Rank #7: Jomo Samba


Jomo is one of the more recent boutique manufacturers to enter the scene. With the 6R, Jomo offered a new alternative for a neutral, reference-oriented iem. With the Samba, they continue in that direction – a reference monitor in pursuit of technical excellence.

Jomo Audio Samba
-Drivers:                      8 BA drivers; 2 low, 2 mid, 4 high
-Design:                       3-way passive crossover, 3 sound bores
-Impedance:               19 Ohm
-Sensitivity:                 116 dB
Fit:                                Custom

-MRSP:                          $1725

The Cable

Samba is bundled with the Effect Audio Ares II, a quality copper cable that returns as a special little ingredient in Samba’s internal wiring . Ares II has a signature much like Samba;  a slightly brighter than neutral tone resulting from a lower treble emphasis, and above average top-end extension. Samba’s clean stage and transparent sound can at least partially be attributed the Ares II; both the cable itself, as well as its internal wiring.

The pairing also comes with some minor downsides. Ares II isn’t particularly warm, while its lower midrange is laidback.  Accordingly, the pairing with Samba results in a brighter tone and leaner vocal presentation. Suffice to say, other cables might provide a warmer, more natural sound. But that isn’t what Samba is going for. Ares II provides an excellent complement for achieving the intended tuning, pushing Samba to even greater heights when it comes to performance. The pairing pays off, resulting in one of the best stock cable pairings in this lineup.

Sound impressions

A monitor’s sound consists of a mixture of its signature and technical performance. While aspects as bass, midrange and tone are easy to identify, more abstract constructs as resolution, transparency, and separation can be harder to evaluate, and accordingly appreciate – until you hear the Jomo Samba. Samba is a technical masterpiece, where performance comes first. It’s so precise, it can even tend to feel a bit ‘digital’. In a world where analogue has a romantic connotation, coining the term digital might be viewed as something negative, that should be avoided. But Samba teaches us the contrary: with ultimate precision, comes a very pure form of beauty. In fact, performance does not conflict with ‘musicality’; it’s a fundamental part of it.

Samba is tuned with a reference signature, as witnessed by its 6 KHz peak. Much like the Galaxy and Dream, it’s an important area to create an articulate, resolved sound. But Samba adds an even more impressive top-end extension, with a slight upper treble peak. The boost adds air to the presentation, constructing a remarkably clean stage. Evidently, it also results in a brighter than neutral signature, that won’t be classified as particularly emotional to say the least. But the fact that this isn’t the most natural sound, doesn’t mean it won’t speak to the heart – at least to this reviewer’s. Samba sounds exciting, stimulating. Its precision is mesmerizing. And there’s certainly a melodic sweetness in its tone.

But Samba’s unique capability lies in its stage. Don’t get me wrong; its cube-sized stage is only average in terms of absolute dimensions. But it’s in the quality where Samba differentiates itself from the herd. For starters, the stage is clinically clean; there isn’t a trace of warm air between the instruments – just pure black space. Next, add both highly transparent and resolved notes. But position them so precisely, you can identify their location with surgical precision. I don’t know how up to date the current dictionary is, but when looking up ‘pinpoint precise imaging’, there should be a link to Samba. When imaging and layering becomes so precise, the image becomes truly holographic; the image as a whole feels three-dimensional and crystal clear. Samba demonstrates that separation, and accordingly detail retrieval, doesn’t need to rely on large dimensions: despite its average size, Samba outperforms the best.

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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.

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