Well, blogging during lunch while listening to some beautiful tunes on my new JH Audio JH5 Pro in-ear monitors (IEMs: fancy, slightly snobby term for musician-spec headphones). For those of you not familiar with the term, typically when you’re playing on stage, you have monitors that are speakers on the ground that let you hear yourself. Nowadays, a lot of people are moving those monitors into their ears (in-ear monitors) for a number of reasons I won’t get into here (ok, I’m biased, so just a couple: safer listening levels, better house mixes, and better monitor mixes).

What I will say, though, is that I believe a lot of people opposed to IEMs have not had a proper monitor mix setup or were using sub-par in-ear monitors. Now with the JH5 Pros, I’ll never be able to make the second excuse – these are phenomenal.

All of JH Audio’s IEMs are custom-moulded to your ear. They do this by getting you to go to an audiologist and get ear-impressions that you send to them to create your headphones out of. The end results is that you have an earphone that is perfectly moulded to your ear. This means very comfortable, secure, and isolating fit – something that is not the case with a lot of universal-fit IEMs. Even the best ones have trouble staying put. Custom-moulded IEMs also provide a ton of isolation (26db in my case) which means that you can listen at MUCH lower volumes which will save your hearing as well as provides a quieter sonic space to hear all of the detail these can provide.

The Sound. One word: Incredible. I have the cheapest of the lot with *only* two drivers in each ear (one for lows and one for mids and highs), but the step up in audio goodness from my Shure SCL3s is no small matter. I also have the highly-acclaimed Klipsch S4 headphones for casual listening that sound fantastic and these just blow those out of the water.

The detail level is so impressive with these – I can only imagine what the JH16s with 8 (yes, EIGHT) drivers in each ear sound like. The JH5s are not intended to be a flat frequency response as they’re intended to be good for those on stage which usually involves a clear, weighty low end, detailed mids, and clean, airy highs. I can say that they deliver on this front superbly.

The low-end extends surprisingly low. They handle the low B string on my bass (fundamental frequency of 30Hz) without a hitch, but even more special is that they do it without getting muddy or flabby. It’s just tight and punchy. The mids are very detailed and well balanced while the highs are clean and clear without getting harsh. Excellent.

Comfortability-wise, I wasn’t super-impressed at first as people talked about not even noticing having them in their ears and I was definitely noticing them, but now after a number of hours with them, they are very comfortable. There’s a period of getting used to them. However, now that I have, I would be very sad to go back to any other headphones. Yesterday, I had them in for almost 6 hours straight at work with no fatigue.

Overall, a real winner here. The whole setup cost me about $500 after shipping and ear impressions (phones are $399 by themselves) which might seem crazy for some people, but these are built to last and I play and listen to a lot of music. If you’re like me, you won’t regret the decision. The headphones have user-replaceable cables as well as come in an Otter Box to keep them safe. This is definitely one of the best purchases I’ve made in a long time. I’m addicted to listening to music now. I want to go re-listen to all of my music to hear what wasn’t there before. Thanks, Jerry Harvey and the team at JH Audio.