JCally JM10 Headphone Amp Review
DAC Chip: Cirrus Logic CS43131
PCM 32bit – 384kHz, SNR: -120db, Power: 1-2 Vrms Adaptive, USB Type-C Female, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: YES), 10g Metal Chassis & USB-C Cable
Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, HZSOUND Heart Mirror, Moondrop Aria, FOSTEX T40RP MK3, VE Asura 2.0, VE Monk GO, Shure KSE1500. Source: USB 2.0 iPhone 7 (Deezer HiFi)
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE ON SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
- Reference grade, crisp balanced neutral flat timbre
- Polished coherent dynamics, full bodied with smooth presentation
- Great Micro and Macro details retrieval, very transparent
- Balanced Mids with detailed textures and definition, naturally toned Male/Female vocals
- Sparkly smooth Treble with equally smooth decays, great extensions
- Smooth impactful Mid-Bass, tight, fast with crisp decays
- Sub-Bass with audible seismic response, natural decays.
- Crisp and vivid guitars, piano, percussions (chimes, bells) and drums and taps
- Great holographic spatial imaging with sharp precise placement/layers
- Amazing speed and dexterity on complex passages and transients
- Super clean background, zero floor noises
- Super clean layers and sharp separation lines
- Drives Magnetic Planars and BA at 80/100 volume, great fidelity
- Excellent synergy with many type of IEMs/HPs
- Forgiving on Lo-Fi and lower quality sources
- Does not heat up easily
- Easy switch to iOS Lightning or Android USB-C/Micro
- Driving power for great fidelity maxed out below 250Ω and with no less than 90db sensitivity.
- A bit flatter dynamics compared to the top 3 performers
- No volume adjuster
- PS: There’s two variant of JCally JM10 available. The one I have with me is smooth bodied version with minimal decals. I have no idea how the other JM10 sounds like as I never tested it
JCally JM10. This unit is nothing like any JCally I have listened to before, and I have owned over 10 different models of JCally (in fact I have tried all of them). Despite using the very same CS43131 as JM20, JM10 is audibly much more polished and matured sounding. JM20 is bright, sparkly crisp and euphonic – can induce fatigue and occasionally exhibit Treble sheen and glare that makes peaky music sibilant. JM20 also has micro grainy edges which is evident when paired with highly resolving IEMs. JM10 fixed all that, any deficiencies found in JM20 all gone, replaced with matured presentation that is well balanced and smooth.
In comparison to the other CS43131 dongles that I have owned and tested so far, the duo of iBasso DC03 and DC04, those two are more energetic and outright more powerful. But those elements are also their Achilles heel. DC03 and DC04 are euphonic and aggressive for extended listening indulgence. I cannot use my DC04 for more than 1 hour with my Etymotic ER4SR, but with JM10 I was able to have it plugged on for over 6 hours until I fell asleep (marathon session I had started with FOSTEX T40RP, Etymotic ER4SR and VE Asura).
JM10 offers very balanced neutral sound that does NOT offer immediate WOW factor. But it is the sort of quality that I appreciate the longer I listen to it. Similar to the experience of appreciating Lotoo PAW S1 and VE Odyssey HD. The other two dongles that I regard as super smooth and polished. So where does this JM10 fits then? I am confident enough to declare that JCally JM10 is actually a mini Ovidius B1
Compared to my No.1 personal favourite the Ovidius B1, JM10 is a mini version of it. Tonality wise they are practically similar; however, these are the things that separates them:
- JM10 only has 1/3 of B1 driving power
- B1 has better airy presence between layers
- B1 has a hair more weight in timbre dynamics
- B1 synergize better with BA
- B1 has better Macro details resolution
- B1 has better nuanced Micro details
Despite the variance as noted above, they are really very alike in many ways. Timbre coherence, speed, imaging, soundstage depth, tonality and smoothness are quite similar.
Synergy factor for JM10 is also quite spectacular. Drives my FOSTEX T40RP Magnetic Planar properly at 80/100 volume and keeping it tidy with no hint of strain or timbre/dynamics instability. The sound wholesome with great dynamic range despite not as meaty sounding as the top performers (B1, S9 & S9 Pro). In fact, JM10 Magnetic Planar driving prowess is similar to Luxury & Precision W2 – a bit laid back and flat neutral sounding.
JM10 synergize great with my Etymotic ER4SR, VE Monk GO and VE Asura 2.0. Three of my favourites for DF Neutral sound indulgence. With ER4SR and Monk GO the presentation is truthful to Diffused Field Neutral which mean Bass responses are leaner and exceedingly fast, natural sounding Mids and smooth sparkly highs. On Asura it is slightly warmer compared to the other two, with a bit of focus on Mids section. I totally enjoyed all three with JM10 pairing.
JM10 shines the BEST with the pairing of Moondrop Aria and HZSOUND Heart Mirror. With Aria bass responses controlled really tight, tidy, and fast. Treble section gets similar treatment with very smooth and crisp Highs that will never induce any fatigue. Aria actually sounded so very well balanced with JM10. On Heart Mirror JM10 complemented the already vibrant dynamics of that beautiful sounding unit. Similar effect as well to Aria except of course Heart Mirror will always be the sparkier one with upper segment brightness. Good thing is the brightness well nurtured and controlled to mitigate any chance of sibilance. Simply put, both Aria and Heart Mirror are nothing short of spectacular with JM10.
For the ultimate test, I paired JM10 with my Endgame IEM – Shure KSE1500 Electrostatics. Serving as an AUX to the ultra-resolving, ultra-transparent unit. I normally would not do this unless I feel the Dongle has decent chance to provide clean output to KSE1500. And I am glad I did, the sound that I heard from that pairing being wholesome and oozed quality to melt my brains. It is decidedly well balanced with dynamic range stretched as far as KSE1500 can reach (which is quite FAR reaching). Details jumped into my senses with delicate nuances only an Electrostatic of KSE1500 or STAX SR-009s pedigree can deliver. It remained realistically natural sounding despite the ethereal transparency.
To summarize, yes admittedly it is easy to laugh at JCally when we see it in AliExpress or Shopee. This is not entirely unfounded because 90% of JCally dongles are cattle-class meme quality at most. The likes of JM20, JM08c, JM08L and JM04Pro does exhibited some refinement but they are mostly 4-star performers. JM10 is a 5 Stars performer to me, deservedly so – earned through sheer performance and quality.
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Best Pairing: Flexible for anything less demanding under 250Ω