Comparison Review: Westone ES5 vs. JH13 Pro

Discussion in 'Audiophiles: Headphones, Earphones, etc.' started by VoLTaG3, Oct 24, 2010.

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  1. VoLTaG3

    VoLTaG3 New Member

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    Introduction

    Before I get deeper into the review I will like to talk about my journey to aural nirvana. Because, surprisingly I believe the Westone ES5's have bought me aural nirvana. The JH13 Pro did as well but not as effortlessly as the Westone ES5's has.

    My first set of high end earphones were the Shure SE530. I loved the Shure SE530's because of it's smooth sound. It's vocal reproduction is what stood out the most to me. It's detailed and engaging. But, there was one problem and that problem is what eventually lead me to continue my journey for audio nirvana. The problem was the treble roll off. It took away the energy from the music and created a dull environment. The treble roll off though allowed for a fatigue free listen and made the vocals have a smooth and natural tone.

    Aiming for a more energetic sound signature bought me to the Westone 3's. Immediately they wowed me with it's powerful bass and sharp treble. I loved it's sound, until I heard a song that had vocals... It didn't matter how many tips I tried, the sibilance was not going away. The Westone 3's to me were technically superior to the Shure SE530's in terms of detail, soundstage, etc... but the sound signature which I find the most important had to go to the Shure SE530's. The Westone 3's were returned for a full refund after 2 1/2 weeks with them.

    Staying with the Shure SE530's for about another month made me want to upgrade again. But, this time I thought I'd go the custom earphone route. Positive reviews were pouring in about the JH13 Pro. Many saying the sound was simply the best you could find in a custom earphone today. Eventually, I ordered me a pair.

    The JH13 Pro left me with a huge smile on my face upon my first listen. With it's powerful bass, vivid mids and sparkly treble, I thought I was at the end of my journey for audio nirvana. Well, after hearing the Westone ES5's, I thought wrong.

    These 2 custom earphones are highly regarded as the neutral kings amongst the vast list of custom earphones. The JH13 Pro retails for $1,099 and the Westone ES5 retails for $950. You can order the JH13 Pro straight from [linked redacted]. Ordering the Westone ES5 requires a different approach. You can order them through an audiologist while you're getting your ear impressions, or from a third party website or by calling Westone. My ears are very greatful for having the privilege to listen to these very expensive custom earphones and I hope this video will help you in your decision when purchasing your high end custom earphone. Scores will be added up for each section and the average score will be the score that determines the winner.



    Packaging

    With the Westone ES5's you get more of a sense that you're getting your moneys' worth when looking at the packaging. You're greeted with a virtually indestructable pelican case, manual, warranty registration cards and a T-shirt labeled with the Westone logo and website. Inside the pelican case you're then greeted with a lubricant gel bottle that is used to help ease the insertion of the earphones if the need arises. A wax removal tool to clean out debris that is built up inside the acoustic sound tubes. A Desiccant Pod that will absorb moisture away from your custom IEM's incase you get moisture inside of them. And, last but not least your custom earphones neatly wrapped and placed around the Desiccant Pod.
    With the JH13 Pro, the packaging is a bit insulting for the price you paid. You're greeted with a hard case that has your name engraved onto it but it has a latch that is nearly impossible to open sometimes and a manual that as a bit of humor to it and that's it. Inside the case is a cheap velvet pouch that catches lint and dust like it's no tomorrow. Inside the velvet pouch is your custom earphones coiled up.

    Packaging Scores:

    Westone ES5: 9
    JH13 Pro: 5.5




    Build Quality

    In terms of artwork printing, Westone is much better than JH Audio. My Westone ES5's has a much more complex artwork than my JH13 Pro's but on my JH13 Pro I can see a flaw in the printing of the artwork onto the faceplate. I detect no flaws with the artwork on my Westone ES5's. Due to the translucent color of both my JH13 Pro and Westone ES5 I can see inside of the shell and observe the technology that I paid for. My JH13 Pro had some dust specks inside of the shell and some air bubbles. The cable didn't fit all the way into the shell which is very bad because the pins can rust due to moisture or worst completely short out the speakers inside. The sound tube for the tweeters inside of my JH13 Pro looked as if someone scratched it up with a needle. The acrylic shell smoothness and durability on the other hand was superb with the JH13 Pro. Looking into my Westone ES5's with a very bright table lamp I detact no air bubbles or a speck of dust. The cables fit all the way into the shells. The sound tubes were also clear and free of imperfections. Acrylic shell smoothness and durability is on par with the JH13 Pro.

    Build Quality Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 7




    Comfort, Fit and Isolation

    Being that the Westone ES5 and JH13 Pro is a custom earphone the fit is going to be perfect or it should be. I have absolutely NO complaints with the Comfort, fit or isolation with my Westone ES5's. But, with my JH13 Pro's the right earpiece was uncomfortable to wear after 1 hour. After many refits, the problem remained the same. With the Westone ES5's they litterally disappear in terms of comfort after 5 minutes in my ears. Looking at my Westone ES5's and JH13 Pro's their shape and size differ a tad bit. Which is the reason why my JH13 Pro are uncomfortable. I'm assuming either my ear impressions were bad or that JH Audio's scanning machines are un accurate. The Westone ES5's and JH13 Pro's isolation are both roughly similar. They both block out a lot of ambient noise which makes low volume listening possible when outside.

