Ted Jordan 1929-2016

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of company founder E. J. ‘Ted’ Jordan.

Ted had a long and distinguished career full of remarkable achievements. He began working on full-range loudspeakers when at Goodmans in the 1950s, leading to the launch of the Jordan-Watts Module in 1963. He continued developing the technology of metal cone speakers over the next five decades, always refining and pushing the boundaries, from titanium cone drivers in the mid-1960s to the sophisticated Contraflex alloy foil cone used today in the Eikona 2. He always stressed the need to work hand-in-hand with the laws of nature and to seek simplicity in order to achieve outstanding results.

A gifted writer, Ted’s technical articles appeared in magazines in the UK and abroad. His seminal book Loudspeakers, published by Focal Press in 1962, became an industry bible and is still in demand today.

Ted’s consultancy work touched on all links in the hi-fi chain, from pick-up cartridges to room acoustics. He was always happy to stand outside the hi-fi mainstream to explore areas that he felt were important or overlooked. He was fond of advising: “Don’t follow the sheep.”

Ted leaves an archive of research going back 60 years and he was investigating new ideas and products right to the end. Ted’s company, E. J. Jordan Designs, is proud to continue his legacy of audio innovation and original thinking.

Ted will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He combined an enquiring mind with a deep understanding of his subject and an artist’s feel for his craft. He was passionate that his work was designed do one thing supremely well – to serve the music.

BBC Proms 2016 in surround sound

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Tonight sees the First Night of the BBC Proms 2016, with music from Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Prokofiev.

As usual, it is available in the UK via radio, TV and the online iPlayer service. There is also an online surround feed. This provides a 320 kbps link in 4-channel surround and is higher quality than the usual FM and DAB channels.

We experimented with the surround feed during the 2015 Proms. Our set up consisted of a pair of Jordan Aurora 800s for front channels and Eikona Reflex 7s for the rear.

The signal was fed from the Chrome browser (recommended by the BBC) on a desktop computer via HDMI to a good quality AV receiver. Despite the modest amplification, the sound quality was stunningly good. The surround effect was particularly striking during the interval. Whereas the normal FM/DAB/iPlayer feed is switched back to the studio, the surround feed mics remained live, giving a tremendous sense of the atmosphere in the Albert Hall.

The unbeatable coherence of the Jordan full-range approach helps enormously, with no unwanted phase anomalies to reduce the quality of the listening experience.

Tune in to the BBC Proms and give surround a try. We’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.

This link will take you straight to the Proms surround feed which includes a link to surround FAQs.

Project – Singapore audio group Jordan DCR

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Ted Jordan’s DCR enclosure for the Jordan Eikona 2 is a relative newcomer to our range of loudspeaker projects but is already gathering considerable enthusiasm. The design – which can be found here – uses two Eikonas in a wide baffle enclosure similar in appearance to our classic VTL.

Using two Eikona drive units per enclosure has a number of benefits: it doubles power handling, increases sensitivity  and potentially quadruples available SPL. The exact spec depends on how the two Eikonas are configured; for maximum performance use a separate, two-channel amplifier per enclosure. The DCR does not aim to go as deep as the MLTL designs but achieves a fast, solid sound in an elegant, floor-standing cabinet.

There have been several DCR loudspeakers built, all resulting in very positive feedback. The latest of these comes from a group of audio enthusiasts in Singapore. They have already built a number of our designs – including the larger, single Eikona MLTL – so it was particularly interesting to receive their comments:

“This a DCR based on your original plan. We have included a sand filled extension at the bottom to increase the overall height and cabinet weight. This helps to improve the vocal focus and listening height as the original design was a bit too low.  As compared to my single driver MLTL built, the DCR is more musical, the staging is wider even at low volume.”

As you can see from the photos, the piano black finish and matching, offset grilles make this a fabulous-looking build.

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Timing

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Timing is vitally important in music – in both the performance and the equipment which reproduces it. But as a performer, how do you time yourself to play a minimalist piece of music – which must be exactly an hour long – without using a metronome or any other rhythmic device which will upset your interpretation?

This is exactly the problem faced by pianist Andy Lee when he came to record Tom Johnson’s An Hour For Piano.

Andy had to train himself to become a human metronome … which he achieved with a little cheating.

You can read his fascinating account here and find his recording of the piece here.

Project – Todd’s Jordan Eikona 2 system

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We recently sold a pair of Jordan Eikona 2s to Todd in the USA. He admitted from the start that he hadn’t put them in ideal enclosures, just a pair of sealed cubes he happened to have around which had previously done duty as woofer enclosures. However we think they look pretty neat and Todd is certainly impressed with the sound:

“Oh my….word….it’s glorious sounding! In over 20 years of being an audiophile I have never heard a stereo sound this amazing, ever. And I mean that. And I’ve heard B&W systems, Avalon with spectral gear and many others. Granted not their highest of the high end systems but probably $50,000 stereo systems in dedicated large rooms.

