JVC HA-FX700 Review

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JVC HA-FX700
Reviewed Feb 2011

Details: JVC’s wooden in-ear flagship
MSRP: est. $360 / manufacturer’s page
Current Price: $260 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 104 dB | Freq: 6-26k Hz | Cable: 2.6’ I-plug + 2.3’ L-plug extension
Nozzle Size: 4.5mm | Preferred tips: UE Single flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), foam tips (2 sizes), 2.3’ (0.7m) extension cable, and protective magnetic-clasp carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The build of the FX700 is a fusion of beautifully-machined wood and various metal alloys. The earphones look and feel like a flagship product – the air of quality and sophistication surrounding the HA-FX700 is similar to JVC’s HA-DX1000 headphone. They are big, heavy, and flawless in craftsmanship. The rear port and nozzle are both protected by metal meshes and the cable entry point features a ¾”-long strain relief in addition to metal reinforcement. The cable itself is similar to the cords found on JVC’s lower-end products – soft, reasonably thick, and quite flexible. The 2.6’+2.3’ cable configuration is very annoying, however, as the cord is too short to be used without the extension and way too long with the extension added on
Isolation (2/5) – The FX700 is an open-back IEM and isolates slightly less than Sennheiser’s IE8 or Phiaton’s half in-ear designs
Microphonics (5/5) – Cable noise is extremely low when the FX700 is worn cord-down and nonexistent with over-the-ear fitment
Comfort (4/5) – The HA-FX700 boasts a familiar angled-nozzle design with a large driver hump near the front of the housing. Size-wise the JVCs are quite large – noticeably larger than Denon’s AH-C710s, which have a similar form factor. Still, the driver bulge provides a secure fit and the earphones are quite comfortable in the long run despite the heft

Sound (9.1/10) – Despite the misleading ‘HA-FX1000’ moniker given to the Japanese version of JVC’s previous wooden in-ear, the (newer) HA-FX700 is the definitely the company’s flagship earphone. The open-back design of the earphone pretty much guarantees poor isolation and since isolation translates almost directly to sound quality out in the real world, the FX700 only shows its true capabilities in quiet environments. Its lively and aggressive sound signature is not one commonly found among top-tier dynamic-driver IEMs but after an initial adjustment period, the FX700 leaves no doubt as to its standing among the best dynamics. As a general rule I am not a fan of the ‘ton of bass + ton of treble’ approach to audio, which partially explains why I like the Monster Golds and Miles Davis Tributes better than the Coppers, but these JVCs sound incredibly natural and effortless.  That said, I still think that the FX700 sounds best at low volumes since the bass and treble both tend to become more dominant as the volume is increased.

The bass of the HA-FX700 has what is quite possibly the best balance of quantity and control in the IEM realm. Though it is clearly not as tight and quick as the bass on most of my BA-based earphones, it does sound quicker than that of the Monster MD or Sennheiser IE8. The response of the FX700 is also a bit more linear than that of the MD, though both have great depth and extension. The MD has slightly more rumble and bass power on the whole but the FX700 really doesn’t lack either. Due to the combination of speed and high impact, the bass of the FX700 is a little ‘aggressive’. As a result, it can be excessive for my liking – the FX700 could do with a more subbass-biased balance (a-la Hippo VB), which would make the lower midrange a little more neutral, but then it would be a different earphone.

Despite the aggressive bass, the midrange of the FX700 is cleaner and clearer than those of the Monster MD or Sennheiser IE8. It attempts to strike a balance between clear-and-detailed (a-la RE252) and the smoother, thicker sound of most high-end dynamics. The FX700 is still not a neutral earphone and there is definitely some warmth to the midrange, but it is more on-level with the Ortofon e-Q7 than the IE8/MD. Yes, most of the thinner-sounding high-end armatures still have the upper hand when it comes to clarity and microdetail, but it is amazing how close the (comparatively) gigantic dynamic drivers of the FX700 come to those levels of performance. In terms of balance, the midrange is not as aggressive as the bass or treble and has a tendency to become slightly subdued at higher volumes, which certainly preserves the spirit of the fun, ‘v-shaped’ earphone. However, on several occasions I ended up catching myself thinking that the pushy nature of the bass can be detrimental to the overall musical experience afforded by the JVCs.

The timbre of the earphones is worthy of particular mention – I can’t make any claims as to whether the materials used in the construction of the housings have any effect on how they sound but the timbre of the FX700 is outstanding. As a result, the JVCs have some of the most realistic reproduction of stringed instruments I’ve heard out of an in-ear, adding to their excellent timbre the right amount of crispness, detail, and texture for the most minute nuances of string motion to be distinguished. Being an armature type of person, the only other higher-end dynamic I have on hand at the moment is the Sennheiser IE7, and next to the FX700 it is especially apparent how plasticky the IE7 actually sounds.

