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[Review] Sensaphonics j-phonics - the BEST professional universal stage ear monitor yet

post #1 of 208
Thread Starter 

HPR-Sensaphonics-j-phonics-glamour-2.jpg

The following is a paraphrase of my full j-phonics review at TouchMyApps.

 

What is it?

 

Sensaphonics Japan have put together a winning package. I've been a fan of the Prophonics 2X-s for a year or so, but I'll be the first to admit that it could improve in one basic area: treble quality. It's not bad, but at times, it can get grainy.

 

The j-phonics takes the Prophonics 2X-s guts and stuffs them into a package that is overall smaller than the Westone 2. Right, other dual driver earphones are smaller. The q-Jays is Lilliputan and the Audio Technica CK10 is a tiny button. But, neither earphone is a professional stage monitor.

 

The j-phonics is the smallest professional stage monitor. It is slim, ergonomic, and pretty strong. For those of you who like to sleep with earphones on, it is great. 

 

Pro's:

 

-Fit

Simply put, nothing fits like the j-phonics. Comfortable in every way from the angle of the multi-flanged sound tube to the thin  over-the-ear cable. it is light, smooth, and small. It should fit any ear. 

 

-Sound

The j-phonics has a smoother high end than the 2X-s. You can forget cringe-worthy cymbals and electronics. And bass, too, is cleaner. My guess is that it is because the j-phonics's plastic chassis is laminated by a very hard enamel. Even with Comply tips, it is clean and detailed.

 

In fact, there is a lot of detail in the low end. It is just a small step behind the Earsonics SM3 in that regard. Mids stand between the SM2 and SM3, they are neither overly warm, nor dry. For this reason, the j-phonics sounds pretty damn good with soundtracks, jazz, and other emotional musical genres.

 

Bass stays loud and strong just below 60Hz and drops off after that, but not too fast. Treble extends well to the stated 16,000Hz.

 

-Build

I am NOT a fan of thin plastic housings in professional products. That in mind, the j-phonics is stronger than the Earsonics SM3 and SM2 and probably on par with the Westone UM3x, though I get the feeling that the sound tube is stronger. It seems that Sensaphonics Japan are stuck in a polycarbonate rut. That's okay, but I thin they should take a bit more care to seal the seems around their cable and body. Sweat is too bugger of problem for stage musicians to ignore.

 

The cable is A+: strong, thick, and relatively resistant to crystallisation. Still, it will harden as it ages. You can choose length, termination, and - if you press hard enough - colour. I've not seen the silver version, but if it the same as that on the 2X-s, it is better at withstanding the deleterious effects of body oils and sweat than the grey/black version.

 

-Pelican Case

Nothing says professional like a Pelican case. The 1030 or 1010 are large, but perfect matches for a stage monitor. It won't break. 

 

Con's:

 

-Accessories

Maybe the sample I worked with was missing things, but I didn't see a wax loop, and to be honest, for the price, Sensaphonics Japan could have included a tiny tote case for those days when you don't want to haul the full Pelican to the stage, or your office.

 

Conclusion:

Overall, I feel that the j-phonics is the best-realised professional earphone on the market. It fits pefectly, sounds great, and is strong for the road. There are small areas that could be improved on, but by and large, this earphone trumps its universal professional stage monitor colleagues. 

 

Audiophiles:

I expect this earphone to take off among musicians first and audiophiles, second. I reckon that the latter group will get up in arms over the fact that the j-phonics has 'only' two drivers, but it costs nearly 400$. Well, go sit on a tack if you are upset about these things. The j-phonics isn't a mass-market item, it is catered to professionals, and Sensaphonics aren't a marketing company, so you won't see adverts about the technology, you'll see adverts about the performance. I'm sick of technology marketing and the j-phonics shows, again, that audiophile marketing is just really clever hot air.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love the JH13Pro and the SM3, two earphones that have more drivers than the j-phonics, but I get sick of the driver wars and their technophile explanations.

 

Again, the full j-phonics review is at TouchMyApps.

post #2 of 208
Never thought Sensaphonics is on to universal as well, thanks for th review.
post #3 of 208
Thread Starter 

It is only Sensaphonics Japan as far as I know. It is their product 100%, which may or not mean that Sensaphonics USA takes up on the j-phonics. It is a worthy earphone for sure.

post #4 of 208

Thanks shigzeo, nice full review; worth the click to read!

post #5 of 208
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

It is only Sensaphonics Japan as far as I know. It is their product 100%, which may or not mean that Sensaphonics USA takes up on the j-phonics. It is a worthy earphone for sure.


