Some speaker systems aim to strike a balance between music and movie playback, but the D500 is a system designed very much with movies in mind. That much is clear as soon as our Inception Blu-ray starts playing. The opening orchestral blasts sound richer and fuller than many of the systems we’ve auditioned recently, while the following scenes during the botched extraction from Sato sound absolutely sensational.
When the building starts to collapse in chapter 1, the sound is thunderous – walls and windows crash and smash all around the soundstage with considerable force, making us duck and cower like idiots. Then in chapter 3 when the Paris shop fronts start shattering, the effect is breathtaking – shards rain down all around with spine-tingling clarity and precision, and the booming explosions are deep and powerful. There’s a maturity and control at play here that’s simply wonderful to behold, particularly for a system that comes in at well under £2k.
And if you’re thinking of watching Hellboy II on Blu-ray, you might want to tell your neighbours to go out for the night – the power with which it handles the awesome Hellboy Vs Elemental battle is frightening. The system goes stupidly loud without batting an eyelid, and even then you get the sense that it could be pushed even more.
The reason we’re so blown away by this system is that every speaker excels at its job, from the smooth-bodied speech emanating from the D500 LCR on centre channel duties to the warm, enveloping ambience radiating from the rears. The subwoofer is an extraordinarily powerful performer but conveys its bass tones with an agility and tautness that keeps it sounding fast and furious, as well as fusing seamlessly with the satellites.
But as we said, this is very much a cinema-centric system, which means it lacks the silkiness shown by some rivals when it comes to music. Its treatment of Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis on CD is a little heavy-handed, not giving the recording’s more delicate detail enough room to breathe, while the SACD version of Avalon by Roxy Music comes over a little brash. It’s still very enjoyable but not a class-leading musical performance.
With its powerful, detailed and enveloping sound, the Jamo D500 was clearly born to play movies. We’ve tested several systems in this price bracket of late, but few of them can match the levels of effortless power and depth as shown by the D500. Its price tag will still seem steep to some, but remember what you’re getting for your money – a THX Select 2 certified system with a 650W subwoofer, with exceptional build quality and suave, living-room friendly styling, and that, in our eyes, makes the D500 an absolute steal, despite its less-than-dazzling music performance.