JH15 Pro In-Ear Monitors Review
The best thing we’ve ever stuck in our ears
Unlike other earbuds that you just cram into your ears, rocking a pair of JH16 in-ear monitors requires some advance planning — and no, we’re not talking about the overtime you’ll need to clock to be able to afford them. JH Audio custom-builds each pair to fit you and you alone, which requires a trip to an audiologist to take molds of your ear canals. The molding process only takes about 15 minutes, but it involves cold plasticky goo being stuffed deeply into your ears. It wasn’t painful, but “weird and uncomfortable” sums up the experience pretty well. At over $1,149, the resulting earbuds are beyond pricey, but the audio results are, well…priceless.
The finished monitors fit our ears just right, like a well-worn pair of jeans. They ship with an 18-inch cable, but longer user-replaceable cables are available. And speaking of cables, it’s clear that JH Audio pays attention to details. Where other cables often transmit tons of noise to our ears when they rub on clothing, the braided JH Audio cable transmitted hardly any noise. When you’re paying over a grand for the best possible sound quality, the small stuff makes a difference.
Inside the hard shell (available in 52 colors), the monitors feature four individual drivers in each channel, two for lows, and one each for mids and highs. The end result is stunningly clear audio. For music fans, the effect is intoxicating. We immediately went for a lossless copy of Nick Drake’s classic album Bryter Layter and were taken with the textures — the buzz of fingers across guitar strings and Drake taking breaths as he sings. Even with such old analog recordings, the JH16s shine. More modern recordings were also amazing. Drum beats on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy were deep and tight, and felt as if they were coming from inside our head.
Befitting their heritage as pro tools for working musicians, the JH16s were extremely comfortable to wear. We were able to use these for hours at a time without experiencing any ear pain. And since they effectively seal off your ear canals, you can listen at lower volumes, which helps prevent fatigue, not to mention protecting your hearing.
The bottom line. Obviously $1,200 (after paying for ear molds) is a lot of money to spend, even on fancy earbuds. If music is your passion — or profession — then yeah, they’re probably worth it. But for everyone else, plenty of great earbuds can be had at a fraction of the cost.
Audio device, custom ear impressions taken by an audiologist, very deep pockets
Absolutely stunning sound quality.
Price puts them out of reach for all but the most dedicated music fans. Included waterproof OtterBox case is unnecessarily bulky (but tough).