“I literally listened to music for 12 hours straight late into the night. No fatigue whatsoever either. It’s the most real, fluid, organic, 3D sound I’ve ever heard. I can’t even believe it every time I listen. It’s like the best of what people like about vinyl, the best about tubes, the best about electrostats, combined with the best about solid state. And then it just blows that away. Incredibly powerful too. Very dynamic. Sounds like I have a small sub hidden somewhere.

“Obviously it can’t do a perfect kickdrum. If I could get that bottom end I would honestly say that I have an entire reference quality system better than I’ve heard anywhere else. And I really need a more robust cabinet so I don’t hear the sound through the walls. One thing I have to watch with these speakers is they tend toward the slightly darker side so it takes careful adjustments to keep it just right.

“When I finally can I’m going to build a very thick cabinet, and make a granite baffle. Then add a bass unit with a 12” Eton driver. The same ones the most expensive Avalon speakers use. And cross it over fairly low so I don’t have to add anything to the Jordan.

“My mom came to visit. She’s heard pretty much every system I’ve ever had. Usually she just chats and doesn’t pay much attention when I sit her down in the listening chair. This time however she sat quiet, intently looking into the music soundstage, “wow, that sounds so good!”. She kept saying that. She started looking around the soundstage where the instruments would float in air. Then I put on some Roger Waters, she looks over real fast to the left of her, “where is that coming from??”. The voice on the song is floating directly left of her, she can’t figure it out since there is no actual speaker there. She looks back but with her head cocked slightly to the left intently listening to what the voice is saying into her left ear, as the music plays and unfolds in the front.

“The speakers are totally gone 100%. It doesn’t even look like they are on. Every bit of sound is massive and floating in space. Far above, far behind, far to the left and right, and sometimes in front and even behind in certain select instances. The even more exciting thing is I know I can get even more refined sound and improvements with what I want and need to still do.

“I know, I know, I sound like a salesman. But it’s just that exciting and engaging every single time I listen. I feel very few people, even fellow audiophiles, get to experience what I’ve managed to set up with this system.”

When we asked Todd if we could quote his post, he generously agreed and added:

“Every time I do upgrades to the rest of my system these speakers just keep getting better and better. They are able to resolve any and every improvement I do to an astonishing level. And I’ve improved my system a lot since then.”

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Soundscapes – a rainforest in Paris

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Here at EJJ we are all about listening … but not always to music. There are many innovative projects going on around the world, designed to connect people with the audio environment. These can take the form of guided sound tours of a city or recordings of a soundscape.

For example, during December 2015, the two were combined with recordings of the rainforest superimposed on the landscape of Paris, as part of the COP21 conference. The participant walked the streets using headphones to listen to an immersive soundscape triggered by the setting.

It is described as augmented reality and is a fascinating idea. You can read more about it on the Rainforest Project website.

Bristol Sound and Vision Show

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This weekend the sales team was delegated to visit the annual Bristol Hi-Fi Show. It is always worthwhile attending trade shows to get a feel for the market and to connect with colleagues (and competitors!).

This year’s show was a lively event with several trends apparent. It seemed that nearly every room had a turntable, either playing discs or spinning silently whilst music was streamed from a nearby laptop.

We thought the best analogue sound was provided by Music First Audio – their UK-made valve phono preamp and transformer preamp were true reference quality and provided superb sound. They also ran music from open reel tape, provided by a lovely little Nagra 4SJ. Perhaps open reel is due to make a comeback?

Music servers and streaming devices were the other big trend with a lot of high quality material coming from innocuous-looking netbooks. The stream of choice was usually the Tidal Music service with occasional sightings of Qubuz.

There were a few CD players evident. One room featured a very good demonstration CD from the Netherlands recording company STS-Digital. The sound quality – recorded live on Nagra open reel – was excellent. This audiophile label is not well known in the UK but worth seeking out via their home website.

The latest home theatre audio format (for now) is Dolby Atmos which takes a new approach to surround sound to provide a genuinely immersive sound field. The demonstrations were certainly very impressive and we’ll be following the format’s development with interest.

Finally, it was a pleasure to catch up with Paul Messenger and Martin Colloms on the HiFi Critic stand. Martin’s inspiration for his High Performance Loudspeakers book was Ted’s own Loudspeakers book. The two volumes between them have been industry bibles for several decades now. It was very interesting to hear some of Martin’s thinking on current trends in the industry.

HiFi Critic is an innovative venture; a high quality magazine funded entirely by sales, with no advertising. Highly recommended if you wish to keep up with the latest in hi-fi.