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Old 05-24-2011, 11:39 AM
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Default JVC HA-FXC80 Black Series IEM review

Prologue
I only got them a couple of days ago. So, believers of burn-in, please take this review with an adequate amount of sodium chloride.
The front-end material (DAP) is a Sony PCM-D50.
I won't review the packaging as pictures of it are all over the Webs. But I will say a couple of things about its build.

Build
JVC calls it "Tri-Form" which is a vaguely pyramidal form of the main IEM body. It looks very well designed, at least. JVC claims "carbon" as a selling point of this IEM, but really today's plastics are all made from hydrocarbons, so their point is basically moot. There is no driver unit in this body as JVC employs the unique "Micro HD" unit. This incredibly small dynamic (!) driver is housed inside a metal barrel which is glued onto the black body. Coupled with the force required to detach/attach the tips, there is a risk of pulling it right off although due to this particular design, no other aftermarket tips can fit on them to my current knowledge. So once you find the right size, you should be good.

There are shiny accents on the back side of the body. I cannot confirm whether they're actually metal or painted plastic. There is a mesh grill there. Some say that it is a giant vent but I do not believe so.

Cables... Very soft. The strain relieves on the body are short but flexible. There is nothing on the Y-splitter and although any capable person can apply a length of heat-shrink tubing on it, JVC, how big a company you are, should have thought of it. The relief on the stereo mini-plug is functional.

Others... There is a little bump on the strain relief on the left body to help you identify the sides in the dark. There is "HA-FXC80" printed on one side of the Y-splitter.

Comfort (YMMV)
I have big ears and relatively wide canal openings. I use the largest tips (well, they only provide three pairs). As a personal convention I never wear IEMs straight-down. JVC claims this Tri-Form design is comfortable both straight-down and loop-round-the-ear. I can say that it is working on me as I tried wearing them straight-down for once to test their claim. To help the IEMs stabilize around your ears, JVC has kindly provided soft ear-hooks there are really rather nice. There is also a little bump on the left hook. These ear-hooks come with bonus features: They keep a portion of the cable away from directly contacting your skin (which could damage the cables with greasy secretions as seen on the Shure SCL5) and they will basically force you to insert them to the correct depth. The depth of the insertion is very important...

Sound
I purchased this IEM mainly due to reading reviews that say it is treble-focused. On the D50, this is very untrue. However my D50 may have the unique faculty of overdriving basically every IEM I throw at it:
Reference. I previously owned the Monster Turbine Pro-Copper. Driven from a (somewhat outdated) Discman D-32, they are very balanced; however once connected on the D50, they become horribly overdriven as the bass is so strong, it is unlistenable so I had to sell the Copper. And this coming from a guy who enjoys the Sony MDR-XB700...
Back to our FXC80. Reviews say they're treble-focused; they may be actually right as directly connected on the D50, they remind me of that Copper driven by the D-32. There is very strong bass presence and --

Hey, why don't I list some of my listening experiences with actual musical pieces?

Basshunter - I'm your Basscreator
I do not dare to try Techmaster PEB on them so here comes by second-best bass test. There is density, absolute density of the bass; it seems about as tight as the Copper on D-32. The highs are not that high but this is a generally darker musical piece of my bunch. Impact is excellent if not apparently excessive at first. Your ears do get used to it rather quickly.

Kate Ryan - Évidemment
This is a cover of France Gall's original Évidemment. The original one, on tape, cannot be listened to if your phones are of high quality due to the high amount of noise (yes I had Dolby B enabled). This Kate Ryan's cover version, ripped from CD and loaded on D50, is a good test for vocal "distance", warmth and intimacy. The FXC80's performance is palpable but not too spectacular: you distinctively feel a certain distance between you and the singer but it is as if a milky membrane is separating you from her. The imaging stops half-way.

Nelly Furtado - I'm like a Bird
Although mostly a vocal piece, it's got some good highs. The FXC80, on this piece, finally unveils its treble potential: air, extension, detail. It isn't harsh, but occasionally you can hear a bit of sibilance or three. I should probably get more treble-y music. I should try listening to Only Girl (Rihanna) or Impossible (Shontelle). Much treble on my speakers.

Nightwish - Bye Bye Beautiful
No, no. Nightwish, with Annette, is downright pop and not metal. You can call it heavy pop if you will. Anyway, people have said that Jap phones are not too good on hard rock and metal music. This could be true with Audio-Technica since every phone of ATH that I've came across are soft. Grandiosely soft, maybe. But soft. Especially the air and the wood ones. The JXC80 can generally perform metal with few problems, however the midrange may sound marred due to the previously mentioned milky membrane effect.

Others... Sound stage: Enveloping. Size is about average. Dimensionality... About better than the Copper but they have quite poor dimensionality anyway.

Conclusion
JVC gets it right. What I can tell you is that its Micro HD dynamic driver has the detailing capabilities of a freaking balanced armature. Per reference, the Coppers have electrostatic-level detailing, but at a much higher price. Yes, the Japs have made a phone sounding like Coppers for about six times less (Canada: FXC80 $80 Coppers $450). Law of diminishing returns at its best. Although get this: if you have a "normal" source (i.e. not a D50 and definitely not an HM-801), the FXC80 is still more treble-focused than overall balanced.

