Friday, February 17, 2012

JH Audio JH16 Pro In-ear Monitor Review

A friend asked me to listen to these JH Audio JH16 Pro in-ear monitors, and I was eager to check them out so I could see if they live up to their legendary reputation. By the way, JH Audio was started by Jerry Harvey, the same guy who founded Ultimate Ears, whose in-ear monitors I have been using for a number of years.

Let me start by acknowledging that the JH16 Pros are ridiculously expensive, starting at $1149 (not including options that could drive the price higher) and probably a $100 charge from an audiologist to pour custom ear molds. But, to deep-pocket audiophiles, this is not very much money at all, as they readily spend thousands of dollars on cables and tens of thousands for amplifiers. This is why you will not find “Price” in my list of cons – they are obviously built for a very small audience.

The JH16 Pro in-ear monitors are miraculously constructed; inside each monitor are eight drivers: double dual lows, a single dual mid and a single dual high. To support these there is an integrated 3-way crossover to efficiently move this panoply of drivers.

The specifications are equally impressive, with a quoted frequency response of 10Hz to 20kHz. Input sensitivity is 118dB @ 1mW, and the monitors’ impedance is 18 Ohms. As these are not super high-impedance monitors a headphone amplifier is not necessary, but I tried them out with both solid-state and tube-type headphone amplifiers for this test, and did find noticeable improvements in performance.

After purchasing these monitors, you will need to have an audiologist pour molds of your ears to send in to JH Audio so they can custom build your JH16s. Not only are they a custom fit, you will have a choice of colors, custom artwork ($100 more), engraving and cable lengths. Cables are replaceable, should you happen to damage them or the jack.

A few weeks later, they will ship them to you in a bulletproof Otterbox case along with a nifty tool to scrape the ear wax out of them. When they arrive, make sure they fit well, as you have 30 day warranty against poor fit. But they should fit comfortably and provide you with the expected -26dB of noise isolation.
When I got these JH16 Pros, I tried them out with through a myriad of equipment: an iPod, my stereo, the headphone outs on guitar and bass amps and a mixing board, through a wireless system, and using my different headphone amplifiers. And they are truly amazing through all of them, and quibbles I have with their tone are minimal.

These JH16 monitors are the clearest I have heard, and are more punchy and dynamic than my Ultimate Ear In-ear Reference Monitors. They reproduce every detail of the original recordings, albeit with less mids than expected, as it seems they have been tuned to provide a fatter bass and brighter treble than the actual source. This makes them perfect for the way modern music is mixed, but also means that they did not perform quite as well (relatively speaking) with the classical and jazz tracks that I played through them. For a live music stage monitor, I do not think you will be able to find anything better than the JH16s.
I do have a few minor beefs, though. I would expect in-ear monitors at this price range to come with thicker cables that are more tangle-resistant, and I would certainly hope for a better warranty (only 2 year for the monitors and no warranty for the cables). These are really expensive, you know.

But these are very minor compared to what you get. The JH Audio JH16 Pro are the best sounding In-ear monitors you can buy, so if you have the means I highly recommend picking some up. For more details or to order, go to

Pros: • Best audio quality and frequency response of any in-ear monitor • Guaranteed custom fit • Replaceable cables

Cons: • Cables tangle easily • Only a 2-year monitor warranty and no cable warranty

No comments:

Post a Comment