Review: JH Audio Layla – Merlot

JH Audio Layla

Custom Build Choices (Personalization)

When it comes to designing your own custom in ear monitor many companies offer tools to visualize your design. Some companies do a better job at it than others. JH Audio does the best job of all! When you start designing your custom Layla you are facing a 3D picture of your soon to be CIEMs which you can rotate around all axis, so you always know how it will turn out to be. You can even zoom in and out to take a closer look!

You are left with a huge amount of choices of colours for your shell and faceplate. You can pick between solid or transparent colours, add some glitter to it or go the “Designer” route which gives you the opportunity of different materials for the shell and faceplate. Including carbon fibre (also in different colour combinations), real wood, metal, rhinestones, perloid or even printed textures.

If that weren’t enough, JH Audio also offers “Signature Designs” with very interesting offers. Luthier for example is a full wood CIEM with titanium faceplate.

All of these choices effect the final costs of Layla, making it vary between 2725$ and 3725$.

My unit was designed by Jerry’s in house design team. It was a complete surprise design to me, as all decisions about it were in the hands of his lead designer. It features a pink swirl design with aluminium face plates that show cut out parts for the Flygirl and the Layla wording. Especially the left earpiece, that features the Layla wording, makes me think about surfing, as the cut out aluminium resembles waves.

In my opinion the design itself looks really good, but I would’ve been more happy with a midnight blue or dark red colour instead of pink. But that’s just my personal preference.

JH Audio Layla

JH Audio Layla

Package

When it comes to packaging and included accessories JH Audio went with a very simple yet also outstanding selection of goods. Included with your new set of custom Layla’s is of course a cable. I requested a 2.5mm balanced cable for my pair of Layla’s, because I wanted to use them with the balanced output of my DAP and because I already had the 3.5 Millimetre stereo jack from Lola. This cable has eight conductors and the bass attenuator can be found a little after the jack. You can alter the bass response curve with a supplied mini screwdriver for each channel by turning the positions either clock-wise (higher dB count) or counter-clock-wise (lowering dBs). The earhooks are set with a memory wire, which I am not the biggest fan of, but since I don’t wear glasses they don’t cause me any discomfort. I simply prefer the heat shrink only or non-heat shrink (like plusSound cables) versions. Also included is a wax tool to remove earwax and other debris from your precious monitors and a pair of Comply wraps. I recommend to clean your set of customs every day.

Jerry Harvey to me is the king of cases. I was already impressed by Lola’s Zippo metal case that could possibly withstand to be run over by a car, but the carbon fibre case supplied with Layla is something very different again. Top and bottom part of the case are held together by very robust aluminium. On top you will see the Jerry Harvey Audio logo with the typical flygirl. On bottom you will see the wording Layla, very prominently placed. On front of the case your name will be engraved to customize your case only to you.

All this comes in a sturdy cardboard box which also holds an instructions manual for fitting the custom IEMs.

JH Audio Layla

JH Audio Layla

Build Quality

Layla is, next to Lola, the biggest custom in ear monitor in my inventory. The size however doesn’t matter when you have them in your ears as they simply disappear. Each piece is hand crafted to fit your ear anatomy. The people at Jerry Harvey Audio certainly understand their trade. Layla is perfectly made, with absolutely no signs of blemishes anywhere. There is no bubble or smear on both sides, the face plates seamlessly fit the body. I couldn’t detect any residue of glue near the face plate or the 4-pin connector.

Since it is a custom built monitor you will not run into problems about fit or comfort. It is shaped like your inner ear and ear canals. What I especially like about customs is the wonderful isolation they offer. The lowered noise floor gives me the possibility to enjoy my music a bit more quiet, even on daily commute. If you should however run into fit-issues, the supplied Comply wraps can help you get the desired fit. I did not have to use them, as my pair perfectly fit my canals.

All in all build quality is top notch and doesn’t leave me desiring anything.

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Review: JH Audio Layla – Merlot
4.5 (89.78%) 45 vote[s]

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    22 Comments

    • Reply February 27, 2018

      MICHAEL BROWN

      Good review I have both custom Layla and universal Encore. I currently have my Layla matched with the Effect Audio EOS and find it a very good match. Looking forward to your follow up with either Leonidas or The Horus cable.

      • Reply February 27, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Michael,
        thanks a lot for your comment.
        I’d love to try my Layla with Leonidas, but mine is a 2-pin cable that can’t be used with JH Audio IEMs. Been looking for an adapter, but haven’t found a reasonable one yet.

    • Reply February 27, 2018

      Zach

      I know of an adapter with the bassport built in

      • Reply February 27, 2018

        Linus

        Hey Zach,
        thanks for your comment.
        Would you mind pointing me to that adapter? If it’s reasonably priced I’d love a pair.

        Thanks!!

    • Reply February 27, 2018

      Zach

      This is the item page: http://e4ua.jp/?p=2870

      Its in japanese and there is no checkout. You can email him for it here: info@e4ua.jp

      he doesnt write english so you have to translate what he emails you. Dont send him japanese unless you know japanese, just send him emails in english. I have purchased this adapter from him before and it is outstanding. It allows me to use plussounds wireless iem cable with my layla. He makes it in 2 pin and mmcx. Its about 250 usd for the set. Well worth it.