    Comfort, Fit and Isolation Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 7




    Bass Presentation

    The Westone ES5's bass first and foremost isn't for the bass head. So if you crave un accurate amounts of bass the Westone ES5's aren't for you. With that being said don't get the impression that these are bass lacking. The bass I would best describe is very faithfull. The Westone ES5's bass is pretty much flat all the way down to 20hz. It lacks the 6 decibal 50hz boost the JH13 Pro has. But, I've grown to prefer the flatter more accurate and surprisingly more detailed bass of the Westone ES5's. The JH13 Pro's sub-bass has a nice impact to it but unfortunately it makes some instruments come off wrong in tonality. Also, it slightly reduces the detail perceived in the upper registers. I still love the powerful bass of the JH13 Pro's though, it sounds like a nice subwoofer you'd have for an expensive home theater. The Westone ES5's subwoofer sounds like the ones you'd have in a top notch professional recording studio. It's not there to impress you with bass impact but it's there to impress you with it's bass presentation in terms of accuracy, detail, extension, decay and tightness. So in summary the Westone ES5's bass to me has just the right amount of impact to prevent the music from sounding lifeless but not too much impact hiding details in the process and the JH13 Pro takes the more musical approach with a more powerful bass response.

    Bass Presentation Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 9




    Midrange Presentation

    Both the Westone ES5 and JH13 Pro pack loads of detail in their midrange reproduction but the tonality matters as well. The Westone ES5's midrange is very smooth yet while maintaining superb transparency. Voices come through full bodied and natural. 95% of the time there is ZERO sibilance. The JH13 Pro's midrange is recessed in comparison and lacks the fullness which introduces sibilance. It's not enough sibilance to make the sound unenjoyable but it's enough to take away from the realism. Detail wise the Westone ES5's has slightly more in it's midrange presentation compared to the JH13 Pro most likely due to the unrecessed rendering. In summary the midrange on the Westone ES5's is more engaging, detailed and convincing while the JH13 Pro is more airy and lifeless but still packing lots of detail.

    Midrange Presentation Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 8.75




    Treble Presentation

    The JH13 Pro treble is very smooth and detailed. It sounds natural but it has a bit too much smoothness and doesn't have the sharpness or bite you would normally hear in real life. The Westone ES5's manages to have a smooth and detailed treble that all of sudden comes off sharp when it should all while not introducing any sibilance to the vocals. Which at first surprised me. In terms of frequency response the JH13 Pro has a peak around 6khz and the Westone ES5 around 8khz. 6khz is where sibilance lays. 8khz is out of the sibilant range but more in the range of cymbals. In summary the JH13 Pro's treble is very good but has a tad bit too much smoothness while the Westone ES5's are more energetic and revealing all while remaining natural in it's tonality.

    Treble Presentation Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 9




    Speed/Transient Response

    Both the JH13 Pro and Westone ES5 are super fast in their transient response due to the technology they use to reproduce the sound. Listening to very complex music, neither earphones break a sweat or show signs of struggling. Every sound comes through with superb clarity and sounds as if each sound has it's own speaker. The Westone ES5's utilize 5 balanced armature speakers per ear. 2 tweeters, 2 midrange speakers and 1 subwoofer. The JH13 Pro's utilize 6 balanced armature speakers per ear. 2 tweeters, 2 midrange speakers and 2 subwoofers. According to Jerry Harvery the speakers inside the JH13 Pro and JH16 Pro are custom spec and oscillate 2 times faster than any other balanced armature speaker on the market. After hearing the Westone ES5's, either Westone obtained similar speakers or what Jerry said is a marketing gimmick. In summary I have no complaints about the speed of both the Westone ES5 and JH13 Pro.

    Speed/Transient Response Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 10




    Accuracy

    Overall, I'd give the Westone ES5's the crown here with no hesitation. Everything sounds more realistic. The Westone ES5's produce the most neutral sound that I've heard while having the appropriate colorations to prevent a boring and lifeless presentation. The JH13 Pro is still a very accurate earphone but due to the overly smooth treble, vocal sibilance and recessed midrange it falls short to the Westone ES5's. In summary If you want to hear pretty much damn near exactly what's coming out of the 3.5mm input on your source the Westone ES5's are your ticket.

    Accuracy Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 8.75




    Detail Retrieval

    I wouldn't necessarily say one earphone is more detailed than the other. The Westone ES5's sounds more detailed to my ears mainly because the bass isn't overpowering anything, the midrange is full and present and the treble is energetic and crisp. Nothing is lacking. The JH13 Pro is just about as detailed as the Westone ES5's but due to it's sound signature some of the details are hidden. The details aren't really hidden in the sense that you can't hear them at all it's more like the detail is hard to pick up unless you literally anticipate it's arrival. With the Westone ES5's the same detail I missed with the JH13 Pro was coming through effortlessly and not forced. In summary both earphones are highly detailed and will make it seem like you're listening to your music for the first time.

