The fit and finish of the JansZen zA2.1 was impeccable. I was sent three zA2.1s for my review so I could have a matching centre channel speaker for my 5.1 system. The right and left speakers were finished with a walnut front baffle while the centre channel was painted to match the cabinet’s dark charcoal tone. At 30 kg (66 lbs.) the zA2.1s are solid, yet still relatively easy to move and position thanks to their rubber feet. Spikes are also available, but especially at first using the rubber feet makes set up a lot easier.
While attention to detail during set-up will most certainly be worth the effort, the zA2.1 speakers were no harder to set up and fine tune than many dynamic-driver and hybrid designs I’ve reviewed in the past. In my primary speaker review room most speakers end up being placed somewhere within a ½ meter diameter circle. The zA2.1’s final positions were about 6 CM father away from the back wall and about 8 CM farther apart than the AV123 X-Static speakers that had been installed in the room prior to the zA2.1’s arrival.
The zA2.1s were toed in so the panels were facing directly at my central listening position. They were also tilted back via 5cm thick AudioQuest Sorbothane rubber pucks. It is vitally important to get the zA2.1s titled back so their tweeter panels are pointed directly at the primary listener’s head. If the speakers are not tilted back enough some high frequency extension will be lost. To hear what the loss of upper frequencies will sound like, you merely have to stand up. The zA2.1 is one speaker that you simply can’t listen to from a standing position. You will notice how the treble attenuates as you go from a seated to standing position, even at the primary listening spot.
The JansZen zA2.1s, like most electrostatic speakers, sounds different from a dynamic driver-based loudspeaker. But unlike many electrostatic speakers I’ve heard, the zA2.1 doesn’t sound overly cold, metallic or zingy. As a guy who’s ping-ponged back and forth from dynamic driver transducers to electrostatic panels for over thirty years, each technology has different aspects of sound reproduction at which they excel.
The zA2.1 takes the good qualities from both technologies and largely leaves the negatives behind.
The adjustability of the zA2.1’s harmonic balance makes it rather difficult to pin down its “native” tonality. When set up for maximum neutrality as measured using sine waves and dB meter the zA2.1 can be very neutral indeed. And while the zA2.1 is neutral, as to whether it is or can be a full-range loudspeaker in your room depends on both your personal definition of full-range and your room’s ability to help out through low frequency room gain. According to JansZen the zA2.1’ s low frequencies can extend down to 30 Hz, but for maximum enjoyment, especially if you favour playback at higher SPLs, I recommend using a subwoofer.