Jamo is often seen as a budget brand. The price tag of the Studio 8 surround set is indeed not terrifyingly high, but what you get for it is quite impressive for the segment.
Introduction Jamo Studio 8
Jamo launched the Studio 8 line at the beginning of this year and already received an EISA award in the summer for the best budget-friendly surround set of the year. The manufacturer of Danish origin – but since 2005 a sister brand of the American Klipsch – has in a short time made a great impression with these loudspeakers. Remarkable, because they are not really expensive.
The entire Studio 8 family comprises no less than nine loudspeakers: three floorstanders, two bookshelf speakers, two center speakers, an Atmos module and a subwoofer. All models are characterized by a modern and slim design, one of three veneer finishes (white, black or walnut) with extra wood accents and some models wooden feet, and grilles in a gray textile that is very Scandinavian.
For our test we received from Jamo a 5.1.2 set, consisting of a pair of S 809 floor uprights (the largest model), a pair of S 801 bookshelf speakers (the smaller of the two monitors), an S 81 CEN (the smaller of the two center speakers), a pair of S 8 ATMs and the S 808 SUB subwoofer. Those who pay attention, notice that this does not come across as a balanced surround system. Ideally, all channels are as similar as possible, but the contrast in size between the large S 809 loudspeakers on the one hand and the S 801s and the center speaker on the other hand is quite large. However, Jamo puts this system on the market, because we even delivered these five loudspeakers in one big box. That is very unusual; We usually receive surround sets composed of separate loudspeakers that each receive their own box. This basic 5.0 set differs from this and comes in a big box that you do not just put in the back of your Golf. The set is being marketed as the S 809 HCS Home Cinema System, with a very budget-friendly price tag of 899 euros. Add to that 249 euro for the S 808 SUB and 229 euro for a pair of 8 ATM Dolby Atmos speakers, and you’re talking about a total of 1,377 euro for a complete 5.1.2 speaker set. And that is not so much at all.
Practical and beautiful
It is rather a cliché to say in a review that tastes are personal. And that is true, of course. But we still dare to say that Jamo has designed with the Studio 8 speakers that fit in very well with modern Scandinavian interior trends. A bit like Q Acoustics does, but just a bit more authentic. Where the British brand goes for rounded speaker boxes that look smaller than they are, Jamo opts for a more classic, angular design – but with a contemporary interpretation. For example, most Studio 8 speakers are wider in the rear than in the front, making them visually appear to be more sharp and slender in the front and also seem to take up little space. The effect is strongest at the center speaker, which is not very large anyway and thanks to that design really looks very compact. Unusual eyecatcher at this loudspeaker are the four small slanted feet in wood, which connect to the wooden base that you find on the floorstander, subwoofer and bookshelf speakers. That being said, the C 81 CEN is relatively high (18.3 cm), so you can not just put it in front of a TV with a low foot.
The compact wooden base we just went to referred to are a fine example of a modest style element that makes these Jamo speakers just as beautiful. The 8 ATM speakers have this too. They are slanted Dolby Enabled speakers that send sound upwards and let it bounce off the ceiling. This is a practical alternative intended for anyone who does not want to have built-in speakers.
The Jamo 8 speakers are from the little loudspeakers on the market that both with and without grille handsome eyes. Let the loudspeaker grilles hang – held in place by magnets – and you look at a dark or light gray fabric where a contrasting thread is woven through. If you remove them, you will discover that the tweeter is surrounded by a wide circle of the same wood color as the base of the speaker.
The 8 ATMs are placed on the S 809 speaker, making this slim floor stand still a bit higher (front 122 cm, rear 113 cm). Particularly clever is how the 8 ATMs are connected. The terminals for the Atmos channel are located at the bottom of the S 809. The audio signal is transmitted via two contacts at the top of the floorstander, in which two pins fit at the bottom of the 8 ATM. This has two advantages: you do not have a cable running from the top of the floorstander and the 8 ATM is also stably secured by that pin. Both are typical problems with this type of setup, as with the ELAC Debut 2.0 that we recently viewed, where a Dolby Enabled speaker is parked on top of another loudspeaker. The pins in the 8 ATM are also kept out of sight by – again – a strip in a contrasting wood veneer.
The subwoofer also appears to be practically set, although we do have our reservations about this. The S 808 SUB is an unconventional form: high, deep and thin. This is because Jamo wanted to make several scenarios possible in terms of placement. You can place the sub right against a wall or place the sub flat and slide under a sofa. The woofer will point outwards (when standing upright) or upwards (if you lower it). All connections and controls are basic, which at first seems to be a good idea, but in practice is less useful. Yet if you straighten it, because strangely enough, there is no way to neatly lead the cables away. You have to put the sub on spikes or – like us – on Pro-ject Damp-IT feet. Another disadvantage of this approach is that it is difficult to adjust the volume control and crossover control. During the calibration with the receiver, the S 808 SUB was slightly set too loud. In a sub with controls at the back you just turn the knob, at the S 808 SUB you have to lift the device for a moment and then blindly touch it. Of course, you will only experience this problem when setting it up, after which you will benefit from a slender sub that is more beautiful in your room than most subwoofers.
