The Sound: The JH10X3Pro
The 10X3 is a clear upgrade from the JH5. If the JH5 had a great musical sound, the JH10X3 adds refinement to the JH5’s musical sound, and the result is good enough to be labeled “high end”. In fact, the refinements found on the JH10X3 place it above even the four driver UM Mage.
Starting from the top frequency, the JH10X3 has a treble that is smoother, more refined, more detailed, and extends further than the JH5’s. If the JH5 still struggles to win the treble battle with the TF10, the JH10X3 clearly sounds more refined than the TF10. All of these, while maintaining a sibilance free treble. That by itself is worth the upgrade to the JH10X3.
Aside from the technicalities, the JH10X3 is slightly less forward than the JH5. Lower treble is also more prominent in the JH5, which often may make the JH5 sound more exciting and more lively. The JH10X3 by itself still retains the forward JHAudio signature, just not as much as the JH5. The JH5 is unique in this sense, as the JH16 also shares a similar positioning with the JH10X3. But, by the time you add in the superior refinement and extension on the JH10X3, you won’t find it difficult to leave the JH5 at home.
I mentioned earlier than the JH5’s midrange area is not as full as the bigger brothers, and that becomes evident after you listen to the JH10X. The second strongest reason for upgrading to the JH10X3 is the fuller midrange, especialy the mid and low midrange. On the JH5, there is a slight dip in that area, which may or may not be noticeable depending on your music, or if you have an amplifier which boosts that region. But while listening on different set ups, I can’t find a combination to fix the midrange dip on the JH5, short of using active equalization.
With this change, vocals are fuller sounding on the JH10X3. On the JH5, you’re hearing the peak part of the vocals, mainly around upper midrange to lower treble area, but they start to lose body on the lower midrange. Not so with the JH10X3. Vocals are much more satisfying. Full sounding, and still sounding very clear and rich. The fuller body of the JH10X3 extends all the way to the low frequencies. Once I’ve heard the JH10X3’s rendition of the music, I started feeling the low bass to be missing on the JH5. These improvements are sort of a midway to the JH16. As we’ll see later, the JH16 will improve the midrange and the low bass even more.
Besides the more musical frequency curve of the JH10X3, it also improves on other technical aspects. The soundstage is bigger, imaging is much better, the sound is more airy, and transients are faster. I truly think that a JH10X3 purchase puts you well into the realm of high-end portable audio, and that the 10X3 is potent enough to embarrass many full size audio set ups.
At this level, the source becomes a big bottleneck, even more than the amplifier. I can enjoy the JH10X3 straight of an Ipod, but listening from my MacPro + Audiotrak Dr. DAC2 DX set up is much more rewarding sonically.