Newport 2014: JansZen, exaSound and Audio by Van Alstine look and sound gorgeous


hiresnewportlogoforwebThe JansZen electrostats are an interesting proposition. The floorstanding zA2.1 speakers ($8,750/pair) combine an electrostatic panel with a pair of woofers at the top and bottom in an enclosed cabinet. They are, quite frankly, gorgeous; 38″ tall, with a gracefully curved, silkily veneered front panel, and it’s easy to imagine them in any number of living spaces. While I didn’t get to hear them, the new zA1.1 shelf speaker ($4,495) was also on display and looking equally lovely.

So, super pretty, sure, but did I mention that they also happen to sound pretty awesome? Well, I just did. When I’ve heard these loudspeakers in the past, I’ve found that they seem to be very sensitive to the source: they will pass everything through, so it’s important that you like everything in the chain.

Fortunately, with Van Alstine amplification and the new exaSound e22 DAC ($3,500), this was not an issue. I found the sound very well-integrated, with open treble and a solid bass heft. I also found that they were less directionally sensitive than some other electrostats — they don’t require one to sit perfectly still in one spot in order to sound good. I have yet to hear anything large-scale on JansZens; I don’t think I’ve heard any Big Band or orchestral music, which for me would be the true test of whether I would want them for the long term. However, if you’re looking for a great-looking speaker with big sound and a small footprint, these are definitely worth investigating.


T.H.E. Show at Newport 2014 Show Sponsor