(Last Updated On: May 13, 2019)

Designing the Haka ground-up, Jomo Audio took on the challenge in overcoming the performance limitation of a single Balanced Armature IEM.

I won this pair of in-ear monitors (IEM) during CanJam Singapore 2019. Thank you Euphoria Audio who hosted the lucky draw. This is not a sponsored post, but an honest review written from a consumer’s point of view.
Another close look on Jomo Haka and the stock cable.
Another close look on Jomo Haka and the stock cable.

Jomo Audio Haka

“The team overcomes what is constraining a single BA driver IEM, designing Haka from with a ground-up approach. The BA driver is well-designed to handle the whole frequency spectrum without any compromises.”

Pros:

  • »Tonality balance and neutral
  • »Good isolation due to the small form factor
  • »Provides a paid option to get a higher quality cable

Cons:

  • »The price is quite steep
  • »Foam tips are not included
  • »The case could be better
  • »Normal 4 twisted wire cable looks shabby

Jomo Audio is founded by a broadcast engineer, Joseph Mou. Joseph has long experience in Audio & Video (AV) mixing as well as signal broadcasting. Being inspired by the Japanese word of “Takumi” or Craftsmanship Spirit in English, Joseph extending his expertise to the audio industry. He worked with experts from hearing-aid business to craft wonderful IEMs that sound decent in ear and looks splendid on hands.

We studied existing single BA driver IEMs in the market and the result was not very pleasant. We kept challenging ourselves to see what we can deliver by using the minimum number of driver and how we can make it better. – Joseph Mou

By understanding the situation and consumers’ needs, Jomo Audio worked closely with well-known Balanced Armature technology supplier to have a breakthrough in the design. However, Jomo Audio was not satisfied with what they can provide off the shelf.

Hence, Jomo Audio decided to embark on designing a new Balanced Armature driver with self-specified performance. The journey was not easy. Numerous trials had been done by the engineers. Jomo Audio Haka is the answer to the mentioned situation.

Jomo Audio Haka
Jomo Audio Haka

Unboxing

The unboxing experience for Jomo Audio Haka can be considered as pleasant. Upon removing the cardboard packaging, you’ll see a blue box with an engraved gold Jomo Audio logo.

Jomo Audio Haka in a cardboard packaging
Jomo Audio Haka in a cardboard packaging
Revealing a blue box after the cardboard packaging is removed
Revealing a blue box after the cardboard packaging is removed

Opening the box, user can find everything that is neatly arranged in a preset foam encased layout. The top portion is a single slot for the accessories while there is another for the semi-stiffened leather zippered pill-case. Inside the pill-case, user can find the Haka with the stock cable pre-installed.

On the cover of the pill-case, there is an engraved “JOMO”.
On the cover of the pill-case, there is an engraved “JOMO”.

I am unsure whether is it due to the case, the stock cable was stained – there are some black spots on the cable that I cannot clean it even with a wet wipe.

The included accessories are as follows:

  • 1 x cleaning brush/tip
  • 3 x single bore Tennmak Whirlwind tips (s/m/l)
  • 3 x dual flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • 1 x quarter jack adapter
  • Airplane adapter
  • Leather semi-stiffened carry case
Accessories provided in the box.
Accessories provided in the box.

Users have the freedom to choose the cable when purchasing Jomo Audio Haka – a normal 4 wire braided silver plated copper (SPC) cable or an Effect Audio Ares II cable. You have to top up an additional of SGD200 (~USD145) if you decided to choose the Ares II.

Since this is a gift for a lucky draw, only the normal stock cable was included. I have an Ares II from my Empire Ears IEM and I swapped it around for this review.

Specifications

  • Single Proprietary Precision Balanced Armature Drivers
  • No crossover
  • 3D printed ergonomic semi-custom shell design
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 107dB
  • Impedance: 18 ohms @ 1K Hz
  • Solid brass nozzle

The design approach for Haka is different. This is not a showing off of technology. This is a showcase of proprietary single balanced armature driver that Jomo Audio has crafted with their own specification and determination to break the current norm – Single BA driver IEM will not sound decent.

Build, Fit and Isolation

The shell of Jomo Haka is 3D-printed. The size is relatively small as compared to other 3D-printed IEMs’ shells such as iBasso IT03. Haka has a familiar look of a custom in-ear monitor (CIEM) which gives it a classy and sleek vibe.

There is only one color option for the universal model – Black with a gold “HAKA” on the shell.

This makes the overall presentation simple but eye-catching. Gold and black combination is always good.

Jomo Haka in a close look - Black with a gold “HAKA” on the shell.
Jomo Haka in a close look – Black with a gold “HAKA” on the shell.

The nozzle is built by brass which makes the nozzle durable. The bore of the nozzle is pretty wide so users who are looking for third parties ear tips might need to search for those with a wide bore. With the brass nozzle, it enables the ear tips to extend well into my ear canal, giving me decent noise isolation.

A brass nozzle that makes Haka looks sturdy.
A brass nozzle that makes Haka looks sturdy.

