No Longer the Crown Jewel
Pros: Decent mids
Good bass quality, OK quantity
Box may be bullet proof
Poor instrument separation
Mediocre sound stage
Does not remotely scream $5,100 IEM
Has been surpassed by modern IEMs
Up for review today is the Aroma Audio Jewel which I received in a trade – they retail for $5,130 and have topped many Top 3 charts over the last year. The Jewel combines 6x EST drivers and 6x BAs with 1x DD to provide you with an insane 13x drivers total covering the entire range of hearable sound. So, the Jewel is starting to get older – how does it compare to some of the newer competition on the market? And yes, I’m going to get crap for this review – couldn’t care less.
Hahaha, what the hell is up with the box these come in? It’s less annoying to open than the Thunder’s puzzle box, but it’s a gigantic slab of blue aluminum. Why? No really, why? It serves literally no purpose whatsoever. These are a relatively small IEM, the same size as the Aroma Thunder, yet this box is around 3 times the size of the Thunder box and all aluminum. They should have stuck with the wooden box look, it was better. Other than being a giant blue aluminum slab, it’s a super boring box – with almost no markings or anything else on it, it just says Aroma and Push. Who is responsible for Aroma’s packaging? They should start taking lessons from Noble, Campfire, and Mezzo, or even Mangird and TRUTHEAR. Additionally, that ended up having to increase shipping costs by 300% for this box (which comes inside yet another blue cardboard box that’s extremely plain as well) – it’s insanely heavy. On the inside is a giant block of foam with 3 sets of ear tips, the Jewel, the cable, and a blue leather carrying case. What. I thought FiR included sparse packaging, but the Jewel makes them look luxurious. Quick reminder, this is a $5100+ IEM – that’s made out of what amounts to basically plastic. I’m gonna just leave that there along with the 3/10 points Jewel’s ridiculous packaging and accessories have earned. As always, I’m using my Spinfit W1 tips since they’re the best I’ve found (You can buy them here if you want a set: https://amzn.to/3WDrNIk.)
It’s crap. Yeah, sorry, it is. For starters, there’s 0 cohesion with the IEM whatsoever. An all-blue IEM with a massive blue box and a
blue silver cable…wait, what? Silver? Ok, but the connectors are blue, right? Nope…silver and gold. What? Yeah, the 4/4mm connector is a fake painted gold connector while the splitter is silver with a clear slide. ZERO cohesion whatsoever. That’s NOT the cable’s biggest issue though. While it sounds just fine, good even, it’s thin and tangly and has some of the worst memory retention I’ve ever seen on a cable – oh, and bad microphonics. It kinks easily and is always wound up in some sort of circle that you didn’t want it to be wound into because you’re using it and you want it to be straight. It’s also thin and feels cheap – like a $40 Amazon cable. Though in its defense, I tried the Jewel with a $20 Amazon cable (Tripowin), an $80 Amazon cable (Leyding), and a $250 Eletech cable (Fortitude?) and the stock cable sounded better than all of them (though the Eletech did pretty well). Musicteck even offers aftermarket cables in a kit because the stock cable is so bad. So, sounds good…and that’s it. 4/10 points – ‘cause suck.
Build Quality/Comfort (4/10):
OK, if I look at the all-aluminum Rn6 as having some of the best build quality, then the plastic-y clear jewel with a sparkly faceplate and nothing else earns…basically nothing. Seriously, I appreciate the light weight, and they look better than the Trifecta, but they also cost $2,000 more – and still have worse packaging. They also don’t look as premium as the Trifecta with its gold-plated drivers and its cool design. The Jewel looks like my $250 Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite, but slightly sparklier. Again, $5,100 IEMs. At least they won’t scratch easily – so that’s cool.
The comfort isn’t even that great because the Jewel is a very large, thick, chonky IEM. It doesn’t fit in my ears very well and attempting to use an unforgiving aftermarket cable only made things worse (Brise Yatono Ultimate – sounds great, bad ergonomics). In a world where small/light IEMs like the Trifecta and Rn6 exist, the Jewel is rapidly becoming a dinosaur. And yes, the Ronin and Multiverse Mentor are also gigantic but sound quite a bit better. At least the Jewel is lightweight, unlike the Xe6. That’s…that’s the nicest thing I have to say here. 4/10 for build quality – points are given for durability and weight.
Check out the wolfhawk.squig.link below. I was lucky enough to have 4 TOTL IEMs on my desk in a week to compare to each other. They are all listed below. Obviously, the Xe6 has the most bass while the Jewel has the most pronounced mids and almost no highs with slightly recessed bass. The Trifecta and Rn6 sit somewhere in between those two with relatively well-balanced presentations. Check out the individual test songs below to get a better feeling on how the Jewel does compared to the other 3.
I am powering these as usual from my Hiby RS8 using the A/B amp and medium gain at around ~40/100 volume through Tidal Hi-Fi with MQA enabled and the 4.4mm balanced jack.
I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” There’s some impact here, but it’s certainly not among the best I’ve ever heard – nor is it basically absent like the Empire Ears ESR. The sub-bass is above average though, especially for an IEM that’s not trying to be bassy. It’s nowhere near the FiR Xe6/Rn6 or the Trifecta though, but is stronger than the FiR VxV. Overall, this is a good showing with no bass bloat or unwanted rattle/reverb. 8/10 points here – better than I thought it would do as a mids-focused IEM.
