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JVC HA-S680 Over Ear Headphones

Posted

Pros: Monster soundstage; good lows (though, when un-EQd, can be overwhelming); good highs; good build-quality; thick, high-quality cable; angled plug

Cons: Recessed mids; quite closed-sounding; bass will be overwhelming for many non-bassheads; quite veiled-sounding when un-EQd

Initially I was completely turned off by the sound signature of this 'phone. The warm, bassy signature bothered me. I did expect them to be colored, but not to this extent. However, eventually, with a bit of listening, I became accustomed to the sound signature—to an extent. After a while I just knew I'd have to EQ them in order to get fully lost in music played through these. I personally tend to stay clear of very colored headphones and speakers since a far from neutral sound signature can remind me too much that I'm listening to 'phones / speakers which can make it very hard for me to get lost in the music. But, thanks to EQ, all is now well and my brain is no longer reminding me that I'm wearing 'phones when listening to music through these. There are, however, times when the odd song, usually of the rock genre, will sound like utter crap through these and I'm reminded that I'm listening through 'phones. But, fortunately, nine out of ten songs I play through these sound great so it's not a huge problem. I've realized for a while now why some songs sound like crap through them: it's due to, I think primarily, recessed mids. Due to recessed mids, some music (mostly rock and metal, though definitely not all rock and metal) sounds like crap through them. But when the right songs are played through them—including songs of the rock genre—they can sound jaw-droppingly amazing and make me think "Holy Hell—these cost just $70?!" For some reason most classic rock I've played through them (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles, etc.) sounded great, and even beyond great, through them. Yet the vast majority of modern rock I've played through them (The Church, Wilco, etc.) has sounded subpar and, at times, barely listenable through them.

 

Apart from the recessed mids, I find the bass quite excessive but that "problem" (it's a problem for me, but certainly won't be for many people) was easily fixed with EQ. These 'phones do sound a bit closed and claustrophobic (they are, after all, a closed 'phone), but I expected that and it doesn't bother me much. The recessed mids bother me far more than the somewhat closed, claustrophobic, sound of these. Initially I thought the highs were recessed, but after much listening I've found that to not be so. The highs are actually, for the most part, great—though a tad shrill at times. I think that when these were unEQd the powerful bass is what made it harder for me to properly judge the highs (or, perhaps, the highs were indeed recessed due to the cans not yet being burned in yet?).

 

Aesthetically, these 'phones look great. They're quite a bit smaller than they look in photos and the box they come in is so small that, upon receiving my parcel, I was convinced I was sent the wrong 'phones; I thought for sure they must have sent me the HA-S400 or HA-S500. Additionally, the build-quality of these 'phones is great. Yes—they're made of plastic (as you should expect them to be considering how cheap they are). But the plastic is thick and I'm sure could sustain quite a bit of abuse. The cable also is of high quality (finally: a portable 'phone with a cable built to last! The cable is thick enough to assure me that I don't have to perform any mods to it to prevent it from fraying, something I hate having to do) and has an angled plug. Comfort-wise . . . they're fine. They're apparently a huge step up in comfort from the 400 and 500—two 'phones I've never heard—but they're not the most comfortable 'phones I've worn. I find the clamping force a bit too strong, but I was able to make it ever-so-slightly less strong by placing a few books between the pads and leaving them like that for a while.

 

Overall, these are a good bang-for-your buck, well-built 'phone that are now my go-to portable can. My go-to closed 'phone for general use is currently the CAL! (but may soon be the NAD HP50) since it's highly consistent and handles all genres nicely; in fact, I've yet to hear anything sound bad through it. But if the 680's mids weren't recessed they'd likely get more listening time from me than the CAL! I absolutely love the monster soundstage, smooth sound and almost everything else about the 680. But those mids . . . where are they hidin' at?!

 

If you're a basshead and listen primarily to rap or electronic you'll love these. But if you, like myself, have a more eclectic taste in music and aren't that much of a basshead, you'll probably from time to time be disappointed with the way they render your favorite songs. Unfortunately, some of my very favorite bands sound like crap through these, so if these were my only 'phone I wouldn't be too happy. But they compliment the CAL! well and when the right songs are played through them they sure shine!

 

I give these four out of five stars. I docked one star for their recessed mids (which makes them inconsistent and prevents them from being an all-rounder), their somewhat closed sound (I realize that they're closed but there are closed 'phones out there that don't sound closed; the CAL! is a good example of a closed 'phone that doesn't sound closed), their (rarely) shrill treble and their at times overwhelming bass (which, fortunately, is easy to tame with EQ).

 

I hope JVC will eventually release a portable carbon nanotube 'phone with less prominent bass and more pronounced mids.

Posted

Pros: Fantastic comfort, great sound, incredibly easy to drive, very very light.

Cons: Not the strongest feeling headphones (super light), Sound terrible out of the box, Very long burn in period (36+ hours).

The S400 and S500 are incredible quality bargain headphones, but these even at several times the cost are more refined and more worthy in every way. If these cost $120 i would still recommend them, they have made that much of a impact.

 

Out of the box they sound pretty bloody bad, everything was muffled and the bass sounded like it was coming through a wall. That's just the way these JVC's seem to ship, after 48 hours though these are a whole other beast, one worthy of your time and money, at least as a travel pair.

Posted

Pros: Very clean and balanced sound, tight bass, non-sibilant yet present highs, vocals are engaging, airy yet intimate soundstage, resolving, comfortable

Cons: Limited availability, intended for Japanese market.

The review thread is here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here

 

JVC HA-S680 is the next generation of HA-S400 and HA-S500, with the carbon nanotube technology.