Kind of remind me the situation where Ortofone Japan is responsible for developing IEM. I guess it is only natural when you have an oversea devision located in a country that is crazy about everything gadget. biggrin.gif
Edited by ClieOS - 12/16/10 at 10:19pm
post #6 of 208
Thread Starter 

Maybe you are right. Anyway, Japan is pretty earphone/headphone crazy. By the way, I did NOT try other tips than the stock Comply. 

post #7 of 208

Great review shigzeo. Totally agree about the driver wars and other "audiophile" marketing bs.


Edited by JxK - 12/16/10 at 11:17pm
post #8 of 208
Thread Starter 

Thanks JxK. Encouragement is what one needs when one has a a hangover that threatens to toss one into the abyss of depression. I am so glad I finished the review text yesterday. Editing today was torture and I am sure I missed a number of things. I think every review is just full of grammar bugs.

post #9 of 208

^No biggie. It was a well written review. If you feel like editing more later, you can, but it's not necessary. Though you English majors all seem to edit everything to death - and enjoy it! wink.gif

 

As as aside, I really like the design of the earphones. They look like they'd sit flush in just about anyone's ear, and are not flashy and pretentious. So refreshing to not have that bling. It's the same reason I like the design of the TMA-1.

post #10 of 208
Thread Starter 

The TouchMyApps 1? Haha, I'd like to hear it someday, but with an ES10 purchase last week, I reckon I'll have to hold off till late next year.

post #11 of 208

Thanks for the review Shigzeo, that's kind of refreshing to see this "old lady" going in a new direction. But on the other side I cannot help but thinking that the multiplication of customs' IEM brands is responsible for this. That wouldn't be the first time we see a company literally "entrenched" in its market trying to expand in new areas.

 

One thing's bugging me though. I think I get the "professional stage monitor" thing, which is in line with UE's Reference Monitor at this point. But why a universal and not customs ? Sensaphonics' line is not exactly new, and that would be probably be beneficial for them to renew a bit their customs' "entry" line. Especially after the introduction of the 3MAX. Am I missing something here ?

post #12 of 208

Wonder if will go on sales globally.

post #13 of 208
Thread Starter 

Actually, the idea was that a LOT of musicians and bands simply can't afford to go 100% custom. These sound mostly like (I think better) the 2X-s and are just as easy to drive. Bands that don't want to go full custom and can't afford to buy their engineer the same high priced kit, really should invest in the SAME technology and the same sound. Not doing that will cause them to mess up their own sound signature because of overcompensation RE: the different sound of earphones on stage and behind the controls.

 

A band that has their singer on the 2X-s and can't afford to go all round with them will enjoy the j-phonics. I am sure of this. AND, if you have the 2X-s, you might want to invest in a backup anyway. It's like carrying a backup camera. When it's your job, you do anything you can to make sure things go smoothly.

 

Now regarding new earphone, I like the idea. Customs are great, but after using them for a long time, I find this: silicon is definitely better than acrylic for stage use. It doesn't twist as much and will stay in much better. But, Comply foams and a univesal are even better for vocalists as they adapt even better to the ear than silicon does.

 

Regarding the phones being long in the tooth, I agree to some extent. But again, Sensaphonics aren't an audiophile brand. They are a professional brand. There isn't another company that caters almost exclusively to professionals in the same way. Their products are probably the best in their class for what they do. They also sell active ambient stuff, loads of customisations for their monitors. They just breathe what bands breathe and I think this earphone does the same thing. They don't need a new earphone. They brought out the 3Max or whatever it is called last year or this year, a unit that can blast out 146dB!

 

I do agree that they might think about doing a similar version of the 3MAX, but I think it would be bigger and they want slim. Again, this is Japan-only and I guess there are some synapses that aren't touching.

 

Also, the j-phonics, just like the 2X-s and 3MAX, is catered to the pros. I don't really expect Headfi to 'get it'. I've seen some videos of artists using the j-phonics and they like them. As an audiophile, I love them, but then again, I came to the audiophile world from ad-hoc studio/recording work.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchbat View Post

Thanks for the review Shigzeo, that's kind of refreshing to see this "old lady" going in a new direction. But on the other side I cannot help but thinking that the multiplication of customs' IEM brands is responsible for this. That wouldn't be the first time we see a company literally "entrenched" in its market trying to expand in new areas.

