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JH Audio Layla Impressions Thread

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  1. LouisArmstrong
    Hello all. I am new to Head-fi and I wanted to celebrate something by registering on Head-fi, which I read from time to time but never posted on. Today I got myself a pair of JH Audio Layla. It came sooner than expected as the main lot was expected to arrive at the end of the month but it happens that the distributor has two extra pairs that came with their demo lot, so I am a lucky guy as I pre-ordered last Friday after brief auditioning.
    A bit of my IEM history. I started years ago with ER4P and then some of the then flagships, including SE530, TF10 Pro and Westone 3. Although the other flagships had improvements over the ER4P, I still missed the neutrality of the ER4P and its sensitivity to different equipment, including headphone amps and cables.
    Fast forward a few years. I got some top of the line IEMs including the recent Noble Audio K-10 and the Shure SE846. I am very satisfied with them, with SE846 having an impeccable, deep and clean bass while K-10 reminds me the neutrality of the ER4P with a slight warmish hint. I also auditioned the Roxanne but it did not impress me much. Last Friday I heard the Layla demo unit and immediately fell in love with it. It bears a lot of similarity with the K-10 but the vocal imaging is even better and the sound stage and airiness is even better than the K-10. I thought my K-10 was the holy grail, until I heard the Layla. One caveat here: I have never owned any JH Audio products. I just had an audition of the Roxanne, probably not for a meaningful enough period of time. I know Jerry Harvey has made many wonderful products since he built JH Audio, including the JH13 Pro and JH16 Pro - regrettably I have not heard any of them so I won't be able to compare the Layla with them.
    Soundstage / Imaging
    First I tested it with my iPhone 6+. I immediately hear the difference with K-10. Although both are quite neutral, the Layla seems to have a slight more emphasis on low female vocal which brings the magic. I would say the Layla has a more "open" sound although it is a strange word to use for IEMs. As noted above, the imaging is very good on the Layla as compared with the K10, and the overall sound is more coherent and tight, thanks most probably to Freqphase.
    I then changed to the 2.5mm balanced cable (the change was very easy as compared to switching cables on, say, the SE846). I turned on balanced mode on my AK240 and immediately I have no doubt that the Layla is made to match with the AK240 (sorry but I don't have a chance to test it on AK100 or AK120, which I don't have). Everything just sounds even better, I guess understandable as I was using the iPhone just now. It is the first time that I think my AK240 is totally worth it. Yes the AK240 sounds good with the K-10 too, especially with DSD or high res music, but the difference with iPhone out on the K10 is not worth >$2,000 IMO. Now with the Layla I can totally say that the AK240 was money well spent.
    Soundstage is the most impressive aspect of the Layla in my opinion therefore I put it here first - even before the frequencies "analysis".
    Treble / Mid / Bass
    Getting so used to the K10, it is hard for me to say something new about the different frequency ranges. I will leave the frequency charts to the experts for a more objective view. From what I hear, the Layla simply matches and in the mids, surpassed the K10. It is almost everything like the K10 but take everything up one notch. Not a big step but a noticeable step up. One thing I am not too sure is the bass as I am now using it at the mid point of the bass switch and I intend to turn it all the way up later.
    I want to talk about treble / mid / bass together because I want to emphasize that the transition is very coherent throughout. The sound is detailed at the treble but not overwhelming or fatiguing, and the mid is just heavenly. I don't have the tool with me now but I did turn the dials to half way and the bass is slightly weaker than the K10 at this point. SE846 is still my favorite bass IEM - I will test it tomorrow to see if the Layla's bass turned all the way up can match the deep and impactful bass that the SE846 has (with the neutral filters).
