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Introduction Of The C97 II
Today is something special because we are going to be looking at the Jamo C97-II floorstanding loudspeaker . Let’s get into it.
Overview of the Speaker
The C 97 mark two is Jamo’s flagship tower speaker and it is part of their concert nine series: and in that series, you will find floor standing loudspeakers, bookshelf speakers, centre surround channels, as well as subwoofers, and the concert nine series sits above the studio series and the studio series is your most entry level line.
Now, I have always liked the studio series or have been attracted to that series based almost entirely on its design aesthetic, because it wasn’t until recently that I actually got a chance to listen to them,
I do understand specs are important. And many of you want to know the specifications of any product that we review and loudspeakers are no different. So for those of you that want to know the ins and outs of the C97 mark two’s here are their specifications;
Let’s face it, a lot of loudspeakers, especially budget loudspeakers; the ones that the Jamo C97-11 would compete against are drab, for the most part they are lifeless soulless black boxes. Sure. They may sound good, but they lack that visual character, and I have got to tell you, the entire concert nine series, just like the studio series under them oozes character, because while they are not necessarily made of unobtainium or from x material that you may find in higher end loudspeakers, they’re made from the right materials, where it counts.
And the result is a very, very beautiful package that happens to also sound fantastic, let’s talk about how the C 97 11’s sound. They sound surprisingly good and I say the word surprisingly because I didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge to Jamo’s kind of house sound or signature sound, if you will.
So I am basing my experience with the C 97 Mark two’s, not so much on the Jamo’s that came before them, but just how they compare to other loudspeakers in their category and I have to say, this is a loudspeaker that punches well above its weight class, and especially now that they are discounted.
What I Like About the Jamo C97-11
The C 97’s are borderline, if not the epitome of giant killers. And they are not neutral loudspeakers but they are incredibly engaging and fun loudspeakers.
They do appear to be loud speakers that are not picky about the type of associated equipment that you choose to use them with, for instance they sound as good with, say, a Marantz receiver as they do with a Class D amplifier from the likes of x Tz, but they also pair very nicely with some vintage stuff.
They also do play nice with some very high end stuff for instance like the Naim Uniti atom which is four or five times the C 97 Mark two’s asking price for a loudspeaker that may not run in higher end circles.
This is a loudspeaker that can and does sound good with higher end gear but also sounds, equally impressive with entry level wares.
And that is one of the C 97 Mark twos strengths.
They are not picky. And you know me, I like a loudspeaker that just kind of gets on with getting on and I don’t like a loudspeaker that requires a lot of fuss, because frankly I think there are a number of consumers out there and maybe even some of you reading this that while you may be into the hobby, you don’t want to necessarily fall down a rabbit hole every single time in order to wring the most from any particular product.
They are not neutral loudspeakers I do want to point that out, they are not linear, in their frequency response there is definitely a little bit of an enhancement in the bass, as well as in the high frequencies.
Now the mid range in comparison will then seem neutral or cool, because the high frequencies have just a little bit of a tip up there and the bass itself also just a little bit tip. And this is fine.
This is a common sort of practice, among budget loudspeakers and so it’s not a fault of the C97-II. And in all honesty, it results in a very engaging sound experience but let us break it down into its individual elements.
In terms of bass, the C 97-11 does rely on dual six inch woofers, as well as a rear firing port. In order to obtain its lowest reaches of its frequency response. And for what it is for what it possesses, it is very good at the furthest reaches of its capability, it does become a little bit one note so if you want to flesh out say the bottom octaves with a little bit more texture and speed, you’re going to want to do two things; you’re going to either want to bring a little bit more power to the party, or you’re going to want to cross these over with a subwoofer that enables them to go all the way down into the basement.
This is because where they kind of hit their limit is a bit of like a shelf. So they will be tracking along and then when they hit their limit there, it’s their limit, it’s not clipping but it just has nothing more to give. And, again, this isn’t necessarily unique to the Jamo. This isn’t necessarily a fault, it just is what it is.
