1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice
  1. shigzeo
    I will sell the farm to afford this earphone
    Written by shigzeo
    Published Mar 21, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - mid/upper bass tone and detail are top notch
    - midrange tone is perfect
    - tips are comfy
    - stereo scape is wide, detailed, and perfectly gradated
    - bass detail and texture is top notch
    - highs are regulated well and free of sibilance and smoother than previous wood dome earphones
    Cons - - accessories and box are cheap feeling for the price
    - lack of sub-bass sound pressure
    - fit is good, but isolation and security in ear is lowish
    - neck cinch is too loose


    NOTE I: The full text with illustrative photographs is at ohm-image, linked below. I own ohm image and personally decided to upload the text, verbatim. This was my decision, but I give no one else the same permission.

    review: ohmage to the JVC HA-FW10000

    NOTE II: I have a companion YouTube review coming up which I will also link in this review.


    Disclaimer: I do not own this earphone. I want to own this earphone. I’ll do almost anything for this earphone. I borrowed it for a few days for a photo shoot and was only able to spend a handful of hours with it. For that reason, please consider this an immature review. It’s JVC’s latest-gen, and 10th anniversary, wood dome series earphone, which begun with the FX500 in 2008. It is glorious. It houses a single dynamic wood dome driver and, at e-Earphone,
    goes for roughly 1550$ USD. You can find out all about it here: Everything for sound - FW10000.

    Before earphones really blew up, I publicly flirted with a number of then-obscure Japanese earphones. FitEar was my biggest break. Final Audio was on its heals. In 2008 I snagged the HP-FX500, JVC’s first wood-dome earphone. I loved it. I hated it. Eventually I broke it. In its wake I was left with an FX500-shaped hole, defined by out-of-head staging and other wordly texture detail. I was also left with a weariness for its piercing highs. More than that, I was left with an ardent dedication to the dynamic driver. I’ve since scoured the market for dynamic driver earphones as impactful and detailed as the FX500. Sadly, not even JVC’s follow ups: the HA-FW02 (which I reviewed here), and the like, did the trick.

    Last week, queued for a magazine shoot, a small box arrived in my studio. In it was the HP-FX10000, JVC’s tenth anniversary wood dome earphone. I polished it. I shot it. I packed it back up and called the courier. Then, with no indication from my publisher that I had to immediately return it, I knifed the box, froze the courier, and embarked on one of the most obscene short-term audio adventures of my life.

    I love the HP-FW10000 and here is why.

    Haptics and Build

    Around its middle the FW10000 wears lacquered, stained wood. That wood sits in stainless steel caps at its butt, fulcrum, and sound tube. It wears fine nylon grills, and is ported front and rear. The grills gum up pretty fast, but otherwise, the FW10000 is rock solid. It also bears the marks and fine blemishes of a hand-made product. Inside, the wood dome hangs in a titanium cage, and is pinioned on carbon ligaments. Behind the driver is a good helping of thick, damping material, and the right amount of air. These earphones are heavy, solid, and precious. The MMCX ports are well-anchored in stainless steel. They won’t be going anywhere. They are colour-coded, red for right, blue for left.

    The cable is heavy JVC stock. It has a solid core, which, unless properly racked, resists stretching. It resists body oil and sweat, and is only barely susceptible to touch noise. The y-split is a simple, slim affair in sand-blasted aluminium. Its cinch is a bugger. It is too loose, slipping up and down in thrall to gravity’s every whim. The plug is well protected by a thick, supple stress relief, but as you can see the glue that holds its metal sleeve together is weak.

    Despite its weight, the FW10000 is comfy, if tricky to insert. It sticks out of the ear and never sits flush. Surprisingly, the cinch stays put when the earphone is inserted. It appears that a gentle y-shape, formed by inserting the earphones into the ears, is enough to keep it in place.

    Accessories

    JVC’s finest earphones came in a beat up shipping box, apparently scored, waxed, and bumped, by legions of magazine and web reviewers. This complicated the photographic process. In its box is five sets of spiral dot ear pieces, and a form-fitting display/carrying case. For the price, it isn’t much. The box is cheap and the case is far from practical. Sure, it protects the earphones when on display, but on the road, it is worthless.

    Kitsch

    As is a JVC wood dome earphone. Nothing about it is kitschy.

    Sound

    Wonderful for Minidisc lovers like me, the FW10000 isn’t super sensitive to hiss. This means I can plug it into some of my favourite pre-MDLP recorders without undue distraction.

    While not a physical beauty, the FW10000 is the most beautiful-sounding earphone I’ve heard in years. Its midrange stereo scape is wide, detailed, and, thanks to good space on the z-axis and a small lift on the y, involving. It’s not got the immediate feel you get from a Grado, it’s got the sort of in-the-music feel you get sitting in the sweet spot of a nice 2,1 channel audio system.

