on November 8, 2011
As my wife and 'tween-ager are virtual Bermuda Triangles for ear buds, they eventually lose/break all theirs and subsequently borrow mine with the same outcome. Thus I recently found I needed to buy three new sets of ear buds at once. I bought three different sets off Amazon, all having decent reviews: JVC HAFX67R, JVC Xtreme Xplosives, and JLab Audio JBuds J2. Today I sat down to compare them all side-by-side. In the interim, a fairly new set of Apple buds resurfaced, so I had four sets for the bake-off. Caveats: First I am 40-something, with a few too many years of loud music, so I decidedly do NOT have audiophile ears. Second, I tested these right out of the package. Many reviews discuss the need to break in a set of drivers, so this could skew the results. Third, all of them sounded pretty good. I would have been satisfied with any of the new ones, so any negative remarks are for comparison's sake. Note, I tested the buds with an Apple Nano gen4, with music I favor, specifically acoustic/folk and hard rock, in both cases somewhat "busy", having a wide range of frequencies going in the mix. I have a strong preference for drivers that provide good presence and clarity in mid-range, and producing clear overtones without being too bright or tinny.
Results: Fourth place, Apple buds. These sounded somewhat muffled vs. the clarity of the others, and they are really uncomfortable and fall out easily when positioned for best sound. Third place, JLab Audio JBuds J2. Very comfortable fit, with good sound isolation and solid bass, but still sounded somewhat muffled vs. the other two new sets. Close second place, JVC Xtreme Xplosives. Again great fit with good sound isolation. As advertised, these offer very pronounced bass, exaggerated even. Surprisingly, this is accomplished without any sense of booming/crashing, and they still provide very good presence and clarity. Also, to my surprise, the Xtreme Xplosives seemed substantially more sensitive (i.e. louder) than all the others for the same volume setting. In the end, I thought these sounded slightly muffled compared to the winner. However this subtle difference is likely an artifact of the specifics of my own ear and taste, and could change after the drivers are broken in. I originally picked the Xtreme Xplosives out for my wife, who favors urban and R&B music having heavier bass than my stuff, and I think these will be absolutely perfect. First place (for me): JVC HAFX67R. Bottom line, these just sounded significantly better than all the others to me, based on my preferences. Good bass, and very rich presence and clarity. They do a great job with intimate acoustic music and busy hard rock, and I couldn't detect much if any distortion with them turned up quite loud. So, this is the set I'm keeping for myself -- at least until the girls come along and swipe them again.
Final thought: So JVC wins on sound quality. However, I've owned several pair of the (cheaper) JVC Micro HD buds, and really enjoyed them right up to the moment when a channel stopped working -- far sooner than I expected. So I will be watching closely to see how long these JVC buds last, a possible Achilles heel for the JVC products...
on December 3, 2011
Analytical Review of Xtreme Xplosives In Ear (JVC HA-FX1X)
I bought this item for $20.46, plus $4.95 as shipping (making it a total of around 25 dollars). Shipping was two days late, but it was totally worth it! Let me clarify:
These headphones look very bulky in the picture--and truth is, they are. The large earpiece protrudes out of the ear a bit, and might look a bit weird. My main gripe is that you cannot sleep with these comfortably! The black earpiece that sticks out pushes against my pillow, which makes it come out of my ear. This does not matter THAT much to me, because I actually bought these to replace my old ones. For standard use, like sitting in a chair, these are phenomenal. They are extremely light and fit comfortably, without producing the strange ear pressure that other in-ears do. Overall, the comfort is very good and above average for in-ears.
Build Quality: 9.5/10
Admit it--in the picture, these headphones look bad *ss. They look extremely rugged, and from what I've felt they are. The cord is very thick for earphones. All of the black parts are rubber, and the "extreme bass port" is lined with metal (or silver plastic). The rubber strip that covers the bass port feels extremely rigid (not what I expect from rubber). So I am assuming that the rubber is similar to a car tire. Since the cable is relatively thick, these should tangle less than your standard iPod touch headphones. There is no slider at the Y-Joint, so you can't hold the ends together. I never used this anyways. Also, the cable seems to have relatively low memory: this means that if it is held in a small roll, it will not keep its bent shape.