As hinted above, the treble of the FX700 is nearly as prominent as the bass. Though it is not harsh or sibilant except when necessary to remain faithful to the original recording, it is abundant in quantity and boasts plentiful sparkle and good clarity. Top-end extension is excellent and overall the treble reminds me more of the detailed and extended top end of the IE8 than the softer-sounding Monster MD or HiFiMan RE262. The sparkle of the FX700 makes it quite edgy for a dynamic-driver earphone, but given the choice between the overly-exciting top end of the FX700 and the slightly boring treble of the RE262, I see myself going for the JVCs every time.

Similarly interesting is the presentation of the FX700 – though the JVCs don’t have the out-of-the-head feel of the IE8, soundstaging doesn’t leave a whole lot to be desired. Soundstage width is good but the depth and layering are superb, resulting in accurate portrayal of both distance and intimacy. The impressive imaging gives the earphones an immersive overall feel, though I still feel that, as with most IEMs, the soundstage of the FX700 is slightly elliptical in nature, i.e. lacking just a bit of front-to-rear and top-to-bottom positioning.

Value (8/10) – Like the earphone’s aesthetics and construction quality, the sound of the JVC HA-FX700s is unique and substantial. The JVCs easily run side by side with the other top-tier dynamics in technical proficiency and, on several counts, come out ahead of the field. The drivers JVC used in the FX700 are extremely impressive and manage to shrug off tracks of any complexity, never sounding strained or overwhelmed. The HA-FX700 is, at long last, a high-end dynamic-driver earphone for those who prefer lively and aggressive ‘v-shaped’ sound to the softer, warmer signatures of the IE8/Monster MD/RE262/MTPG. When it comes to practicality, the value of the FX700 is more questionable – for an IEM the FX700 isolates very little and can become fatiguing if the volume is raised significantly to compensate. If ever there was a top-tier earphone for home use, this is it, but out in the real world the FX700’s competitors may win the fight without throwing a punch.

Pros: Impossibly dynamic and articulate sound; natural and involving presentation; great build quality; nearly no microphonics
Cons: Sub-par isolation; odd cable length; can be slightly fatiguing at higher volumes


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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.

25 Comments

  1. Venn on

    Hey joker, I was in the market for a V-shaped sound sig earphone and was wondering how these would compare to the UE900? Of course I’d mainly use V shaped phones for pop, edm etc. Thanks !

    • ljokerl on

      UE900 is not noticeably v-shaped so you should like the FX700 much more if you’re looking for a v-shaped sound. It’s got tons more bass and a warmer, thicker, lusher sound than the rather balanced UE900.

      • Venn on

        Tnx for that joker! That saved me from potential disappointment.

  2. Remus on

    Hey joker, I’m planning on getting this or the EPH100 for a friend. How would you compare the bass between the 2? Thanks a lot.

    • ljokerl on

      They’re both pretty great but I actually prefer the bass on the EPH-100 – it’s a little more linear (less of a mid-bass hump) and tends to stay out of the way a little more. The FX700 was equally impressive for its time, but it seems a little bloated now compared to newer sets like the EPH-100.

      • Remus on

        Thanks for the quick reply as always joker. You’re the best! I’m just gonna get him the Yamaha’s then.

  3. Igan on

    Hello joker! Thank you so much for your wonderful documentation of many IEMs on this site.

    I have a question though. Are there any other IEMs that have a natural sound or reproduction (not the analytical revealing type) that surpasses this one? Thank you very much!

    • Igan on

      Maybe not ‘surpasses’ but rivals it or is on par with it. It would be great to have natural-sounding types across the varying sound signatures for listening options. Like when you just want a natural sound without the bass and treble emphasis of this one. Thanks again!

      • ljokerl on

        As you said, the FX700 is arguably not all that natural-sounding because of its emphasis on bass and treble. I definitely think there are some IEMs that sound more natural without being analytical. The one that impressed me the most this year was the Aurisonics Rockets – such a smooth, refined sound without being bright, sharp, or thin.

  4. Torehan on

    Hi Joker, I am currently using Fx700 and it is almost the best in dynamic iems but the problem as you mentioned is a lush in high volumes and bad and low compressed music.

    Do you think Dn-1000 will be a total upgrade from fx700? Specially I am a basshead? and like Jazz instrumental, EDM, Electronic, Instrumental etc,

    Or anything else you can advice in hybrids specially?

