JoLida JD-1501A Integrated Hybrid Amplifier

JoLida JD-1501A Integrated Hybrid Amplifier

June 5, in Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Specifications

  • Rated Output Power: 100 W per channel at 8 ohms,
  • 22Hz to 19KHz
  • Frequency Response: (at 1 watt into 8 ohms) 5Hz to
  • 100KHz + 1dB
  • Bandwidth: 22Hz to 19kHz + 3dB; 0dB 100 W 1KHz Distortion THD: Less than 0.1% at 90 W output, 22Hz to 18KHz
  • Input Impedance: 47Kohms
  • Input Sensitivity: 500mV at 1KHz and 8 ohms for 100 watt output
  • Noise and Hum: 90dB below rated output
  • Tube Complement: 2 pcs. 12AX7 for the preamplifier. Power Requirements: 110V-120 VAC 60Hz 180 watts-standby, 450 watts maximum (220 VAC 50Hz option). Dimensions: 17 inches wide by 13 inches deep by 4.5 inches high high.
  • Weight: 32 pounds net, approximately 35 pounds packaged.
  • Warranty: 18 months limited parts and labor. Six months or 1000 hours whichever comes first on Jolida Tubes.
  • Price: $675
  • Designed in USA, manufactured in China.

“The warmth of tubes, or the power of solid state, which is better?” That argument has been going on longer than most of us have been actively involved in audio. Yet, surprisingly very few companies have caught on to the idea that audiophiles have been practicing for years, mixing of tube preamps and solidstate amplifiers. One of the few that have crossing the path is JoLida Corporation. Run by Michael Allen, and dedicated to the quality sound need not take a second mortgage. JoLida has enjoyed several years of loyal following based on that simple assumption.

Way too many years ago I had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of such a match. Unfortunately, youthful ignorance, and the false belief that power trumps all, I traded in the tube preamp and went on merry way. It would take time to realize the stupidity of my actions, but one can’t turn back the clock. So, when the name JoLida kept popping up on the audio boards, I began doing some research, and decided that reviewing an integrated hybrid amp was right up my alley. At about that same time, I was able to acquire a modded JoLida JD100 CD player from fellow audio publisher and all-around good guy, Jeff Dorgay. After a fairly long, and mostly one sided conversation (I did the listening), Michael was more than happy to oblige my curiosity, offering me the choice of the JD-1501RC, or the JD1501A. Being the frugal sort, I chose the non-remote 1501A. In short order, a very well packed unit arrived. At Michael’s suggestion, I let the tubes burn in for several days.

JoLida JD-1501A review

Design of JoLida JD-1501A

The exterior of the 1501A is a salute to design simplicity. The brushed aluminum faceplate is minimalism at its best. Powering up is done by an old-fashioned heavy-duty toggle switch with a blue diode placed to it’s left. On the right side of the panel are just two knobs, selector and volume. The selector has just four positions on the left side: Tuner, Tape, CD, AUX. The volume is a smooth rotation, no attenuator stops. Both knobs have a pleasant, heavy feel to them. No need on the volume to misjudge by moving too far, the feel is that good.

JoLida JD-1501A Integrated Hybrid Amplifier

The back panel is just as straight-forward with the RCA connections across the left side, in the same order as the front, all using a solid, gold plated connection. In the middle are the left and right channel speaker posts. A round of applause to Michael Allen, for using the more logical horizontal positive/negative post layout. Further right, are the ground connector, and finally the power cord receptacle.

JoLida JD-1501A inside

Inside, the clean design continues with the preamp section taking up the right side of the case, perfectly aligned behind the knobs. Interesting to note that each channel has its own motherboard with a large heat sink. Two 12AX7 tubes, one for each channel finish the preamp section. The left side is the power zone, with a massive toroidal transformer and matching capacitors for each channel.

Listening JoLida JD-1501A

During the illuminating conversation with Michael Allen, he discussed the importance that each piece of JoLida equipment be accurate without dryness. A touch of warm sweetness that makes listening such enjoyable and relaxing. I have to agree that pieces that try to fit scientific numbers perfectly, sometimes forget that the goal is beautiful music that the listener can get lost in.

The JoLida 1501A had the opportunity to be connected to three different fine monitor pairings: my reference Totem MITES, the Era Design 5’s, and the Totem Rainmakers. All three sets were placed on Celestion Si stands filled with sand. Two cdp’s were used, the modded JoLida JD100 and a modded Underwood (Onix) XCD-5. After the several days of tube burn-in, I was ready for some serious listening. Right off the bat, the 1501A sounded absolutely smooth, not a hint of graininess that is always present with both my HK PM665Vxi and Adcom GFA 535. Between selections there was only silence, much the same as with my reference Onix SP3.

