PRICE $1,349 (Juke-6) / $1,499 (Juke-8)
AT A GLANCE
Simple and reliable
Low cost per zone
Only 20 watts RMS per channel
The Juke is a simple, affordable way to retrofit an existing multiroom wired architectural speaker system, or power a new one. It provides high-quality sound and is easy to use.
Multiroom streaming audio is a fun and affordable way to upgrade your home. Juke Audio’s six-zone or eight-zone (12- or 16-channel) smart amplifier is a quick, easy, and reasonably priced way to get started. Leveraging AirPlay/AirPlay2 and Spotify Connect, it communicates directly with a wide array of supported apps.
Features and Specifications
Juke Audio amps are sold in two configurations: a six-zone model ($1,349) and an eight-zone model ($1,499). The only difference is the number of active channels. Inside the box, they have the same hardware, the restriction is achieved by “nerfing” the firmware, meaning it’s a purely software restriction. You can upgrade from six to eight zones after the fact for a $325 fee.
The chassis dimensions are 15x8x3-inches (WxDxH) and it weighs 6 pounds. Note that these are stereo output zones, the Juke supports up to four concurrent stereo inputs.
Inside, the Class D amplification is spec’d at up to 95% efficiency, according to the company. With no controls or displays on the chassis, the Juke presents a minimalist “black box” design featuring a large logo on the front. Its high efficiency eliminates the need for ventilation slots, grills, or fans, ensuring cool operation.
The device supports impedances as low as 2 ohms, enabling connection of multiple 8-ohm speakers—up to three per channel—in parallel. However, power output is modest, with each channel rated at 20 watts RMS. While not intended for driving reference systems at concert levels, one eight-channel Juke box can accommodate up to 48 speakers, and ten Jukes can operate in tandem within a system, that’s 480 speakers total.
Speaker connectors are Euroblock/Phoenix style and accommodate wire between 12 and 22 gauge. Wiring it up is easy and secure, especially if you use an electric screwdriver.
With Juke, you are not limited to wireless streaming. It has a pair of USB ports and can be used with an optional USB audio interface for wired streaming; or for two stereo line-level sources. The only catch is it will use one of the four input zones. A Juke system can be scaled up with multiple units, they automatically group together and appear on your network as one device.
Setup and Hands-On
The Juke’s setup is refreshingly simple, requiring no thick manual—just a single sheet of instructions. Once connected to the network, configuration involves accessing a user-friendly, dedicated webpage. A password grants entry to the advanced Administrator Settings. For iOS devices, navigate to juke.local; for PC/Mac or Android devices, input the device’s IP address to achieve the same outcome.
The package contains a removable power cord, four Phoenix connectors able to handle wire up to 12-gauge, plus a short Ethernet cable (the company highly recommends using Ethernet for reliability). Rack ears are available as an add-on from Juke. Setup instructions are a single 8.5 x 11-inch sheet with straightforward directions.
I live in an urban Loft, which is one large space therefore negating the need for multiroom audio capability. But what I do have is a lot of speakers! Namely, eight identical Arendal 1961 Towers, so I connected those to the Juke all at once.
In use, the Juke proves to be plenty competent. Aside from modest power output, I found nothing to complain about, aside from a lack of EQ. Of course, I wish I could have tested the Juke with configurations that more closely reflect its purpose. But, what I asked it to do is more challenging than just providing background music: I asked it to play the part of a decent 2-channel amplifier.
The Juke will happily drive a pair of tower speakers—full-range—and as long as you don’t push it into clipping, it sounds great. I set up a pair of the 1961s as I would for critical listening with any dedicated amp, in an equilateral triangle with the main listening position. I sat in the sweet spot, played some well-produced tunes, and experienced the full effect of proper stereo imaging, including an expansive soundstage, solid bass, smooth midrange, and detailed treble.
With Mixed Up by The Cure streaming via Tidal, the Juke’s amps easily reproduced the music’s layers, with a nice and tight feel to the bass and sparkle to the synths, demonstrating how the amp retains control of the speaker drivers. It’s high-fidelity sound.
The Juke will even do justice to difficult female vocals. Remember Enya? I played “Orinoco Flow” and “Storms of Africa” from Watermark it took me back to 1988, back when I’d skip class in high school to spend the day at the local high-end audio dealer and he’d crank it through a Krell/Apogee system. Well, Enya’s voice and the care put into the recording still hold up.
While listening in stereo is fun and elegant proof the Juke sounds good, you can keep adding speakers to it the Juke and it keeps on trucking! I wound up wiring all the speakers I have on hand—adding a pair of GoldenEar towers and Klipsch bookshelf speakers to the all the Arendals for a grand total of 16 speakers divided into eight stereo pairs! And then I cranked it, playing the same source on all channels; it was reasonably loud and undeniably clear.
The best way to describe the Juke is that it’s kind of boring, but in a good way! It’s not something you have to think about. Once it’s up and running, it essentially behaves like an extension of your phone. And notably, this is not something you need to buy from a custom installer, it’s available to buy directly on Amazon, Crutchfield, etc. and it is super simple to set up.
Juke’s streaming amplifier, while not for everyone, excels in specific situations. Optimized for homes with existing or new wired distributed audio speaker systems, it offers an affordable, easy path to modern multiroom audio streaming functionality with Class D amplifier efficiency. It does what it says on the box for a good price. In the world of streaming amplifiers, it is a clean rack-mount solution that knows exactly what problem it is solving.
For more information and full specifications, check out jukeaudio.com