A Jordan Eikona VTL review

Ted Jordan’s VTL design continues to be immensely popular and with the Eikona 2 it has reached a new level of performance. You can find details of the design on our loudspeaker plans page. The following is a review we have just received from a customer who built a pair using the Wilmslow Audio kit:

It has been over a month now with the Jordan VTL speakers, so I thought I would post a brief review of my thoughts in case it benefits others. I realise that music is such a personal thing and critical factors such as source, cables, material and listening room can all affect the end result, but I will try to articulate my experiences thus far.

Separation is experienced across the complete frequency spectrum in layers with a tonal balance that especially makes instruments such as piano, double bass, violin and guitar an utter delight to listen too in the form of a fuller bodied sound which is fully demonstrated by Roo Pane – Deeper than shallow . The instrument decay on some of the recordings just seems to go on until the recording master has actually stopped it. It is that clear, you know when it has happened, not whether the speaker struggled to communicate the decay accurately towards the end.

Many reviews seem to use Norah Jones as the test track for female voices, and I am no different in this regard. From her album “Come Away with Me”, songs such as “I`ve got to see you again” show the power she has in her voice, and the raspy, airy, way she starts each verse. I haven`t experienced that type of connection with her music before as I did using the Jordans… It just came over as more emotional in my opinion. Sia`s “100 forms of fear” had the same effect…goose pimples (note* both were 24-bit Albums used)

Nuances are also improved. One particular track I use to define this is from The Beatles “Orange Album Greatest Hits – Get back” (24-bit edition). There are people in the background of this uncut track right at the beginning which are audible, but my measure of detail retrieval is how clear those people actually are when the track begins, before Paul and John start playing. Those voices can be heard very clearly on good headphones saying “careful” …, “I dunno”, but up until now I have struggled to get that forward clarity into my living room on 2-channel speakers. I have it now! The famous track from Pink Floyd (wish you were here) at the beginning with the two commentators on the old radio is another example that previously seemed as though the voices were in the weeds lower down on the right-hand side, but you could still audibly make them out. Now, they are at mid-level height on right channel, and as clear as any other recorded voice on that track.  Michael Jackson`s – Thriller is another where the footsteps present an illusion of walking around the speaker on the right-hand side first, before walking across to the other channel and not just right to left. It is so clear in it`s rendition. 

Another area I feel that is more defined is with micro detail. I guess everyone feels a sense of pride when their stereo system conveys the opening breath before a singer starts, but with the Jordans you also get the room ambience during sessions. I could probably calculate the size of the room the singer was recording in (possible slight exaggeration), but you get the point. It is that clear.

A balanced sound is probably where people split on different sides on the HD800 headphone debate. I like a bit of warmth, and to be honest there are some recordings now that make me think “why on earth was it recorded so dry”, or “where is the bass on that track”, so I have subtly added a subwoofer that helps with this when needed. 95% of the time, I just switch the woofer off. On well recorded tracks, enhancing the bass is not needed and on listening to music like Ray Lamontagne`s album (Trouble: track – Shelter), the bass swings down to the floor on the right, then the left-hand drumkit comes into play doing the same ten bars later. It was one of those jaws dropping moments during early listening sessions with the Jordans that truly showed me what these speakers were capable of. You look at the diameter of the speaker in front of you and think…. How on earth!!?

Which leads me to discuss what I think is the critical part listeners might want to take a bit more time to adjust to when auditioning the Jordan VTL. The other parts mentioned above are glaringly obvious from the word go and do not need any re-calibration. The upper treble however is as smooth as butter at times and as the highs were not harsh, edgy nor forward, initially made me start to think they may have been a bit lost in the balance of the midrange and bass with complex songs such as the album Whiplash (track 4). I remember this track as too powerful on the upper trebles before, but it was presented differently, as the trumpets are further back on the VTL, preventing the glare I expected. Switching to Miles Davis (Kind of Blue) clarifies that there is no loss in detail as you can hear the top end very easily with precision and clarity, so the presentation changes, with no treble fatigue where I expected it as before.”