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JH13 or ES5 for Cowon J3?

  1. budgetboy
    I want to start saving up money for a top-tier custom in-ear monitor for use with my Cowon J3. Right now I've got W3s and I'm loving them, but I know my music could sound better, and I want the comfort and isolation of customs.
    FWIR Impressions:
    ES5 - Pros: Clarity, build quality, comfort/isolation with heat-activated tips. Worried about: bass
    JH13 - Pros: Soundstage, bass. Worried about: build quality
    Straight from a Cowon J3, would the ES5's lack of emphasis on bass be a blessing, or would the JH13's emphasized sub-bass balance out the frequency spectrum better?
    P.S. I only listen at volume level 1 (the lowest possible) to preserve my hearing. I listen to trance, power metal, soundtracks, indie, and rock.
  2. kargi
    Don't know about those earphones BUT LEVEL 1, god, you can't even hear half of the music at that level. I don't think there is an earphone that much efficient or transparent. That is OC man...Crank that volume to 10 at least :)
  3. budgetboy
    I can hear everything perfectly with my J3 and Westone 3, honest to god. I did the same thing with my IE8s. I swear the detail doesn't go up as you increase the volume. I used to listen really loud, but then I upgraded the sound quality and turned down the volume as low as possible. The general consensus on what causes hearing damage is either really loud noise for a short period of time or medium volume noise for long periods of time. I listen to music as much as possible. When using speakers, or sharing my earphones with another person, I turn it up. But for personal listening, I get all the detail and none of the hearing loss by keeping my music at volume level 1. If you train your ears to listen at low volume levels you can protect your hearing and possibly train your ears to better pick up detail. It works for me.
    Back to the thread, what I'm looking for is great isolation and comfort, and more treble/treble extension than my W3 with Comply tips.
    I'm a little worried about something I read in the JH13 appreciation thread/Jerry Harvey is back! thread where Jerry says that heat-sensitive tips such as those used by Westone become brittle and yellow over time. But this review makes me lean towards ES5.
    For those that recommended the ES5 and JH13, why did you recommend it?
  4. dragonfyra
    I was also going through the same decision, between JH13 and ES5 (but I don't have a J3), I'm also coming from W3.
    Not a whole lot of people have both of these, but one of them is Headphone Addict, who made some pretty clear comments about the ES5's bass on the ES5 thread.  It seems like the large bass driver is going to deliver more than enough bass, but for those who wants boosted bass (coloring) then JH13's would be the way to go.  
    I love the sound of my W3's most of the time, but I wanted something more balanced, like a cross between UM3X and W3, with less peaky anything.  So in the end, I choose ES5.  
    But not going to vote, since I don't have the Jh13's.
    As for the tips becoming yellow and brittle, perhaps you could check with long time ES3X owners on that one, but overall, I've read more posts about JH build quality than Westone (not a totally fair comparison, since there are probably more JH users than Westone custom users).  
  5. budgetboy
    dragonfyra - thanks for your reply, really informative. I have also heard better things about Westone's build quality. The part about heat-sensitive tips was from Jerry Harvey describing why he doesnt use them, so it could easily just be marketing, but I want to check.
    I've emailed Westone about the tips to see if it becomes a problem, I'm sure they would have dealt with it before if it was.
    Can you give some impressions about sound, isolation, and performance at low volume levels? Thanks
    As for the sound, I know I like my W3's better than anything I've ever heard. My IE8s have too much of a treble roll off and my M50 just doesn't sound alive to me without enough volume. To emphasize: I need something that sounds great at low volumes.
    Also, which would be more easily powered, ie closer to its full potential from a weaker source? I imagine the ES5 as it only has one bass driver, but I'm really not sure.
  6. dj nellie
    I don't own either the JH13 or ES5, but I do have JH16s and the Cowon S9.  I think the main problem I encountered with the custom IEM+S9 combo, which may or may not apply to the J3, is that you hear hiss even at low volumes and some songs may be too loud even on the lowest volume.  The EQ options on the S9 are pretty good, and I feel some subtle tipping of certain frequencies is kind of necessary because the S9 sounds excessively flat and boring without any EQ.  IMO, if you're going to shell out for top-tier customs, you're going to eventually want to upgrade your source, if for no other reason than to have better volume attenuation/hiss control.
    As for choosing between the JH13 and the ES5, it comes down to which sound signature and tip material you prefer.  I was also a big fan of the W3, but from the reviews I've read the ES5 seems to be more neutral and mid-centric than the W3.  Take this for what you will, but as someone who loved both the W3 and IE8, the JH16s have provided me nothing but pleasure (fit issues aside).  There really isn't anything I would change about the 16s.  I feel like its midrange is more forward and detailed than either the W3 and IE8, while the sub-bass is way deeper than the W3's and better-controlled than the IE8's.  The W3 with custom tips could at times feel too congested, and the treble sometimes a bit too sparkly and bright; the JH16 opens up the soundstage and gives me the most clear, extended treble I've ever heard while never causing fatigue.
    You probably can't go wrong with either custom, so it may come down to price, comfort, and synergy with the equipment you have or are willing to buy.
  7. 3X0
    Also, things to keep in mind:
    Most of JHA's QC issues have been pointed to be poor fit on the initial set (statistically it seems usually the right ear is the culprit), some minor bubbling inside the shell (more prevalent in the past), and somewhat ugly construction of the sound bores (mostly afflicted the JH16s; mine were pretty alright-looking).
    Westone seems to have better fit and finish but no less than 3 head-fiers have had one of their earpieces completely stop working very suddenly.
    JHA has a 30-day refit window with a 2-year warranty (warranty is the most important IMHO, this is something you do not want to skimp on).
    Westone has a 90-day refit window with a 1-year warranty (really short warranty but their CS is top-notch).
    They are in the same league so the sound on both should be top-notch and roughly comparable. I can't imagine you being disappointed in either.
  8. Wildcard30
    I am using ES5's with the J3 and like the combination quite a bit.
  9. Elluzion
    I'd say as far as build quality, (i have seen a lot of JH Audio customs and Westone customs, and Westone has their build quality up to par, while I think JH is still lacking a bit)
    In terms of sound, pshh. It is going to be hard to get a good comparison, I am sure they are close.
    I haven't had the best luck with JH Audio (the company - due to color mess ups, more than once), so if it was me, i'd go with the ES5's.
  10. dragonfyra
    I just got my ES-5's. they're definitely easy to drive, but also much better when driven by an portable amp, problem is that I can't get much volume because it just gets so loud, I have to use turn up the impedance on my Arrow just to get some volume (to get the amp cranking) at the sake of treble.  
    The silicone tips provide amazing level of isolation, especially if the fit is good (mine is tight, it hurts... might need a re-fit).  
    Would I still be tempted to get the JH13 or 16's one day if I got the extra cash? Definitely, lol just to have a pair of customs with a bit more boosted bass.
    But the ES-5's bass is definitely natural, deep and powerful, it's no joke...
  11. Wildcard30
    Try to use the ES5's for a couple of weeks to see if you get used to them if they still bother you after that definately contact Westone for a refit.  I personally prefer the J3 and ES5's unamped but that is just my opinion.
  12. goodvibes
    A few things to consider. One is that at your listening levels, the W3 may have just enough of a V shaped sig to compensate for a natural roll at the top and bottom related to Fletcher/Munson curves. A neutral phone may be disappointing. After all, the W3 isn't neutral and there's a reason that you love it.
    Both companies are reputable and have plenty of happy customers. Nobody's perfect but they both make it right if there's an issue.
    That review needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. He does all his listening through a nuforce icon usb DAC. It's fine for what it is but to test $1000+ customs? I wouldn't use it with a a preferred set of $700 speakers. What was his source res and what type of program did he use? The nuforce isn't asynchronous usb. He also mentions the convenience of having 2 headphone outputs, Using 2 at the same time would be a huge mistake in a an informative setup. They clearly affect each other. None of this makes him wrong but I wouldn't take his as the last word especially when he deducts a full 3 points from the JHs for BUILD QUALITY/ATTENTION TO DETAIL. When the winning margin was less than 1 point, it's clearly a pick em and you should really try and get a listen before purchase. If not, I'd perhaps try to get my hands on universal that's considered full range and neutral to make sure it really what you want as at the levels you use, it may sound middy. If you do, check efficiencies and try to compensate for generally less efficient universals by turning up your V a couple more notches as the customs play about twice as loud at the same setting.(+10db) Something else to consider if that's not to your liking.
  13. lorafenik
    On my Sony mp3 with Philips IEMs, sometimes at nights I wish I could go quieter than 1 (scale goes to 30, at mp3 gain I can stand max 22-24).
    But man, without cranking the volume up, you don't get the whole dynamic range.
    Percived loudness on your Cowon with volume "1" - 30-40db (I think it would be around this, as loud as quiet library or whisper)
    Assuming no hiss from DAP + IEMs and background noise in recording, no outer world sounds, what's not possible (noise floor - 0db)
    Listening to recording of live concert, piano (forte) makes about 85-104db.
    You loose around 60db, what's as loud as normal talk level!
    Add to this, that quiet music is percived differently than on "normal" level. You hear mids more prominently (does anyone know how this phenomenon is called?)
    I also don't like listening to music very loud. I sometimes wear plugs on rock concerts. I wonder how you can stand them (the gigs of course) :)
    I wish I could help you with choice, but I've never had customs. Based on reviews I would love to hear ES5.
    I didn't sleep tonight and English isn't my primary language so I don't know if I made myself clear. By no means I want this post to be percived as offensive. I hope you'll find your perfect custom :)
  14. dragonfyra


    LOL, no, but I do have really sensitive hearing, ironic since I live in Hong Kong (the whole city and it's people are LOUD), I can always hear other people's conversations without trying to.  Without the impedance, it's really too loud for me, and also the Arrow has a bit of imbalance at low volumes level.  Without the impedance, I could only turn the volume up to ... maybe 2 or 3 (there're no numbers so I can't really tell).
    Both pairs the W3 and the Es-5 are quite sensitive, so I think that attributes to the loudness for me.
  15. dragonfyra
    sorry for the confusion.
    I stated earlier that I don't have a J3, just wanted to put in my 2cents about the ES5 and W3 with Arrow.
    I use my IPC120 -> twag -> arrow.

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