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[Review] Audio Heaven – Jerry Harvey Audio’s JH13

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
My consistent persuasion of good music has led me on a wonderful journey through the world of high fidelity audio reproduction. Don’t be mistaken, the journey has not ended just yet. On the other hand the arrival at this point in time has led my search for better sounding equipment to come to an indefinite halt. One headphone has trodden them all: the JH13. At first my scepticism prevented me from the potential enjoyment, which I had lain out for myself by purchasing those incredible small, but effective In Ear Monitors. If I had to sum up my enthusiasm for the JH13s in two words: “Mind Blowing”.

Previous high-end IEMs, such as the Sennheiser’s IE8 or the Shure’s SE530, opened up a rather peculiar question: “Could music sound any better?”. Peculiar in the sense of how, rather than if. I thought, I had arrived at my preferred sound-signature, but once again, I was mistaken. What were my options? The idea of custom headphones has always lingered in the back of my mind, but I was always frightened off by the amount of money one had to invest. I could either re-shell, get custom tips, go for low end customs or shoot straight to the top. Suddenly, I reminded myself of the pain I went through, whilst purchasing the most bang for the buck equipment earlier on. Despite the fact that I gained experience, I ended up spending more money in total. Moreover this situation has confronted me with an incredibly funny paradox. The JH13 is the most bang for the buck IEM.

Personally I enjoy the idea of headphones; mostly because, for the little money you invest, you receive high sound quality, as demonstrated by Head-Direct’s RE0. The only drawback I can think of is the lack of impact and feel of the sound you encounter, compared to listening to speakers. Other than that, listening to IEMs is a more intimate& personal experience. You analyse the harmonics, tone and resonance of presented musical instruments, which changes listening to music from a passive, to an active and engaging process.
Although I have a fair amount of experience with headphones, I lack knowledge in the area of amplification. Please do not dismiss my review just yet. One of the first amps I was looking into after purchasing the JH13, was the “ALO Rx”, but the damage has been done already. My wallet had a massive hole in it, that only time could heal. Therefore, I will be updating this review once my Amplifier arrives. For now, I will be listening to my music straight out of an upgraded PC sound card. All files have been encoded in 320kbps or flac.

Music I enjoy most at the moment: Fleetwood Mac, Mike Oldfield, David Bowie, Gipsy Kings, Cat Stevens, Tom Waits and America. I will be basing my review on the JH13s on one track of each band/artist.

The Package

To be honest, the package was fairly disappointing. Other than an Otterbox, I expected to receive a little more than just a velvet pouch, a cleaning tool and a manual. Delivery, on the other hand, was very fast. It took 2 days to reach England and I didn’t have to pay any surcharge for the import. What surprised me the most was the incredible low weight of the monitors. I had a fairly similar situation with Grado, when I first lifted up one of the lower-end models. In summary, although I was a little saddened at fist, once I held the JH13s in my hands, I was as blissful as ever.



Build Quality, Cable and Fit

The quality of the earpieces themselves came out very well. The simple design of my choice was reproduced 1:1 from my mental picture. I went for a black cable, because of the apparent colour change with the clear cable. I was very surprised with the fit. My impressions were made by an audiologist, who has never even heard of a custom monitor before. She specialised in Hearing Aids, so I just decided to take my chances. At first, I had to get used to the presence of the JH13s in my ear. After wearing them for hours and hours on successive days, I am now happy to report, that I can barely even feel them anymore. Extreme comfort.

Sound in a Nutshell

Due to the JH13s extremely linear frequency response (yes I am aware of the bump at around the 50hz mark), they sound natural. I have never listened to metal before in my life, but yesterday the JH13s scared me. The soundstage, the handling of complex passages and the realness of the songs I listened to were more than enjoyable. What are the JH13s able to achieve? They are lightening fast. They paint consistent mental imagery. They are involving. They deliver micro-detail like you have never heard it before. Most of all however, they sound real, which is in my opinion their best quality.

Individual Tracks

Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”

The first few seconds made me laugh. There is a very subtle but noticeable swear word right at the beginning. Micro details immediately jumped to my attention, which made everything sound so extremely real. The drum kicks in. Bass on the JH13 is astonishing. The bone conduction allows me to feel the bass, something which I was missing with my previous headphones. The vocals are very smooth& have great separation. The cymbal is beautifully extended, which goes to show how detailed& natural the highs on the JH13s are. I love the weight of the sound, which paints realistic pictures of the band arrangement in my head. All in all, “The Chain” is a great song on the JH13s. There are not too many complex passages in this song, but I feel that it demonstrates and highlights certain qualities of the JH13s very well.

