JansZen Electrostatic Speakers Factory Tour


#1

A few months ago I was invited to a factory tour by David Janszen the son of Arthur Janszen. Arthur Janszen first patented the electrostatic high frequency speaker in 1953. I first became aware of Jansen speakers in 2013 at AXPONA in Chicago. As I recall I listened to the speakers on day one and was not impressed. On day two my friend Will from this forum encouraged me to listen to them again. They were good, but I still quickly forgot them. I heard the Janszen speakers again at AXPONA in 2014, 2015 and 2016 each time I seemed to like them a little more, but would forget about them after I returned home.

I contacted David after being reminded about his speakers and his father in PS Audio’s Copper Magazine. David turned out to be a real nice guy with an interesting eclectic taste in music. During the factory tour David mentioned he started learning the unpublished secrets of making electrostatic speakers from his father in his teens. He demonstrated how the electrostatic panels and speakers were made, how he is restoring his father’s speakers, and a few other R&D projects he is working on. I then had an opportunity to listen to the passive Valentina’s in his factory showroom / office and the active Valentina floor standing speakers in David’s home. At both locations I liked the speakers, but was not moved by them in any spectacular way.

Fast forward to this week and David calls me. He has some free time and asks if I would like to audition the Carmelita stand mounted speakers in my home. We set them up in my dedicated audio room with my PSA P10, PSA Transport, Aria Server, PSA DAC through, Belden Iconoclast RCA interconnects, into my PrimaLuna Monoblock 7’s, with Belden Iconoclast Speaker cables.

It took me one track to be blown away by how natural the music sounded. I have never heard vocals sound sweeter, fuller and completely effortless. The same positive musical qualities were obviously noticeable for piano and brass. However, there was a little less plat from the horns and shimmer from symbols then I would prefer even with the side firing tweeters. The optional and adjustable side firing tweeters did nicely increase the dimensions of the soundstage. With the Janszens I felt my brain and ears relax more than ever. I needed to work less to differentiate notes. I went from forgetting about the Janszen’s, to now thinking about them all the time.

April AXPONA in Chicago has always been my Christmas. To all the dealers and manufactures out there, Audio Shows do matter. I have purchased multiple items at every AXPONA. 2017 is going to be tough, do I buy the Directstream Memory Player, the BHK Preamplifier, or the Janszens?

Has any one else had any experience with either the Carmelita or the Valentina Speakers?


#2

A delightful review.

Let us know what you decide, a perplexing challenging choice.


#3

Stay away from that Will guy. Bad Hombre.2guns_gif


#4

I recently heard a pair of refurbished KLH Janszen Nine-J speakers and I am now lusting after them. I have truly been smitten by these electrostatic speakers both by their historic lineage, and their tall and wide sound staging, yet exact placement of the smallest of instruments, with the most natural tones. I do not typically listen to Opera. However, David Janszen played Jonas Kaufman’s Turandot, Atto III Nessun Dorma from the Puccina Album. Through the Janszen Nines for the first time in my life I felt like I was truly transported to a venue with no veil or distance between me and the performer. I could visualize the singer’s true height, see his shoes, pants, suit coat, and face in actual size. I felt like I could peer into his mouth and see the wobble of his tonsils. But at the same volume I could hear the most delicate and discrete symbol to the far right of the soundstage. I have never been transported like that before. I had never heard such transparency from a driver speaker, although now I know more why people like the size imagery of tall line array conical driver speakers. I have never been moved so much by an electrostatic speaker for under a $15.000. I want the KLH Nines so bad I’m now looking to sell some of my gear to afford them.

I am eager for more audiophiles to experience what I heard. So please write David Janszen and encourage him to put the Nines back into production, to bring the refurbished KLH Nines to show in Chicago / AXPONA in April, and demo a few other secret projects he has been working on.


#5
Elk said A delightful review.

Let us know what you decide, a perplexing challenging choice.


At this point to get the greatest music enjoyment for the buck I’m leaning toward the BHK Preamp as my first audio purchase of the new year. I tend to listen to more new music through high rez and MP3 downloads then CD’s. But I could still change my mind.

#6
drpain said I recently heard a pair of refurbished KLH Janszen Nine-J speakers and I am now lusting after them. I have truly been smitten by these electrostatic speakers both by their historic lineage, and their tall and wide sound staging, yet exact placement of the smallest of instruments, with the most natural tones. I do not typically listen to Opera. However, David Janszen played Jonas Kaufman's Turandot, Atto III Nessun Dorma from the Puccina Album. Through the Janszen Nines for the first time in my life I felt like I was truly transported to a venue with no veil or distance between me and the performer. I could visualize the singer's true height, see his shoes, pants, suit coat, and face in actual size. I felt like I could peer into his mouth and see the wobble of his tonsils. But at the same volume I could hear the most delicate and discrete symbol to the far right of the soundstage. I have never been transported like that before. I had never heard such transparency from a driver speaker, although now I know more why people like the size imagery of tall line array speakers. I have never been moved so much by an electrostatic speaker for under a $15.000. I want the KLH Nines so bad I'm now looking to sell some of my gear to afford them.

I am eager for more audiophiles to experience what I heard. So please write David Janszen and encourage him to put the Nines back into production, to bring the refurbished KLH Nines to show in Chicago / AXPONA in April, and demo a few other secret projects he has been working on.

David here -- Thanks, drpain! -- drpain just let me know he'd posted this, and I wanted to clarify something about these speakers:

Nines are actually unique among large electrostatics and planars in general, in that they are not line arrays or large area, full range radiators, but more like 2-way point sources. They have a single, small-ish tweeter at ear height, and the rest of the panel is about ten square feet of woofer. Unlike the other large planars, they do not radiate a large, or at least not a tall, full range back-wave into the room. Instead, there’s a narrow beam of treble that doesn’t intersect its own early reflections, and it thereby adds spaciousness without the usual comb filtering coloration or prominent reverberant artifacts.

A contributory aspect is that the crossover to the 5" square tweeter on the original Nines is quite low, at 800 Hz. On our refurbs, the situation is further improved by installing our modern, 7" x 8", 1.5-way tweeters, where the crossover is about an octave lower, and the horizontal dispersion is better controlled and about twice as wide.

Personally, I describe the sound simply as lovely, not heavy or light, not bright or dark, not analytical or laid back, not voiced in any way – there’s practically nothing to tip your brain off that you’re hearing speakers. KLH Nine refurbs from JansZen


#7

Thanks for the clarification David: I did not feel I was doing the Nines justice with my impressions above. I’m still learning about Planars and Electrostatic speakers. If anyone can’t tell. I love speakers, open baffle, point source, line arrays, electrostatics, horns, you name it. They all have their strengths and shortcomings often dependent on the equipment and music. Confession, if I could afford it I would hoard speakers.