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JVC Kenwood Victer stereo headphones HA-SZ2000 japan import

Posted

Pros: Can make you go deaf with sub bass alone. Double driver system with 55mm subwoofer driver is implemented well. Price dropping constantly.

Cons: Stock pads are worse than Satan, needs TONS of amp power for sickness-inducing levels of bass, not for those scared of EQ. Slightly veiled.

There are only two reviews of the godly SZ2000. Probably one of, if not the, most misunderstood headphones of the last decade. They sound strange and veiled out of the box, have some of the worst pads I've ever felt, need a ridiculous amount of power and EQ to sound their best. But I still gave it 5 stars and stand by that 100%.

 

You can drive them from any phone or DAP. They're pretty sensitive given their size and quad-driver setup. However they can deal with being fed way more power than most headphones can handle, and that's why they can and will make you quit before they do. Even if you're a car audio old-head who is used to making other people sick when they stay in your ride for too long, these headphones will make the most hopelessly afflicted bassheads call a time out. I can, with pretty good confidence, assure you that you'll either feel yourself going deaf or getting seriously nauseous before these damn things will show any signs of not being able to keep going. I've tried a couple times to keep pushing them to see if I could get them to quit before I had to and it just wasn't happening. And I will put my head right next to a 500w driven dual 15" subwoofer.

 

The first time I got these, I have to admit i was let down. I ignored advice to switch on pads from the $25 JVC HAM55X and suffered with the stock pads for months. Let me tell you right here and now that the stock pads are so bad, they make me want to cry, honest to god. How did JVC nail everything on this headphone so perfectly and then combine it with the worst pads known to mankind? Who allowed this?

 

Let's get one thing clear before moving on: these aren't everyone's ideal headphones. Not everyone's priorities for headphones include +30dB headroom @45Hz or the ability to rattle themselves off your head with 50Hz and lower. Also some people are going to be put off by the requirement of a strong amp and alternate pads to get the most out of these cans (keep in mind you don't actually need a strong amp to use these - they're actually fairly sensitive headphones. If you want to get to crazy bass boosting at high volumes there's no avoiding EQ. but more on that later). And yes they are fairly veiled - I'd argue mine have opened up a lot after all the use I've put in. But I've never loved a set of over-ears like these.

 

 

 

The stock pads are only acceptable in my eyes if JVC refused to manafacture them without them and there's a long story about a group of triumphant engineers who struggled to make the SZ2000 see the light of day.

 

Before I gave them another shot with the 55X pads, I dismissed them as unlistenable garbage. I can't stress enough how important the pad swap is. Just don't buy these without the 55X at the same time. Throw the SZ2000 pads away and give the 55x sans pads to a friend and tell them to buy HM5 pads on amazon and enjoy their headphones. If you don't believe me the stock pads are an affront to the good name of headphones everywhere, look at this picture where I swapped the pads of a SZ2000 and HAM55X. In this picture you see a 55X with the SZ2000 pads and the SZ2000 with the 55X pads. Notice how the 55X pads look nice, plush and comfy, and aren't deformed in an awkward manner. If you still don't believe me... your ears will touch the cloth protecting the driver on the stock pads. You don't want that, do you? I knew you didn't. Nobody does.

 

A picture says a thousand words. My thousand words are a thousand curse words to whoever greenlighted the SZ2000 pads.

 

Okay, so by now you want to know how they sound. Because of the crazy and bizarre driver structure, where you have actually 4 drivers total in your headphones. Two 55mm's in back providing all that sub bass punch while 33mm driver in front takes care of the detail. And the result is the closest experience I've heard to putting your head right in front of quad speakers plus a sub driven by two 400w power amps in mono in any headphone ever. Because of the unique design, I've found they're more sensitive to pad change than any other headphones I've heard, including planars. Which makes it even more of a shame that they come with such terrible pads. Anyway, I'll describe the sound as it is with two different pads: the 55X pads and Brainwavz HM5 pads.

