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JVC HA-FX850 iem. Woody

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  1. james444 Contributor
    FX1100 are in (sooner than expected). For the sake of consistency, I'll post impressions in this thread and link them from the other one.
     
    Quick out-of-box impressions:
    1. Slightly more (mid-)bass than the FX850 (unbelievable, but true...)
    2. However: tighter and less reverberant bass quality
    3. Midrange a smidgen more fleshed out than on the FX850
    4. Treble a smidgen more polite than on the FX850
     
  2. james444 Contributor
    FX1100 update: Hate to say it, but after a few more hours of in-depth listening and comparing to the FX850, I'm officially unimpressed.
     
    Let's start with the best part, treble is really a tad less forward and smoother than on the FX850, while still retaining excellent detail and sparkle. This tuning makes it easier to listen to and less fatiguing than the latter's, particularly if you listen at louder volume.
     
    The midrange, like I said earlier, sounds a smidgen better fleshed out than on the FX850. I'm not quite sure though, whether that's due to a more forward tuning, or just a side-effect of slightly less pronounced treble (i.e. less masking by higher frequencies).
     
    However, the range from lower mids down to midbass is, sorry to say, not worthy of a flagship phone. Not only is it boosted and skews tonality towards warmth, but at the same time it sounds murky and congested in comparison to the FX850 and impairs dynamics and soundstage, both of which make the latter such an enjoyable IEM.
     
    Things get back to normal below midbass, and, as I mentioned, bass feels overall a bit tighter and less reverberant on the FX1100. But I truly can understand those who auditioned both phones and ended up picking the FX850, because frankly, they're overall undoubtedly the better sounding choice.
     
    As for the j444 mod, yes it partly mitigates the FX1100's low range issues. To be completely honest, I can't even listen to the stock sound for longer than a minute, without starting to wonder what the guys at JVC were thinking. However, the mod is far from a remedy, and the only option I can think of right now is to tinker with the back vent.
     
    TL;DR: So far I just can't see how the FX1100 is supposed to be an upgrade over the FX850, let alone a flagship IEM. [​IMG] 
     
    QuarterToNine likes this.
  3. Kunlun
    HF just saved me $500+
     
  4. vwinter

    It's a glitch in the matrix.

    You'll be parted with it soon enough. The next great thing is always just around the corner.
     
    Sweden likes this.
  5. james444 Contributor
    FX850 "j444 mod" version 2
     
    This is a refinement of the earlier described j444 mod. In addition to the original mod, modification of the back vent makes it even more effective.
     
    Q: Why even mod the FX850? They're perfect as is / perfect after xyz hour of burn-in / perfect with the xyz cable.
    A: Why even bother to read this post? By all means, stay with what you think is perfect.
    Q: Ok, they're maybe a tiiiny bit warm / bassy on certain songs. I understand this mod reduces bass, but is it safe?
    A: I obviously can't accept responsibility, so try it at your own risk. That said, I've been doing similar mods for quite a long time and never encountered an issue.
    Q: Ok, and what if I end up not liking it?
    A: This mod is completely reversible.
     
    What this mod does:
     
    To make it short, JVC's drivers are the best dynamics I've heard to date, but in my book the overly bassy / warm tuning of their IEMs doesn't bring out the best in them.
     
    FX850 stock frequency response:
    FX850_FR.jpg
     
     
    The j444 mod v2 attenuates bass and balances out the sound signature. It consists of modifications at the FX850's front and backside, which may be implemented separately or together. (Apart from bass, there's also a slight effect on treble, which has been left out in the following illustrations.)
     
    Effect of front-mod:
    FX850_FR_j444_mod_front.jpg
    Explanation: the front-mod adds a tiny amount of front leakage which avoids over-pressurization in the ear canal and reduces bass quantity. Attenuation is a bit stronger in deep bass than in mid/upper bass, resulting in a bass-lighter, but slightly more mid-bassy signature. Because of the leakage, isolation is slightly reduced.
     
     
    Effect of back-mod:
    FX850_FR_j444_mod_back.jpg
    Explanation: the back-mod restricts airflow through the back vent, resulting mainly in mid/upper bass attenuation. Deep bass remains unchanged and strong. Due to partial blocking of the back vent, isolation is slightly increased.
     
     
    Combined effect of front and back-mod:
    FX850_FR_j444_mod_both.jpg
    Explanation: the combination of front and back-mod yields the largest amount of bass attenuation and results in a significantly more balanced signature than stock.
     
    (Disclaimer: these curves are just rough estimates based on listening tests.)
     
     
    Step by step instructions for the front-mod:
     
    (this is identical to j444 mod v1)
     
    Step 1: Find some surplus tips made of thin silicone, e.g. Sony hybrid tips.
     
    FX850_mod1.jpg
     
    Step 2: Cut off a small stripe, about 1x7mm.
     
    FX850_mod2.jpg
     
    Step 3: This is the tricky part. Place the stripe alongside the nozzle, so that it protrudes about 1mm at the front end. Hold it carefully in place with your fingertip as you mount the silicone tip.
     
    FX850_mod3.jpg
     
    Step 4: Check the result - it should look like this from the outside.
     
    FX850_mod4.jpg
     
    Step 5: Check the result - it should look like this on the inside. Make sure that the stripe protrudes only a tiny bit at the edge of the nozzle, or else it will diffuse the sound.
     
    FX850_mod5.jpg
     
     
    Step by step instructions for the back-mod:
     
    Step 1: Find a thin drinking straw of 5mm (or slightly less) diameter.
     
