Before we get into the final installment of my multi-part review of the JH Audio JH 16 Pro, I wanted to take a peek behind the curtain at the people behind these fantastic in-ear monitors. So, what did I find? Would you believe Van Halen? Yup...we'll get to that.
The main innovator behind JH Audio is Jerry Harvey, who fits this company perfectly...since he shares the same initials in an amazing twist of fate (or that may have been intentional...)
Anyway, back to Van Halen. Jerry Harvey, the founder and CEO of JHAudio got his start as a touring sound engineer in the early 1980's. Over the course of the next decade or so, he would tour with some of the biggest bands around, including KISS, Van Halen, The Cult, and others. Legend has it that sometime in 1995, while Jerry was working with Van Halen, Alex Van Halen got frustrated by the poor quality of in ear monitors (IEM) available. Complaining that the audio was terrible, he ordered Jerry to find a better solution. After an exhaustive search, Jerry found that no IEM existed which would satisfy Van Halen's needs. So, he set out to invent one.
Before long, Jerry had developed the first two-way IEM, and soon left the world of touring sound engineer to found his new company Ultimate Ears. Unbeknown to me, I was already well familiar with Jerry's work, having tested numerous Ultimate Ears headphones (they were among my favorites until now).
In fact, Jerry told me that Alex Van Halen was, instrumental in kicking off Jerry's IEM design career.
He [Alex Van Halen] was my driving force in the beginning to build a better earpiece. He also had the patience to go through the learning and Beta phase with me. You have to remember this was when when IEMs where in their infancy. In 95 we did not know if the artist would adopt the technology my goal was to please Alex. It wasn't until the opening act Skid Row asked me if I could build them the same IEM that Alex was using that I even considered starting a co. I delivered the IEMs to the tour manager he asked how much do I owe you? I thought a minute and said 500 a pair. 10 minutes later he brought me $3000 and I thought wow that was great. Later that week on a long bus ride the VH crew and we came up with the name ultimate ears. I think it was the drum tech Rob Kern that actually came up with it. My goal was to sell 4 pair a month to pay my car payment. I had no idea it would become the 800 pound gorilla it is.
Jerry stayed with Ultimate Ears as the Chief Technical Officer and earpiece designer until 2007, when he left Ultimate Ears (the company was sold to Logitech) and ultimately founded JH Audio. The main difference between the original Ultimate Ears and Jerry's current company, JH Audio is innovation. According to Jerry, JH Audio is all about being first to market with the newest iem innovation. "JH Audio starts where I left off at UE, " he said.
Today, JH Audio designs and builds very accurate and musical IEM audio signatures. Their philosophy is that you should get out of the IEM exactly what you put into it. The earpiece should continue to ramp up with and improve as the audio source improves.
In order to accomplish that feat, JH Audio relies on the dual driver technology, which Jerry originally utilized for Van Halen, and has now gone an additional step with the worlds first 3 way active dsp amp. The JH 16 IEMs (which we will be looking at in more detail soon) are, "matched with the JH3a and tuned perfectly out to 23k." This technology allows users to adjust the low frequency driver from flat to +14db depending on their taste. This is the first time an earpiece has had this level of high frequency extension.
To close things out, I decided to have a little fun with Jerry. Here are his responses to my five stupid (and completely irrelevant questions).
What is your favorite food?
If they were making a movie of your life, who would play you in the movie?
Young Tommy Lee Jones
What color best describes your personality?
What song would you consider to be your theme song? Or what song do you consider to be an inspiration?
Rambling Man Allman Bros
Who is your personal hero?
Steve Jobs. The greatest comeback story ever. I always root for the underdog.
Awesome. I want to thank Jerry Harvey, and the rest of his team over at JHAudio for their fantastic support of this series, and for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. Stay tuned for my complete look at JHAudio's flagship JH-16 Pro IEM. Want a sneak peek of my review? Here goes, "I have never heard music before." Stay tuned for the rest coming soon...