Jerry Harvey got into the headphone business by making in-ear monitors for just a few musician friends, and went on to build headphones for hundreds of bands, and now counts Mary J. Blige, Godsmack, Guns 'N' Roses, Alicia Keys, Eddie Vedder, and the Glee Live Tour as customers.
Harvey pioneered two-way (bass/treble) in-ear designs in 1995, and later the first three-way (bass, mid, treble) in-ear monitors. Harvey's multiple driver designs produce less distortion and increase dynamic range compared with conventional single-driver headphones, which include all of the standard headphones from Etymotic, Monster, Skullcandy, Sony, etc. The JH16 Pro I'm reviewing here is the world's first eight-driver, three-way in-ear headphone, and its sound is revelatory.
I reviewed the JH Audio's 13 Pro in-ear headphones last year in this blog, and the JH16 shares a lot of the same technology, but the big difference is in the bass. The JH16 has four low-frequency drivers (the JH13 uses two), two midrange, and two high-frequency drivers--for a total of eight drivers per channel. Both headphones feature "balanced armature" drivers, which are proprietary to JH Audio, and they're designed by Jerry Harvey.
The sound is addicting; once you've gotten used to hearing this kind of uber resolution, it's hard to go back to merely excellent in-ear headphones like my old Etymotic ER-4P ($300). I haven't heard any of Etymotic's latest designs, but the ER-4P now sounds small, cramped, and hopelessly outclassed by the JH16. Can't afford $1,149? JH Audio offers a range of custom in-ear models; prices start at $399 for the JH 5 Pro.
The JH16 is super efficient, so it can play louder, a lot louder than most headphones while being driven by iPhones, iPods, and Zunes' puny built-in headphone amplifiers.
Each JH16 is a unique hand-built creation, based on custom ear molds. The company's Web site has a list of recommended audiologists who make the molds (for around $100). Building a JH16 is a labor-intensive process; each headphone takes five hours to complete and test in the company's factory in Florida. … Read more