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JVC HA-FXD80 / HA-FRD80 Review

48


Added Sep 2012

Details: JVC’s carbon nanotube microdriver earphone
MSRP: est $80 (manufacturer’s page); est. $90 for HA-FRD80 with mic/1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $64 from amazon.com for FXD80; $104 from ebay.com for FRD80
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 20Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 8-25k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: generic single-flanges; generic bi-flanges; MEElectronics ‘short’ bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), cable winder, shirt clip, and drawstring carrying pouch
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The housings of the FXD80s are solid-feeing stainless steel, with nozzle-mounted microdrivers and unique-looking but sturdy strain reliefs. Cabling is typical JVC – soft and flexible. Mild driver flex is present.
Isolation (3.5/5) – Very good with the right tips and moderate insertion
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cable-down; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – Quite comfortable except for those with narrow ear canals. The housings are heavier and a bit larger than those of the Yamaha and Monster microdriver sets but not enough so to cause fit issues

Sound (8.7/10) – JVC’s previous microdriver earphone, the FXT90, featured a carbon nanotube driver alongside a second transducer. The new FXD80 uses a single carbon nanotube microdriver. Interestingly, the FXD80 is not as efficient as the dual-driver FXT90, requiring a few extra notches to reach listening volume. The power handling of the FXD80 is rather strange in that it is actually sensitive enough to be used at low volumes, yet happily accepts quite a lot more power before passing comfortable listening thresholds. Due to the slightly recessed mids, being able to bump up the volume without the sound becoming shrill or boomy is very welcome with many tracks.

The bass of the FXD80 is punchy and has good depth. Mid-bass boost is very mild – not as heavy as with the FXT90 and lower-end FX40 model but more substantial than with the VSonic GR07 and HiFiMan earphones. Like the FX40, the FXD80 leans slightly on the thin side in note presentation and as a result its bass reminds me of the Shure SE535 – great in extension but perhaps not as full and rumbly as the response warrants. The slight bass elevation causes the JVCs to sound a little less controlled compared to the GR07. Certain similarly-priced armature sets such as the Fischer SBA-03/MEElectronics A161P and Rockit R-50 also sound quicker and tighter, as expected. The bass of the FXD80 is also not quite as effortless as the dynamic, highly versatile low end of the Monster and Yamaha microdriver earphones but is certainly respectable considering the lower price of the JVCs.

The midrange is clear and detailed but, like the low end lacks a bit of thickness. The mids seem to take a step back compared to the bass and treble. Male vocals especially sound somewhat recessed – the GR07, for example, provides a flatter response with fuller, thicker, more natural male vocals. The RE-ZERO and MEElectronics A161P are more similar to the FXD80 in note presentation but both feature much more forward mids.

The response starts gaining emphasis in the upper midrange and the top end is prominent, yet somehow not fatiguing. The overall tone of the JVCs is a little on the cool side, which is certainly unusual for a mid-level dynamic earphone. Detail and top-end extension are good and the sound is nice and airy on the whole. The treble curve adds some perceived clarity to the sound in a way reminiscent of the lower-end FX40 model and the similarly-priced PureSound ClarityOne. The treble response does tend to exaggerate cymbal ringing a little and can throw timbre off slightly but – happily – doesn’t have the sibilant tendencies of the VSonic GR07. The pricier HiFiMan RE272, on the other hand, does a much better job of controlling sibilance without losing air but will not work for those who crave the extra treble energy.

The presentation of the FXD80 is less straightforward. The earphones sound spacious in a way reminiscent of the $300 Monster Miles Davis Trumpets and yet seem to have an average-sized headstage and layering. The FXD80 doesn’t throw sonic cues as far out of the head as a VSonic GR07 and Rockit R-50 and the presentation seems a little less well-spaced and linear. The HiFiMan RE272 is also more open-sounding and spacious, but the fact that the FXD80 draws comparisons to these far more expensive sets speaks volumes of the overall level of its performance.

Value (9/10) – JVC’s latest microdriver design is solid performer, combining deep bass, a clean midrange, and prominent treble for a crisp and energetic sound. As with the lower-end FX40 model, the FXD80 can’t be recommended without some reservation – the sound signature seems to work best with electronic music and male vocals disappoint compared to the pricier FXT90 model and other competing sets. Still, with its stainless steel shell, above-average isolation, and versatile, no-frills cabling, the FXD80 is one of the better buys in its price range.

