Current testing methodology is v1.2
The JCally AT1 is another budget IEM that recently impressed me, considering I only got it for around $5 plus shipping. Even though there’s nothing remarkable about its build, I don’t discriminate against good sound – and the AT1 has exactly that.
Let’s find out what makes it impressive in this detailed review.
Unappealing looks redeemed by its sound
The JCally AT1 is a single dynamic driver IEM that has recently impressed me. It’s modest in its design and its build isn’t something to rave about.
However, for its price, the Harman approach was a pleasant surprise. The upper midrange is lively and it presents transients and sound imaging with impressive speed and accuracy. The lower mids are thin if not a little too thin for my liking.
The AT1 on a blind test may be able to compete with some of its beefier rivals at the cutthroat price bracket of $20, and that’s saying something for something that costs under $5.
- Driver: 10mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Frequency: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 103+/-2db
- Plug: L shape 3.5mm plug
What’s in the Box?
- JCALLY AT1 earphones
- 4 pairs of ear tips
- User manual
Stuff I like
- Ample bass presence with a nice texture
- Capable sound imaging and clean layering
- Natural instrument timbre and energetic upper mids
- Good resolution and detail retrieval
- Excellent transient response
Stuff I like less
- Thin lower mids
- Occasional sibilance
The packaging of the JCally AT1 is simple. It comes in a typical cardboard box and inside it is a plastic mold that holds the earphones with the ear tips and user manual under it.
On the first look-see, the AT1 doesn’t seem to look much. The design is nothing to rave about and the non-detachable cable makes it even more a bit off-putting.
Overall, my first impressions of these earphones aren’t good but, of course, what matters is how they sound and we’ll get to that later.
This is perhaps the most underwhelming part of the JCally AT1. The build is nothing special but neither is it anything worth complaining about for the price.
It’s mainly a plastic build but it looks like it can withstand regular use as long as you’re careful with it. It also has a non-detachable OFC cable and the joints are soldered in, meaning you can’t cable swap.
I’ve seen better shells on lower-priced sets so this isn’t a particularly strong aspect of the AT1. It’s light and relatively durable but as I’ve said, it’s nothing special and nothing worth of note.
Fit and Comfort
The JCally AT1 has somewhat of an odd shape. You can angle it in different ways, all of them being positions where it’s lodged firmly in your ear. Depending on how you put it in though, the insertion depth can be shallow or fairly deep into your ear.
Inserting on the more shallow end seems to bring me more comfort as I find inserting deeper pushes the earphones against the walls of my ear’s tragus. It’s not the best shape a silicone tip IEM can have but I’ve had my fair share of earphones with wonky shapes before (yes, I’m looking at you Blon BL-03).
The isolation is alright as it filters out a good amount of external noise and I don’t hear anything as soon as I start playing music. I still recommend tip rolling though as aftermarket tips are always better than stock, both in comfort and sound.
The JCally AT1 strikes a good balance between the three frequencies.
At first, listen, it just sounds like a neutral signature. However, the specific energy I hear on the pinna gain and the upper mids somewhat paints a picture of the Harman curve. I’m not saying it is though because I’ve seen its graph and it’s nowhere near the same as the Harman curve.
Its bright characteristics on the upper midrange are telling and on a blind test, it sounds like it.
The low end maintains a good presence on the soundscape, neither being too reclusive nor too dominant in its replay. The midrange is clear but sounds a little uneven with the dip at the pinna gain.
There’s some occasional sibilance with the famous S and Ch consonants popping around like small percussions but never developing into anything piercing.
The treble shares the same energy as the upper midrange but places most of its detail on the middle treble. The extension on the latter end of the treble begin to round off before blossoming into something more atmospheric, making the upper end more lively than it is airy.
I generally have mixed emotions about the Harman tuning. I find that, in exchange for clarity, its proclivity for sharpness tiptoes the thin line of glare and shrillness.
The JCally AT1 is indeed sharp sounding, but I don’t find it to be particularly shouty. It does get a little tricky at higher volumes on certain tracks, but I find these occasions to be rare.
