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flinkenick's 17 Flagship IEM Shootout Thread (and general high-end portable audio discussion)

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  1. Kerouac
    Wunderful - to the point, preference in no particular (I guess it's hard to fool the subconsciousness part of the brain :wink:) order - post, Daniel.

    Recently I got 3 new loaners in. And although the Westone ES80 and EarSonics EM10 already sounded pretty good to my ears, it was the JH Layla that impressed me (by far) the most.

    I'm not able to check it from the LPG (because that one went to Nic for his LPGT review), which normally has great synergy with warmer / darker sounding IEM's imo. But listening from the RW AK380Cu it gives some kind of tube like (full bodied, warm and rich) listening experience, that takes me back to my 'good ol' RudiStor tube amp & full-size headphone' days. Oh man, this Layla is so impressive (out of this world bass and headroom indeed) and addictive, that I would say that it has even entered my own personal IEM preference top 3 by now :ksc75smile:

    JH Layla: You (certainly) got me on my knees!!!
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
    ezekiel77, SLC1966, papa_mia and 7 others like this.
  2. pithyginger63
    sounds like a pita. doesn't it have like a dc input for power? Is there any lag if i wanted to say, watch a video? thats too bad about the blackout.
  3. pithyginger63
    I'm guessing this picture is of Nic's iems. Either that or you love Nic's designs?
    Kerouac likes this.
  4. EagleWings
    I am glad Layla is finally getting the credit it deserves. I think the exorbitant price and the stories about the QC issues related to the 4-pin connectors, were good enough reasons for buyers to ignore it. And the ones who were willing to spend $3k, went for the Wizard designs.
    ezekiel77, KuroKitsu, Wyville and 3 others like this.
  5. Kerouac
    Yep, these (and in the past) loaners were Nic's. Luckily I'm almost always able to get a good fit / seal with his customs.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  6. pithyginger63
    Has anyone ever played with and A16 Realiser or the Nx Head Tracker?
  7. Deezel177
    It's actually a great device! There isn't any lag at all from the iUSB. There was lag from the Mojo though, but that's because the Mojo is inherently a laggy device with video - with or without the iUSB.
    pithyginger63 likes this.
  8. Deezel177
    It's a symbiotic relationship. :wink:
    KuroKitsu likes this.
  9. Mimouille
    I am looking at getting a nice universal BA as I have sold most of what I had and have only (!) two pairs of customs left. On my list are the Layla in Uni and the Grace. Knowing that I am paying the Grace significantly less, are these worlds apart in signature? I would consider the 64 U18t but it looks like a rotten booger.
  10. Deezel177
    They’re definitely not worlds apart. Both the Layla and the Grace have an even-handedness to their respective tones. Although the Layla is a touch warmer because of its slightly less present treble, both can still be comfortably categorized as neutral. The Layla has a slight warmth to its midrange because of its fuller mid-bass, while the Grace’s low-end is comparatively airier and lighter. The other key difference lies in the upper-midrange. The Grace has a much peppier upper-midrange, which instills that gorgeous elegance to its vocal presentation. There’s a playfulness to it that’s sultry and appealing. Comparatively, the Layla is more deadpan and serious; more work, less play. But again, this is purely a difference in energy, rather than tone or timbre or any other parameter. Listening to both will portray the same singer with the same set-up on the same day, simply singing a bit louder on the Grace than on the Layla. Other than that, I can’t really recall any significant differences. If you like one, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t like the other.
    ezekiel77, SLC1966 and Mimouille like this.
  11. Mimouille
    The way you present it, I don't see an advantage to the Layla.
  12. Deezel177
    If bass is a focus, the Layla clearly takes the cake. There’s a power and authority to it that has the potential to rival DDs. The Layla’s midrange tuning is more desirable for an engineer. And, this translates to the stage as well. The upper-mid neutrality gives its stage a more consistent, spherical shape. The Grace compromises this a tad for musicality’s sake. The Layla’s technically stronger, while the Grace is musically more charming.
    KuroKitsu, Wyville, Kerouac and 2 others like this.
  13. Kerouac
    Hmmm, while I also liked the Grace, I would personally categorize it as 'very good' sounding at best. Where I would categorize the Layla* as 'exceptional / superb' (a step higher up the ladder) sounding.
    The Grace was probably a bit too delicate sounding for me afterall, and if I would have to choose between the Grace and the EM10 (that I currently have over here) I would probably even pick the latter.