Pros: Very solid build, flexible and quiet cabling, highly proficient sound
Cons: Fit may not work for those with narrow ear canals


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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.

48 Comments

  1. Omer on

    thx for the great review ljokerl!

    I’m looking for IEM with low budget (up to 75$) that will fit mostly classic and light rock music. the thing is that mic and decent isolation are “must” for me. I had the e10m and didn’t really liked them. I recently heard of the vsd2si, the frd80 and the ckm500i, but I’m having some difficulties to decide. what do you think that will fit me the best of those models? or even other model? thx a lot, with shit load of respect!

    • ljokerl on

      I’d probably go for the most neutral thing you can find for your genres, although knowing what you did and didn’t like about the E10M would help confirm if that’s really the way to go here. For instance if you specifically thought the E10M was too neutral (not enough bass, etc), that would change things.

      Otherwise the VSD2 should be the ticket – the FRD80 is a little on the mid-recessed side and the CKM500i is fairly bass-heavy. The VSD2 is in the Goldilocks zone, more or less, compared to these other two.

      • Omer on

        Thanks a lot for the reply!
        I can’t point the specific thing that I didn’t like about the E10m, I guess it felt kind of tired you know? It didn’t gave the will to close my eyes and just give myself to the music.
        If I had to describe it professionally I would say that it probably describes neutrality, but then again, you are the pro 🙂

        • Omer on

          also, you mentioned the vsd2 on purpose or that you meant the vsd2si?

          • ljokerl on

            I am not sure what the difference is between the VSD2 and VSD2S to be honest. I only have the regular VSD2. Typically the differences between these (e.g. VSD1 vs VSD1S) are very small.

            Anyway, if you feel the E10 was too neutral then the CKM500i might be a better choice. It gives you more bass boom and impact, which makes it more difficult to describe as dull or boring 🙂

  2. theZed on

    Hello, ljokerl! You are the best out there. I’m now owning Piston 2. I tried Xiaomi Hybrid and also Piston 3. But Hybrid felt somewhat congested and Piston 3 was not that much dynamic compared to Piston 2. Piston 2 felt more spacious and dynamic to me which I greatly appreciate. I listen to Electronic, Pop, Synthpop, Neo-psychedelia, instrumental(OST) etc and prefer wider soundstage(or imaging maybe. not sure! but like piston 2) Now I need an upgrade over Piston 2 within 150$ range. Can you recommend me some options? And also how about this FXD80?

    • ljokerl on

      The FXD80 doesn’t have the warmth or richness of the Piston 2, so I’m afraid it has more in common with the Piston 3 (which you didn’t like as much). Something more spiritually similar to the Piston 2 in that price range would be the RHA MA750 or even Yamaha EPH-100 (these are not necessarily more spacious, but imaging is very good and makes up for that somewhat). They won’t be 5x as good as your Pistons despite being 5x the price, but that’s very much expected in the audio world – diminishing returns and all that.

      • theZed on

        Piston 2 was ‘opened’ design. FXD80 is similar. So wouldn’t it be a better option than Piston 2 or similar considering soundstage? I think I didn’t like Piston 3 for its ‘closed’ design architecture(which congested its soundstage) rather than the sound signature.

        • ljokerl on

          If that’s your only concern then the FXD80 is a good buy.

  3. Juan Ruiz on

    Hey i can decide for headphones im looking for headphones of this range of price i listen to dance, rock , blues and future bass i like to heard the bass and also i like to heard the micro effects of a song ( a guitar in a chorus or the voices in the background i can decide for this 2 headphones 716278 DX 120 iE/ JVC HA-FXD80, or what headphones would you recomend me

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t have a DX 120 but the FXD80 is not great for bringing out background vocals because of its relatively v-shaped sound signature. I’d recommend the JVC HA-FXT90 for this instead. Plenty of bass and the midrange is a little more forward.

