The JH3A's were supposed to have active crossovers and not passive. But Jerry ran into some patent problems. No one has heard the new UM rig so no one knows yet. Everyone will have to sit tight for first impressions.
The smoked shell is always a good choice, especially with a brushed metal/aluminum face plate. But it's up to your personal tastes really. I think the inlay's are really ugly. If the two different materials were blended together in a design that was more aesthetically pleasing than just stripes.
I suggest getting something that isn't a custom for your very first purchase. Even though you have the kind of cash for customs you should take baby steps. If you buy a customs and you aren't happy with it, you'll lose a lot of money since the resale value of customs are the worst in the audiophile community. Reading reviews will give you a crazy in-depth look of the custom. However you have to remember that it's from the reviewers standpoint and extremely subjective....
You should do more reading, it seems like you don't fully understand what you're buying/what you want. Spending $1000 on customs is a lot of money and I don't want you to be upset. The amount of drivers in a IEM has nothing to do with how good it sounds. Hell, I think Heir audio put 20 drivers into one ear piece a while back.
The life of a head-fier. Don't be sorry, audiophiles want the best for their ears and being unable to try customs you have no choice but to resort to reviews. I have had the luxury of trying both the JH13's and JH16's when I was at Jaben in Singapore, but that was two years ago when the ES5 and 8A didn't exist.
Talk about bringing a thread back from the dead. I've had both, but my personal preference was that of the IE8's. The ER4's sounded amazing, but they weren't fun. The IE8's does do everything very well, from electro to folk it sounds amazing.
Same here =[ I've been out of this game too long. My initial decision was between the ES5 and the JH16's... Now with this Heir audio popping up and the impressive reviews I've been seeing it's now a 3 way battle.