Epilogue
I probably have tin ears as I believe an HD215 (Sennheiser) sounds about the same as the DT880 (beyerdyamic), on the same amplifier. So when I say that the FXC80 have near-Copper levels of performance, it's either a Dodge Viper is as good as a Ferrari F40 or I just don't know how to drive. Although if you buy from an adequate seller you should get a month of trial period. Listen for yourself.
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  #2  
Old 05-24-2011, 02:37 PM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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Not too shabby a review!!!
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:33 PM
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Fired up my D-32 just for kicks and giggles, because why not?
You know what? I take back what I said about the FXC80 resembling the Turbine Pro-Coppers. They resemble much more the freaking Golds. Bass is dispersed, soft, does hit a bit yet is not boomy; The midrange milky membrane effect is even stronger and the highs are very laid-back giving quite a dark sound signature.
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:35 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Very nice review. I was just wondering if you could compare the FXC80 to something closer to their price range. I've never heard any Monster IEMs and considering what I think of their business practices it's highly unlikely I ever will. If you have something else you could compare them to it would give me a much better idea of their capabilities.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:58 AM
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Thanks, skip.
Well I have heard the regular Turbines but these are forty bucks higher than the FXC80. Definitely tuned for bass but it would seem as if Monster wanted to make it more balanced at the last minute. The treble sounds incorrectly amplified in a way that some frequencies jump out more than others.
The Turbines are a fun IEM. It seems like many of today's DAPs have inferior headphone driving circuitry so whenever there is actual load (not dummy load) the bass would roll-off. Compared to the first Shuffle which has push-pull amps... Anyway on a capable player (PCM-D50) there is significantly overblown bass, but on weaker DAPs it should sound more balanced with a clear concentration on bass.
Please note that all this is from memory as that Turbine audition is over a year ago. Contestants really at this price would be the prominent Ultimate Ears Super.Fi-4. Yeah the cable doesn't inspire confidence but I have not auditioned them. This and the Sennheiser CX300 that is greatly hailed as a sub-par IEM (and the CX300-II seems to be no better)...
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:53 AM
maroon.andy maroon.andy is offline
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Default RE: JVC HA-FXC80 Black Series

yes well I'm considering eagerly into getting a pair of these but two minor questions, would the jvc be able to suit for performing? like what the artists usually use? is it qualified? and what are the goods and the downsides if you compare the fx80 with the "Shure SE 215"? is it better or worse? I'm an aspiring artist and I would prefer a more user friendly and reliable IEM if it comes to stage performance.

thanks.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:59 AM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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The Shure SE215 is triple the price of the FXC80. A more interesting comparison would be to the BA meelectronics A151. That is much closer in price. The meelectronics CX21 would be another to compare it to, as would be the Soundmagic E30.
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:22 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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|joker| on head-fi has reviewed all five in his thread. According to him SE215 > A151 > E30 > CX21 > FXC80. Even taken with a grain of salt since CX21 and FXC80 have only .1 difference in score, I think it is safe to say the SE215 is in another league compared to FXC80--which it better be since it is in another price bracket too!
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:50 PM
maroon.andy maroon.andy is offline
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Lol thanks guys, but honestly i thought of the SE215 at first due to it's sleek design despite paying 100 extra. But my bro told me that the FXC80 has a better kick, that it's 8-25,000Hz versus 22 Hz – 17,5 kHz which is kinda low. Then again i need a pair to suit stage monitoring during performances, suggestions?
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:53 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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If you can hear up to 25,000 Hz that's great, but I think that'd probably make you super human. In other words, frequency range specs are just marketing usually. 17,500 Hz might be a little low, but honestly that should be plenty high for most adults. If you are going to use them as stage monitors isolation might be an important thing to consider. SE215 is top of the line in that regard (since they are made fore stage monitoring). Not sure about the FXC80, but I would check into that.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:36 AM
maroon.andy maroon.andy is offline
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do pm me or something.. thanks for the help! I don't feel like making the wrong mistake by picking the wrong choice.. then again, I know the hafxc80 has good hi-fi for people on a tight budget, but does it support stage performance? thanks
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maroon.andy View Post
do pm me or something.. thanks for the help! I don't feel like making the wrong mistake by picking the wrong choice.. then again, I know the hafxc80 has good hi-fi for people on a tight budget, but does it support stage performance? thanks
What are the special needs of stage performance? I'd guess a neutral sound and strong isolation?
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:03 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
What are the special needs of stage performance? I'd guess a neutral sound and strong isolation?
I am not a musician, so I really do not know. I would think isolation would be important though. I am less sure about neutral sound. Neutral sound tends to not have a lot of bass. Strong bass--not overpowering though--might actually be a good thing though if you are trying to hear the bass line. Again though, I am not a musician and would certainly look for someone who is to ask.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnhardwick View Post
|joker| on head-fi has reviewed all five in his thread. According to him SE215 > A151 > E30 > CX21 > FXC80. Even taken with a grain of salt since CX21 and FXC80 have only .1 difference in score, I think it is safe to say the SE215 is in another league compared to FXC80--which it better be since it is in another price bracket too!
I really wouldn't take small differences in Joker's review scores too seriously.

Individual taste counts for a lot, and I think that he's probably round about average in his susceptibility to psychological suggestion based on price and brand for a hi-fi enthusiast - which is to say considerably. (I assume "average" because that's what most people are!) I'd suggest for allowing an error and taste mis-match of up to 0.5, plus maybe giving cheaper non-FOTM iems a boost of up to 0.5. Use him to get an idea of the characteristics of an IEM or headphone and an *approximate* idea of quality. Especially with iems, where fit and even canal shape and depth play such a large part in the final result.

What Joker does is great and I trust him absolutely to weed out awfulness, and a lot to describe the signature of an iem or pair of phones. But to provide numerical scores that I will agree within 0.1? No; taste varies too much. From experience I know that there can be an easy 2 points deviance between us - maybe more! People shouldn't expect the impossible from him, although we should all damn well appreciate what he does.

Last edited by meanwhile; 02-18-2012 at 02:37 PM.
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