Details: Exercise-friendly IEM from JVC’s made-for-women series
Current Price: $17 from Amazon.com (MSRP: $19.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 10-23k Hz | Cable: 3.9’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Sony Hybrids
Wear Style: Over-the-ear
Accessories (1/5) – Single flange silicone tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (2.5/5) – The EBX85 is designed with active use in mind. The housings and earhooks are made of a flexible rubberized plastic with a harder material used for the inner shell and glittery JVC nameplate. The thin plastic cable is similar to that used on JVC’s budget-level earbuds and inferior to the thicker cords used on the Marshmallow and AirCushion IEMs. The 2”-long earhooks act as a strain relief on housing entry and the 3.5mm I-plug is similarly well-relieved
Isolation (2.5/5) – Isolation is quite typical for a low-end dynamic. The large shells prevent deep insertion, however, and the stock tips aren’t very good
Microphonics (4/5) – Slight microphonics are present despite the native over-the-ear configuration but aren’t bothersome once the music starts playing
Comfort (4/5) – The ergonomic form factor and soft earhooks make the EBX85 a comfortable IEM to use but may not fit smaller ears snugly
Sound (3.6/10) – The sound of the HA-EBX85 is quite typical of a low-end JVC earphone and reminds me greatly of the once-ubiquitous Marshmallows. The earphones are warm and bassy, providing greater rumble but less impact than the similarly-priced Yamaha EPH-20. The bass is very full but slightly washed-out. Low-end control is lacking on bass-heavy tracks, resulting in slight muddying up of the midrange. The mids are fairly even, increasing in presence towards the upper midrange/treble. Lower treble is accented and results in a fair amount of sparkle and a more balanced sound than the bass quantity would indicate. For a low-end set the treble is actually decently extended and sounds neither dull nor excessively edgy. Treble detail is mediocre but for the price I’m willing to live with that. Clarity is also lacking compared to the best penny-pinching sets from Meelectronics. In addition, the earphone lacks dynamics, sounding a bit ‘shouty’ at all times, but a lack of dynamic range is nothing unexpected for a low-end product. The EBX85 does, however, do one thing surprisingly well for the price – it has a great sense of soundstaging and separation. The positioning isn’t accurate by any means but the little JVCs actually managed to surprise me once or twice even when compared directly to the Meelec M6s that I normally use as a benchmark for ‘active-use’ IEMs.
Value (7/10) – The JVC HA-EBX85 is a low-end ‘earhook’ IEM from JVC’s designed-for-women series. Available in a variety of colors and geared towards active use, the EBX85 is a capable budget-minded set that does a few things very well for the price. Unfortunately, like so many mainstream budget earphones, it sounds as if the engineers turned the bass up to 11 while at the same time limiting the output of the driver, which resulted in lots of mediocre-quality bass. The sound is bass-heavy but not attention-grabbing – perfect for distraction-free use while exercising. It should be noted that the EBX85 does work exceedingly well for active use in general, offering moderate isolation, low microphonics, and a stable fit. Unfortunately, the stock tips don’t really work with the relatively small 4mm nozzle but for those in search of a bargain-beater IEM for exercising or general use, the EBX85 is a solid choice, especially if decent tips (e.g. Sony Hybrids) are available.
Pros: Stable fit, low microphonics, surprising soundstaging & separation
Cons: Stock eartips don’t stay on the nozzles, lacks clarity & detail