A good number of custom and universal in ear monitors have been brought out this last year or a bit before that. We have seen many very interesting new models, and some of them are going to be compared to Lola for this review. We will see comparisons to Noble’s dual flagships, Advanced Acoustic Werkes hyper hybrid W900 and the craziness of driver count in persona, the A18 from 64 Audio as well as the Kaiser 10 because of the similarities in tonality.
Noble Audio – Kaiser Encore (10BA, 2099$):
Noble revamped their infamous Kaiser 10 with the Encore just a little over a year ago, like the JH models it’s also packed with proprietary balanced armature drivers. The Kaiser packs ten of them though, where Lola only sports six BA’s and two dynamic drivers per ear. Both are tuned very differently, where Encore focusses on details, layering and rich upper mids and treble, Lola goes for intimacy, emotions and a lush midrange. The JH comes across as darker while KE is much brighter in tone. Nothing beats Lola’s engagement and overwhelming mids, but Encore’s superior layering, sound stage and imaging make it hard to look away. Lola’s bass body is bigger, but Encore’s low ends are a lot faster, hits harder and sits tighter, making it more suitable for faster genres. Treble is one of the regions a lot of people seem to have problems with on the Noble, it shimmers bright but with loads of richness. I don’t see many people having problems with Lola’s treble, as it is a lot more in the back with a softer touch and less energy. Encore is one of my absolute favourite models, because it impressively fits my desires in sound and for all the wow-moments we share, but Lola has taken up one hell of a fight.
Noble Audio – Kaiser 10 (10 BA, 1850$ discontinued):
Lola and K10 are very similar in a lot of ways. For example the lush and full bodied midrange also was something the Kaiser 10 was famous for. Kaiser’s bass though had this incredible skill of disappearing when not needed, Lola only achieves that by completely turning down both bass dials. This though is also an advantage of Lola, when K10’s bass was a touch too much, Lola lets you alter hers. You can specifically set her to the level you like. Kaiser’s treble, like Lola’s, is also of brighter but more laid back tonality. Both don’t focus too much on high note reproduction, though the Kaiser does it with a tad more sparkle. Their sound stage is also almost identical. K10 has better layering and imaging features compared to the JH model.
Noble Audio – Katana (9BA, 2099$):
Noble’s second co-flagship leans towards a neutral signature with incredible precision, sound stage and micro detailed rendering. All things that you will have to look closer for on Lola. Lola again is darker and packs more emotions. Katana’s bass is faster and tighter but also lighter in body. Lola’s mids are meatier, but Katana’s are with better texture and layering. High notes are very different on both, Lola’s are dryer and colder where Katana’s might be more forward but with added warmth for long lasting pleasure. Katana renders with much higher precision and care, bringing forward more microscopic details of your music. Katana also places instruments more precisely in the room.
64 Audio – A18 (18BA, 2999$):
With a ridiculous driver configuration of 18 balanced armatures per side, 64 Audio has definitely won the driver wars. They have created a very balanced and incredible detailed monitor with the most awesome treble I have every heard. It’s impressively rich, extended, airy, articulate and soft. From the first time I have experienced it, it became my reference. The 64 Audio CIEM renders with much higher precision than Lola, it sports the biggest sound stage ever and differentiates instruments with laser-cut accuracy. A18’s bass reaches deeper and is loads faster than Lola’s, it also has this certain liquidity to it, that makes it hard to put in words – you need to hear it to understand, simply spectacular. The midrange and mid-body crown though is proudly worn by the JH Audio hybrid, giving it a more life-like presentation. Especially when you listen to a lot of Rock or Smooth Jazz. Then you probably won’t find anything more suitable than Lola. But emotions and mid-body aren’t exactly things 64 Audio is afraid of with their custom flagship.
Instrumental separation, layering and imaging are again not exactly Lola’s strong suite, but A18’s.
Advanced Acoustic Werkes – W900 (8BA/1DD, ~2100$)
Another hybrid construction, this time it comes from Singapore. The W900 has made a lot of fans in its young presence. In contrary to Jerry Harvey, AAW uses the dynamic driver in a more typical way – namely for bass. Dynamic drivers are known for their airy and organic bass. This is precisely what W900’s low end sounds like. Airy, organic but not too controlled. Lola manages her bass better, especially with her dial system. The W900 is of brighter and more balanced nature. It features a very extended upper region, but I have to say, it took me a very long time and Effect Audio’s Horus to really get into it, without it its upper treble can be harsh and piercing. Lola’s stage is more intimate and closed where W900’s stretches more towards all directions. W900 also has better layering and rendering with a clearer image. But Lola definitely is the more enjoyable, the one that makes me want to kick back and relax, where the AAW often gets taken out after a short while because of its upper treble peak. Too bad really…
Campfire Audio – Vega (1DD, 1299$):
Vega and Lola aren’t too much apart, but Vega has a few downsides that Lola simply doesn’t have. The Campfire has a more piercing top which tends to show sibilance. Vega has a smaller sound stage that doesn’t stretch as wide as Lola’s. Their layering are about the same, but Lola does a better job at separating instruments. Vega is known for a rather bassy and hard hitting signature, while true there’s also another thing Vega’s bass is: boomy. Lola keeps her bass better in control as it doesn’t overshadow some of the lower mid area. Both have a very fun sound, but I always had my problems with Vega’s lows. They are too omnipresent for my taste. There’s nothing that doesn’t get affected by them. Mids are overshadowed and because of that treble also has to be more forward, which results in piercing notes. Lola has everything better managed, bass – mids – treble.
Lola has made quite an impact, though it didn’t fully convince me at first, it has become one of the few monitors that makes me crave for more. Yes, it is not the most audiophile tuned monitor out there, but you will get one of the leading models when it comes to engagement and enjoyment! Lola can make your records sound great, even poor quality ones with its forgiving and warmer signature. Even for me, as someone who is looking for the finest details in music, Lola is something to purely enjoy the music. It for once is not about the technical capabilities but about kicking back and being overwhelmed by the raw power and emotion your music has hidden.
For this Lola deserves a well-earned recommendation for everyone looking for a warmer iem and everyone who seeks to relax with good audio. I’d say do yourself a favour and listen to one of your favourite rock albums with Lola, something that has raw power and energy in it, you will see how convincing Lola can be.