A recent EJ Jordan customer had an interesting journey to arrive at his ideal system of a pair of Jordan Aurora 800s. Michael is an enthusiastic music-lover with a wide experience of hi-fi systems, so we thought it would be of general interest. Here is his story:
Imagine a room with speakers that simply disappear, with a soundstage that is wide, precise and stable across a wide range of listening positions, where the sound has real depth and height and has the ability to surprise you with little nuances that you hadn’t heard before.
If that wall of sound appeals then the action to achieve it is quite simple – start saving up for a pair of EJ Jordan Aurora loudspeakers.
How did the journey start? Back in the 1970s, I became convinced that active speakers made more sense than any other approach. I started to build some but never really got them finished – there was very little available at the time for DIY approaches and I couldn’t afford commercially made ones. I also thought that eliminating the crossover altogether would be a good idea but never came across anything (other than electrostatics that I couldn’t afford) that sounded OK. I read some comments about Jordan Eikona VTL speakers, thought they sounded interesting, then read about Jordan Auroras and thought “surely not … how can speakers facing each other along the wall give a good stereo image?”
How wrong I was. I contacted EJ Jordan Designs and they put me in touch with Andrew who lives about an hour away from me and who was happy for me to visit and listen to his Aurora 800 setup. Well, all of the things that I had read about – wide image, positioning independent of where you sit or stand, depth, height – were there in bucket loads.
Three things stopped me just buying the Auroras. The first was cost – they are not cheap and I wondered if they would work as well in my room – and how I would react to spending that much if they didn’t. The second was finish – I wanted white and only veneer was available. The third was my DIY streak – I wondered how close I could get to the sound of the Auroras by buying some Eikonas and building something myself.
First step was to buy an Eikona Reflex kit from Wilmslow audio. This sounded very good indeed but not in the same league as the Auroras. I then bought a second pair of Eikonas and experimented with different alignments (including transmission line and MLTL). Overall, the MLTL version sounded best when the speakers were fixed to a wall but there was still something missing.
In the end, through much help from Colin at Jordan, I now have a pair of Aurora 800s finished in white and I am more than pleased with the results. I hear all of the things that users of Eikonas report – particularly the midrange clarity that comes from having a well-designed single drive unit. With the Auroras, the curved cabinet design helps to further reduce cabinet resonances but the most important difference is the sense of depth, height and ambience that is provided by the reflectors.
A further tweak, which makes a small but worthwhile difference, is the use of a stereo power amplifier for each speaker. This means that each drive unit has its own amplifier instead of having to decide whether to run the Eikonas in series or in parallel. To do this, I used a pair of stereo Class D amplifiers, which are based on Hypex modules, from IOM. I am using a customised version of the Chromecast amplifier which, at around 100W per channel into 6 ohms, is ideal for the Auroras. The amplifiers sound good, look good and are very good value for money.
Is all of this expectation bias? Having put a lot of time, research and money into this, wouldn’t I be bound to think they were better anyway? I think not. The differences are also clear to others – my partner, neighbours and friends. None of them have any interest in hi-fi but they can all hear the differences very clearly. And they all say that they are a substantial improvement.
For me a good test has always been whether I hear differences when I am not listening. By that I mean when music is playing but I am in another room. With the Auroras I have found myself thinking: “I haven’t heard that bass line so clearly before”, “The lyrics are much clearer”, “I can hear the individual elements of the performance much more easily”.
Finally, it’s worth reading Ted Jordan’s papers on stereo reproduction and his early use of reflectors in the 1960s and 1970s. Stereo is an illusion – an attempt to give the impression of something that isn’t really there. The Auroras do this better than anything else I have encountered. The word genius is sometimes awarded too easily. In Ted Jordan’s case, I think that it is more than justified.