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Essential Guide to JH Audio IEMs

The Industry Standard

Table of Contents

The Jerry Harvey Story

Who is Jerry Harvey?



Before Jerry Harvey single-handedly turned the entire touring industry on its head by inventing the first in-ear monitoring earbud solution for touring musicians, Jerry Harvey was a professional monitoring mixing engineer, himself. As a monitoring engineer, Jerry Harvey mixed for the biggest names in music history, including Van Halen, Kiss, The Cult, David Lee Roth, Motley Crew, Linkin Park, and many others.

How did JH Audio start? What did the beginning of JH Audio look like?


As a monitoring engineer, it was Jerry Harvey’s job to concoct a personalized well-balanced blend of minimally processed audio signals for each member of the band. A skilled monitoring engineer is indispensable to a touring band, because it’s the person in this role whose closest to the artist’s vision, allowing each artist in the band to hear an honest performance of what the others in the band are playing. The role is arguably the most intimate role a person outside of the band can hold because of its personal connection with the signals the artists, themselves, experience. A monitoring mix that’s personalized for each band member’s unique listening style is vital to the intimacy the musicians feel as they create a “vibe,” together. As audience members watch their heroes thriving in the element on the stage, the spine-tingling catharsis of the music artists create is contagious.  

Previously, before Jerry Harvey’s deeply intimate contribution to the performing arts, monitoring engineers provided personalized mixes to each band member through a series of loudspeakers positioned all over the floor of the stage. As one might imagine, the placement of loudspeakers all over the stage-floor presents several difficult challenges for performing musicians to navigate during a concert. While floor-monitors help bands listen to each other on stage, loudspeakers also present several annoying problems to the band, such as feedback. For example, when the singer’s flagellating hand holding the microphone points towards the floor during an adrenaline-pumped performance, the microphone’s magnets resonate with the floor monitor’s magnets, causing the ear-piercing clash of frequencies that no one’s a fan of.

Another problem floor monitors introduce is the delivery of personalized monitoring mixes to each member of the band. When loudspeakers are used in place of inner-ear canal monitoring systems, it can be a challenge for monitoring engineers to tailor the mixes that each artist hears to the unique personal preferences of everyone in the band. For example, when everyone in the band hears the others’ mix blaring out of the floor-monitors scattered across the stage all at once, dialing in just the right levels of signal to make everyone in the band happy is a juggling act monitoring engineers negotiate. These issues are compounded further on larger scale arenas where the singer has plenty of room to move around on the stage, and needs as many “personal” floor-monitors as the singer’s expressive theatrical antics require for entertaining large audiences.    

Performing music is all about call and response between musicians. One instrument player plays a riff or a musical phrase on an instrument, and another player responds with a musical phrase that complements the call. The monitoring engineer has arguably the most important and intimate job of any audio professional in the business. Without a good monitor mix, the artists performing on stage can’t hear themselves or the musical responses from the other band members.

For example, when Lady Gaga sings into her microphone during a live performance, the drummer, synth player, bass and guitar players all need to hear a raw, unprocessed and natural version of Lady Gaga’s singing voice as she sings into her microphone. Hearing Lady Gaga’s voice clearly allows the other band members to respond to the musicality of her singing, expressing themselves through their instruments. This is precisely how musicians listen to each other during a live concert, and why the monitoring engineer’s role is so personally intertwined with the artists’ vision. The monitoring engineer directly supports artists’ abilities to create the music their audiences expect to hear.

In 1995, when Jerry Harvey was touring with Van Halen during their Balance tour, the band’s drummer, Alex Van Halen, approached Jerry with a highly sensitive matter. Alex told Jerry Harvey the noise on stage was too much for him. The stage monitors were creating so much volume that it was making it difficult for the band members to hear one another, and the massive volume was damaging the drummer’s ears.

The band’s rehearsals ultimately revealed the extent of the damage that was occurring to their drummer’s ears. Important auditory cues normally distinguished with ease were becoming more difficult for Alex, making it apparent the famous drummer was suffering from hearing loss. At this point, Jerry and the band realized the damaging effects, relying on floor monitors since 1972 had finally done to catch up with the Grammy award-winning drummer. Fast forward to 1995, and what had been designed to serve the drummer’s talented ears was now robbing the Van Halen brother of his abilities to hear and play along with his fellow band-mates.

Even though Alex was showing early signs of hearing loss right before the tour, the band tapped Jerry Harvey with a seemingly impossible mission: preserve what could be salvaged from the famous musician’s hearing, because, after all, the show must go on. This launched Jerry Harvey’s knowledge of both audio and electronics into uncharted territories, leading him to experiment with components previously unexplored before.


What happens when one of the music industry’s most requested monitoring engineers starts his own in-ear monitoring brand?

As Jerry Harvey would quickly learn, Alex Van Halen’s picky ears wouldn’t be satisfied, easily. At the time, the balanced armature driver was basically a “hot-rodded” hearing aid speaker or a Sony designed diaphragm speaker, which were both incapable of reproducing complete frequency spectrums from lows to highs. One design was capable of reproducing good lows, decent mids, and highs, but no low sub-bass frequencies; while another could reproduce nice lows, but not enough top-end extension. The initial earpiece solutions Jerry Harvey brought forth to Alex Van Halen’s discerning ears were immediately rejected by the drummer’s talented ear for tone, and exceptional attention to detail. Since balanced armature driver technology was still in its infancy at this time, Alex Van Halen made it clear to Jerry that his ears wouldn’t accept the original trial-run of earbuds. Instead, the drummer instructed his monitoring engineer to “find something better.”