 

 


You have to give JVC credit for being able to successfully place a dynamic driver in front of a bigger dynamic driver - and there are no technical flaws.

 

One of the most impressive parts of the SZ2000's design is without question this quad driver design. Naturally it should follow that four drivers, two of which are 55mm, are going to want a lot of power to work at their best. Part of the design is the ridiculous amount of headroom at low frequencies - it's more or less assuming you're never going to listen to these without some amount of EQ. For that reason, until you get to some serious bass boosting (see my EQ screenshot at the end of this review) do you get a truly balanced sound that makes you feel like you're really holding your ears right up against a high grade stereo setup turned to max volume. I can't express how amazing it is to have headphones brutally rumble actual notes that hard. Many times, more often than I'd like to admit, I caught myself looping bass test tones to feel nothing but the sine waves causing the headphones to rumble off my head. I could feel all the air the driver was pushing. Again, no other headphone I've ever used that could replicate this feeling. It doesn't matter what music you listen to. You're going to get floored with sub bass. It really is like cranking your stereo so loud your neighbors submit a noise complaint nearly immediately. Actually, I got three different noise complaints in one week when having fun with a new subwoofer I built, so finding something to satisfy my bass fix while keeping my stereo offline for a while was part of why I fell back in love with these headphones so much.

 

Below is a quick comparison of the SZ2k's sound with both the HAM55X pads and a particular set of HM5 memory foam pads I used to own (I since gave them away since I prefer the sound signature of the 2k's with the 55X pads). Other reviewers have covered the sound quality aspect better and more in depth. I'm aiming for a more technical audience here, which is why this review consists of a lot of rambling compared to sound impressions.

 

Music used for testing

This review is a culmination of my experiences with the SZ2k from Xmas '15 until now (5/22/2016). There's been a lot of stuff I listened to in that time. This list is not strict at all, it's more of what I listened to most of these headphones in this time period, and to give you a sense of what I listen to.

  • Bass Mekanik - Quad Maximus
  • Dancemania Bass #0-#5
  • Gas - Nah Und Fern
  • Too $hort - Gettin It
  • Sharpnelsound - SPRX-0002 Ver2.0
  • Terrordrome IV
  • Beatmania IIDX 9th Style OST
  • Sade - Love Deluxe
  • 2pac - All Eyez On Me
  • Healing Music From USA - Loess Gangue Ventifact
  • E-40 - The Mail Man
  • TM Revolution - The Force
  • P-MODEL - Big Body
  • DJ Haus - Burnin' Up
  • En Esch - Cheesy
  • Front 242 - Official Version
  • OFF - Ask Yourself

 

55X pads

 

Bass: Maximum bass impact pads. These will rattle off your head effortlessly! Bass refinement is great with these, impact is at their maximum, I would argue if you want refinement over impact then get the HM5 pads instead. These are the pads you want if you want to feel the bass. Yes I have to put it in bold. You may have though you've heard bassy headphones. Even if you've heard other basshead greats like the Fostex or Sony, you don't know what you're in for here.

 

Mids: Not as veiled as the stock pads, but slightly veiled. Some may consider it to be fairly to significantly veiled depending on your opinion. I think it's noticeable but not too bad. Certainly not a strong point, but I honestly don't have many complaints here. I wish it was more detailed and smooth, but at the price these go for, I have negative complaints. Would I like a SZ3000 for double the price that was the same with a lot more detail? I totally would, but I'm getting off topic now.

 

Highs: Can be just slightly sharp, EQ rolloff helps with this, but isn't necessary. Not sibilant or anything without rolloff, but not as smooth as with HM5 pads.

 

Soundstage: Not these pads' strong point. You should be picking 55X pads if you are a chronic basshead in need of maximum power to stay alive.

 

HM5 pads (tried memory foam angled pads)

 

Bass: Unbelievably refined. Some of the best bass I've heard of any headphone, period. The pads absorb a good deal of the impact but the payoff is so much extra refinement and detail in the bass. Takes on a slightly airy quality without sacrificing on power, like a well amped HD650, but with tons more impact.

