Review: Jamo A101 HCS5 PDF Print E-mail

Over the past few years, almost every time I've gotten a new TV to review, the respective distributors have pointed out that their latest innovation was slimmer than ever before.

Slim TVs have a few advantages – they look good; are typically lighter; more energy efficient; and deliver better image quality than their predecessors. 

Being slim and trim does however, have one drawback – there is not enough room for speakers. This in turn means that while your TV is big, the sound it delivers is small.
Loudspeaker manufacturers have cottoned on to this and quite a few now offer speaker systems that deliver far better sound than the speakers built into new, slim TVs, yet visually don’t detract from the look of the TV itself.
This brings me to the Jamo A (which stands for aesthetic) 101 HCS5 surround sound speaker system that not only looks good enough to be used with even the prettiest and slimmest of TVs, but offers quite a few placement options as well. 
The five main speakers for example, can be wall or table top mounted and three table top stands are supplied for the front trio of speakers. There are optional floor stands available for those that don’t want to use either of the previous options. While not the sturdiest I've ever used, the supplied table top mounts felt of a higher quality than those that you get with more entry-level speakers. The fact that they looked good was an added bonus.
Typically, the eyesore in a speaker system is the subwoofer, but with the A101 HCS5, Jamo have delivered a product that may actually appeal to interior decorators to not be hidden. The subwoofer, like the main speaker is slim, can be floor or wall mounted, and if you do want to hide it, should be sleek enough to fit under a side table or couch.
On the performance front, the A101 HCS5 speaker system (when connected to suitable amplification and properly set up) delivered audio that was miles better than the thin and reedy sounds that the anaemic speakers in slim TVs offer.
The five speakers have the capability to immerse you in a movie, with effects arriving from all around you (something that simply doesn’t happen when you listen to the TVs built-in speakers) and there’s a subwoofer where you actually get to feel those explosions, as well as see them on screen.
Being a (physically) small system, there are of course limits, and despite what Jamo says about good efficiency, the A 101 HCS system isn’t likely to play loud enough for the man at the end of the street to complain about it being too loud. Your neighbours probably won’t complain about the bass from your system rattling their chandelier either. 
On the volume front, you get enough to add enjoyment to movies, but not so much that you're going to get a lot of phone calls telling you to keep quiet.
On the quality front, the gap between the TV speakers and the A101 HCS5 is huge too, and while not quite in audiophile league (and it's not supposed to be anyway) you will hear far more subtlety and detail than you would from your TV speakers.
What the Jamo A 101 HCS 5 does, and well too – is deliver on its promise of delivering better (and better looking) sound than that of a thin TVs built-in speakers. With a slightly better subwoofer and main speaker integration, it would have scored even higher too.
Good: The main speakers are small; have numerous mounting options and are easy to place in a room; supplied subwoofer is sleek and can (for the fashion concious) be hidden under a couch or even wall mounted.  
Bad: Could be just a little more efficient and sub to satellite speakers could be a touch better.
Rating: 7.5/10
Price: R 4 500 
Contact: Radionic Distributors - (011) 915 1114 / 

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