    FX850_modv2_1.jpg
     
    Step 2: Cut off two slices of 2-3mm width. Thinner slices will result in a more inconspicuous mod, but make it harder to undo.
     
    FX850_modv2_2.jpg
     
    Step 3: Carefully widen the slices until they fit the back vent. The thin plastic will thin out further in some spots, which is intended to retain airflow.
     
    FX850_modv2_3.jpg
     
    Step 4: Use your fingers (and an optional plastic pen) to gently push the slice into the vent. Do not use metal tools to avoid scratching the earpiece.
     
    FX850_modv2_4.jpg
     
    Step 5: The completed back-mod should look like this:
     
    FX850_modv2_5.jpg
     
    Step 6: Listen to a track with drums and/or bass. You should hear a pronounced bass attenuation vs. stock, but dynamics should still sound natural and lifelike.
    If you feel that dynamics are badly lacking, chances are that the back vent is completely blocked. In that case, repeat the mod with a thinner / smaller drinking straw.
     
    If you like the sound you're hearing, then you've successfully completed the "j444 mod v2" http://files.head-

    fi.org/images/smilies/smile_phones.gif
     
     
    Modding the FX1100:
     
    The FX1100 are different from the FX850, in that they have even more mid/upper bass and warmth. Therefore an even larger restriction of airflow at the back vent is needed, in order to achieve a balanced sound signature.
     
    While the front-mod is the same as for the FX850, you'll need to find a slightly larger straw for the back-mod, which will fit the vent without the need for widening. This means that Step 3 of the back-mod is not desired for the FX1100, but everything else is the same as for the FX850.
     
    FX850_modv2_6.jpg
    (left: straw for FX1100, right: straw for FX850)
     
     
    Fully (back and front) modded FX850 and FX1100:
     
    FX850_modv2_7.jpg
     
     
    Ratings (provisional):
     
    I've only been listening to the v2-modded FX850 and FX1100 for a few days, so this section may be subject to change.
     
    In stock form, I'd take the FX850 over the FX1100 any day. The latter's overly warm and somewhat congested tuning is a bit of a mess imo. However, the FX1100 have slightly more potential than the FX850, because of smoother and more refined treble, a smidgen better mids presence and a tad tighter bass. Subjectively speaking, the j444 mod v2 is a huge improvement for both phones, but it vaults the FX1100 from the undoubtedly worse stock phone even slightly ahead of the modded FX850. Therefore my personal ranking from better to worse reads as follows:
     
    FX1100 (modded) > FX850 (modded) >> FX850 (stock) > FX1100 (stock)
     
     
     
     
    Edit (1/4/15):
     
    Modding the FX750:
     
    Interestingly, the back-mod doesn't do much on them, which suggests that the stock FX750 have already more rear-damping with less airflow than the stock FX850 and FX1100. I recommend skipping the back-mod on the FX750 altogether.
     
    However, the front-mod does a great job of attenuating bass impact, so I recommend performing just the front-mod on the FX750.
     
    Listening to the modded FX750/850/1100 side by side, I feel like the FX850/1100's larger drivers sound noticeably better (more detailed / refined) overall. Their advantage in sound quality over the FX750 strikes me as more pronounced on the modded phones than when comparing all three IEMs in stock form.
     
     
     
     
    Edit (1/10/15):

    Other IEMs that benefit from the front-mod (imo): KEF M200, Zero Audio Carbo Tenore, IE8 (set bass dial to max!)
     
    hakuzen, nick n and QuarterToNine like this.
  6. vwinter
    james444
    Thanks for taking the time to post all this up.

    Where are the stock graphs from?
     
  7. james444 Contributor
  8. Painful Chafe
    So you are using both mods together? Have you tried just the straw vent mod by itself?

    I'd live to hear your impressions of both mods by themselves and together.
     
  9. Idsynchrono_24
    The straw mod most definitely works. I just tried that on my 850s the other day and the bass was most definitely attenuated. Haven't tried it in conjunction with the front vent mod yet tho, but I can see how the two working together would would result in a much more neutral presentation. 
     
    james444 likes this.
  10. james444 Contributor
     
    Admittedly my post is a bit long [​IMG], but if you check out the graphs in the first part, you'll see explanations for both mods by themselves and together.
     
    For indoor listening, both mods together is easily my favorite, because it provides the most balanced sound signature. But for outdoor listening, I can see myself going with just the back-mod, because it provides more deep bass and better isolation (it's only a matter of seconds to undo / redo the front mod).
     
  11. vwinter

    Seconds. Minutes laced with profanity. Same difference :p

    That front vent mod gave me so much trouble to align and position when I had a pair on loan.

    Also, the blue looks cool within the gold :D
     
  12. james444 Contributor
     
    Yeah, I know what you're talking about. Believe it or not, it gets better with practice. [​IMG]
     
  13. Inks
    FX750 already has much tighter bass than the FX850 and sounds more natural as its more subbass focused. Only problem is its peakier treble but maybe some foam and triflanges will help, too bad I didn't make enough time to try.

    Tried the back mod on the Fx750?
     
  14. jelt2359 Contributor
     

    Not the first time I've heard these impressions for the 750, but isn't the 750 just the 850 without removable cables?
     
  15. Inks
    No, different drivers, Fx750s driver is slightly smaller, fX750 has better bass but worse treble. Think it's easier to tame the treble...but don't have them in hand anymore.

    I also preferred the FX750s housing size in comparison.
     
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