 

Mids: Where'd the veil go! It's gone! The mids are ridiculously clear on these with the right pads. I found them to be very balanced and able to compete with headphones 2.5x their price. Sure a slight bit of veil was still noticeable, but it's hardly anything.

 

Highs: Very smooth, yet subdued. Definitely far back in the mix with these pads.

 

Soundstage: Not good enough you'd dump your other cans for these if you're all about soundstage - they're closed, after all - but it begins to rival the best soundstage I've heard in most any closed back headphone. I usually really don't like closed back headphones for sounding too stuffy and closed but I could listen to the SZ2k with the HM5 pads all day and not feel too cramped in head.

 

I'll be honest, I can't really tell if they've opened up a lot or if I've gotten used to the SZ2000's veil. But, having said that, I go between headphones like these and the Aurisonics ASG 2.5 or my Yamaha HS8 monitors seamlessly, and have no complaints. Yes you can still tell there's a bit of a veil but it's nothing that's so bad it's going to get in the way of your enjoyment, at least if you have the same priorities as me in your headphone enjoyment ;) However I listened directly out of my Xduoo X3 without any EQ just to see how they fared, and I had to say I was pretty impressed. It was way more open & balanced sounding than I ever remembered it. Maybe it did break in after all that use, I dunno. I wish I could say for sure but I'll update this review if I ever get to measure my set against a fresh, unused set.

 

I am undecided on the burn in aspect. I usually don't buy it or believe in it, but larger speakers have a spider (also known as a damper) which physically changes over time and there is measurable difference in these drivers after some burn in. I haven't butchered a set of SZ2000's yet and I'll update when I do, but I have a feeling that at least the larger driver breaks in with time. It's a really big and power hungry driver so I wouldn't be surprised. If it's true it may explain why I thought some of the veil went away and the bass/soundstage opened up a bit. No proof on that though. I don't have a controlled test environment I can trust. Hopefully I can my broken in SZ2k's to a fresh set one day in a controlled environment, or maybe one day I'll mod them and look at the driver for myself and find out.

 

I haven't taken my SZ2000 apart, I love it way too much. I thought about modding mine but will shortly have a second set. They're good enough I want a backup. I don't know how I can make it through the day without these anymore. Until I live in the middle of nowhere and can blast my stereo at full power 24/7, these will forever be in my care until something better comes along, and even then I'd be awful hesitant to let these go.

 

These, aside from the 55X, are my only JVC headphone. I've only owned JVC Flats and JVC Mushrooms, both worth about $10 new at the time they were on the market. I can't say I know the JVC "house sound" too well but I've enjoyed the sound signature of all those headphones and the SZ2000 is no exception. In fact these have more headtime recently than anything else. I have no complaints about the sound at all. All I could ask for, honestly, is another step up from this. I really don't think I can ask for much more expect more headroom at super low frequencies so I can go deaf faster and more detail in the mids and refinement in mids and bass. I would totally buy a SZ3000 for almost double what these go for if the price warranted the improvements. I love these things so much I want to own two and recable one and go insane comparing the two.

 

Another thing that's great about these is the price. When I got them, it was hard to get them for much less than about $215-225 shipped to the USA. They've surged in popularity a lot due to the Basshead IEM and headphone threads. We know this because the XB90EX and SZ2000's, both chart toppers, have become both cheaper and way easier to get outside Japan in the last 6 months or so. We've seen the average price of SZ2000 go from about $225 to $175 new on Amazon Prime. I thought they were worth every penny at 225 and at 175 they're simply a steal. You can get these and the 55x's for barely over 200. That's a killer deal. It's almost such a good deal, because it can hold its own against $500-600 over ears, that I kinda wish there was a SZ3000 to fill that gap.

 

I'll leave you with my current EQ settings at the time of writing this. Keep in mind it's not necessary to do this to get good sound - I am more than happy bass bombing running an Xduoo X3 into my Cayin C5, turning on high gain and bass boost, and letting 'em rumble.

