The JAMO s803 speaker system is what we are reviewing today. I discovered it through Instagram and Google. It kind of all came at me all at once, and I know about Jamo. I have heard the name, the brand that has been around for some time. No matter what finish it’s in, black, white, or walnut, all three of which, in my humble opinion, are gorgeous.
The Jamo S803 is not a normal box shape. They’re tapered, so they’re skinnier in the front, and they get wider towards the back, more of a trapezoidal shape. They have a proprietary connection for Atmos modules that you can place on top. It has two sets of binding posts, one for the speaker and another for the Atmos module. The Atmos modules don’t have a connector on the back. They connect using the pins on the top. If you decide to go that route, you put the module on top of the speaker, and you run two cables from the top, binding post to the module, and you’re done.
The Jamo S803 is a two-way monitor design. On top here, we have a soft dome tweeter that’s housed in a little waveguide or a horn for you pedantic individuals. It is using a five-inch woofer. This is a poly-fiber woofer. It has a slotted front port, which helps you place these closer to a wall. The Jamo S803s are speakers that look as good with the grilles off as they do with the grilles on. So as you can see, the grilles have some tweed looking texture to them. I like it. I think it looks cool.
The last thing to show off is it has this pretty little bass on the bottom. It’s not there for sound quality. It is there for aesthetics. But it’s worth mentioning because it does look pretty.
Let’s talk about how it sounds. When you boost the treble, you boost the bass, you recess the mid-range, and you do that because, well, quite frankly, a lot of people like that sound. Audio products have been voiced like this on purpose throughout the headphone industry, even in a high-end industry, for a very long time. So what does that mean? If you’re to bring home these speakers, this is generally what you can expect.
First and foremost, they throw down a huge sound stage. They have this very airy and spacious presentation that a lot of people are going to like. However, what you need to know is that the treble is going to be boosted. It’s lively and has a very pronounced top-end. The mid-range is going to be recessed, and it is going to be clear and articulate.
Sound Signature and Coloration
The Jamo S803 has a v-shaped response, which means that the treble is tilted upwards, and the bass is also boosted. That gives that v-shape, or some people call it a smiley face. Back in the day, many receivers used to have graphic equalizers even car stereos used to have graphic equalizers as well.
They’d have the bass boosted and then have the treble boosted. It makes you wonder why is that? I think the answer is because people like the way that sounds. There’s something called The Fletcher Munson curve, also known as the equal-loudness contour curve, to be more scientific. They found out that this type of response, that v-shape response, counteract the fact that you’re not able to hear the high frequencies and low frequencies, especially when listening to lower volumes. You may have seen some of the older receivers, a loudness button, and that’s precisely what it does is it applies the equal-loudness contour curve.
Jamo is smart. They have that sound kind of built into the speakers. They sound great if you’re listening to them at low volumes. But typically, what happens is when you start turning it up, it also retains that v-shape. In contrast, with some of the older receivers like the Yamaha, it would begin to flatten out the response the closer you got to the reference level.
Great Soundstage and Power Handling
Let’s talk about some of the things that these speakers excel with—starting with the soundstage. The thing about budget speakers is usually whether or not they can throw down a wide soundstage. It’s a matter of instrument separation. Can they place items within that soundstage with clarity and give each little detail its sense of space? Most budget speakers don’t do that very well. The Jamo 803s do. They sound like proper high-end monitors in that regard. Also, there are layers within the music that are revealed something that a lot of budget speakers do not do. I think that’s going to be the highlight of their presentation. The JAMO s803 does some things that remind you of a proper high-end monitor.
Another impressive thing is power handling because most speakers use a five-inch woofer again for the money. They’re very limited in terms of how loud they can get before they hit a brick wall. The s803 can handle their stuff at high volumes very well. They maintain their composure exceptionally well, even when listening to fairly demanding music like electronic or pop or rock or metal or hip-hop. These speakers actually can take the volume, which means if you need something small that can fill a big room with a lot of sounds, these can do it pretty well.
