Initial Thoughts -
From the highly popular JVC FX range comes the new FX800`s, the successor to the renowned and much beloved FX700. I thought I would post a quick review since no one seems to have even bought a pair on head-fi yet alone post impressions. I am coming from a set of Klipsch x10`s and a set of recently sold Etymotic er4p`s and will be listening through a hTc One X+ or Galaxy Note II with and without a Fiio e6 amp. First off I would like to state that these earphones live up to their made in Japan moniker as they are incredibly well constructed and packaged. I have not listened to the FX700`s unfortunately so I will not be able to post comparisons. The first thing I noticed whilst unpackaging the earpieces was the cable. There were many complaints about the previous FX700`s with their 0.8m cable however JVC seems to have remedied this by shipping the new models with a 1.2m OFC 4N silver cable terminated by a right angle, gold plated 3.5mm plug. The cable is soft and flexible with very little memory effect, it`s compact and does not carry any microphonics. The cable also looks great!, don`t mind photos, the silver cable looks better in person, I should note however that due to the increased length the earphones are quite difficult to pack into the carry case.
Fit and Isolation -
Don`t let their large housing foul you, these earphones are actually quite comfortable, I wore them for approximately 3 4 hour sittings and they do not weigh down or slip out of the ear at all. I wouldn`t sleep with them but their smooth housing prevents any sharp edges from jutting into your ear during general listening, the strain reliefs are a tad long however. They benefit from a shallow insertion meaning that people with sensitive ears should not be aggravated by their presence. Isolation however suffers from this and in culmination with the vented back barely isolate more than earbuds.
edit: Isolation is actually a bit better when the earphones are playing music, not because the music is helping to drown out background sounds but maybe because the air movements caused by the driver act like noise cancellation?, isolation is about the same or just a little worse than the Phonaks now however the Phonaks benefit from foam tips since they are sealed whereas a better seal on the FX800`s has no effect since the vent is letting in the noise.
Coming from a set of Klipsch x10`s and having previously owned a pair of Phonak PFE 232`s, I can safely say that these earbuds easily dominate the competition. The bass is not as fast as the 232`s but not as laid back as the x10`s, it is as fast as the majority of armature based iems but has a kind of impact that can only be experienced with a dynamic driver. There is great extension and rumble however this does not come at the cost of bass quality as the FX800`s are quite revealing. Every drum beat is felt not heard and every note on a bass guitar resonates in a natural and highly enjoyable manner. Overall bass is revealing, fast but not as fast as top end armature based iems, punchy and improves upon all the traits audiophiles love about dynamic drivers. These are definitely not neutral iems but that does not mean that they are not analytical. Summing it up, the bass is impossibly smooth yet detailed, its truly astounding.
Many reviewers felt that the FX700`s were V shaped and whilst this is definitely the case with the FX800`s, the mids are not overshadowed by the higher bass or treble presence. They definitely feel a lot like the PFE 232`s here, the bass and highs are just so good, the mids although still great are worse in comparison. The mids are by no means bad they just don`t shine like the bass and treble. Coming back to my analytical point, the mids are quite resolving, picking up minuscule details with great accuracy and speed. I am actually quite impressed with the speed of these earphones compared to other dynamic earphones I have listened to. The mids are very smooth, vocals are assertive and full bodied without sounding chesty however such vocals can sound a bit distant at times. These earphones are V shaped but not to the extent that the mids are drowned out, they remain enjoyable and resolving at both low and high volumes, they don`t seem as bad as FX700`s users report but then again I can`t really say as I haven`t listened to them before.
Sparkly, carrying great energy and well extended, the highs are emphasized but not overly sibilant or piercing, these earphones should be ok to use for extended listening periods. The highs much like the bass are one of the stronger points of the earphones, they have an airy feeling but still carry emotion and are more musical than analytical, much like audio-technica earphones, they portray music not sounds.
Soundstage, Imaging and Instrument Seperation -
The soundstage on these earphones is massive, it approaches and even exceed that of the ie8`s and is definitely more spacious than the 232`s. Vocals are located frontally but seems kind of distant, probably due to the recessed mids. Compared to the x10`s, the FX800`s are on a completely different tier, the soundstage is spacious and three dimensional, much more enjoyable than claustrophobic and artificial armature iems such as the sm64. Instrument separation is also very good, the resolving signature really pulls through on this one, I don`t know what JVC did to that wooden driver but when listening to an entire orchestra playing I can hear the lone man situated in the back hitting away on his triangle. The soundstage is accurate and detailed, my ears don`t get the congested feeling they do with my Klipsch earphones.
The earphones when driven directly form a portable source sound great, an amp is not really needed however it should be noted that these earphones pick up hiss very easily. When driven through an amp, the bass become even faster and tighter in general, the mid recession is partly alleviated and the highs become clearer, no amazing transformations appear when listening through an amp though the improvements in mids are quite noticeable. Listening through an iPhone or high end android phone will have no detrimental effect to sound quality as far as I am concerned, however once again hiss is very present so make sure its a clean source, I never knew my HTC produced such great amounts of background hiss until I used these earphones. When listening through an iPod 3rd Gen or Galaxy Note II however, there is very little hiss, barely noticeable. These earphones are almost as sensitive as se535`s if that puts it into perspective.
Fit and Isolation - 7.5/10, Fit and comfort are fine but are let down by sub par isolation (a positive for home listening)
Bass - 9.5/10, could be a bit faster but is definitely among the best
Mids - 8/10, Compared to the "flat" sound signature of the er4p`s, the mids are not quite as great as they could be however increases in the mids would probably lead to losses in bass and treble and in my opinion, great treble and bass at the cost of slightly recessed mids is definitely better.
Highs - 10/10, the highs are great, more moving than etymotic`s yet just as revealing, as airy as audio-tehcnica earphones yet not biased or coloured and very natural.
Soundstage - 10/10, Spacious, well separated and natural, just superb.
Overall - 9, the FX800`s are one of the best in ears I have ever heard, rivaling the PFE232`s. They sound great and work well with any genre of music, if I had to describe the sound signature I would say natural, the sound is organic and dynamic, the bass, mids and highs work in great synchronization and resonate well without the artificial and claustrophobic sound of many armature based iems. They are only let down by their isolation and weight (their size is ok since they`re ergonomically shaped). I can only say that I am very happy with my purchase, I highly recommend Accessoryjack for their prompt postage and communicative customer service, hope you enjoyed the review.
Edited by ryanjsoo - 2/12/14 at 12:37am