 

 

Lastly, if you're like me and told your girlfriend these are what you want when she asks what you want for Christmas, these are a good suggestion because she won't be upset when you don't want to stop listening to them. Happy sub-bassing.

Posted

Pros: Hard hitting and good quality bass. Handsome looks. Good enough clarity for Non-EDM/Hip Hop purposes in a pinch.

Cons: Has lots of caveats for ultimate sound. Stock pads are poor. Hardwired cable in this day and age.

I'm a semi-frequent reviewer of headphones on Amazon, and decided to dip my toe into the Head-Fi review waters. Wish me luck!

 

Background: I've been into the headphone hobby for about 2 and a half years. I have limited experience with the highest of the high end, but I have spent a good amount of time playing around in upper Mid-Fi territory. My current stable of cans and devices consists of my Parrot Zik 1.0, Oppo PM3, Hifiman RE-600, Audeze LCD2 and now the JVC HA-SZ2000. I also use my Sennheiser Urbanite XL for television watching and have parted with and provided loving homes to my beloved Koss ProDJ200, Sennheiser Momentum and Hifiman HE-400S. For source and amplification, my main rig consists of a Schiit M2/M2 (non-uber) stack and a Fiio E18 Kunlun for portable listening.

 

I generally listen to my music as FLAC through Foobar2000 or as 320kbps through Spotify premium. I'll be the first to admit that I'm still training my ears, and that 320 MP3s don't stick out like a sore thumb to me. In the objective vs. subjective debate, though I value objectivity to keep things grounded and from going too off the rails, I am in the camp of audio hedonism. "If it sounds good (to you), then do it!"

 

So. On to the meat of this review!

 

Presentation: Note: I bought the Japan import versions of the SZ2000, so a few things about the presentation will be different from the US/Europe version. Namely, from my understanding, the storage pouch is quite different, and the words "Live Beat" are stenciled onto the cups on the Japanese version as opposed to the word "Z-Series" as seen on other models.

 

The SZ2Ks arrived in a sturdy package consisting of a paper sleeve with the specs printed on the back, and a cardboard box inside that also serves as a presentation case, if the silk/satin material layering the inside is any indication. The presentation box is made of a stiff and thick cardboard, quite similar to the one the Oppo PM-3s come in (the blue box, for those who want specificity due to the rather Russian nesting doll-esque nature of how the Oppos are delivered). A leather(? or maybe protein leather) bag is included with the letters "JVC" inscribed on the side. It's a nice gesture, but rather disappointing. For the price these debuted at, a hardshell carrying case would have made a much better perk. In addition, a custom case would have been  even more appreciated as I would imagine finding a generic case for the JVCs is quite difficult due to the massive size of the cups, and their lack of being able to rotate flat. The cups do fold into the headband arch, so the bag might not be too much of a hassle.

 

Photo: The JVCs nestled in their display box.

 

Photo: As you can see, the cups of the SZ2000 are nearly as big as those of the LCD2.

 

The cans themselves are quite nice looking and to my eyes, they exude elegance and class. The majority of the cup is made of a strong, black, matte plastic while the yoke is made from a shiny, black metal with a brass ring encircling the outside. The headband and sliders seem to be made of metal, and the upper part of the headband arch is made from a rubberized material with a soft, mesh covered pad on the bottom. The pads they come with are soft, but they sink too much and it leaves your ears touching the housing.

 

Speaking of the stock pads, they need to be replaced, pronto. For this review, I will be testing the sound with the stock pads switched out for the pads from the JVC HA-M55x. I have also heard that the Brainwavz HM5 pads work well for these, but I have not experienced them to be able to give you my view of things.

 

Photo: M55x pads on left. Stock pads on right.

