The Jade 5's great strength is an inviting, effortless midrange and treble quality that tempts you to carry on listening
Wharfedale describes the Jade range as its ‘new audiophile class speaker designs’, using computer-aided modelling and new material technologies. In the visually striking Jade 5, the tweeter and midrange are embraced in a combination housing that’s common to all the Jade models, raising the axis of the tweeter’s 25mm aluminium dome to peep above the front edge of the curved, sloping cabinet top.
While the midrange has a 75mm concave aluminium/pulp diaphragm, the twin 165mm bass units use a new cone material called Acufibre, said to ‘marry the responsiveness of glass and carbon fibre’ in a self-damping woven matrix. They are impressed with a moulded pattern to break up standing waves.
The Jade cabinets are made from laminations of wood and a composite called Crystalam. These layers reduce the ‘Q’ of panel resonance peaks and also spread resonances over a wider frequency range. The bass loading is described as Aperiodic, and has a resistive acoustic filter rather than a simple reflex port. Wharfedale specifies the Jade 5’s sensitivity as 87dB with a 6ohm nominal impedance.
Ports in the bottom of the cabinet are tuned by the slot formed by the small gap between cabinet and plinth, this being filled with resistive foam to control the airflow from the ports. Bi-wiring terminals are provided, and the plinth comes with ready-fitted spikes along with optional seats for use on wood floors. Veneer finish options are the Black Oak seen here, Vintage Cherry and Rosewood, and they are also available in Piano Black or Burgundy Burr lacquer.
Natural timbres and an inviting soundstage were in evidence here. With the Wharfedale Jade 5, you felt that acoustic instruments could bloom unforced in a presentation that was always relaxed and almost never strident.
With Marta Gomez and Entre Cada Palabra [Chesky] there was good depth in the acoustic, and the bass seemed natural and articulate. The vocal was sweet and plaintive, while the flute seemed to take flight with real air around it.
On Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat [Classic] the sound in ‘First We Take Manhattan’ was smooth, glossy and detailed, yet strangely we felt here that the bass was less admirable, even tending to sound one-notey.
In Eric Bibb’s ‘Spirit I Am’, from Get On Board [Telarc] the Jade 5 let you really hear into the mix, all the incidental voices and instruments clearly placed. Bob Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ [Blood On The Tracks – Columbia] had the same kind of clarity, with the vocal full of character, energy and life.
The speaker also seemed to reveal fresh nuances in the vocal in ‘Dog Days’ from Florence And The Machine’s Lungs [Island], and here once more there was an inviting clarity. The big drum was reasonably convincing, too.
The Jade 5’s relatively weighty bottom end mostly provides a good foundation, if at times not a convincingly accurate one. Its great strength is an inviting, effortless midrange and treble quality that tempts you to carry on listening.
Originally published in the 2014 Yearbook
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