- Capable beefy bass
- Big Soundstage
- Generous Amount of Accessories
- Overly agressive upper mids and treble
- Splashy harshy highs (inducing ear fatigue)
- Artificial timbre
- Cheap plastic construction
- Imprevisible audio source sinergy
JADE AUDIO is a new subsidiary brand of well known FIIO company, but with a more budget oriented philosophy. The fact FIIO manufacture mass market product and use variety of audio technology and material permit to Jade Audio to take advantage of extremely competitive low cost audio parts.
This can be shown in drivers implementation of the entry level earphones I will review today, wich is call Jade Audio EA3 and use both a 13mm dynamic driver and Knowles balanced armature. Priced 40$, it certainly is the cheapest IEM using this type of hybrid implementation.
The Knowles 33518 model used in EA3 is very same than FIIO FH1 and even IKKO OH1. When I read this my curiosity was intensely trigered, because even if this entry level Knowles BA isn’t perfect, it sure is better than cheaper one we can find in most sub-50$ price range (with the exception of Audiosense T180 and T260).
Now, let’s see in this review if Jade Audio know how to tune an hybrid earphones right to offer a cohesive tonal and timbre balance.
You can buy the Jade Audio EA3 for 40$ on Amazon.
DISCLAIMER: I wanna thanks Jade Audio for sending me this review sample after I contact them. As always, i choose my review sample and cannot be influence by anything or anybody (with the exception of my subjective hearing).
- Brand Name: JadeAudio
- Connectors: 3.5mm
- Control Button: No
- Active Noise-Cancellation: No
- Style: In-Ear
- Communication: Wired
- Vocalism Principle: Hybrid technology
- Volume Control: No
- Wireless Type: None
- With Microphone: No
- Model Number: EA3
- Resistance: 18Ω
- Frequency Response Range: 5-40000Hz
- Sensitivity: 108dB
- Waterproof: No
- Is wireless: No
- Line Length: 1.2m
- Plug Type: Line Type
IN THE BOX:
Unboxing is minimalist, nothing to write about, it’s similar to KZ and TRN box presentation. But unlike them you have at least an okay 4 cores silver plated cable, generous amount of eartips and a quite cute carrying case, wich is a big plus.
For the price construction is okay. It’s all plastic, not resin plastic, just average plastic. Part are glued quite fasdtly as back plastic plate show some imperfection, like stocked glue. Nothing disastrous. 2Pin connector is plastic and it make meworry of durability a little. Nozzle is metal. Housing is translucide enough to contemplate the big ass dynamic driver in it, wich is very impressive to see….but we see too that the balanced armature is litteraly hide in nozzle and take all the place in there: again worrysome but for another reason wich will be confirmed in the review. All in all, not a bad built but neither a particularly sturdy looking one.
DESIGN is sleek and comfy, use of thin plastic housing make it very light. Fit is very similar to KZ ZS10pro or TRN IM1. As expected with UIEM, you need to wear it over ear, but your not obligate to use earhook cable as it will not fall from your ears without one (unlike bad fit or too heavy iem can do).
ISOLATION is average as well as sound leakage. But it do not have back venting hole but still its have a little venting hole on top of housing wich leak potential noise at high volume.
DRIVEABILITY is strangely source dependant, not in the sens it’s hard to drive, quite the contrary at 18ohm of impedance and 108db of sensitivity. Nope, it’s about whole audio source pairing that can tend to boost or tame the mids and highs. I would not call EA3 as versatile in sinergy, these would benefit from warmer source even if it will affect technicalitier, musicality will sound more balanced and enjoyable.
Gear used: Ibasso DX90, Xduoo X20, Xduoo XD-05plus, Xduoo XQ25 and (infamous) Zishan T1
I’m always afraid when the balanced armature of an hybrid iem is implemented into the nozzle , because from my experience the result is often shouty, sibilant, hollow or plain wrong in tonal balance. While the EA3 isn’t as disastrous as KZ or TRN offering due to a more mature sounding BA, the tonal issue as well as hint of harshness and lower end veiling is sure present.
So, my overall subjective appreciation isn’t very positive, well, if I only judge the sound without thinking about the extremely low price. In fact, i was expecting bass monster while i got instead a V shape with extra upper mids presence, wich is rather typical chifi tuning.
Tonality isn’t natural and rather bright and thin. Bass control isn’t impressive and tend to mix up with overall sound, it isnt thigh neither punchy, feel tamed in impact lacking definition and texture. Mid range is shouty and dry, thin and again lacking precise definition for a more accurate imaging. Treble is fowards, agressive, sometime metallic and harsh. As well, it lack sparkle.
SOUNDSTAGE is good in wideness and tallness, not very deep or airy.
IMAGING is rather hollow and lack sharpness. The intimate presentation do not help for instrument separation definition. All appart from treble sound air less.