Sound Quality: 8/10
Of course, everyone wants to read about the sound. The sound is actually very good for the price that it flaunts. Listening to the HAFX1X is quite a guilty pleasure--it spews gobs of bass, and that's pretty much what it's good for. The low end is definitely emphasized, so the separation of the instruments is not very clear. The mids pack a very solid punch, and sometimes end up being mixed with the lower end. The major problem with the FX1X is that the high notes are very shrill. It's not noticeable if you listen at low volume. With about 40 hours of burn-in, the highs no longer sound piercing, and the bass becomes smoother. Additionally, the volume is probably 3 times louder than normal headphones. The cabling is very good, and slight bumps and scratches towards the cable would not produce many microphonics.
CON: The headphone requires some burn in, maybe about 40 hours. The highs are a bit painful when out of the box, but they even out after a while using it. It's not that the highs are painful, but they are louder than the lows/mids. To remedy this, you lower your volume a bit.
Extra Carrying Case: 5/10
Though not that practical, the carrying case looks very cool. The plastic is a bit thin, but not too much. It's embedded with the XX logo, which is totally awesome. As for aesthetics, the case is sick. Apart from that, it's not very useful, except for carrying the spare earpieces. The case is very small--which means that in order to fit the headphones in, you have to curl them into a very small roll. Very cool though.
+Fun and Cool Case
+Clear Sound Quality
-Can't use while sleeping
-A bit big
-Highs are a bit painful/piercing. Requires burn-in.
8/10! Great Buy!
on July 16, 2011
These things are... I don't think words can describe the clarity, sound, and the power these things are capable of.
First, let me start with design. Although it looks a bit too bulky, they actually are not. They are also very comfortable, and don't annoy your ears when they're in there for a long time. The cord itself is good; it feels tough and I don't think it will fall apart any time soon.
In terms of sound, these are definitely the "bassiest" headphones out there. I listen to trance, techno, pop, etc. The bass is absolutely overwhelming. Definitely sound like an explosion in your ears (but a pleasant one, at worst). Believe me when I say this (and other reviewers confirm it too), they can easily rival $100+ dollar headphones. Those Dr. Dre's, are nothing but a label for the price. These earphones prove that, in fact, companies like JVC can create equal quality.
Speaking of how well they capture sound, I would say it's all subjective. I personally love it. It hits all the right spots. They have a great frequency response. That's all you need to know. If they respond, that means you'll hear it. People who are audiophiles may say they drown out highs, or mix mids and lows... naah. Absolutely not true. Why do people like Bose if they suck? Well, it's because people like to follow band-wagons and all of that nonsense. Same goes for these.
Highly, highly, recommended. You won't regret buying these. Definitely will buy another pair if something happens to these ones. Absolutely marvelous.
on January 12, 2012
I used to own a pair of Beats Solo headphones. I purchased these and sold the Beats to someone else. If you buy Beats or Bose, you are getting quality, but you are mainly paying for the brand. The Xtreme Xplosives are just as good for a fraction of the price. They are definitely for bass enthusiasts. HOWEVER, the mids and highs come through quite clearly. Listening to sounds such as orchestral music, spoken word, etc. are not painful by any means due to the bass. If you purchase the Xtreme Xplosives, take the time to try the different sized earpieces, as they change not only the comfort, but also the way the sound hits your ears.
As a side note, I highly encourage anyone to download high quality audio (such as mp3s with a bitrate of 320kpbs or lossless .flac files) to test headphones (or just in general). Also, be sure to experiment with different songs (across multiple genres) or audio files before judging quality of your sound setup.
on August 24, 2012
If we are to believe what the media tells us, any pair of headphones that costs less that $300 and doesn't have a celebrity endorsement is not an enjoyable listen. We are told that truly great headphones come at a cost, and we are all too easily swayed by salesmen who get paid commission to sell you the big brands that often fill full page magazine adds and promise "Concert like sound". Don't be fooled again- these JVC's run with the best of them, at a fraction of the cost.
