Job225 – A Stepping Stone to Great Sound
This is not normally the way I would like to write my listening impressions but with the Job225 I felt this was fitting. The Job225 can be considered a solid foundation for people who are serious about traditional 2 channel hifi. It will provide the understanding of what can be achieved by spending more. It isn’t going to take you to the top but it will give you glimpses of what a great system can achieve. If you imagine that while climbing up Mount Everest you come to one of the base camps on the lower slopes showing a great vista, this is the Job225. Some will choose to stop here and be completely content. Others will push forth for glory or death. In hifi terms it will be for greater sound or to lose faith that better exists.
Just as in Architecture and Interior Design the high end of hifi can struggle to show its value. In most cases the average man will see the price tag, shake their head and keep walking on by.
In Australia, and I guess in many other parts of the world, the explosion of renovation TV shows pitting people interested in renovating (either by profession or passion) against each other, gave many people a stepping stone to appreciate what good design can achieve. It showed the value without the cost. Once people got to the stage of understanding the costs involved, generally a commitment had already been made and people go ahead with the full blown vision or a reduced version of the original. By the end the budgets have been smashed and people either love what they have achieved (which should be the end result of any good design) or will be burnt out and biter about the experience. I rarely meet anyone in between.
Hifi can be the same, once we push beyond a point, diminishing returns kick in and the cost of entry gets very steep indeed. We can end up spending far too much for far too little in return.
For most the Job225 won’t ever be considered entry level. So more for the serious music lover than the newbie. Which is a good thing, because you need to know the constraints of this amplifier.
First off unless you purchase the matching preamp the danger of using the incorrect preamp is high. If you have a tube pre, good chance you will strike issues. Tube noise or transformer hum due to the very high gain of the amplifier is one. Two up for the DC leakage of the pre. Due to the lack of safety mechanisms within the Job225 any large amounts of DC from the output of the preamp and speaker oscillation and / or destruction is on the cards. If there was anything I would suggest it would be to have these two issues addressed, however I suspect that there is a sonic reason for both of them. The DC leakage is of major concern for me. As a user it is best for you to get these right before proceeding.
Ok so we’ve got past these issues. So how does the Job225 sound? If I had to say it in one word it would be clean. Two words exceptionally clean.
Driver control is excellent, with excellent dampening factor, control on most speakers isn’t going to be an issue. If you go through the list of everything in the audiophile subjective check list there is a tick against each trait. Fast – Check. Neutral – Check. Clean and Concise – Check. Honest – Check. Controlled – Check. Musical without being too dry – Check.
Great, here is a mind blowing amp that has a great reputation online and many people singing the glories of what Goldmund have achieved with this simple amplifier. A giant killer in the eyes of many. There are enough online reviews of this amplifier for me to not have to repeat everything they have already done and said.
So what’s the point in writing more. Well here is where a point has to be made. Remember at the start I stated that the Job225 is a great stepping stone. Well it is. Because as good as this amplifier is it also opens the door for people to get a glimpse of greater things. This is merely the bass camp remember. If you were to have ownership of this amplifier it should be in its duty to go head to head with any challenger pitted against it. I would say the next step up in greater performance is between $5,000 to $8,000. For solid state think Crayon Audio. For tubes there is Weston Acoustics (sold directly) or Trafomatic Audio amoungst others. The Job225 is $1,699 and to be on the safe side good chance you will need the Job Pre at another $1,699. So we’ve now hit $3,398. The jump to $5,000 isn’t as big as first thought.
Without great risk, there can be no great reward. To venture forth will be fraught with indecision and let downs. To upgrade from here will require you to know what you want. To seek it out with research and speaking with knowledgeable people. For me to go forward required tubes. To push my own personal on buttons requires an air of presence and life that the Job225 just can’t do. Vocals in particular had an air of metallic sheen with the Job. The body of the artist had somehow been removed and didn’t allow me to relax in the way very good tube amps allow. Due to the high gain of the Job I also found that some of the subtle cues in music especially in jazz music couldn’t be heard. For example The Dave Brubeck Quartet 1959 classic Take Five has a section of jolting drums with the combined use of floor tom, snare and kick drum. It is through this section that the subtle change in bass texture and volume is missing in the Job. With my current Trafomatic Kaivalya Tube amps the presence of effort in the kick drum is there. You feel the effort involved in driving the impact of the kick stand against the drum. These small subtleties will be what separate the Job225 from a true reference amplifier. For all I know this is what the higher priced Goldmund amplifiers achieve. Possibly Job themselves will develop something to push to this point. At the end of the day it will come with greater cost. One I’m willing to pay. For others the stepping stones will be just too far apart. The fact remains that the Job225 will be for many, the base camp to greater sound.