In terms of look and feel, the Jade 2 have an industrial look and feel. Not very premium, but appears sturdy, and at this price range I think this is about right. The only weakness is the cable which seems less sturdy than comparably priced Stax cables. It has been a while since I owned electrostats, but I did acquire an used pair of Stax L700 during my time with the Jade 2, as I also wanted to hear the latter at home and so I had something from a similar price range to compare with.
I will focus mostly on the headphones, as I cannot compare this amplifier with another one from the same price range. My main comments on the amplifier are it seems a bit on the warm side of things and it requires quite a bit of voltage from the source. My DAC can output between 5.6-15Vrms so that's more than plenty, but I would be slightly cautious with lower voltage sources paired with the Jade 2 amp.
The packaging the Jade 2 system arrives in is very basic. Cardboard boxes similar to Audeze 2 classic. No frills there.
MSB DAC V stack
Audioquest SKY cables
Audioquest Diamond USB
Stax L700 (modded for linear bass)
The very first impression is the Jade 2 have a very natural sound, slightly on warmer/fuller side, but largely neutral. The soundstage is pleasantly big, with very good depth and great height.
The Jade 2 are a bit warmer and fuller sounding than the L700. Very close to neutrality, with a slight euphony.
The bass is quite linear and goes very low. The sub-bass weight does not compete with my HE-6 or SR1a, but I don't expect that from electrostats.Saying that the Jade 2 have very satisfying bass in terms of both quantiy and weight. I am not a bass head, although I do have benchmark level headphones for bass quality, and I don't feel I am missing anything with the Jade 2 when listening to music with strong bass content. Even EDM sounds awesome.
The L700 have less bass body and impact. The bass attack is more defined than the L700s and there is more extension.
So the Jade 2 win here.
The most important part of the spectrum.
From 200hz to 800hz both Stax and Jade 2 measure virtually flat. The difference is the timbre. The Stax L700 have slightly thinner body with better note separation and sound faster.
Around 1khz the Jade 2 have around +1dB but Stax around +3dB, followed by a gentle decay to 2khz on both headphones.
I would say in comparison the Jade 2 have the more natural sounding midrange to my ear, with the Stax winning in technicalities. The latter are slightly more resolving of micro-detail.
The treble is typical of electrostats: silky, clean, airy, lacking distortion and very detailed. Even the brighter/peakier areas sound quite benign, unless someone is very particular about these areas in the FR.
Both headphones have a peak around 4khz. For L700 it is at 4-5khz and a couple of dB smaller than the Jade 2's.
In terms of stage proportions I would compare them as below:
Width: Jade 2 > L700
Height: Jade 2 >= L700
Depth: L700 > Jade 2
Both these headphones have a very spatious head stage.
Both headphones are really fast. They reach full sound amplitude very quickly and more quickly than most planars. They can hit hard when the content requires, but the Jade 2 seem to have a more focused weightier attack, whereas the Stax L700 hit have the ethereal quality typical of most Stax.
Both are VERY resolving headphones, but I would have to give the edge in resolution to the L700. However at this price range the resolution capabilities are beyond reach of most dynamic and planar headphones.
I have really enjoyed my time with the Jade 2 system. And if I had to pick just one headphones between these and the L700 it would be a difficult decision. On build quality alone there are more premium features the L700 have, like genuine leather pads and nicer cable. I used to switch between these two headphones depending on mood and occasionally content. Both are great all arounders. But for a more relaxing listen, the Jade 2 have the edge. The L700 are a bit more resolving and crispier/cleaner sounding, without giving too much way in terms of body. In conclusion the Jade 2 are really well positioned price wise for the sound quality they offer, and imo ahead of equivalently priced planars. But then one has to consider the electrostatic energizer cost to the equation.