    Low frequency sound pressure is strong in the mid to upper lows, and just south of neutral at the ear in the sub region. Mainstage‘s intro seconds flutter only barely, but after that, a firm, resolved, textured, and stereo-wide bass takes over. And that bass is superlative. Channel and band transitions both from low to high bass, and then to mids, are fluid.

    Whilst describing early impressions at discord, I was asked if I didn’t find the FW10000 bright. No, I don’t. Part of that is that I love bright sounding headphones and earphones. The other part is that is that the FW10000’s brightness is only edge-sharp. It is sibilant free and bright through the upper mids, but neutral if not diffuse, beyond that. In short, it is unique among JVC’s wood dome earphones in that keeps peaky highs from poking through your eyeballs.

    It’s control of reverb is perfect. Attack speed is good and decaying edges never splash or hang. Despite this, vocals are anatomically correct, wet, and perfectly positioned. Chimes and bells echo sweetly, never holding on too long, never chopping off too quick. The FW10000’s brightest band is just beyond the typical female vocalist range. Sound stage is both deep and wide, and puts you in the music. At times, percussion can get hot, but it isn’t buttressed by the ridiculous amounts of high-end pressure endemic to many JVC wood dome earphones. Treble heads will love it, but may want more bite. Neutral heads may initially think the FW10000 bright, but given time, I think they’ll find it glorious. What will win them out is a midrange spacious and rich and which pulls all attention into itself.

    As long as you don’t need gobs of bass, or heaps of pressure way up top, the FW10000 has loads to offer. It is bright where needed and heavy where it should be. The mids are textured, lush, and spacious. There is nothing scratchy, aggressive, or annoying about it. Again, to JVC’s wood dome range, this is new.

    It nails my preferences like no earphone I’ve heard.

    The Ocharaku Flat4 Sakura Plus has even more midrange detail, but it gets scratchy, and fast, and sometimes it renders strings too dry and unemotional. The FW10000’s midrange is wider than FitEar’s Parterre, and balances against high bass better the ToGo!334. It’s got some of the warmth of the Flare Audio Flares Gold, but its midrange is wider, and more detailed. In fact, it ties together the basic idiosyncrasies of two of my favourite earphones: Astell & Kern’s AKT8iE MKII and Beyerdynamic’s Xelento. And it does this whilst remaining wider and more detailed than the former, and richer than the latter.

    In a word, it is perfect.

    End words

    I had only a few days with the FW10000, so consider these impressions bitter sweet if not immature. I’m considering selling the farm, including Ocharaku’s Sakura Plus, to get them. This is saying a lot. For the price, the accessories and quality of display are poor. Everything else is gold.

    images

    1. JVC HA-FW10000-2-500.jpg
      BlinkST, volly and Zelda like this.
    1. volly
      Love your reviews, keep it going mate! :D
      volly, Mar 22, 2019
      shigzeo likes this.
    2. shigzeo
      Oh, hey, thanks. I've been sort of keeping away form doing this style of review here, but I miss HF. I is back!
      shigzeo, Apr 22, 2019
      volly likes this.
  2. davidmolliere
    The king is dead, long live the king!
    Written by davidmolliere
    Published Feb 17, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Very open soundstage
    Superb mid bass presentation
    Top notch instrument separation
    Outstanding resolution
    Very refined treble presentation
    One of a kind IEM with Jazz and Classical
    Superb handcrafted build
    Top notch 4 wires stock cable, lightweight and small footprint with low microphonics
    Cons - Lack of versatility accross genres
    Upper mids can be borderline harsh depending on the source
    Fit can be an issue, depending on morphology
    Isolation is average
    No balanced cable included
    Disclaimer
    I have purchased and paid the full retail price for the FW10000, this is not a sponsored review.

    Special Thanks
    Thanks to @lafeuill for lending me his JVC FW01 for the time of this review, which allowed me to compare the latest IEM in the wooden series released before the FW10000.

    Listening notes
    I have written this review after over 200 hours burn-in and over 60 hours listening to the FW10000. I have listened to the FW10000 on Sony WM1Z, Hiby R6 Pro, iFi iDSD Micro Black Label and ALO CV5. I used mainly the stock Spiral Dots+ bundled with the FW10000, and also Custom Art custom eartips.

    Packaging
    The JVC FW10000 is delivered in a minimalist fully black card box containing the following :
    • Leather carrying case
    • 4 Core Hi-Grade OFC Silk Groove Cables
    • Set of Spiral Dots + tips (S, M, ML, L)
    Specifications
    • 11mm Dynamic Driver with carbon coated wood dome
    • Sensitivity : 102 dB / 1 mW
    • Frequency response : 6 Hz to 52,000 Hz
    • Impedance : 16 Ω
    I found it was a bit understated and underwhelming for a flagship product.


