Awesome Bass Control
Pros: Change the bass to whatever you like
Great price used
Cons: A little muddy
Cable is proprietary
There’s a newer version
Up for review today is the Jerry Harvey Audio ROX, which I got in a trade. This is not the same as the ROXANNE I guess, but possibly an older version – the new version has the full name written out on the faceplate. I can’t find anything on the ROX except on a Hong Kong website where they sell for approximately $1,650. The newer one has 12 drivers per side, though I have no idea if the ROX has the same tech or not in it. It’s a bit of an enigma. So, there’s no point in recounting the newer model’s specs here because it may not even be the same model. Regardless, it’s probably close and likely shares the same DNA as the ROXANNE. Anyway, you only really care about how it sounds anyway right?
Mine were definitely a used pair, so some of the accessories were missing. What the ROX should come with is a custom Flygirl hard case, a tiny screwdriver, a wax tool, and a sticker…and that’s it. Oh, and probably some ear tips as well. Overall, it’s not the worst accessory pack I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely not the best either – that honor is still shared between the Elysium and the Mezzo LE. The ROX earns 6 points here. I used both my Spinfit W1 and my Final Audio E Type tips with these – I definitely recommend the E types, though both worked just fine.
The cable is tangly, has a proprietary 4-pin design, and are 3.5mm only. Built into that cable is a cool bass-tune feature that only works with the stock cable. So, if you want a new cable, you’d have to contact JH to get a new one, I believe they make them in 4.4mm termination now. You can also get 2-pin and 8-pin on the IEM side – whatever that is. THAT’S A LOT OF PINS! The cable screws into the top so you won’t accidentally tug on the cable and pull it out – a very nice feature. The bass-tune feature is definitely the coolest part about these and lets you adjust from almost no bass to tons of bass – much more effective than a stupid switch on the IEM that slightly changes… nothing. That said, it’s not what I’d call an amazing cable, and if I had the option to use a different cable like the Kinera Leyding or Ace – I would in a heartbeat.
Build Quality/Comfort (8/10):
The build quality is good. The IEMs appear to be solid acrylic throughout the entire body, with metal pieces inserted inside for the tubes and the cable connector. These don’t look like they’re going to break easily, chip, or scratch – they’re definitely made for the professional. And, while I don’t LOVE the cable, it’s built tough.
These don’t sit in your ears, they stick out of them quite far, which actually makes for a pretty comfortable fit as long as you have good ear tips on them. They also have the skinniest nozzles I’ve ever seen, which is great for people with tiny ear holes, but makes for a weird experience for everyone else (sorry Josh.) If you hate IEMs sitting inside your ear, or you have weirdly shaped ears, then JH IEMs are made for you – they’re designed to fit in everyone’s ears since they’re built for bands on the road touring. So, just expect a long, skinny nozzle and it sticking out of your ear a bit and you’ll be good. I find them to be quite comfortable as they don’t touch my ear anywhere unlike the Elysium.
Check out the Frequency Response Graph below to see how much of a difference the bass tuning makes with these IEMs. I have these turned up to about 2/3rds of the way up, all the way up was WAY too much bass for me, but 2/3rds was perfect. Also, these are super easy to drive with volume at 40-45/100 on UNBALANCED – awesome. I’m driving these from my Shanling M6 Ultra using Tidal Hifi and the stock cable.
I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” Obviously, the bass is going to be good here since you can adjust it to whatever you like. The impact from the intro bass drums is great and the sub-bass at 0:38 is also really good, both in quality and in quantity. These IEMs are a cheat-mode for bass. Not enough bass? Turn it up! It gets to AHHH levels of bass. Too much bass? Turn it down – though it’ll never hit no bass at all.
Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids as that is just as important as how strong/good the bass is. At 2/3rds on the bass adjust, this song is just about as perfect as I’ve ever heard. The bass doesn’t overwhelm the mids like the Meteor can – but once again, you can make the bass overwhelm here if you want. Yeah, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a really cool one and I’ll give the ROX max points on bass here because it’s not just adjustable, it’s good.
Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is my test song for clean/dirty guitars and vocals with background instruments to see how clearly the vocals can be heard. You can’t adjust how the mids are going to sound, so the question here is can they keep up with the ROX’s bass? Honestly, they’re a little muddy/veiled. These are not $3k+ IEMs, and the vocals still sound good, but both the clean and distorted guitars sound like they’re coming in from behind some foam. The vocals do this a tad as well, but not to the same level. They’re above average, but not by a ton – 3/6 points here.
Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests the vocal quality and background noise. This is quite a bit better than the previous song. Yeah, there’s still a tad bit of a veil, but the entire range of this song sounds better, definitely above average. The only place it gets a bit muddy is when Aaron Lewis sings low notes, which is a common problem with this song, and one of the reasons I use it. The bass guitar sounds really good though and doesn’t overwhelm the mids. 6/7 points
To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” The intro strings come in nicely, but not the best I’ve heard. The bass-string instruments come in hard and sound really nice. I actually had to turn the bass down to ½ for this song to prevent it from overwhelming the rest of the instruments. It works really nicely there. Yes, there’s still a little bit of fuzz on here and it’s not the best I’ve ever heard this song, but it’s pretty good and better than quite a few. 5/7 points here.
To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes. There’s a bit of sibilance on this song, which is a little surprising based on the FRG, which shows a hard drop in those frequencies. That said, it’s better than most and not offensive unless you’re listening for it. 5/6 points here.
Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” is the highs test song I use to see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare drum can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music (also good for instrument separation.) I’m a bit surprised here since I can actually hear the cymbals and snares quite clearly despite the treble dip, though it’s not quite top-notch treble, it’s definitely better than the EJ07. Yet another good showing from the ROX – 5/7 points to
Gryffindor JH Audio.
Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. There’s a bit of sharpness here, but not enough to make me stop listening to the song like on some headphones. I also had to turn down the song to 33/100 on the volume, which helped with the sharpness. So, again not a bad treble showing, and none of the treble pieces had the fuzziness that I saw on the mids – an overall good presentation and 5/7 points to the ROX.
Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (4/10):
I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. This is definitely a weakness of the ROX. The soundstage feels low-mid range in size. The instrument separation is mid-tier and very 2D sounding, and the imaging is just OK. The ROX only earns a 4/10 here as it is just below average across the board.
This is a challenging comparison section to write since the only other IEM I have with the bass-tune tech built into the cable is also made by JH Audio. Both the 16V2 and ROX measure pretty similarly on the FRG, so it’s no surprise that they sound pretty close. The main differences are: almost nothing. The bass is basically the same, the fit is basically the same, and the looks are basically the same. The 16v2 comes with a thicker cable in silver rather than black. The tuning differences are minuscule and aren’t really worth mentioning – check out the FRG if you want to know how they’ll sound with your specific preferences.
The JH Audio ROX is a surprise since I’d never heard of JH Audio until just recently. They’re focused more on the professional audio crowd since they were originally created for Van Halen by John Harvey. The ROX brings a fun tuning with surprisingly good treble and a fun bass-tune gimmick to the consumer market. If you love bass, or just want the ability to turn it up or down as needed, don’t mind the mids being a little fuzzy, and like decent treble with just a tad of sharpness/sibilance, then the ROX should definitely be on your wish list. These really do compete in the $1,000+ range and the bass control is not just a gimmick – a 74 is a good score from me and only 12 points under my top IEM.
|Headphone Scoring (v3):|
|Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):||6|
|Cable (10 pts):||7|
|Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):||8|
|Lows (20 pts):||20|
|Mids (20 pts):||14|
|Highs (20 pts):||15|
|Soundstage / Instrument Separation (10 pts):||4|