  4. Tamiel on

    Im looking for awesome earbuds on price range 0-70£. I listen a lot of rap and pop. The sound quality is the main factor. Im going to order them from amazon uk. And what do you think about Betron YSM1000 they had pretty good rating on amazon. (If you could make top 6 list of earbuds you recommend i would be glad) and thx for helping people buy the right earbuds =D

    • ljokerl on

      It depends on the kind of sound you are looking for. Rap and especially pop are pretty varied genres and some people might (for example) like a bassier sound while others may prefer a more neutral one. If you are interested in my picks, they can all be found here: http://theheadphonelist.com/earphone-buyers-guide/ . For most listeners I would stick to the basshead or warm and smooth categories.

      You can cross-reference the buyer’s guide with what’s available on Amazon UK under 70£ to make your own list.

      I am not familiar with the Betron brand.

  5. Markus Arike on

    Thanks for your reviews, you have become the definitive source for headphone reviews online for lots of people.

    I’m looking to buy a backup IEM to my beloved JVC HA-FXT90s. I listen to acoustic jazz, RnB, and some hip hop so the full sound of the JVC dual driver IEMs have been great for those genres.

    Do you know what the difference between the HA-FXD70 and HA-FXD80 is? Both seem to use the same micro drivers and look similar design-wise.

    I’ve narrowed my choices down to the HA-FXD80, MEElectronics M-Duo and if the higher price is justified sound wise, the T-Peos H-100.

    Lastly would a budget set like the Soundmagic E10 or E30, Astrotec AM-90 or T-Peos Popular be disappointing? I’m a musician and I’m used to either my ATH-M50x and JVC HA-FXT90. Thanks again for all your hard work keeping us listening via quality headphones.

    • ljokerl on

      You know, I’ve never tried the FXD70 but from what I understand it’s less bass-heavy than the FXD80 and FXD60.

      The H-100 has a brighter sound profile – even though it has the same general v-shaped signature, it leans towards the treble whereas your FXT90 leans more towards the bass, creating a significantly warmer sound. The FXD80 is somewhere in between, making it more acceptable than the H-100 IMO.

      You can definitely try a cheaper set – to decrease your changes of being disappointed I would go for something with the fewest potential downsides – the E10 is probably your best bet there unless you want to spend $50 or so on a VSonic VSD1S or VSD3S.

      • Markus Arike on

        Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.

        From what I’ve learned regarding the differences between the HA-FXD70 and HA-FXD80, the FXD80 seems to be vented as they feature 5 slots encircling the rear housing, like an open back headphone I suppose.

        But I lost my previous backup, the Brainwavz M2 on a trip abroad, and I remember enjoying them quite a bit, much more than the M5 I had. So in an effort to try something new I’ll probably go for either the FXD80 or E10.

        Hoping you review the M-Duo in the future.

        Thanks again.

  6. reversible on

    Hey Joker, thanks for your many awesome reviews.

    I’m looking for a sub-$100 mic-equipped IEM for use with mostly orchestral plus some alternative and r&b. I don’t mind a mild v-shape (little more exciting that way) but am looking for clarity and a good fit. Are these a good choice? What other options I should be considering?

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, these fit the bill. Next best thing with a mic is probably the SteelSeries Flux but it has a warmer sound/milder v-shape and is a little harder to drive.

      • reversible on

        Sweet, thanks for the quick reply! I’m a little concerned about the massive nozzles too, but I’ll have to try them out for myself to know – if I can find a pair. If it doesn’t work out maybe I’ll just get the Flux.

  7. Natesh91 on

    Thx for the reply joker.. I can see the FXD80s are alot cheaper then the Yamahas and RHA.. is the difference in sound that big?
    How are the FXT90 compared to any of these..I can see they also are under the $100 ..
    Last question:)
    I’ve never bought something from amazon ( I Live in the Netherlands)
    Are these suppliers any good?
    http://www.amazon.com/RHA-MA750-Isolating-Headphone–Warranty/dp/B00ELAM8LE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1409839502&sr=1-1&keywords=rha+ma750
    http://www.amazon.com/Victor-Stereo-Headphones-HA-FXD80-Z-Japanese/dp/B0081YU6YW/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1409838376&sr=1-1&keywords=fxd80

    • ljokerl on

      Biggest difference is in the sound signature – the EPH-100, RHA MA750, and to a lesser extent FXT90 have more powerful bass and warmer, more full-bodied sound. The FXD80 is very clear but lacks the richness and some of the bass weight of these others. I would still recommend it over the FXT90 though because the FXT90 doesn’t have the best deep bass (so while all four are great earphones, I would rate them EPH-100 > MA750 > FXD80 > FXT90 for EDM).

