Jomo Audio Trinity – The Prologue

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DISCLAIMER: Jomo Audio loaned me the Trinity in return for my honest opinion. I will send the unit back following this article. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. My first impressions of the Trinity as follows.

Mere weeks away from its conclusion, 2018 is shaping up to be a monumental year for the in-ear audio industry. We’ve witnessed the hybrid resurgence, the birth of miniature electrostats, the outbreak of proprietary BAs, advancements in acoustics, and so much more. What better way then, to end the year than with a product that does all of them at once? Enter Joseph Mou’s Trinity: A 7-driver flagship comprised of 3 distinct driver technologies, configured in a phase-correct array and finished with an acoustically-affected bore – all within a single shell. Let’s cut to the chase: How does it sound?

Jomo Audio Trinity

  • Driver count: One dynamic driver, four balanced-armature drivers and two electrostatic drivers
  • Impedance: 30Ω @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Key feature(s) (if any): CSU (Cross-Sync Uniphase) crossover network
  • Available form factor(s): Custom and universal acrylic IEM
  • Price: S$3799 (UIEM); TBA (CIEM)
  • Website: www.jomoaudio.com

Sound Impressions*

The Trinity is a stunning technical performer. Having long been jaded by the tonal sacrifices manufacturers often make to push detail and stage expansion to arbitrary limits, the Trinity is the first piece since 64Audio’s Tia Fourté to have me wholly entranced by the vast, corporeal and intricately detailed soundscape it convincingly transports me to. But more importantly, everything it achieves feels entirely deserved – there aren’t any egregious tonal aberrations, no diffuseness and minimal artificiality. The Trinity never comes across forcing its technical merits. Everything was done with musicality, long-term engagement and tonal balance in mind; making its feats all the more outstanding at the end of the day.

The Trinity flaunts a remarkable stage, expanding beyond the confines of the head – grand and theatre-like in scale. But again, more impressive is how genuine the volume feels. Instruments in the rearmost row – heck, even echoes bouncing off chapel walls in Chesky Records’ binaural rendition of When the Saints Go Marchin’ In – maintain full integrity; gaining the same corporeal there-ness as the crucial centre-image. In Sam Smith’s One Day at a Time, there’s as much tension and resonance in the string plucks at the bottom of the mix, as there is in Smith’s breathtaking vibrato at the very top. It’s a combination of macro- and micro-dynamics that gifts the Trinity its striking transparency and riveting realism.

Unfortunately, it’s small shortcomings in tone that threaten to take it away. Despite the balance it expertly maintains in the bass and midrange – which we’ll discuss later – the Trinity’s middle-treble may come across too energetic at first listen, especially to audiophiles who prefer a warmer, more laid-back and more organic signature. Transients sound a dB or two louder than they should, because of a brighter 7-10kHz range. But, this is something listeners can certainly adapt to. Someone like me who prefers an in-ear as laid-back as the JHAudio Layla or as rich as the Empire Ears Phantom can fully transition into the Trinity within a track or two. Fans of the Campfire Audio Andromeda or the 64Audio A18t may not need to adapt at all. So, whether as a matter of preference or a question of realism, it’s certainly case-by-case.

The Trinity’s low-end is dynamically-driven and clearly so; extension and physicality impress. Although that may seem like a given considering the tech at play, this is a crucial because of the Trinity’s relaxed mid-bass. There’s a clear sub-bass bias, drooping before plateau-ing around 300-500Hz. On one hand, bassheads may not be happy with the Trinity’s modest low-end body. But conversely, the stage is kept remarkably clean and the low-end never distracts. Thankfully, the reverse is true as well. Because the bass is so solid, it never makes its presence or authority unknown. Even in slower tracks – like the aforementioned Sam Smith tune – when the bass guitar kicks in to accompany the vocalist’s entrancing melody, the sheer resonance of the instrument (and the driver) is spine-tingling. The same goes for the drop in Sabrina Claudio’s uptempo Don’t Let Me Down. Indeed, the low-end may not be wild as some crave, but it never, ever lets down.

The Trinity’s midrange was structured with depth in mind, hallmarked by its neutral lower-midrange. Because of this, instruments are more articulative than they are harmonic or rich. Notes are neutral in size, but not in placement. Vocals have an upper-mid bias; vibrant, engaging and musical. But, because of how linearly it rises throughout 1-4kHz, they still come through with coherency, solidity and linearity – avoiding any sense of hollowness or plasticity. Consequently, the Trinity maintains a clear timbre with passable organicity. Boosting 300-500Hz would’ve given instruments a fuller, more complete structure, but it would’ve been at the cost of depth. Again, transparency and resolution is breathtaking as the stage expands far beyond the work area of the midrange. Every layer of every frequency range is revealed with utmost scrutiny, accenting the stage with galaxies of detail, with just enough warmth to keep it all pleasingly glued together.

