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Sony announces the "Just ear" brand of custom IEMs

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  1. audionewbi
    Did you get to demo anything when you where there?
     
  2. AnakChan Moderator
    I won't get too much into the sound 'cos i gave it only a 10-15min listen - V0 gets the honours of giving a full description as he spent a whole good hour before me. Naturally I'm not going to comment if it's "worth it" or not as it's really up to each individual.
     
    From the little that I did listen to, the Monitor is as is described, quite neutral. Although I hadn't heard the Laylas for 5 months, when I first heard the Monitors I was thinking, Layla-ish. Mind you V0 has the Laylas and may tell you I'm full of !@#$#@$.
     
    The Club was more U-shaped to me but not Momentum-excessively. Vocals are still quite present. But then Matsuo-san put on an EDM track and the bass came alive! But not only deep, it was also speedy/fast.
     
    The Listening (below), to me, seemed to me a little like the Club but with a slightly more midbass to lower midrange dip, making the relative difference of the upper midrange a little more apparent.
     
    Again, bear in mind the above is only from 15 min listen - take it with a large grain of salt.
    IMG_7665.jpg
     
    This is a sample custom where the tips are flexible whilst the rest of the shell is hard acrylic.
    IMG_7668.jpg
     
    There's two listening stations, one with the ZX1 and the other the ZX2.
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    Meet Mr Tomohiro Matsuo, Senior Manager of Just Ears Division.
    IMG_7666.jpg
     
    In my very brief conversation with Matsuo-san, the sound of these has changed quite a bit from when it was originally announced last October. Just Ears engineers had taken feedback from customer auditions and tweaked accordingly especially in the treble region (I didn't ask if it was changed to be more or less extended, more or less forward or what was changed really). I didn't hear the original too from October as the queue was way too long. So this final sound is the first I've heard of the Just Ears.
     
    IMG_7667.jpg
     
    Mython and audionewbi like this.
  3. Mython Contributor
    I'm no photography geek, but damn... what camera did you take those pics with, AnakChan? They're beautifully clear!  Thumbs-up.jpg
     
  4. Mimouille
    These pictures are surreal. Like a modern version of the cult classic Brazil.
     
  5. AnakChan Moderator
    I had to apologise to Matsuo-san that all I had was my iPhone 6 as I didn't think I'd be taking any pictures!
     
  6. VisceriousZERO

    Seriously can't believe that was an iphone 6... I took some with my x100 but I forgot to move the aperture tab so some shots are shaky lol
     
  7. VisceriousZERO
    So yesterday I got to sample the three different types of Just Ear XJE-MH2 and custom-tune my own XJE-MH1. For reference, the Just Ear brand is a subsidiary of Sony Engineering and currently only available in Japan. They have had at least one other foreigner get an MH2 so it is possible to purchase one if you are not a resident of Japan. The MH2 is apparently purchasable in other locations in Tokyo but the MH1 can only be tuned and bought from the Aoyama branch of Tokyo Hearing Center. The location is a nice little spot and we were greeted cordially by the guys at Tokyo Hearing and Mr. Tomohiro Matsuo himself. Now as someone who only visits Japan for a week at a time, my Japanese is woefully ill-equipped for these kinds of specialized discussions, so I highly suggest you bring someone who can interpret for you. The forms you have to sign to purchase an IEM are all in Japanese, so be warned!
     
    Thankfully Matsuo-san speaks very good English, so we had a short discussion of the MH2 models and the MH1 before I went in to do my impressions. Before i began listening to the different models, He asked me what genres of music I usually listened to, and as a lover of all things rock/jazz/metal, he referred me to the Listening model first.
     