    Introduction
    JVC has a long standing history, born in 1927 and established in Yokohama, the company that manufactured phonographs and also pressed the first record in Japan, no less. They merged with another well established HiFi brand in 2008, Kenwood under the Victor brand.

    2008 is also the year JVC released the first of the wood series IEM with the HP-FX500 with the goal to create the best sounding pair of headphones by incorporating organic materials a practice well known in speakers but with unique challenges to integrate in IEMs.

    CB6A8B91-22BF-4681-99B9-AB9A93FD96DF.jpeg

    Indeed the FW10000, 10 year anniversary model of the Wooden series, features an incredibly thin 50µm birch wood dome carbon diaphragm. This pretty unique technology aims at enhancing the acoustic range while suppressing unwanted vibration through the birch wood’s natural sound propagation speed.


    Fit and isolation
    The FW10000 has a different fit from the wooden series so far, as it’s supposed to be worn over ears. I have no issue with fit which is actually very good for me but from forum reports and people I had audition the JVC at meetups, not everyone will get a good fit. If you have a chance, check before you buy. Note that the MMCX connector is totally separate from the main unit.

    7CDB7177-03D0-4E29-8915-74B9699E1BFB.jpeg

    I found isolation to be only average despite a good seal with the Spiral Dots+ which by the way were the best universal tips that I tried. Not much need for tip rolling there. Note that isolation improves a lot in that department with custom ear tips obviously. This further improves the bass response, and mids are a tad fuller, while not affecting the treble. Overall I recommend investing in custom eartips, as the FW10000 don’t stick out too much with it.

    Build
    The FW10000 has a superb built and perfect finish. It’s quite exotically built with japanese maple housing and a wooden stabilizer. It’s also handcrafted with a multi-layered urushi lacquer and natural acoustic absorb materials awa washi and silk no less. It’s fair to say it’s one of the most exotic IEM around.

    JVC is clearly proud of the craftsmanship and publishes pictures of the manufacturing on its website :

    442185C1-FA5D-4546-B642-B18AB7A48958.jpeg

    The FW10000 also features a stainless steel nozzle including an acoustic chamber deemed to “purify” the sound before exiting the nozzle (schematics below).

    A9AF3021-3A45-4B8A-B984-359BBB924342.jpeg

    Last but not least, the stock cable is a 4 wire OFC with silk grooves, it’s of high build quality and with low microphonics. It’s also the best fit in terms of synergy of any cables I have tried with the FW10000. I just wished, for the price, that a balanced cable would be included or better yet a 2.5 termination with a pigtail for 3.5.

    074B4F70-D9BD-43D3-A9DA-2FCDF57C78E0.jpeg

    Sound

    The FW10000 features a very clean, detailed and articulate signature with strong technical foundations but it manages to avoid a technical presentation thanks to a nice mid bass presence that is a big component of its ability to get you to tap your toe in rhythm (along with a snappy attack and quick decay). It’s really an important aspect of the overall balance and without it, the FW10000 would have been significantly brighter, for it has a strong upper mids and upper treble presence.

    The FW10000 features a very wide soundstage, with good height and depth very similar to the EX1000 which is no small feat. I’ll get into more details in the comparison section, but aside from this there are many aspects that are reminiscent of the legendary Sony EX1000 in the FW10000, but improving in several areas as well.

    Bass
    The FW10000 bass is very well controlled, with a snappy attack and quick decay : a departure from its cousin the FW01 and a big step up in SQ my opinion. This has a big impact on bass detail which is great and also the FW10000 ability to have a much better PRaT. Just a hunch but I think this is a benefit of the carbon coating on the wooden dome as much as the tuning itself. When A/B’ing with the FW01, the younger brother sounds messy with lower definition of textures and a blatant lack of control, in my book the greatest weakness of the FW01.

    The FW10000 bass is a key element of its signature, given its upper mids and upper treble focus. It has good sub bass, the FW10000 can rumble when called upon but it’s not in EX1000 territory either and takes a seat back to the mid bass section. Where the FW10000 really shines is its mid bass section : just north of neutral enough to provide both fun and a strong rhythmic foundation. This is strikingly apparent when listening to a track including the double bass, and combined with clean and articulate mids, it’s simply the best portraying of the instrument I have ever heard.

