Review: JH Audio Lola – Unorthodox Hybrid!

 

Sound

When I first plugged in Lola I was surprised how much juice she needs, where I am at volume level 55 on my SP1000, for example with Katana, I have to go up to 75 to 80 with Lola. That’s for me a sign that she was designed to be used on stage with different electronics than audiophile gear.

After a bit I adjusted to Lola’s signature, where I was missing layering and resolution at first I experienced more emotions and fuller bodies instead. Imaging on Lola is good with very nice instrumental separation and decent amounts of air.

Lola does sport a good amount of details, though it’s not the most detailed IEM I have heard. Its stage stretches wider than it goes into depth. Lola’s background is black and dark, as is its key-signature. It offers well extended bass with great texture and body. It’s tightly bound but still a little looser than on other models. You can of course tune it to your liking, my preferred setting was around 2 o’clock on the bass-dial, which gave the presentation great body and a slightly north of neutral response. The impact and punch of Lola’s bass is wonderful but at the same time it could use a little more speed in my opinion. Especially for genres in the electronic scene.


Where Lola outshines all of its competition is definitely the mids. Jerry said that this is where all the magic happens, and he couldn’t be more right. Mids are full bodied, lush and offer an incredible body to go with. Think of Lola’s mids as those of a really good tube amplifier. It’s something to melt for. Vocals, string instruments and guitars especially shine here. Lola’s mids are so good that it made me listen to music I haven’t even had in my library for years. On many occasions I have caught myself thinking “this must sound awesome with Lola”. I’ve been into electronic for a long time now, and it hasn’t happened often that I listen to other stuff for a longer time, but Lola gave me back my enjoyment for more “instrumentally inspired” music. I don’t know when I listened to so much Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age or Eagles of Deathmetal. All of them sounded superb!

This exact enthusiasm reminded me of the mids the Kaiser 10 was famous for, more on that a little later. Treble is again well extended with a softer, more laid back approach. I myself am a nuthead for treble, I like it a little more in front with good sparkle and air. Lola’s treble does have nice amounts of air but could shimmer a bit brighter for my taste, your mileage may vary of course. Highs never came across as harsh or overly edged, not a single time I have felt any sibilance or discomfort.

Sources

As noted earlier on, my main source of music was my Astell&Kern SP1000, simply because it is my reference DAP and serves me well at all times. It holds my favourite artists and albums, plus has a user-friendly UI. Personally, I’d suggest using a cleaner and more detailed source for Lola, as otherwise she might become a little too warm, of course you can go for it if you’re into that, who am I to tell you what to do?

To me Lola scales up very well with better sources and also better mastered files. Though it sure has a more forgiving nature. She also benefits of a cleaner and more detailed sources in my opinion.

Astell&Kern – A&ultima SP1000
The A&ultima pushes through great amounds of detail and offers a wonderful dynamic sound, with great extension and especially very nice and big sound stage. The SP features an insane amount of resolution which match Lola’s more forgiving nature quite well. Lola’s extension goes far and deep into both directions with nice sparkle up top. Bass is a little less controlled than with my other IEMs, but I guess it would also be tighter when used via the AK’s 2.5mm balanced output. Which in general has better control to me.

Chord Electronics – Hugo2
At the office I am using my beloved Hugo2 because I can connect multiple sources to it and it drives pretty much anything I throw at it. I mostly use C/IEMs though because I want to travel light. The british FPGA packed D/A converter is one of the most resolving portable sources I know. The combination of Lola and Hugo2 makes the JH Audio IEM more detailed and balanced, with wonderfully soft treble and well extended bass, that appears more controlled than on the AK. Hugo2 breathes in a very clear and clean signal giving Lola a little more balance overall.

Chord Electronics – Mojo
Mojo has slaughtered the portable DAC market since its introduction two years ago, and I believe that the sales numbers of it still are very high. There simply is no competition currently, at least non that I came across of. Mojo also has an uber-resolving sound with impeccable resolution and layering that fits Lola’s full body very well. Together the outcome is a very organic and beautifully engaging sound. I don’t see Mojo going anywhere in the near future, only if there will be a second generation of it. But that would be too early, considering that Chord just brought out the Poly addon.

Luxury&Precision – L5 PRO
Definitely one of the best sounding DAPs out there, it’s lush and detailed, smooth and organic. But the firmware is complete crap. If they just would release something useful and more fluid with better filesystem support, Luxury&Precision would have a killer on hand. Lola sounds very good on the L5 PRO, dynamic, smooth like good scotch. Though one some occasions I found it to be too warm for my taste, with too much bass body, which could be turned down though. One thing I was missing with the L5 PRO was the superior resolution of my Hugo² and SP1000. Lola is also one of the few IEMs that doesn’t pick up any hiss from the L5 PRO, which is nice.

Luxury&Precision – L3 PRO
Another L&P DAP I love, especially in balanced mode it shines. Though this time I couldn’t test it like that. Maybe I will find something like a 2-pin to 4-pin JH adapter… The L3 PRO is a very musical and warm source with class leading separation, layering and imaging. Mids are lush with great bass body. I’m again missing the insane high resolution of the top tier components in my inventory. For the asking price of the L3 PRO I can’t complain though as it definitely offers a very good price to performance ratio!

Cozoy – Takt Pro
Only a few days ago I got this little device from Cozoy. The word little doesn’t really fit though, micro would be better as it’s not even as big as my pinky finger! But small in size doesn’t necessarily mean small in sound. Takt Pro has a very powerful and organic sound with plenty of juice to drive my custom and universal IEMs, I haven’t tested any full sized yet. That will be interesting. Anyway, so far I’ve exclusively used Takt Pro via Tidal on my iPad Air. It’s a great little add-on for when I’m travelling around for work.

Lola sounds fast, punchy and tight with Takt Pro, it doesn’t have the king-sized sound stage of the other, much higher priced, gear. But delivers an impressive sound for the money and size.

Find on the last page Comparisons and Conclusion!

Review: JH Audio Lola – Unorthodox Hybrid!
4.7 (93.04%) 23 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.

    2 Comments

    • Reply December 9, 2017

      George

      The Vega only sounds like that when it is not properly amped.

      • Reply December 11, 2017

        Linus

        I have tried Vega with a number of different sources and amplifiers. I agree that it gets better when fed with more power, but for a flagship product it shouldn’t need additional drive to sound decent and it still doesn’t get to Lola levels even when amped.

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