Jade Audio EA3

General Information

EA3EN_01.jpg


* Knowles 33518 BA drivers
* Large 13.6mm dynamic driver with breathtaking bass
* Highly resolving, large soundstage, easy to drive
* detachable 0.78mm 2-pin cable
* High purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable
* Taking the FiiO FH1 to the next level with a more balanced sound

Latest reviews

Pros: Powerful, controlled bass.
Excellent detail.
Knowles driver!
Comfortable.
Price.
Cons: Can be too bright for some (use eq to lower treble)
First, I would like to thank Jade Audio for sending out the the EA3 free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

I did all the listening on my Hiby R3 Pro. Source files are all FLAC 16bit, 44.1k or better.

CONSTRUCTION

The EA3 is a hybrid iem with a massive 13.6mm polymer diaphragm dynamic driver and a genuine Knowles 33518 balanced armature for high frequencies. With this driver combo I expected robust bass response and smooth, detailed mids and highs and I was not disappointed. More on this later.....

The shells are blue plastic with beautiful celluloid guitar pick material inside bearing the Jade Audio logo. They are very light and all day comfortable. I like that Jade Audio tried something different in the design of the shells. I play guitar, so this appeals to me. The cable is very nice! I love the look and feel of it.

BASS

With the huge 13.6mm drivers, I expected potent, but slow bass. I was only half right. The bass is powerful alright but is very well controlled. Kick drums are mighty and fast and deep. It is not a bass-head iem, but it will be enough for all but the most avid bass-heads. I like it! Good sub bass extension.

MIDS

Mids are smooth, detailed and not hugely recessed. It is a V shaped signature but not overly so. Again, I like it! Vocals and guitars sound detailed and smooth with just enough edge to cut through the mix. Low mids are full but not bloated, yielding full, powerful male vocals and thick, chunky guitars.

TREBLE

I have heard some reviews describing the treble as sibilant. I disagree. Yes, the treble is elevated but it isn't sibient in my experience. I just Installed tips with a slightly smaller bore and turned down the treble by a couple decibels and it's great. The detail from that Knowles ba is nicely detailed and silky. Just adj your eq if they are too bright for your taste. They are smooth, but they will not mask any sibilance that is on the recording. If it's there, you will hear it, good or bad.

SOUNDSTAGE

With all that treble detail, the stage is nice and wide with average depth. I love the air around voices. There is a good sense of space and individual instruments can easily be picked out. Acoustic instruments sound wonderful.

COMMENTS

I really enjoy these with classic rock and other thick, powerful mixes in particular though, they are enjoyable with most all music types. They bring out a lot of details that I was missing before. They are very easy to drive even with modest source equipment. I am very impressed with the EA3 and I look forward to more from Jade Audio/Fiio in the future. To build such a nice iem with an actual Knowles driver at this price is impressive. I am a fan!
20200125_131204.jpg20200125_131304.jpg20200125_131338.jpg20200125_131602.jpg
  • Like
Reactions: iBo0m
iBo0m
iBo0m
Nice review :) How's the isolation in the public transport and such?
Pros: Good build, backplate finish is eye-catching
- Good sub-bass response
- Great soundstage
Cons: Mid-bass lacks texture
- Thin lower-mids
- Shouty upper-mids
- Harsh treble
- Tonal mismatch between the dynamic and BA driver
IMG_5166.JPG

In a strange turn of events, Fiio decided to launch a sub-brand called Jade Audio where they would rebrand their existing products, perhaps cut a few corners and price them temptingly low.

Good idea, innit?

Jade Audio EA3 is the only IEM (so far) in Jade Audio’s lineup, and the rest are either Bluetooth amps or the solitary TWS earbud.

Fiio positions the EA3 as a successor to the FH1, which retailed for $99 at launch and had a… less-than-adequate sound to my ears.

So, did Fiio manage to bring out something competitive in the budget range? Let’s find out.

(Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Definitely the expectations from a $15 IEM won’t be the same as a $150 one, and that’s the approach taken while assigning scores. Fiio/Jade Audio was kind enough to send me a review unit. Disclaimer)

Sources used: LG G7, Questyle QP1R, iPhone SE

Price, while reviewed: ~$45. Look out for sales and discounts.