 

One thing's bugging me though. I think I get the "professional stage monitor" thing, which is in line with UE's Reference Monitor at this point. But why a universal and not customs ? Sensaphonics' line is not exactly new, and that would be probably be beneficial for them to renew a bit their customs' "entry" line. Especially after the introduction of the 3MAX. Am I missing something here ?

post #14 of 208

Oh boy did I receive the spanking I deserved and asked for !?! wink_face.gif  Well the economic argument is a very compelling one when an entire band's gear is coming into play, unless you're making boatloads of money of course. And given the 750$ asked for the Prophonics 2XS, it's true that 400$ seem way more reasonable. That seems to be the thing I was missing, thanks for clearing this up for me. I haven't met many people involved in studio recording, but the customs sporting ones were singers. The back up unit also makes sense, eventhough I've always assumed that professional are better equiped than most of the enthusiasts here. If that was my job, I'd probably have 2 pairs of the same model, customs or not.

 

Specifically on the adaptation capacity of Comply, I'd have to agree with you but that comes at the cost of their endurance. I don't know how many hours you can use a pair of comply before having to change them in a pro environment, but I have the feeling some singers or vocalists may prefer a material easier to maintain. Silicon is perfect for that, and it seems like even some brands using acrylic for their customs, are trying to introduce the versatility of silicon. More specifically I've heard of a silicon O'ring in the acrylic tip of the IEM at Insono (second french custom IEM brand).

 

I smiled wide when I read your "synapses are not connecting", because this is exactly what must be happening. But let's remember that Sensaphonics has bought a japanese company to enter the market, I expect the company structure to be quite separated. So this project must be a japanese side's project that was agreed by Sensaphonics USA as a test. Maybe they're hoping to pull out a new opportunity worldwide if this worked in Japan.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

Actually, the idea was that a LOT of musicians and bands simply can't afford to go 100% custom. These sound mostly like (I think better) the 2X-s and are just as easy to drive. Bands that don't want to go full custom and can't afford to buy their engineer the same high priced kit, really should invest in the SAME technology and the same sound. Not doing that will cause them to mess up their own sound signature because of overcompensation RE: the different sound of earphones on stage and behind the controls.

 

A band that has their singer on the 2X-s and can't afford to go all round with them will enjoy the j-phonics. I am sure of this. AND, if you have the 2X-s, you might want to invest in a backup anyway. It's like carrying a backup camera. When it's your job, you do anything you can to make sure things go smoothly.

 

Now regarding new earphone, I like the idea. Customs are great, but after using them for a long time, I find this: silicon is definitely better than acrylic for stage use. It doesn't twist as much and will stay in much better. But, Comply foams and a univesal are even better for vocalists as they adapt even better to the ear than silicon does.

 

Regarding the phones being long in the tooth, I agree to some extent. But again, Sensaphonics aren't an audiophile brand. They are a professional brand. There isn't another company that caters almost exclusively to professionals in the same way. Their products are probably the best in their class for what they do. They also sell active ambient stuff, loads of customisations for their monitors. They just breathe what bands breathe and I think this earphone does the same thing. They don't need a new earphone. They brought out the 3Max or whatever it is called last year or this year, a unit that can blast out 146dB!

 

I do agree that they might think about doing a similar version of the 3MAX, but I think it would be bigger and they want slim. Again, this is Japan-only and I guess there are some synapses that aren't touching.

 

Also, the j-phonics, just like the 2X-s and 3MAX, is catered to the pros. I don't really expect Headfi to 'get it'. I've seen some videos of artists using the j-phonics and they like them. As an audiophile, I love them, but then again, I came to the audiophile world from ad-hoc studio/recording work.

post #15 of 208
Thread Starter 

^^ Good points, all. 

 

Regarding longevity of Comply foam tips, you've got me! I used to test them whilst in the saddle for a couple of hours every day and, well, they get water logged (if you know what I mean). If you fiddle with fit a lot, they can get bad and even force water into the sound tube and mess up the frequency response of an earphone. But the j-phonics fits really really well, so I expect that not to be a problem. 

 

I'm pretty excited to see how bands react to the j-phonics, and my load of comrades here at HF.

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