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[REVIEW] JVC FXZ-100: Fun-O-Phile

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

Preface

 

 

The FXZ-100 and FXZ-200 are the newest flagships from JVC, and boy are they eccentric. They feature an industry first triple dynamic driver setup that left many in awe at their introduction. The most remarkable feature of their design is the massive subwoofer at the end of each individual design. What they supposedly do is pump out bass, without interfering with the other frequencies via Kelton technology.

 

The FXZ-100 (and 200) take obvious design cues from the FXT90. One could even argue that it's essentially a FXT90 with a subwoofer strapped on the back. Overall, the FXZ-100 seems like it could withstand years of use, given they aren't kicked around or anything like that.

 

  

 

 

 

                             

 

  

 

 

 

 

Sound

 

 

 

It took me a while to get a good grasp of the FXZ-100's sound signature. 

 

The first thing I noticed was that this thing has a crap-ton of bass, to a point where it made some songs painful to listen to at moderate volumes. However, something was off and I couldn't really tell what it was. A couple of listening sessions later, it hit me...the mids! They were actually almost as boosted as the bass, and pretty damn clear too. It was a bit distressing to me at first as I've never heard anything like it before, where an iem with more than enough bass to satisfy all but the most extreme bass-head could still have such presence in the mids.

 

Not everything is peaches and cream, though. With that quantity of bass, some level of bleed does occur quite often. It's not always bad though, as it tends to lend a good deal of heft to vocals. Other times, it just gets in the way. The other issue comes from the mostly awesome midrange. I mentioned earlier that the midrange was nearly as boosted as the bass, and sometimes it really shows in the form of shrill vocals and percussion.

 

The treble is another story though. It's smooth, extended, and does very well to compliment the bass and mids.

 

I've compiled a list of songs I want to use to help properly describe the FXZ-100's sound. I'll be using the GR07 and MH1C as my benchmarks.

 

Note on drivability: There has been plenty of talk on the FXZ thread, stating that these iems need an amp to sound their best. This is patently false. My iPhone 4 drives them with ease, and reaches the "too loud" threshold at only 75% volume. The same goes for my Blackberry tablet and my Sansa Clip+. 

 

 

Song #1:  Danza Kuduro - Don Omar

 

 

 

FXZ-100: I want to say that the bass line is dominant here, but the mids are almost right there with the bass. However, the low end is pretty massive in quantity, almost dominates the soundstage in terms of placement. The upper bass seems to fight with the mids for center stage. However, when you zoom out, the bass makes it pretty easy to get lost in the track and you'll find yourself dancing pretty quickly.

 

GR07: Half the bass just disappeared, leaving me in a bit of shock for 20 seconds. Afterwards, I start to notice that the vocals are much more intelligible and clear. However, the treble is brighter and has more splash and sizzle. This may be a negative or positive, depending on your point of view. I personally can enjoy both presentations. The bass line moves from center stage and migrates more towards the bottom of the jaw. Not quite as fun as the JVC, but a lot clearer.

 

MH1C: Surprisingly, the MH1C seems to be bassier than the FXZ-100, and the mids are more laid back. The treble, while slightly more present, seems a little less natural/more metallic. However, it's worth noting that the FXZ-100's  vocals sound more nasal when switching back and forth with the MH1C.

 

 

 

Song #2: Gangnam Style - Psy

 

 

 

MH1C: Awesome bass texture, and Psy's voice is very clear here. Instrument separation is remarkable, despite the bass quantity. Interestingly, despite that bass pounding away I can't detect any bleed into the vocals.

 

FXZ-100: Vocals are, again, much more nasal than on the MH1C. Bass quantity is less than on the MH1C, and as such the texture is less apparent. I'm going to get shot for this, but the MH1C actually sounds more refined on this track, and it's more fun to listen to. On the FXZ-100, you can actually hear where they boosted the upper mids. Unfortunately, PSY's voice simply doesn't agree with it. The effect is actually pretty similar to the original ASG-1, prior to the 2nd revision. Honestly, this effect alone makes the FXZ-100 sound like the cheaper iem.