Realizing that no one makes anything better, Jerry Harvey immediately recognized a problem that didn’t have a clear solution. So, he went back to the drawing board, working from the ground up on the solution that would satisfy his famous boss’s musically trained ears. Applying his knowledge about great sound with his electrical engineering skills, Jerry Harvey eventually developed a totally new design no one had ever heard before. Through a combination of Jerry’s research and Alex Van Halen’s musical feedback, Jerry Harvey’s experiments with components eventually led him to a novel idea. One day while preparing for the tour with Van Halen, Jerry looked up at the band’s PA system. PA speaker systems have multiple speaker drivers to reproduce accurate lows, mids and highs in their frequency responses. Jerry thought, “if those large loudspeakers in PA systems could have multiple lows, mids and highs with crossovers, why not in a miniature earphone?”

Armed with his new idea, Jerry reached out to engineers and manufactures in the balanced armature and hearing-aid industries for samples of miniature speaker components to experiment with. Eventually, his efforts paid off. Jerry found components that could reproduce great mids and excellent top-end extension. However, finding components that could reproduce musical sub-bass frequencies that Alex Van Halen could feel in his body, and help the drummer combat his hearing loss was the most difficult challenge for Jerry Harvey to overcome.


One day, a manufacturer contacted Jerry about an interesting sample. It was a design that had been retired to the balanced armature “cemetery.” The sample was originally designed to be used with an implantable artificial cardiac pacemaker speaker. The little pacemaker speaker emitted a 130-140 dB tone through a patient’s chest to regulate a patient’s irregular heart rhythm. When Jerry received the pacemaker speaker, he conducted his experiment using an analyzer microphone to measure the speaker’s frequency response and shot a blast of pink noise through the miniature speaker. The measurements revealed a miniature speaker driver capable of reproducing musical sub-bass frequencies that the human body could feel. Jerry Harvey knew he had found the perfect bass speaker driver for Alex.

Jerry Harvey combined all the speaker components together into a single silicone shell that Alex could insert into his ear-canal, comfortably. Jerry Harvey adjusted the phase curves to a 100th of a millisecond so that the crossover points reached a perfectly balanced phase-response between each speaker driver in the overall earpiece design. This ensured all drivers worked together to accurately reproduce the full frequency spectrum from deep sub-lows to soaring highs.

The real test, however, came when Alex Van Halen lent Jerry Harvey his highly developed ears. Would Jerry Harvey’s complete re-design finally satisfy Alex’s sense of musicality from a lifetime of classical ear-training? Would the totally new and never-before-seen Jerry Harvey prototype actually help Alex connect musically with his bandmates again? Could the in-ear-monitor Jerry Harvey built for the Van Halen drummer really resolve the issues Alex’s hearing loss was causing him and his famous band?


Not only did the new in-ear-monitor deeply satisfy Alex Van Halen’s picky ears, it also completely revolutionized the way performing musicians monitor the music they create going forward into the future. Soon, others in the music industry heard about Alex Van Halen’s new secret weapon. It wasn’t long before other seasoned rock stars, including Sebastian Bach, were beating on Jerry Harvey’s door, begging the Van Halen monitoring engineer for a pair of their own.

And with that, the first two-way in-ear-monitor was born. Word within the music industry spread quickly, and to meet the growing demand amongst rock stars and other music industry professionals, the UE-5 became the first official IEM product by Jerry Harvey under the Ultimate Ears brand name.

Eventually, Jerry Harvey would go on to refine his original design, improving upon the UE-5 with newer designs that incorporated even better armature drivers, and even more accurate crossovers to enhance the audio quality across the frequency spectrum.

The new in-ear-monitors enhanced the abilities of rock stars to hear themselves, articulate their band members playing styles more distinctly, and express themselves through their instruments more musically with enhanced resolution and precision like never before. For artists, Jerry Harvey’s invention was truly a remarkable performance-enhancing tool for rock stars that revolutionized the music industry from the inside behind the scenes.


Customization Options


For industry insiders in-the-know, Jerry Harvey’s IEMs are embraced by the music industry pros, because they were made by a music professional for music professionals. Today, they’re embraced by people who love to hear music as it was intended by the artists. Because music is a universal language, it’s no surprise Jerry Harvey’s latest in-ear-monitors are embraced by a totally new audience all over the world: audiophiles.



When Apple released the iPod in 2001, Jerry Harvey was still designing IEMs under his Ultimate Ears brand while touring as lead monitor engineer for Linkin Park. At that time, someone showed him an iPod, and that’s when Jerry Harvey knew the time was right to share the phenomenal fidelity audio professionals enjoy with the rest of the world.

Answering a new calling, Jerry Harvey left the tour with Linkin Park and Ultimate Ears to start a new venture into in-ear-monitors for audiophiles and audio professionals alike under a new name: Jerry Harvey Audio. Jerry Harvey recognized the similarities in listening styles between audiophiles and audio professionals, so he designed completely new models with his expanded audience in mind. Now, audiophiles have several flavorful sound signatures to feast their ears on. Whether you’re an audio pro or an audiophile who just loves music, this guide will help you to choose the JH Audio in-ear-monitor that’s right for the way you listen to your music.  

"I have owned every version of the JH13. It is the most linear and natural sounding IEM in the JH Audio line up. Great bang for the buck. Can be used with any type of music and great for the mastering engineer that can't splurge on the Layla. I have the JH16 which I use primarily with EDM as it had a fun sound. I have the Lola which is the most musical of the JH line up that I use with Americana/Jazz/Folk."

Drew Baird, Founder and CEO of Moon Audio

The JH Audio Product Line Explained

JH3X Pro Custom

The JH Audio JH3X Pro Custom IEM breaks new ground for performance in a triple driver custom in-ear monitor. Great things come in small packages and the JH3X is no different. With a 2-way design and a dual bore, the JH3X has a low-end punch and upper mid detail that's unparalleled by its rivals.