Although the sound does a lot of things right, cropping a few dBs on the presence region to smoothen out the upper mids will make it perfect.
The low end of the JCally AT1 is by no means a bass head level. The bass is present and is only ever emphasized when it’s called for by a track.
The sub-bass extension has relatively good depth and reaches pretty low. The texture is there but it lacks a tad bit more information to sound more defined. On its graph from Kromka’s measurements, the sub-bass is a little rolled off, leading into a slow incline toward the mid-bass.
The mid-bass has a moderate impact and incites rhythm and dynamics well. On any note, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s more mid-bass-centric as I feel like they’re both distributed in equal amounts.
It isn’t the most thunderous bass section I’ve heard. It’s not going to be since the tuning leans on sounding Harman. Despite this, I don’t think the low end is lacking. Its relatively mild disposition is favorable for those who like a balanced low end over that of a zealous one.
The lower mids of the JCally AT1 sound a little bit scooped to my ear.
Again, referencing Kromka’s measurements (the only existing graph), 700Hz takes a deep dive well into 1.5KHz, to which then it begins to pick back up. This makes male vocals sound thin and receding, straying from their original weight and body.
On the other hand, female vocals sound brilliant and I find that they fare better than their male counterparts. 4KHz is when the graph plateaus before peaking at 5.5KHz. The boost on the presence region makes the upper mids very vibrant but prone to a little sibilance on higher volumes.
Overall, while I do find the lower mids to be thinner than I’d like, the vocal texture and transient response make up for it.
While this midrange is a little uneven compared to a smooth glide over at the pinna gain, this is something some audio companies do to get some more wiggle room with the volume. And although it’s weird, it’s weird in a good way.
The treble of the JCally AT1 is done nicely.
A sizable boost in the 6KHz region brings transients alive, rendering percussion instruments like drums and guitar plucks with good definition and speed. There’s another peak at 8KHz, and it isn’t just coupler resonance.
The boost in this area makes for some great clarity on upper harmonics but makes some songs like “Violet” by Connor Price come off with more bite on its rap verse. Post 10KHz details exist but cut off just after 16KHz.
There’s some airiness in the treble but I find it to be more intimate rather than cavernous.
The transient response and imaging are two noteworthy skill sets the JCally AT1 displays, seconded by its resolution and detail retrieval.
The transients have good pace, rhythm, and timing, making the AT1 excel at replaying rock. The sound imaging is superb, with instruments appearing from cardinal positions around the soundscape. This is all supported by good layering, ensuring that all the elements are not clashing with each other.
The resolution is surprisingly sharp for something in this price range, which is impressive. The detail retrieval is decently capable and I find that it goes well with the strong imaging ability of the AT1. The staging sounds naturally implemented, embracing an intimate atmosphere that has vocalists in moderate proximity.
The technicalities at this price range are generally so-so but it’s a different story for these earphones.
I find the JCally AT1 has no problems with playing any kind of genre. However, it’s worth noting that songs with male vocals are going to sound thinner and meager in weight compared to their register’s inherent note weight – but aside from that, no other issues are present.
Rock, J-pop, and fast-sequence songs sound awesome on AT1, as well as modern genres like R&B and hip-hop. Classical genres like orchestral music also do well and the sense of air is wider than that of modern recordings.
Sweeping the budget realm is tiresome work that perhaps only madmen partake in. And yet when one finds gems that divert from the unimpressive copy-and-paste signatures with their pervasive V-shape sound, it no longer seems to be the case.
The JCally AT1 isn’t perfect by any means. It experiments with its sound a bit but unlike some sets, it manages to pull it off. It pairs its energetic tuning with solid technicalities and that to me is a good thing on any day.
For the price, it’s simply amazing. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, running it through my test tracks. The entire endeavor was like queuing up my favorite playlists. It did a lot of my songs well and by the time I noticed, I just realized that I was simply listening to a very good pair of earphones.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.