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JVC HA-FX101 Review

Added Feb 2013

Details: Bass-heavy budget earphone from JVC’s Xtreme Xplosives line
MSRP: $19.95 (manufacturer’s page) / $29.95 for HA-FR201 with mic & 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $14 from amazon.com for FX101; $26 for HA-FR201
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 101 dB | Freq: 5-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (1/5) - Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The design of the FX101 resembles the older FX1X and features plastic housings with rubber bumpers, paper nozzle filters, and a thin, plasticky cable. The cord lacks a sliding cinch but carries minimal noise and terminates with a well-relieved I-plug
Isolation (3/5) – Good for an angled-nozzle design
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Low in the soft and flexible cable
Comfort (4/5) – The fit is generally similar to JVC’s higher-end FX500 model but the rubber-sheathed housings may be a little large for over-the-ear wear for those with smaller ears. Cord-down wear is very comfortable with the angled-nozzle form factor and the shells are smaller compared to the older FX1X

Sound (6.2/10) – JVC’s follow-up to the popular FX1X model, the FX101 has no trouble delivering on promises of copious bass despite its smaller 8.5mm drivers. Its low end is not as loose as that of the older FX1X model and yet the FX101 sacrifices nothing in the way of impact or bass depth. Its bass puts it among the hardest-hitting in-ears on the market, though as usual the low end grunt comes at a price. The bass is on the boomy side compared to sets such as the Philips SHE3580 and can be very intrusive. Happily, the FX101 probably won’t be purchased by those looking for anything less than a bass monster.

The real strength of the FX101 is in retaining good overall sound characteristics despite its massive low end and miniscule price tag. The clarity is quite good for something so bassy – it lags behind the JVC FX40, Brainwavz Beta, and Soundmagic E10 but easily beats the MEElectronics M9 and most other entry-level sets. The sound tends to be a little warm and dark. The signature is v-shaped, with strong bass emphasis and a milder treble boost. Bass bleed helps the FX101 sound a bit less recessed in the midrange compared to the Brainwavz Beta and JVC HA-FX40. As with the FX40, the colored signature of the FX101 works especially well with electronic music and can be hit or miss with recorded instruments.

Treble is somewhat harsh and not very refined compared to higher-end sets. It can accentuate sibilance and doesn’t extend all the way up, resulting in a darker sound compared to sets such as the Soundmagic E10 and Brainwavz Beta. The presentation is above average in its price class – not as wide as that of the Brainwavz Beta but better compared to the MEElectronics M9. The darker tone of the FX101 also prevents it from sounding as open and airy as the Soundmagic E10, which also boasts a better sense of space. Still, the FX101 has nothing to be ashamed of for the price and has another piece of mass appeal up its sleeve – efficiency. The FX101 plays louder than just about anything I put it up against and will crank out the bass even at low listening volumes.

Value (9.5/10) – Comfortable, well-built, and not at all microphonic, the JVC HA-FX101 is a bargain that should cause the bass-obsessed to salivate profusely. The bass-heavy sound means that these are far from the most neutral or natural-sounding earphones, but they deliver on the fun factor without sounding offensive – a definite win for their intended audience.

Pros: Well-built; comfortable; minimal cable noise; tons of bass
Cons: Treble can be harsh; tons of bass

About ljokerl

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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