This is a review of the JQ 4Upro, a new 5-driver hybrid universal in-ear monitor featuring a single dynamic and 4 balanced armature drivers. It is priced at $239.99.
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Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read here.
The JQ 4UPro is a solid entry if you are into the punchier and bright sound type. It is very beautiful and well-made, no doubt there. The cable is lovely too, combined with good comfort and passive isolation qualities, I consider this a good contender.
Good quality bass response
Oh boy, another sub $300 tier dynamic driver IEM! This time, a new company tosses itself into the fire! Meet JQ Audio and their JQ 4Upro IEMs. They sure do look fancy, don’t they?
I had no experience with this company until a shipment arrived at my door for me to play with. Inside, a bunch of different IEMs such as the Seekreal Airship, Yanyin’s Aladdin, and the last one was the JQ 4Upro.
For $239, these headphones have a serious challenge ahead of them. So many lovely options in this pricing tier, so many fall short, and only a few rise to the top.
This JQ 4Upro has a hybrid driver configuration using a single dynamic driver for the lows with a 3-way crossover implementation, with 2 BAs for mids, and 2 more for highs.
This JQ 4Upro is a bit of a monster in that regard, there is a lot going on in there. The lows, mids, and high sections each have a unit (or two) that will handle each section of the spectrum and, in turn, allow for a more coherent sonic appeal.
At least, that is the intent of these designs, anyway.
Cable & Design
The JQ 4Upro cable is not detailed much by the company, as far as I could tell. They have statements saying that the quality of stock cables is often overlooked, which I agree with, and that they have selected a high-quality braided design. Also, true.
The cable looks and feels like most other $200-300 IEM cables these days, which are all in the very nice tier. We have come a long way in the cable department over the past 5 years or so. I am glad to see more care taken into this.
Thankfully, no microphonics issues, so I can walk around without a thumping sound going through the cable and into the shells.
As far as physical appeal, the JQ 4Upro is beautiful with that hand-crafted German important resin. The exterior colors are amazing, and surely, the set looks and feels nice in the hand and to the eye.
Comfort & Isolation
The JQ 4U Pro is surprisingly comfortable and stable in my ear. It is a larger IEM shell, which absolutely dwarfs the SeekAudio Airship IEM I’ve reviewed a few months ago.
That IEM is tiny compared to this JQ 4UPro and most other IEMs, yet this larger model is just one of those larger shell containers that fit nicely in my ear.
I usually have problems with this, being a shorter fella. But this time, no problems, they are stable and light in design, so they tend to not bother me after or during long listening sessions.
The JQ 4Upro is also very nice at passive isolation, likely because there is a lacking void in those shells. This might be due to the obscene amount of electronics inside of it quite literally filling the inside of the shells to the point that sound doesn’t like to leak or bounce around in there.
Packaging & Accessories
The JQ 4Upro unboxing experience is fairly standard, a white exterior case that makes it difficult as hell to put the black box back into the slipcover. I dislike these because I end up tearing the exterior portion all the time. And it’s a pain to get out sometimes.
Anyway, the interior has a thin plastic sheet covering, and below that are the case, IEMs, and basic accessories. You get a nice little zipper case as well as some extra tips.
The JQ 4Upro comes in a stock 3.5mm option but you can detach and use an upgraded cable of your choice if you have one.
For $239, I don’t expect the world, but it is nicer to know that lots of IEMs out there are including excellent cables that I often swap between IEMs these days.
The JQ4U Pro reaches down to 10kHz, yet it is a bass-light IEM without any EQ active.
With a massive +10dB and some extra MSEB magic with low-end stuff enabled, the JQ 4Upro elevates itself to the top side of bass light and not into the realm of bass moderate.
This is a case where the hybrid design did nothing for the low-end quantity, and in turn, since it was lacking quantity, you cannot really differentiate the lower mids from the bass regions with ease.
The fidelity factor is fine, it certainly punches in the $200tier, but at almost $250 I need this to push more bass than it does, or at the very least, I needed it to behave in a manner that is befitting something that responds much better to bass boosting.
In this case, the JQ 4UPRO does not respond much at all, even when massively cranked up in the bottom end. And you’ll see or hear why in the Timbre section.
The JQ 4Upro mids lack a sense of slickness that most hybrids have, and I am not sure what the problem is here. It has all this lovely tech in it, 2 dedicated drivers just for mids and 2 for treble, but the mids are not creamy.
They are, in fact, raw and pure feeling, also with a hefty amount of physical strike factor. Sudden and intense vocal clues that I enjoy in some specifically favorited tracks in my playlist, all just feel quite painful at times and fatiguing.
This problem flares up into the upper mids as well as the lower treble. This is not a calm and serene-sounding IEM, it is blaring and highly engaging, physically interesting and packs a little bit of a kick.
