Danley Sound Labs J1 Jericho In-Depth Review

A better alternative to a line array, especially an expensive one.

If your church is about to buy a line array, you owe it to yourself to stop and read this!

While line arrays are the standard in the tour sound world, they really have no business being in a critical listening venue like a church. Tour sound companies use line array systems that just blast sound all over everything because they are in a different venue every night and each one is somewhat different. The idea is to get sound to every seat in the house with no consideration of how the room acoustics will affect the sound. Line arrays do a good job of just splattering sound all over everything. However they do it at a price; not only to the wallet but to the sound quality as well. Just keep reading and by the time you get to the end of this review you'll completely understand what I am saying.

Before going in-depth on the J1, I think it’s important to understand our approach to system design here at Centerline. It’s really rather simple in that we endeavor to use as few speakers as possible. We also approach our designs to be “Critical Listening Environments” instead of a live sound venue. This approach stems from our extensive background working in recording studios where when mixing you are only using two monitors at any given time; a left and a right. Obviously this is not always possible in all rooms because of the varying shapes and sizes we encounter, but the basic theory is smaller rooms get two smaller mains, and bigger rooms get two larger mains. Even if fills are needed, the majority of the room will be covered with two mains.  We like our clients to end up with a big giant control room for mixing! A great listening experience starts with a great system that is easy to mix on and the fewer speakers in the room, the better the fidelity.

Why the Jericho?

Line Array arrival time(s) to listener

The Jericho was originally conceived by physics and loudspeaker genius Tom Danley, Doug Fowler, and Ivan Beaver as a one-box solution for the inherent deficiencies of a line array system. Make no mistake about it a line array is wrought with problems that arise when trying to cheat the laws of physics. Regardless of the brand, the price, or the so-called cutting edge technology of the latest and greatest offerings from whomever, the laws of physics say that two objects (or more in this case) cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

 

To quantify this in terms of a line array, when you have a stack of speakers there is no possible way that all the signals from the drivers can or will arrive at any point in space at the same time. It’s impossible. How could they? It’s a physical impossibility because sound operates in 4 dimensions; Length, width, height, and time. A line array separates the signals in two of those dimensions. Height (the distance between the drivers from top to bottom), and Time (The difference is arrival times because of the separation from top to bottom) that’s where the rub comes in.

 

A line array will ALWAYS produce phase cancellation at different location no matter what because of the large amount of real estate separating all the drivers. You can’t sum all those signals together any easier than you can put more than one car into the same parking space.  I call the resulting sound “Smear”. Apply all the FIR filters and shading you want to a line array, but you can’t correct time arrivals at every seat in the house. You may get it working in one area, but whatever you did to make that one area work will just produce greater problems in the other areas.

The other major problem is the fact that a line array system has little to no pattern control. In fact, if you measure a line array or predict it in EASE you will find the dispersion patterns to be very different at varying frequencies. Overall the patterns are simply too wide and just splatter energy all over everything.  The next thing you know you have two big stacks of speakers each producing negative destructive interference not only amongst them in each individual array, but one with the other when more arrays are present. Sonically it gets very messy.

 

The picture to the right is that of a line array modeled in a church sanctuary using EASE 4.4 showing SPL @ 2K. As you can see the coverage is full of lobes, aka phase cancellation. It is also worth noting that all of the free modeling programs offered by line array manufacturers only show coverage and not how the system actually behaves when the acoustic qualities of the room are part of the equation. If you want to see the truth before you write that check, make sure to see the system modeled in the full version of EASE. One thing you can say for a line array in EASE is you can make some neat Santa Claus faces!

Enter the Danley Sound Labs J1 Jericho. Up until the arrival of the Jericho, the only way to cover a large area with high SPL was with multiple distributed small point source boxes (and a lot of aligning), or with a line array which is just a bunch of small point source boxes all stacked together which can’t be aligned. Once the Jericho was introduced, the ability to cover a large area with high SPL and no smear became a reality. This can and has been proven in both cases in three different ways. I know because I’ve done it. 1: Through EASE and Direct modeling, 2: Through Measurements. And 3: Through walking/listening tests with pink noise.  The reason the Jericho can pull this off is through horn loading efficiency. The Jericho Horn takes its six 18" woofers, six 6" midrange drivers, and three 1.4" HF drivers and essentially squeezes all that energy together and blasts it out the front all at once; in perfect time alignment.  Much like a shotgun shell if you will. Full bandwidth audio arrives at the listener all summed together in perfect harmony.