    • ljokerl on

      I wouldn’t recommend that. The DN-1000 is not a very forgiving earphone – it doesn’t have as much bass the FX700 and it can be brighter. If you want something more tolerable at high volumes and forgiving with more compressed tracks you generally want smoother treble, not brighter treble. The only thing I can think of in this price range that’s a hybrid and more forgiving than the FX700 is the Sony XBA-H3. It has more bass emphasis than the DN-1000, too.

  5. Isssma on

    Hi Joker. I just have a question. Have you heard the LZ-A2? It has garnered epic reviews on head-fi, and other review sites. The question is that I could purchase a used JVC Fx-700, and the LZ-A2 for the same price. Which would be better sounding of the two? As a somewhat bass oriented listener, is the FX700 better than the IE8? Thanks a lot!

    • ljokerl on

      No, I have no idea what the LZ-A2 is.

      I do think the FX700 is a better bass-heavy earphone than the IE8 – the bass is more assertive and on the whole more of a focus with it.

      • Isssma on

        I think you should try the LZ A2 one of these days. They are a triple-hybrid pair with a single dynamic and dual BA setup. For less than $100. From what I’ve read, they are on par with top end Hybrid IEM’s like Dn-2000 and Fidue a83. I really hope you could review those. Thanks a lot! 🙂

  6. Squall on

    Hello, joker. I currently own a pair of fx500/fx1000s, which I’ve had for more than a few years now and I’m now considering something just a little bit more high end. As you probably know, the obvious choice is no more, due to JVC having revamped their wooden IEM line up. I was wondering what your thoughts on these are, if you’ve any experience with them yet. Keep up the fantastic work!

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried a new high-end JVC since these but from everything I’ve read the FX850 is a step forward, not back. Probably still a safe choice in the grand scheme of things.

  7. Zechs on

    Except from this, not sure is there any other in-ear earphone having open back design and aggressive sound on bass and treble?

    Have been look on Philips Fidelio S1 and S2 but flat sound signature, but FX700 is over budget for me currently.

    • ljokerl on

      Hmm… can’t think of any except the other FX-series JVCs. The Sennheiser IE800 has mediocre isolation and aggressive sound but it’s also a lot more expensive. On a budget the Xiaomi Piston 2 might fit the bill.

      • Zechs on

        Hi Joker, thanks for your reply.

        I have 2 units of XiaoMi Piston 2 right now, my ear can get nice isolation with many kind of ear bud but I like to have a weak isolation in-ear earphone.

        Some of the earphone which reviewed by you and low score of isolation, it still a high score for me, eg: JVC FXT-90.
        Currently I’m still using Sony EX-300, it state as closed back but its leaking issue is great for me, because I got uncomfortable while pressure made of seal of in-ear earphone.

        After having earphone like FXT-90 and MDR-XB90EX, sound quality of EX300 has become insufficient for me and I think the only solution for me is FX700 @@”

        Thanks again for your wonderful and great review list.

        • ljokerl on

          Thanks, glad the list has been helpful!

          Trying to think of other options but unfortunately open-back IEMs just aren’t that popular. There’s the Phiaton stuff but it doesn’t sound that good.

          A set I haven’t reviewed in full but have tried and has pretty low isolation is the Onkyo HF300. Isolation-wise it’s similar or even a little lower than the Fidelio S1 and S2 even though it’s not technically open-back. Just another one to consider.

          • Zechs on

            Between S1 and S2, which is more v-shape?

            Not sure whether the Philips S series is really that flat or minor v-shape?
            Research from internet review, some said the bass and treble is enhanced, but not sure how it compare with FXT90.

          • ljokerl on

            Neither, really – they sound very similar to each other.

            The Fidelios are somewhere between flat and v-shaped, much like VSonic GR07s (for instance). I tend to think of them as “balanced” but there’s more of both bass and treble than something like a HiFiMan RE-400 or Etymotic ER4. They are definitely not as v-shaped as an FXT90.

          • Zechs on

            http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/sony-mdr-ex300/

            Read through your review of EX300, since the sound signature of EX300, I mean the bass and treble amount is actually nice for me, do you think the EX300 sound close to Philips S twins? Just for bass and treble amount.

            I can understand the review of EX300 is quite a time from now and I think it might left nothing in your mind, but still hoping your answer based on the words you left in review.

          • ljokerl on

            Hard to say for sure but my gut feel is that the Philips will be a little less bassy and a little brighter than the EX300, but not hugely so.

          • Zechs on

            Seems like I need to consider between S1 and S2 now, haha.

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