 

Sound quality and characteristics: Of note is the the JVC HA-SZ2000 uses a dual driver system. A 55mm driver for the bass, and a 30mm driver for the rest. It is interesting to note that the woofer uses the same principles as a Kelton subwoofer, meaning it routes the sound it produces through a series of brass chambers to amplify and condition the bass volume and characteristics The 30mm driver is also unique in that it is a carbon nano-tube driver (or CNT for short). What's interesting about CNT drivers is that they create vibration by rapidly heating and cooling the driver and the air around it in an effort to excite the air molecules and produce air vibrations.

 

Out of the box, this headphone was very muffled, muddy and a bit dull. I busted out the EQ to create a V-shaped signature, and though the bass was really good, the highs were merely OK and I resigned myself to not really being able to appreciate the mids. I've experienced tentatively verifiable burn in before, but not using any method that would stand up under scientific scrutiny. However I decided to give it a shot. I set up a pink noise loop and ran it for 12 hours a day over three days. I didn't listen to it during that time as I had switched them out for my LCD2s during my waking hours. Here are my results from after the burn in period. Whether the change was real, or my brain adjusted, I may never know. But here is my admittedly subjective take on it all. The following observations were made with my Modi2 DAC and Magni2 amplifier, using a combination of Foobar2000 with FLAC files and Spotify premium. I used the built in equalizer when listening to Foobar and used the the program EqualizerAPO for Spotify EQ impressions.

 

Bass: No EQ:  The bass on the SZ2K is really punchy. I have never really heard anyone else describe this, but the bass is so tight that impactful, percussive bass notes almost leave a slight air of silence after landing for a fraction of a second. Quantity leaves a bit to be desired. It has more than your average headphone but it feels like only a bit more than my Urbanite XLs (which are pretty focused on quality over quantity).

          With EQ: I raised everything below 80Hz up 10dB and just kind of left it flat until the treble (We'll get to that soon enough). I found raising the sub bass really does the trick. You don't want the whole bass spectrum raised at once or it is really easy to start experiencing headaches. With 80Hz and below raised, you start to get a lot more slam in your tracks. The bass has a good rumble while still dealing tight punches here and there. This headphone lives for EQ and does not even flinch or distort when I amped it up to 15dB on the EQ. You can feel the ear cup shake with songs like Love Lockdown by Kanye West. Overall, it has great extension, texture and slam and  I would say the bass is better than that on my LCD2 (and the bass on that is nothing to sneeze at). Dare I say it has the best bass I've ever heard!

 

Mids: No EQ: They're a bit recessed, but rather clear with smooth texture. If you listen to the song "Downstream" from the Braid soundtrack, you kind of feel like swaying just a little too much to the undercurrent of cello that sets the pace, and the bass drums are a bit more present in comparison, but the SZ2Ks convey the violin quite admirably, though the texture is just a little too smooth for audiophile purposes. Overall though, you may find yourself tapping your toes to the beat more often than you sit back a drink in vocals or other instruments.

   Comparison with Bass and Treble EQ: The mids sound far more recessed though you can hear them. I really recommend you get comfortable with messing with your equalizer if you frequently switch between bass heavy music and lighter fare. They get kind of overlapped by the other frequency ranges.

 

Treble: No EQ: Treble is a bit subdued but present. Not really any sibilance to speak of and cymbals do have a shimmer to them though there is a very slight, blink and you miss it, echo effect to heavy cymbal work, almost hollow sounding. Some textures like guitars and some percussion don't overwhelm with treble detail but do maintain a delightful crunch. So in summation, the treble is very pleasant, not very in your face but also not too polite.

            With EQ: Between 2.5kHz and 7kHz I bumped it up 5dB. Textures start to come out more. EDM feels super alive with synth hits complimenting the upped bass mentioned previously. You feel compelled to bob your head.as the drum hits rattle inside your skull. But it's not quite piercing. Overall it provides a lot more energy without causing a skull-splitting headache.

