Jh Audio Jolene Impressions and Discussion
Mar 5, 2021 at 6:06 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1,253


1000+ Head-Fier
Mar 8, 2017
Jh audio is releasing a new iem, the Jolene. I thought it would be nice to have it's own thread.
Here some information about Jolene




It can be purchased here:

I will try to update this post with more information and reviews. Thank you all for contributing to this thread.

Things to know:

  • Jolene was designed to run wide open with zero attenuation. Once you start getting below 1-2 o'clock, you are going to compromise Jolene's sub-bass. It's important to note that our cables feature a bass attenuator, so by definition, its function is turning low frequencies down, not up. We recommend starting with the bass turned all the way up and dialing back to fit your preference.
  • JH Audio can do *almost* anything you want regarding the design. I'm not aware of any other companies offering our level of customization. If you see any of the 'Premium Shells' and want similar designs in different colors, let us know. If you like the Purple Haze style but want Orange instead, we can do that. If you want engraved 14k Gold Faceplates, we can do that. (You just have to buy the gold first, haha) We just started experimenting with Opal and they look insane! We're always up for the challenge.




Reviewer at The Headphone List​

So, a couple hours or so into my time with the lady (and a few hours later than promised :cold_sweat:), here are my first impressions of JH Audio's Jolene:


The Jolene is easily Jerry Harvey’s cleanest-sounding, most technically-capable monitor to date. It sheds some of his trademark isms - rotund lower-mids, resonant, mid-treble peaks, relaxed upper-trebles, etc. - to deliver a sound that more closely aligns with the general consensus of neutral, but without losing all of his personality outright either. Compared to his previous designs, I’d actually liken it most to the Lola. It’s got the same shine or glow to its midrange, as well as a similar lower-treble. But, the Jolene has cleaner, tighter lower-mids, a more refined, completely-sibilance-free mid-treble, a more extended upper-treble and a much, much, much larger stage.

In fact, spatially, the Jolene just might have the largest stage I’ve heard out of an IEM. Obviously, I’ve yet to hear the bird, so the jury’s still out. But, compared to all of the flagships I’ve reviewed recently, the Jolene edges them all in terms of sheer size. This comes part-and-parcel with that relaxed lower-midrange and that airy, open high-treble, but I personally think most of it comes down to just raw, technical performance. It truly is impressive here. Maybe, the fact that half the IEM sits outside your ears has something to do with it too. :D Now, does that come with tonal cons? Depending on taste, you can certainly say so. If you’re used to an in-ear like JH’s very own Layla or 64 Audio’s A18s, the Jolene may sound quite a bit tighter; not as gooey, buttery or warm by comparison.

This is also because, until you turn up the bass dial up to about 2 o’clock, its low-end (the mid-bass, more than anything) is pretty neutral as well. Now, it’s not as noticeable as the ODIN or ELYSIUM’s neutral mid-basses, for example, because it doesn’t have as forward of an upper-midrange, so there’s less of a contrast. But, you do notice it in how tight and warmth-free certain instruments can be until, again, you turn that bass dial up to at least 2 o’clock.

On the flip side, though, the Jolene always manages to prevent its notes from coming off dry or overtly crisp too, and I suspect it’s because of those diaphragms. They emit just enough of a decay or shadow, for lack of a better word, to always come off substantial, dense and powerful. Joe Satriani’s roaring guitar solo on Cory Wong’s Massive sounds, well, massive. :D And, the same goes for Tosin Abasi’s rhythm work on Animals as Leaders’ Tooth and Claw. Yet, neither ever saturate the image, nor steal the spotlight from their comrades either, because of the Jolene’s, again, supreme imaging and resolution. Its stage is pretty much in a perpetual state of clean and organised, even when the lows are raised to neutral or neutral-natural levels. Midrange texturing and detail are definite strong points for me; unforced and relaxed in delivery, yet extremely prevalent and tactile.

Now, the beauty of it being a JH IEM is that, if you do want more mid- or upper-bass, you can fill it in with the bass dial. Furthermore, on this model, you can do so without turning it into a basshead IEM too. I concur with @marcusd's thoughts that the bass dial on this one has a bit more nuance than simply lifting the lows up or down. I feel, in addition to the amount of bass coming out, the pod determines the tightness or looseness of the bass as well. You get a bit more spread and smoke the more you turn it up, rather than simply more darkness or muck; less like turning up the gain on the kick drum mic, and more like asking the drummer to kick a bit harder. Perhaps it has something to do with dynamic drivers reacting differently to BAs when you dampen them electronically, but I personally think it’s a beautiful effect, and it makes the bass pod far more versatile than it ever has been.