JH10X3 Pro Custom

JH Audio JH10X3 Pro Custom IEM gives you 3-way versatility and accuracy for a little less green. "Because 'cost-effective' should never mean cheap." Like all JH Audio custom in ear monitors, the JH10x3 offers -26dB of isolation eliminating stage volume and ambient noise – critical for performing musicians and audiophiles alike. This extreme ability to block outside sounds enhances the listening experience and allows lower listening levels reducing the potential for hearing damage.

JH11 Pro Custom

Like all JH Audio custom in ear monitors, the JH11 offers -26dB of isolation eliminating stage volume and ambient noise – critical for performing musicians and audiophiles alike. This extreme ability to block outside sounds enhances the listening experience and allows lower listening levels reducing the potential for hearing damage.

13V2 Pro Performance Series

(Universal)

The JH13Pro, a favorite among audiophiles, has been upgraded to a new driver and crossover technology in these 13v2 Pro Universal Fit IEMs. The JH13v2 Performance Universal Fit IEM features Eight Balanced Armatures, a Steel Tube Waveguide, and Moon Audio 4-pin connector and cable, with +10db of adjustable bass per ear. Enhanced extension, clarity and soundstage characterizes these IEMs.

JH13 V2 Pro

(Custom)

JH Audio takes the JH13Pro to the next level with the JH13v2. The JH13Pro, a favorite among audiophiles, is the first IEM upgraded to new driver and crossover technology. Features: 6 all-new Balanced Armatures, Steel Tube Waveguide, and a Moon Audio 4-pin connector and cable, with 10 dB of adjustable bass per ear! The JH13v2 has every thing you loved about the JH13 with enhanced extension, clarity and soundstage.

JH16 V2 Pro Performance Series

(Universal)

The JH16 Pro secured its place among the most coveted in-ear monitors used by the biggest touring artists in the world. Now, with major upgrades, the new JH16v2 Performance Universal Fit provides off the charts performance you have to hear to believe. Newly designed Balanced Armatures allow for low and high frequency extension and JH Audio's patented variable bass allows you to adjust +/- 10db on the quad low driver without effecting performance of the mids or highs.

JH16 V2 Pro

(Custom)

The JH Audio JH3X Pro Custom IEM breaks new ground for performance in a triple driver custom in-ear monitor. Great things come in small packages and the JH3X is no different. With a 2-way design and a dual bore, the JH3X has a low-end punch and upper mid detail that's unparalleled by its rivals.

JH Audio Angie Custom

The Custom Angie IEM by JH Audio is the 3rd offering in the “Siren Series”. It is aptly named after the Rolling Stones song “Angie” written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recorded in November and December 1972. "Angie" is an acoustic-guitar-driven ballad, which tells of the end of a romance. Richards, who wrote almost all the music and lyrics for the song, claimed in his autobiography that the name was a pseudonym for heroin and that the song was about his attempt to quit using while he was detoxing in Switzerland.

Roxanne Performance Series

(Universal)

Roxanne performance Universal Fit IEM is a part of the Performance Series IEMs by JH Audio. It has a solid bass response and a naturally wide soundstage for one of the most musical IEM's ever produced. Roxanne became an instant legend when she was released over two years ago as the first IEM in the innovative Siren Series collection. It introduced the locking 4-pin connect and an on-cable adjustable bass attenuator.

JH Lola Performance Series

(Universal)

The JH Audio Lola IEM has a Hybrid design utilizing a proprietary Dual Low Balanced Armature covering from 10Hz to 200Hz. The mid utilizes D.O.M.E™ technology which handles 200Hz to 3kHz, and a Quad Balanced Armature from 3kHz to 20kHz. Lola™ also features Freqphase™ technology, proprietary 4-pin connectors, and 10dB of user adjustable Bass response - famous in JH Audio IEMs.

JH Audio Jimmy ICON

(Custom)

The JH Audio JH3X Pro Custom IEM breaks new ground for performance in a triple driver custom in-ear monitor. Great things come in small packages and the JH3X is no different. With a 2-way design and a dual bore, the JH3X has a low-end punch and upper mid detail that's unparalleled by its rivals.

JH Audio Lola

(Custom)

The Lola™ Custom IEMs feature Dual Low and Quad High Balanced Armatures and Dual Dynamic 4.9mm Drivers that utilize patent pending D.O.M.E™ Midrange Enclosure Technology. Lola™ also features Freqphase™ technology, proprietary 4-pin connectors, and 10dB of user adjustable Bass response - famous in JH Audio IEMs.

JH Audio Sirens Roxanne

(Custom)

Equipped with Soundrive technology, the Roxanne lures you in with the widest frequency range you'll ever hear and then seduces you with the first variable bass control IEM cable; it's even adjustable, so you can shape the sweet spot of your low end to irresistible levels.

Roxanne AION

(Custom)

Roxanne AION begins as a carbon fiber block formed by compressing hundreds of layers of resin-infused carbon fiber fabric. After undergoing an initial machining process, and then a secondary hand shaping process, Roxanne AION is precision tuned using state-of-the-art equipment and assembled by hand.

JH Audio Layla

(Custom)

As the first reference/mastering IEM from Jerry Harvey, Layla's bass response is perfectly flat when turned down and has +13db of boost at 60Hz when fully turned up. Layla has the most sophisticated crossover network ever put into a IEM. The shape of all crossover filters are all 4th order.

Astell&Kern Layla AION  

(Universal)

The first Layla launched as a custom earphone in 2014 and instantly became known as the audiophile "holy grail." Since then, there have been two limited-edition releases of universal fit Layla, "Carbon Fiber Edition," and "Full Metal Jacket." The newest and third generation is the most exciting yet: Layla AION.

JH Audio IEMs: Entry-Level

The entry-level for JH Audio IEMs comprises some of their earlier in-ear iterations all at affordable price points. The JH3X Pro and the JH10X3 Pro are some of the best affordable triple-driver IEMs on the market for the budget musician. The JH11 Pro is a quad-driver capable of delivering unmatched fidelity at this price point. With dual-low drivers, the JH11 packs quite the punch for low-frequency genres, yet provides overall clarity and balance in the mid and upper ranges. The JH Audio entry-level IEMs are a phenomenal value-for-performance product, and the custom mold format will ensure that you have a one-of-a-kind fit tailored to your ear canal and listening preferences.

