JH13 Pro with Freqphase
The JH Audio custom in ear monitors were recently upgraded with a technology called Freqphase. Freqphase is all about time and phase accuracy from the transducer to the ear drum. According to JH Audio, "Freqphase creates the world's first phase coherent earphone by delivering the low, mid and high frequencies to your ear at once." Call it a curse or blessing I am very sensitive to phase accuracy and coherence. The JH13 Pro IEMs are the most phase coherent earphones I've ever heard. Period.
There are four reasons I like custom earphones so much including the high level of comfort. Thereís nothing better than a earphone custom built to fit oneís ear perfectly. Iíve literally been wearing the JH13s for seven hours straight and have no signs of discomfort or fatigue. Previously Iíve worn the JH13s for a few hours at a time without even noticing them in my ears. I like to tell friends once they get customs thereís no going back to generic earphones designed to fit the most popular inner ear shapes. The physical level of comfort is also augmented by the mental comfort passive noise suppression can provide. Many people are familiar with the famous Bose active noise cancelation headphones seen at almost every airport in the U.S. The Bose headphones cancel noise by actively sending an equal but opposite noise from inside the headphone toward the outside. This cancels the sound wave attempting to enter the closed headphone. One major annoyance with active noise cancellation is the audible high pitch emitted by the drivers. There is no free lunch and this is one side effect of the active design. Passive noise suppression works by sealing up the ear canal and physically blocking the sound waves from reaching the ear drum. The JH13s block 26 decibels of outside noise. As I sit here in seat 31A on a Boeing 777 the noise level is averaging 85 dB with a peak of 100.9 dB (Image ). However with the JH13s in my ears the noise level is reduced to 59 dB on average. I havenít flown without a pair of custom IEMs since 2005 because of this excellent suppression. The third reason I like custom IEMs is the lack of noise emitted from the earphones. I donít like to let everyone know Iím listening to the latest Lady Gaga album and Iím willing to bet not everyone wants to listen to the album with me. Thus, earphones that keep the sound in are the only earphones I use in public and during late night listening sessions with my 11 month old daughter sleeping inches away from me.
The fourth reason I like custom IEMs is the sound quality. This has never been more apparent than with the JH Audio JH13 Pros. The UE 11 Pros were good, but the JH13s are in another league. A couple hours ago I finished watching Dave Grohlís new documentary Sound City. The film features great music by many artists computer audiophiles have enjoyed for decades. JH13 Pros paired with the Meridian Explorer USB DAC sounded stellar. My feet and my fingers were tapping throughout the entire film.
Far and away most of my listening is to two channel music rather than movies. Shortly before catching this airplane I downloaded a couple albums from HDtracks, Billie Holiday's Lady In Satin (24/88.2) and Ray Charles' Ray Sings Basie Swings (24/88.2). Listening to Billie's vocals with the Meridian Explorer and JH13 Pro IEMs is a real treat. Track one, I'm a Fool to Want You displays her great vocals and backing orchestra with excellent horns near the end of the song. This track with these earphones had me hooked immediately. Listening to track two, For Heaven's Sake, the JH13 Pros reproduced the stand up bass in the left channel and the delicate brushed drum in the right channel superbly with terrific delineation. Billie's center vocal amongst a very sweet backing vocal is also sublime. The JH13 Pros playing jazz standard But Beautiful continue the consistency of instrument separation, raw vocals from Billie, and an overall sound I could listen to for hours on end.
Switching over to Ray Charles' Ray Sings Basie Swings album at 24/88.2 was also a super sonic experience. On Oh What A Beautiful Morning the organ sounds terrific as does the horn section of the Count-less Count Basie Orchestra. William "Count" Basie never played on this album because it was put together after long after his death. The notes from HDtracks say, "Ray Sings, Basie Swings combines archival, never-before-heard Ray Charles vocal recordings with brand-new performances by the Count Basie Orchestra. This ground breaking album gives listeners the unprecedented experience of hearing Ray Charles at the dazzling peak of his vocal prowess. Ray Sings, Basie Swings was created with the most up-to-date recording and mixing technology, offering sound quality that is state-of-the art. The producers of this CD discovered archival reels of Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra performing live together in 1973. Although the vocals were superior, the remaining elements were of extremely poor quality. They decided to bring the current Basie Orchestra into the studio and, using the latest technology, they carefully and painstakingly laid down a new instrumental backdrop for Charlesí towering vocals. Listening to How Long Has This Been Going On the stand up bass reproduction through the JH13 Pros really separates them from the UE 11 IEMs. The JH13 Pros simply blow the UEs away with tight control of the bottom end. The Ultimate Ears reproduce this bass as if there's one bass string rather than four. My favorite track on the album is Georgia On My Mind. Rays voice on this iconic track is just terrific through the JH13 Pro / Meridian Explorer combo. There's also no shortage of volume with Audirvana Plus set to -17 dB (half way). I'm not the biggest Ray Charles fan on Earth, but when he sounds this good he's hard to ignore.
Enough of the slow and sweet ballads. Bring on Pearl Jam. My laptop was loaded with one of my favorite PJ albums, Vitalogy. The tracks Better Man and Corduroy are two of the best rock and roll songs penned in the last twenty years. Listening to Better Man solidifies the JH13 Pro's ability as a great rock earphone. This track starts slow with Eddie's soft baritone vocal and Boom Gaspar's backing organ but really kicks in at about the two minute mark. At this point everything is clicking and the JH13 Pros are reproducing one of my favorite tracks like I've never heard it while traveling. Corduroy's slow build up leading into Eddie's wailing vocals and one of the great rock guitar riffs of all time. It really got me moving in my seat and tapping my feet to the drum beat. I'm far from even a beginning drummer but in my head with the JH13 Pros I was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame material.
The JH Audio JH13 Pro custom earphones are the best IEMs I've ever heard. Comparing the 13s to the Ultimate Ears 11 Pros was an eye opener. The UEs sounded like a cartoon character's earphone with coloration and larger than life bass. If I ever want the experience of sitting in the trunk of my car laying my head on my subwoofers I know I can bring out the UE 11 Pros. Comparing theJH13 Pros to the much cheaper Etymotic ER-4P universal fit earphones was more about the physical discomfort than the sound quality. I like the Etymotic sound but not the earache provided free of charge. The JH Audio JH13 Pro earphones with Freqphase technology are really the perfect headphone for me when I need comfort, 26dB of passive noise suppression, 0dB of noise emission, and terrific sound quality.
- Product - JH Audio JH13 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors
- Price - $1,099
- Product Page - Link
- Design Your Own - Link
- Source: 15" MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display, Astell & Kern AK100
- DAC: Meridian Explorer
- Playback Software Mac OS X 10.8.2 : Audirvana Plus
- Earphones : Ultimate Ears 11 Pro, Etymotic ER-4P