New Janszen zA2.1 Valentina Review

No sub Woofers needed:

Well they say timing is everything. Here I was listening to my Janszen zA2.1 speakers with a pair of JL Audio E110 subwoofers, along with careful setup in my listening room, and as always, I was enjoying my system. As fate would have it, I just happened to blow a woofer about the time David Janszen was getting ready to release a new version of his Valentina speakers. The new version comes with new, improved and larger 8” woofers and some magician like tricks in the crossovers. After a talk with David, I was convinced the new version would be sonically superior. So that’s all it took and what the hell, I had to send a speaker back anyway. I have the first test pair, and the test has passed with flying colors.

The original wonderful sounding but bass shy zA2.1 Valentina has had an impressive upgrade. Slam, bang, these woofers are delivering the goods. I have always considered these among the sweetest sounding speakers I’ve ever heard with very few short comings. With the most significant short coming removed, they are the sweetest and complete full range speakers I’ve ever heard.

Now the 3D Image is more prominent than ever. Plucked bass strings are deep and tight. The difference in bottom end output is night and day. The sound stage has grown and even the sweet spot feels bigger, although I don’t know how thats possible. Integration between the woofers and panel are seamless. I still have my subwoofers but have yet to turn them on. I could get that last bit on the bottom with them but I’m enjoying what I’m hearing so much I don’t want to mess with it.

I’m going by memory but when I heard the active version of this speaker at our DC HiFi group meeting, it didn’t go as low and full as I’m getting now. Sorry Brad. David is great guy and will patiently explain the changes he’s made but me not being an engineer, my eyes start to glaze over after a few minutes. I’m sure he will chime in here to explain.

I played Bela Fleck’s “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” and Victor Wooten’s bass was subterranean sounding. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture sounds like cannons instead of pistols. I really can’t believe it. I’m not just comparing these woofers to the old woofers but to any other 8” woofer I’ve ever heard.

Of course speaker quality will be effected by upstream gear. The synergy of Janszen Valentina speakers and Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 amplification is the pinnacle of my listening enjoyment. I have owned more expensive amps and speakers but nothing sounding on this level of beauty and refinement.


Thanks for posting this. I have always been fascinated with these speakers, but never had an opportunity to hear them.
This new version is spectacular. If you ever wondered what an electrostic speaker would sound like with good bass this is it and I'm not talking about trying to blend your subs in. This is natural sounding. 
If you can make it to the Capital Audiofest starting November 1st, David will be there with these speakers.
Lance, I never post here on Audiogon, or at least not for years, but I just posted a lengthy Capitol Audiofest trip report on another audio site and may post it here as well.  The Janszen room was my favorite, and the only other room I thought was outstanding was the Genesis Maestro room.

The Janszen active Valentinas were shockingly good and with built in DAC and built-in biamped 500watts of Hypex Class D (which I thought I would hate...) nothing came close at $12,750... again for the whole system.  It's unbelievable.  I listened to many many rooms before coming to that conclusion.  If I owned the Janszens, and I probably will as soon as I decide to make the investment, I would need about $50k for the whole Genesis Maestro system before I considered an "upgrade".

I was surprised at how good a hotel room could sound. The new actives are very good but I do like my passives better with Linear Tube audio electronics.

I could be wrong but I think David was using an exaSound e32 DAC. The actives have built in amps but not a DAC, although if I’m wrong that’s an incredible bargain.

Apparently, the active version does have digital inputs. Not entirely surprising, as some of the speakers' magic is done with DSP.
Well, alrighty, I think I should jump in here briefly.

In addition to both RCA and balanced XLR analog inputs, the active version of the Valentina, called the A8, does indeed include a DAC. Here's how it works:
A digital source gets connected to one of the three digital inputs on the right hand speaker. The input circuitry splits the data up into right and left, and keeps the right hand data for playback on that side. It sends the left hand data over to the left side through an S/PDIF coax cable, where it gets played back from there.

And wait -- there's more. The speakers include an IR remote control that handles volume, mute, preset selection, and remote selection.

Now, note that the inputs are sensitive enough that no preamplification is needed. Sources can be connected directly.

Furthermore, when the input selection is set to automatic mode, the speakers will play the signal from whichever source happens to be active at the moment. This eliminates the need for a preamplifier's input selection role.

As mpignone points out, these speakers are truly complete, truly high end systems -- just add one or more sources. Personally, I've simplified my own system to the point of being nothing more than a single source playing a HiFi Tidal stream. The result is to me indistinguishable from playing CDs through a high end DAC and a high powered class A amplifier. Gone are my DAC, preamp, amplifier, and speaker cables, and I don't miss them a bit.

As it happens, we're just about to list a demo pair at a 20% discount. It has cherry wood baffles. There are some tiny, nearly invisible blemishes in the cabinet paint as a result of shipping without stretch wrap, but this pair is otherwise mint. It has the latest programming already installed, and carries the full warranty. Taking some pictures today that I'll try to post soon.
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