Review: Jomo Audio Samba – Makes me want to dance

The Samba has a very good sound stage in both width and depth. That combined with great layering and superb separation of instruments makes it a top-level monitor. It’s fast, clean, clear, detailed, precise and always in control. It’s one of the best neutral (yet musical) sounding monitors in my CIEM collection with a high score on technicalities.

The Samba is a detailed monitor and that shows from lows to highs. Bass is detailed and layered and goes deep when needed. There’s even a good rumble down below which I like very much. Some might say it is ruining the reference tuning a little, but I’d rather say it makes it more alive and kicking. Anyway, bass is good, tight and fast and will show up when called upon. It is never too much or too big sounding and to me, it’s rich with the perfect body. Bass couldn’t be better. The mids have a good amount of air giving you a “just right” impression. It’s not too wide or too narrow and the Samba doesn’t sound concentrated at all. The mids are very rich in detail and with good depth and layering they align perfectly with the bass section. Mid bas still is fast and the vocals are natural and real, yet a little less upfront compared to the last monitors we reviewed. In that regard it’s a little easier to listen to. It is clear that the mids have a neutral tuning as well, still in the best possible way.

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Treble is fast, precise and very lively with a very good extension. Treble to me never was harsh or sharp but always fast and clear giving the overall musical presentation that little energetic boost. From bass to treble the Samba is very coherent and while this isn’t the softest treble I don’t think it will come over as harsh or sibilant to anyone, except maybe if you’re using a very bright source and bad quality file.

7. Competitors/Comparisons

The other 8-driver customs in my collection are the Legend R and CustomArt 8.2, the ProPhile 8 is my only universal 8-driver but it’s almost as good as a CIEM. The Jomo6 was Jomo’s reference unit before the Samba arrived, so I’ll include it in the comparison as well.

The Earwerkz Legend R, now Empire Ears, was the first eight-driver in my collection and it has a bigger body in bass and mids. At the same time it doesn’t have the detail level and the clarity/cleanness of the Samba. The Legend R sounds less airy than the Samba with less instrumental separation, resulting in a more concentrated sound. Treble isn’t as extended and overall the Samba is a lot faster and tighter. The “old” Legend R isn’t bad at all, it’s just slower, less detailed and bolder. It’s a fun sounding monitor that is excellent for metal and dance music, but it can hardly be called a reference neutral tuned monitor with the Jomo Samba right next to it.

In regards to the recently reviewed CustomArt 8.2, the Samba is more spacious and has better layering throughout. The Harmony 8.2 has more bass and especially mid body, this makes voices jump out more. Samba’s sub bass goes deeper and it has more rumble. Especially the mids are very different and Samba’s treble is more energetic and further extended. Two great monitors but when you’re looking for the most neutral, spacious, clear, extended and technically best one of these, the Samba is the one you want for sure.

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The brand new Inear ProPhile8 is not a custom 8-driver but the driver count is the same, it’s also the closest to customs universal you can get. The big advantage of the P8 is that is has a double bass and treble switch that allows you to boost the bass and or treble. The ProPhile8 is, just like the samba is very detailed, clean and precise. They both have good speed, depth and top layering. With the gain turned off the P8 has an even flatter tuning than the Samba, but the musicality for me is missing a little here. With the gain turned on, both monitors are closer to each other but I find Samba’s bass to reach lower and tighter with more rumble. Same goes for the treble section which is further extended and more detailed/energetic in the Samba. The P8 is a great monitor though and it offers you the flexibility of having different sound signatures.

The Jomo 6R was Jomo’s first Reference monitor and I also liked it. The 6R sounds dryer than the Samba and the bass and mids don’t have the same body and presence either. Detail is good but it’s not as spacious, clean, clear, extended or airy as the Samba. Jomo’s latest just is a level up from the 6R. The 6R is the drier and more analytical monitor compared to the more musical Sambo, they just sound very different.

8. Driveability & Sources

Depending on the source/amplifier used a little bit of hiss can be audible. This is very light however and it isn’t audible at all during quiet passages in your music. Straight from the Luxury & Precision L3PRO the Samba sounds very good. The L&P players simply sound as good as perfect, especially in balanced mode. You get a wide and deep spacious sound with great detail and layering. Bass and especially the mids are very rich in detail while treble is energetic and dynamic. From the Hifiman Supermini the level of hiss in balanced mode is too much for me so I prefer listening to it in Single Ended mode but the sound is nowhere near the level of the L3PRO. I still need to give the Supermini a lot more testing but it hasn’t surprised me yet.

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From the brand new RHA Dacamp L1 (SE out) the Samba is dead quiet. It sounds very powerful and full bodied and you get sublime detail and top musicality. The L1 is one of my favorite amps of the moment with a whole lot of ear- and headphones. I do prefer not to touch the bass and treble settings on the L1 with the Sambo, and there’s more than enough power on low gain. From the ALO Continental V5 there also is hiss audible and it’s a little bit too much. If you can look/hear past the hiss, you get a smoother sound with softer treble in the Samba, with a more relaxed presentation but for me this is not the amp for the Samba.

The Chord Hugo is the amplifier I hooked up the Samba the most too but I have to admit there’s also a little bit of hiss when music isn’t playing. The Hugo has excellent layering and that brings excellent synergy with the Samba. A very high detail level, sublime vocals and great musicality. Can it get any better? Straight from the AK380 you in balanced mode get top level balance, detail and clarity but you need a good quality file to get the bass body. Depth and layering are there and the Samba sounds fast, precise and very tight. For those who want to make the Samba a tad more analytical, this is the way to go.

Conclusion

I have loved every single second listening to the Jomo Samba. It simply checks a whole lot of boxes and this without doubt is one of the best neutrally tuned monitors and even one of the best CIEMs in my collection. If I could change one thing I would try to make it a little smaller size wise, but I don’t really have anything bad to say about this monitor. The combination with the Ares II cable just works and I didn’t feel the need to try any other cables.

The Jomo Audio Samba is great but it does seem to react to the source it is connected to. The L3Pro and AK70 are my favorite DAPs while the Dacamp L1 and the Hugo are my favorite (dac)amps. If you have the budget and you’re looking for a neutral, yet musical tuned monitor with a lot of detail, clarity, precision and a wide/deep sound stage, then you have to give the Samba a listen. Be warned though, you’ll love it.

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Review: Jomo Audio Samba – Makes me want to dance
5 (100%) 9 vote[s]

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

4 Comments

  • Reply January 9, 2017

    Max

    Hi Lieven,

    Would like to know how does it compare against the Lime Ears Aether? 😀

    • Reply January 9, 2017

      Lieven

      Quite a different sound really. The Samba is wider, deeper, richer and more balanced overal. The Aether, which also is very good, isn’t as coherent or neutral as the Samba is. The price level also is different and it depends whet you’re really looking for. Aether has great layering and the sub bass switch which is excellent. They’re different flavors. What flavor is it you want?

  • Reply January 11, 2017

    Max

    Wow that’s really quite an interesting CIEM. I’ve actually ordered the Aether and are awaiting for them to arrive, but I did not try the Samba so I was just wondering how do the 2 fair against each other. Guess if I really do like the Samba in the end, I’d probably get one in the future haha.

    Anyway, love the site and your reviews, keep it up!

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