The aforementioned 2 o’clock would be where the Jolene hits neutral for me, and I personally turn it up a bit more to get to what I consider neutral-natural. I think it’s at its best and most versatile at this setting. At 12 o’clock, I’d call it nearing bright. And, it’s merely sub-bass-forward to me at full-whack. So, you should be aware that you can’t really turn the Jolene into a Skullcandy headphone or something, where the bass fully runs the show. But, at 100%, it is a very tasteful interpretation of the basshead sound, which I can’t wait to compare to something like the Legend X when I get the chance.

JH have also kept the peak of the bass pretty early into the sub-bass, before declining at about 60Hz. So, when I listen to any track off of Anomalie’s Metropolé, for example, I hear an elevation in the physical slam of the kick drum, but the sound of the bass line itself is sat pretty neutral. Again, though, I can easily change that with the bass pod. I should also mention that the in-ear’s 4 dynamic drivers have only had about 2-3 hours of runtime at this point, so I’ll update my thoughts once they do get some more play.

The treble is also where JH have diverged quite a bit from their house sound. As mentioned, it doesn’t have the dark-except-for-some-glare-at-8kHz stereotype that people have stuck onto their past IEMs. The peak has been refined to near-perfection with no glare or sibilance on any track I tested it with. All it does now is contribute the slight tizz it was always meant to. And, JH have armed the Jolene with a lot more upper-treble air as well. Compared to the Lola and (more so) the Layla, the Jolene’s stage is more open with cleaner air around instruments. And, they’re subtly sharper-outlined too. It doesn’t ever get bright, or thin, or crisp once you get past 12 o’clock on the dial. The background simply has more definition now, and it does wonders for imaging. Again, the Jolene’s technique easily sits amongst today’s flagships. I’d need to do more listening to be more specific, but I can confidently say now that it’s in that league effortlessly.


Now, onto some very, very brief comparisons:

JH Audio Layla: The Jolene’s got less presence - i.e. is leaner - between about 100 and 800Hz, I think. Instruments are cleaner because of it, and it’ll definitely please those who may’ve found the Layla a bit too rich or muddy there. It’s got a more vibrant upper-midrange too; more Lola-esque. It’s got the differences in the treble I described above, and I feel it edges out the Layla in dynamics, resolution and imaging.

JH Audio Lola: These two are, again, fairly similar in the midrange and the low-treble. And, the Lola has a warmer, fuller bass and a slightly darker, more old-school-JH treble. I’d say the Lola is almost like the Layla mid-transformation into the Jolene. But, again, the Jolene easily bests it in stage expansion, air and imaging precision.

64 Audio tia Fourté Noir: I’m actually hearing rather similar tonalities between it and the Noir. The main difference is that the Noir has a brighter, crunchier upper-midrange. Horn stabs are more vibrant, and they bite more too. Snares also have a bit more pop to them. Whereas, they’re more relaxed on the Jolene. But, with vocals, the Jolene has the better low-to-high-midrange balance, while they’re more exaggerated and coloured on the Noir. They articulate similarly up high, but the Jolene does so with a bit more smoothness and speed. It also has a bit more sub-bass and bit less mid-bass than the Noir. And, spatially, the Jolene wins out in both width and depth, but width especially.

64 Audio A18s: To put it very crudely, the Jolene has quite a bit less bass presence than the A18s, and it has quite a bit more tizz to its top-end. They’re pretty similar across the upper-mids. But, overall, the A18s is mellower, softer and fuller, while the Jolene is almost the tighter, cleaner, more neutral-leaning version of it. You may then say that it’s basically the…

64 Audio A18t: Well, not exactly. The A18t still has a bit more mid-bass, while the Jolene has more sub-bass. So, the latter’s image is a tad cleaner and tighter, but kick drums hit harder on it too. The A18t also has a bit more midrange presence in general, while the Jolene’s are on the more neutral side in order to reinforce depth. And, the latter's treble extends further to my ears as well, which is probably why I, again, find the Jolene's stage more out-of-head than either A18’s.

FiR Audio M5: The main tonal difference between the M5 and the Jolene is that the former has more presence across its upper-mids and treble, making instruments sound more aggressive, energetic and vibrant by comparison. The Jolene comes across the more relaxed, far-field-like monitor to me, and its instruments are more textured and solidly-founded as well. Down low, I find the Jolene's bass a bit gritty-er and more visceral, while you'll get a bit more warmth permeating from the M5's.