 

Since the introduction of the J1 seven years ago, Danley has made new strides in the development of the Synergy Horn technology which has since created an entire family of Jerichos. The J2, which uses more drivers and has a wider pattern than the J1. Two J3's, one of which is arrayable. The J4 which is a high frequency box that can throw from Georgia to California. The J5 Caleb which can project full bandwidth audio from Georgia to Hawaii. And the new J6 which is the smallest of the line, but could easily be considered to be the prettiest sounding one of them all. The J1 is still my favorite though, and I use it every time I get the chance. It's just plain magical.

Jericho arrival time to listener

The picture on the left shows the same church above modeled in EASE 4.4 using a pair of Jerichos and a single on each side SH50 to cover the left and right wings of the seating areas. Notice the very consistent coverage with no lobes whatsoever. The beautiful thing about this is there is very little needed in the way of alignments once the factory J1 presets are installed into a Danley DSP! It's almost a hang-n-bang scenario. Sure you have to tweak the side fills a bit, and maybe eq to taste, but the necessity of having to spend hours and maybe even days to calibrate a system like you have to when using a line array are over. This is great engineering from concept to execution. Even more amazing is Danley's accuracy in their EASE speaker data. I have had several experiences in the past where speakers from other manufacturers predicted fairly well in the model, but did not behave so well in real life. Could they have altered their data before it was published? Not the case with Danley. However a Danley product predicts in the model is exactly how it will behave in real life.  Every single model I have done using a Danley product came out to be 100% accurate in the actual installation.

 

So, how does the J1 sound?

While the shape and size of the J1 resembles that of a big commercial refrigerator, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a big bully brute that’s arrived at the party to cause trouble. It is in fact a brute, but it did show up wearing a tuxedo. Yes it will get massively loud...151db loud by the way, and at full bandwidth from 47 Hz - 18 kHz +/-3dB, but it will also play nicely at very low volumes. In fact, one of the best things about the J1 is its ability to keep its composure regardless of how soft or how loud it plays. It sounds exactly the same at high volumes as it does at low volumes.

 

Regardless of how loud it's being played, it does it with ease (no pun intended). It never gives you any indication it's about to run out of gas. You can throttle it up, and up, and up without it every complaining. In fact it seems the more you give it the more it wants, and it will hurt you WAY before you can ever hurt it.

 

One of the things I’ve noticed in the pro audio world is the tendency of people to look at specs, (which are important by the way) without considering how it sounds. So let me just tell you this, it sounds a lot like a great studio monitor. Think Genelec, ATC, or Westlake in-walls and/or any other high end studio monitor and you are in the same arena as the J1. It is totally about accuracy, definition, clarity and depth of field. In fact the first time I ever heard one was when it was placed on a loading dock outside and the first thing I thought was, “man that sounds like stereo!” Yes, one box sounded like it was in stereo. I was hearing reverb tails, delays, vocal breaths, snare wires, and all the other nuances you hear when you listen to a mix through a great set of studio monitors.

 

Only this time I was hearing this at 20 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet, 500 feet, and 1000 feet. In fact it even appeared the inverse square law was being ignored. Of course it wasn’t, but what was amazing was the sound never changed regardless of SPL or distance. And this was not just any sound, it was perfect sound.

 

 

 

It’s perfect in every way.  Gorgeous fat huge pounding bottom end, stunning mids, and a high end so sweet your ears would think they were eating a big fat Twinkie. And while I am on the subject of sound, I have to tell you that unless you want sub 50Hz extension, you do not need subs. I repeat, you do not need subwoofers. A pair of J1s will give you twelve 18” woofers all producing that legendary Danley bottom end. Mountains of bottom end.

 

It was at this moment I knew I was on to something really special and game changing. It was also at this moment I decided these are going into some of our church jobs. Yes, others are putting them in stadiums such as Brigham Young University’s 60,000 seat football stadium (only four of them), but after hearing the sheer accuracy and beauty of the J1’s, putting them in a church was a no brainer. Of course, everybody thought we were nuts until they heard them installed. To date, Centerline is the only company to install J1’s in an indoor worship facility in America by the way. We’ve done several J1 installs and the results have been better than I or anyone could have imagined.