Just like them, it's not meant to be sold outside of Japan :tongue_smile:

Nevertheless, here we are!

 

 

They utilize a 40mm driver, but it's not the same driver as in S500 - it is the next generation!

 

Output sound pressure level: 102dB/1mW
Playback frequency: 8Hz ~ 26.000Hz
Impedance: 32Ω

 

S500 is louder (106dB/1mW) and has 1 Khz less extension at the top.

I own S400, so I will be using it for comparison.

 

 

Sound Quality - upon receiving them, I gave them a short audition. They sounded nothing special, but I had good reasons to believe they would improve:

 

1) It took me over 200 hours to fully burn-in my S400s, and they didn't sound great until the process was finished.

2) These are Japan-only headphones, and Japanese usually keep the best stuff to themselves

3) SQ was scaling up with better sources - always a good sign.

 

So I started burning them with this noise:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rnrj5g0mmbldj58/ZhYIByMYOE/White-Pink-Brown%20Noise%20%28For%20burn%20in%29.wav

 

12 hours in - Small changes here and there

24 hours in - Oh my god, did they burn in already? All the frequencies sound so much better,

                      especially the bass. I compared them to S400, and it became clear that there

                      was still a long way to go - the bass wasn't as tight and vocals weren't as emotional.

48 hours in - Now this a clearly superior headphone to S400.

                      Sound is balanced, similar to S400's sound signature, but the bass hits harder

                      (although just as tight) and the larger pads helped improve soundstage and

                      imaging. Instrument separation is better too. The vocals are very engaging.

72 hours in - No audible differences.

 

This is where I believed that this is a new improved driver, and not just an old repackaged one.

The old driver took over 200 hours to burn in, but they perfected the formula and the new one is done in 48!

 

There are a few significant design changes in S680 - 1) Bass ports 2) Larger pads

 

The bass ports are necessary for the harder hitting bass, what surprises me is that the bass is still just as tight as before, despite increase in volume. There is no leakage into the mids either.

 

 

Comfort - the larger pads increase both soundstage and comfort. For some people, especially women, these may be around-the-ear,

for me they are still on-the-ear. However, they are much more comfortable then S400, because they press on the more remote parts of the ear.

I've tried the Shure HPAEC840 pads - they are too big, may need to be modified to fit properly.

BrainWavz HM5 pads are a perfect fit, but have the same effect as on S400 - soundstage improves, but the bass becomes a little boomy. The HM5 look like they were made for S680, on S400 they looked monstrous.

 

 

Isolation - the larger pads make it better, but the bass ports make it worse. They are OK to use in an office, but not on a mass transport. Sound leakage is minimal, can be used in a library.

 

Overall, this is a fantastic portable closed phone, my new #1, ahead of HA-S400 and ATH-ES700.

They scale well with better equipment, but aren't hard to drive.

They also make a decent desktop speaker - I can put my NFB-11.32 on high gain and volume at 1-2PM - the sound fills the room :basshead:

 

Price - I have bought it from White Rabbit Express for 96$ including shipping.

I've asked one of my Japanese eBay sellers to list it, and he listed all 3 models for 80$ including shipping!!!

I guess the pioneers always pay a price...

 

The black one is here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Victor-JVC-HA-S680-B-Black-color-Outdoor-type-Headphone-Carbon-Nanotube-F-S-/281216875091

The red one is here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Victor-JVC-HA-S680-R-Red-color-Outdoor-type-Headphone-Carbon-Nanotube-F-S-/271332332176

The white one is here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Victor-JVC-HA-S680-W-White-color-Outdoor-type-Headphone-Carbon-Nanotube-F-S-/271333864823

 

 

I've bought some audiophile items from him before, he's really good.

 

Also, you can buy them directly from Kakaku for 65$-75$ depending on color and your location:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/75#post_10051650

 

Other users' impressions:

Painful Chafe:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/75#post_10054263

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/75#post_10054585

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/210#post_10125322

 

MichaelGordon:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/195#post_10122273

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/225#post_10126378

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/285#post_10171649

 

yay101:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/270#post_10170918

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/285#post_10171599

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/300#post_10173065

 

GeneralPsycho:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/690493/the-jvc-ha-s680-s400s-and-s500s-big-brother-is-here/330#post_10185348

 

 

The burn-in procedure:

1) Use https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rnrj5g0mmbldj58/ZhYIByMYOE/White-Pink-Brown%20Noise%20%28For%20burn%20in%29.wav

2) Adjust the volume so that the middle noise is too loud for comfort

3) Take the headphones off, and add another 20-30% volume

4) Keep burning 24/7

5) Give it at least 48 hours

6) Once burn-in of the driver is done, please let your brain burn-in as well - it will take a few days for the brain to adjust to

    the sound. At first, the brain will refuse to process the soundstage and clarity that HA-S680 can produce, but it will give in

    eventually.

JVC HA-S680 Over Ear Headphones
By:
Description:

40mm driver unit with Carbon nano tube vibration board Dynamic board for Lower sound 2 way holding leather type ear pad

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandJVC
ColorRed
EAN4975769417351
FeatureJVC headphone HA-S680 over the ear
LabelJVC
ManufacturerJVC
ModelHA-S680-R
MPNHA-S680-R
PublisherJVC
StudioJVC
TitleShips from USA JVC HA-S680-R RED over the ear head phone Japan imported
Package Height3.23 inches
Package Length7.24 inches
Package Weight0.75 pounds
Package Width6.46 inches
PartNumberHA-S680-R
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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