Cons - I've realized I'm not a big fan of the "marshmallow" pads and prefer silicone a bit better
I purchased these headphones (ear buds) on my way into work yesterday after desiring something that works - and, hopefully a bit better than my Skull Candy Ink'd ear buds (which have one dead channel) and better than my Sennheiser in-ear ear buds that, for some reason, are no longer producing a nice level of bass - mainly a lot of higher frequency screeching.
After fighting with the JVC packaging on these phones for a few minutes to carefully open them in the event of a desire to return them, I was able to get them out of the package. The buds were pre-fitted with smaller ear pads and the mediums were still in the container for use, if desired. I realized that I'd need the smaller pads - which were still a slight amount bigger than I'd actually need. Having access to even a smaller small ear pad for these would be nice.
I plugged them into my Sony Walkman and listened to some Cowboy Junkies and Lucinda Williams and noticed that the sound blockage wasn't ultimate. So, I fiddled with twisting them into my ear canal a bit better - and, then, more of the outside noises were blocked out, making me more pleased. As the day went along, I was beginning to have less appreciation for the quality of bass that these buds were providing. Sure, there was plenty of it, but it was also a bit bloated and not so well defined and I started to get kind of ear and head fatigue from using these.
They're a fair headphone for the price. Surprisingly, the bass is there - for an under $20 ear bud. However, I think it's up to the listener to see if the bass is of a good enough quality for them. I know in my case, the foam pads being wedged in my ear with a bloaty bass kind of made me feel a little too closed in.
I don't think these are the right buds for me. At lunch today, I did pick up the Klipsch S4 (at 4x the price of the JVCs and am also considering the Etymotic MC5 (also at 4x the price of the Marshmallows). So far, the Klipsch is sounding pretty sweet - but, needs more break-in time. The Etymotic ... well, it all depends on if my other local Apple store carries them. The first one I went to at lunch time didn't have the MC5s. I'll add respective reviews for both of those ear buds after I've had a chance to utilize them appropriately.
Pros - Cheap, decent sound for the price and a noticeable improvement over Apple Stock earbuds
Cons - Sound is very laid back, almost lethargic, not the best-fitting IEM's I've tried
First Impressions: I actually picked these up for my youngest sister, who couldn't stand the fit and sound of the Apple iPod Stock Earbuds. I was looking for value more than sound quality, and out of the box these seemed to deliver that.
Sound Quality: There's nothing particularly special here, but nothing too off-putting either. I found the overall sound signature to be dull--almost lethargic in quality, similar to the Bose IEM's but lacking the huge midbass hump and with slightly more forward highs and more recessed mids. I haven't listened to them very recently, but I don't remember anything particularly mentionable about the soundstage and imaging. With some equalization, I was able to get a more energetic signature out of these (unfortunately, the iPod Touch does not allow custom equalizer settings).
Build Quality: They feel like what I paid for them. They don't seem like they'll fall apart, but we're talking plastic and average cords.
Fit, seal and isolation: It might just be me and the fact that only 2 different kinds of tips were included, but I didn't really like the fit of these. While they were light and comfortable, they didn't feel secure. Isolation was great though, so if you listen to music during a noisy commute, these are a plus. Although almost too good--I fear that it's easy to lose focus of your surroundings while wearing these.
Overall: My younger sister was happy with them and they were only $20. I'm not particularly impressed, but I'm definitely not disappointed.
The JVC Marshmallows are in my opinion, a great low budget IEM. They are very user-friendly and the marshmallow tips are very comfortable in ear to the point where you can almost forget that they are even their. The sound is better than the standard earbuds you get with an iPod. The bass is pretty strong and the sound is decent for the price. The build quality on these IEMs are quite sturdy although the casting as bad with visible seamlines, the cable is quite good with little to no memory and microphonics are pretty low. They also come with 2 spare marshmallow tips. Isolation is pretty good (I use them in the bus and they isolate quite a good amound of chatter).
In all I think these are great for anyone on a really tight budget. Easy to use and pretty sturdy.