JOB Systems is a Swiss based company working out of the Goldmund facility and shares the technology and machinery of their legendary manufacturing plant. JOB are however a separate entity and should be looked at as such, but with roots so deep in high end equipment the company really has a strong background and engineering know how.
The class A/B design of JOB Systems 225 amplifier is housed in a solid, well constructed enclosure with a gun metal shaded front anodised panel. I really adore the shade of grey the 225 has but for most, it may be a bit of a deviation from an all naturally anodised fascia system, so in this instance the sound of the amplifier must be a deciding factor.
For an amplifier with such modest dimensions it has some good weight to it giving it a feeling of substantial build quality and looking inside doesn’t deter from this feeling of wealth.
A high grade toroidal transformer with multiple secondaries feed discrete regulation and an output stage filled with carefully selected high quality components.
For me the 225 sits at a price point which is very competitive, both in the power amplifier and integrated region, knowing that a preamp is required will bump up the price further and JOB do have a passive available. To excite the sound buds I am going to tell you right now that the 225 is simply stunning, captivating and is beyond any shadow of a doubt the absolute best power amp available today for around £1300. JOB Systems and their Goldmund connections have put together an amplifier (performance-wise) that just doesn’t surprise and excite the listener, or make the reviewer go ‘wow, this should cost several times more’ – a phrase often bandied around. The JOB truly is at the absolute pinnacle of what can be attained in this market right now for price against performance, no ifs or buts!
Have a read on for a breakdown and explanation of its sonic abilities, or don’t bother… if you are willing to spend £1300 or $1700 and don’t have the patience to read all the following then take my word for it, order one and enjoy.
On first take what did I make of the sound? This was something I was questioning myself for a while before I settled on an initial take on the 225. It does have an unusual quality and characteristic to it, imagine a single ended transistor amp with a raspy quality of organic texture, much like the harmonic distortion of a valve amp. If your brain can comprehend such a mixture then you are certainly on the right track.
Midrange is projected especially well with vocals, leaving great depth for stage interaction and placement of band/instruments. With more bass driven music the 225 sounds fun and exciting, a real captivating bounciness to the presentation which is also reflected in the lower mid/upper bass region. Kick drums have a real crack of the skin, strike of the stick and expression of the drum’s cavity giving an undeniable rhythm-driven pace to music. Overall information in the lower mid upper bass area is particularly stand out, informative and very very complex underpinning everything else the amplifier does like a strong chassis on a Koenigsegg supercar – without it the sound would fall apart.
I’ve heard many pieces of equipment that can convey a terrific amount of lower mid upper bass detail and precision but that’s always to the sacrifice of weight, leaving a leanness in this portion of the frequency range to allow for unmasking of the detail. The 225 doesn’t lift a veil nor does it colour the upper bass, what you get is a level of detail and information that has a tremendous amount of weight, pace, detail and rhythm. To try and put this into terms that may relate to you, imagine a top British amp such as Rega or Quad and combine it with some American muscle and then a few drops of fines from a Swiss timepiece and I think that you will begin to get an idea of the complexity of the 225.
In the higher frequencies that harmonic distortion of a valve amp description just seems to sit well with me. When a valve goes into breakup at peak volumes it doesn’t clip like a transistor amplifier and its breakup is favoured by many guitarists as it produces a raspy quality. The 225 hasn’t got the pin sharp ting of a note but it certainly conveys a sparkly and airy, open treble that is playful, energetic and at the same time engaging with such a natural representation of notes. On first glance I questioned the speed of each note, feeling that a note was taking a nano second or two to express its nature, but after adjusting I concluded that there was so much insight into each note that what I was hearing was more accurate pitch information which for the untrained brain would culminate in a slower type sound as there is more to ascertain over a short period of time – once again like a very good valve amplifier.
Notes disperse very widely indeed across a very strongly imaged soundstage. There’s a fullness of a note which decays in a subtle way rather than being sterile and understated, a little loser in its edges like a valve amp. You could say more liquid with more flow than a typically tighter sounding A/B design.
There’s no question that the JOB does wide, deep and sculptured with height. There’s a quality of responsiveness right across the front of the room where dynamic beats emanate from. The central focus, as strong as it is, becomes replicated from all angles and positions within the boundaries of the room.
Where other amplifiers in the JOB’s price range of $1700 will be able to create nuances of detailed transients in areas off axis, offering descriptions of spatial awareness very well, the 225 conveys an entire story from left to right a full and complex image depth, many a front to back shape that has to be stated with the term sculptured rather than three dimensional.
There’s is such a thickness of tone on the outer edges of the soundstage it’s very difficult to adjust on first listen, weight doesn’t generally lend itself to more particular areas, as by its very nature lower frequencies are difficult to pin point and disperse fairly evenly into the room, but in this case with the lower end voicing the 225 seems to have deployed a special technique which gives almost pocket like areas of low frequencies in the soundstage making for a truer representation of a performance which I’ve only heard from far more expensive gear.
At the time I also had in for review some ATC SCM19’s, pairing the 225 with these was a revelation – the enthusiasm of energetic kangaroo bouncing, informative bass was simply magic. Every piece of music I listened to had a more confident and explorative bottom end than the Rowland integrated was able to convey through ATC’s larger standmounts. Vocals wailed with an intensity of purpose, with delicacy and richness to match and the top end had an airy image that gave the most transparent insight into decaying notes that I had to remind myself that in British Pounds this amplifier only cost around £1300. The relationship between price and musical fulfillment is simply incredible, the sound is just simply so satisfying and then some.