JH Audio IEMs: Midrange

Midrange IEMs from JH Audio provide more bang for your buck, and performance to boot. The 13V2 and 16V2 IEMs are very popular options, with a number of upgrades from the original versions. Both update upgraded driver designs and new crossover technology, giving them enhanced extension, clarity and soundstage. The 13V2 have 8 drivers while the 16V2's have 10. The Angie is a quad-driver IEM with a more reference sound signature, offering more top-end extension with minimal distortion.

The midrange IEMs are for those who want to put a little more into their in-ears for a substantial increase in sound quality and customizable options. The 13V2 Pro and 16V2 Pro's have various sizing options, ranging from custom molds, to standard universal fit, to the new "Performance Series" universal fit, which we'll get into more detail below.

JH Audio IEMs: Top-End

The Top-End IEMs from JH Audio represent just about the best you can get. The performance is premium, just like the price; but you get what you pay for. The Lola IEMs feature Dual Low and Quad High Balanced Armatures and Dual Dynamic 4.9mm Drivers that utilize patent pending D.O.M.E™ Midrange Enclosure Technology. Roxanne IEMs have a solid bass response and a naturally wide soundstage for one of the most musical IEM's ever produced. Roxanne became an instant legend as the first IEM in the innovative Siren Series collection. It introduced the locking 4-pin connect and an on-cable adjustable bass attenuator.

A funky, smooth, yet electric IEM, Jimi is configured with seven balanced armatures and loaded with all of the newest tech, including our latest 7-pin cable design, built-in Acoustic Sound Chamber™, and Purple Haze, a stunning new Signature Design offering comprised of live edge wood and resin that’ll take your breath away.

JH Audio IEMs: Flagships

The best of the best. The flagships Roxanne AION, Layla, and the A&K Layla AION are the best JH Audio has to offer. They are JH Audio's 12-driver powerhouses and represent some of the best IEM audio money can buy. The AION designation means that JH Audio's most popular and top-of-the-line IEMs are available in universal fit, making it even more accessible for musicians and audiophiles alike. The custom Layla's are JH Audio's most renowned IEM. As the first reference/mastering IEM from Jerry Harvey, Layla's bass response is perfectly flat when turned down and has +13db of boost at 60Hz when fully turned up. Layla has the most sophisticated crossover network ever put into an IEM. This crossover circuit, combined with the Freqphase waveguide and new proprietary quad drivers, deliver an audio quality that will truly put you at the mix position in the recording studio, whether it's hearing exactly what the mixer/producer and band wanted you to hear, mixing your own tracks or performing live.

Ergonomic Scenarios for JH Audio IEMs: Custom vs. Universal

When it comes to great in-ear-monitors, should you pick universal in-ear-monitors or should you go all in and go custom? Also, who benefits the most from custom in-ear-monitors vs universal IEMs? This section will elaborate on which in-ear-monitor style is best for each ergonomic scenario.

For many, the universal earphone design is the perfect fitting style for most users’ ear-canals. While for others, going custom is the ultimate way to create the sealing condition that isolates sound properly for the unique contours of a user’s ear canals. Choosing the right style is all about great sound, but the other important touch-point users of in-ear-monitors have to negotiate is comfort. When you really think about it, inserting foreign objects into our ear-canals is deeply personal. The choice to go custom or to stay universal is an intimate decision that has a direct impact on our connection with music. In-ear-monitors offer the potential to connect us even closer to the music our favorite artists create. Sometimes, comfort can be more important than anything else, because it’s how an in-ear-monitor feels inside the ears that help us to sustain our enjoyment of music for longer periods of time.

Traditionally, the ergonomic trend for professional musicians and other audio professionals in the field to focus on has been the custom fitting IEM. When it comes to the best sound quality and the most immersive experience on-the-go, audio professionals generally prefer custom IEMs as opposed to universal fitting earphones. The reason behind the trend for customs in the music industry is largely due to the extreme mobility, flexibility and athleticism that performing music requires during expressive performances. These performers are called “rock stars” for a reason, after all. Playing music is as much a kinesthetic activity as it is a critical-listening activity. Thus, Rock Stars need comfortable fitting earpieces that stay snuggly in place while relying on their ears during kinesthetic theatrics on the stage. If the earpiece is constantly falling out of the wearer’s ear canal, the musician can’t get lost in the moment.  

So, when it comes to the most immersive experience on-the-go, professional musicians generally prefer custom-fitting IEMs as opposed to universal in-ear-monitors. Custom IEMs are molded by an audiologist to fit the one-of-a-kind impressions of a wearer’s uniquely shaped ear canal. Being the only custom-molded fitting style available, custom IEMs offer the most personalized isolation and sealing condition of any fit-type. For custom fitting IEMs, this is why going “pro” is the most popular choice of users who demand the absolute best in every shape and form from their listening sessions with IEMs.




Sticking with universals is all about the convenience, and what better way to get the best sound quality out of the most comfortable fitting universal IEMs ever made? Having provided in-ear-monitoring mixes for many of the biggest touring acts in rock, Jerry Harvey understands the importance of comfort. JH Audio universal IEM shells are designed to help rock stars and audiophiles alike keep the music going with superior comfort.

Since Jerry Harvey practically invented the in-ear-monitor for in-the-field use, shoppers weighing the pros and cons between the two styles (universal vs custom) can trust Jerry Harvey’s universal designs to be some of the most comfortable fitting universal IEM products ever made. The decision comes down to the question: how custom are you willing to go to obtain the perfect fitting IEM? For many users, including the pros, JH Audio’s universal designs are just the right fit.