 

GR07: Best clarity of the bunch, but the treble is also sharper. You can hear this especially with cymbals. Bass quantity is also the least of the three, but it manages to display more texture as the MH1C.

 

 

 

Song #3: Weightless - City and Color

 

 

 

FXZ-100: Nice! This track was recorded in an empty cathedral, and the FXZ-100 does a great job of conveying the atmosphere of the room. Here the bass stays nicely out of the way, and acts more as a solid foundation on top of which the guitars and drums play nicely. Vocals sound a tad distant, but I suspect that's just the track.

 

GR07: The GR07 conveys the atmosphere of the track just as well, but it doesn't seem quite as spacious, probably due to the more present vocals. There's better clarity across the board, but the bass line isn't as solid as on the FXZ. Another thing to note again is the more present treble of the GR07. It makes the cymbal strikes more appealing, and the guitars sound better. The trade off, however, is a more present "sss" in the vocals. I hesitate to call it sibilance, because it's not the kind that causes one to rip earphones from the head.

 

MH1C: I'm pretty shocked by the clarity here, which almost matches the FXZ-100. One major downside here is the upper treble. There is a very metallic "sshhh" sound where the hi-hat strike should be. It's almost exactly what the XBA-3 sounded like on this exact track. There is zero sibilance, however. Since almost all of the MH1C's bass response is concentrated in the sub-bass, the vocal integrity is great, without the side-effects of the FXZ-100's midrange boost.

 

 

 

Song #4: Silent Knight - Versailles Philharmonic Orchestra....(aka Kiteki's speed test)

 

I first found out about this track through Kiteki's thread on IEM speed, and it's puurrrrfect for seeing just how fast a driver can go. Not to mention it's a pretty awesome song. It really starts going at around 2:45. It's pretty hard to believe that human beings can play instruments this fast!

 

I'm going to listen at a slightly higher volume in order to capture all the details.

 

 

 

GR07 (Benchmark): 9.3/10. I could hear almost every note without a hint of a struggle, except in the really complex parts. It was really a treat to listen to...I didn't even want to pull it out of my ears. The dynamic that moves like a BA!

 

MH1C: 6/10. The bass seems very bloated on this track and really slows the presentation down, which is a shame, because the mids and treble can really move.

 

FXZ-100: 7.0/10. A tiny bit faster than the MH1C, but not nearly as quick as the GR07. A lot of the percussion and guitar notes smear together like an oil painting, instead of the 15 megapixel camera that the GR07 is.

 

 

 

Song #5: Long Distance - from Explorations in Space and Time (Chesky's first Binaural Album)

 

I couldn't find a sample of the track on Youtube, and I didn't want to get sued for putting one up :) so here's a sampler of the album.

 

 

 

FXZ-100: Pretty good spacing. However, this is the first time I've heard a binaural track sound (kinda) congested. I mentioned earlier how the mid-bass competes for center stage, and this is in full efect whenever a percussion instrument is struck. It makes the scene overly warm, and really subtracts from the binaural experience. 

 

GR07: The binaural effect is much more pronounced in the GR07, with awesome soundstage width and depth. Due to the more open mids, the soundstage is far more defined, and cues seem to travel farther in every direction. The GR07 trounces the FXZ-100 in this track, no two ways to say it.

 

MH1C: The MH1C is tuned somewhat similarly to the GR07 in that most of its (massive) bass response is concentrated below 100 Hz. This woks to its favor in this track in that there isn't that much bass bleed. So while the soundspace isn't as defined, it sounds about equal with the FXZ-100.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

I was pretty impressed with the FXZ-100 after getting used to its signature. However, certain flaws dropped its value in my eyes. Now that I've A/B'ed it against the MH1C, I realize that the FXZ has no place in my collection of iems, especially given its value for money. Its tuning, though special in the midrange, is a let down in the bass area. Most of its reposnse is mid-bass focused, and really gets in the way of a lot of music.