 

Soundstage and imaging: I'll admit that this is an area that is hard for me to assess too well. I'm working on improving my hearing so I can assess soundstage and imaging upon first listen. I can instantly hear major differences in this regard between headphones, but I do have to close my eyes and focus to determine perceived dimensions. From what I hear, the soundstage is pretty wide, but imaging is a bit sparse, with most sounds coming from the direct sides, front, or about halfway in between the former and the latter. But, a neat stereo effect I can point to is that at 40 seconds into Strobe (Radio Edit) by Deadmau5, the song starts bouncing between the left and right channels and it felt like the sound was flowing like liquid through my head from one ear to the other. I've only ever experienced that on my Momentum. Even my LCD2 doesn't let me experience that effect.

 

Sound summary: Without EQ and with adequate burn in, the SZ2000 sounds like a competent, yet bassy headphone for the <$200 price tag it's currently at. It would be great as a home theater headphone in this state as most everything is clear and the emphasized bass would make action movies have a bit of audio flair. With EQ however, this becomes an absolute bass monster. However you set your frequency emphasis, the SZ2000 will endure it like a champ. You can't help but wiggle in your seat, or even dance to the beat (though don't bang your head too hard, they are liable to fly off your head due to the weight).

 

Things I didn't like:  Straight out of the box, it sounds pretty bad. Like "Oh god, what  did I just spend my money on" type bad. I didn't like that there are a lot of caveats to this purchase, including needing to have a pretty good amplifier, replacement ear pads being a necessity and needing to invoke an equalizer in order to get peak performance. I was disappointed with the lack of a hard shell case, and the short (3-3.5 ft), hardwired cable. In this day and age, a removable cable should be considered a necessity with any headphone at the price point this premiered at. It's also heavy as sin, but considering the brass chambers involved in the Kelton design, I consider it a necessary evil. But seriously, whenever I switch from the SZ2000 to my LCD2, the Audeze feels much lighter, though that could be due to better weight distribution and a comparatively more merciful clamp force.

 

 

In summation: I find the JVC HA-SZ2000 to be a delightful treat when in the mood to have your head kicked in with bass, and it is a strong enough contender to use while listening to other music in a pinch. Should it be your next upgrade when working your way up the Hi-Fi ladder? No, not unless you're a basshead who knows what they're getting into. It does make a great supplementary headphone for those who have their audiophile picks locked in. I actually bought it as sort of a compromise from getting a Fostex THxxx line as I already had my endgame headphones and didn't need my "fun" headphone to be audiophile high end level cans. With the proper EQ it provides an exciting listen and bass nirvana. In all, I rate it 4 stars as there are some quibbles I have that are minor individually, but add up to the subtraction of a star. I still highly recommend it for those who want the best bass from a headphone possible.

 

Thank you for reading. This was my first review of what I hope to be many on head-fi and I would really appreciate any feedback and criticism.

Posted

Pros: Bass performance in all manner. (Volume,depth,impact) Price to performance and quality ratio in consumers favor....by far for $200

Cons: Shallow cups. Short cord. Heavy.

 

You get what you see. Nothing extra.

 

 

 

CNT or "Carbon nano tube" diaphrams/drivers were developed by the Chinese (I studied this) and J.V.C was the first to mass produce it in their IEM "FX" Series.

 

 

Essentially a 55mm driver dedicated to low frequency . They actually called it a "Subwoofer" (a 30mm driver handles mids and highs)

 

 

 

 

Full tech explanation here>>>>>>HA-SZ2000   JVC

 

 

It's a Double Bass reflex design using the "Kelton Method"

 

 

 

Does this scream audiophile to you so far? It screamed Basshead to me.

 

Kinda screams this...

 

Old school 6x9's.......Oh nostalgia. Before dedicated subwoofers were the norm this is how they got low and highs  (Car audio hi-fi ladies and gents) together...they "stacked" em.

Cars allow the space and freedom to divide and conquer the signal drivers but headphones......not much room. 

JVC gets a lot of points for their creativity. This SZ series died a quick death due to many reasons.

 

1 Maybe the greatest Low frequency response headphone ever mass marketed and produced.......never aimed at the market most likely to eat it up

2 Outside design looks Hi-Fi while the sound signature is not.

3.Limited release and lack of follow up adjustments.