TIMBRE is dry, artificial and thin. Unpleasant and not musical. Bass timbre is thicker and more natural.
TONALITY is warm for the bass and bright for mid and treble.
BASS have more sub presence than mid bass punch, it’s quite thick and weighty even if little boomy in its presentation. Extension isn’t very natural and have serious emphasis in sub. Timbre is near texture less, wich make separation of sub and mid bass not precise. Bass presentation lack in both resolution and definition, opposite of well rounded low end. Still, for rap, pop or electronic, it’s enough good I guess.
MID RANGE feel unbalanced and shouty, confusing fowardness with clarity. It isn’t agile as we could expect with this Knowles BA model, even if the overall timbre is very similar to the IKKO OH1 (wich was a problem) the mid range isn’t as articulate and rounded. Vocal have notable sibilance with both male and female singer, timbre is thin and artificial, tonality is dry and metallic. Transparency is just enough but what you hear behind it isn’t pleasant. I did not like any instruments or voice rendering with the EA3, cello sound thin, voice are breathy, violin show tonal weakness, piano lack weight and impact. Apart for rap and electronic, the EA3 crualy lack refinement in musicality and naturalness. At low volume mid range harshness is less problematic for instrument like violin, but we talk about lowering DB of sibilance here.
TREBLE is quite agressive, but offer fast attack and good snap in upper treble. It can dig good amount of micro details, wich is interesting for electronic music but will sound too harsh and bright with acoustic percussion that need more realist presentation. Hit hat and cymbals can sound splashy or overly fowarded. Even snare can sound too in your face. The EA3 are quite violent earphones and this is even more evident at high volume. Problem is that at low volume attack is tamed….so you most choose your own poison here. Here, we must not confuse bright fowards high with crisp or sparkly one, because EA3 highs lack natural decay and brilliance, it’s crunchy, rough and artificial. Immature treble head might like it.
SUB BASS: 7.5/10
MID BASS: 7/10
MID RANGE: 6.5/10
VS BQEYZ KB100 (50$):
Construction as well as sound is from another league here.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly more intimate with KB100 tough it tend to be less easily congested because of way better IMAGING with precise instrument placement, wich is very evident with whole mid range. BASS isn thigher, more punchy and faster, as well, we have more realist texture, but its extend shyly compared to EA3 beefy rumbly sub, wich is seriously more bass head than flatter KB100. MID RANGE is so more refined and realist with KB100, make the EA3 unbareably shouty after hearing to it, its superbly balanced, do not feel artificially push fowards, so smoother and more natural in timbre as well as more accurate and refined, EA3 sound very primitive and agressive compared to it and way more sibilant with vocal. TREBLE follow same path, while the EA3 is like a machine gun shoothing everything he can dig at you, KB100 is balanced, less trebly, and you dont encounter splashyness and harshness like with EA3, its softer in extension too, wich will perhaps give you less brillance and sparkle, but here it’s positive because EA3 brilliance is overly metallic.
If your a basshead that isnt treble sensitive, you might find the EA3 more exciting and fun. If your a serious audiophile, you will applause the more balanced and neutral tuning of KB100 as well as more natural timbre and imaging.
VS BLON BL-03 (30$):
Construction and tonality of BL-03 is from another league here.
SOUNDSTAGE is a little wider and taller with BLON but little less deep. IMAGING is similar too, wich mean it’s not highlight of both, but i feel it more accurate with BLON. BASS is more textured, realist, punchy and balanced with BLON, EA3 is more sub-bassy, boomy and weighty with less natural extension and extra sub slam emphasis. MID RANGE is less recessed with the EA3, but tonaly ackward and more sibilant than more natural sounding BLON. Vocal are pleasant with BLON, and plain violent with EA3, as well i feel its wider and better separated with BLON. TREBLE of both is slightly bright, but the BLON have thicker highs with some texture to it, while the EA3 is more about brilliance and splashiness. Highs are agressive and little unbalanced, more artificial than BLON wich isn’t a treble champion and lack some natural decay.
While the Jade Audio EA3 isn’t what I would consider a bad earphones, I feel they miss the opportunity to take full advantage of the good balanced armature they have by implementing it badly. Sure, we can tame both treble and mids harshness to some extend by using warm audio source, but this will inflict in imaging precision wich in first place isn’t the most impressive.
Tuning work of EA3 is audacious, they really want to give budget audiophile everything: beefy bass, ultra clear mids and detailed analytical treble. Problem is, it can’t be achieve without sounding shouty and overly agressive. While this can be interesting for treble head audio enthusiast, I cannot understand how you can find this type of harsh treble musical.
The Jade Audio EA3 are agressive bright sounding earphones with a vividly fowards tonality, if you listen to electronic, rap or pop, I think it’s not a bad buy but there better choice out there.
We are in 2020 after all and Chi-Fi have come a long way since the (superior) UrbanFun Hybrid craze 5 years ago.