 

 

 

                                                  


Edited by eke2k6 - 1/18/13 at 8:44pm
post #2 of 42

Nice honest review Eke.  

post #3 of 42

Interesting review eke, and I respect your opinion. It is just interesting to me how people can listen to music using the same products and hear totally different. I don't hear any of the problems - for the most part - that you picked up with the FXZ100, but that's not to say it's not flawed. Every IEM I've ever heard is flawed in some way. Yet, I think the FXZ100 more than holds its value. It needs massive burn in though, and also it's very finicky with tips (material, density, and depth insertion). I actually think the FXZ200, however, can be a bit too much of a good thing (kind of why I liked the SM2 over the SM3). Anyway, thanks for your impressions. beerchug.gif

post #4 of 42

Good review. I haven't tried the FXZ-100, but I have the "lower end" FXT90 and I would never call it muddy. It may be a little less clear/more grainy compared to good balanced armature IEMs, but for dynamic drivers they have excellent clarity - certainly not lacking much compared to Hifiman RE series for example, and IMO clearer than Sennheiser IE6, 7 and 8. FXT90 also has great separation IMO. If you tried FXT90, what are your thoughts on them, especially in comparison with FXZ-100? It seems to me that FXZ-100 may indeed be an FXT90 with a subwoofer strapped on the back like you wrote. And that extra subwoofer makes the low end excessive and muddies up the sound. I find that FXT90 already has a little too much bass sometimes, but, thankfully, it's only slightly offer the top. I am really questioning the need to add a bass driver to an already sufficiently bassy pair of drivers with the FXZ series.

post #5 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Good review. I haven't tried the FXZ-100, but I have the "lower end" FXT90 and I would never call it muddy. It may be a little less clear/more grainy compared to good balanced armature IEMs, but for dynamic drivers they have excellent clarity - certainly not lacking much compared to Hifiman RE series for example, and IMO clearer than Sennheiser IE6, 7 and 8. FXT90 also has great separation IMO. If you tried FXT90, what are your thoughts on them, especially in comparison with FXZ-100? It seems to me that FXZ-100 may indeed be an FXT90 with a subwoofer strapped on the back like you wrote. And that extra subwoofer makes the low end excessive and muddies up the sound. I find that FXT90 already has a little too much bass sometimes, but, thankfully, it's only slightly offer the top. I am really questioning the need to add a bass driver to an already sufficiently bassy pair of drivers with the FXZ series.


I agree with you on the FXT90. Unfortunately the treble was too much for me to bear. I sold it within 48 hrs. I've been chatting with another member who's been making me reconsider my actions though. He told me he was hoping that the Z series would basically be an FXT90 with better sub-bass and more refined treble. Safe to say he sold them within a week.
post #6 of 42

Nice review.

 

Maybe its the source, or the tips and fit, but with the FXZ-200 (which are very close in sound to the 100's) I hear a completely different earphone than what you describe above. For me the 200's are keepers and sound better than the GR07 in all respects as well as the MH1C (which I just sold to a co-worker).

 

Sorry you didn't like them. Of course we all have different ears and listen differently.

 


Edited by Carlsan - 1/18/13 at 10:24pm
post #7 of 42

Thanks for taking the effort to pen down your impressions,

 

I did hear some of the flaws you mentioned, issues like the prominent bass bleeding into the lower mids were there even after 50 - 80hrs of burn in, however knowing JVC and their CNT phones, I persisted in aggressively burning my pair of FXZ100 and now at the 200+hrs mark I can safely say that the bass has tighten up to the point that they are clearly distinct from the lower mids registers, would have continued with the burn up to 300+ hrs if not for the fact that the FXZ200 and AD900X were waiting in line.

