- Review Price: £1700.00
When most people think of THX-certified home cinema systems it usually conjures up images of scary fridge-sized speakers and subs so big they need their own postcode. But this system from Danish manufacturer Jamo challenges this way of thinking, styling all of the components in compact enclosures that are just as easy to accommodate in the living room as they are in a dedicated home cinema.
The D500 system is THX Select 2 certified, which means it’s aimed at ‘medium-sized’ rooms up to 2,000 cubic feet in size with a 10-12 foot viewing distance from the screen. The package comprises three D500 LCR speakers for the front and centre channels, plus a pair of D500 SUR speakers for the rear channels and a choice of two subwoofers – the higher spec D600 SUB or the cheaper SUB650. For our test, we were supplied with the SUB650.
Design is the key selling point of this system and boy has Jamo done a great job on that score. Both the D500 LCR and D500 SUR are lozenge-shaped yet strangely elegant, boasting a gorgeous high-gloss black finish around the edge that oozes class and will make a great match for most flatpanel TVs. They’re also available in a white finish at no extra cost.
The build quality is absolutely stunning, boasting the sort of heft and rigidity that inspires great confidence in their sonic capabilities before you’ve even pressed play. Wall-mounting the speakers is a piece of cake thanks to the keyhole fittings on the back.
Both the D500 LCR and SUR measure 450 (w) x 260(h) x 130(d)mm, which is very compact and manageable as THX-certified speakers go. The front of each speaker is covered by a cloth grille, but tug the little tag on the right and it comes away, revealing the driver arrangement behind it. On the rear, you’ll find robust gold-plated binding posts.
The three D500 LCRs in the system can be used interchangeably across the front soundstage and each one is a three-way closed design, sporting two 140mm woofers, two 76mm midrange drivers and a 25mm tweeter. They’re arranged in a sort of cross, with the tweeter sitting in the centre, the woofers on either side and the midrange drivers sitting above and below. Their frequency range is 80Hz up to 20kHz, with the sub handling everything below 80Hz as specified by THX.
As for the D500 SUR, it’s a three-way closed dipole design, THX’s preferred method of reproducing surround sound effects. They have the ability to spread rear effects and ambience along the back of the room so that the soundstage is a little more integrated. Take off the cloth grille and you’ll see a single forward-facing 140mm woofer, while at either end is a 76mm midrange driver and 25mm tweeter.
As we mentioned before, the SUB650 isn’t the monster you might have expected from a THX Select 2 system, although it’s not exactly a matchbox either. This immensely solid and sturdy closed-box design measures 400(w) x 419(h) x 418(d)mm and weighs a hefty 48.9kg, plus it’s fashioned in a delicious Dark Apple or Black Ash finish. The only detail on the front is a volume dial that glows blue when activated, but there’s all manner of knobs and sockets on the back.
These include stereo line input and output, speaker-level binding post inputs and dials controlling phase (between 0 and 180 degrees), crossover point (between 40 and 150Hz) and Boundary Gain, which lets you fine-tune the sub’s performance when it’s in a corner or against the wall.
On the inside is a 305mm long-throw woofer and it’s able to muster a phenomenal 650W from its built-in BASH amplifier. Frequency range is quoted as 24Hz to 200Hz.
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.
Score in detail