I would like to thank JH Audio for providing Layla in return for my honest opinion.
For all my fellow romantics, I have recently found new love. Her name is Layla, and she has pronounced curves in all the right places; a deep-reaching and profoundly impactful bass, followed by a glorious rise in the midrange. Layla is subtle but sensuous, smooth yet powerful.
My personal encounter with Layla came at the dawn of my audiophile career. I have grown content with what I have at my disposal, and the desire to try new products has subdued. However, when my local store in Amsterdam (Hifisolutions) announced they had obtained the Jerry Harvey Audio (JHA) lineup, I was intrigued as their products had always eluded me in the past years.
A few companies have staked their claim in the rise and development of the (customized) in-ear market, and have probably been instrumental in their own way throughout the process. But there is little doubt that Jerry Harvey sits at the absolute epicenter of the history of it all, and has been a primordial factor in its evolution – the story of Jerry Harvey’s first creation of a pair of in-ears for the band van Halen should be common knowledge for anyone with vested interest in this hobby.
Even so, Jerry Harvey wasn’t just influential in the conceptual phase of the in-ear industry – in later years he continued to push the envelope. Shortly after I first embarked on my portable audio adventures, they released Roxanne, and later Layla; to the best of my knowledge, the first in-ear with 12 drivers on each side. It seemed like a massive leap forward at the time. Indeed, Roxanne and Layla’s configurations quite sparked the imagination of the audiophile collective at the time.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Layla has never been retuned or updated since its initial release. Modifications were made concerning the universal shells, but the sound itself was not altered. However, this does not stem from a lack of effort or time – JHA simply believes that Layla remains competitive with respect to the competition, and a finished product does not require continuous updating.
After getting in contact with JHA, I was subjected to the full ‘JHA experience’. The first step was a skype session with customer service to get general information about JHA, which is normally used to help customers choose the right monitor for their specific needs, and address any questions. The following step was creating a design, which among others entailed several emails with the art director – as with the skype session, part of their standard service.
I was initially browsing through their standard options, but the JHA team stressed they wanted to make something absolutely unique. The one thing that caught my eye was a shell body of wood. As a I wanted a sort of forest-inspired color combination, they interlaced the wood with green-colored resin in a honey comb design. The result is spectacular, and without a doubt the highlight in my collection. The craftsmanship is simply impeccable, both in terms of fit and finish; trust me when I say pictures barely do it justice.
The universal versions of Layla and Roxanne gained a reputation for being among the largest in the business. Fortunately, the custom version of Layla is not exorbitant in size. It’s still a bit larger than average when compared to others, but it doesn’t stick out as much as the universal when worn. At the top of the shell JHA of course utilizes their own 4-pin cable connector system due to their variable bass port. The system works excellently, allowing each user to fine-tune according to their preference. The downside however is that cable-rolling audiophiles as myself cannot swap cables.