On the other hand, custom IEMs can be expensive, and the procedure requires a specialist’s expertise to ensure the impressions are captured with exacting precision. Pre-formed earphones, or universal in-ear-monitors are designed to fit into the ear canal universally, making this inner-ear style more convenient and more accessible. Similar to other fit-types, the pre-formed universal molding isn’t the right style for everyone’s ear canals, but for almost everyone else, JH Audio’s universal IEM is the perfect fitting style. To get started with in-ear-monitors just like the pros do it, check out the universal and custom styles by JH Audio below.

Custom

JH3X Pro
JH10X3 Pro
JH11 Pro
JH13V2 Pro
JH16V2 Pro

Angie
Sirens Roxanne
JH Lola
Jimi ICON
Layla

Pros: customized fit, good seal for best sound quality and isolation, comfortable.

Cons: expensive.

Universal

JH13V2 Pro
JH16V2 Pro
Roxanne (Performance Series)
Lola (Performance Series)
Roxanne AION

Layla AION

Pros: more affordable, convenient/accessible. "Performance Series" fit a better compromise between universals and customs.

Cons: overall fit/seal can vary, sound not as good as customs.


Want to know more about all the styles of headphones and earphones that shoppers can choose from? Read The Essential Guide to Headphones that Fit Your Lifestyle, and eliminate all the guess-work in choosing a headphone or in-ear-monitor that’s right for you.




How To Choose A Headphone That's Right For You

The Essential Guide To Headphones That Fit Your Lifestyle



Ergonomic Scenarios for JH Audio IEMs: Custom vs. Universal

Many audiophiles prefer a “wider” sense of presentation compared to the “narrower” “in-your-head” sense of presentation that Earphones and In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) can deliver. Compared to the smallest and most portable Earphone and IEM fit-types, the extra-dimensional “width” achieved through full-size headphones is lost in the exchange for the better mobility afforded by the smallest headphone style on the market.

On the other hand, a “narrower,” and more “intimate” sense of presentation that’s more “centered” in the forehead is usually achieved the best with these smaller and more portable headphone styles. In fact, with Earphones & IEMs users can experience a sense of resolution and intimacy with the music that isn’t possible with any other fit-type. It’s important to understand that where psychoacoustics are concerned, there are no right or wrong answers. There are only preferences and compromises; advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to the best sound quality and the most immersive experience on-the-go, audiophiles and professional musicians generally prefer custom IEMs as opposed to Earphones. The reason for this preference amongst users who are the most serious about their listening sessions is the better comfort and sound quality that custom IEMs deliver. Custom IEMs are molded by an audiologist to fit the one-of-a-kind impressions of a wearer’s uniquely shaped ear canal. Being the only custom-molded fit-type available, custom IEMs offer the most personalized isolation and sealing condition of any headphone style.

A pair of open back Audeze iSINE10 In-Ear headphones.

At the same time, custom IEMs can be expensive, and the procedure requires an audiologist's expertise to ensure the impressions are captured with exacting precision and form. Pre-formed Earphones, or “Universal IEMs,” however, are designed to fit in the ear canal universally, making this fit-type more convenient and more economical. Similar to other headphone styles, the pre-formed “universal” molding isn’t the right style for everyone’s ear canals, but for many users, the Universal IEM is the perfect fit. The takeaway is that there are enough options to find the right fit for you, to make sure you have the best comfort and sound quality your budget can allow.

Headphones

Earphones

IEMs

In summary:

  • Earphones: (or "universal" IEMs) Best for Mobile and Professional applications.
  • Custom IEMs: Offers the most personalized isolation and sealing condition of any headphone style. This fit-type is the best for more serious critical listening of on-the-go audiophiles or music industry professionals who require un-compromised comfort for the most “up-close” and intimate experience with their music of any fit-type available.
  • Headphones: Unmatched soundstage. Larger form-factor and various open-back or closed-back options.

Dragon Cables

For those unacquainted with Dragon Cables, you might ask, "don't my IEMs come with cables already?" Well sure, but what are the quality of those cables? When you buy a new headphone or earphone you're buying them for the driver technology; the technology that will be the output for your music. What if companies put the planning, craftsmanship and quality into their cables like they do for their earphone or headphone? Hi. We're Moon Audio. :)

That's exactly what we do here. Yes, the internals of your earphone and headphone are important, but if you send your music through a shoddy afterthought of a cable then your music is going to suffer because of it. Materials matter, and we use only the purest materials in our Dragon Cables.

Don't think cables make a difference? Let's learn about sound signatures.

Sound Signatures

Most stock headphone cables are made of poor, ultra-thin conductors that work as a bottleneck for sound. Poor geometries, no shielding, rubber jackets, and a whole host of other issues in OEM cables can limit the performance of the headphone driver in terms of clarity and definition.

Dragon Cables are handcrafted from quality materials in Moon Audio's headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. All of our cables are created with ultra-pure, single-crystal silver and copper strands and engineered to provide the cleanest, most musical presentation. Our wire is void of impurities and crystalline boundaries, leaving nothing between you and your music.

Silver Dragon Cable

After 2 years of R&D, the Silver Dragon IEM headphone cable V2 (version 2) for JH Audio In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) is, as Audio Ambassador and long-time JH Audio listener Doug wrote in his review, "...a major step forward in detail, dynamic contrasts and soundstage". Drew and the Moon Audio design team collaborated with Jerry Harvey, founder of JH Audio, to rethink, recombine and redesign the Silver Dragon V2 for JH Audio IEMs. JH Audio, one of the most admired IEM manufacturers, started the IEM revolution working with bands you know and love. Compatible with all 4-Pin style JH Audio IEMs.

