Jomo Audio was one of the three custom IEM brands accompanying Euphoria Audio at their CanJam Singapore debut. Also a Singapore-native, Joseph Mou initially conceived the company after years of experience in the DIY space. Now, with a plethora of world-class products under his belt, Joseph is previewing two prototype IEMs for public feedback: Type X and Type Z. Both units were equipped with three sound bores, so one can assume that they’ll be placed higher up the line at release. Regardless though, both prototypes yielded impressive listens and I can’t wait to see what comes of them a few months down the road.
Jomo Audio Type X: The Type X is undoubtedly one of the most balanced-sounding IEMs out of Jomo’s entire line-up. Tonally evoking the flagship Flamenco, the Type X walks the tightrope between clean technicality and engaging musicality. Its clarity and finesse can be attributed to excellent bidirectional extension, while a rise in the upper-bass and an accentuated centre midrange add a brilliant sense of body without congesting the stage. The Type X has an upper-bass-focused low-end. Like the Flamenco, mid-bass impact is neutrally-inclined, while sub-bass rumble is minimal overall. As a result, the Type X presents a bass that’s tight, well-resolved and well-layered, with just enough punch to signify its presence in the mix.
The Type X presents vocals cleanly – with a focus on articulation – but body never comes across as insufficient. Midrange notes aren’t the largest, but they’re solid, dense and well-resolved. This makes separation and imaging precision more palpable in the long run; trading off pure engagement for a cleaner and more accurate spatial presentation. Treble, ala Jomo, is crystalline, well-extended and – most importantly – smooth. A slight rise in the upper-treble enhances clarity and air, but the top-end region as a whole is linear otherwise. This contributes to background blackness and stage stability, ensuring that the Type X’s presentation is consistently defined, constantly easygoing and sufficiently organic. Again, the Type X is tactfully balanced and technically sound. It’s not necessarily a new sound per se for the company, but it’s the Jomo signature done right nonetheless.
Jomo Audio Type Z: The Type Z is a more dynamic, energetic and v-shaped spin on the Type X’s presentation. Immediately, it struck me as a Type X with the “treble-and-bass switches turned up,” so to speak. But, upon further listen, there are certainly inherent differences between the two that expand beyond just boosts in the extremes. Spatially, the Type Z presents music within a slightly larger soundstage. The prototypes perform similarly in imaging precision, but the Type Z is a touch stronger in left-right separation and central focus – possibly a consequence of the extra energy in the upper-treble. The Type Z’s low-end hits harder, with a greater focus in the mid-bass. As a result, the Type X has the edge in bass resolution and layering, but that doesn’t take away from the Type Z’s more musical response. Taken together with its sparkly top-end, you get a more dynamic, impactful and energetic listen.
Because of this, the Type Z’s midrange is the least substantial component in its presentation. Vocals and instruments alike are neutrally-placed, and they sound decidedly laid-back. Like the Type X, midrange notes are on the smaller side, but they excel in precision, separation and layering – yielding a clean and organised soundscape that never feels sluggish. However, listeners accustomed to large and engaging vocals will find the Type Z too nonchalant. Similar to IEMs like the Lime Ears Aether, the Type Z is best enjoyed with dynamic instrumental music where vocals aren’t too big of a priority. Clarity also receives a healthy boost due to the Type Z’s accentuated upper-and-lower-treble, whilst also infusing neutrality into the IEM’s overall timbre. Though, despite these bumps in the top-end, the Type Z maintains smoothness through excellent headroom. The mid-bass emphasis does fill up the stage to some degree, but treble notes sound neither harsh nor compressed; expressed with an openness that’s more akin to the Flamenco than it is to the Samba.
Stationed at the opposite end of the Euphoria suite was German IEM manufacturer, Vision Ears. Amin and Marcel flew all the way to Singapore for the event, where they previewed their prototype universal flagship IEM: The Erlkonig. The Erlkonig is a 13-driver IEM with 4 switchable tunings – selected via a dial around the cavum of the shell. The IEM’s faceplate, shell design and tuning dial will be unveiled at High End Munich in May. The Erlkonig I heard had a specific tuning pre-selected, which I will refer to as the CanJam Singapore tuning.
Vision Ears Erlkonig: The Erlkonig is a mainstream-tuned IEM with no particular bias towards any genre or tonal direction. Although this would imply a generic or unsubstantial signature, the Erlkonig strives because of a balance between versatility, engagement and technical performance. The CanJam tuning was particularly mid-bass-emphasised and lightly warm. Because of admirable low-end extension, bass notes are as melodious as they are easy to identify. Much like their flagship VE8, the Erlkonig crafts its energetic and inviting signature through dense notes set against a pitch-black background. But, in order to maximise soundscape expansion, the Erlkonig produces neutrally-sized instruments fanned out equally throughout its stage. Compared to similarly-tuned IEMs like the Jomo prototypes or the Unique Melody Mason V3, the VE flagship fares better in terms of note resolution and vocal definition. Because of an intricate balance between a lifted mid-bass, a linear midrange and a refined-yet-articulate treble, instruments sound more complete and coherent – even though they still lean more towards clarity than organicity.
The Erlkonig’s midrange is defined by an evenness that spans throughout its vocal range. Unlike the scale and forwardness of the VE8, the universal flagship sources its resolution through density and physical solidity. The aforementioned fully-formed instruments are equipped with a tactility that gives its presentation realism without the need for a brighter tone. Although a lower-treble lift exists to provide articulation in snare drums, hi-hats, etc., smoothness is excellently maintained through great headroom, a speedy decay and balance against low-end warmth. Like the VE8, the Erlkonig maintains a linear and neutrally-tuned upper-treble. It performs excellently in extension and transient response, forming generous amounts of micro-detail throughout the stage without forging an excessively wispy or crispy presentation. This sense of top-end control is also why the Erlkonig maintains a blacker background than the VE8. Its resolution, cleanliness and well-organised stage is a result of this achievement; maintaining both a spacious, roomy soundscape, and the dynamic impact of a boosted mid-bass.
Taken together, the current iteration of the Erlkonig is an excellent all-rounder. Although its mind-blowing rumoured price will only be palatable to the upper echelon of audiophilia, its performance evokes a similar vein of supremacy. The CanJam tuning was admittedly immensely enjoyable, but to me, it’ll take at least three more excellent signatures for this flagship to prove its worth – a challenge I’m sure Amin and Marcel won’t mind accepting with a wink and a smile.