Mike Oldfield’s “Muse”

This track particularly highlights the JH13s ability to handle several acoustic guitars and retain a very strong presence of tones. The picking style does not challenge the mids, every detail is preserved. I enjoy the colour and effortless presentation of the sound. The sound stage is vast; still I am able to accurately determine the location of instruments, which I lost with the IE8s. The only instrument I can handle at the moment is guitar and without a doubt, listening to a track has put me the closest to actually playing it. A great track, if you enjoy laid back& relaxing sound.

David Bowie’s “Starman”

A classic from Bowie and actually my favourite of his work. In my opinion, a great demonstration of his voice, which is emotionally involving and more real than ever if listened to it through the JH13s. Furthermore I loved that the monitors completely disappeared, which made the effects of this song more apparent. The dramatic collapse in soundstage, the unique sound of the guitar and the dynamics were handled extremely well. To sum up, I find that this song is brought up to another level. It is very emotionally involving and complex, but it never brings the JH13s even close to the edge.

Gipsy Kings’ “Bem, Bem, Maria”

The raw speed of the JH13s is brought out. I love this track; it is upbeat and extremely complex. All the details are there, I was very much overwhelmed by analysing certain aspects of this it. The decay is perfect. The attack is fast. Raw speed. I was only able to pick up a slight echo, which is due to the recording. I also find that even though the musicians are quite far away from my head, they reach out and grab my attention with their ability to play guitar. On the JH13s this track is very musical, whilst still retaining every possible disturbance& inaccuracy.

Cat Stevens’ “Father And Son”

This has been a very emotionally involving track for me. The arrangements of the instruments are beautifully held in place. Most of all, however, I find that the JH13s show others how vocals are done. You hear every breath, every movement of the lip. All the details that got lost are retrieved, which allows the listener to connect. The message of this song is sad, and is only underlined by the sheer beauty of the harmony and tones. Overall, I experienced that the JH13s make this song come alive, which again, justifies their high price tag. Now I can save the money I spend on concerts, I found a satisfying alternative.

Last Thoughts

I will update this review with more songs as time goes by. For now, I think you should get the picture that I am trying to paint. I love the JH13s!

Listen Up.

Thank You for reading, I hope it wasn't too long.
sebhuber
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Update: 8/2/10 uDac Arrival



During the time-gap of this follow up on the review, I have constantly (well not all the time, but most of it) listened to the JH13s. They have changed my listening habits entirely, but in a rather good way. Due to recent circumstances in my environment, I will have to cut back on listening-time; however for now, I will be enjoying them for as long as possible. Since the weak link in my audio system was the source, I had to get an upgrade. NuForce’s uDac does a great job at a very persuading price point. I will structure my experience in the same way as I did previously: listen to a song and write down my thoughts (i.e. impression).

Bob Dylan’s “I shall be released”
All minor details are present. The bump at the 50hz mark really gives you a sense of impact. Otherwise, the ability to track Dylan’s head is astonishing and due to the intimate placement of the guitars, this song conveys an interesting and unique atmosphere. The uDac improves the bass (tighter) and soundstage (more realistic) from an otherwise sloppy source.
What did improve with the uDac?

Bass
The bass is tightened up , however it seems to give me a bit more quantity without sacrificing the quality. It becomes quicker and the despite the increase in quantity, the decay remains natural.

Mids
Guitar solos jump out and grab your attention immediately. Even though the mids remain as neutral as possible, I find them to be more present and slightly emphasized with the uDac. Also, vocals sound more aggressive, which is a very welcome addition to the overall sound presentation.

Highs
Great highs. Everything that I enjoy is portrayed with ease, i.e. they extend, bear no sibilance (unless the recording has it), give no emphasis and have a great, natural timing.

Soundstage & Imaging
Soundstage was greatly improved, all the instruments are projected out of the head and are easily distinguishable. This also comes with an improved sense of placing the instrument in its exact position, which also contributes to the realness of the sound.

