I've finally updated my original FX67 review to reflect on my current feelings and standings about it.
Throughout the review, you will notice four main sections. A brief description of them are as follows:
Modern Edit: My updated and present review of the FX67 involving my 2nd pair.
Newest Update: This is where my most recent thoughts are about the FX67.
Original Review: My very first unedited and original review of my 1st FX67.
Stress Tests: Tests conducted on the 1st FX67 long after my original review.
I decided to keep the original review for nostalgia sake. And it's also a great contrast to the new one.
And do realize, there is stuff I would change about my original review, but then it wouldn't be original.
Let's get this front and center right now. I prefer these over the DBA-02, Pro Golds, PS200, PS210, A151, S4, 9850, FXC80, UHP326, M6, M9, and Vibe. So in a sense, these are the best IEMs I have ever used. Regardless of price or sonic capabilities, everything I've tried against these haven't come close. How is that possible? I'll give you a hint, don't look at the price tag to judge a headphone. Price will most likely determine it's "refinement and superiority in sound", but it says absolutely zero about the presentation or overall sound signature of a headphone. Case in point, this fabulous gem of a headphone by JVC. This IEM is living proof for me that I don't always need extra money to gain the edge.
That said, my quest for the perfect IEM began long ago. And I'll admit right now, my perfect IEM was more in "fitting perfect" than "sounding perfect". Luckily for me, I killed two birds with one stone. But in the past, I tried many different kinds of IEMs. Every time I bought one, something just wouldn't click with me. I would like "this" aspect, but didn't like "that" aspect. Whether it was sound, design, or fit; each IEM I've bought seemed to disappoint me in one way or another. This made IEM shopping a pain for me, and I really didn't look forward to it, even though I really wanted to find the right IEM. And that is the exact reason I am more of a full sized user, besides me liking full sized headphones better. Turns out, my first pair of these impressed me quite a bit. It had excellent comfort, plenty of isolation, solid design and durability, great sound, and it was dirt cheap. Sounds like a winner. But of course, what's budget is budget, and I was on the search again for something better. Too caught up in upgrading to something "better" to smell the roses that just so happened to be right under my nose.
But then came my first review, and it landed here. I praised them greatly and suggested that I liked them better than the Golds, slightly doubting at what I said, because how could I? None the less, I found out these had more positive aspects to them than any IEM I've tried. Sadly one day, I decided to mod them because I was bored, which resulted in the test you'll find at the bottom of this review. And I'll admit, I didn't buy a second pair right away. I thought, "Well those did quite well, but I guarantee I can find something better. If not, well, I will probably get another pair of these". Turns out, that's when I hit the Phiaton PS200 and PS210 and also the acclaimed Fischer Audio DBA-02. I also had bought a second pair of Pro Golds, as my first pair had a slight disadvantage due to a faulty driver. Now, the fireworks would fly, as I knew I just had to order my second pair of these, just to see how they would stack up against the giants. I'm sorry, but it wasn't even a fight.
DBA-02 was sold. Pro Golds were sold. PS200 was sold. PS210 came the closest, but was also sold. After this incident, I was quite sure that I would never buy another IEM again. Why would I when my satisfaction for this one is through the roof? My point exactly. But even though I knew I would reside with these pretty much forever, curiosity got the best of me, and I knew I had to experiment a bit with eartips. Turns out, I have Sony Hybrids. So I tested those with the FX67 and it proved staggering results. These were meant for them. The already ease of insertion becomes even easier, due to the inner part of the Hybrids being of a different material than the outside. Not only that, but the isolation takes a turn of improvement as well. Now, these are up to the standards of most other IEMs, yet still retain their insane comfort. They flat out just fit absolutely perfect. I have never had an IEM before than was this easy to get the perfect fit, the first time, every time, very quickly. I'm satisfied beyond belief now.
But I did want to touch up on the sound, after all this glitzy praise. I'll say this now for all those who seriously cannot wrap your head around this review; these aren't going to put full sized reference headphones to shame. Well, technically they won't. But "technically" is only half of the sound; the other half being the presentation it gives you. And baby, these nail it in that area! So much to a fact, that I honestly think I prefer listening to these more than half of the full sized headphones I've tried. No, I'm not kidding. That said, the FX67's sound is simply incredible, not to mention responds extremely well to EQ in case you need more from the midrange. There is something about the sound signature that I simply love, and cannot get enough of. And while it's not as technically advanced or as capable as most, if not all of those headphones I've listed, it still holds it's own perfectly fine regardless of it's price, audience intentions, or driver capabilities. I'm not going to go into detail on each aspect of the sound, because these deserve to be left alone. You really have to listen to it as a whole, rather than pick it to pieces claiming it has no good technical qualities, because it does. But I'll give a sneak peek. Just saying, these have the best bass I have ever heard out of an IEM, and even surpass the Pro Golds. And while the Pro Golds bass is fatiguing and intrusive, these aren't. I'm not sure how that's possible, but then again, I'm not sure how this review is possible...
