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JVC HA-FXT90

JVC HA-FXT90 Review

JVC HA-FXT90
Reviewed Jan 2012

Details: JVC’s high-tech take on the dual dynamic earphone
MSRP: est. $149.99 / manufacturer’s page
Current Price: $75 from ebay.com
Specs: Driver: Dual Dynamic | Imp: 12Ω | Sens: 107 dB | Freq: 8-25k Hz | Cable: 4′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges, short bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, cable winder, and clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The plastic housings of the FXT90 may be rather ordinary-looking compared to the metal FX300 and wooden FX500/FX700 shells but it feels very well put together, in typical JVC fashion. The strain reliefs are long and the L-plug is beefy. The cord itself is reasonably thick, soft, flexible, and – best of all – not modular as it is with JVC’s FX500/FX700 models
Isolation (3/5) – Quite good with the ergonomic but shallow-fitting shells
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cable-down; nonexistent with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4/5) – Despite the vertical arrangement of the dual dynamic drivers, the FXT90 is no less comfortable than most conventional straight-barrel IEMs. The ergonomic nozzle angle helps, as do the smooth surface and rounded edges of the housings. Over-the-ear wear is possible but may require longer eartips than those provided

Sound (8.9/10) – The FXT90 is JVC’s first attempt at a dual-dynamic earphone. Utilizing no crossover, the FXT90 relies on the differences between the materials of the two drivers to create a natural variance in their response. Like Fischer Audio’s similarly-priced Tandem, the FXT90 positions the drivers vertically in the ear. Unlike the Tandem, it offers up impressive presence across the frequency range without straying too far from the sound of JVC’s higher-end wooden in-ears.

The low end of the FXT90s is strong but not overly dominant, with a mild mid-bass hump and excellent note thickness – similar in quantity to the Sennheiser IE7, but quicker and more controlled. Impact is good and the bass sounds full and fleshed-out. Compared to JVC’s FX500, the bass of the FXT90 is less prone to overshadowing the midrange, partly because the note presentation is thicker in the midrange and partly because the FXT90 exercises better control over its bottom end. The bass may not be as fast and tight as that of the VSonic’s GR07, but it is more forward and has both greater body and more impact. The GR07 boasts shorter decay times and tends to be quick and punchy, but not as powerful in comparison. Fischer’s dual-dynamic Tandem, too, is flatter through the bass and midrange but yields to the FXT90 in both bass impact and depth.

The midrange of the FXT90 is strong and prominent – not as forward as the mids of the Sennheiser IE7 or Fischer SBA-03, but not in the least laid-back. The good note thickness of the low end is retained, as is a bit of warmth. Despite the presentation being airy and nicely layered, the mids tend towards intimacy. They are smooth and full, with excellent timbre and good transparency. Clarity is good – better than with the Sennheiser IE7 and Fischer Audio Tandem but not quite as impressive as with the more neutral-sounding GR07 or the armature-based ACS T15. Detail levels are nearly on-par with the GR07.

At the top end, the FXT90 is again prominent, yet very competent. The mild emphasis tends to point out and even exaggerate sibilance present on a track but the edginess of the FX500 is all but absent. The energy is still there, however, as it is with all of the higher-end JVC in-ears I’ve heard. Compared to the similarly-priced FA Tandem, the FXT90 is significantly brighter and more sparkly but – luckily – has quality to make the treble work. Treble detail is excellent and the resolution and transparency give the GR07 a run for its money. In comparison, the similarly-priced PureSound ClartyOne lacks separation and sounds both thinner and peakier while the Sennheiser IE7 sounds plasticky and lacks smoothness. Absolute extension at the top is decent but trails both the ClarityOne and the IE7 slightly.