    Mids
    There is no doubt about JVC’s goal there : the mids were tuned for accuracy, with separation and articulation in mind. Don’t let its wooden frame and driver fool you, the FW10000 has neutral mids and is not colored as is his younger brother the FW01. When you A/B the FW01 and FW10000, it’s clear that the tuning of the later is way more “serious” with the demanding audiophile in mind. The FW01 has plenty of lower mids presence, it’s much thicker and even if it also features significant upper mids boost and shares a tendency to border on harshness.

    Back to the FW10000, lower mids are not lean as there is sufficient presence to grant the FW10000 with body but JVC took a very different route than the FW01 and kept it lean enough to avoid coloring the midrange and keep great separation. I confess I wished JVC had gone for a tad more warmth in the FW10000, but that’s only my preference and I understand why they didn’t.

    Now the upper mids, JVC did something really special there, as they pushed the enveloppe just to the edge of what I consider safe and it makes for a special experience as I actually enjoyed coming close to the brink of harshness. I have never enjoyed saxophones and clarinet solo as much as I do with the FW10000, even when it reaches the upper midrange on the brink of being painful. I actually found myself pushing the volume a bit to enjoy this further. Note that depending on your source, the issue can be more or less of a problem : with the WM1Z and ALO CV5 I had some very unpleasant experiences, some albums including well mastered Diana Krall were downright unlistenable. This improved a bit with burn in but didn’t altogether disappear. The issue is less apparent with the Micro BL and almost non existent with Hiby R6 Pro. Your sensitivity might be lesser than mine, but worth mentioning.

    Timbre is fairly accurate although a hint of warmth would have made them more natural but that’s only my personal preferences speaking. Let’s just say the mids are fairly neutral with rich textures and a high degree of separation. The snappy attack and fast decay make them very clean as well while not dry either.

    A nice balance has been struck here and the overall signature has been well thought out : with less mid bass emphasis and a more present lower treble, the FW10000 mids would have sounded brighter and lacked sufficient body. JVC smartly tuned both bass and treble in a way that made sense with regards to their mids tuning.

    This being said, more lower mids would have lessened the separation and perceived resolution although I suspect it could have been a very interesting option to add just a notch of lower mids emphasis which would have been perfection in my book.

    Highs
    JVC was also smart in the treble section, and that’s where it clearly outshines it’s cousin the Sony EX1000. While the FW10000 and EX1000 have more commonalities than differences, the subtle differences make for a much more enjoyable listen starting with its treble tuning. JVC has again struck a nice balance, choosing to let go of lower treble excitement in favor of providing a lot of air with an upper treble emphasis. A blessing, since it upper mids are walking a fine line it would make the FW10000 very bright and agressive if the lower treble followed suit. Even in the upper treble, JVC was more masterful than Sony retaining top notch extension and resolution while avoiding any painful peak that plague the EX1000.

    The FW10000 treble is airy and its snappy attack and fast decay make it as clean and airy as it comes providing a lot of air to the stage and a lof of refinement as well. Like the lower midrange, I wished JVC provided a bit more lower treble still, as the FW10000 lacks a bit of sparkle that it could have provided.


    Verdict
    With the FW10000, JVC has exquisitely handcrafted a uniquely exotic IEM with wooden casing and a challenging carbon coated wooden dome dynamic driver, bringing the wooden series to new heights. Make no mistake, this is a very different proposition from the previous wooden series flagship the FW01 : it has much better control in the bass department with a shaper attack and short decay as well as top notch textures and definition, more neutral mids with great separation and resolution. Treble is where it remains consistent, while pushing refinement several notches up and punching with the best in class.

    I think given its signature and qualities, the FW10000 is best suited for genres like Jazz and Classical but it certainly does well with Blues and most relaxed genres like Folk and Acoustic performances. I didn’t like it much with more dynamic genres like Rock or even metal but I had quite a few people audition them and some liked it a lot so your mileage may vary.

    If you’re looking for a unique IEM that follow suit to the Japanese dynamic flagship reference in the long standing EX1000, sharing its fantastic resolution and superb soundstage while getting rid of the peaks and featuring great craftsmanship I really do think a new legend is born and the category as a new king in the FW10000 : the king is dead, long live the king!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. davidmolliere
      @jeffhawke I bought mine here on headfi but you probably can find them on HK based stores, could be a bit tricky and require a forwarding service. I don’t know that its available outside of Asia shops... price is 170000 yens approx 1400/1500$
      davidmolliere, Feb 19, 2019
      jeffhawke likes this.
    3. davidmolliere
      @ezekiel77 Thanks :) Did you get a chance to audition them?
      davidmolliere, Feb 19, 2019
    4. davidmolliere
      @Redcarmoose Thanks :) I clearly am lagging behind the pros in the photographs department... I am the one who created the item here so the few pics are those I found online. I have pics of my own but average quality. I’ll try to get some better shots!
      davidmolliere, Feb 19, 2019