Overall, I really cannot recommend or praise these enough. I have had and listened to too many headphones to be considered inexperienced and I have never been this satisfied with a single pair for a very, very long time; regardless of whether an IEM or full sized. They sound phenomenal, they look wonderful, they fit and feel spectacular, and as a bonus even come in various colors. It's really hard to believe you get all of this for only $20. I simply cannot think of a better way to spend my money. And as I mentioned before, due to the sheer amount of positive things I love about the FX67, I can guarantee you I will never buy another pair of IEMs again; unless of course JVC upgrades this model. But until then, my IEM journey is finished. It's done. Yes, there may be an IEM out there that I might like even more, but I have no intentions of finding it. Even if I did, it's value wouldn't even come close to the FX67. At least now I can focus more on my home rig; something I value much more than my portable one. None the less, at least I have found pure satisfaction with my portable rig, which I am overjoyed to have. And with that, I leave you this lengthy and very opinionated review on a severely unappreciated budget IEM; in hopes more casual listeners and even audiophiles can catch onto this spectacular offer. Hands down the best money spend for a headphone. Period.
Okay. If there is one section of this entire review you should read, it's probably be this one.
Alright, I just recently discovered the insane importance of using an EQ with these. While they still sound quite amazingly good for the money using no EQ, I cannot stress enough that with a clever EQ applied, these will improve significantly. Cowon owners, you especially need to experiment, because I know how capable Cowon's EQ is. Regardless, whether or not you like the stock sound, you still need to try multiple EQ's, because I can nearly guarantee you'll find a way to make these sound better. For me, I've literally spent hours in my EQ, saving multiple presets and switching back and forth rapidly between them to see which I found superior. I actually do this with most of my headphones, especially my IEMs. Anyway, by doing this, I was able to contrast new EQ's to just the standard stock sound with no EQ. Let me say, the difference is easily noticeable, and is without a doubt and improvement to my ears. Stock will sound a bit murky, dark, and unclear compared to an EQ that focuses on slightly less bass and a bump in the midrange. For some users and music, a flat EQ is completely acceptable, and even great by itself, but again, I absolutely encourage everyone to have some patience and experiment. I promise, you'll like what you discover.
While I can't say I'm the biggest IEM fan, I will say I am very picky when selecting one. We all have that special checklist we go through when trying to compare or review something and my list happens to be a very long one when it comes to IEMs. I've tried some serious contenders like the Monster Turbine Pro Gold and the Klipsch Image S4. I've tried some budget champions like the Philips 9850 and the MEE M6. And with those have experienced Balance Armature Driver, Dynamic Driver, Angled Nozzles, Straight Nozzles, Gel Tips, Foam Tips, Flange Tips, and all sorts of features and technologies. But unfortunately, as good of a sound or as good of a value as some of those are, they really can't compete with the combination of "good things" the FX67 has to offer.
Yes, I said it. "They really can't compete".
I sometimes even shock myself when I say I prefer the FX67 over the Pro Golds and the S4, despite them costing 4-10x as much money! And I actually prefer them in more than just one way, so rest assured, there is A LOT of good things backing up the FX67. I will now go into some more detail on all of the "good things" the FX67 has to offer. And why I now consider these "The best IEM value on the market today".
Let's start out with the basics. Here, we'll have a look at build, accessories, and appearance.
First off, these IEMs simply look fantastic! They have a very unique design that puts priority in comfort, but in turn makes them look very impressive. Not only that, but you have the option of choosing one of four different colors to best suite your tastes. Putting the appearance aside, let's have a closer look. The ear pieces themselves are made well. That's all I really have to say, absolutely no concerns there. They are very lightweight, yet feel solid. No complaints here and really no additional comments. Quickly, moving to accessories, we find 4 included eartips, and even a shirt clip. Perfectly fine, I really don't want any more. (This is coming from someone who used the massive amount of accessories included with the Pro Golds -- which included 17 eartips and a BUNCH of other stuff!)
Now, let's take a look at it's marvelous cord. The cord on these is really quite good! Only second to the superb cord of the Pro Golds. But of every other IEM I have ever used, these have the second best cord. And that is really saying something considering this is a budget IEM! Memory retention is pretty minimal, and kinks are as well, nearly absent. Every other IEM I have used in the past, had some issue or another with its cord; whether it was extremely thin, or had horrible memory retention. It's just not so with this one. It's thick, durable, and has minimal kinks and memory. Simply one of the best cords I've used.
Alright, now let's take a look at possibly the most important factor in an IEM: Comfort/Fit.