Verdict
For its price, I didn’t expect too much from the uDac. I was mistaken – the sound presentation is very much to my liking. The most noticeable change is both the bass and imaging. I found them to be lacking (straight out of an iPod), but for now I will do all my listening on my computer (no hiss btw). Also this seems to prove my suspicion- there is no fault with the JH13s, except for the fact that it reveals every weak link in your chain immediately. Again, this means I will be upgrading my portable source soon.
post #2 of 46
A sincere review simply written sebhuber. They sound like wonderful IEMs.
post #3 of 46
Agreed, always great to see a honest review

You should report back to your audiologist too, and show her the customs
post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Junliang View Post
Agreed, always great to see a honest review

You should report back to your audiologist too, and show her the customs
Thanks Guys. Yeah, straight after, she told me that she wanted to see how they would turn out. I will definately show them to her
post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebhuber View Post
Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”

The first few seconds made me laugh. There is a very subtle but noticeable swear word right at the beginning. Micro details immediately jumped to my attention, which made everything sound so extremely real. The drum kicks in. Bass on the JH13 is astonishing. The bone conduction allows me to feel the bass, something which I was missing with my previous headphones. The vocals are very smooth& have great separation. The cymbal is beautifully extended, which goes to show how detailed& natural the highs on the JH13s are. I love the weight of the sound, which paints realistic pictures of the band arrangement in my head. All in all, “The Chain” is a great song on the JH13s. There are not too many complex passages in this song, but I feel that it demonstrates and highlights certain qualities of the JH13s very well.
Hmm... which version of the song is that? I listen to the studio version and I swear that the background is completely silent even if I turn up the volume really high. Listening through my Ortofon e-Q7. Did you hear this detail with your previous 'phones too? Perhaps I just got tin ears. I usually don't notice things like piano players hitting the pedals or musicians turning pages in classical.
post #6 of 46
Thread Starter 
No, it only got really apparent with the JH13s. The version is:

The Chain
Fleetwood Mac
Very Best of Fleetwood Mac! Disc 2
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebhuber View Post
No, it only got really apparent with the JH13s. The version is:

The Chain
Fleetwood Mac
Very Best of Fleetwood Mac! Disc 2
Ok, wow. Makes me want to get JH 13 even more. But I can't afford them! Urghh... I should stop reading about JH13...
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post
Ok, wow. Makes me want to get JH 13 even more. But I can't afford them! Urghh... I should stop reading about JH13...
save yourself the money and get some RX700's...I just heard the f-word at the beginning on the very best. but..its true the JH13's highlight detail in so many songs I've never heard before then when I listen with lesser phones I'm like oooh yea!

edit: and if you wanna listen carefully its through the left channel
post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by timmyGCSE View Post
save yourself the money and get some RX700's...I just heard the f-word at the beginning on the very best. but..its true the JH13's highlight detail in so many songs I've never heard before then when I listen with lesser phones I'm like oooh yea!

edit: and if you wanna listen carefully its through the left channel
Well, I don't think I would mind hearing some extra detail. Plus, I am sure those RX700s will also be inferior in many other aspects to what I already have. Ortofon e-Q7 is really a very nice IEM. I sure wouldn't want to downgrade. I also got RE0 and when I switch to those from Ortofons the lack of micro-detail becomes a deal breaker for me.
post #10 of 46
Nice review!
post #11 of 46
one reviewer on Jerry's website noted some discomfort as they go deeply into the ear canal. Can you comment on that??
post #12 of 46
Yes, I'd be interested in your experience as well. The deep insertion into the ear canal of custom IEMs is one of the reasons that I have steered clear of them.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post
Well, I don't think I would mind hearing some extra detail. Plus, I am sure those RX700s will also be inferior in many other aspects to what I already have. Ortofon e-Q7 is really a very nice IEM. I sure wouldn't want to downgrade. I also got RE0 and when I switch to those from Ortofons the lack of micro-detail becomes a deal breaker for me.
I didn't actually mean like go rush out and buy them lol I just meant if you want to hear that swear word I heard them with my RX700's
post #14 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnmike1 View Post
one reviewer on Jerry's website noted some discomfort as they go deeply into the ear canal. Can you comment on that??
Yes, it was an unusual experience to have a custom in my ear at first. Fortunately I had quite a bit of experience with Etymotic, which really made it easier for me. The only discomfort I feel now, is when I press against the monitors. It is getting better though.

----

The f-word can be heard on cheaper equipment, but IMO there is such a gain in micro-detail that makes it sound like its there, not like it has to be retrieved. That's what I love about the JH13s.
post #15 of 46
Think of how much better the JH16s would be compared to the JH13s. Wow.
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