Cable Design

The Silver Dragon IEM V2 Cable takes a no-holds-barred approach to quality. It features eight conductors of 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Silver in each cable. It is the purest wire that can currently be produced and void of all impurities. It includes all the sonic strengths of our original Silver Dragon IEM cable with an enhanced level of resolution and detail. It is not an overly forward or bright-sounding cable. It is extremely smooth and clean with an accurate reflection of the music, making it a non-fatiguing option for mastering and reference sound. The bass is tight, well-controlled bass with more layers of resolution than any other cable we have produced. If you are a critical listener then there is no substitution for this cable! You will be thrilled with the resolution and detail.

Silver Dragon Sound Signature

The Silver Dragon is the original cable. Silver strands clarify instrument separation, increase soundstage, and find previously lost high and mid-frequency sounds. Transients appear more cohesive and the bass tighter for a more controlled sound. The detail and clarity of the Silver Dragon make it a perfect match for classical music and other genres with many nuanced instruments.

For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.

Pairs well with:

Lola Custom IEMs
JH13v2 Custom IEM in The President Signature Design

Learn more about the Silver Dragon IEM Cable below:

Black Dragon Cable

The Black Dragon IEM Headphone Cable V2 introduces the next evolution in Dragon IEM cables. This Black Dragon is a total redesign of the previous Black Dragon IEM headphone cable V1. We redesigned this cable solely for the purpose of teaming up with JH Audio, one of the best, most admired and sought after IEM manufacturers in the world. This redesign was almost 2 years in the making and all elements of the cable were redesigned and improved.

Cable Design

When designing the Black Dragon IEM V2, we looked for a way to provide the great detail and resolution of our Silver Dragon line and still maintain the full sound and enhanced bottom end of our Black Dragon line. We also needed to embrace these improvements in a cost-effective way so everyone can unleash their music with the dragon cables and their JH Audio IEMs.

This forced a new direction for Moon Audio in cable creation which included working with plated metals. We found that when we increased the quantity of plating to a 15-18% ratio, we were able to maximize both sound characteristics of silver and copper in the Black Dragon. We feel this enhanced the sonic attributes and characteristics of the Black Dragon to its maximum potential and believe you will agree!

The V2 boasts a stranded, silver-plated copper design which marries all the sonic strengths of our Silver and Black Dragon IEM cables. With some audio cables, adding silver-plated copper can make it sound harsh in the top frequency range. This is NOT the case with our Black Dragon as the heavy silver plating provides a very smooth, detailed top end with a great sense of presentation. This is in large part due to the 15-18% ratio we landed upon during our design and testing phase.

We also found the midrange to be warmer and lush without sounding too laid back, yet it maintains the full sound spectrum and dimension. Most importantly, even the powerful bottom end of the Black Dragon IEM V1 has been improved upon. This new stranded, silver-plated copper design is not similar to the silver-plated tinsel wire used in the JH Audio stock JH cables. The purity and density of our conductors are far superior and much more expensive to design, engineer, and produce. You will be amazed at the sound quality improvements over the JH Audio stock cables.

Black Dragon Sound Signature

The Black Dragon is warm and smooth with a musical presentation. Copper strands enhance the body, shape, and immediacy of the music. The detail and expansiveness of the Black Dragon make it a flexible fit where a broad range of musical genres are played. It can also improve bass frequencies on bass-light headphones. The smooth, musical quality makes it a perfect fit for headphones that tend to sound a bit edgy or bright. Despite its warmth, the Black Dragon does not have a laid back, lush sound. It is much closer to neutral, making it a very natural sounding cable. For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.

Pairs well with:

JH Audio 16V2 Pro Custom IEM

Learn more about the Black Dragon IEM Cable bleow:

Bronze Dragon Cable

The Bronze Dragon helps create a warmer presentation with a bigger and fuller body adding bottom end strength and muscle. Our new Dragon cable is musical without becoming lush or bloated. In cases where you own a bright or thin sounding IEM, the Bronze Dragon will add body to the sound. It will provide a fuller, bigger presentation to the music. The bass will have more weight to it without being bloated and lush sounding. The Bronze Dragon is a warm and musical sound signature.

Cable Design

The new Bronze Dragon IEM headphones cables have 8 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Copper conductors per cable, surpassing our Black Dragon IEM headphone cable V1. Used in just the right ways and proportions, Copper helps warm, expand, and strengthen sound from bass guitars, cellos, and deep vocalists, like Barry White.

Designed for 2 pin male IEMs (such as JH Audio, Noble, and Westone), our new Dragons feature a 45-degree angle on the lead. This effectively wraps the cable up and around your ear for more comfort and better sound.

Bronze Dragon Sound Signature

With a warm presentation, the Bronze Dragon strengthens the bottom end without becoming bloated. Bass guitar and cello are full and immersive, creating a musical that's not too lush. The warmth and fullness of the Bronze Dragon creates the muscle needed to round out a flat signature.

For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.

Pairs well with:


Learn more about the Bronze Dragon IEM Cable below:

Blue Dragon Cable

(There are currently no Blue Dragon cable options for JH Audio IEMs)

The Blue Dragon headphone cable is a neutral, very natural sounding headphone cable which is great for vocal performances. It is a good fit if you want to improve clarity and dynamics in your headphones and do not want to add coloration. Furthermore, if you do not want to tip the headphone forward or back, then the Blue Dragon is a wonderful choice.

Cable Design

The Blue Dragon Headphone Cable has been designed to match the Silver Dragon headphone cable but with a high purity copper conductor using the Ohno Continuous Casting Process. The Blue Dragon has the same geometry structure as the Silver Dragon only it uses UP-OCC pure copper. It is also the best bang for the buck custom headphone cable on the market today.

Each conductor of the Blue Dragon is made up of a special varying size stranding geometry. The copper stranding is mixed with Kevlar stranding to reinforce the conductor. This makes it stronger overall and less prone to failure due to the harsh constant flexing a headphone cable receives. The conductors are then surrounded by cotton and then a layer of Teflon tape. This most recent version is now also shielded and placed in a polyethylene jacket for further protection. The Blue Dragon is also quieter than the previous version with no microphonics.