Treble is where Trinity unleashes its main event: A swift, articulate and stunningly clear electrostatic experience. Unlike any driver technology I’ve encountered in the past – even heavily-modified variants like 64Audio’s tia drivers or Ultimate Ears’ True Tone drivers – Sonion’s twin engines deliver air and detail with unprecedented finesse. Remarkable speed and effortlessness allow transients to appear and vanish with neither a bright haze nor a brittle harmonic anywhere in sight – resulting in an airy, open and vast soundscape with near-zero fatigue. In addition, since the transient decides where you hear the note first, imaging precision is fantastic as well. Paired with CSU technology, spatial performance reaches the top of the heap with ease. I haven’t heard the spherical boundaries of the stage – especially the diagonals at 10′ and 2’o clock – and stereo separation this defined since the Tia Fourté and Vision Ears’ Erlkonig. Energy throughout 10-12kHz does give the Trinity a more neutral tone, but the benefits to technical performance are – pun, intended – crystal clear.

With all this in mind however, I must return to the brighter 7-10kHz range. With hotter music, you can begin to hear the slightest hint of a hard-edge to the initial transient. But fortunately, swift decay brings it to a swift end. Again, it’s a peak you can easily grow accustomed to – even if you prefer warmer sounds – but it’s a knack against the Trinity nonetheless.

vs. Alclair Audio’s Electro ($1499)

The Electro is the world’s first commercially-available custom IEM to implement Sonion’s dual electrostatic tweeters – the very same ones used in the Trinity – and the only other in-ear I’ve heard extensively with the technology. Although I was concerned the drivers would lead them to sound similar, I was relieved to find that they weren’t alike in several respects.

This is obviously most prevalent in the bass. The Electro carries a strictly flat-neutral bass. It’s transparent in the sense that it rises and falls according to the recording, which is ideal for use in the studio or live. But, this limits its musicality, especially with genres like EDM, pop and R&B. The Trinity’s low-end is a noticeable step-up from neutral – mostly so in the sub-bass. It then approaches neutral around the mid-bass, but there’s certainly enough rumble and slam to go around with all genres. The dynamic driver also gives the Trinity superior physicality and authority. Even if quantity isn’t particularly high, the solidity and grunt of the bass is as palpable as ever. The sub-bass bias gives the Trinity a visceral, textured low-end, while the Electro’s linear bass grants a natural, melodious tone ideal for mixing or for genres like jazz.

Compared to the Trinity’s neutral lower-midrange, the Electro has a fuller, richer and more harmonic response. Notes here aren’t as defined as on the Trinity, but vocalists – balladeers in particular – benefit from this heftier range. A sense of weight and drama accompany the songstress’s delivery, which then yields a more intimate, powerful and emotionally resonant performance. But, the Trinity compensates with micro-dynamic energy. Because its treble is more articulate and its lower-mids are further recessed, the Trinity maintains a blacker background and a more stable soundscape filled with clearer nuances and more prominent micro-details. This is what grants the Trinity its theatricality. The Electro will have the warmer timbre and superior structure too, but the Trinity simply outclasses it in transparency and definition.

Sourcing their strengths from the same source, the treble is where Trinity and Electro are most alike. As described above – and in my impressions of the Electro online – Sonion’s electrostatic drivers deliver the cleanest transients I’ve yet heard from any in-ear monitor. Treble notes appear, shimmer and disappear with uncanny speed. This means both in-ears sport excellent headroom and stable soundscapes. Where the Trinity departs is in articulation. It’s more crisp, energetic and sparkly than the softer, more linear Electro. This leads to the edge in detail, but it also gives the Trinity a brighter tone. The Electro has the more pleasing timbre by comparison, but the Trinity prevails in imaging precision. CSU technology gives it a more stable sphere enveloping the listener, superior definition at the diagonals (10′ and 2’o clock) and a blacker background. Although the Electro is more organic, the Trinity is unquestionably more technically-capable.

Consensus… For Now

The Trinity – to me – is an undeniable revelation. Since becoming a recording engineer and having my preferences shift towards timbral candor, I’ve abandoned the notion of sacrificing tone for detail – “Juvenile manhood-measuring contests!” I childishly thought. But, as any S$3800 flagship should, I’ve begun to question my creed. After long nights of work – as I lay Phantom and Layla to rest – I find myself giddy and agog; the Trinity calls with all its glorious flair. Track 1 plays and I instantly hear it: A middle-treble peak and a delicate lower-midrange. But alas, no wince! Neither a tick, nor a quiver nor a quail. “Who cares when you have all this detail?!” Because truly, this is what the Trinity reliably achieves: A rival to Fourté with fewer compromise, a foil to Erlkonig at a fraction of the cost, and a challenger to both with a custom form. Will this romance last? Only time will tell. But until that fateful hour comes past, Trinity has me under its evil spell…

*Note: The Trinity I have here is the stainless steel variant; denoting the nozzle material. A brass version is also available and carries its own distinct sound signature. Should I get the chance to audition it in the future, this article will be updated. Also, since the provided cable was single-ended – and to make sure I’m not bottlenecking the Trinity in any way – I’ve written these impressions with the most common aftermarket cable in the world today: Effect Audio’s Ares II terminated with a 4.4mm plug.

 

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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