    Overall Impression
    I am deeply impressed by the Layla. At close to twice the price of my custom K-10, I am not sure if it is twice as good, but considering that my Layla is a universal version and my K-10 is custom-made, I would say that Layla does surpass the current heap of flagships that I have heard, including the K-10 and SE846. In the past 24 months I thought the IEM race should have come to an end, as more drivers would be impossible and anything that claims to improve upon the current batch would simply be a matter of tuning and taste. But I was wrong. The JH Audio Layla does stand out among the current flagships that I have heard. Although at twice the price of most of the top-of-the-line IEMs the law of diminishing return applies quite heavily, there is no doubt that the Layla stands as the best pair of IEMs I have heard since my journey for the holy grail began more than ten years ago.
    Packing and Unboxing Pics
    See below for packing pictures and unboxing pictures (there is a pic of my K10 as well)
    Unboxing photos:
    jelt2359, altrunox and CalvinXC like this.
  2. germanturkey
    more coal for the hype train!  chooo chooo!
    but really, really great impressions and review.  it seems like it actually accomplishes the "out of head" sound IEMs have a hard time reproducing. i'll probably never hear them, but its good to know something like this (the next step up) exists.  
  3. fnkcow
    Wow first post on Head-Fi and it's the TOTL Layla! Becoming a Head-Fier will really throw you into the audiophile addiction abyss compared to being a lurker of many years like I once was, but seems to be you already were into it deep and now that you have the Layla, should be immune to the Head-Fi addiction (for now, until the next best thing come up anyway [​IMG])
    Nice impressions there mate! Hope to see more reviews coming soon for this interesting IEM!
  4. pekingduck
    Welcome back [​IMG]
  5. sonickarma
    Any pictures of the fit in your ears as i for one am concerned that they may protude too much and could look a little too strange.
  6. goodvibes
    Great review. I like less bass than you do and there's part of the charm. You can have your cake and eat it too or adjust it up for a long plane flight or live music mix to compensate for the noisy, bass masking environment. I hear an important difference between my AK100 mk2 and an Iphone on my JH13s but of course the price discrepancy is negligible so expectations aren't as high. The AK240 is certainly better.
  7. acain
    Great review they just so long, like you have some kind of tumor growing out of your ear.
  8. speedracer1
    First off nice "brief" review of your listening impressions and a sincere thank you for sharing them.!  Congratulation on your purchase of the JH Layla.  It's clearly one of the most expensive IEM's but it sounds like it's worth the price for you.  As an owner of the Shure SE-846 I'm considering these myself.  When I did a close comparison between the Shure and the K10's my impression was a bit different.  I thought the K10 had a deeper, richer bass and the mid's were amazing.  That said, as a musician (drummer) the high frequency on the K10 were disappointing to me. Cymbal decay and roll-off was just not even close to accurate. I'm particularly curious about your impressions regarding the high frequencies?
    Thank you and sincerely,
  9. DrSheep
    Great review and now I am really interested to listen to the Layla myself against the K10.
  10. cheflatte
    Great review!! Any chance of auditioning the Angie at the time? And your comparison to Layla, cheers.
  11. Ike1985
    Stupid expensive. I've heard you can't lay on your side and use them as they dig into your ears because they protrude so much. Is this true? If I were JH and given that they are not customs, I would have made some sort of over ear support for them, they look heavy enough to warrant it. Probably would be more comfortable as well. 
  12. Ike1985
    I think the 1964ears adel is the competition for the layla.
  13. Edwood
    Since they have Astell and Kern name on it, it should already be known that they would have a price increase.  Do you complain that the AK240 is stupid expensive?  If so, then sure it's stupid expensive by your definition.   Most people that complain about Astell and Kern products being ridiculously expensive will never buy one. 
    Anyways, about the weight the Layla is made primarily of carbon fiber with a titanium bezel.  It's quite lightweight for it size.
    Currawong likes this.
  14. papa kief

    i too would love to read how the Angie compares to the se846. especially with an ak240. I'm ready to pull the trigger on purchasing the se846.
  15. senorx12562
    Nice review Satchmo. I heard you were dead.
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