The Pro-Audio Series
Joseph Mou’s Pro-Audio line has been home to some of the company’s best performers. Example include the immensely popular Samba and Flamenco, as well as the impressively versatile, single-driver Haka. The uniform thread binding them all is an immense focus towards technical performance and viability in professional environments; whether that be on stage or in the studio. Equipped with CSU technology and internal titanium waveguides, the latest entries in the Pro-Audio line-up aim to be champions of transparency and resolution – delivered at a price accessible to all.
Please note that all of the following prices are in Singapore dollars.
Jazz (S$699 UIEM; S$799 CIEM)
The Jazz is a two-driver IEM tuned according to feedback gathered during Euphoria Audio’s open beta test – tailor-made according to the so-called Singapore Sound. As a result, the Jazz has become a mid-centric IEM, particularly favouring the density of the centre-midrange and brightness of the lower-treble. However, the road it takes to ultimately get there is an odd one, which we’ll explore later. Firstly, the Jazz presents a melodic, upper-bass-inclined low-end. Extension is modest – resulting in a bass heard than a bass felt – but the region’s linearity salvages its tone and clarity; resolving bass jabs and guitar slaps with impressive precision and solidity, despite minimal prominence in the overall mix.
Entering the midrange, the Jazz has a significant 1-2kHz rise, resulting in a rich and chesty vocal presentation. However, this then transitions to a neutral upper-midrange, resulting in an imbalance between foundation and vibrancy. Instruments are full-bodied and present, but they sound honky – further exacerbated by a brighter 5-6kHz peak and an 8kHz dip. There are instances where these shifts translate to both sweetness and solidity – such as with Jamiroquai’s Jason Kay or Celine Dion – but they show their wear in guitars, cellos and percussion; sounding diffuse, smeared and splashy. The treble rolls off past 10kHz, but linear extension maintains an adequately stable stage. Transparency is average, but the balance it maintains between technical separation and musical cohesion is impressive.
Despite its name, the Jazz – to me – sounds best with laid-back synthetic music. Its odd timbre renders it a no-go for acoustic tracks, and its reserved bass won’t satisfy with EDM. However, if you’re a fan of relaxing electronic music in the market for an affordable, set-it-and-forget-it monitor that does not skimp on dynamic energy, the Jazz might be for you.
Salsa (S$1399 UIEM; S$1499 CIEM)
The Salsa is Jomo Audio’s four-driver offering, which fully embodies the Pro Audio line’s pursuit of clarity and precision. Overall, it is a balanced piece aside from clear emphases in the lower- and upper-treble. As a result, the Salsa takes on a brighter tone and an airier presentation. A contributor to that is its low-end. The Salsa has a melodious bass with minimal sub-bass content. However, admirable extension maintains a realistic sense of physicality and solidity. Notes jab with clarity and air – akin to the Flamenco in many ways – even though some texture and warmth is sacrificed in the process. Finally, the speed of the mid-bass is especially crucial in maintaining the Salsa’s marvellously clean stage.
The Salsa’s midrange excels in clarity and definition. There’s just enough centre-midrange presence for proper solidity, while treble peaks add vibrancy to the upper-mids. The only weakness here is in tone. A sparkly top-end and a clean bass result in vocals that lack fullness and warmth. Females gain sweetness from the upper-midrange, but males miss a certain gusto or gravitas. This particular tuning benefits acoustic instruments and percussion; fingered strings and cymbal rolls resonating with finesse. The Salsa then employs peaks in the lower- and upper-treble for dazzling energy and open air. Despite this, admirable speed and note thickness prevent stridence for the most part. A more linear treble would’ve given the Salsa greater spherical depth, but adequate extension ultimately constructs a wide, stable stage.
All in all, the Salsa is probably the closest of the three to its given namesake; exciting, fierce and red hot! Bolstered by a complete midrange and a dazzling treble, the Salsa boasts excellent openness and air. Thankfully, Jomo Audio is far beyond stridence, so all that remains is vibrant clarity and relentless energy. Its calm low-end may hinder its versatility, but it’s an impressive attempt nonetheless at a signature with transparency in mind, and vocal completion at heart.
Tango (S$1699 UIEM; S$1799 CIEM)
The Tango is Joseph’s six-driver entry into the Pro Audio series; succeeding his widely-acclaimed Jomo 6v2. However, unlike its predecessor’s more reference tuning, the Tango’s defining trait is its v-shaped response – boasting an unapologetically fun sound with excellent dynamic energy and clean contrast within an impressively open stage.
This begins with the Tango’s elevated low-end. Excellent coherency between the sub- and mid-bass evokes an almost DD-like response; a fusion of visceral, foundational rumble and satisfying impact. Then, a slow droop into the upper-bass results in a darker-than-natural tone and strong textural resolution. But, enough energy is maintained here to endow the midrange with a strong, rounded fundamental. Aside from a tinge of warmth by way of slower decay, the Tango’s bass remains admirably self-contained. Although it’s best with genres like EDM, male baritones from my jazz collection also gain an authoritative gravelly huskiness. It’s a low-end as exciting as it is well-defined, mature and clean.
A significant dip at 1kHz ensures a more articulative and precise midrange. Although this may sometimes compromise resolution (or the completeness of the note), the Tango’s powerful bass lends its hand – imbuing instruments with warm, earthy undertones. As a result, female vocalists tend to sound heavier rather than sweet. But, male baritones ring through with great texture and authority. A rise in the 2-3kHz range ensures vibrant upper-mids despite an overall neutral presence, as well as the beginnings of a neutral tone when paired with its treble peaks. Despite its slight bias with vocals, the Tango’s transparency here works wonders with ensemble instruments, where the lead melody can shift from one instrument to another. This is also the result of brilliant headroom, where the Tango never falls short.
The Tango’s clarity comes from a strong 5kHz peak, followed by a smaller one near 11-12kHz. Respectively, these emphasise articulation, as well as openness and air. Subtler instruments – like cymbal shimmers, wind chimes, palm mutes, etc. – are more clearly contrasted against the Tango’s black background. However, compared to the Salsa for example, the Tango delivers with more grace. This is partly due to the Salsa’s later lower-treble peak, but an additional factor is speed. The Tango’s notes decay at a greater rate, so any sense of brittleness is instantly alleviated. As mentioned, this energy contributes to the Tango’s neutral-leaning tone; counteracting the warmth of the bass. Finally, admirable extension bolsters the Tango’s stability and separation – both particularly impressive for a six-driver in-ear.