      Those amazon listings are fine. There no counterfeits of either model as far as I know. By the way you can also get them on Amazon UK (especially the RHA, because it’s a British company). MA750: http://amzn.to/1xhTmbq . FXD80: http://amzn.to/Wk8pR6 . Might get a lower shipping cost that way.

  8. Natesh91 on

    btw I had sennheisers cx301 before and the were average

  9. Natesh91 on

    Hi great review!
    I am looking for new IEMs.. I mainly listen to hiphop and EDM on my galaxy s4.. I wont pay more then $140,-
    I care alot about lower frequencies and want my bass to be prominent.. I want the mids and highs detailed and clear and I want them to have a good soundstage.. overall im searching for IEMs for in the bus and at school.. so i want some isolation and no leaking of sound so others will hear my music.. I want to experience something great when I listen to the music I love..
    what kind of IEMs do you recommend?

    • ljokerl on

      Well, my #1 recommendation for EDM is the Yamaha EPH-100. You can currently buy it for $140, in the US at least: http://amzn.to/1w8oHJn . Fits your needs very well.

      If the EPH-100 is out of your price range, the FXD80 and RHA MA750 would be my next two options. Isolation is not as good as with the EPH-100, but still pretty good, and leakage is really not a problem with IEMs. The MA750 has a warmer sound with more bass while the FXD80 is a little brighter and clearer.

  10. Ben on

    Hi, was looking to buy a new pair of earphones under £50/80$, I listen to a lot of classical music, while also listening to alternative and hip-hop. These seem like a great pair (HA-FRD80), would you recommend them? Or would you say save up money and try to get an even better pair?
    Great review, thanks :).

    • ljokerl on

      While these might be a little too bassy if used *only* for classical, they should be a good fit for what you’re after. For the price they are very good. It’s your call if you want to spend more on a higher-end pair but I usually don’t recommend getting a very expensive earphone right away.

      • Ben on

        Thanks for the fast reply! I will definitely buy these now, as they won’t be solely used on classical, thanks again:).

      • Ben on

        Is there a notable difference between these two models by the way? I.e. is the FRD better than the FXD?

        • ljokerl on

          As far as I know the difference is just the mic/remote, which the FXD doesn’t have.

  11. BrandonG6 on

    Thanks for the reviews, they’ve helped a lot as i’m trying to find a good pair of earbuds. I Recently had monster turbine golds , but they were stolen at school and i loved them dearly. You see im 16 years old so i can’t afford to buy the golds again. I’ve been looking at your reviews and was wondering what would fit me better keeping in mind i have a budget of around $120, maybe a little more if really worth it. The four that caught my eye were the JVC HA-FXD80, Astrotec AX-35, and the Ultimate Ears UE 600. Maybe even the Velodyne Vpulses. I listen to mainly hip-hop, Alternative rock, and the occasional pop songs that come on the radio. I currently have sennheiser cx300 ii and ehhhh they’re alright. I would prefer there to be a bit more than average bass but nothing too drastic that will soundy muddy and nasty. Please help

    • ljokerl on

      Hmm… the Golds have a very warm and smooth and rich sound, which can’t really be said for the sets you’re considering now. With the exception of the vPulse, they’re all more balanced and cooler in tonal character.

      With your budget in mind, I’d consider the JVC FXT90 over the FXD80 – it’s got a warmer sound with a little more bass impact and a more full-bodied midrange (i.e. a signature somewhere between the FXD80 and your old Turbines). You should be able to find Japan imports around $95-100.

      The RHA MA750 would be my other recommendation. Out of the sets you’re currently considering it’s closest in signature to the vPulse, but it’s a stronger performer. Plenty of bass without sounding muddy and good overall performance for that type of sound. Very easy-going earphones, and in that way highly reminiscent of the Turbine series.

      If you want to spend less, the Nuforce NE-700X is a solid alternative to the vPulse in the “huge bass” department. Either one is a good option if you’re spending <$80.