IMG_5179.JPG

Build: Yet-another-resin-shell IEM. Not too long ago these 3D-printed Resin shells looked awful (the cheap ones that is). Things have changed for the better and the EA3 actually looks and feels solid in hand.
The outer face-plate is quite attractive and has a hologram-like depth to it. Esp the Black version looks classy. I am not a fan of the Blue version however as it looks rather cheap, especially the inner-side which looks cheap in both color versions. Thankfully that is not exposed while wearing them so it’s not too big an issue.
The inner-side also houses the vent-hole for the large dynamic driver (13.5mm PET coated diaphragm). Finally, the metal-nozzle (with a substantial lip) houses the Balanced Armature driver (Knowles 33518) — the same model as the old FH1. I am not a fan of this particular BA driver placement as it leads to harsh highs and upper-mids, but let’s talk about that in the sound section.
The connector is 2-pin, protrudes slightly from the back, and felt solid.
In short, good build quality, even though paint-job and finish of the Blue version is less than ideal.
4/5

IMG_5153_r.JPG IMG_5164.JPG IMG_5176.JPG IMG_5229.JPG

Accessories: The accessory set does not have any major omission on the face of it. You get a soft carrying pouch, a nice SPC cable (it might be thin but I didn’t find any issues with the build quality or sound, though I don’t like these memory wires in general), 6 pairs of eartips of two different types (narrow and wide bore), and a small cable wrap.
The tips are of decent quality, but I opted for Spinfit CP-100 as they fit me better.
My biggest gripe is that carrying case. It’s too soft and literally just acts as a fancy cover for the IEMs without adding any actual protection. A semi-hard/hard carrying shell would be more practical.
4/5

Comfort: The EA3 is rather comfortable to wear. The memory wire of the cable might not work for some of you, in which case a cable swap is necessary, but it worked fine for me once I got the hang of it. The tips are something I swapped, but the stock tips might be enough. Since the IEM does not have any strange protrusions on the inner side, it has an overall smooth shape and a snug fit is possible, making it suitable for work-outs and morning runs. Isolation is also above-average, making it a good option for commute.
4.5/5

IMG_5195.JPG

Now, on to the sound.

Just to rehash: this is a single dynamic + single BA hybrid with the drivers placed in a coaxial arrangement instead of using tubes/wave-guides and placing the BA driver much deeper into the IEM shell. While this arrangement can alleviate some of the cross-over issues with multiple tubes (mismatched tube length can cause phase issues), placing the BA driver so close to the nozzle usually doesn’t allow room to add dampers. Without dampers — the BA drivers often sound harsh and artificial, and this was the biggest concern for me heading into the review.

Lows: The huge dynamic driver does its job rather well I’d say. With proper seal, the bass is voluminous, and definitely packs a punch.
The sub-bass reaches as low as 20Hz, and from 30Hz downwards you can feel the sub-bass rumble. Sub-bass is accentuated over mid-bass, and the mid-bass doesn’t bleed into the lower-mids (which, along with the treble, seems to be solely handled by the BA driver).
Bass is not the fastest with a slightly longer decay than the BA driver, but that’s expected at this price point. Difference between bass notes is not the most evident, esp mid-bass lacks texture.
Another thing to note — the dynamic driver has a warm tone, while the BA driver sounds bright. This leads to tonal incoherence on certain tracks.
In summary: the sub-bass is really good, mid-bass lacks texture, but overall actually good for the price-range.
4/5

Mids: Mid-range throughout is handled via the BA driver, and that is the root of all issues with the EA3. As I mentioned previously, this “BA in the nozzle” design never works, and it hasn’t worked for Fiio as well.
The mid-range is recessed due to the overall signature being V-shaped, but not too recessed to be an issue. However, it’s the performance of the midrange that’s the issue here rather than their prominence.
The lower-mids lack body, thus male vocals are rendered too thin and overly bright. Baritone vocals especially lack the depth. E.g. Colin Hay’s I Just Don’t Think I’ll Get Over You completely lacks the depth and texture of the vocals on EA3. The upper-mids on the other hand are too accentuated, leading to shouty female vocals.
Everything in-between is rather fine actually, as acoustic guitars have a crispness to them while the snare hits are substantial and rather realistic sounding. But the thin lower-mids and the overly emphasized upper-mids that leads to shoutiness and sibilance (e.g. on this track) can be deal-breaker for many.
Ah yes, the mid-range timbre . It’s typical BA timbre: hollow sounding, or “plasticky” as many like to call them. They just don’t sound natural to me, so there’s that. At least the mid-range detail retrieval is above average for the price bracket.
3/5