But the bass that the C97 mark two does have from its limits on up to the mid range, is very articulate, dynamic and wholly enjoyable.
Now like I said earlier the mid range, itself, is probably the more neutral aspect of this loudspeaker but because it sits in the middle of a slightly ripened bass and a slightly tipped travel, it might seem a little bit Lean In comparison.
But all that said, the presence that the C 97-11 mid range possesses is awesome, awesome, and infectious. It’s my favourite part of this loudspeaker because of the in room presence.
The front of stage presence that the C 97’s exhibit is intoxicating. And it really doesn’t matter what type of music you choose to listen to.
Obviously if you listen to music or movies with heavy vocals, or dialogue tracks, it makes you almost feel like a centre speaker is present when there isn’t one.
That’s how strong the centre imaging and the dispersion of this loudspeaker is, but it just has a presence, and that presence is aided no doubt by the grounding brought by the bass.
It has a sort of not in your face, it’s not shouty it’s not, you know, it’s not forward. But it’s just, it’s there, it’s there, it’s palpable. It’s dimensional, and I absolutely am here for it and love it.
Now the high frequencies, again, like the bass are a little bit tipped up so they are a little sweeter. They have a little bit more extension, a little bit more presence than maybe some tweeters in this class, but for what the C 97 mark two has from its soft dome tweeter, it is supremely enjoyable and very very natural and it’s presentation up into a point; that point being at extremely high volumes, the high frequencies can become a little bit grainy and exhibit a bit more of sibilance.
So while I have just described the individual kind of elements in this frequency response, I do want to make it abundantly clear that the C 97 mark two is an incredibly coherent loudspeaker from top to bottom.
So while not neutral, there aren’t any overt gaps between the bass and mid range, so you do get a seamless Sonic presentation.
And speaking of seamless Sonic presentations, the soundstage the C 97-II has at its disposal is awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome.
About a month ago or maybe even a little over a month ago, we reviewed the Focal Chora 806, and in that particular review I mentioned that the 806 had a lateral dispersion that rivalled some of the best that I’ve ever encountered.
Well, I am pleased to announce that the C97 is up to that same standard. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that this C 97 mark two has a better lateral dispersion than even the Chora, making it on par with some of the best that I’ve ever heard.
The soundstage literally from right to left, is very, very wide even if the provided recording you are choosing to listen to has little depth, It’s still there. There is notable depth here and it is very satisfying, but it by no means matches the width of the soundstage the C 97s are capable of producing.
These speakers arguably have the best centre image that I’ve heard at or near this price point, and probably even several ticks above.
So, to sum it up, these are just great speakers. They are speakers that you can take seriously but they don’t demand that they have to be taken seriously.
And that makes them great for music and movies because they are coherent from top to bottom. They are engaging through and through.
Yes, so they’re not the most neutral sounding loudspeaker.
They are a little bit forward of neutral but that gives them a presence, that gives them a sound that makes you want to listen because it grabs you, it grabs you, and it says, “Have a seat and enjoy the show”, and that makes them very fun.
And I, at the end of the day, like. There are speakers that are very serious capable tools, you know, but then there are speakers that are just fun, and you listen to track after track after track or you watch movie after movie after movie.
These are that speaker. That’s what they’re for. They’re for the person that wants to sit down and just enjoy themselves. And while they are enjoying themselves, they’re treated to a performance that, frankly, is better than their asking price or their makeup would have you believe.
So with all that said, What don’t I like about the C97-II’s?
For starters, they are a budget loudspeaker and that’s not a dig. There are plenty of budget loudspeakers on the market today and Jamo has chosen to spend their money wisely; that is in the drivers and the components that actually are going to produce the sound that you value.
All that said, they have cut a few corners in the construction elsewhere on this particular loudspeaker; chiefly in the QC or the fit and finish. This is a vinyl wrap speaker, it is not a veneer and so it is on the cheaper side, and when I talk about QC, I’m not talking about QC in terms of the electronics or the crossover inside, but more rather kind of the assembly.
