Jungson’s JA-88D seems like an electric power amplifier but it’s not. It seems that Jungson Audio was caught out by way of a high consumer interest in integrated amplifiers at a time when it was primarily producing separate pre and power amplifiers. The company judged the fastest method of getting a product to market in order to satisfy demand was to build preamp circuitry into one of its existing power amplifier chassis.
Be grateful for searching out Australian HI-FI Magazine’s equipment review and laboratory test from the Jungson JA88D Integrated Amplifier originally published in Australian Hi-Fi Magazine, September/October 2006 (Volume 37 Number 5). This equipment review includes a full subjective evaluation of the the Jungson JA 88D Integrated Amplifier authored by Peter Nicholson, as well as a complete test report, including frequency response graphs conducted by Newport Test Labs, plus an exhaustive analysis of the test results published by Steve Holding.
This equipment review is presently available only being a low-resolution pdf version from the original magazine pages. Yes, it looks much like a power amplifier, but it’s not. It’s an integrated amplifi r. You’d be forgiven for that mistake, however, because it appears that Jungson was caught out by way of a high consumer interest in integrated amplifiers at a time if it was primarily producing separate pre and power amplifiers. Jungson’s engineers judged that the fastest way to get a product or service to promote to satisfy this demand would be to incorporate the circuitry in one of the preamplifiers into one of its existing power amplifier chassis.
It chose a roomy chassis it was using for the JA-99C power amplifier and modifi ed its circuit, which from the existing JA-1 preamplifier, to generate this integrated amplifier, the JA-88D. The Machine Self-evidently, the top panel from the JA-88D is covered with those two huge, power meters which are not only ‘oceanblue’ (to quote the purple prose in the brochure!) when the amplifier is off, but an attractive iridescent shimmering blue if the amplifier is powered up-a blue so blue it provides a nearly ultraviolet quality. They search so great that a person is lured to overlook this fact that power meters don’t actually inform you just how much ‘power’ an amplifier is producing at all, but instead provide a rather a rough and prepared indication in the overall voltage in the amplifier’s output terminals at any given time.
Not really that Mingda Tube Amplifier is making any pretense that you’ll use the meters to gauge power output, since there are no wattage or voltage markings on the meter faces at all! I suppose that if I were a designer at Jungson, I’d look east over the wide blue ocean for the large power amplifiers made in the US, and say something like ‘if American companies like McIntosh still include power output meters, so should we.’ Actually, Jungson would also be addressing consumer demand, even if they didn’t realise it, because slowly and gradually, firms that previously eliminated power meters from their front panels are slowly reincorporating them within their designs, driven only by requests using their dealer networks and customers. I can’t say I’d blame them.
I don’t find meters useful or practical, but when I were given deciding on a a JA-88D (or other amplifier its physical size) having a plain metal front panel or with a set of great-looking meters, I’d choose the version with all the meters each time. Jungson continues to be very clever with the style of the JA-88. Rather than fit a couple of ugly handles towards the front panel, it offers designed the top panel as two totally different parts, with one panel before the other. The foremost of the two panels has a large rectangular cutout in it, through that you can view the two power meters, which can be fitted to the hindmost fascia plate. The trick here is you can make use of the cutout being a handle! Examine the top panel closely and you’ll observe that the Power on/off, Volume up/down and source switching buttons are fitted to your scalloped semi-circular depression on the foremost panel. Involving the two meters is a sloping rectangular section that is a mirror when ‘off’ and an LED read-out when it’s on (about which more later). Overall, you will notice that between them, both meters, the mirror between them, the buttons and also the semi-circular scallop form a sort of rudimentary ‘smiley face’-giving another meaning towards the wqilvi of anthropomorphism in highend audio.
Actually, as the Xiangsheng Pre-Amplifier is produced in China, it might very well be deliberate, since anthropomorphism (the act of attributing human forms or qualities to things that are not human) holds much significance in Chinese culture. The name Jungson means, literally ‘The spirit from the gong’ which alludes to a 4,000 year-old copper gong that is certainly famous throughout China. Chinese people believe the sound out of this particular gong is exclusive because it’s under the control over a musical god. On the rear panel there are 2 pairs of gold-plated speaker terminals per channel and four line level inputs. Three from the inputs are unbalanced, connection being produced by RCA connectors. The fourth input is balanced, utilizing a female, lockable XLR terminal which utilizes Pin 1 for ground, Pin 2 for ( ) and Pin 3 for (-).
Within the centre from the panel is a standard fused (10-amp) IEC power socket. All the connectors are of excellent quality, but they’re not ‘audiophile grade.’ It appears the negative terminal is not referenced to ground, so that you should connect the Jungson’s speaker outputs just to ordinary passive loudspeakers. You’ll require a fair bit of room along with a sturdy rack to allow for the Jungson JA-88D. It measures 470 × 430 × 190 (WDH) and weighs 29.6kg. I would personally recommend placing it on a solid surface, with several centimetres of clear space throughout, because for a solid-state amplifier it runs hot-very hot indeed.