Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.
Also, I would like to thanks to Astell & Kern and Mrs. Carrie for this great opportunity.
Driver Unit: 2 way 2 drivers (high, full range – mid & low) / 2BA per side
Impedance: 18 Ohm
Noise Isolation: -26dB
Frequency Range: Not specified
Billie Jean Universal IEM
3.5mm Unbalanced Cable
Ear Tips (S, M, L)
Lotoo Paw Gold Diana
Astell & Kern AK120
Package, Design & Isolation;
Billie Jean comes with simple outer box. There are nylon case, silicon tips and cleaning tool inside the box. Package and contents are not fancy, but it contains everything you need. Maybe more tips would be welcomed. The nylon case is nice and it provides good protection for the earphones. There is red Astell Kern logo on the top. Silicon tips have 3 different sizes S, M and L. Overall package contents are fine but nothing special to be honest.
Billie Jean is a pretty small earphone and it might fit every size of ears without any problem I believe. I like its design and shape. There is carbon fiber print on the faceplate and right earphone has JH Audio logo, left earphone has Astell & Kern logo. Billie Jean is made of high-quality abs plastic and absolutely it doesn’t seem flimsy. As you might know, this is the collaboration of JH and Astell Kern. Billie Jean has red and blue color option, both colors look gorgeous. Body shape is small and pretty ergonomic for its size, and long nozzle provides pretty good seal and isolation. I haven’t got any problem with Billie Jean’s fits. The stock cable is similar with most brands’ simple stock cable. Nothing special and you might want to upgrade it. Unlike other JH Audio products, Billie Jean is made with 2 pin stock cable instead of JH’s 4 pin connector. Actually, this is better because 2 pin connectors are more common and easy to find connector on the market. Overall, I like its material and build quality for its price.
Isolation of Billie Jean is depending to the tips what you use, but it is good in overall. I always use silicon tips with my earphones, but if you want to isolate more you can use foam tips. Stock silicon tips are good but I use Spin-fit tips which is better for isolation and comfort for, but it is all personal preferences of course.
Billie Jean is an earphone that is generally tuned in V shape. The bass is mostly coming from the mid bass region and I can say that it is quite dominant in the general frequency. In the sub-bass region, it cannot reach down, but the overall sub-frequencies are strong and punchy. The mid frequencies are a bit laid back due to its V-Shape tuning, but it is rich and it doesn’t feel any artificial distance in the soundstage. Rich and smooth tonality offers a pretty good musicality and dynamism. Trebles are surprisingly prominent and quite extended. I can say that the level of detail is very good for the price. Billie Jean gives you a very musical presentation with its smooth tonality basses and nice extended trebles. It reminds me that there is no need too many drivers for a good sounding earphone. 2 drivers also provide pretty nice sound. In overall, I like Billie Jean’s extremely pleasant and musical sound.
The treble is very pronounced and prominent. I might say that sometimes it’s peaky with some sources, but it’s still in safety zone. The treble is not cold and sterile, it can be relatively smooth when combined with a particularly warm source. I can say that there is no digitalization, but I think there might be tendency to digitalize with some of the bright sources. For example, Lotoo Paw Gold in my hand was not a good pair with Billie Jean. The highs get harsh and can reach the fatigue level, so I recommend you to combine with warm sources. The clarity of the upper frequencies creates a clear and spacious feel in the soundstage. Prominent and airy upper mids helps to clarity and cleanness of the high frequencies. The detail and resolution of the treble are extremely good and it can offer many details without any effort. I like the treble in general and the performance is quite good at this price.
Mid frequencies are slightly behind of the general sound because of the V-shape character. But frankly it doesn’t put a significant distance with other frequencies. Mid frequencies are still behind of the treble and the bass, but the warm sound of the lower mids doesn’t makes it weak or thin. The instruments have a natural and organic tone, which I really liked. Although it does not charm to those who like the intense mid presentation, the textured and warm presentation of the mids will get attention of many people. It can create mid-hump sometimes because of the lower bass notes, but I can say that it is in acceptable level. The overall sound character is warm, but Billie Jean does not have a dark presentation. Vocals are not very close, but they are very detailed and clean. There is no veil on the vocals. Overall warm presentation of the mids, make the male vocals sound a bit thick. The female vocal is clean and nice to listen to but, some female vocals that have a thin sound may have a slightly peak but not at a disturbing level. I liked Billie Jean’s warm and smooth timbre. Performance in acoustic music is nicely presented, I listened a lot of live concert recordings.
The lower frequencies are not much in quantity but still have enough amount for most modern genres. Its fast and dynamic character is adding musicality and excitement to the music. To give an example, I did not have any problems with the amount of bass while listening Herhan Cattaneo’s set. However, the sub bass doesn’t reach too deep. For classical music, the bass is a little too much and warm if I need to specify that. That’s why most of the bass comes from the lower mid. The bass is generally controlled and it has nice speed. Basses aren’t boomy, but they’re in a warm tonality and hitting in the wide area. The bass doesn’t bleed on other frequencies, but sometimes vocal-pop music’s can narrow the feeling of the soundstage with the compression of the lower-mid hump. But it is not at discomfort level. Basses overall have sufficient physical hits and are quite successful for many types of music genres, but some people may want more bass quantity.
The soundstage is quite spacious and airy. Stage wideness is above the average. Bright and airy upper frequencies positively effect the soundstage width. The background is silent enough and the resolution of the instrument is quite good. The stage is fairly good in terms of depth but not as good as the width. Billie Jean’s background is dark and clean which provides nice resolution and nice instrument separation.
JH Audio used their patented freqphase technology in their entry level Billie Jean which makes sound clean and clear. Astell Kern has pleasant collaboration with JH Audio and they are producing impressive earphone series. Billie Jean has good build and material quality. And its size is awesome for most people. Normally JH Audio makes big housing earphone but they didn’t follow the same path with Billie Jean. Its highly presented trebles and smooth tonality are great for its price. If you are looking for a musical, dynamic and also detailed earphone you should consider to look Billie Jean.