable lack of blur or smear, culminating in the rare combination of directness and fullness without excess warmth.