There are some gaps present here and they are noticeable, specifically the front baffle and how it attaches to the cabinet itself. There is a noticeable gap here. It does not seem to affect the sound like I said. But all that said, it is present.
You can see it. It is even in the press photos and review videos. And it kind of bugs me. If you order these in black or cherry, the gaps between the front baffle and the cabinet itself likely won’t be as noticeable, but on the white model, there’s no getting away from it, it’s present.
And like I said, this is a final wrap, and not a vinyl wrap. It’s not bad. It is worth noting that the white wood vinyl wrap on these particular loudspeakers still would look good in a variety of living situations.
Specifically if you’re into kind of that shabby chic, rustic, modern country vibe.
This may be the finish that you are looking for and for everyone else there are the standard black and cherry vinyl wraps as well but I do, I did want to point out that because of its white on white finish, little things like panel gaps become a little bit more noticeable.
Again, these gaps don’t appear to affect the sound of the C97-11 in any way. It’s just kind of a cosmetic thing that perfectionists will notice right away.
Like I said earlier in my descriptions of their sound when pushed hard, the high frequencies can exhibit a little bit of grain and excess sibilance. When I say pushed hard, I mean volumes in excess of 100 to 105 decibels.
And for those of you that are like, oh I listened at that volume, all the time, understand that that’s actually probably not the best thing for your hearing, and so I refer to anything over 100 decibels as high volumes because, honestly.
We don’t want to listen for sustained periods of time at those levels because we could be causing damage to our hearing, but at those levels the tweeter does exhibit a little bit of grain and a little bit of excess sibilance.
This isn’t uncommon of a lot of loudspeakers at this price point. And conversely down low in the bass department. Yes, at the extreme. The bass can become a little bit one note.
You can help this a little bit with your speaker placement, but honestly I recommend adding a dedicated subwoofer to the C 97 Mark twos, if you want to plunge to the lowest octaves with the most finesse.
Go ahead and cross them over somewhere between 50 and 80 hertz, it’s your call. But by doing so, you will free up the lower octaves to be far more articulate than what the C 97 mark two can do on its own.
Outside of those few caveats, that is really all that I found to fault with the C 97-11 because on a whole, especially at this price point, they are hugely, hugely enjoyable and fantastic loudspeakers through and through.
How do they compare with the Focal Chora 806?
As for the types of loudspeakers the C 97 mark two compares or competes favourably with, I know earlier in this review I did mention the Focal Chora 806 and I know those are two-way bookshelf loudspeakers.
But those that are around $900 a pair and have a lot more in common sonically with the C97-II than I likely would have originally thought.
The C 97 Mark two’s play more full range than the Focal Chora’s. Obviously we’re talking about floor standing versus bookshelf here, but in terms of the sonic attributes, the dispersion, that centre image, that strength, that presence that the Chora had, you will find it here.
Also, in terms of how the C 97 Mark twos compared to other comparable floorstanding loudspeakers, I kind of had to go back i look at the Polk Legend Audio L800 speakers. Personally, I prefer the sound of the C 97-11’s to that of the L800 but the L 800 is capable of doing things that the C 97 mark two simply cannot.
So for more apples to apples comparison I actually would hit the C 97-II up against Monitor audio’s new silver series.
While the monitor audio silver series two or 300 model may cost two or three times the Mark two’s asking price.
That is the loudspeaker that I would compare the two. But I think you can get a sense by now that I’m a huge fan of the Jamo C97-11, because they are just very likeable, loudspeakers, and in this day and age, I gravitate more towards those types of speakers because I want a speaker that just gets out of its own way.
And I want a speaker that just sounds as good with music as it does with movies or vice versa depending on what you prefer, and the C 97-11’s does that.
Which is why I give them my highest recommendation if you are looking for a floorstanding loudspeaker added around this price point that can do music and movies with equal fervour.
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