Jamo A 210PDD Review

Highs

  • Affordable
  • better than most small systems of this size

Rating

Our Score 8
User Score 6

Lows

  • The A 2SUB lacks the punch for a good action movie
Jamo has come up with a nice solution for people who want all-round sound in a limited space.

Summary

I think Jamo has come up with a nice solution for people who want all-round sound in a limited space. For $599, the A 210PDD speaker system offers an excellent value. It is small, flexible to setup, has a unique elegant look, and most importantly, delivers strong all-round performance. Although I have a few quibbles here and there, it still exceeds my expectation in many ways. The A 210PDD is the little system that could, indeed!

Introduction

Jamo has been manufacturing speakers for more than three decades and has an especially large brand name in Europe. The company manufactures a wide range of speakers for various purposes and budgets, and I’m pretty sure you can easily find what you need among its product lines. To guide you through the vast amount of its products, Jamo has created the so-called SoundGuide, an interactive guide which can also be found on the Jamo website (http://www.jamo.com). The guide will help you narrow down your choices based on your taste of sound and the intended application.

According to the SoundGuide, the A 210PDD speaker system is one of Jamo’s versatile solutions for someone who wants all-round sound for use in a small room (less than 250 square feet). It consists of five identical small satellite speakers (A 210) and a powered subwoofer (A 2SUB). This system would appeal much to someone who builds a home theater system where space is the limitation, such as in a bedroom or a dorm room.

Jamo A 210PDD System

Jamo A 210PDD system

Look and Features

The A 210PDD system is packaged attractively in a relatively compact box. Except for the speaker cables and screwdriver, everything that is needed to setup the speakers can be found in the package, including the short stands (table stands) and the wall-mount brackets for the satellite speakers. Optional floor stands can also be purchased if needed. The manual that comes with the package however, is too simple for my taste and not complete enough. For example, speaker placements are not explained in details. This is because Jamo tries to put everything in pictures rather than in words. I think for a clear and complete manual, words are still necessary.

The A 210 satellite speaker has a half ellipsoid shape with silver elliptic front grilles. It is a two-way closed-box design with 1″ tweeter and 3 ¾” woofer. As the specs indicate, this speaker only goes down to about 140 Hz. Hence, for reproducing a nice full sound, a subwoofer is necessary for bass augmentation. The speaker terminals on the back are in the form of two holes with the tightening screws right next to them. For this kind of terminals, it is best to use bare wires. In my estimate, 16 gauge wire-size is the maximum the holes can accept. This small satellite speaker can be oriented vertically or horizontally on its stand or mounted on the wall. Not only that, the Jamo logo on the grilles can also be rotated such that it is always in its correct orientation. Nice touch!

Jamo A 210 satellites in vertical position, horizontal position, and with its grille off

The A 2SUB subwoofer is round in shape with an 18.5″ diameter. Its depth is less than 6″, so it can be hidden easily under a table or sofa if desired. It can be laid flat on the floor or mounted sideways on the wall like a car’s wheel. The A 2SUB has an 8″ woofer and an 8″ passive radiator. If it lays flat with its feet on the floor, the woofer faces down and the passive radiator is on the top part of the subwoofer. The A 2SUB is powered by a 100 W internal amplifier and it accepts only low-level signal through single ended RCA connection. The subwoofer is always in stand-by mode when it is powered, and it is automatically on when it senses the incoming signal.  A small blue LED is lit up when the subwoofer is on. The only control available on the subwoofer is the volume control, which is located near the passive radiator. Since no phase control is provided, to integrate the subwoofer with the satellites, one has to play with its placement. Of course, I would prefer to have a phase control on a subwoofer so that I could just put it on a desired location and then just play with the phase control to integrate it nicely with the satellite speakers. However, with a subwoofer that is relatively small, light, and easy to move around such as the A 2SUB, the lack of phase control is not a too-serious omission. I should caution the reader, however, that although the A 2SUB is called a subwoofer, it is not a true subwoofer in the real sense, as it doesn’t go very low in frequency (only to about 40 Hz) and its crossover frequency is rather high (160 Hz). It functions more like a woofer to give bass augmentation to the A 210 satellites.

