[S]implicity is a lovely concept, and an easy one to speak of in generalities, but oh, so hard to execute! Even the simplest life form known to man is mind-bogglingly complex, having an elegance and complexity far beyond anything mankind has ever engineered. The more information rich our world becomes, the more we realize that simple is never as simple as it seems, all the same when it comes to electronics. Keeping it simple in terms of ease of use and elevated performance usually costs a lot and takes a lot of design and installation work. From concept to completion, superior products that are easy to use typically have been well engineered. An iPad doesn’t just happen, and neither does a superb amplifier.
When I was a kid, nifty gimmicks and sleight of hand tricks were introduced to friends with the phrase, “It’s easy, you just…,” and the performance which had been rehearsed countless times until honed to perfection was delivered. Laughter would ensue as unpracticed friends struggled to repeat the feat. Once again the demonstrator would intone, “It’s simple…,” leading them on with a wry smile.
Trick Bolts, a parlor game by Lee Valley Tools Ltd., is disarmingly simple. The smallish plastic tube container contains two variations of bolts threaded with a nut. The goal is to remove the nut from the bolt, but there is a trick to both puzzles. Once their secrets are discovered they are easy to disassemble, but if you don’t discover their tricks they can be frustration-inducing objects! There was a lot of thought and skill put into this disarmingly “simple” game!
Despite the simple appearance of the Jones Audio PA-M300 Series 2 it is not remotely basic. Even the name is complex, having a nomenclature more like a star than an audiophile product. Sliced bread is anything but simple to the manufacturer, but to the end user what could be plainer? In the same way the ease of use belies the complexity of the PA-M300 Series 2.
Perhaps it was out of a nostalgic twinge that I began watching Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. The last Sci-Fi series that I had paid attention to since Star Trek was the X-Files. S…L…O…W was my strongest impression of the pace of the show after viewing six episodes, and the rest remain unwatched, unworthy of my time. I gleaned enough to know that the sentient machines made a breakthrough, assembling look-alike humanoids. It seems the cyborgs weren’t creative enough to change clothes; one woman wore a sexy red dress every episode, which struck me as titillating and boring at the same time.
The PA-M300 Series 2 is similarly dull and dolled up at the same time. Aside from the maroon colored stripe on the façade incorporating the bold “JONES” logo and the square blue power LED, the big aesthetic feature is the “Starspray ™ ventilation and cooling system. The Owner’s Manual describes: “…these holes are arranged in a 2 Dimensional Random LaPlace Distribution.” Huh? Further, “The position of these holes was calculated by GAUSS, the main product of our parent company as an homage to our mathematical heritage and an example of our artful fusion of form and function.” We definitely have a visionary on our hands in Sam Jones, the founder and main brain behind Jones Audio, who runs the company along with his wife, Cheryl, and son, Jason. A designer must be very particular about their amp if running programs for location of the ventilation holes!
Even when it comes to the chassis, there seems to be an inverse relationship between form and function at Jones; the more it looks clean, lined and simple, the more involved is its design. The chassis is stuffed tightly with electronics and the solid aluminum slabs of the sides and top are held together with individual plates internally, such that there are no attachment devices visible externally. Va-Va-Voom! Now, that’s a sexy component! How lovely this amp is to look at! Recently, I reviewed the Pass Labs XA160.5 pure class A monoblocks with their unwieldy, unlovely heat sink fins sharp as sickles. Their beautiful blue orb gauge is flanked by the monstrosity of the metal flaps; definitely a throwback more akin to Robot on Lost in Space than miss sexy red dress from Battlestar Galactica.
The aluminum plates are said by Sam to have, “specific and predictable resonances,” which when assembled seem to cancel each other and provide an inert housing which is said to be, “…virtually free from microphonic effects.” Again, the seemingly simple elegance belies a technologically intense rationale.
This is no sharply dressed dimwit amp, as it incorporates features which are meant to breach what Sam sees as major obstacles to good sound, most notably regulated power supplies. The bulk of amp manufacturers utilize regulated power, which according to Sam makes their circuits more complex. Sam has found a means to treat noise associated with use of a toroidal transformer without limiting the full power of that transformer. We will revisit this concept momentarily.
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