    Detail Retrieval Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 9.5




    Soundstage

    The soundstage on both the JH13 Pro and Westone ES5 are spectacular for an earphone. The sound extends wide left to right, front to back and top to bottom with amazing coherence. The soundstage size goes to the JH13 Pro primarily due to the recessed midrange which gives you the impression you're further from the vocalist. The Westone ES5's put you on the first row while the JH13 Pro put you on the 3rd or 4th row. I prefer the Westone ES5's approach because the midrange is fuller and sounds more realistic. Also, would you rather have front row tickets or 3rd row? I know I would rather have front row. Genres like electronica and drum n bass the soundstage of the JH13 Pro is preferred because the midrange tonality doesn't have much importance with computer generated sounds. In summary both the JH13 Pro and Westone ES5 offer spectacular soundstage capabilities but the JH13 pro's soundstage size is nice when listening to genre's Electronica and Drum n Bass.

    Soundstage Scores:

    Westone ES5: 9.5
    JH13 Pro: 10




    Imaging

    Surprisingly the Westone ES5's seem to edge out of the JH13 Pro slightly in terms of imaging. Everything sounds tighter and more controlled through the Westone ES5's. The JH13 Pro on the other hand still has amazing imaging but it's slightly blurred in comparison to the Westone ES5's. There seems to also be abit more depth in the sound with the Westone ES5's. It's somewhat like I can physically feel the sound being played before me. When I close my eyes I'm more easily convinced that I'm there with the music using the Westone ES5's. In summary both the Westone ES5 and JH13 offer sharp imaging but the Westone ES5 slightly edges it out in depth and sharpness.

    Imaging Scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 9.5




    Transparency

    How can I best describe this? Say you have a window that is dirty. The music is on the other side of the window. You're trying to look through this window and see the music. With iPod earbuds there is no dirty window between you and the music. There is 10 foot tall brick wall. Anyways, with the JH13 Pro. It's like someone cleaned the window. With the Westone ES5's it's like someone removed the window. Yes, the Westone's are more transparent than the JH13 Pro's. Every frequency band is equal in volume therefore the detail perceived is higher compared to the JH13 Pro with a more musical but unneutral sound signature. The JH13 Pro is still very tranparent but it's easier for me to forget I'm listening to tiny high quality speakers in my ears using the Westone ES5's. In summary the Westone ES5's to me are the Sennheiser HD800's equivalent of custom earphones in terms of transparency.

    Transparency scores:

    Westone ES5: 10
    JH13 Pro: 9.25




    Overall score

    Westone ES5: 9.8
    JH13 Pro: 8.5




    Summary

    Keep in mind that this review is entirely subjective. For the 9 months that I've owned the JH13 Pro I was in audio bliss until I heard the Westone ES5 and that forever changed. I can safely say that the Westone ES5 is the best sounding earphone or headphone that I've yet to hear. ​
  2. NinjaBurrito

    NinjaBurrito New Member

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    This review seems a little... biased.

    Any review where one side gets over 80% of the praise, I call phoney.
  3. highendheadphones

    highendheadphones New Member

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    This guy is phoney.
    His been banned n head-fi and has had a video put up about him on youtube for the reason why.
    search westone es5 on youtube then watch the video titled owldizzle must watch. it give all the details with links to his posts on head-fi and how he has been scamming people out of money to buy these iems
  4. crovian

    crovian Active Member

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    Yea I was reading up on the Westone ES5 thread on head-fi and realized that this guy was banned. I didn't know for what reason. Now that clears it up.
    This should at least deter the scamming going on. Thanks for the info
  5. highendheadphones

    highendheadphones New Member

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    here the link to that video

    [redacted]
  6. highendheadphones

    highendheadphones New Member

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    this imature child should be banned from all forums as far as im concerned.
    he got through 3 user names on head fi but got cought out and its said he has been using more to scam people.
    he even used the same paypal account he received the money he scammed to buy his old jh13 pro and after jh audio found out the refused to sell him the jh16 + jh3 combo which is why he bought the es5
  7. ChrisL

    ChrisL Well-Known Member

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    Whoa, how'd they found out that he scammed people?
  8. VoLTaG3

    VoLTaG3 New Member

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    Actually, I requested for a refund because I wasn't going to be waiting 3 extra months for this thing. You have NO proof I scammed anyone. So for anyone believing this, go ahead, I really couldn't possibly care less because I'm laughing right now at how sour this guy is for NO apparent reason. Could be jealousy I suppose. Also, to completely debunk this guy, JH Audio doesn't even accept Paypal.
  9. highendheadphones

    highendheadphones New Member

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    well at the time you bought the jh13 jhaudio sure did accept paypal.

    anyway your a waste of time and space.

    everyone please watch the video and follow the links provided in that video and make up your own mind.
  10. highendheadphones

    highendheadphones New Member

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    this video here watch it on the link provided and also read all the links provided.

    [redacted]
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