      Just email him what you want.

    • Reply February 27, 2018

      Guillaume Ceccarelli

      Thank you for your detailed review.

      I’m in the market for CIEMs with music production – including mixing and perhaps later mobile mastering as well – in mind, and your review of the Layla, thanks in part to your comparison with flagships from other manufacturers, has been the most useful I’ve come across so far. I’m decidedly thankful that you offered us a review even after ~3 years of the Layla’s existence.

      If I’m interpreting your review correctly, it would seem that Layla comes out on top when it comes to both
      – range of reproduction, since it seems to reproduce deeper bass than its competitors
      – being organic sounding while still successfully aiming for neutrality: maybe coherence would be a good adjective for it?

      Would you agree that this is an accurate understanding of your experience? I’m also asking because it was hard for me to grasp what “fuller bodied” meant to you as a listener and I’m hoping to get a better sense of it.

      • Reply February 28, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Guillaume,
        thank you so much for your nice comment, I’m glad you found the review useful 🙂

        Layla indeed does reach the lowest out of all my monitors, yet when it comes to treble extension I might give the A18t the nod.

        I wouldn’t call Layla neutral, as it has an overall darker signature.

        What I mean with fuller bodied is that notes carry bigger weight and sound fuller. If that makes sense… 🙂

        Cheers!

    • Reply April 7, 2018

      Phoorich

      Thanks for the review. Did all of the comparisons are done in their stock cable?

      • Reply April 9, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Phoorich,
        thanks for your comment, appreciated.

        Yes, all were done with stock.

        Hope that helps.
        Cheers

        • Reply April 9, 2018

          Phoorich

          Just decided to get the Layla thanks to this review. I did demo the encore and its indeed has better clarity but somehow I like the Layla more.

          Keep up the good works!

          • Reply April 10, 2018

            Linus

            Glad you found your poison 😉
            Also happy that my review helped you.

            Layla is special, I fully agree.

    • Reply May 10, 2018

      Nathan

      hi Linus, can you compare with JH Angie? or maybe soon in the future you’ll get Angie also. so you can reviewed it here. thanks

      • Reply July 8, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Nathan,
        sorry for the late response. Must have missed your comment here… my bad.

        Unfortunately I have never heard Angie and there are no plans for a review of it I’m afraid. But Berkhan has had the Angie (AK universal) for a while and he loved it, maybe he can chime in on a comparison of the two…
        He has also done this awesome comparison chart, you can find both Layla and Angie in there:
        https://www.head-fi.org/threads/iem-score-chart-constantly-updated.815852/

        Hope that helps.
        Have a great Sunday.

    • Reply October 3, 2018

      Yossi

      Hi,

      Thanks for your clear and detailed review it really helped a lot.

      I will be using the IEM for mixing live shows, so I want the most accurate sound possible. Which one of them should I get?

      Thanks

      • Reply October 3, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Yossi,

        thanks a lot for your comment.

        Which IEMs have you been thinking of?
        For mixing live shows I’d recommend Layla, 64 Audio’s A18t or A12t, Empire Ears has the ESR which is supposed to be super flat. Their Phantom is also used by professionals for mixing as far as I know. Apart from these I’d also recommend Noble’s Katana.

        There’s a good number of models which you can try I guess. 🙂

        Hope that helped.
        Cheers!

    • Reply October 23, 2018

      Yossi

      Thanks for your response. I was thinking btw the Layla and the A18t which one of them should I get for mixing live shows?

      • Reply October 23, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Yossi,

        tough one, depends what you’re after in the end.
        The Layla is the more emotional one, whereas the A18t has higher resolution and micro-detailing and also throws a bigger stage. Both have great imaging, which might be very handy for live mixing.

        The A18t is the more technical advanced in my opinion.

    • Reply October 23, 2018

      Yossi

      Thank you. I very much appreciate your response.

    • Reply November 24, 2018

      J Martinez

      Hello, I currentlt play drums, guitar and sing in a church, and really love music and a great sound with base and clarity where I can feel the stage. I cant decide detween the 64audio a18t, Layla or UE. Which ones would you recomend?

      • Reply November 25, 2018

        Linus

        Hi J,

        thanks for your comment!
        It all depends on what you want.
        The A18t is better on technicalities (resolution, layering, sound stage…) and has a very exciting sound. It also offers you two different sound signatures by switching the modules (you get both M15 and M20).
        Layla has a more enjoyable sound with more body for the long run.
        I can’t say anything about UE, as Lieven has done (and is doing) the reviews for them, but I know he really likes the UE Live.

        Hope that helps.

        • Reply November 25, 2018

          rob

          I have both layla and u18 (both universal) and would recommend u18 for long term/general use. The vented design is easier on the ears, I’d say the layla is three times more fatiguing. I’m just listening to my u18 way more.

          • Reply November 25, 2018

            Linus

            Hi Rob,

            thanks for the insight.
            I didn’t mean that the A18t is producing ear fatigue, but it produces a highly technical and exciting sound which isn’t for everyone.
            Layla is more laid back and fuller, but A18t is more accurate and precise in my opinion.

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