Blue Dragon Sound Signature

The Blue Dragon is our value full-size headphone cable. Using copper strands, it combines the neutrality of the Black Dragon with the clarity of the Silver Dragon at a lower price point. The Blue Dragon is a good fit for improving dynamics without adding coloration. Its calm and neutral sound make it a great place to start with premium cables.

For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.


Learn more about Blue Dragon Cables below:

JH Audio IEM Specs

Model Fit Sensitivity # of Drivers Sound Signature Genre Dragon Match

JH Audio Layla

Custom

20 Ohms

12

Analytical/Resolute

Reference, Audiophile Sound

Silver Dragon V2

JH Audio Sirens Roxanne

Custom

12

V-shape

Rock 'n Roll

Black Dragon V2

JH Audio Lola

Custom

16 Ohms

8

Musical

Reference, Audiophile Sound

Silver Dragon V2

JH Audio Jimi

Custom

17 Ohms

7

V-shape

Rock 'n Roll

None*

JH Audio 16v2 Pro

Custom

18 Ohms

10

V-shape, Fun

EDM, Pop, Rap

Black Dragon V1, V2

JH Audio Angie

Custom

17 Ohms

8

Analytical/Resolute

Reference, Audiophile Sound

Silver Dragon V2

JH Audio 13v2 Pro

Custom

28 Ohms

8

Neutral

Reference

Silver Dragon V1, V2

JH Audio 11 Pro

Custom

18 Ohms

4

?

Bass heads

Black Dragon V1, Bronze Dragon

JH Audio 10X3 Pro

Custom

18 Ohms

3

Natural

?

Black Dragon V1, Bronze Dragon

JH Audio 3X Pro

Custom

18 Ohms

3

Fun Entry Level

All types

Black Dragon V1, Bronze Dragon

Astell&Kern Layla AION Series

Custom

?

Analytical/Resolute

Reference, Audiophile Sound

None*

JH Audio Roxanne AION Series

Universal

15 Ohms

12

V-shape

Rock 'n Roll

None*

JH Audio Roxanne Performance Series

Universal

15 Ohms

12

V-shape

Rock 'n Roll

Black Dragon V2

JH Audio Lola Performance Series

Universal

16 Ohms

8

Musical

Reference, Audiophile Sound

Silver Dragon V2

JH Audio 16v2 Pro Performance Series

Universal

18 Ohms

10

V-shape, Fun

EDM, Pop, Rap

Black Dragon V2

JH Audio 13v2 Pro Performance Series

Universal

28 Ohms

8

Neutral

Reference

Silver Dragon V2


*Note: We do not have Dragon Cable matches for the Jimi, and AION series due to the 7-pin connector that are proprietary on those models.

Drew's Picks

"Let's start at the least expensive model: the JH3X. So, this is a three-driver balanced armature design. Three-way crossover: one for the high, one for the mid, and one for the low. It's a very fun sounding IEM. These are not available in the universal model, only in customs. It's really the best way and the most economical way to get into custom IEMs. I've gotten all my kids in my house this pair. They use them for working out, you can sweat all over them. They're made of acrylic; just wipe them off afterwards with alcoholic wipes to clean them off. And it's really easy to take care of them that way when they're customs."


"The next model up the line that's one of my all-time favorites is the JH13V2 Pro. This has a six driver array: two for the high, two for the mid, and two for the low. I've owned just about every iteration of the 13 that's come out; It's sort of my go-to model. It's very natural, very smooth from top to bottom. It's a forgiving IEM; very linear frequency response. It's not really tipped up on the top or bottom. It's really great for all types of music. I've used it mostly with Jazz, Americana, things that have lots of strings: you can really pick up on the plucking of the stringed instruments with these. I recommend these to mastering studios all the time for a very clean, uncolored sounding IEM. A catch-all IEM, if you will."


"Then the next model up the line we go to is the 16V2 Pro. So, this is a three-way crossover again: four drivers on the high frequencies, two on the mid, and four on the low. Obviously based on this, you can tell it is a V-shaped curve frequency response; a very “fun” sound. I usually recommend this IEM to people that listen to R&B, rap, maybe EDM. Like I said, a very fun sound."


"Next up the line and one of the newer IEMs from JH Audio is the Lola. This is one of my favorites in the whole lineup because it's a hybrid design that Jerry came up with here. He's using once again, a three way crossover: four on the high (and these are balanced armature drivers), two on the low (balanced armature drivers), and he's done something different on the mids. He's done a band-pass design, similar to what's used with subwoofers, where you have two opposite opposing facing drivers, and he's used two dynamic drivers in the mids. Normally, with IEMs, you'll usually see the dynamics on the low drivers because that's where you can get a lot of bass. But he used them in a different configuration, using them for the mid, which provides a much warmer tonality to my ears with this IEM. It's a very musical, very smooth. I wouldn't say lush and liquid like a tube amp. But out of the JH lineup, it's probably the warmest of the IEMs and really my favorite, because like I said, I listen to a lot of Jazz and Americana. That matched up with the detail of, say, a Chord Mojo or Chord Hugo 2, the combination is just delicious."


"Then the next one up the line is the Roxanne. This has probably been one of the best sellers of all the IEMs from JH Audio, at least with Moon Audio. This again: three-way crossover, four high, four mid, four low. This is a little bit of a V-shape like the 16, but it's got a more aggressive sound to it. It was tuned and designed for rock n roll in mind. If you listen to metal, rock, heavy blues, this is the IEM for you. It's got a very aggressive, fun rock n roll sound. Great kick drums, great details on the top for the guitars; fantastic IEM."

To see the full video of Drew's overview of JH Audio IEM features and sound signatures, check out the link below:

Which JH Audio IEM Is Right For Me?