    But hey, that's just my (humble) opinion / taste :ksc75smile:

    * Btw, I've only listened to the Layla with the bass positioned at (the traditional) 2 'o clock.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  14. deafdoorknob
    earsonics’ house tuning reminds me of focal speakers, again, it’s that lit upper mids shimmery sound framed by the bass and and too pretty to be real treble. layla and to varying degrees, most other jha pro stuff has a density and muscularity that to me is moar *musically* involving than most other iems i have demmed.

    i like husky, smoky singers in general, jha x cat power, joni, tom waits... *bliss*

    coming from a 2ch world*, i tend to find what many deemed as reference or even natural/musical iem tuning to be anorexic, and this goes beyond bass tuning or “warmth”, it’s density/note weight. VE8, Layla, Roxanne, Phantom, to a less extent, Angie, classic fitears, pre tia 64 audio *gets* it.

    *ATC, Harbeth’s monitor line, Avalon, Tannoy DCs, Vandersteen, Dynaudio, Vivid.

    For all their foilbles at frequecy extremes, hd25 hd650, prefazor LCD2 to me, also communicate the soul or musical intent more directly than their more technically proficient successors, imho.

    unpopular opinion, I feel that the standards/trends of evaluating musical reproduction have biased a little too far to the “spectacle” or spatial/quasi-visual attributes of a performance (imaging, soundstage etc) in a way, these attributes easier to compare and quantify and write about, but for me, tonality, note density, dynamics acuity, timbre et al, allow ppl to appreciate/evaluate the musical intent of a given performance. (just like a wedding band playing in abbey road studios doesnt make them the beatles lol)

    i digress...
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  15. EagleWings
    Just dug up my Layla notes from 2016 Canjam RMAF. Don’t use this post to make any purchase decisions. It’s just for entertainment.

    Layla’s tuning is a very nicely done neutral. It’s BA bass, but you have the option to adjust it. For people who felt the Zeus-XIV’s midrange was forward or U18’s midrange is a touch dry, Layla will hit the sweet spot. I mean, Layla’s midrange tuning is just right, in terms of tone and body. I didn’t notice the lower treble peak when I tried it at the show, but I am confident it has one, as no IEM can simply NOT have a treble peak (constraints of physics). It’s just a matter of, whether the peak is harsh for an individual or not. The overall treble tuning is a carefully executed, gradual downward slope, which is what ensures the body in the mids. But for the same reason, it won’t have the Hi-Res sound of the U18, nor Zeus’s imaging precision. Soundstage is also its specialty with a wide, deep and tall soundstage. It creates stage with its resolution, so it’s a very stable stage. Zeus and Layla were the first IEMs on which I heard height in the soundstage. Very good instrument separation and detail retrieval.

    Going by memory alone, of the TOTL multi-BA IEMs from the US manufacturers, I hold Layla, Zeus and U18 on the same level. After trying the U18 as part of the tour, I am confident that, in overall technical performance, U18 surpasses the Layla. But taking tone and note weight into acccount, Layla might be the more correct sounding monitor. Zeus-XIV does certain things way too well (depth, layering, imaging, midrange transparency), but also scores averagely in a few aspects. This makes it a specialty IEM, making it not as versatile as the Layla.

    But it’s not all shiny about the Layla. Every time I have considered getting a used universal unit that pops up on the FS/FT section, I was constantly reminded of having to readjust the IEM every few minutes to get a good seal. I didn’t want to get the custom version, as the price was too high. And the other deal breaker was the 4-pin connectors. I hate those connectors.

    I haven’t heard the VE8, but based on the reviews and impressions I have read about it, it seems like it has a sound that is similar to the Layla. Edit: Deezel has clarified in his below post that the 2 IEMs are very different sounding.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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