The bass is going to be pronounced and depending on how you have it set up. That could be an excellent thing or perhaps a negative thing. But overall, I would say this speaker will be for somebody who says I like treble. I like a lot of basses. I want something small that has excellent power handling. I want something that sounds spacious. If you check off all those boxes, you’re probably going to like these a lot. But if you’re somebody who wants linearity and balance, if you’re somebody who wants warmth or something a little smoother on top, you’re probably going to be happy going with something else.
The mid-range itself is good. It’s reliable, it’s very clear, it has an incredible amount of articulation, but it is not free of coloration. It is possible to hear a little bit of boxy resonance and cabinet coloration in the all too important mid-range at higher volumes. I can’t say that the mid-range of the 803 HCS system is neutral or color free. But we have to set our expectations appropriately because we are talking about an ultra-affordable speaker system here.
In terms of high frequencies, I have found this to be true with pretty much every Jamo speaker that I have heard, including Jama’s higher-end concert series. There is a lot of high-frequency energy present here. And for home theater use, I think that that’s a perfect thing. You get a home theater because you might be more or less into Hollywood blockbuster movies. A lot of those types of films have very, very sharp detail in them, specifically when you listen to explosions or gunfights or things like that, like shattering glass. You want a little bit of high-frequency information you want. That little bit of tipped up detail and the 803 HCS system has that to give and lends just a little bit of a certain kind of sharpness to dialogue, which helps or aids in dialogue coming through just a little bit more clearly.
I would consider something like the Jamo S 803 HCS because it does gravitate just a little bit more to the forward side in the upper mid-range and treble region, which favors clarity in dialogue. On the whole, there’s a little bit of a mid-bass hump, a little bit of a high-frequency hump, which does create a little bit of a valley or leanness in the mid-range, lending itself to some clarity a little bit of sharpness.
We’ve already discussed imaging when it comes to dynamics. The dynamics at low to medium volumes are pretty good for a speaker this size. But you will run into a limitation and compression basically when you start cranking the volume a bit on these speakers. That’s to be expected. Honestly, you’d have to have experience with some pretty high-end monitors to pick up on it, given these speakers’ size. Otherwise, they have a very distinct sound.
If you have the requisite power in your AV receiver, the dynamics capable of reproducing through the 803 system are phenomenal, phenomenal. Add a subwoofer, and well, this speaker system sounds so much larger than its actual physical footprint. That’s what you’re looking for in a small speaker package such as this.
Apart from that, if your receiver is powerful enough or if your separate system is powerful enough, the dynamics and the ability for this system to come alive is all the more enhanced. But if you have a lower power receiver, you may find yourself reaching for that volume just a little bit more to kind of coax the maximum amount of impact out of these loudspeakers.
Another thing that I like about these speakers is they have an excellent off-axis response. So even if the speakers aren’t pointed directly at your ears, you can still move around, and the sweet spot remains. It has a right-center image, and it has a wide soundstage if the track requires it.
So that’s the next question, are you planning to use these with subs? As you can see from the frequency response charts, it has a big boost under a hundred Hertz. But then it drops off at 50 Hertz. When I heard the Jamo, they seemed like they had more bass, which is because the bass is boosted. But on certain songs, what I started to find out was that there was bass missing. There were certain parts that I knew there was a bass drop, and I wouldn’t hear it. Of course, that stuff was below 50 Hertz. That’s a trade-off that you make when you boost in certain areas. If you’re planning to use subs, you get the best of both worlds because the subs can handle the frequencies below 50 Hertz, and 803 can do an excellent job of producing the mids and the highest. It’ll also allow you to play these speakers a little bit louder.
The Jamo S803, do they set this new standard for all speakers at this price point? Well, not really. How do you even define that the JAMO 803s is a product that has a very distinct sound? That’s in a lot of respects what I like so much about them. Therefore a distinct type of listener, if you’re somebody who says hey I like treble, I like an airy and spacious presentation, I like a lot of basses, I want something that has excellent power handling for this size if you check off all those boxes. There’s a great chance you’re going to love these speakers. But there’s also a good chance that you may prefer something else. And that’s just what you run into when you come across a product that has such a distinct character.