  12. touji666 on

    Hi joker. Do u think the japanese import version of this has the same sound and build quality? I have a friend who’s coming back from japan and he said this is just around $50 there so i’m thinking of asking him to get me one.

    • ljokerl on

      The only thing that might be different is cable lengths – some Japanese companies release different versions of their earphones for the domestic market because of how popular modular and j-style cables are over there. This is especially true of Sony and Audio-Technica – not sure which (if any) JVC models follow this scheme.

  13. ANDRE on

    I am looking for something that works with my Samsung Galaxy s4 with a MIC. I mainly listen to hip hop. I reviewed your list of recommendations and I am looking to stay under 150.00. Would this be your choice??

    • ljokerl on

      There are quite a few good headsets in that price range. These are good but maybe not the best you can get if you’re willing to go up to $150. If you don’t mind having two extra buttons on the remote (the main button will still work with your S4) and the over-the-ear fit, the RHA MA750i would be a very good option.

      • ANDRE on

        thanks for the reply! Would you choose the Sony MH1C over this model if I don’t really care for over the ear fit?

        • ljokerl on

          Only if I wanted more bass than the FXD80/FRD80 offers. Overall the MH1C is not better.

          • ANDRE on

            Thanks! Last question…

            any other models I should look at?

          • ljokerl on

            Not much else that can beat the FRD80 unless you really want heavier bass. If you do, the ATH-CKM500is and CKM-500i are pretty good around the same price. They don’t quite have the clarity or resolution of the JVCs, though.

  14. Elhanan4 on

    Thanks! And for the kind of music that im listening to, what is better: the vsd1 or the vsd1s?

    • Elhanan4 on

      ( listening to progresive Rock and metal, instromental music and a little bit classic. I want the sound natural as possible. And its very important for me that the earphones wont break after few months. Thanks!)

      • ljokerl on

        The VSD1 and VSD1S are quite similar. The VSD1 seems a little more v-shaped and reminds me more of the GR07 Bass Edition. As a result it appears to emphasize the bass more and seems to have a slightly wider presentation. The VSD1S seems less v-shaped/more mid-focused. The good thing about this is that there is less sibilance. I personally favor the VSD1S but again they are very similar.

        Can’t say much for the durability of either at this point as I’ve only had them for two months but my VSonic GR07 will be 3 years old soon and is still going strong.

        • Elhanan4 on

          Thanks! (its nice to get an answer from the most famous earphones reviewer In the Word 🙂 )

          • ljokerl on

            Hah, I am flattered :). Good luck with your purchase!

  15. Elhanan4 on

    Thanks for the review
    And one quastion- for instromental/progressive/classic music which one is better: this or the vsonic r02 silver / gr06?

    • ljokerl on

      Out of those two probably the R02 silver but if it’s available you might as well spring for the newer VSonic VSD1 (review coming soon). It sounds like a mini-GR07 – not quite as good, but unreasonably close for ~$45.

      • Vass on

        Hey LjokerL,
        here is the dilemma

        I have Sony MH1C, MDR-xb90ex, the Hippos and of course UE 10 Pro Custom molding 3 driver.

        I was looking for the airy punching head shaking best bass with widest stage as in IEM and keep my pocked as safe as possible from going over say $350

        I love the engaging amazing sound or the MH1C but as many people out there I’m wondering if there is something better under $350 as I also have the xb90ex as well.
        I keep switching back and forth with xb90ex but to be honest I like both of them in a different way. Can’t say what bass I like better though or what’s deeper.
        My EU 10 Pro are partially damaged and require $350 fix which I try to avoid for now as I like a little more bass

        Any recommendation will be much appreciated as I also owned the top of the line Yamaha 100sl .
        Thanks in advance Joker
        Vass

        • ljokerl on

          Unfortunately I’m not familiar with the XB90EX but the earphones I usually recommend that are in a similar vein to the MH1C under $350 are the Yamaha EPH-100 that you’ve already tried and the Sony XBA-H3, which may or may not be as bassy as the XB90EX but it definitely is spiritually similar to the MH1C with extended bass, a warm (but not overly so) tone, a pretty wide soundstage, and very smooth overall sound.

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