Joinhandmade – Jelly Ear & Jelly Galaxy
Today I am presenting my impressions of the Jelly Ear and the Jelly Galaxy IEM’s from Joinhandmade, a new personal audio manufacturing company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
A little over a month ago I was looking around Google images at various headphones and IEM’s when this picture of a box with a white hand on it piqued my curiosity. Upon dropping the image back onto Google’s reverse image search I found links to https://joinhandmade.com from Vietnam. The page text was all in Vietnamese at that time and Google translation leaves a lot to be desired; I noticed there was a Facebook link and I contacted them that way. Within minutes, I received a reply from one of the founders of Joinhandmade. We had a little discussion of their product and I expressed great interest in reviewing the Jelly Ear Balanced Armature IEM. Hùng agreed to send me the IEM for evaluation and he also included a prototype of their new Jelly Galaxy, a Dynamic Driver IEM to try.
Joinhandmade is new to the manufacturing of IEM’s but they are not a new player to the personal audio industry itself. They have previous experience operating a business called 7xu.vn where they sold name brand personal audio equipment and started creating custom headphone and interconnect cables. Eventually all of this customization evolved into exploring CIEM’s, offering a reshell service and gave them some insightful experience into creating their own line of IEM’s which I will present to you now.
The first thing that impressed me about this product was the packaging, it’s a wooden box. This is ingenious. Is there any better way to protect your product for worldwide shipping than packed inside a wooden box?The box has the product name, Serial number of the IEM’s and a “made in Viet Nam” burned into the wood.
Jelly Ear Specifications
- Driving Unit: Balanced Armature
- Impedance: 22 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 107 dB @ 1000 Hz
- Frequency Response: 50 – 22000 Hz
- Distortion: Less than 0.1%
- Body Material: Acrylic
- Cover Material: Silicate
- Cable Material: Bronze – Teflon
- Cable Length: 1.2 M
- Plug: 3.5 mm
This is one aspect of the Jelly Ear that Joinhandmade takes a great pride in–each unit is hand built by a team of skilled artists. Each Jelly Ear requires 48 hours of processing and goes through 21 phases of finishing. The molding of the 2 body layers, cable and clew knitting and even the surface abrading is all done by hand.
I can attest that the build quality on these units is top notch, there are no seams and no rough edges. The ear hook is made by whipping nylon cord over top of the cable, which in my humble opinion works exceptionally well. The exact same whipping is also applied to the Y Split and at the end of the slim 3.5mm TRS plug.
The only issue I have with these is the cable, since it is Teflon coated and tightly braided it is very stiff and has quite a bit of memory to it. The mechanical noise of the cable is minimal since it is worn over ear, they do not include a shirt clip or chin slider so you will have to provide your own clip or get creative with wire routing.
I have been informed by Joinhandmade that the next version of the Jelly Ear slated for release in the new year will have a totally redesigned cable very similar to the cable on the Jelly Galaxy in the next review.
Fit & Sound
I personally found the Jelly Ear to be very comfortable and easy to get a good seal with, I switched to a pair of my surplus silicone tips in the above picture as I find the provided foam tips do not seal very well for me. The ear hook is very comfortable and nicely stays in place as you go about your activities while using these throughout the day.
Since this is my first experience with a Balanced Armature IEM, I was unimpressed by quantity and quality of bass that these these deliver. The more I used them with different genre’s of music, I found that the bass extension and quality is actually quite good. There is just not a lot of it, since Balanced Armature’s do not move any air, drums don’t have that nice thump I am used to but the sound of the strings on a standup bass guitar are very tight and quite detailed.
Testing these with Allan Parsons Sound Check CD reveals that the bass does go down to 25 Hz and drops off very quickly below that frequency.
Forward is the name of the game here, but I guess that is what BA’s are know for, very detailed and clean. Hammett’s lead guitar and Hetfields vocals on Metallica’s legendary track “One” are great, it’s just when the drums kick in that you are let down with the sound. These are by no means a good choice for Rock or Metal music, they are fast and articulate keeping up the pace of the music, just lacking in the lower end where the sound of the kick drums are required.
The treble on these are a dream to me, not bright or hot in the least, cymbals and the upper register of the trumpet does not make me wince like some IEM’s do. I am a little treble sensitive and these are quite good, they might not have the detail many are looking for but for my ears they are perfect.
