Advertisement
Advertisement

Jam Rhythm and Jam Symphony review: Multi-room audio on the cheap

Jonathan Bray
22 Sep 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
for the Rhymth, £145 for the Symphony

Great value multi-room speakers with decent sound; setup can be a bit finnicky, though

Pros 
Decent sound quality at medium and low volume
Supports Airplay, Spotify Connect and Tidal
Good price
Cons 
No Bluetooth or 5GHz Wi-Fi
Temperamental setup
Advertisement

Multiroom speakers used to be the sole domain of expensive setups from the likes of Sonos and Raumfeld, but the latest speakers from Jam Audio prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to get connected.

Starting at £100 for the Jam Rhythm and rising to £145 for the larger Symphony, neither is as expensive as the £160 Sonos Play:1 and yet in terms of features, they’re not far off matching it.

You get Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect (but no Google Cast), and within the speakers’ companion app, there’s native support for Tidal, TuneIn and iHeartRadio, plus your own music library, whether that be on your phone or a networked DLNA server.

READ NEXT: The best Bluetooth speakers - our pick of the portable boom boxes

The Sonos Play:1 has broader support for streaming services, but the Jam speakers have other advantages, such as a 3.5mm aux input and the slightly odd, but potentially handy, ability to use the speaker as a one-way intercom.

Design, connections and setup

What you don’t tend to get with Jam Audio products, and that holds true here, is luxurious, minimalist design. Both the Rhythm and Symphony are well made, but their black plastic cases and stretchy grey nylon grille covers aren’t exactly sexy. If you want that, you’ll need to spend a bit more.

On the top is a series of rubber buttons, also in black, that allow you to play and pause, adjust the volume up and down, and quickly flick between a number of presets, which can be radio stations, individual tracks or playlists. Note that these can’t be Spotify tracks and playlists, though, since Spotify only works through Spotify Connect and not through the app itself.

^ The Jam Symphony's control panel, complete with play, pause, volume and presets

It’s also worth noting there’s no Bluetooth support: the speakers are Wi-Fi only. And I found setup initially tricky, with both speakers refusing to connect to a number of different test networks.

The main thing to be aware of here is that neither the Rhythm nor the Symphony support 5GHz networks. That shouldn’t be a problem, but if you select this type of network during setup, the app gives you no warning that they’re not compatible – all you get is a disconnected voice stating “connection to Wi-Fi router failed”.

Once you have the right network, though, and the speakers decide they're happy with it, connection takes a matter of seconds. The app makes it simple to group speakers together for synchronised playback, too: just hold down each one, drag it onto the speaker you want to synchronise with, and you’re done. It takes a second or two for the speakers to lock in, but once that happens, they work beautifully, with volume controls available for each speaker and the whole group. Up to eight speakers can be grouped together in this way.

Sound quality

So far, it’s a mixed picture for Jam Audio’s Wi-Fi speakers, and it’s a similar story when it comes to sound quality. Initially, both speakers impressed, producing prodigious amounts of warm bass and plenty of detail at the top end of the sound spectrum.

In the case of the Rhythm, there’s a 3.5in bass driver beneath the grille and a pair of 2in full-range drivers, while for the Symphony, you get a pair of 1.5in tweeters, two 2in full-range drivers and a 4in woofer. Both employ a rear-ported bass reflex cabinet design instead of the passive bass radiator setup that’s typically favoured by wireless speakers at this price.

As I’ve already intimated, both speakers produce decent sound quality. At mid-level and quieter levels, they produce a rich, well-balanced presentation of music that’s much easier on the ear. I’m particularly impressed with the Rhythm, which for £100 is an excellent listen, while the Symphony kicks out more volume with a little more sparkle, thanks in the main to its dedicated tweeters.

When you turn up the volume, however, neither speaker fares particularly well. At maximum volume, distortion is apparent on both speakers, and in the mid-range, there’s a harshness and a thinness that makes listening for longer periods at louder levels tiring.

As you’d expect, really deep bass is missing from these speakers’ repertoire as well, but the way the roll-off is handled isn’t great. They tend to “phut” and flap a bit, which depending on your source material, can be distracting.

Verdict

There are better-sounding multiroom speakers around than the Jam Rhythm and Jam Symphony and, certainly, speakers that have more features and a broader spread of connectivity.

However, for the price – £100 and £145 respectively – Jam Audio’s new babies are serious contenders, despite their weaknesses. If you’re after a neat, multiroom speaker system that won’t blow your budget, there are few speakers that can match their all-round appeal.

Read more

Reviews