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. I’d be really surprised if these had too much bass here. They don’t, though the bass can actually be pretty pronounced here. Aroma did not make a bass-light IEM, even though it’s not as pronounced as a lot of modern IEMs. The vocals are still very forward on this song, and while the bass gets a little too pronounced at times, it manages to walk the fine line of avoiding drowning out the vocals. 9/10 points here.
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. The clean guitars in the intro sound excellent, very crisp. The distorted guitars don’t sound nearly as good, a little flat and metallic sounding – somewhat artificial. The highs are also nonexistent there and the drums are hard to hear. It’s a bit of a soundwall where only the distorted guitars can be heard. The vocals come in nicely and with a forward presence. The chorus sounds OK, but a bit blurry, though the guitars can still be heard in the background, just not super cleanly. The snare can be heard, but just barely – same with the bass drum. There’s a bit of sharpness here as well, which is odd since the highs are pretty muted. Overall, not the worst, but not the best showing on this song – 4/6 points.
Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests vocal quality and background noise. Nice. Really good vocals and clean guitars. You can hear the fingers on strings detail in the background on the left side, but it’s not pronounced or distracting. The vocals have a great level of detail without any unwanted vibration and the bass guitar sounds really good without overwhelming the mids. There’s emotion, there’s breadth and body – great representation. 7/7 points here – love it.
To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” The intro cello sounds great, lots of detail and a very full sound. The piano in the background can be clearly heard along with the mid-cello. It’s always nice when the bass-cello here doesn’t overwhelm the piano or mid-cello. This has the emotional connection the Trifecta brings to the table and that the excellent Rn6 misses on this song. It hits all of the detail while making you want to just close your eyes and listen. 7/7 points here – these nail classical.
To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” Ohhhh. That’s why there’s that massive dip in the highs. They managed to almost completely remove the sibilance from this song. It’s not perfect, but it’s about the closest I’ve heard on any TOTL IEM – ever. 6/6 points – very impressive.
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.) And here’s the downside to that dip – basically no cymbals here at all. The drums come through well, and you can occasionally hear a really hard cymbal hit, but I can’t give this more than a 1/7 points. The guitars and drums sound great though – love the solo, but that’s not what we’re testing here.
Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. Oddly, there is some sharpness here, and it’s not great. Piano high-notes live in the upper 3k range and that dip doesn’t start until 4k. They failed to tune out the sharpness here – not the worst, but not great, especially on certain chords – 4/7 points here.
Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (7/10):
I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. The soundstage on the Jewel is pretty wide, but very forward 180 leaning. Don’t expect the 360-degree field that the Xe6, Rn6, or Mentor will give you. Instrument separation is also just OK and nowhere near the level of the Rn6. The overall is very flat and wide. Imaging is good though, and more to my preference than some headphones, especially on The Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigby.” 7/10 points here.
The Rn6 is better in every way, though the mids come through more forward and crisp sounding on the Jewel. The bass on the Rn6 is better, the highs are better, the mids are more detailed and don’t blur together with great instrument separation, etc., etc. The Rn6 is also brand new, and FiR managed to really crush those. The Trifecta? Also, better – for me anyway. Better highs, way more sibilance though, worse quality lows, but better quantity. The Trifecta also feels fuller-bodied with more “soul” than the Jewel. I prefer the Trifecta’s mids and soundstage and instrument separation. Again, this is all to my preference, you will have your own preference – go complain to a wall or write your own review. Objectively though, the highs on the Jewel suck – even though there is almost no sibilance. That’s just one of the many tradeoffs you have with audio. I have yet to see someone have excellent highs with no sibilance or sharpness. Still, the Jewel is a highly rated TOTL IEM for a reason – I’m comparing it to newer, and excellent IEMs – the Jewel is still no slouch and I prefer it over the Thunder, which was my previous best Aroma Audio IEM. You will be very happy with one if it fits your preferences (i.e. you hate hearing highs).
The Jewel used to be the top of the pack, up there with the Traillii. It’s impressive the difference that a year makes in the IEM-scape. The Jewel has been knocked off its perch by some young blood raring to fight. Still, that doesn’t make The Jewel any less of a TOTL contender. It’s still worth the ~$3k you can find it for on the used market, especially if you hate treble. So, if you want really good lows, solid, forward mids, and almost no treble at all, the Jewel is a great IEM for that preference. If you want a really nicely balanced IEM, grab the Rn6 before it sells out and if you want an IEM with soul and great treble, grab the Trifecta. Oh, and the Xe6 is obviously the basshead IEM. After having wanted a set of these since I discovered TOTL IEMs, and they have showed up near the top of everyone’s list since they came out, the Jewel was a bit of a letdown.
|Headphone Scoring (v3):|
|Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):||3|
|Cable (10 pts):||4|
|Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):||4|
|Lows (20 pts):||17|
|Mids (20 pts):||18|
|Highs (20 pts):||11|
|Soundstage / Instrument Separation / Imaging (10 pts):||7|