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A Review On: JH Audio JH16 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors

JH Audio JH16 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors

Rated # 7 in Custom
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Price paid: $1,000.00
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Pros: Impressive sound for the price, reduces my need for a $5,000 Stax SR-009

Cons: Is too much isolation a real problem? No mic on the headphone cable for iPhone.


I have to say the JH16Pro Freq-phase are outstanding.  < That's the short version for those who would post TL:DNR (too long : did not read).  Take advantage of the 15% off pre-Xmas sale NOW!


Associated Gear:  My impressions are with my iPad 3 using lossless music and Pico Slim with TWag LOD, as well as with CCK and Pico DAC, and also right from the headphone jack of the iPad 3, iPad mini, and iPhone 5.


Photos:  To follow soon, as I am having artwork added to them now.


Music Used:  To follow soon, as the list is quite long.


Build and Fit:  I originally wanted them in clear acrylic like my first JH13Pro, and think I mentioned that they could add an inconspicuous logo if they wanted to - so I got the Freq-phase logo in thin black lines which is hard to see.  The right monitor is slightly looser than the left, but it's almost impossible to break the seal with extreme facial contortions.   The only time the right seal breaks is when I yawn, and when I'm done yawning it automagically seals again without touching them (sucking sound and all).  


My only other issue was that sometimes it felt like the left side was very slightly louder than the right, unless I'd press the right monitor in about 1mm.  At first I was worried that the volume was different due to the looser fit on the right, but then after trying a few more IEM I realize that over time I have developed very slightly more hearing loss and tinnitus on the right than the left.  Sucks to be me (at 50 years old).  The more I worked with the placement and position, I was able to get proper channel balance vs my other IEM, especially when I wrapped some Saran-wrap around the ear-piece stem on the right.  JHA is adding two coats to the right ear-piece now that my review is done.


Efficiency is good, and I usually have the iPad volume set between 30-50%, and never more than 60%.  I once tried pushing the iPad well past 70% volume and the sound gets bright and harsh, in addition to being too loud, although the bass doesn't falter.  Switching to the Pico Slim showed much better high-volume performance than what the un-amped iPad can offer, which is not unexpected, as well as producing higher volumes than a sane person can stand.  Regardless, the un-amped iPad can deliver higher clean sounding volume levels with these than I would normally listen, and the iPad amp only starts to fade at levels higher than I would actually use.  Despite the efficiency, they still have less hiss than my ES3X with noisy desktop amps (i.e. ALO Amphora, Nuforce DAC-100).


Performance:  Performance is nothing short of outstanding.  I can't think of anything I would change in these.  Sure, if I hear something better in the future I'll know it, but my wish list is empty right now.


BASS - In comparison to my old JH13Pro from 2009 which came out on top in my "Three Flagship Custom IEM Review", these have better mid-bass impact and presence.  And they do a better job of connecting the deep bass hump to the mid and upper-bass, without bleeding into the midrange.  And in no way is the bass overdone.  The JH16Pro FP have a bass that's deep, fast, powerful, impactful, and blends perfectly into the mid-bass and upper-bass.  It completely avoids the excessive mid-bass hump of the UE11Pro, and seems to offer the mid-bass impact of the ES5 + the deep bass extension of the JH13Pro.


With my JH13Pro I would sometimes feel like I had a subwoofer in the room that was crossed over too low, with a small gap in the mid or upper bass as the sound transitioned into the midrange.  The old JH13Pro have a big deep-bass thump but not quite as much punch higher up.  It was like a slight disconnect was there - the acoustic string bass thump often came from everywhere but not always in relation to the more directional sound of the string pluck, fret slap, and scratch of the fingers on strings.  Not so with the JH16Pro FP.  It's all perfectly connected and seamless.


Midrange - The JH16Pro FP's midrange is also more present and lively than the JH13Pro, while the JH13Pro's mids are really sweet but sometimes a little distant.  One reason I was preferring my ES5 lately over the JH13Pro was their improved mid-bass impact but also their warmer, richer, and fuller mids.  The ES5 mids felt more vivid but not as forward as the ES3X, and were warmer sounding than ES3X to boot. The JH16Pro FP give me all that and more.  They seem a little more transparent and not quite as forward as even the ES5, although improved in presence over the JH13Pro.  Goldilocks would say this is just right.  And the very small or mild upper mids peak in the ES5 is not present with the JH16Pro FP, making them more transparent than ES5 as well.  


Treble - The highs are smooth and refined, but with exceptional detail and sparkle, yet not rounded at the edges of the attacks despite their silky smoothness.  They're probably a little smoother than my ES5, which are excellent with good material and sources but can sometimes be a little irritating or brutal with some bad recordings, although the ES5 are still an improvement over the ES3X in that regard.  Both Westone IEM are brutally revealing with bad recordings, while the JH13Pro and JH16Pro are a little more forgiving while giving up nothing.  You can still tell if the recording is poor, but it doesn't get on your nerves as easily.


Imaging and soundstage is good for an IEM, and I really can't ever pinpoint the sound as coming from tiny little speakers in my ear canal.  Everything sounds coherent, and as if it's coming from sources both inside and outside of my head, with their own point source of origin.  With IEM I never get as much outside of the head imaging as I do with the HD800, SR-009 and HE-60, but almost all of my custom IEM are superior in this respect to my universal IEM.  It's too early to definitively say how this compares to my ES5 and JH13Pro or the others, but at the moment I'd say the out of head imaging is the best of my custom IEM.


Summary - The JH13Pro, ES5 and JH16Pro FP are not terribly far apart in performance and enjoyment (at least with my sets), but they are distinctly different in some areas.  So far I give the nod to the JH16Pro for their accuracy, transparency and balance.  I enjoy all three IEM a great bit, and I still prefer the ES5 + older JH13Pro over the ES3X and UE11Pro (as I did in my 2009 three flagship customs review).  But, if I had to pick just one the JH16Pro FP would be it - but It may not be the same for you.


My ES3X and UE11Pro are still quite nice, but they are not at the same level of performance as the above IEM, and they really don't see much use anymore.  The ES3X and UE11Pro still make a nice set of backup monitors for me, but when one is spending this much money on custom IEM it just makes sense to go for one of the 2-3 top-tier customs.  I've heard demo sets of UE18Pro and UERM at RMAF, as well as some 1964 Ears and Unique Melody demos, but I don't know how the full custom would sound and nothing in the demo reached out and grabbed me saying, BUY ME.  When I compared the JH13Pro Freq-phase demo to the JH16Pro Freq-phase demos at RMAF, I could still hear the basic sound signature differences between the 13 and 16 that says buy the 16's.



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