Treble: Treble is my biggest gripe on the EA3.
There are too many peaks in the presence region/lower-treble, and that leads to a fatiguing listen. I often commute for hours with my IEMs, and in one such commute, I couldn’t use the EA3 for over half an hour at a time due to the fatiguing treble. Peaks around 4, 6, 8KHz are very evident, especially the latter two causes splashy treble that can make cymbal-heavy metal tracks a challenge to listen to. E.g. on Have Heart’s The Unbreakable, the cymbal hits sound overly thin while the growling vocals are borderline harsh.
Crash cymbals often sound splashy, while ride cymbals have the tendency to decay too early. Violins, depending on tracks, can sound moderate to overly bright. And for the upper-treble regions, there is decent upper treble reach with peaks around 11KHz or so from my listening tests, but due to the unnaturally quick decay of the BA driver, the sensation of “airy” treble is not as evident.
Detail retrieval is also above average on the treble region and many of the micro-details are picked up.
Overall, while the EA3 is good at picking up details, the tonality and tuning issues overshadow the technical abilites.
3/5

IMG_5223.JPG

Soundstage: EA3 has a really well-rounded soundstage. Soundstage has about the same depth/height, while the width is slightly larger in comparison. In fact, the soundstage is perhaps the stand-out of these IEMs, along with its sub-bass response.
I highly doubt anyone will be disappointed with the EA3’s soundstage, and it leads to a really nice experience while watching movies/series.
4.5/5

Imaging: The imaging is not as exceptional as the soundstage. The layering of instruments is good enough for the most part, but sometimes tend to be too close together in the mix (due to the closer proximity of the BA driver).
Another issue is the placements of instruments that are supposed to be on the top-right/top-left regions. They are often shifted more to the right/left. Surprisingly bottom-right/left positioning is fine, which was a bit odd.
3.5/5

Bang-for-buck: A year or two back, the EA3 would likely be considered a great buy “for the price”, as it’s built fairly well, has a complete accessory set and while the tuning has its share of issues — it’s passable if you listen to mostly bass-heavy stuff.
But the times they have changed.
Due to the availability of a few better tuned models in this price segment, this one is just not the “shut up and take my money” stuff anymore. The soundstage is exceptional, and the sub-bass is very good, but the sibilant mid-range and overly bright treble makes it a hard call.
Tough break.
3/5

Source and Amping: These are very sensitive and run on almost anything. However, do note that the output impedance of your source needs to be low enough (ideally ~1 ohm or less) due to the BA hybrid nature of the IEM. Also, pairing it with a warm source might alleviate some tonality issues, though I doubt they will be fixed outright.

IMG_5228.JPG

Select Comparisons

vs Final E1000: Final E1000 is the entry model of the final E-series lineup (review coming soon, hopefully). However, it has the most balanced tuning of the whole E series. But let’s start from the build quality.
Both IEMs are plastic made, but the fit and finish on the E1000 is a bit better. However, EA3 has a detachable cable, so it gets the nod instead due to potentially better durability. E1000 however is more comfortable and isolates better.
Accessories-wise, EA3 trumps the E1000, though the E1000 does come with the absolutely awesome Final E-type tips.
As for the most important facet — sound, E1000 is far more relaxing in terms of tonality. There are no odd peaks anywhere and you can listen to them for hours. Sub-bass is more visceral on the EA3, so bass-heads will probably pick them over the E1000. However, E1000 bass has a much better texture and slightly faster decay. Vocals on the E1000 are also noticeably better represented without any sibilance or thinness. Treble follows a similar story.
Where the EA3 trumps the E1000 is overall detail retrieval and soundstage. Imaging is about same on both.

vs BLON BL-03: Ah, the mighty BLONs! First up, the build quality, and here it’s about on par for both, though I have trust issues with the BLON’s 2-pin connector housing. Comfortwise EA3 is miles ahead, same story when it comes to accessories.
However, I much prefer the sound of the BLONs. While it doesn’t have such a hard hitting sub-bass, it makes up for that with punchy, well-textured mid-bass. Then comes the mid-range and vocals where the BLONs are quite a bit ahead. Detail retrieval, treble extension and soundstage are the areas where EA3 takes the cake, while imaging is BL-03’s forte.

vs KZ ZSX: The ZSX costs a bit more than the EA3, but they are both under $50 nowadays on AliExpress. In terms of build quality, accessories and comfort — EA3 is the winner.
As for the sound, EA3 again gets the point for bass response as ZSX is pretty poor in that regard. Mid-range is a bit better tuned on the ZSX with less instances of sibilance while having more micro-details than the EA3. Treble also follows a similar story, with the ZSX having more micro-details and better instrumental separation overall. Soundstage goes to EA3, while imaging is better on the ZSX.