    DSCF0194.jpg
    The three models of the XJE-MH2
     
    It may be worthy to note that the MH2 models I listened to were “improved” versions of the ones that were present at the 2014 Autumn Headphone Festival in Tokyo. I personally was never able to try them in the Headphone Fest thanks to the incredulously long line and (as Matsuo-san pointed out) they only had 3 prototypes on the floor that day. In the Aoyama branch of Tokyo Hearing Center, they had two sets of the three models ready to go, both hooked up to a splitter with individual volume controls and a ZX1 or ZX2, though you may bring your own DAP to do your own testing. The three models are labeled  MONITOR, LISTENING, and CLUB. All of the IEMs are Hybrid dual-driver twin bore Custom In-Ear Monitors. A custom BA driver drives mids and highs and the dynamic driver drives the lows. They were ready as well with replacement tips of all shapes and sizes so if you do go, you won't have to bring your own tips.
     
    I also spoke to Matsuo-san about the cables on the CIEMs and they are MMCX (albeit Sony-modified MMCX) so it may be better to use the XBA-Z5 replacement cables or balanced cable to get them going. They did note that typical MMCX would work but would be easier to come off.
     
    DSCF0195.jpg
    The MH2s were hooked up to this device for testing
     
     
     
    THE SOUND:
    Now I have to note, I only spend around 10-15 minutes with the Monitor and Listening models, and only 3 minutes with the Club, and as usual... YMMV!
     
    The XJE-MH2 MONITOR:
     
    DSCF0186.jpg
     
    The Monitor is a definition of a "flat" reference sound. It sounds similar to my Audio Zenith PMx2, though its not as "fun" to listen to. Essentially the sound is "boring" but that's essentially what "monitor" means. I couldn't say how it stacks up with other reference CIEMs since #1 I only had my Noble K10 (which I did not listen to at all while I was there), and #2 its a demo universal unit, which I always consider the "take with a grain of salt" units. Mids were nicely pronounced and bass had very good power, but the highs were kind of disappearing and I had to "look" for them to find them in the music.
     
    The XJE-MH2  LISTENING:
     
    DSCF0184.jpg
     
    The Listening is more my style. The treble is now more apparent (much like the sound of the K10, but not as refined in the treble area), the mids are well voiced, and compared to the Monitor, the bass is a touch reduced. Its better for all-around stuff, but as Matsuo-san pointed out, its something for the more acoustic side of music. If all you listen to is Dubstep and EDM, the Club would be the way to go. All in all I really enjoyed the Listening more than the Monitor, but that's the point of the Listening... To be enjoyable.
     
    The XJE-MH2 CLUB:
     
    DSCF0185.jpg
     
    I only spent one song on the CLUB, and Stephen Walking's Top of the World 2 on these things is BEASTLY. I enjoyed them but it was more difficult to detect the treble and the bass was really the star of the show. Its not my cup of tea, but I'm sure some people out there who listen to EDM and similar stuff would enjoy this immensely.
     
    The XJE-MH1
    The MH1 is not on display for testing. I don't think it will ever be. This is because you CUSTOM TUNE your own sound out of one of the existing MH2s. Matsuo-san sits with you and all you need to do is tell him what you want out of your IEM and he will tune the demo on-the-fly for you. It is quite an experience. I would say its like making the PRM (albeit a more expensive one), but you are assisted through it. I'll go into more detail about this later.
     
     
    THE PROCESS:
    Note: This is my personal experience, and it may be worthy to note, I am not a resident of Japan so if you are one and/or speak Japanese, I don't think you'll go through the "trouble" I did. :)
     
    Anakchan contacted me as soon as he heard about the news that Just Ear would start offering the XJE-MH1 and MH2 and as luck would have it, I would be in Tokyo by that time. He helped set us an appointment (Thanks again, man!) for Saturday, May 2, at 4:30 in the afternoon. I arrived at around 4 and since there was only one other guest in the area, I was accommodated rather quickly. I got to listen to the MH2 demos (which were right at the door) and talk to Matsuo-san a bit about the monitors.
     
