Finally received my JVC HA-FX850 and Fiio X3!
I am not an audiophile (may be audiophile wannabe), i have no knowledge/not familiar about all the terminologies used by audiophile (e.g. warm, U-shaped, etc..). I will use whatever layman terms work for me and use some silly metaphor to describe some scenario/phenomena.
The reviews will be short (In terms of technical comparison). The reason is i just want to be practical. Sometimes too focus on the technical details, we loose track of the main purpose, i.e. enjoying the musics.
I mostly listen to female vocal, main stream pop, chill step and little bit of hip hop. Most of my files are 320kbps mp3 and not high quality .flac.
Below are my honest and unprofessional reviews. I don't have audiophile golden ears, hence just bear with me.
So here's my thoughts...
The pic shows the gears i have now.
- Sony NWZ-B14F
- Ipod Nano 7th Generation
- Sony NW-S775
- Fiio X3
- Fiio E18 Kulun
- Google Play Edition Galaxy S4
I bought the Fiio X3 after reading the thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/651769/the-fiio-x3-thread to pair with JVC HA-FX850. I bought it on Amazon for USD$199 (come with 32GB and Leather Case). There is another company on Amazon which sells it USD$200 but with 64GB. You should get that instead because the leather case is just meh.
Straight out of the box, i upgraded the Fiio X3 firmware to 2.1. The sound is bad (Shocked!). It is like the device came preset with equalizer sets to Hall/Stadium effect. Very hollow like you are walking into a Freeway tunnel. The female vocal sounds like they have flu (imagine you got flu and the sound you make). Kind of disappointed.
But lucky me, after i read http://www.head-fi.org/t/684793/diy-your-own-theme-for-your-lovely-x3, i downloaded the Mr Trev mod https://www.dropbox.com/s/zojw56zhiuofofg/list%20view.7z.
Surprisingly after firmware change to 2.14B, the sound signature changed. Now the sound is on par with my Sony NW-S775. Highly recommended if you owned a Fiio X3!!!
So now let's talk about JVC HA-FX850. Here's the phones i have:
- Sony XBA-30
- Sony XBA-H3
- JVC HA-FX850
I started my journey to search for an ultimate phone last year. Before that i always wonder/curious why people willing to spend >$100 for a phone, i always used those $30 ear buds (Yes, I am cheapo :) ). That perspective changed after one day my team mate lent me a pair of XBA-3. My world view changed since then....
So i ordered my first pair XBA-30 from Amazon. The sound is awesome to my ears since this is my ever first "premium" IEM.
But after a while, i notice something is missing. There's no uhm. It lacks of bass.
Then here comes the XBA-H3. Straight out of the box, the bass is too much and uncontrollable. I didn't try the tape mod suggested by some head-fier, i scare that might damage the dynamic driver diaphragm. But after some "burn-in" which again suggested by head-fier, the bass seems more tame. Not sure this is whether a placebo effect or my ears started to get used to the sound signature, but anyway i kind of like it the way it is right now. I am not a bass head (not a fans of beat's audio) but i do want some bass on my hip hop and chill step musics.
Though i like the XBA-H3, couple of things which bothers me a lot:
1. The cable that's come with it, it has that un-removable hook around your ear. If you bent it then you will never get a good fit. That's why i change the cable. But then the new re-cable changed the sound signature. Now it become a little bit bright (if that's the right term). Also now it is easy to fall off if you move. Anyway, a trade off.
2. Humongous body. You will get a weird look if wear at public. Also it always hurt my right ear.
3. Synthetics sounds: I mostly listen to female vocal. The sound seems a bit mechanical or synthesize. Imagine the instrument sound from midi vs wav.
So now, behold the JVC HA-FX850. I bought it from Amazon. I pay a premium price USD$400 including fast shipping. Got it within a week. For amazon buyer, there are some company which sells it for $370, but if you choose fast shipping, it will comes to USD$400. So give and takes, depends on how long you can wait.
The accessories that come with the box is not that many. But the case is very premium and solid.
Do take note, the IEM has the medium size ear bud on straight out of the box. If you find your JVC HA-FX850 sounds a bit hollow, definitely is a fit problem. Try change the ear bud. For me, i have to change it to large size. The fits is awesome. A little bit on the heavy size if compare to XBA-H3, but you won't notice of it after you wear it for a while. Not easy to fall out. Isolation is not bad. I didn't try it in the public commute yet, but i try it with my laptop speaker on and isolation really acceptable. Cable sounds/ micro-phonic if the cable hits your face, but not too drastic.
JVC HA-FX850 is very easy to drive. Even my little Sony NWZ-B14F (refer the first image) can drive it very well. I notice i only need to set very low sound volume and it still sounds very loud. Example: For playing same MP3 on Fiio X3, using XBA-H3 i need to tune my sound volume to 40, but for JVC HA-FX850 just need to set to 23.
JVC HA-FX850 definitely a all rounder. Any genre of musics you throw to it, it can execute quite well. It is like you place 2 wooden speakers around your ears. I notice that JVC HA-FX850 very suitable for female vocal.
This is it, it no longer sounds synthesize/mechanical. If you watch X-Factor, you often hear Simon Cowell said "You just sing it, but there's no emotion in the song.". That's right, now female vocal has emotion in it, it will moved you! (Tears........)
Listen to Little Mix - Towers:
Listen to Christina Aguilera & Blake Shelton - Just A Fool (1:07 which move me :)):
Little Mix - These Four Walls:
Even male vocal sounds awesome, Mikky Ekko - Pull me down:
Kodaline - High Hopes:
Now let's talk about bass. The reason why i don't like beats audio and some Sony headphone because the bass is boomy. Don't mistaken boomy with punchy. For me:
Boomy = loud and uncontrollable and it will makes the whole song muddy. Vocal is not clear at all. It as though you are standing in front of big cheap speaker at bestbuy.
JVC HA-FX850 bass is punchy. The bass should sounds like heartbeat. Dup.. Dup.. Dum.. Dum... that's punchy.
Try this song Copie a Rita Ora - Party and ********, you will notice the bass is punchy and the roll off is fast + Vocal is awesome:
Nicki Minaj - Freedom: (Yes, main stream pop, don't judge :))
One more thing i notice is about the earbud design. I read on this thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/708427/the-new-jvc-fx850-woodie-perfection-a-review/855. At first i a bit skeptical, then i change my XBA-H3 comply TX-200 with JVC HA-FX850 ear bud. And WOW, the sounds is so good.
So i wonder why it sounds different using the ear bud. DO IT FOR SCIENCE! :)
I have a closer look at the JVC HA-FX850 ear bud design. Then i realize it is because of the shape of the tunnel/canal/opening of the ear bud.
Normally for ear bud, the opening will be a straight cylinder direct to your phone. But this one the design is a bit like bowl/bulb shape
I am not good at drawing, but it should be close to this picture:
So i "think", it might concentrate the sound and direct it to your ears. Kind of like how those cable/satellite disc design. The only worry here is the cleaning of earwax.
Definitely will order this to fit on my other phone:
I like JVC HA-FX850 very much. Money well spend. Highly recommended.
Since JVC HA-FX850 is very easy to drive, you really don't need to buy the Fiio X3 to pair with it. It is enjoyable out of the box. The reason is if you don't have HD tracks (.flac), the Fiio X3 will make it sounds bad due to recording/encoding quality.
Again, this is just my personal opinion. Take it with a grain of salt. Thanks.
Edited by yeowyap - 5/10/14 at 1:52pm