Empire Ears ODIN: The ODIN is the Jolene’s strongest spatial contender. But, the latter still has the edge to my ears, because of the former’s forwardly upper-mids, which put vocals and leads further up front. Instruments sound more saturated and intimate on the ODIN for me, while the Jolene’s come off quicker, more relaxed and less coloured. This applies to the lows as well. The Jolene’s dual DDs can kick as hard as the W9+ woofers can, but it’s a bit quicker and cleaner in terms of decay. I attribute this more towards the Jolene's airier, more open upper-treble, though. I’d say the W9+ diaphragms still have a bit more character and 3D-ness to their rumble, but the Jolene’s woofers cut cleaner and deliver more detail with their oomph.

Vision Ears ELYSIUM: The best way to compare these two would be to say that the Jolene is the ELYSIUM after 6 months of gains. They’re actually very similar up top (or, at least, that’s what my - at this point - pretty-tired ears are telling me), but the lower you get, the beefier and denser the Jolene is compared to the ELYSIUM. The low-mids have more substance and solidity to them (not as wispy), and the Jolene’s lows make the ELYSIUM’s sound… less convincing to put it nicely. Spatially, I feel the ELYSIUM could go toe-to-toe (or perhaps exceed it) on a powerful amp, but the Jolene has the edge on my LPGT, and it could possibly scale just as well.

Finally, I’d like to touch on the fit before we close. The Jolene is a very, very, very large CIEM. It’ll protrude out of your ears no matter what. They’re not heavy or uncomfortable or anything, but they're gonna be a fair bit more substantial than your typical custom. So, keep that in mind if ease-of-wear is paramount to you. They also have very short canals, which I believe contributes to the superb spaciousness I described above. I think some members here would be very, very happy to hear that… *cough* @Wyville *cough* :wink:

But, yeah, I apologise that it’s come a bit later than promised, but here are my first impressions of JH’s brand-new Jolene. Please keep in mind that these are very fresh impressions, which may change by the time the review goes live. Just because I say something now, it doesn’t mean it’ll be 100% true later on. And, just because I don’t mention something here, it doesn’t mean it won't be on the full review. I’ll definitely go much further in depth there. But, at the moment, I personally think the Jolene is easily a flagship-tier performer with a more neutral, more crowd-pleasing variation of Jerry Harvey's house sound. It pretty much applies every bit of criticism lobbed towards the Layla and Lola in what I feel is the best way possible, and I think this one’s gonna be a real hit for them; in the enthusiast sector, especially.

Things I’d personally take note of would be its tight, neutral mid-bass until you turn its dials up about 60-70% of the way. And, its midrange isn’t the wettest, most intimate-sounding in the world either, despite how outstandingly textured, detailed and, yet, substantive - dense - it is. But, in terms of stage expansion, imaging precision, resolution, end-to-end extension and doing them all with well-structured, nuanced and dynamic instruments to boot, it - at the moment - has got quite the head start. Now, all I have to do is spend more time with it to see where it finishes in the race. :wink:


Thanks @nedplimpton I thought that might have been the case, but just wanted to be absolutely clear before posting anything. Also that opal is stunning, almost kind of makes me wish I had asked about other options, though I know price wise I will still be happy with the hyper black.

Anyways, now thats cleared up, here are some early impressions of mine based on the demo unit I have right now...

I think my impressions overall line up fairly well with @Deezel177 in that what I hear from these is a sound that is very clean, and definitely rather neutral/natural sounding. I know there was a whole discussion about neutral vs natural and Ill get to my take on that later in the post.

I have found myself in the past occasionally a little sensitive to treble, for instance when I owned the trio, I never found it bad, but treble there could occasionally run hot. I dont find that the case here, though treble is certainly well represented in the mix. Some of the terms thrown out that might apply, well extended, detailed, airy. Its got a real nice quality that for me also never gets sibilant or harsh.

Instruments and vocals are well represented in the mix, due to the more neutral-ish nature of these. Im not the greatest at describing these, but they sound found natural. I always think I worried that more neutral monitors would come off as sounding thin or lacking in weight. While notes certainly arent as hefty or full as warmer monitors (like the 64 nio I own), I absolutely dont find them thin or lacking. I would imagine the mid DD's are doing their work well here.

And as someone who always tends towards warmer or bassier IEMs, some of the initial impressions made me think these wouldnt necessarily be for me. And I do agree, these are not what I would call warm. But they also arent lacking in bass either. Just that I would say the focus here is more on subbass rather than mid bass. They have a real nice rumble when called for. It doesn't seem to add or bring out bass in tracks that arent necessarily bassy, but its got a real nice powerful low end when the song calls for it.

Also I should say I have been doing most of my listening with the bass pod at 100% (about 4 oclock as has been discussed). This setting definitely has bass thats north of neutral, again though the focus is definitely subbass. Occasionally this can add a little extra thump than may be warranted, so having the option to tune the bass down is nice. Going down to 2 or 3 oclock on the dials seems to be a nice setting that will please people who are looking for an even more neutral/flat sound, without neutering the bass. That said, I am pretty sure I will likely be staying at 100% when I get my customs, unless the custom fit really changes things.