Some background here, I'm an audiophile(very, very particular about sound quality) and as such I've owned a variety of headphones over the years. I currently own a set of Grado SR-80's, Sony MDR V6's, Ultimate Ears Super Fi 3's, and have in the past had sets made by V-Moda, Klipsch, Koss, and AKG. So let that info help you understand where I'm coming from. I'm not hearing good sound for the first time ever, and I am thus less like to declare these the greatest headphones in the world just based on poor comparison. I bought these after hearing rave reviews from Head-fi.org, an online community of audiophiles like myself, plus at $20 I wasn't taking that large of a risk if they turned out to be junk.
I wanted a fun sounding set of ear buds that I wouldn't be afraid of taking around with me; this is a concern when you own expensive sets. I had been told that these guys pump out gobs of bass while staying detailed, but I was just not prepared for what I was about to hear- honest to goodness sound quality. I've never heard a set of headphones of any type that can balance this much bass with detail, instrument separation, and sound stage before. Most sets with heart-pounding bass (particularly those sold as candy for your head bones) suffer from bloat and muddiness- the sheer magnitude of the lower frequencies overpowering and distorting everything else. These JVC's somehow manage to let all the little nuances of a track shine through their show-stopping lower end thump. You can tell different cymbals apart from one another, you can hear bass guitar as individual notes instead of a force of sound, you can make out subtle layering in tracks you couldn't beforehand. By no means are these "accurate" headphones, in the sense that everything sounds level and balanced; the bass is definitely the prominent force at play here, but it just doesn't matter, its all still excellent.
My only gripe with these guys is that right out of the box the treble is VERY harsh, almost like having someone scraping your eardrums with a wire brush at times. This is easily fixed by letting them burn in a while (50 hours minimum), Google that phrase if you don't know what I mean. Afterwards all is well, higher frequencies relax to normal levels and even the already great bass seems to smooth out a bit.
If you're still with me, and thank you by the way, you're probably wondering if you should buy these. To that I say yes, a loud, repeatable, and resounding yes. Have I heard better sound before? Absolutely; but nowhere close to this price. So if you're in the market and really feel you have to spend $200 on headphones to feel satisfied, buy ten of these- keep one, and give nine of your friends a set next time you owe them a favor.
on December 8, 2014
I have previously had these exact headphones and after 2 years of wear and tear, they finally died on me. So I decided to order another pair since I know how they sound and was completely satisfied with their performance. Received the new headphones over the weekend and I couldn't wait to try them out at the gym. Monday comes and I go to put headphones in my ear, only to find out that I have to TWO LEFT EAR BUDS!!! I have NEVER had this problem before and I was quite upset. The headphones themselves didn't feel authentic to me. The sound wasn't what I was use to hearing from my previous HAFX1X so I look down to where the splitter is and notice that these aren't even HAFX1X, but HAFX3X. I looked at the images for the FX3Xs and notice that the ear buds are completely different from what I have (plastic housing compared to the metal housing the FX3X have). So now I'm pretty sure that I just received a knock-off pair of headphones and will be returning them as soon as I finish this review.
on December 20, 2011
These JVC's provide performance that exceeds their price point. I will be keeping these for outdoor and gym use.
To start I will give a little context to my amateur audiophile review. I ordered the three sets of buds below after a fair amount of research of online reviews on multiple sites. Each set received 80-100 hours of burn-in with a combination of pink noise and dynamic music selection prior to being auditioned. Considering the price point of these 3 phones (all sub-$70), I reviewed them using a device to match what buds of this price would normally be used with. In this case, I used my Samsung Galaxy S2 with PowerAMP Music Player App playing Lossless Flac Files of the following selection: Miles Davis-Kind of Blue, Jurassic 5-Power in Numbers, Pearl Jam-Ten (remastered), Norah Jones-Come Away With Me, Johnny Cash-American IV, and the Minnesota Orchestra-Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances on Reference Recordings. It is also important to note that all musical gear reviews are subjective to a large degree and earbuds in particular due to fitting differently in each person's unique ear structure.