Top and bottom view of the A 2SUB

Overall, the A 210PDD system has an elegant contemporary look, which should fit fine even in a classical décor setting. The built quality of the system is also excellent. Based on the look alone, this is a system that would give me a pride of ownership.

Music and Home Theater Performances

I approached the A 210PDD system with some skepticism as with the other small systems out there, thinking that I would have to lower my standards considerably in order to be able to give reasonable listening impressions of the system within the appropriate frame of mind. But boy…I was pleasantly surprised by the performance displayed by this system.

Associated Review Equipment:

  • CD playback: Shanling CD-S100

  • Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750, Lexicon DC-1

  • Amplifier: ATI AT1505

  • DVD playback: Toshiba SD-4700

  • Speakers: NHT Evolution T6

  • Cables: MIT Terminator 4 interconnects, Ultralink speaker cables

After setting up the system to a point where I think the satellite and the subwoofer integration was the best I could achieve in my room, and after playing hours of program materials to break in the system, I began my critical evaluation. First, I tried the system for two-channel music application (with subwoofer). This is where this system first shook away most of my skepticism. The ability of the speakers to disappear from the musical soundstage they created was incredible. Each instrument sound and vocal seemed to just emanate from specific locations in the musical soundstage with excellent focus and clarity. Image and soundstage presentations were the speakers’ greatest strength. The bass from the A 2SUB was a little sloppy at times, but this subwoofer complemented the A 210 satellites nicely, creating an impression of sound coming from a set of full range speakers. Although, these speakers are designed for small rooms, I tried them also in my big listening room (larger than 340 square feet). Used in such situation, they still retained most of their nice attributes above, albeit with slight lack of bottom end punch.

The balance of the A 210 plus the A 2 SUB system tipped towards the upper frequencies, but not to the point that it sounded thin. It only brightened the presentation a bit. There was also a slight trace of hard edges, which was noticeable when playing string instruments. Due to this characteristic, matching this system with bright electronics is definitely not recommended. On reproducing vocals, despite of the slight lack of lushness and full-body characteristics, this system was quite respectable.

In a 5.1 channel home theater application, the A 210PDD system delivered sound that is relatively transparent and gave rise to the sense of immediacy with the scenes. Surprisingly, it could play it quite loud before the sound became noticeably strained. Definitely it has enough headroom in this department, especially for small rooms. The A 210 satellite was also quite good as a center channel, and in my opinion, even bettered some of the bigger-box center channels out there. Dialogues were reproduced with nice intelligibility, although I felt that vocal sibilance was a tad too much, which might be due to the rather-bright characteristics of the A 210 mentioned earlier. However, the excess in sibilance was not to the point that it was distracting or objectionable. The A 2SUB was able to rumble nicely, although it wouldn’t shake your floor. I found it to be acceptable for drama movies or for TV watching, but for slam-bang action movies, I found myself craving for more impact and slam. The A 2SUB just didn’t have the punch and extension necessary for a real action movie experience. This is just a limitation due its size. I think Jamo is well aware of that, but it’s just that this system was not designed for full-blown home theater application. For the purpose of providing a solution for all-round sound where setup flexibility and minimum occupied space required, as Jamo intended, then in my opinion this system performs its mission well. I do think that overall, the A 210PDD is quite excellent for a system this small (or should I say ‘diminutively small’) and relatively cheap.

Conclusion

I think Jamo has come up with a nice solution for people who want all-round sound in a limited space. For $599, the A 210PDD speaker system offers an excellent value. It is small, flexible to setup, has a unique elegant look, and most importantly, delivers strong all-round performance. Although I have a few quibbles here and there, it still exceeds my expectation in many ways. The A 210PDD is the little system that could, indeed!

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