So with all this information, where do you start in figuring out which IEM is right for you?

JH Audio takes pride in their many models in making sure that there is enough variety to find the perfect IEM for your ears. No one hears music the same way. One of the first questions Drew Baird, Founder and CEO of Moon Audio, asks people when they call is, "What kind of music do you like to listen to?" That one question tells us a lot about your listening preferences and what kinds of equipment will be compatible with a specific sound signature. Another thing it allows us to do is consider what kinds of materials to look for to alter, counterbalance, or blend with that sound signature for modifying existing or new audio gear.

"What kind of music do you listen to?"

For instance, if you like to listen to bass-heavy genres of music, then an IEM like the JH Audio 13v2 would NOT be a good choice since they have a more reference sound signature (they'll still sound good, but you will likely not be happy with the bass response they deliver). It's going to be important that you match up the genres of music you listen to with the IEM that is going to best recreate the original sound of the audio. This will result in the best possible audio performance for your listening experience.

Firstly, using the table above and depending on what kind of music you prefer, you can see which models are best fits for specific genres. This is based on the natural sound signature of the IEM itself. It's also important to note that you can change elements of the sound signature by the materials in the cable. That being said, if a specific IEM is more middle of the road in regards to sound signature, you can modify that sound to be warmer or more analytical depending on the materials of the cable you plug into it. In this way, a Silver Dragon will make your music more analytical and resolute. A Black Dragon will create warmth and depth to your audio, making it more musical.

  • Step 1: Know your genre
  • Step 2: Figure out your budget
  • Step 3: Choose Universal or Custom fit
  • Step 4: Pick your IEM based on sound signature
  • Step 5: Choose a Dragon Cable
  • Step 6: Get ready to enjoy one of the best IEM experiences on the market

JH Audio IEMs offer performance enhancement for both musicians and audiophiles. Now you can listen like the pros, hear like your heroes, and feel what the artist feels - as it was intended.

If you have any questions about choosing the right IEM for you, please feel free to contact us and we'll walk you through the process to make sure you have the perfect match for your listening preferences.

F.A.Q.

What are in-ear monitors?

In-Ear Monitors, or IEMs, are small audio devices that musicians, audio engineers and audiophiles use to listen to music that fit inside the ear canal. These devices come in various fit styles and sizes to accommodate the varying number of ear sizes, and are customizable to your actual ear shape if desired. This could also be a general designator for any audio device that is worn or placed inside the ear canal; i.e. earbuds, earphones, in-ears, etc.

Professional musicians often use them in wireless setups in which they are connected to a receiver pack which is then worn on the musician's person. This allows them to hear their personalized monitor mix untethered or without the use of stage wedges/floor monitors to reduce the amount of stage noise and mic bleed. Audiophiles usually utilize their IEMs cabled, allowing for the unrestricted transmission of audio signal from the source. Audiophiles also tend to be more critical listeners and desire high fidelity and realistic recreation of the audio when listening to their music, which is why many audiophile-grade IEMs have multi-driver designs.

How do in-ear monitors work?

In-Ear Monitors work in much the same way your phone earbuds do. The drivers inside of your device help to create the music from your audio source. Unlike earbuds, IEM's oftentimes have multiple drivers which result in higher fidelity and better audio quality. In-ear monitors usually have a higher sensitivity rating, making them easier to drive at lower volumes as well as being relatively easy to drive, despite their multi-drivers and higher power requirement.

What are In-Ear Monitors used for?

There are various scenarios where in-ear monitors are used, from musicians to audiophiles. Musicians use IEMs for performances in place of on-stage speaker wedges. There are a few reasons why IEM's are better than wedges, mostly because of sound isolation and overall reduction in sound volume. Stage volume for musicians can get pretty loud and result in heading damage/loss over long periods of time. IEMs -both universals and customs - create a seal in your ear to block external noise and make it easier for the front-of-house (FOH) engineer to tailor your personal monitor mix. The second reason and probably the most important is that due to the seal, IEM's can function at much lower volumes in the ear canal and save your hearing in the long run.

Audiophiles often use IEMs because of their high-quality reproduction of the music due their multiple-driver designs. Multiple drivers result in more dynamic frequency ranges and more accurate sound reproduction.

Are IEMs safe? Are they bad for your ears?

Absolutely. In fact, in-ear monitors can be more safe for your ears than speakers. The nice thing about IEMs is that they help to create a seal to block out external noise and to therefore be able to function at lower volumes, thus helping to protect your hearing (as long as they are operating under low volumes).

Of course, just like speakers used at loud volumes, so too can IEMs damage your hearing if used irresponsibly. However, the original intent behind the creation of the in-ear monitor was to help prevent any further hearing damage to Alex Van Halen's ears from years of loud speaker exposure.

Are IEMs good for listening to music?

IEMs are great and very popular among audiophiles and music lovers for listening to music. Because of their increased fidelity over regular earbuds, in-ear monitors have increased sound stage, dynamics and more due to their construction, engineering and multi-driver designs. They are great options and highly recommended for listening to music.

Are IEMs better than headphones?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer: it depends on a number of factors. For instance, a $200 IEM will most assuredly sound better than a $20 pair of headphones, just like a $600 pair of IEMs won't hold a candle against a $4000 pair of open-back headphones. Quality versus price is relative.

Concerning ergonomic scenarios, if you are primarily interested in portable solutions, then IEMs will absolutely be better than full-size headphones. Weight and size are just some factors that give IEMs the advantage over headphones and make them great audio solutions for those on-the-go or need a compact option. Earphone options are great for mobile and professionals, whereas custom IEMs offer the most personalized sound and seal for the music listener. IEMs offer a more personalized sound since they fit inside the listeners ears, but headphones create a soundstage that is unparalleled and cannot be matched by in-ears.

One is not overall better than the other, but headphones and IEMs are better at some things than others.

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