Speaking again of bass I know there was some discussion about EDM. I tend to listen to some triphop and downtempo stuff, and some other EDM genres. These may not be the absolute best for those as I think warmer IEMs tend to fare well. But that also really depends as some stuff still sounds really full, and that sub bass can really rumble and fill some tracks in nicely without muddying anything up.

As for natural vs neutral. I think the warmth again was what had been discussed as a sort of differentiating factor. And I dont find these particularly warm, which I think would be a function of elevated mid bass and lower mids. And thats not the case here. But I do also feel like these are very natural in the sense that I don't feel like Im getting sound that is overly colored in any particular area.

I think I wrote more than I intended here. But to sum up, I wasn't 100% sure that based on impressions I had read that these were going to check my boxes based on what I thought my preferences were. But the DD's give me enough of that low end I want. Instruments and vocals are very natural, and treble is crisp and detailed and airy in a way I am not sure I have heard before, and it all kind of made me want to just come back to keep listening. And I knew pretty quickly after I started listening that I was going to be buying a pair.
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Mar 5, 2021 at 6:08 PM Post #2 of 1,253
Thank you for creating the thread. Will be watching closely.
Mar 5, 2021 at 6:36 PM Post #4 of 1,253
I’ll be watching this too!

JH Layla was my first taste of what a TOTL IEM was when it came out. Been a fan of his work since.
Mar 5, 2021 at 6:46 PM Post #5 of 1,253
Tiger is very interested! This had to come out just a few days after that I claimed my end game gear haha 😅
Mar 5, 2021 at 6:56 PM Post #6 of 1,253
I have the Lola's and JH16's "normally" I would have already placed my order. But things are different for me now. I retired, and then COVID, I don't have much need for my portable rig these days. I'm listening virtually 100% to full size headphones via a great desktop setup and can't see a use case for me personally. I have to admit though that I gave it a long hard thought.....:L3000:
Mar 5, 2021 at 7:31 PM Post #7 of 1,253
I highly praise the Jh audio Roxanne Performance Series, and I also have the Layla titanium version, and owned the Lola and Angie, both the first and the metal jacket, so you can say that I am a bit of a fan. The reviews so far indicates a combination of Layla -Lola. I am not a custom guy myself, I prefer universal and so far the Jolene is just custom
Mar 5, 2021 at 7:38 PM Post #8 of 1,253
I highly praise the Jh audio Roxanne Performance Series, and I also have the Layla titanium version, and owned the Lola and Angie, both the first and the metal jacket, so you can say that I am a bit of a fan. The reviews so far indicates a combination of Layla -Lola. I am not a custom guy myself, I prefer universal and so far the Jolene is just custom

Yeah, I really hope they will release universal version soon. I’m not a custom guy myself.
Mar 5, 2021 at 7:53 PM Post #9 of 1,253
Might have to seriously consider a JHA set for the first time in years. Really intrigued by this config, and likewise: want universal as I have zero interest in custom. Assuming a Fall availability for universal version, that would meet my timeline for when I'm looking to buy again.
Mar 5, 2021 at 7:56 PM Post #10 of 1,253
Mar 5, 2021 at 7:59 PM Post #11 of 1,253
And some more from Jerry Harvey himself
Mar 5, 2021 at 8:14 PM Post #12 of 1,253
Mar 5, 2021 at 8:28 PM Post #13 of 1,253
All the Jh audio offerings have a warm touch and treble that don't have peaks, the one that I like the most is the Roxanne, but I liked the Lola too, I just thought when I had both Roxanne and Lola side by side that Roxanne had bigger soundstage and better separation of detail, but I only tried them with one dap
Mar 6, 2021 at 12:27 AM Post #14 of 1,253
which one to get, this or the Contour XO
Mar 6, 2021 at 12:57 AM Post #15 of 1,253
All the Jh audio offerings have a warm touch and treble that don't have peaks, the one that I like the most is the Roxanne, but I liked the Lola too, I just thought when I had both Roxanne and Lola side by side that Roxanne had bigger soundstage and better separation of detail, but I only tried them with one dap

From the review at headphonia about lola I came to a conclusion that Joelene will be similar just with more precision and accuracy plus finer abilities to show more textures and nuances.

Cause they share same drivers concept. Jolena has more sensitivity and 10 ohm vs 16. Those are straight signs of higher resolution iem tuning.

I really liked the headphonia comparison between a18t and lola it gave me an overview how good is their musical strength vs technical. So all this make me think Jolene is going to be technical and musical!

And Jude said Lola is the best iem 😛 so time to reconsider Lola or Jolene 😎😁

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