JVC HA-FX1000 Review
JVC do not really need any explaining on who they are as I have hazarded a guess that you are all aware of whom they are. If you really do not know then they are simply a household electronics manufacturer not to dissimilar to Sony and Phillips. So obviously they make all sorts of products and IEMs and headphones are a range of their products. Now in the UK, EU and US they make still popular but mainly budget priced earphones and headphones. However that is not the case for them in Japan as they have a few higher end products and that’s were these fall in. They are the product that sits behind their flagship the FX700 and are both wooden earphones. I would also like to point out these are the same earphones as they FX500.
So what is JVCs attempt at making a top IEM like and that is what I will be looking at in this review.
I also want to say a HUGE thank you to Head-Fier TegR for loaning these to me so I could carry out this review.
The set-up I have used is a bit different to normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier.
As for these having an extremely large nozzle I only had a few other tips that fitted so I ended up using the medium stock tips.
To me wooden headphones and IEMs are the best aesthetic style with headphones like the Denon D7000 and Audio Technicha ESW-9 as some great examples. I think they are classy and the older audiophile will really appreciate it and me at 16 years old appreciated it as much. Now I have had a pair of wooden IEMs before, the Thinksound ms01 which I reviewed some time a go, and I thought they were nice but these are just another level of how pleasing they are too the eye. The dark wood is complimented perfectly by the silver vent at the back of the housings and they do truly look great.
They do have a design flaw though in my opinion and that is the silly short cable, something I have encountered quite a bit lately (Shure SE530 and TDK BA100/200), and I just find it pointless and frustrating because you have unnecessary connection.
As for their build they do not have any glaring faults with a nice flexible strain relief going into the housing, which is connected, to a metal base. The housing is a combination of a plastic nozzle and front of the housing (solid), a wooden main part of the housing (solid) and a metal rear, which is the port (solid). The cable is extremely flexible but maybe a tad weak because of that. It has a cable cinch, which is great and an extremely hard plastic y-split. The jack is terminated with a gold plated plug and has a straight, “I” plug design and a very low profile housing to it.
As for accessories being a loan pair of earphones I could not evaluate the quality of what they come with but they do come with a fair bit.
This is what they come with:
Small/medium/large tips and some olive style foam tips medium size. Also comes with extension cord as these have a frustratingly short cable.
They also come with an oval shaped case. TegR who loaned me this is not a fan of the case and this is what he had to say about it.
“It's a really solid case, but why it's so tight, I have no idea, the original won't even fit crystals, it's that tight.”
You can see a bit more by what he means in the picture.
I only had the medium stock tips with earphones on the loan and with them alone I managed to find a right seal and good fit so I guess that was standard enough.
These can be worn both over the ear and cable down but I do not find it as comfortable and as deep a fit over the ear so I wear cable down.
These are fairly comfortable due to a shallow insertion from their larger housing, the way that they ergonomically angle into your cable and the fact they are on the lighter side of things.
The isolation is really quite poor and that is just a combination of their large vent on the back of the housings and their shallow insertion depth. If you want something that blocks out a lot (or any) ambient noise then this is not the right place to look by any means.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
Even though these are worn cable down they as satisfyingly low. They can be made non-existent by wearing over the ear but I did not feel that was ideal wearing style.
Soundstage and instrument separation
These are vented and have a clear, airy and fairly wide soundstage. Their presentation is perhaps not ideal as the vocals are more distant to the instruments, which are quite intimate, but other that little niggle the soundstage is pretty darn good.
The separation of these is actually rather impressive for a dynamic driver, which I normally find to be slow (with the exception of the EX1000) and these have a really rather speedy driver (still no EX1000) which separates instruments rather greatly while sounding airy.
In my eyes the bass is what these are all about. The mid-bass is not blatantly elevated but does have a big quantity. The quality is exceptionally good and like I have already mentioned the driver is rather fast and so is the bass. Tight is another word I would use, well tight enough to still allow for these to hit with a strong well textured body.
The sub-bass is also awesomely done, as it is not to other top and demanding. It uses air to get that awesome rumble feeling but is not other top or perhaps exaggerated like some could find the sub-bass of the Hippo VB and FAD Adagio III. In fact I will say it is very similar in sub-bass quantity than my Sony MDR-EX1000, which I see as the perfect amount!
The mid range is deeply recessed making these have a V shaped signature but fortunately the vocals are clearly hearable almost most of the time. They sound fairly airy but also wispy thin. It gets thinner the higher up the mids get. The body of the mids feels wrong and just so empty compared to how full the bass is as well as the treble. These also do not seem to get the tone right of male vocals and while female vocals sound accurate to a point, male voices sound a bit measly and not warm enough. On a positive side, the mids are not affected by the bass of these, with no bleed or unnecessary warmth or coloration.
The trebles presence sits in line with the mid-bass in front of the mids making a V signature. The trebles are lively and energetic. The extension is great so these have a great amount of sparkle to them. However at times words such as harsh and sharp have crossed my mind but I think this is actually down to their energy and aggression mixed with the fact although they are clean and prominent they are not smooth at all which could be seen as being actually more accurate.
As V signatures go, this is to this date the second best I have heard behind the UE Tripe Fi 10, which is not a bad statement. Personally I do not like these signatures and therefore these are not for me but for big fans of EDM and other genres when vocals are absent or no big deal, then these are almost perfect as it was the mids and vocals that were just a bit to lifeless for my liking. They are also complimented by a gorgeous design and good build.
One problem these have always had is availability outside Japan and the amount of fakes of these made but one positive that I can say is that they can be had at around £70 in the UK right new which is nothing short of a steal if this signature appeals to you.
EDIT: The deal which could have them for about £70 is now gone and you will be having to pay around £115+ no which is no were near as appetising a deal.
Edited by Swimsonny - 6/27/12 at 10:29am