IMG_5231.JPG
IMG_5251.JPG
IMG_5170_edit.JPG

Conclusion

Fiio’s idea of launching a cheaper sub-brand aka Jade Audio is a good one. However, their first IEM under this new branding lacks the finesse to be a stand-out.

While the EA3’s sub-bass response will cater well to bass-heads, mid-bass lacks the resolution you’d expect from such a large driver. The tonality issues of the midrange and treble, coupled with an overly bright tuning that can cause listening fatigue rather quickly makes it a hard sell. The soundstage, good build and accessory set are nice bonuses, but when the core tuning is flawed these garnishes don’t add much more.

I hope Fiio gets back to the drawing board and either ditches the BA driver altogether, or goes for individual tubing inside the IEMs with proper dampers installed to make the most out of the (rather capable) BA driver. They already have a good single-BA IEM in the market (FA1), so it's just a matter of effort on their part to come up with something competitive in the budget range.


Test tracks (as Tidal playlist): https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7Test tracks (as YouTube playlist, often updated):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLetb5RqtcrlXdSG4tSCjCJpvoszUb4OjG
  • Like
Reactions: F700 and DjBobby
F700
F700
I'm just starting out -> keep that mindset, write all your reviews as it was the first.
  • Like
Reactions: kmmbd
Detectit
Detectit
Totally agree with the rating!! Excellent review... Those other reviews are wayyyyy to positive IMO.

One thing i do not agree. I pick the ZSX over the EA3 anytime.

For the price it isn't bad.... And I bet you payed with own money.
  • Like
Reactions: kmmbd
kmmbd
kmmbd
I also prefer ZSX over the EA3 but for some reason ZSX was not very comfortable for me (that protrusion in the back always pressed against my ears) so I couldn't recommend it whole-heartedly, though it's definitely better in terms of overall sound compared to EA3.

I did buy the ZSX myself, but the EA3 was a review unit.
Pros: Great Fit
Nice Dynamic Bass
Fully Midrange
Very Suitable for long season listening
Cons: Soundstage and Resolution not the best for price range.
Jade Audio is sub brand of Fiio, and we can see they're trying to make more cheap but great performer and more affordable things for compete with other strong cheap iem manufactors like KZ or Moondrop etc... And yes they can.
İ will make fully objective review with all my sincerity.

Package:

Simple package with nice cotton zipper and lot of silicon tips. Package looks simple but accessories really enought .Competitors usually not include case, that's a plus.

Fit and Build Quality
Fit is really good, it has soft edges, small and ergonomical. Suitable for long listening. EA3 made greater performer about fit issue against similar price ranged competitors like CCA C12 or Tin Audio T2. Cable is thin but strong, silver colour shines. Also it has a soft hooks advantage for wearing. Shell made of hard plastic feels OK for me but not on the İbasso İT level. But not bad as C12 too. Acceptable. Also marble pattern on shell looks attractive. İn a nutshell, EA3 has great fit and ergonomy with nice cable and acceptable shell. I find isolation about avarage

Sound Quality: There's a balanced sound with some dynamic bass bump.

Bass :With benefit of dynamic driver, bass can goes fairly deep but not except a great deep sub bass. Good for price range. Mid bass is little shy and not too quick. General bass quality is more on smoother way. It can touch your ear but not overwhelming.

Midrange: Thanks to hybrid design. Mids are full and balanced. Instruments are crispy and lively. Seperation and clarity about average. Vocals comes not for or intimate, realistic and succesfull. I can say sound is not harsh or painful more relaxed and full sounding iem.

Treble: Treble is bright and detailed. Control is about average and with some source can be toward to sibilance but i did not encounter problems with treble. Not so much airy or clear but it's pretty OK for general sound signature. Extension is fairly enough you dont feel muddy.

Sounstage:Soundstage is about average but i can say it goes more deep than wide. There's some air with instruments. Sounds not comes muddy but also not feels very airy too.

Summary: Pretty good for price range, there's nice balance about sound with good dynamic power. Very suitable for long session listening with great fit and not congested sound .

Comparision:
CCA C12 :C12 gives more sharp, detailed, dynamic sound with more bass. But also it can be harsh and goes sibilance sometimes. Not controlled as EA3. Also fit, build and cable is better on EA3. Depends for your style there's not clear winner.WhatsApp Image 2020-01-27 at 15.27.30 (1).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-01-27 at 15.27.30 (2).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-01-27 at 15.27.30 (3).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-01-27 at 15.27.30.jpeg

Comments

There are no comments to display.
Top