The S 809 floor uprights can you also easily place in the room. They do have a bass port, but they are placed in front. So you can place them close to the wall – another plus point that makes these Jamo speakers more interior-friendly.
More balanced than expected
Who read the recent Onkyo TX-RZ830 test, will have noticed that we have combined the Jamo Studio 8 with this receiver. For the final review of the Jamo’s, however, we close our regular test receiver, the Denon AVR-X6300H. This way we keep it clear by not introducing too many new elements in the surround setup at the same time. Via the MultEQ app, we calibrate at eight positions, as Audyssey prescribes.
In the Onkyo test and in the introduction to this review, we noticed that the Jamo Studio 8 devices are disproportionate in size. This also applies in terms of control: the S 801 and the S 81 CEN are significantly less sensitive (85 and 86 dB) than the S 809 floor standing (90 dB). Although this is not so unusual – bookshelf speakers almost always need more power than floorstanders – this means that your receiver is a bit more powerful. Choose an AV receiver that costs from € 500-600 earlier than a 300-euro entry fee. If you opt for an arrangement with height channels, as we have tested, you will in any case need a higher model with Atmos.
Also with the Denon we look at a number of test scenes of ‘Ready Player One’ (Ultra HD Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos). We note (again) that the 8 ATM speakers are very effective. The effects in height during the race in the beginning of the film are separate from the floorstanders, which increases the 3D feel. In this Spielberg film there are several times when the height channels contribute enormously to a spatial feeling, for example when Parzival and Art3mis enter a virtual nightclub with a weightless dance floor. It is a noisy scene, with a thick layer of club music (and disco!), In which much detail can be heard both far and near. The Studio 8 speakers present all this very well, especially if you take into account the price point. The 8 ATM speakers are also remarkably slanted, almost at an angle of 45 degrees. That seems a lot more than with most similar modules, such as with ELAC, so we suspect that you hear more direct radiation than usually with reflection speakers. And that works well in our test room of approximately 25 m2. Perhaps in a larger room the effect is less pronounced.
The S 809 floorstanders are clearly the strongest elements in this set, which is not surprising given their size. Because a lot of musical information is played through the stereo channels, they compensate for the other smaller speakers in a successful way. Although you could certainly notice that the center speaker can use more depth and the rear speakers sound a little too bright, we have to admit that they are relatively mature for their price.
We review the last episode of ‘Netflix’. Altered Carbon ‘, the ultra-wide SF series based on the great books by Richard Morgan, via the Xbox One so that we get a soundtrack in Dolby Atmos (albeit the compressed DD version). In terms of sound effects that are positioned in space, the Jamo set sounds pretty strong. During the violent martial arts and sword fights, the fragments and participants fly through the room, while alarm sirens reverberate at high altitudes. They convey the whole action vibe well. The weakest we find the dialog view. Although the dialogues usually seem good, there are times when fragments are lost a bit in the hustle and bustle of the entire soundtrack. We also have the same with the spectacular final scene of ‘Fast & Furious 8’ (Ultra HD Blu-ray, DTS: X Master HD). Everything to do with the action and the music is compelling, but for example the consultation between the team members for the attack on the Russian naval base sounds a bit dull. On our Denon receiver we switch the dialogue improvement function on (on Medium), which creates a little more balance. In a film that mainly revolves around dialogues, such as ‘Darkest Hour’ (Ultra HD Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos) with the impressive acting performance of Gary Oldman, the relative weakness of the center is less noticeable.
The S 801s and the S 81 CEN are therefore not without defects – we prefer a larger center speaker with a wider frequency range. But that being said, we have to admit that Jamo has put together a surround set for a very reasonable price that exceeds the budget segment in terms of performance. Anyone who tuned a bit through the equalizer after calibration can also partly compensate for the weaker points.
With the Studio 8, Jamo finds a good middle position between a modern design and a good sound. The practical approach and the very reasonable price make this surround set an excellent choice for those who dream of a real surround experience but have nightmares of the hassle that goes with it.
The sum of all this is a speaker set that is clearly designed from the very beginning. is to be attractive. Inevitably, certain things hang from a surround setup. You can not escape the fact that five speakers or more take up a lot of space and that cables have to be laid, but Jamo has tried to minimize the negative edges, for example with a smart Atmos module and a sub that you easily place. The display emphasizes spectacle, which will be appreciated by lovers of action films. Mission succeeded.