• JH Audio JH13 Pro Custom In Ear Monitors Review

    I've been using IEM earphones for about ten years and custom IEMs since 2005. I started with a pair of Etymotic ER-4Ps. These earphones were great for iPods back in the day and remain on my shelf of earphones that I use once in awhile. The Achilles heel of the Etymotics is the uncomfortable foam tips required for a good in-ear seal. Another less than stellar element of the ER-4P is the cord. First it protrudes from the ear in a way that prohibits resting oneís head on a pillow of any type. Second the cord acts like a microphone picking up every brush against oneís clothes and passing the noise right into the ear canal. After a couple years with the ER-4Ps I moved to Ultimate Ears 11 Pro custom earphones. The fit of the UE 11 Pro was excellent, but the sound was a bit bass heavy. I lived with the UE 11 Pro until February 2013 when I received a pair of JH Audio JH13 Pro customs with the new Freqphase technology. The JH13 earphones are so much better than the UE 11 Pro I canít believe I hung on to the 11s for so many years. Iíd heard from friends and colleges that the JH Audio products were excellent, but for some reason I held on to what was familiar for far too long. Now, Iím on a thirteen hour flight to Seoul, Korea enjoying every bit of the 26 dB passive noise suppression of the JH13 Pros and the sound of my favorite music like Iíve never heard it before on an airplane.










    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.


    Conclusion

    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 Information:



    • Product - JH Audio JH13 Pro Custom In-Ear Monitors
    • Price - $1,099
    • Product Page - Link
    • Design Your Own - Link












    Associated Music:









    Associated Equipment:













    Comments 19 Comments
    1. jp11801's Avatar
      jp11801 -
      Chris, I LOVE the JH13s and the 3a unit paired with the JH16s are even better. The advantage that JH has over other IEMs I have heard at various shows are accuracy of tonal information. I've been to hundreds of shows both rock and jazz and play guitar and bass (albeit amateurishly) and the JHs match the sounds I've heard and played better than other IEMs.

      The Freqphase advantage is a major step up in instrument separation, soundstaging and timing, they were very good before but are world class now. The UE Capitol Ref Monitors were my best in class in these areas but lacked impact and a degree of tonal accuracy bit now the the freqphase addition puts the JH product over the top.

      If you get a chance and can get a prolonged audition with the 3a combo I'd be curious on your take. The amp can be a bit wonky as it required a restart with different sample rate so if you mix and match sample rates it may be a deal breaker but other than that it is a world class product imo.

      Thanks for the review!

      JP
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi JP - I was pretty surprised at how good the 13s are with all types of music. I held back in the review because I didn't want it to be too over the top with journalistic hyperbole for fear of readers focussing on the writing rather than the product.

      I just had my AK100 modified by Vinnie at Red Wine Audio and the sound is stellar with the 13s.

      I'll look into the 3a based on your recommendation. Thanks.
    1. Snowmonkey's Avatar
      Snowmonkey -
      As usual, Vitalogy is available as a 16/44.1 download on Qobuz: Vitalogy | Pearl Jam - Tťlťcharger et ťcouter l'album
    1. ajay556's Avatar
      ajay556 -
      Chris, curious what are you going to do with your ultimate ear headphones...sell it on ebay?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajay556 View Post
      Chris, curious what are you going to do with your ultimate ear headphones...sell it on ebay?
      I'd be happy to sell them to the first person with matching ear canals that fit those custom earphones :~)

      I actually use them as ear plugs for snow blowing or lawn mowing now :~)
    1. ajay556's Avatar
      ajay556 -
      well the reason i ask is because i think you can sell it ...the new owner would mould them to their ears. Let me know if you would like to get rid of them...:-)
    1. ajay556's Avatar
      ajay556 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajay556 View Post
      well the reason i ask is because i think you can sell it ...the new owner would mould them to their ears. Let me know if you would like to get rid of them...:-)
      Chris, I would be interested in purchasing them. Let me know. Thanks
    1. XP9433's Avatar
      XP9433 -
      Chris
      Can you please help with answers to three questions:
      1. How/where do you go about having your custom earphones built to suit your ears?
      2. Are JH saying with "Freqphase" that all drivers are connected with the same absolute polarity as a starting point?
      3. Buying from overseas, how does a buyer differentiate older models from the more recent Freqphase models?
      Thanks
      Frank
    1. XP9433's Avatar
      XP9433 -
      Chris
      One further question:
      Can you please tell me how the Astell & Kern AK100 with JH Audio JH13 sound quality compares to the same IEMs with the Meredian Explorer?
      I listen in bed with ER4P for the same reason (wife doesn't hear), but I agree they are uncomfortable.
      Many thanks
      Frank
    1. ejn1's Avatar
      ejn1 -
      I wonder if the ER4P using their custom mold option would be a good poor mans alternative to the JH's???
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by ejn1 View Post
      I wonder if the ER4P using their custom mold option would be a good poor mans alternative to the JH's???
      I thought of that myself and think it would be a great option to at least try.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by XP9433 View Post
      Chris
      Can you please help with answers to three questions:
      1. How/where do you go about having your custom earphones built to suit your ears?
      2. Are JH saying with "Freqphase" that all drivers are connected with the same absolute polarity as a starting point?
      3. Buying from overseas, how does a buyer differentiate older models from the more recent Freqphase models?
      Thanks
      Frank
      Any local audiologist can make custom molds of your ears for about $50.

