Jerry Harvey Audio Layla Custom IEM

General Information



  • Custom-made Proprietary Balanced Armature Drivers
  • 12 Driver configuration, powered by SoundrIVe™ technology: Quad low, quad mid, quad high
  • All New Premium 4-Pin Litz Wire Cable with Machined Aluminum Locking Collar. High Purity OFC 4N Silver-Plated Cable will not oxidize
  • Patent Pending Variable bass output, adjustable from cable; user controlled low frequency drivers with the adjustable bass (0 to +10db). Reimagined Variable Bass Attenuator design is 43% smaller than 1st Generation 4-Pin Cable.
  • Triple Bore with Freqphase™ Stainless Steel Tube Waveguide
  • Input Connector: 1/8” (3.5mm), Gold-Plated
  • Integrated 4th Order crossover

  • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 23kHz
  • Input Sensitivity: 117dB @ 1Mw
  • Impedance: 20 Ohms
  • Noise Isolation -26Db

Latest reviews


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: - Comfortable, well-done custom build
- Excellent, excellent luscious sound quality with 12 drivers and good timing
- Adjustable bass
- Beautiful packaging, case, cables, etc.
Cons: - They're pretty large, but they do go near-flush into the ears.
- They really do need a good source (including the amp)
- Sibilance is possible with poor quality recordings
- The screw plugs can come loose on their own (so check them regularly, just in case)
- I am now missing a kidney (but fortunately I was born with two)
JH Audio has an entire line of custom IEMs, and a cult following. I've had a friend pushing me to get a pair of custom Layla IEMs since they came out; he was one of the early customers, and he still raves about them (even years after they were stolen from him). I had not intended to purchase them, but the Black Friday special was too tempting to skip, so after a quick visit to the ear proctologist for a set of molds, I sat back to wait. Normally, these take less than two weeks, order to delivery, but I was in no rush -- and I didn't want them to be in a rush, either. The holiday season was busy enough that they ran out of balanced cables, but those followed the IEM delivery by just a week or so.

You can configure these in a myriad of different ways and colors and materials and images and so on. I picked one of the "Signature Designs", to save myself the trouble of second-guessing all of my design choices.


This one is called "The President":


(Thankfully, this "The President" is neither bright orange, nor tone-deaf.) There was still some minor amount of customization possible, but the real customization that I was after was in the shape of the inserts:


It came in a different package than the A&K Laylas, but I find packaging to be boring; I'm interested in what is inside. One positive: The same (and quite popular) carbon fiber case is included, and it's customized with your name, or whatever you choose. It's actually a metal case that is itself encased with a carbon fiber finish, which is beautiful, but mostly overkill, due to its size and hardness -- and the inside is only padded top and bottom, so you'll still want to place the Laylas into their protective felt pouch (included). I ended up using a few smaller hard-shell padded cases instead, depending on what I was carrying.


I had a week to enjoy these with the included single-ended 3.5mm cable. The "memory wire" feature is nice, but not as aggressively powerful/rigid as I like; no complaints, though. The cable is attractively silver and braided, and has a 2-dial bass adjuster. To get started, you just have to connect the 4-pin screw-on plugs from the cable onto the IEMs (although this was probably already done when I received them). The screw-on feature is nice, in that it provides some additional surety to the IEMs "staying on" the cable, but it's not a guarantee -- sometimes the screw caps can loosen, so it's worth checking them regularly.


My first impressions listening, on an old Pioneer XDP-30r: Yeah, these suck. Unbearably muddy. Quite disappointing, until I realized that they had shipped the bass pots wide open (i.e. at the 5 o'clock position). I dialed them all the way down to 7 o'clock, and *poof!* the headphones were singing.


I have a nice, quiet, separate listening space (wired for 13.4.6 speakers) with a Woo Audio WA5-LE headphone amp as well, so I had some time to test some tracks (still on the single-ended output). While listening to Lenny Breau, "The Hallmark Sessions", I heard footsteps behind me, and whipped around to see who was there. No one -- I was alone in the building. This happened a few more times. Finally, I backed up the track a bit, and sure enough, the footsteps were on the track.

Now, to be clear, I have listened to this recording at least a hundred times. On nice Grados, MrSpeakers (or MrsPeakers?), etc. Same DAC. Same amp. No one ever snuck up behind me before like that, though. I never heard those footsteps before. I was pretty impressed, but not having bought every piece of audio gear from every tradeshow, I'm still fairly easy to impress.