The stock cable I got from the packaging is a silverish 4 twisted wire cable. As mentioned in the earlier section, my cable got stained most likely by the internal of the pouch. The cable has moldable ear guides – a memory wire with heat shrunk outer layer.

This is a nightmare for those who are wearing spectacles. I cannot get a good fit with the stock cable. This issue is solved when I change the cable to Effect Audio Ares II.

Jomo Haka with pre-installed stock cable.
Jomo Haka with pre-installed stock cable.

The jack is a 3.5mm unbalanced stereo jack finished at a right angle with a stress relief finish. The same stiffened rubber finish of the jack is used for the y-splitter and adjustable neck slider. The microphonics on the cable is minimal if you managed to shape the memory wire to your ear shape with the aid of the neck slider

There are no sharp edges on the shell and the weight of the IEM is light. I do not feel any fatigue after hours of listening. I really like the fitting of this IEM (with Ares II). Jomo Haka is utilizing a 0.78mm non-recessed 2 pin connector. This is a common market standard so a lot of third parties cables can be found to replace or upgrade the original cable.

Non-recessed 0.78mm 2 pin connector on top of Haka.
Non-recessed 0.78mm 2 pin connector on top of Haka.

Pairing

In this review, I used my favorite Opus #3 as the source. I did some cable rollings and source matching for this review. I am using MandarinEs Symbio W ear tips (not included in the box) during this review.

Jomo Haka with Effect Audio Ares II on Opus #3.
Jomo Haka with Effect Audio Ares II on Opus #3.

Sound

No crossover, no phase cancellation, just powerful and coherent pure sound.

I found the tagline interesting and this could be the best words to describe the sound of Jomo Haka. The overall sound signature of Jomo Haka is relatively neutral. The presentation is uncolored. Coherent, with only a single driver and no crossover, the response is very accurate and on-point. It is almost perfect on the pace, rhythm, and timing.

The soundstage is above average. On X-axis, space is sufficient for instruments and vocalists to stand without stepping on each other. I do not find any congestion for most of the track even with a complicated track. On Y-axis, the depth is sufficient. Haka can present the stage in a precise manner. I think this is the best I can get with a single BA driver.

Jomo Haka looks perfect with Ares II installed.
Jomo Haka looks perfect with Ares II installed.

Lows

The lows are deep and fast – for a single BA driver IEM. When listening to Die Another Day from Madonna, I wouldn’t believe this is a response that can be presented by a single BA driver IEM. The lows are not warm, rather fast and tight. This is the bass that I valued the most. It is true that a warm lows can bring in some emotions to the track but sometime it might bleed to other frequency spectrum.

The mentioned problem does not exist in Jomo Haka. The bass is very well controlled. It presents when it is needed and decay with the fastest speed after the presence. Very accurate presentation.

With Effect Audio Ares II paired with Haka, the body becomes fuller and the response is faster. I like this combination and I think users who like clean, deep and punchy bass should go for this combination. Ares II can unleash the full potential of Haka at the lows without a doubt.

Jomo Haka on the black cardboard packaging.
Jomo Haka on the black cardboard packaging.

Mids

If someone was to ask what I like the most from the sound of Jomo Haka, the midrange is the one for sure.

What I love about the midrange is the smoothness and the emotion in the delivery. There is no spike in the mids and I enjoy myself especially on pop songs.

User will expect more of an upper mids focus than lower mids focus. With the pairing of Ares II, the lower mids will turn richer. There is a small focus on the vocals for Haka but these sound natural and realistic. Ares II actually warms the mids, making it sounds meatier and juicier.

There is also a good amount of space and air in the mids. When this meets with the fast and punchy bass, everything is coherent.

Jomo Haka on the blue box.
Jomo Haka on the blue box.

Highs

Energetic is a good word to describe the highs of Haka. The highs do not have the best extension but it is sufficient to make the sound sparkle.

You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend. – Bruce Lee

The treble can be soft sometimes, giving a different presentation. It is not always energetic. It can sit in any tracks without any issues. The treble synchronizes in a balanced manner with the rest of the spectrum. It gives the overall presentation a sufficient amount of air and space. Nonetheless, the treble is not airiest but it coexist flawlessly with the mids and lows.

Another close look on Jomo Haka and the stock cable.
Another close look on Jomo Haka and the stock cable.

Conclusion

Jomo Audio Haka is a great choice for those who want an IEM that sounds neutral and simple. At SGD499 (~USD365), this IEM’s performance to price ratio makes it attractive. However, I would highly encourage user to opt for the Ares II combination because the stock cable pulls Haka’s performance back. Ares II has a better build quality than the stock cable.

Haka retails for SGD499 (~USD365). It can be purchased at most of the major audio retailers such as ConnectIT by Jade Gift Shop (Singapore) or directly from Jomo Audio

I would like to congratulate the team from Jomo Audio with a loud “Mission Accomplished”.

The team overcomes what is constraining a single BA driver IEM, designing Haka from with a ground-up approach. The BA driver is well-designed to handle the whole frequency spectrum without any compromises.

Achievement unlocked, Jomo Audio!