INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:
The Jade Audio EA3 is an in-ear monitor (IEM) utilizing a 13.6 mm dynamic driver and a Knowles 33518 balanced armature. It currently retails for $40. Jade Audio provided me with the EA3 in exchange for a fair and objective review.
This review is also available on my blog: https://medium.com/bedrock-reviews/jade-audio-ea3-review-a013da71be3d
I have evaluated the Jade Audio EA3 with my JDS Labs The Element using local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The review package I received is likely not representative of the Jade Audio EA3’s retail packaging, as a sticker on the box slim white box reads “The product will probably be upgraded; pictures are for your reference only.” Inside the box are the IEMs, a detachable .78 mm 2-pin cable, a zippered cloth carry purse, and 12 pairs of silicone eartips in two different colors (S, M, L). The tips with red cores are slightly more conical in shape than the tips with black cores, which are more rounded in shape.
BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The Jade Audio EA3 has a high-quality resin housing with a mesh-covered metal nozzle. The nozzle has a substantial lip to secure the eartips. The faceplate has a dark smoky pattern set under the surface upon which the Jade Audio logo is set in metallic script. “L/R” indicators are printed in white adjacent to the 2-pin ports. The 2-pin connectors use a standard flush-fitting design but the IEM-side ports are raised slightly from the housing body. This creates an unsightly gap between the housing and the 2-pin connectors. There is a single circular vent on the inner face of the earpieces.
The 2-pin cable included with the EA3 has strain-relief above the straight 3.5mm jack housing and below the Y-split. The 3.5 mm jack and Y-split hardware are metal. The cable uses preformed clear plastic earguides and has a chin-adjustment slider. The oversized 2-pin connectors have raised markings to indicate left and right. My biggest issue with the cable is that the section below the Y-split is coiled rather than braided, which reduces its visual appeal to me.
COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The Jade Audio EA3 is intended to be worn cable-up. It has a shallow to moderate insertion depth. I did not find them to be comfortable even for short periods of wear. The nozzle angle is odd and the ergonomics of the inner housing body are poor. It was difficult to get a good seal with the included eartips. Secureness of fit is average. I experienced mild driver flex on one side.
My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. The magnitude of the valley around 7k is a coupler artifact. There is a resonant peak around 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.
The Jade Audio EA3 has a V-shaped tuning that is on the bright side.
The EA3 emphasizes sub-bass over mid-bass. Sub-bass extension is very good but not best in class. Slam is moderate. When listening to bass-oriented music I found myself wishing for slightly more impact and weight to percussion. Bass articulation and speed are surprisingly good but bass texture is lacking.
The midrange has a thin, bright tonality. The limited mid-bass recedes sharply across the transition into the lower midrange, which avoids congestion and muddiness but also warmth to a large extent. Intelligibility is very good for both male and female vocals, though female vocals are slightly forward of male vocals. Instruments in the lower midrange are well-separated from male vocals. There is a bit too much presence and timbre is dry and plasticky. Female vocals sound parched.
The treble, while not quite harsh to my ears, is overemphasized and uneven. Cymbal hits are splashy and diffuse. Detail retrieval is excellent but there is a fatiguing amount of sparkle. Soundstage is quite wide and instrument separation is good. Imaging is lackluster in comparison.
The Jade Audio EA3 is easy to drive.
The Jade Audio EA3 is not competitive with the majority of IEMs at or below its price point I have had the opportunity to review in the last year.