JH Audio Sharona


100+ Head-Fier
Smooth and Airy
Pros: + Airy and spacious top end
+ Expansive soundstage
+ Technical bass performance
+ Strong "oomph" factor
+ Very comfortable fit and low profile
+ Endless customization options
Cons: - Expensive add-ons
- Mids a little bit recessed and, at times, muddy
- Benefits from more headroom than typical
Audio Chain
iPad [Plexamp] -> Burson Audio Conductor 3XR [DAC/Amp] with 4x Sparkos 3602 op-amps -> Sharona with Hart Audio Cable custom cable.

This is my first experience in the JHAudio world. Most of my previous CIEM experience has been with Shuoer Acoustics [now LetShuoer], having three of their sets to compare to. Even with extreme scrutiny under my magnifiers, my custom Sharona has impeccable build all around. I had chosen to go with JH's 3D-milled resin/wood material instead of the Sharona signature design [which wasn't released when I ordered]. While the blue left side was exactly what I was expecting, the right purple side had a little bit less purple than what I was originally hoping for. However, the wood grain and patterning still looks magical so I'm quite happy with them as it is. Guess that's just the risk you take with these kinds of materials. I also had JH do a custom logo in gold to match my personal logo [provided a high-res PNG] and they executed it perfectly. They were able to provide a mock-up preproduction so I could confirm placement and sizing, so that was much appreciated.

To the actual comfort, JH nailed these on the dot. They aren't extremely bulky, unlike some of the complex tribrids in my collection, so for my ears, they sit fairly flush and are very comfortable to lie down with. They have a somewhat deeper fit that is to be expected for a touring-focused company like JH with the nozzles stopping just short of my second bend. They are extremely secure, and they were able to get the fit just right. I had sent over previously used 3D scans instead of taking brand new physical impressions though, so that may factor into how well-fitting these are. I had the luxury of knowing my impressions would be on-the-dot if produced right. I can say that JH nailed the final milled result; I have an extremely faint contour on an extremely specific part of my left ear which is extremely likely to miss if inaccurately processed. The guys at JH hit that contour to the T.

I opted for the 2-pin 0.78mm cable on my set since all my other IEMs use the 0.78mm connector and I have plenty of high-quality cables in that form. The included 0.78mm to 3.5mm cable is very thin and soft. Sadly, I wanted to use my balanced XLR gear primarily, so I instantly swapped to my Hart system after testing the included cable. While I had originally asked JH to do a custom mini-XLR terminated cable [they did mention they would be able to], my set was shipped with the stock cable. I haven't heard back from my rep yet, but would love to be able to use the thinner cable in mini-XLR without me having to reterm. it myself. Heard back from my rep and I have a mini-XLR terminated cable on the way. Great customer service from JH Audio all around.

Sound Generally
The Sharona are overall an exceptionally smooth and easy-listening pair of IEMs with a surprisingly large sense of space and surround. For an all-BA set [never had one before, all my collection has a DD handling the bass], these were very pleasing and expectation-breaking. The bass slam from JH's quad-woofers rivals that of most of my DD-based sets while maintaining an extremely sharp and crisp attack that embodies a sense of urgency and control. The snares in River (BURNS Remix), Bishop Briggs rumble with a satisfying thump while the main drop remains well-bodied and forceful. The Sharona manages to squeeze out surprising extensions from the woofers allowing even demanding dubstep tracks like Light Up, Koven to maintain their skull rattling club-like quality. Some of my DDs can't even manage this level of oomph so this is shocking for an all-BA set. On more rumbly tracks like Kinmirai, Kentaro, Rafik, Yuto and Iris in the Dark, Just a Gent the subbass elements present almost like a out-of-head subwoofer in the room with the accompanying body and power. The bass remains detailed and technical despite its overall strength in the mix.