4...sadly the guy that was the genius behind this may be working in SIberia as it was an epic FAIL.

 

 

 

I give this 5 stars because it's bass is unmatched. The impact is superior to a line named Xtreme Xplode (Noooooooow they aimed at the crowd:rolleyes:)....with the 2nd best design.

It responds to eq adjusting unlike any headphone I have held. The response line is a rubber band that will do about anything. 

 

The BASS...might make you sick. Previous owners might be able to comment on this. If you boost the already dominant bass it can cause a kind of nausea. I saw friends in my car audio days vomit after to long a ride with 2 15" subs slamming into the cars frame.

 

If someone blows into a large bottle a moment of resonance occurs and you feel it. It's uncomfortable. While your bass is pounding your head a subsonic tone is coming through those 2 tubes and though you cant hear it it is filling your ears and body. It might be in my mind but I don't think so. These cans bass might make you feel ill:confused:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will update this later.

 

This is an import series that is apparently discontinued. I would recommend any bassaholic chasing the next big hit to get these before they are no more or go up in price because a niche' market of Bass oriented audiophiles take a shine to it and drive the price up.

 

Bass volume (exceeds amplification max of a FiiO e12) 1st time experience. That is by far ..nothing did that before and it has a 16 ohm impedance?

Bass Depth (rated down to 4Hz....the first time I never questioned a claim of production beyond the audible range because you can feel it)

Bass Texture (It will do whatever you want it to do from the low end side...it's 'texture" is so smooth it slips down your throat and makes you sick...that sensation anyway)

 

 

I will update this review after a while of usage. It has only played with Hip-Hop music. 

 

Used for extension at high volume:

 

 

 

Used for Bass hit impact:

 

 

Used for Bass response (speed)

 

 

 

EDIT: 3/21/14

 

I ended up changing the pads on these.

 

 

 

This took 2 minutes and changed the mids and highs a lot. Not sure why JVC went with the smaller padding but it was a terrible oversight. 

Bass impact was not altered by the pad change. These came off the 55x of JVC's XX series so I didn't expect bass impact would be diminished. It feels tighter.

These are the hardest bass cans I have ever heard. The Honeymoon fanboy period is over. These are just awesome.

Posted

Pros: Great bass and club-like atmosphere to the sound. Overall very immersive sound and atmosphere. True party headphones. Very solid build.

Cons: Mids and highs a bit veiled, highs can be grainy. Stock pads not up to scratch, but can be easily replaced.

Here's a mini review for all those who are interested in these headphones but don't listen predominantly/ mostly to hip-hop. This is the first time I'm writing a headphones review, so it might not get as detailed as some of the other ones on this forum, but hopefully it'll give you an idea of the pros and cons of these headphones.

 

I listen to quite a few different genres, so I thought I'll add my 2c. I got interested in the JVCs because I wanted to add a good bassy headphone to my collection, I have some very good headphones which I thoroughly enjoy, but none of them have that real thumping bass that I want every now and then. I stumbled across this thread, and the curiosity-to-price ration was enough to let the curiosity win and I ordered these from amazon.

 

Listening setup: At home: Laptop -> Tubemagic D1 dac -> Meier Audio Corda Concerto -> JVC. On the go: ipod -> v-moda Vamp Verza -> JVC.

 

Comfort and build quality: These are very big and bulky headphones but with a very nice design, very firm, mostly plastic with but of the high quality kind, some metal parts, with a nice mesh padding for the headband. Overall a very well constructed headphones, heavy but to me feel very comfortable on the head, especially with the replacement pads (see next paragraph).

 

First listen out of the box with stock pads, I was surprised that these sounded quite nice throughout the scale (I was expecting the worst given what I've read about stock pads and the need to burn these in). The stock pads however are too shallow, with not a poor seal. With the stock pads, listening fatigue starts pretty quickly. Once I played around with the pads, the HM5 pads were deemed the best fit (Alpha Pads slightly too big and don't form sufficient isolation, 770 pads too firm for my taste but others use them on the JVCs with good success). 