 

I feel that any reviews of phones with CNT drivers should have indications of how long and aggressively they were burn in prior to the audition. If we go thru the S500 thread, almost all the poor reports were due to insufficient burn in.

post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostfit View Post

Thanks for taking the effort to pen down your impressions,

 

I did hear some of the flaws you mentioned, issues like the prominent bass bleeding into the lower mids were there even after 50 - 80hrs of burn in, however knowing JVC and their CNT phones, I persisted in aggressively burning my pair of FXZ100 and now at the 200+hrs mark I can safely say that the bass has tighten up to the point that they are clearly distinct from the lower mids registers, would have continued with the burn up to 300+ hrs if not for the fact that the FXZ200 and AD900X were waiting in line.

 

I feel that any reviews of phones with CNT drivers should have indications of how long and aggressively they were burn in prior to the audition. If we go thru the S500 thread, almost all the poor reports were due to insufficient burn in.

 

I'm sure this pair has at least 150 hrs on it. I know I personally contributed about 50.

 

Brain adjustment plays a huge role in the scenario. The effect became diminished after hours of listening to the FXZ, only to return while A/B/C'ing between the MH1C and GR07.

post #9 of 42

I have the FXZ100 and have owned the original GR07 as well as the MK2. I can see why Eke feels the way he does in some ways. But am not hearing the FXZ100 quite the same way. In my case I find the bass to be harder hitting than the GR07 due to a bit more mid-bass but similar in the sub-bass. But I don't find the bass over bearing. But I did have issues with the bass depending on the tips I use. The bigger the seal and the deeper I make them fit the more the bass becomes to much. But I actually am wearing my FXZ100 backwards (red and blue side facing outward) which makes these more comfortable for me and also reduces the bass. In this configuration I find the FXZ100 to be close to balanced.

 

The mids are forward JUST THE WAY I LIKE EM :). But I can see some people not being so happy with this. The GR07 (both models) are definitely more neutral (note I am not saying recessed, just neutral).

 

The treble is more laid back on the FXZ100 but only slightly especially compared to the MK2. Both the MK2 and the FXZ100 are not as sparkly as the original GR07 which I found to be the best IEM I have owned for reproducing cymbals.

 

I am finding the sound stage to be narrower on the FXZ100.

post #10 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dweaver View Post

I have the FXZ100 and have owned the original GR07 as well as the MK2. I can see why Eke feels the way he does in some ways. But am not hearing the FXZ100 quite the same way. In my case I find the bass to be harder hitting than the GR07 due to a bit more mid-bass but similar in the sub-bass. But I don't find the bass over bearing. But I did have issues with the bass depending on the tips I use. The bigger the seal and the deeper I make them fit the more the bass becomes to much. But I actually am wearing my FXZ100 backwards (red and blue side facing outward) which makes these more comfortable for me and also reduces the bass. In this configuration I find the FXZ100 to be close to balanced.

 

The mids are forward JUST THE WAY I LIKE EM :). But I can see some people not being so happy with this. The GR07 (both models) are definitely more neutral (note I am not saying recessed, just neutral).

 

The treble is more laid back on the FXZ100 but only slightly especially compared to the MK2. Both the MK2 and the FXZ100 are not as sparkly as the original GR07 which I found to be the best IEM I have owned for reproducing cymbals.

 

I am finding the sound stage to be narrower on the FXZ100.

 

Thanks for the input dweaver.

 

It seems we're describing them the exact same way, minus the modifications you made.

post #11 of 42

I prefer this kind of review. The test on songs is most useful to me personally.

 

I've been eye-ing the FXZ-100/200, and I also bought into the hype with the Sony MH1 as well. I initially dismissed the MH1 completely as it did not have the amount of bass that I was looking for (it could not drive bass up to my loudness threshold, which is a deal-breaker for me because I want headphones that can satisfy my occasional bass cravings). But after further listens in normal volume I started to confirm the same things you've observed with the MH1-C, especially its excellent sub-bass which makes the Sennheiser CX400, my favorite basshead headphones seem "bloated" bass-wise.