Sennheiser CX 300B MK II: Musical and natural and the most pleasurable to listen to across the majority of genres. Bass extention was deep and firm. Vocal articulation and midrange was clear, neutral and accurate without being analytical. The high frequencies were where the Sennheiser's closed the deal. Crystal-clear but silky smooth with no etchy, fatigue-inducing treble that plagues so many budget audio-gear. The only weaknesses that I can say is that the pair I got had unequal wire lengths (the right line was twice as long as the left) which I can only assume to be a rare abberation as I have not read that elsewhere. Also the buds did not fit my ears quite as comfortably as others I have tried. At about $21 shipped, these are an AMAZING deal. 5 stars
JVC Xtreme Xplosives In Ear: Very good fit in my ear, and provided the best wind-noise isolation of the 3. As you may expect, the Xplosives shine in the Bass dept. The buds go slightly lower than the Sennheiser's (subjectively) and have a more forward bass presentation. There were tracks, however, that led me to the opinion that this bass was a bit unnatural and inflated. My goal in listening is to hear what the artist intended, and if something is added or missing, that is a flaw in the reproduction. The vocals and overall midrange were very good and enjoyable to listen to with no fatigue. The highs were presented a bit back and did not render the level of detail that the Sennheiser's were capable of and also had moments of sounding etched. However, these are a solid choice for earphones and are a great deal at around $20 shipped. 4 stars
Klipsch Image S4: These are a very well reviewed and popular ear bud. At $55-$80 shipped, they are also much costlier than the other 2 sets in this review. I found bass to be better than any earbuds that come stock with devices (ipods, phones, etc.). However, their bass pales in comparison to both the Sennheiser's and JVC's. The relatively lackluster lower end bleeds into the lower midrange and vocals, which create a much less involving and satisfying musical experience. The vocals and midrange overall was reasonable. The treble was fairly smooth and detailed, and had no major flaws that would detract from the listening session. Overall, an improvement from what you get with your typical device, but there are much better options for less than half the price. 3 stars.
on July 8, 2011
These headphones are like a turbocharger for your iPhone (or whatever other device you are using to play your tunes). Instantly you get more volume level, much more bass and a really noticeable increase in overall quality. It's a literal sonic Eruption. For the price, they are insane. I've owned $100 earbuds that are now gathering dust thanks to these bad boys. And, they are comfortable. Really comfortable. Never-need-to-take-them-out-even-on-a-four-hour-plane-ride-kind-of-comfortable.
I'll be recommending them very highly to Dave, Alex & Wolfie. But, I'm not going to tell Sammy anything about them...
on June 16, 2011
Fantastic sound. Just like the Air Cushion with better bass. (just like the product specs say) I've used the Air Cushions for years. They are great for under my motorcycle helmet. The Extremes stick out of your ear just a bit more so my helmet pulls on them a little when taking it off. But for the amazing bass I think I'll just deal with it. I have the BOSE $100 ear buds and these surpass the Bose by miles. Not just the bass but treble and mids and clarity as well. Not to mention you can wear these for hours without them hurting your ears. The Bass is so deep from the Extremes that you'll swear you can feel it in your chest! Thank you JVC!!!!!!!
on June 10, 2012
Purchased this pair of headphones after reading the reviews. I was looking for comfort and decent sound. While they are VERY comfortable compared to my old pair, they produce a horrible hissing ("white noise") sound before I even push play! Several of the negative reviews noted this as well. I hoped I would get a "good" pair, but no such luck. Since they are under warranty, I am hoping JVC will honor it and replace them...wish me luck!
06/18/2012 - I am changing my 1 star review to 3 stars due to JVC's excellent customer service. I contacted JVC (as recommended by package inserts) and they honored the warranty by sending me a new pair after I provided them with a receipt. Second pair is a 90% improvement over the first pair in terms of the hissing/white noise sound, but the sound is still faintly noticeable in the background.