Being a hybrid means that during the design phase once the components have been selected the extra step of tube/solid state synergy must be tested. Having experienced the dark side of this step, I have a profound appreciation for proper matching. The 1501A exudes a transparentness that I found quite refreshing. The piano in George Winston’s underrated work Plains was without color, the performance effortless. This cd I found to contain some of Winston’s most powerful key striking that has pushed my HK and Adcom into moments of harshness.

Having spent the past few reviews focusing more on jazz and acoustic guitar, I felt the need to reawaken the rock and roll in me. With that in mind I pulled out one of the finest rock records for sound quality, Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits. The thundering “The Man’s Too Strong” with it’s concussion of bass guitar thumps can create a muddied output for other instruments during the three repetitive shock waves. The 1501A refused to neither cave nor linger with those notes; instead it picked up the next attack of notes. This was especially powerful when played thru both the Design 5’s and the Rainmakers.

Even more pleasing to hear was the clarity of complexities in Steely Dan’s legendary Aja disc. The title track I’ve always felt was some of the most complex popular recordings ever made. The multitude of layering could easily have turned to mush; thankfully it was done before the age of mp3’s when sound quality mattered to everyone. The 12AX7 tubes warmed the output without darkening or softening the sonic texture. All the while giving off a wonderful soundstage.

Lately, due to the fourth graders working on their solar system PowerPoint projects in my computer lab classroom, I had been inspired to play Gustov Holt’s The Planets. This symphony is one of the most dynamic pieces in classical music. Many of the pieces are familiar to listeners from such movies as The Right Stuff. The 1501A reproduced the various pieces with an ease belied its modest price. The movement “Jupiter” has a tendency to make the HK struggle, but the JoLida just rolled on thru, punching out the most dynamic movements with nary a heavy breath.

Weaknesses you ask? Like any affordable piece there are tradeoffs, the bottom end slam that one gets at higher volume from such pieces as the Krell 300 during songs like James Taylor’s “Gaia”, just doesn’t have that the force with the 1501A. But the Krell amp is nearly triple the price, a very acceptable tradeoff if you ask me. I can only hope to try the JoLida with a higher quality power cord to see what improvement that will make before it sadly makes its way back to Annapolis. That is, of course if I don’t find a way to con my better half into keeping it around permanently.

Conclusion about JoLida JD-1501A

The JoLida 1501A hybrid integrated amplifier is one of the best values in audio going. With its tube preamp, it creates warmth a depth that is very rare in the sub $1K price range. Just as pleasing is its simple aesthetics and operation. My only wish is that the toggle power switch was a push button as I have smacked my wrist-watch against it on a couple of occasions as I walked by. To Michael Allen’s credit, the quality of that and other parts is high, so no damage was done. The audio forum accolades are true, the JoLida 1501A is a standout performer deserving of its praise. If you’re in search of an integrated amp with a tube sound, the 1501A is a must audition.

JoLida JD-1501A back

Review Equipment

  • Harman Kardon PM665Vxi , Onix SP3
  • Underwood HiFi Modified Onix CD5
  • JoLida JD100
  • Jolida 1501
  • Totem MITES Totem Rainmakers RAW Acoustics HT-2
  • Era Design 5
  • Zebra Cables
  • Celestion Si stands.

from affordableaudio,  By Mark Marcantonio

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2 comments

  1. Bill October 16, at 9:15 pm

    Do not EVER buy anything from Jolida. Two capacitors went bad and they kept my amp for over TWO MONTHS and charged me almost $300 to fix it. NO APOLOGY whatsoever except to tell me their “systems weren’t the best”. $300 for two capacitors. Two months. No contact from them. EVER.

    Their stuff is just rebranded Chinese crap anyway.

    reply
  2. bob anderson March 25, at 5:55 pm

    I was first an owner of a Jolida JD202A tube amp, and liking it so well became a dealer. I have never as a customer, or dealer had any problems with their gear, nor their service. You will find many, many more satisfied customers than dissatisfied. Some people have unrealistic expectations. And one can never know the whole story. There are better, clearer sounding amps available. But they cost a lot more. If one does not like Chinese made amps there are USA companies, but expect to spend $3000 and up for each piece of gear.
    You will not find a better sounding amp at this price than this amp. Mike Allen and Jerred Dunkerson are both fine guys.

    reply

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