 

These headphones are really great at giving you a feel for the bass. I have other headphones in which the bass is very articulate, yet doesn't really kick very strongly. On the ATH-W5000 and the Alessandro Alumod/ MS1000 (modded MS1), the bass is very articulate, but really lacks any true punch. It is like admiring it from a distance. Both of these headphones articulate the highs beautifully, and in that department, the JVC has little to offer. The JVC's still have some sparkle in the highs, but overall, the mids and highs are quite veiled, and a bit grainy. My other dark sounding headphones (Mad Dogs 3.2, HD650) still have clearer highs and mids than the JVC's.

 

These are definitely dark-sounding headphones. Listening to these headphones really feels like listening to a concert in a club with a really good sound system. The bass is full, rich, and pumping (on properly recorded tracks). The club is dark and smokey, so you can't see the band on stage very clearly, but the sound is very immersive.. and really, who can concentrate on the fine details of the music when you're dancing and having a ball?

 

The bass... it's fantastic. It gives a new dimension to it, which is often missing in other headphones. On these, I mostly listen to rock, funk, and soul. These headphones are great at revealing good (and bad) music engineering - they can really reveal whether the bass is recorded properly or not. Before getting these, there were some songs/ albums that I was particularly looking forward to listening to - and some of them disappointed, as it was revealed that their bass isn't recorded well enough to produce true punch from these headphones. Some other albums however surprised with the power and quality of their recorded bass.

 

Here are some examples of rock/ funk tracks which I think bring the best out of these headphones. Please note that, for best impact, listen to a high-quality source rather than the youtube links below, but these would give you a rough idea:

 

Aerosmith's Living On The Edge has some very good quality bass sound, the drums really kick throughout the whole Get A Grip album. On this song in particular, around the 3:30 mark, there is a real thunderous sound of drums that I always use to test the bass limits of headphones. Some headphones fail miserably at this test - the JVC's are marvelous at this, the whole headphones vibrate and the sound is huge.

 

 

Parliament/ Funkadelic are what I listen to more than anything on these headphones, for a complete club-like feeling. My idea of a party, and these are definitely party headphones. This track is also good to showcase that the JVC can even have some nice sparkle on the highs on the right track.

 

 

The Black Crowes' Virtue & Vice has very nice thunderous intro, which is another track I use to test bassiness of headphones.

 

 

This recording from Humble Pie is just spectacular, and is probably the only track here that sounds better on this particular youtube version than the album version (the album Eat It is quite controvertial due to its sub-par sound recording - which is very unfortunate, as it has some truly great music). Bass player Gregg Ridley is featured here.

 

 

The Who - Live At Leeds album. Features perhaps the bass bass/drum duo in classic rock. This album might be my favorite sounding live album, and the bass just sounds truly spectacular with the JVC's. You can just focus on John Entwistle's utter brilliance. 

 

 

To conclude, I would definitely recommend these as a special-missions headphones for all people who enjoy some bass every now and again. Personally I disagree that these are strictly for hip-hop, but keep in mind that these will reveal which albums recorded their bass properly and which didn't. I wouldn't recommend them as your only set, but would strongly recommend them as a party headphones for those who, once in a blue moon, have ants in their pants and they need to dance (in the comfort of their homes...)

JVC Kenwood Victer stereo headphones HA-SZ2000 japan import
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Description:

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Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandJVC
EAN4975769409660
FeatureOutput sound pressure level:108dB /1mW Reproduction frequency band:4Hz~35 000Hz Impedance:16Ω Accessories:Carrying porch
LabelVicter
ManufacturerVicter
ModelHA-SZ2000
MPNHA-SZ2000
PublisherVicter
StudioVicter
TitleJVC Kenwood Victer stereo headphones HA-SZ2000 japan import
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElement4975769409660
Package Height4.72 inches
Package Length12.01 inches
Package Weight2.46 pounds
Package Width10.28 inches
PackageQuantity1
PartNumberHA-SZ2000
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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