Using many different IEMs in the past, it's already apparent to me that I "DO NOT" like deep inserting IEMs. They irritate my ear canal causing either an "itching" or "burning" feeling after only an hour or two. The FX67 is known for its relatively shallow insertion, and that is where it achieves its superior comfort, but also attracts its criticism. Criticism? For a $20 IEM? Really? Well, let's just say it isolates just fine if that's what you want, especially when used with the included marshmallow eartip. Personally, I prefer the outstanding comfort with the default medium tip, as it gives me plenty isolation with additional comfort over the marshmallow tip. All this said, these are hands down the most comfortable IEM I have ever had the pleasure of wearing! My longest stretch has been 5 hours, without even touching them, and that is saying A LOT for someone like me. I would buy these for comfort alone. No, I'm not even kidding.
Now, onto the section many of you have been waiting for. The sound and it's characteristics.
No, these weren't my DT880s. Nor are they my HD650s. And not quite the Pro Golds either. So the question is, do I like the sound? Undoubtedly, yes. Fresh out of the box, they impressed me. To this day they impress me. You can stick them into your ear with minimal fiddling, and have them sound warm, solid, and balanced. They have a sound to them that I find absolutely, perfectly acceptable even to my standards. I prefer them to my M6, no question. And in fact, to what I can remember about the S4, I actually prefer the sound of these. Not only do these seem to be on par, but maybe even a little less congested than the S4. A bold statement for an IEM that seems to get nothing but praise... Okay, that aside, I do realize their weaknesses in sound. Obviously, they get a bit smudged during complex passages, don't have a perfectly balanced spectrum, and don't have clear microscopic detail, but they aren't supposed to. They're $20. Yet, they are worth MUCH more than that. Great sound for an insane price. These will now be and will continue to be, the pair of IEMs I recommend most.
Overall, I really cannot recommend these enough. I have had and listened to MANY headphones in my days, and I haven't been this satisfied with a single pair for a very, very long time. They sound great, they look wonderful, they feel spectacular, and even come in various colors. It's hard to believe you get all of this, for only $20. I simply cannot think of a better way to spend my money. And with that, I leave you this lengthy review on a budget IEM, in hopes more iPod and MP3 users can catch onto this spectacular offer of what I call, "The best IEM value on the market today".
Well, turns out I did some modding and removed the inner filter on both sides. Let's just say, it provided undesirable results to the sound, most noticeably messing up the treble. Due to this obviously being irreversible, I decided to go ahead and get a new pair; most likely trying another color. But now, I have a slight dilemma. What should I do with my old pair? Well, I had an idea! I wanted to put it through a series of stress and endurance tests, just to see how well these held up to abuse. I wanted users as well as myself to see how much abuse these could be put through. So I conducted a series of three major testes. They are as follows:
1 - Elements Test. How well do these hold up when exposed to water?
3 - Volume Test. How much volume can the driver take before blowing out?
2 - Stress Test. How securely is the cord attached to the housing?
1 - First thing I did, was start some music up at a generally loud volume. I then took one side of these and completely submersed them in some water, while music was playing. I swished them around a bit, and then took them out to shake them dry. I then listened, and they still worked. So I took it straight to the faucet and let the water shoot straight into the driver and past the stress relief into the housing. After a bit, I stopped the submersion, dried them off, and the music continued to play. No, I don't recommend you take these swimming, but I wouldn't fear a few accidental washes in the washing machine, or getting caught in the rain.
2 - Next, I decided to do something I thought for sure would kill most headphones, if not all. I connected these to my Little Dot MK III and turned the volume all the way up on the dial. Mind you, with every headphone I have ever used with this amp, I normally get a decently loud volume at 10-20, and an extremely loud volume at 20-40. With no headphone, have I ever passed the half way mark, which happens to be 50 out of the 100 on the dial, as it would simply be unlistenable. But with these, I went straight up to volume 100. To my surprise, they didn't blow out. It was still playing the music, but with incredible distortion! So now users can rest assured, that it is nearly impossible to blow these out with an amp, and absolutely impossible to do so with portable players.
3 - And last, I conducted a test in which I would not let the FX67 survive. I started out by severely bending, twisting, and folding the cord at all the joints. Despite this, the stress reliefs seemed adequate enough. But then I simply went the nasty route. I grabbed the cord with one hand and the housing with the other, and repeatedly yanked on the cord extremely hard to try and disconnect the two. No success. Okay, but now it's time for the finale. I regained my grasp with the housing and cord and I pulled as hard as I could. At first, nothing happened. These cords just wouldn't come out! So I tried again, but this time by wrapping the cord around my hand and pulling with all my might. Finally, it broke free, but surprisingly it wasn't the cord that came out. The housing disconnected where the silver line meets the air cushion part. Cord was still completely intact to the housing. And finally, these were officially dead. At least I now know just the kind of abuse these can take; so I can rest assured, nearly nothing I do to them will cause them to break or die unexpectedly.
Edited by Katun - 8/20/11 at 5:44pm