The Joinhandmade Jelly Ear are very easy to drive from the Colorfly C3 and the FiiO X3. I did not find the EQ ability of the X3 able to bring out any missing bass quantity on these as it is simply not part of the BA driver, now if these were a multiple BA with a tuned bass driver or possibly a BA/Dynamic combo I could see them being great for all genres of music.
If you are looking for a very unique, single BA IEM and you listen to acoustic or jazz, then these might just be something to consider. There is a dizzying and confusing selection of IEM’s in the $100 – $150 market so you have many choices. Just the knowledge that these are all hand manufactured by a small company in Vietnam that is trying to get a foot hold into the very competitive personal audio market is a purchasing factor on it’s own, in my humble opinion.
I have really enjoyed my time with the Jelly Ear and everyone who saw me using them were very curious about their origin, when they found out that they did not come from one of the major manufacturers, people were very interested to try them out. So I let them listen to some really great tracks from albums like Roy Hargrove’s “Ear Food” and Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” as those tracks are a joy to listen to on these. As I discovered, as well as those who listened to them, they are not the most analytic IEM’s on the market but we all need to just kick back and listen to some great tracks sometimes and leave the critical listening for another time and place.
I would like to personally thank the Joinhandmade team for the sample of this finely crafted product that I used in this review. I also look forward to future hand made quality products from the team at Joinhandmade.com.
Also I do believe that all the Jelly Ear’s will be shipping with silicone tips instead of the foam tips as shown in this review.
Constructive criticism is always welcome.
The Jelly Galaxy is Joinhandmade’s dynamic driver IEM. This version I have is a prototype and very close to the finalized product.
The accessories included with my Galaxy are different than what will be included with the finished product. The ones I have included a foam tip and a sample silicone tip.
The finished product comes with S/M/L silicone tips in a new packaging insert like in this picture that was posted to Joinhandmade’s Facebook page. Notice the nice cord whipping of the strain relief on these.
Jelly Galaxy Specifications
- Driving Unit: Dynamic
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 113 dB @ 1000 Hz
- Distortion: Less than 0.1%
- Bodies Material: Acrylic
- Covers Material: Silicate
- Cable Material: Bronze – Rubber
- Cable length: 1.2 M
- Plug: 3.5 mm
Just like the Jelly Ear’s build quality, meticulous attention to detail is given to creating the Jelly Galaxy. There are no seams or rough edges to be found anywhere since the manufacturing process is done completely by hand. This attention to detail creates an IEM that can be used outside in the elements or in the gym, without having to worry about rain or sweat getting inside the unit and causing trouble. As a cosmetic touch, there are flakes of reflective silver mixed into the housings to add a sparkle for that Galaxy look when light hits them.
The cable on the Jelly Galaxy is a great improvement over the current Jelly Ear’s cable. The change from a Teflon jacket to a “Rubber” jacket (not the type of rubber that sticks to everything) and a looser braid has made for a great cable. There is no shirt clip or chin slider on this cable either and it does have a little mechanical noise, but that can be alleviated with a user-provided shirt clip. I do not have any pictures of the Y Split since my unit is a prototype and has a bit of glue on it that would not properly represent the build quality of the finished product. The Jelly Galaxy has an ultra slim 3.5mm TRS plug with a housing that is made from the same material as the body.
Fit and Sound
The Jelly Galaxy is a very light IEM and very comfortable, you can easily forget you are even wearing these when the music stops. I switched over to some surplus silicone tips on these as well for for a good seal while listening.
The sound of these will be different than the finished product as Joinhandmade has increased the lower bass and removed a little of the midrange and treble. Therefore I really can’t give you an impression of what they will sound like, but if the changes are not too drastic then they will be a great earphone for EDM and POP music. I enjoy the sound of the prototype as it is, but it could use a bit more sub bass, which is probably the reason for the changes in the final version. The treble is not bright, hot or sibilant which is a welcome relief unlike a few other IEM’s I have reviewed previously. If I receive a finished version of the Jelly Galaxy I will update this review to reflect the changes.
The Jelly Galaxy is easily driven from the Colorfly C3 and especially the FiiO X3, with the X3 you can turn up the bass and the Galaxy handles the EQ adjustment quite nicely.
So if you are looking for a nice hand made, quality product from a group of artisans who put care into each build, then look no further than the Jelly Galaxy from Joinhandmade!
I would like to personally thank the Joinhandmade team for this sample of the Jelly Galaxy Prototype that I evaluated in this review.
Constructive criticism is always welcome.