JVC HA-FX34 “Marshmallows” Review

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Reviewed Dec 2009

Details: JVC’s Entry-level IEM, one of the veteran bang/buck favorites of Head-Fi
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $19.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 8-23k Hz | Cable: 3.3’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Marshmallows
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (1/5) – Marshmallow tips
Build Quality (3.5/5) – Housings are plastic and not very well-molded but feel very solid; cabling is similar to all of the other JVC IEMs – thick and sturdy
Isolation (3/5) – Marshmallow tips isolate a surprising amount, even when old and stale
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Low when worn cable-down; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – Light, soft, easy to wear cord-up or cord-down. Rounded housings can make them a bit difficult to grip for insertion/removal

Sound (4.2/10) – The overall sound is on the warm side and fairly smooth. Bass is strong and punchy, albeit lacking some control. Low-end extension is surprising for a $10 earphone. Treble extension could be better but it’s still quite decent for the price. The Kramer mod (replacing the paper filter in the nozzle with a ball of foam) helps with treble quantity and overall balance – unmodded FX34’s are biased towards the low end. The midrange is obscured slightly by the bass at the low end but clarity isn’t too bad overall. Don’t expect $50 sound out of these, but they are good for what they cost. Their arch nemesis (at least in retail stores) are the similarly-priced Skullcandy Ink’d buds, which have similar clarity and better upper-end extension but lack the dimensionality and smoothness of the Marshmallows.

Value (8/10) – Though not without competition as they once were, the Marshmallows are still a contender in their price category. Their biggest selling point is user-friendliness – they don’t suffer from fit issues or microphonics and a good seal is easy to get with the marshmallow tips. My marshmallow tips have gone somewhat stale after a year, but they still work just fine. The earphones themselves are durable too, still going strong after with thousands of hours of use. The everyday usability of these is what gives them the upper hand over the Skullcandies for the price.

Pros: Very comfortable, low microphonics, above-average isolation, durable, decent sound
Cons: Poor bass control and treble extension, cable may be too short for some


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About Author

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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