 

Looks like I'll just save for my dream IEM's, the Sennheiser IE80.

 

BTW, just in case you have an old android phone lying around, it would be awesome if you don't mind rooting it into a dedicated mp3 player better than the Cowon iAudio series. I discovered that the Cyanogenmod 10 has an app called the DSP Manager that is most excellent for enhancing bass, and that Cowon's own Jetaudio Plus for Android has a DFX setting for X-Bass which makes you experience bass in a shockingly new way. I've also heard about the Voodoo Sound app which makes your android phone function as an expensive audiophile DAC/amplifier. I highly recommend this setup for testing the bass capabilities of your FXZ-100. (By comparison, my old Cowon iAudio U3 uses BBE Mach3 Bass instead of the X-Bass; I recently found that BBE has its own android app called SonicMax Pro that uses Mach3 Bass and other BBE technology--I tried it and it doesn't compare with Jetaudio.)


Edited by PocketSmiley - 1/19/13 at 2:11pm
post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PocketSmiley View Post

I prefer this kind of review. The test on songs is most useful to me personally.

 

I've been eye-ing the FXZ-100/200, and I also bought into the hype with the Sony MH1 as well. I initially dismissed the MH1 completely as it did not have the amount of bass that I was looking for (it could not drive bass up to my loudness threshold, which is a deal-breaker for me because I want headphones that can satisfy my occasional bass cravings). But after further listens in normal volume I started to confirm the same things you've observed with the MH1-C, especially its excellent sub-bass which makes the Sennheiser CX400, my favorite basshead headphones seem "bloated" bass-wise.

 

 

Thanks. I think the fact that I liked the MH1C more than the FXZ-100 is more of a compliment to the Sony than it is an insult to the FXZ

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by PocketSmiley View Post

 

 

Looks like I'll just save for my dream IEM's, the Sennheiser IE80.

 

 

 

 

Given your bass preferences I'd recommend trying to get the JVC FX700. IMO, it's a much better iem than the FXZ.

post #13 of 42

Interesting review. I find the bass of the 200s interferes with too much of my music, but it does depend on insertion depth and I don't have the variety of tips to experiment with that some people here do. I like the way the review was laid out with youtube clips of the tracks listened to. That is very helpful. 

 

What I'd like to know is, eke: How loud do you listen? I don't listen that loud, which may mean I don't notice congestion as much. 

post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Interesting review. I find the bass of the 200s interferes with too much of my music, but it does depend on insertion depth and I don't have the variety of tips to experiment with that some people here do. I like the way the review was laid out with youtube clips of the tracks listened to. That is very helpful. 

What I'd like to know is, eke: How loud do you listen? I don't listen that loud, which may mean I don't notice congestion as much. 

Thanks Currawong. It means a lot coming from you.

I listen at a solid volume, about 60% of the iPhone 4's volume. I think you're right, as the bass quantity would be much less at lower volumes and the mids come back to earth a bit.

In your case, I'd recommend looking into the Sennheiser double flanges. The seal will be looser and provide less bass.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post


Thanks Currawong. It means a lot coming from you.

I listen at a solid volume, about 60% of the iPhone 4's volume. I think you're right, as the bass quantity would be much less at lower volumes and the mids come back to earth a bit.

In your case, I'd recommend looking into the Sennheiser double flanges. The seal will be looser and provide less bass.

 

Those are the tips that I have had the best luck with as well. My sources have been the J2, Z3, and a O2 amp with an ele USB dac to work Dell pc. I have to pull out my GR07 to compare them them to my 200's as you have done,

 

On the other hand, I have been listening to true bass monsters, the Sony XBA-40's. They leave the JVC's in the dust!


Edited by Carlsan - 1/19/13 at 6:23pm
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