      Here is the Freqphase info page -> Freqphase Time | Phase Waveguide | Custom In-Ear Monitors by JH Audio

      No sure how to differentiate older models, but there usually aren't older models for sale as these are custom to the buyer's ears.
    1. PhilMcC's Avatar
      PhilMcC -
      Hi,

      Longtime lurker. Excited to see you review these since you are someone I trust. What made you choose the 13 over the 16 model? Seems like there is a lot of excitement over the 16. I am an orchestra musician that is downsizing the 2-channel setup (Weiss/Conrad Johnson/Gallo). I listen to every style of music, so I am wondering which would suit my needs. Also, very interested in your thoughts on DAC/amplification.

      Thank you!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by PhilMcC View Post
      Hi,

      Longtime lurker. Excited to see you review these since you are someone I trust. What made you choose the 13 over the 16 model? Seems like there is a lot of excitement over the 16. I am an orchestra musician that is downsizing the 2-channel setup (Weiss/Conrad Johnson/Gallo). I listen to every style of music, so I am wondering which would suit my needs. Also, very interested in your thoughts on DAC/amplification.

      Thank you!
      Hi Phil - I believe the 13s are more neutral than the 16s. I like neutrality.
      I've been using the Astell & Kern AK100 with the Red Wine Audio mod and the 13s. A lovely combo. Can't wait to get the AK120 in for review.
    1. astrotoy's Avatar
      astrotoy -
      I want to report that I splurged on a pair of JH13's based on Chris's recommendation for my other splurge, the AK120. I did my first plane ride with the combination, listening to my 192/24 declicked rips of some of my original Decca SXL2000 classical records from the early days of stereo. What a wonderful experience. The only problem is that my wife has to tap me on the shoulder to let me know she is talking to me. The JH13 is also very sturdy and I have no problems at the gym with it.

      Thanks Chris,

      Larry
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Great to hear Larry!
    1. sspiper's Avatar
      sspiper -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Great to hear Larry!
      Chris have you listened to any other DACs with the JH 13 besides the Meridian?
      I am guessing you need a Dead quiet DAC as the JH 13 looks to be very sensitive.
      I am looking to purchase. I thought I'd pick from your CASH list but would appreciate any suggestions.
      Thanks for any feedback,
      Brad
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by sspiper View Post
      Chris have you listened to any other DACs with the JH 13 besides the Meridian?
      I am guessing you need a Dead quiet DAC as the JH 13 looks to be very sensitive.
      I am looking to purchase. I thought I'd pick from your CASH list but would appreciate any suggestions.
      Thanks for any feedback,
      Brad
      Hi Brad - Are you looking for portable or something that'll stay in place? The A&K stuff is great for portable all-in-one. The AudioQuest DragonFly is getting overlooked now because newer devices support sky high sample rates like 32/384 and the DF goes up to 24/96. However, it was designed by Gordon Rankin to a very high standard and completes with almost anything in this category. I haven't heard the AudioEngine D3 yet but the review here on CA is good.
    1. sspiper's Avatar
      sspiper -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Hi Brad - Are you looking for portable or something that'll stay in place? The A&K stuff is great for portable all-in-one. The AudioQuest DragonFly is getting overlooked now because newer devices support sky high sample rates like 32/384 and the DF goes up to 24/96. However, it was designed by Gordon Rankin to a very high standard and completes with almost anything in this category. I haven't heard the AudioEngine D3 yet but the review here on CA is good.
      Chris,
      I really am looking for both. The notion of great sound in an intimate setting ( perhaps listening in bed ) is very appealing. I'd also like to have a stationary DAC to use with my Mac,in a small office I have. The JH 13s might provide a nice solution and give me the option for portability. The A&K looks to be a great choice for the road. That's high praise for the DF. I'll look into the AudioEngine D3 as well and certainly appreciate these suggestions and any others.
      Thanks very much,
      Brad