This is a good time to add that, despite being small enough to be IEMs, and having only a 20 ohm impedance, these IEMs really seem to enjoy having a massive truckload of amp behind them. They sound fine with a portable DAC, but they really come to life with a big amp -- even at low volume.


That said, the iPhone 8 drives it beautifully on the single-ended cable using the Alpha & Delta Lightning Adapter (from:

So, finally, let's talk about the important stuff, like sound. These things have a bajillion (12) drivers each, arranged as 4 low, 4 medium, 4 high, coming out of three tubes. The drivers are "custom for JH Audio", which means that they are some OEM part with a slight tweak so that you don't realize that they're the same part that you can get from an electronics distributor for $1.49 each (which is a completely made up number, but far, far more expensive than most IEM drivers). The custom shells fit fairly well in the ears, providing the necessary pressure seal. It helps that the Laylas are so large to begin with, that they don't have to stretch much to fill the necessary space to provide that proper seal.

And the sound is: Full. Detailed. Luscious.

I'm used to custom IEMs, but these are certainly a cut above. (And a cut above, they should be, because I had to sell a kidney to get them.)

Luscious is probably the best word for them. If you've spent time recording vocals, you'll know the sound that you get when you have the singer re-record the same part over and over, and then layer and mix those tracks together. I'm fairly certain that my ears are telling me the same thing here: That the redundancy of drivers, with perhaps the slightest offsets in timing, is providing a much more luscious sound.

Yes, it's a trick. But it's a well-done trick. The timing has be very good, because any sloppiness, and you end up with mush sound.

And the bass? That's the reason for the four pins on the IEMs: Two of the pins are apparently dedicated to the bass, and the variable resistors in the cable allow you to dramatically reduce the current to the array of bass outputs. Note that despite marketing concepts, there is not (and can not be) any "bass boost"; electrical signals don't work that way. Instead, these IEMs are built / tuned to have massive (way, way too much!) bass, and then they thoughtfully include a cable that allows you to dial the bass back down to more tolerable levels.

And much of those other intangible terms (depth, width, breadth, height, and so on) are similarly tricks. Yes, well-done tricks, but tricks nonetheless. All of them are timing related, because humans only have two audio inputs (ears), and the brain uses extremely subtle timing differences to imagine and to picture the location of the sources of sounds (because our ancestors who couldn't do so quickly enough all got eaten by wild animals before they could reproduce and pass on their non-audiophile genes). So our brains render one-dimensional audio data into a three-dimensional image, and that is what we believe that we hear.

And the Laylas do it beautifully. More beautifully than any other IEM that I have ever listened to.

And as beautifully as a good pair of full sized, closed-back headphones.

I'm not willing to say that they're as good as a high-end, over-the-ear, open-backed headphone, but it's hard for me to imagine being able to put better audio rendering into my pocket, and listening to it without other people around me hearing it. (I'm used to customs already, so the incredible benefits of custom-fitted IEMs is wonderful, but it's not earth-shattering for me. If you have never tried customs, then you can start by making your own for about $10 to see if you like them, but read up on the process before you try it.)

I haven't used these yet for performing music, but I'm sure that they'd do well for that. However, I'd seriously consider getting the JHA Ambient FR custom IEMs instead, unless I were using these in a studio.

These are going to be my go-to travel IEMs (coming up soon), and probably my go-to-everything-but-my-desk headphones for a while. And probably often-at-my-desk as well.

A number of posts on the various Layla threads here (going back five years) were talking about quality issues. So far, I have none to complain about. I treat my gear well, but so do a number of the people who have had issues with the older Laylas, particularly early on in the production cycle. I am hoping that all of those issues are long behind JH Audio, and the quality is going to be much more dependable moving forward. I'll update this review accordingly.

These aren't "flat as a ruler" monitors, either. You may be able to use them for technical work, but you'll likely need to spend some time EQing them first. These are made for listening to, not for performing mixing surgery.

In conclusion, are they worth it? No, absolutely not. But to be fair, none of the high-end audio gear is "worth it". This is a hobby in which the incremental return on investment is so near zero as to be laughable. But we're talking about subjective enjoyment, and I am enjoying these Laylas. My advice before considering a pair of anything so expensive is to try them out (e.g. demo the universal version) in person, with your DAP/DAC/amp of choice, and see how they work for you.