    After listening to the XJE-MH2 demo units, I was led into the back room where the guys at Tokyo Hearing gave me a form to sign with the different options and medical information I had to give. As someone who has no reading/writing and minimal speaking experience of Japanese, I was lucky enough to have a friend who spoke great english and could help me translate the form.That was essentially the only issue I had. I ended up ordering the MH2 Monitor and an MH1, an extra cable (for future recabling), and an extra JPY 9,000 for impressions. Also on the form there is a strict warning to NOT TAKE ANY PHOTOS OR VIDEOS DURING THE IMPRESSIONS PROCESS. They use a specialized device for checking your ears and making sure the big gold ball-thing on the end of the CIEM will not hurt your ear when the in-ear monitor is inside. Therefore, I have no pictures whatsoever of this process and will not really discuss it in too much detail as well. After the device, the impressions are taken with the usual silicone-to-the-inside-of-the-ear and upon finishing, Matsuo-san came back to custom-tune my MH1.
     
    Note: Typically if someone were to order an MH1 they would have to come back in 2-3 months to check the fit of the MH1 and fine-tune. I opted out of this due to my schedule and fact I'm always unsure when I would get back to Japan. Matsuo-san was nice enough to agree to skip the 2-3 month refit period but urged me to get another appointment with them as soon as I had the MH1s and I was back in Tokyo so he could check the fit and re-tune if necessary.
     
    The MH1 tuning process begins with Matsuo-san asking your genres of music and generation of music. As someone with eclectic taste (I enjoy almost any kind of music, from almost any era), he decided to start with the MH2 Monitor sound. He asked me to plug in my DAP into the device/amp that was on his computer (I have no photos for this), which was plugged into a demo MH2 Monitor. After the initial listen, I noted that I wanted a bit more highs so he tuned it... with too much highs, to which we started doing a back and forth between too much and too little, then he tried to put it in the middle of the two settings and I found that beautiful sweet spot of highs that I wanted. Afterwards we moved on to the mids. I asked for slightly more forward mids while keeping the highs in the right place. The bass was left alone but it had enough oomph for me to find enjoyable (Sean walked in on our testing session by then). I honestly took more time on the tuning than any other activity that afternoon :)
     
    After all's said and done, we finalized the tuning and fixed it to be shipped to my friend in Tokyo who would pick it up and send it to me. They mentioned the CIEMs would be ready typically in a month, but as they were just starting out, they would have to make me wait for at least two months. Not a problem! But I can't shake the excitement of my custom-tuned MH1s.
     
    I'll report back hopefully in 2 months, if I do get it by then.
     
    Till then... back to my K10...
     
     
    *BIG shoutout to the guys at Tokyo Hearing Center, Bandai-san (Matsuo-san told me to call him that), and Anakchan!*
     
    DSCF0200.jpg
    Matsuo-san preparing the table of the MH2 demo units
     
    DSCF0201.jpg
    Matsuo-san posing for a photo courtesy of Sean
     
     
    DSCF0202.jpg
    Click! Go iPhone 6!
     
    Currawong, audionewbi and x838nwy like this.
  8. audionewbi
    By the look of things considering the ordering process this will be very hard to go international, I don't know of any other CIEM maker who require the user to come back to have their fit rechecked after 3 months. Maybe they are still experimenting with the resin tip and they too are not so sure who it will be done the track. 
     
  9. VisceriousZERO

    Its only with the MH1 though. The MH2 is the typical CIEM ordering process
     
    audionewbi likes this.
  10. Mimouille
    There is not much that seems to warrant the price...we will wait and see.
     
  11. kms108
    You can't buy them online, they are made to order, you have to be in person to buy them.
     
  12. mochill
    that is expensive :scream:
     
  13. uli87
    The pricing is of the MH2 is pretty much in line with other TOTL CIEMs K10,Roxanne etc.
     
    The build quality looks phenomenal on these and Sony is a very big, established, and reputable company that is definitely no slouch in the audio field so I'm not surprised that they are aiming to go head to head with the big dogs from the get go.
     
    I wonder how the tuning process for the MH1 goes. I assume there has to be some sort of engineer that guides you through the process and advises you so you don't tune your IEM to sound like an unbalanced mess. 
     
  14. kms108
  15. Silverprout
    I don't understand Sony... they use an obsolete armature, new ones are much better.
     
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