The unusual Iron 14 speakers took us by storm when we tested them in 2017 . Along with a distinctive look and an even more distinctive choice of materials in cast iron, they impressed us with a formidable perspective and purity at the price.
Now Audioform is back with a new and no less unusual speaker, called Jern w8000. A round, flat wall speaker with a diameter of 32 cm. The choice of material is the same, because when you live in an iron foundry, cast iron will the most natural option, which has many times better vibration damping than wood, and can be cast in almost any shape you want.
Like its big brother Jern 14, it is a two-way speaker in a closed cabinet. The closed cabinet is partly chosen for the sake of impulse reproduction, and partly to get a deeper (!) Bass. We will get back to that in a moment.
The units are both from Wavecor: a 22 mm dome tweeter and a 5.25″ bass unit with braided fiberglass diaphragm. The crossover is 12 dB / octave. Even though we are in the reasonable price range, they have chosen to use coils and capacitors from Mundorft – “because they just sound so much better”.
Assistance from the room
While Iron 14 requires a subwoofer, the w8000 is designed to do without assistance in the bottom. This is partly due to a slightly larger cabinet, and partly to the wall placement, which provides a considerable contribution in the lower octaves. The actual wall placement gives a 3 dB boost, and creative use of the laws of nature helps further.
“We know in advance that the speaker is on one wall. And we can expect that a speaker of this size will most likely be used in a smaller living room. Here, most people will, in order to utilize the space, choose to place the sofa with the listening space up against the back wall “, says Ole Lund Christensen, who is director of Audioform and has designed the speaker.
That location in the living room means that you get a so-called room mode, ie a gain of the bass of about 40 Hz just in the listening area. Compared to freestanding tripod speakers, thanks to the room’s bass boost, you, in practice, get an octave for free.
The placement of the iron w8000 is a little different than we are used to. No moving around on the floor. On the other hand, the location must preferably both be thought through and calculated well before the drill hits the wall. Fortunately, there was a place that provided a suitably wide stereo triangle with a listening area by the back wall. The manufacturer recommends a placement slightly above head height. With us, it fit with the center 120 cm above the floor. The speaker is hung up with a single screw in a bracket on the back. The screw should preferably have an oblique or lenticular head, so that gravity pushes the speaker more firmly against the wall.
Placing a speaker on the wall is by no means an automatic shortcut to the hi-fi heaven. First, it activates all the resonances of the room, making it very difficult to control the bass reproduction. Secondly, the location is affecting the sound dispersion, and wall speakers often have problems with the depth perspective. That it works well for the Iron w8000 is due to the choices made with regard to the design. And you have to sit close to the back wall to achieve the desired effect. Here it also helps if the back wall has a relatively good acoustic damping. In my case, the wall covered with books, which limit the reflections.
Resonance-free cake boxes
Iron w8000 looks like two black cake boxes on the wall. But even though I know the qualities of its predecessor, it was still one of those “I’d be damned!” experiences that makes it both fun and difficult to be a hi-fi tester.
First, they sound great. Orchestral works fill the entire wall, and give an overwhelming feeling of having the entire Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra standing in the living room, from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling.
Most speaker manufacturers make a great effort to make their speakers as free of colored cabinet vibration as possible. But in the end few manage to to this convincingly without costing crazy money. Like Q Acoustics Concept 500 , Iron 14 – and now also the Iron w8000. Being free of the mumbling of resonances from the cabinet surfaces gives voices a special naturalness. Whether it’s rap on Right Hand Man from Hamilton or a quiet Sinead O’Connor on Scarlet Ribbons .
Jern W8000: Applied physics
Last but not least is the bass. Mounted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, there is all the bass you could want. No Sanctuary Here with Chris Jones sounds bold and solid, and the notorious bass killer Limit to Your Love with James Baker, they manage without a sweat. But even with clever use of physics, it seems almost unnatural to experience two five-inch devices that play bass that way! A subwoofer is not required, and it would be difficult to find one with such a dry reproduction.
But of course the w8000 has its limitations: First, they require some power. The recommendation says 15 to 150 W, but it had to be turned up well on the 200 W NAD M33 to get them started. The depth perspective is not as large and deep as on the Elipson Prestige Facet 8B , which costs the same. So instead of a window to the concert hall, you get more of a feeling of having the band standing in front of the speakers in the living room. And while the sound is exemplary free of resonances, the nuance – in an ideal world – could well have been higher. But that will not happen near this price range. Iron 14 is available in several price variants. It could be exciting to hear the same cabinet with more sophisticated speaker units on board.
Wall speakers are a rare commodity, and speakers in such extreme materials as cast iron are even rarer. The design of the Iron w8000 can be discussed, although on the other hand we think it would be a shame to hide the speaker away behind a fabric sock. In terms of sound, however, we are dealing with a speaker of which there are few. The small metal boxes play up the room so that you have to pinch your arm. And that in a quality and at a price that makes you think you are still dreaming. They therefore have our best recommendations.