Physicality is high on the JQ 4Upro and the midrange takes a bit of an altered path to what I know most IEMs in this range to feel like, not sound like, but to feel like.
The physical wince factor is moderately potent, but not severe. There are plenty of other sets that went overboard in this, but thankfully the JQ 4Upro did not go overboard.
But what is there is still a bit of a wince factory, especially in older 80s tracks that I enjoy.
The top side of the JQ 4Upro is hostile and bright. Oddly, the lacking bass boom on the low end makes this IEM feel a bit lopsided and heavily favored in the treble region.
This means there is a lot more treble than there is bass even with the bass dialed up a lot and the treble dialed down.
The tonality of the JQ 4Upro is an analytically cool sound to me. It lacks warmth and clearly wasn’t intended to be wooly, or velvet-like in form factor.
The top side is overly impacting, in my opinion. Fatigue sets in after a good 15 minutes and faster if I am listening to anything in SynthWave or, once more, my new favorite modern band (Polyphia) who sadly doesn’t record high-quality tracks.
The top side is akin to a spotlight sometimes, but I guess some people really like that. No tip selections seemed to fix that, and it only became something I can listen to for a while before I madly drop the treble on my custom EQ and HiBy Music MSEB profiles.
Dropping down the top side EQ is something I’ve not had to do for a while in this pricing tier. Most, if not all the sub $300 IEMs lately have been reserved and shimmering on the top side at best.
This is the first to come along that is bright, analytical, punchy, and lacking physicality in a sense of density context. By that, it feels like a thin-sounding tone up top.
The imaging prowess of the JQ 4Upro is average at best and doesn’t feel like any part of the sound field is better than any other part that is available.
Width, height, depth, and the entire spectrum seem equal. What is there, is just good. This is not a sound staging titan, but I would argue that it is coherent and physically boxed-shaped.
I enjoy the forwardness factor, it is highly engaging, this entire set is just screaming engagement anyway.
So it is no surprise really if the imaging is also tuned to make sure your ear doesn’t fall prey to abundance in terms of depth, height, width, or separation, while any of the others listed there are lacking. Equality all around.
Although I would also say that separation qualities in stage left to right are the star of the show, likely aerated by the plentiful treble aspect that makes it feel more spacious than it actually is.
At a rated 19Ω, the JQ 4Upro doesn’t require any amplifiers, but it is also very stubborn in what it pairs with. The chase for synergy was a tough one for this review and I have opted to just stick with my TempoTec V6 player over anything else.
Lately, I prefer my Sony phone since it has a wonderful internal DAC system with a 3.5mm output, running to a CEntrance HiFi-M8 V2. But in this case, the V2 makes the IEM way too icy.
Two ‘icy’s’ mixed together was just too much for me, I needed something neutral and warmer, and my XRK uber solved that, but it lacked the power output of the TempoTec V6.
So, I was in a stressful position. I ultimately found that the best overall setup is a dead neutral one with a reserved treble intended to tame hot treble instances.
In that regard, the V6 DAP won the day. The JQ 4Upro also does get noticeably more smoothed out with a lot more power.
Despite ratings of low ohmage, the JQ 4Upro highly benefits from a lot of juice. May have something to do with the plethora of BA’s in there and one of them meshing more with higher voltage input.
I ran through a lot of DAPs and amps to find the best overall sound that made sense and tamed the top side while adding some needed low end, and the TempoTec V6 seemed the best meshing that I had on hand.
The Stellaris is entirely a Planar design, but it feels like a lead weight compared to the JQ 4Upro, which is obviously going to be the case, of course.
The Stellaris feels velvety, thick, weighty, and dense compared to the lighter, airier tone of the JQ 4Upro. While the Stellaris is also a bit bright, the JQ 4Upro is even brighter.
Interestingly, the Stellaris has noticeably better depth of field and realism factor but ends up feeling a bit boring compared to the very engaging and physical JQ 4Upro here.
The Airship is around 1/3 the size and feels denser and heavier than the JQ 4Upro. The Airship has an audibly superior depth of field and a more reserved tone and texture, while the JQ 4Upro feels punchier and livelier.
The low end of the JQ 4Upro feels purer on the low end, cleaner, but also far less quantity offered than the Airship.
The JQ 4Upro is a solid entry if you are into the punchier and bright sound type. It is very beautiful and well-made, no doubt there.
The cable is lovely too, combined with good comfort and passive isolation qualities, I consider this a good contender.
I am interested to see what they can generate in 2033 and look forward to more experiences with this company.
JQ 4Upro Technical Specifications
- Sensitivity 112dB
- Frequency Response 10-22kHz
- Impedance 19Ω
- Connectors 0.78mm 2 Pin