The mid-range of the Sharona though feels like it takes a little bit of a back seat, sometimes overshadowed by the incredible subbass and upper bass region [200-350Hz]. My primary set of EJ07Ms employ a flat region starting from 150Hz so the mid-range of tenor and female vocals are more forward. Comparatively, the Sharona puts less of an emphasis on those vocals specifically, often leaving them somewhat far in favor of a more "wall-of-sound" presentation. My usual litmus test for this is This Ain't No Place for Animals, Hands Like Houses ends up sounding muddy and weak on the Sharona. What I usually expect to be quite a vocal-heavy performance [at least on my EJ07M] gets turned into a very ambient wall of rock, a different but still pleasing presentation. However, on tracks which aren't as technical and mixed-down such as Electrified II, Yello, the problem mostly disappears. The Sharona is still lively and pleasing while maintaining strong coherency between the woofers and midrange drivers. While JH's choice of tuning in the midrange is extremely easy to listen to, especially for longer sessions, I personally find some of the excitement to be lost in the vocals. One of the biggest offenders in my listening was Heart Attack, Demi Lovato. I'm used to Demi's high note at 3:05 cutting through the backing synths and instrumentals like a red-hot knife. However, the Sharona dropped the note into the background after its instant attack instead choosing to focus on the boominess of the backing.

The treble of the Sharona is where JH R&D truly shines. JH claims their new RAU supertweeter brings a very airy tonality and I'm inclined to agree. House tracks like Walk Thru Fire, Vicetone get a sense of sparkling in the hi-hats while Jesus, Take the Wheel, Carrie Underwood sound spacious and lively. While some tunings with a treble emphasis like the EJ09 can suffer from sibilance, the Sharona mostly manages to avoid this issue. Never let you go, AleXa tends to be extremely prone to sibilance but fared very well with these. I got a similar result with Burn, Ellie Goulding. I'm sure I could tease out some sibilance through my harsher stack like the RME ADI-2 but I haven't gotten around to testing that.

The Sharona presents itself in a yogurt-y fashion. It's very smooth and delicate without diving into the world of smoothed-over or muddy. It is definitely colored slightly warmer than neutral and personally seems to benefit from more analytical DAC/amp combo at times. I personally wouldn't run these through tubes if I had the choice, which end up making the set sound too rounded in my testing. Like mentioned above, the lower regions have a significant heft to them which the treble sparkles delicately but controlled.

Space and Surround
One thing the Sharona does that really lets it stand out in my collection is its soundstage. For an IEM, it is both wide and deep in roomy tracks like Remember Not to Forget, Audiomachine. Throughout that track, you will hear background riff-raff which, on the Sharona, presents almost like it is a room-width away. I often got lost while listening which was actual background in the track and which was noise from the next room over. The only IEM that I found to remotely rival it Sharona in terms of actual stage area is the original EJ07, but that came with its own tuning challenges. We get a similar sense of openness in Tom's Diner, AnnenMayKantereit, with both lead vocalists occupying their distinctive areas in the room, at least a few inches out of the head. Orchestral performances like Vier sinfonische Zwischenspiele aus Intermezzo, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gubaidulina: Dialog: Ich und Du, Vadim Repin create a holographic almost-360-degree image reproducing both the instrument separation/layering from the performance as well as the room it was actually recorded in. Whatever JH did to the phase response and upper end extension delivers a sense of realism and escapism that I haven't found from other sets even at this price range.

While I haven't had the chance to listen to the Sharona on all my gear for an extended time yet, I've found that the Sharona, despite its specs, benefited from increased headroom and slightly more juice than average. I found that using my RME ADI-2 DAC FS [earlier AKM chip version] IEM output made the Sharona feel underwhelming and the lively bass response ended up feeling a bit more undercontrolled compared to my Burson with copius headroom. I was at or around -10dB reference for my ADI-2 which is about what I would be willing to push the IEM output up to. The Sharona did fare significantly better through the full-sized 6.3mm output, but I've not had to do that for any other IEM in my current roundup. I'm putting the Sharona on a similar volume setting on my Burson as I am for my full-sized cans like the Focal Clear Mg and Celestee, so if it's taking that much power to drive, I think it's worth noting.

See my Last.FM for [mostly] complete listening history
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