After spending about 6 months with this integrated, I’ve gotten a pretty good impression of the amp. So far I have been completely pleased with it and have no intention of upgrading.
This is a real beast of an amp. 29.5 kg, or 65 lbs! Be prepared to have a hard time moving it around because of that and the fact that it has no grab handles. The front face plate is attached with stand-offs that are well screwed down, but still that doesn’t let you get a good grip on it. The feet are very thick rubber pads. Rear terminals are all of sturdy design, with two sets of quality speaker binding-posts that facilitated my bi-wiring.
Looking at the insides (see pics below) the internals appear to be dominated by heat sinks with some transistors labeled SK - A1859A, and SK - C4883A among others. I was able to spot many Rubycon Black Gate, and WIMA capacitors in various locations. All the logic, and LED lights are at the front plate isolated by steel plates from the main compartment. Relays are at the back for the selection and output protection. I measured a DC offset <50mV on each channel, and it decreased as it warmed.
A square block transformer (which is sealed in a can) is at the central power supply board. As a result, no hum from the transformer could be audible unless you have your ear right against the amp. I understand this transformer is 650 to 700VA capacity and power filtering involves 160,000 uF of capacitors, which is HUGE considering we are talking about only 80W into 8 ohms.
The front panel has digital volume up/down controls, input selection and Display. Two VU meters (illuminuated in blue) show the power output in L and R channels, and LED show the volume setting from 0-99 and selected input #. Display modes are cycled through the following: Mode (1) VU lights on, LEDs on for 5 seconds only after volume / input change, (2) VU lights off & LED on for 5 seconds, (3) VU lights on & LED on continuously, (4) LEDs only on continuously. There are 4 inputs (3 RCA, 1 balanced XLR), and are selected via 1 button on the remote or front panel that cycles through them in sequence. I discovered if you HOLD DOWN the input button for a few seconds, the LEDs blink and the volume changes will be done at 2X the speed.
The remote is a lovely aluminum frame with a hardwood faceplates that have lettering laser-etched. It’s the most eccentric and impressive remote I have ever seen for a piece of electronics. It has buttons for Mute, Input, and Volume Up/Down.
As far as I know the “standard” edition of the amp I have does not differ internally or sonically from the more expensive ‘Luxury’ edition (which has mirror-polished front faceplate).
Out of the box:
The break-in process seemed very long and gradual, but that is mostly because the early weeks did not offer me much time to listen. The immediate differences were readily apparent over my previous amp (Audio Refinement Complete by YBA): a FAR more rich mid-range, more detail, a smoother or refined signature, and the holographic projection of sounds into the room were more realistic.
Overall it sounded very BIG, and power full. Although output into 4 ohms is not stated for this amp, one dealer has written that it will do 160W into 4 ohms. Also, the (similarly designed) JA-50 mono blocks are 80W into 8, and 160 W into 4 ohm, so I would be pretty sure the JA-88D will do the same. In fact, considering the transformer and power supplies, I would bet that this would further double to 320W into 2 ohms and probably be even stable to 1 ohm because they transformer should theoretically be capable of >600W of power. I believe someone on the Asylum measured this amp actually draws 600W from the outlet by the way, so that makes sense considering the parts and the Class-A topology. That said, be prepared for A LOT of heat output, the whole metal case is warm to the touch after a couple hours.
One of the real strengths of this amp is the quality of the midrange. I haven’t owned a lot of tube equipment, but there is a definite organic quality to the mids through the Jungson. This is where many of the key parts of the music reside: vocals, strings, etc., and these are imbued with a realism and naturalness in their sound. I did most of the listening through single ended RCA inputs.
Although the bass goes deeper than the previous amp, it seems the last few lowest frequencies don’t have as much of an impact as they should, but this may be partly due to the demanding impedance curve of my speakers (which drop below 4 ohms).
Well after the break-in period (50 hrs?), the front to back soundstage has become quite deep, and I’m often surprised at how some recordings allow you to pinpoint the position or layout of the orchestra. You can set back and not have to strain or concentrate in order to locate the french horns, timpani, flutes, and so on. With other amps I was fooling myself trying to imaging they were one place or another, but the Jungson makes it clear and obvious given a good recording.
The high frequencies are very well extended and exceptionally clearer or smoother than other amps I have owned, quite free of grain or hash that was so apparent when I went back to a Yamaha receiver temporarily for comparison.
The sound tended towards lean, but never really became dry sounding. I think it is more of a neutrality thing, because I was used to the warmth that the Audio Refinement added to the mix. The Jungson is much more neutral, so don’t expect it to add romance to recordings that don’t have it!
Review by chillysalsa