Test Report: Jamo S 35 HCS speaker system
Physicists have long postulated that an ideal sound reproducer would behave as a pulsating sphere. Ever since, the wish being father to the thought, speaker designers have been cramming transducers into balls, as if making the cabinet round would somehow magically make the sound spherical.
Most such efforts have been as much about marketing puff as polar plots, but Danish maker Jamo’s new Sputnik-shaped S 35 incorporates some genuine engineering innovation within its spherical form. (And finally: a satellite speaker that really looks the part!)
The grapefruit-sized S 35 featured in our test system for both the left/right front and surround channels employs two dome drivers: a 3.5-inch mid/woofer and a 1-inch tweeter, arranged nose-to-nose, with the mid/woofer firing straight up and the tweeter firing straight down. (A softball-sized sibling, the S 25, is similar but has smaller drivers.) The idea behind this arrangement is that each dome acts as a diffuser for the other, resulting in very broad and even dispersion — or spread of sound — over the speaker’s full range.
Jamo resides under the Klipsch/Audiovox corporate umbrella, alongside the Energy and Mirage speaker brands. That’s worth noting because Mirage’s Omnipolar designs undertake a similar goal but use cone mid/woofers and fixed “deflectors.” (Whether or not there was any engineering cross-pollination between brands, I can’t say.)
The S 35, which is available in white or black, is undeniably cool. People will either love the look or hate it (count me among the former — especially in white). There’s a clever half-shell you can remove to reveal wall-mounting keyholes, and it’s sited to down-tilt the acoustical opening a bit. Unfortunately, there’s no tilt provision incorporated in the tabletop stands that come with the speakers.
Setup is straightforward enough until you get to the wiring bit. You have to thread the speaker cabling through a couple of openings, and then guide the bare, stripped ends into small plus and minus terminals built into recesses cast into the stand base. (Forget about using thick audiophile cables or banana ends; 16-gauge would be about the max.) These are small indeed, and the fiddly hookup requires a tiny screwdriver (supplied) to loosen and tighten even tinier set screws.
If you enjoy repairing eyeglasses, you’ll ace this, no question. As for everyone else, I can only imagine some bright young 20-something taking home the Jamos as part of My First Audio System, butting up against this challenge, and having to turn to the entirely mute, graphics-only manual. (That’s how you solve the translation challenge of today’s internationalist marketplace: Eliminate all language!)
I had no particular problem — though I admit to needing a pencil-beam flashlight and a magnifying glass to determine that there was an Allen-head bolt fixing the C 35 center speaker’s cover, which you must remove to get to its own connectors. I ended up leaving it off both this and the center’s identical tabletop stand so I could get some up-tilt.
Jamo’s center speaker unit is an entirely different design, with a conventional woofer/tweeter/woofer horizontal layout. Removing the aforementioned cover reveals not only the connectors but also a flat surface with keyhole mounts for on-wall setup.
The SUB 800 subwoofer Jamo sent along to support the system is not all that much larger — but a good deal squarer. The tiny cube houses three 6.5-inch cones: one active driver and two passive radiators. The sub has a claimed 800 watts of power onboard, so I was eager to hear what this mighty mite might do.