Amazing sound for the price, but not comfortable

A Review On: JVC Victor Head-band Portable Headphones | HA-S500-B Black (Japanese Import)

JVC Victor Head-band Portable Headphones | HA-S500-B Black (Japanese Import)

Rated # 9 in On-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $65.00
daleb
Posted · Updated · 16110 Views · 8 Comments

Pros: They sound amazing, especially for the price

Cons: Not comfortable enough for a long listening session

First Impressions:
    Well, when I first used these, I used them in the same place I'd expect myself to continue using these, on the go from place to place, and while at places outside the home. When I first plugged them in, I was planning on letting them burn in for 10, 15 minutes, but I couldn't resist and decided to listen less then 5 seconds after starting that process. I pressed random on my music player, and I was greeted with an 8 bit chiptune track. The first thing I noticed was the slightly recessed treble. Not recessed to the point of disappointment, but it was recessed. The treble contains a very smooth quality overall, making any higher pitched instruments sound laid back and calming. I liked it! So I moved on to the next song. Levels by Avicii. Might I say, the bass on these is glorious. Very powerful. the synths are pretty strong a well.

    Next was Small Two of Pieces. Sadly, I wasn't as entertained by this song as I am on the HD 280s. After going through some more songs, it turns out that these things don't play female voices as well as I hoped. Male voices are amazing, though. The next song was Baba Yetu. It was at this point I realized that these just don't have enough treble and upper mids for orchestral music, and female vocals. I've designed an EQ for those songs, but I'll more often then not be turning to my 280s for that. It makes me sad, because orchestral is my favorite genre. Baba Yetu does have male vocals, and they are very well textured and detailed. Male vocals work better here then on my 280s. At times, the male vocalists can get slightly muddy, but that could easily be the mastering of the music more then the headphones.

    Next up was a few Queen songs. Many songs are handled very well here. I like it. First up was "Is this the World we created". I loved the acoustic guitar on this track on these. Very nice and laid back when called for it to be. Freddie Mercury's voice is well presented here. Next up was "Somebody to Love." YES! This is amazing. Better then my 280s. Lovely. No others words could describe my feelings when this song came on. Its just exactly what I want when I listen to this song. I was there. I MELTED INTO THIS SONG! I don't know if this is what is meant when people say transparency, but jeez, man, I jumped up and started singing, no, belting the lyrics along with the song. At this point in the session, I felt that if I could only have one song to listen to on these headphones, it would be this.

    After about 30 minutes of music there is when I realized a huge problem. These things are painful to the ears. They are so uncomfortable. I thought I'd be fine, I own the HD 280s, and those things clamp down hard on your head. These things don't clamp, but man, the earpads feel like bricks on your ears. It's actually helpful to wear these backwards, which I find strange. Its caused by the fact the headphones can't swivel so that they'll angle themselves to follow the ears. If you wear them backwards, the angle can conform to the ear. It only helps a little. EDIT: Later I found out that these are very position oriented. Depending on how you rest them on your ears will change how they feel to you, so they can be much more comfortable later on.

Later Impressions:
    So I've now used these for 3 hours in total. They don't seem to have a burn in like people keep saying. I am getting more used to the sound signature, which is making them sound better and better, but the drivers themselves aren't physically changing from what I can tell. Maybe the burn is is really that slow, but I'm doubting it'll change much past this. I like it anyways, so it doesn't mean much to me.

 

I ended up listened to a hard rock song. These things pull you in there, too. such strong and powerful drums.  I just listened
to "Welcome to the Black Parade". That also sounds great on these. These kind of made me want to jump up and dance. I don't like dancing when I listen to headphones, I like to sit calmly and think. Kind of backwards from my normal listening style. I guess that is why these are called" fun" over my normal "analytical" headphones.

Later on, I finally decided to listen to the genre I had bought these for, dubstep. When I say these things have bass. I mean they have BASS! So much bass it is unfathomable to me. I have to turn the bass down after 5 minutes because it is so strong here. Wow. But it sounds GREAT! These things are designed for techno. When I said I would only listen to "Somebody to Love", I didn't realize how well these handles dubstep! I'm loving it! Once again, these have incredibly strong drums. I will definitely be using these to make sure the tracks I make have strong enough drums. I love that these things aren't lacking in all the detail I wanted, like I was expecting them to. The instruments are really well done on here, with the midbass and the lower mids making them sound really full. I'm not used to that, the 280s have really weak lower mids and midbass. Tons of subbass, though.


I decided to get goofy and listen to some country music. It actually sounds really good. I then tried some gospel music. Also great. These things can handle almost anything that you throw at them... Unless you want orchestral. Now, these can be EQed to handle orchestral pretty well, but not as well as I was hoping.
 

Final Thoughts:
If you like rock music, whether that be acoustic ballads or metal, these are great. If you like electronic music, especially dubstep, get these. If you like orchestral music, and female vocals, these might not be the best in the price range. You'll want something with strong upper mids. and stronger treble. Closer to neutral then these. These things aren't overly comfortable. Without good positioning, you will start to feel fatigue minutes into wearing them. Once positioned well, they can be worn for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Also, I'm kind of concerned about the build quality. I don't know if I'm going to be able to throw these haphazardly into a backpack like I was hoping I could.


I give it 2.5/5 for comfort, 2.5/5 for build quality, and 8/10 for sound. Man, do I love this sound. If you can (magically) stand the comfort, or get a pad mod, please go get these!

8 Comments:

Those headphones are not even broke in yet. It takes 100 hours or so (and I was always skeptical about that before, but with these headphones it turned out to be true)
Good review to improve comfort what I did is I took 2 qtips and bent them to fit under the each pads this raises them more off your ears so its more comfortable.
I'll see if burn in is true, but I still highly doubt it. Every headphone has a 100 hour mark improvement, but that's caused by psychology, not the diaphragm changing.
Get out of here ach...
Because he doesn't believe in burn in. I don't really, either. It's already played for over 15 hours, and it hasn't changed at all from the first hour. What has changed is how I hear it, though. Its become better, but that is just me getting used to the sound, knowing what to expect out if it. Its great sounding, but the driver itself hasn't changed at all.
How does it compare to the HAS400??????
I have never had the HAS5400, sorry. Many say this is better, others (one person, I think) believes this is worse. The HAS400 is known to have more treble, but this has more bass.