An excerpt from the Bible: JOB 22:5 – “Is not your wickedness great?” My God it is, the JOB 225 is a devilishly naughty amplifier that that systematically pushes the boundaries of all that is holy!
In other words the definition, resolution, transparency and emphatic bass performance is shocking. JOB Systems manages to put together an amplifier of such maturity and insight into the music that the price tag simply does not reflect its achievements. To say that I was excited, captivated and surprised by the amplifier, from build to sound quality is an understatement!
I think I will definitely own one at some stage, I don’t have much room left for new kit but once I pass on some other equipment I can see me having a relationship with the 225 for a long time.
Highly recommended for its sheer ability to give sustained and substantial natural, emphatic rhythmic performance that first take you by surprise, toys with your mind and then just lays out exactly what £1300 can actually really achieve in this business – no frills just skills!
Dan’s overall score of nine point four out of ten overall means Hifi Pig then submits the item for a second view from another reviewer, in this case Dominic.
When I was a lot younger, I used to be drawn to components that had plenty of shiny knobs, switches and VU meters, naively thinking that the more there was of them, the better the component must be. With the benefit of hindsight of course, many years of experience tells you that the more money is spent on the superfluous and pretty to the outside, the less gets devoted to the insides. These days though, my interest is mostly piqued by the “plain Janes” that arrive for review, or something that shouts good engineering without actually doing so. A good case for that philosophy is the JOB Systems 225 power amplifier submitted to me for review.
Upon opening the box it arrives in, you are greeted by a plain rectangular metal case in a gun metal grey colour finish. No bells, no whistles, no VU meters either, in fact it is SO “plain Jane” it’s looks almost home made, save for the laser etched logo on the front panel. Appearances can of course be deceptive, so a look at the specifications tells us that this amplifier can pump out 125 watts of muscular controlled power into whatever speakers you may care to mention, even the ones other amplifiers baulk at, so JOB Systems claim. Not being in possession of some swine to drive loudspeakers, then thee and me will have to take their word for that.
So then dear reader, what does the JOB Systems 225 power amplifier sound like? In short, it sounds like no other amplifier I have listened to. Are you serious Dominic? Yes I am, so kindly read on.
This is an amplifier you HAVE to listen to, because it is a revelation in the way it presents music. I have heard no other amplifier untangle complex and dynamic music in the same way as this one can. It is so sure footed, so controlled and so . . . . . . ENJOYABLE in the effortless way it can unpick the individual musical strands in a performance so you are left in no doubt how many musicians are performing, what instruments they are playing and where they are seated/stood in the soundstage… and that applies to orchestras too. That might suggest to some readers that it might be rather cold, clinical and unforgiving, but not a bit of it because it has intensity, body and richness to the sound palette that doesn’t leave you even remotely feeling battered by an onslaught of clinically dispensed energy, it just engages you fully all the time and that for me is what sets it apart from the herd.
I think the best example of that to present to you is how the JOB amplifier engaged with my favourite CD “torture track” in the form of Porcupine Tree’s ‘Deadwing’ album. Now this album is packed to the rafters with raw uncouth energy, surprisingly well recorded for all that and as a result it really does wrong foot many hi-fi systems, in fact the better the system is, the more raw and uncouth it sounds. With the JOB amplifier it still sounds raw, but whereas most amplifiers blur the sound across successive notes so it ends up as a sort of painful musical mush, the JOB untangles all of it and presents each note one at a time with the appropriate stop-starts where necessary so there is clear delineated pauses between each note. At first hearing I wasn’t sure what I was hearing, but a second and third hearing made me understand just how controlled and precise the JOB amplifier is.
Play some live recorded music and the audience seems more “live” than ever before and the irritating person coughing three seats away will irritate you even more because if the recording microphone captured it, you will hear it. Massed clapping and whistling doesn’t sound like a frying pan full of bacon sizzling away either, it will sound like hundreds of individuals all around you. Spooky. So if you are the kind of listener that revels in detail and fine nuances, you will be positively bathing in what the JOB can do in that department.
Have I got you drooling and champing at the bit to rush out and buy one? Before you do, I must tell you the following. The JOB amplifier is a soupcon fussy about cabling and I tried several sets to get the right sonic balance, due to the variability of cable performance which the JOB easily picks up on. The amplifier is DC coupled right through and if you put DC in at one end, then DC appears at the speaker terminals, which as you may or may not know, is what loudspeakers are none too keen on accepting, so you must make absolutely sure your pre-amp does not put out any DC voltage however small.
For me it is completely refreshing to find a product where the huge majority of it’s specifications and materials costing went INSIDE and not on the outside appearances, especially so at the price point we are discussing. At a mere $1,700 it really is the epitome of a no-brainer purchase because I couldn’t name another amplifier with the same level of performance for anywhere near that asking price.
If you enjoy nuances and fine details you are in for a treat, plus the amplifier’s bass power and control will leave you breathless, as too will the lucid and transparent midrange enthrall and enervate. What’s not to like?
Sound quality: 9.6/10
Value for money: 9.8/10
Recommended for: Unbeatable bang for the buck amplifier that has a truly engaging sound which redefines and dominates the price sector it occupies. Stunning performance and value.