 

 

To say a J1 system is stunning is an understatement. Danley used to advertise it as "The World's Largest Reference Monitor"...and it is. In fact, I think I may have coined that label in a conversation with them about it. When it gets really good is when you run them in a stereo pair. Tom Danley has referred to our J1 systems as "big hi-fi systems". We'll take that. A pair of J1s sounds so good you could sell tickets just to listen to music.

 

The left to right imaging is completely seamless. It's smooth and there is not really a sweet spot per se. It's just sweet everywhere you listen. It's the kind of sound that will stop you dead in your tracks. When mixing, every single instrument, whether it's 5, 55, or 155 instruments playing, all have a comfortable place to sit in the mix without ever stepping on the toes of the others.

 

While so many engineers have to fight with their systems, a Jericho system cooperates like a good First Mate. It does what it is asked to do, and never complains or makes excuses. Think of a Jericho also as a big giant paint brush with a monster-sized pallet of colors the engineer can use to paint his artistry and craft. The bonus is the listener gets to enjoy the beauty of his craft in a way no other system can deliver. There is simply nothing else like it.

 

First Redeemer Church-Cumming, GA. USA

"The reproduction is so accurate that I could easily master an album on the system. It’s that good"... Jeff Baggett

 

(Jeff is Chief Engineer at First Redeemer Church-Cumming GA. and  Owner of  Franklin Mastering. Artist Credits Include Mercy Me, Nick Jonas, Fred Hammond, Jay DeMarcus, Michael W. Smith, and Hezekiah Walker)

Don't just take my word for it!

"While the Jerichos work wonders in large stadiums, they also work well in smaller rooms with excellent fidelity. I have installed and tuned hundreds of audio systems, and I have never heard one that had coverage this even. It was the same everywhere you go. This type of tonality/coverage is what everybody 'hopes' to get (and claims to get)-but is VERY hard to achieve. Walking from the front to the back the sound simply does not change in level or tonality, and since they also provide plenty of chest thumping bass, there is no need for separate sub cabinets."

 

Ivan Beaver-Chief Engineer, Danley Sound Labs

 

First Baptist Church-Goodlettsville, TN.

Home of the first pair of Jerichos to ever be installed

in a church in America

South Haven Baptist Church

Springfield, TN

New Sanctuary

Jerichos coming Spring 2018

For those writing the checks

 

There is a very important component in the Jericho v. line array debate that only a few have thought to investigate or consider, and that is COST. A few years back I had the opportunity to do a shootout in the hopes of gaining my second Jericho install in a 2400 seat church. It was us with a single J1 up against a 24 box line array made by a very famous manufacturer that has a name that sounds a lot like the hot dog maker Oscar Meyer. Without going into a long and drawn out explanation, the J1 had hot dogs for lunch that day. 24 regular hot dogs and 6 polish sausages. The best part was it was only after the hot dog lunch that the cost of both systems was revealed.

 

Unfortunately as a dealer I am not allowed to publish Danley pricing, but what I can tell you is the hot dog system was priced by a competitor to sell for approximately $860,000 before installation. With the Danley system including a couple of SH69 down fills, a couple of SH46 wing fills, amplifiers, a couple of DSPs, and a BC415 sub thrown in for low frequency extension, we saved the church around $700,000 including installation.  Again, we won the shootout on nothing but sound quality before the price was revealed. Big money was saved by purchasing a superior system.

 

 

For the life of me, I can’t see why more churches are not doing Jerichos instead of line arrays.  Centerline aims to change that.

If your room seats anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 or even more and you have the ceiling height to do J1’s, we can put you in the driver’s seat of the most incredible sound system on the planet.

 

Additionally, you can also have the best steering wheel on the planet, the Studer Vista V along with the Jerichos for way less than that stack of Oscar Meyer hot dog speakers, or any other brand of hot dog speaker stacks for that matter. All without the audio indigestion that comes from consuming unhealthy byproducts repackaged to look like something tasty.

 

If you don't believe the Jericho is all I say it is, just give me a call and we'll be happy to do a demonstration for you, or do a side by side shootout with any other system you choose in your facility.

 

A final warning: If you do buy something other than a Danley system before hearing one first, whatever you do, never ever go and hear a Danley system afterwards; especially a Jericho system.  

 

 

 

 

 

L-R: Scott Oliver- President Centerline AV,

Jeff Baggett - Chief Engineer, First Redeemer Church, Franklin Mastering

standing in front of the Studer Vista V.