Presentation is yet another strength of the FXT90 – the earphones are airy, well-separated, and nicely layered. Soundstage width is about average but the depth is quite good. Compared to the GR07, the FTX90 sounds narrower and less spacious but has slightly better imaging. Its presentation is more intimate compared to the GR07 and Tandem and more well-rounded than those of the similarly-priced ClarityOne and Fischer SBA-03. Dynamics are good and the efficiency is very impressive. That’s not to say there’s no upgrading from the FXT90 – there is a noticeable gap in detail, refinement, and soundstaging when moving to a higher-end set like the HiFiMan RE272, but for the asking price the FXT90 is a very impressive all-around performer.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (9/10) – The JVC FXT90 is not the first dual-dynamic earphone to hit the market, but it may just be the first one you’ll actually want to live with. From a usability standpoint it is clearly the best of the bunch, foregoing not only the awkward fit and questionable design of the dual-dynamic competition but also the modular cable and open-back housings of the other high-end JVC monitors. The sound of the FXT90 is balanced in an aggressive sort of way, with the intimate midrange giving up only a bit of emphasis to the prominent bass and sparkly treble. The sound is strengthened by good timbre and a nicely layered presentation – the same qualities that make the FX700 a cream-of-the-crop top-tier. Simply put, the FXT90 is one of the best deals in portable audio.

Pros: Lively, competent sound; solidly built; low microphonics
Cons: N/A

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ABOUT AUTHOR

ljokerl

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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114 Responses

  1. Repaired both pairs of earphones with a hot glue gun minding sure to avoid the side air vents. Both sets of earphones work flawlessly once again and I would highly recommend running over glue seems with epoxy/hot glue to reinforce the earphones as they are clearly fragile out of the factory.

  2. All three are on the same performance level more or less. Philips would probably fall right between these and the VSonics in terms of scoring, but with a sound signature way more similar to the GR07 BE than the FXT90. The FXT90 has more of a mid-bass hump, brighter and more sparkly highs, and a more forward overall presentation. The GR07 BE and Fidelio S2 both tend to sound more spacious and laid-back, and both have more balanced/neutral sound than the FXT90.

  3. You have been incredibly helpful!!! How would you compare these to the Philips Fidelio S2 and Vsonic GR07 BE? You gave these an 8.9 for sound. How would you rate the Philips in sound and the other categories?

  4. Just an FYI for current or potential HA-FXT90 owners, I’ve already had two pairs of the earphones fall apart due to failed glue on the earphone housing making them completely usable but potentially fixable. It’s strange since one day the earphones appear to be in perfect condition, the next day you pick them up from your desk and they have all separated at the glue seams.

  5. For that kind of price the FX40 is excellent – even more so if you listen to EDM. The FXD80 has a similar sort of sound as well, and to a lesser extent T-Peos sets like the H-100 and Altone200.

    Haven’t tried the higher-end FXTs or the FXZ models (although the latter were supposed to be quite a bit bassier so I don’t know if they can be a direct upgrade to the FX40s).

  6. Hey Joker,

    I ended up going with the JVC FX40s just to get a taste of JVC’s carbon nanotube technology, and I must say that I find them quite capable for a $15 pair of earphones. The V-shaped sound of the FX40s with it’s tight bass at bright treble only make me want to experience the higher-end JVC IEMs more.

    I have come across three in my price range: the FXT90s, the FXT100/200s, and the FXZ200s. I’ve read your review on the FXT90s, but was wondering if you’ve listed to the other two that I’ve listed. I really think I’ve found my prefer sound in JVC and am now considering one of these three earphones as my first mid/upper tier IEM purchase.

    Thanks!

  7. I don’t know if it’s the best all-rounder because it has a rather strong sonic flavor (with lifted bass and treble, and just quite forward overall) but it is very good for EDM and such.

  8. Hey Joker,

    Would you consider the FXT90 to be a good all-arounder? I currently have a pair of RE-400s, and while I really like them, they aren’t great with a lot of the electronic-based music that I’ve been listening to as of late.

  9. Thank you very much – I really appreciate that!

    That was the intent of this site (and originally my Head-Fi thread) – to provide a slightly different approach to reviews, with an emphasis on consistency, lack of bias, and a more sound signature-centric approach, in contrast to the “latest and greatest” mentality of more standalone reviews. Very glad to hear that my vision and reviews have had such an effect. Many more are on the way :).

  10. Sir,

    This is the best site I’ve come to in my weeks long research on headphones. The way you’ve subdivided the list –V-shaped, balanced, etc.– is so spot on, wise and useful. (Since “best” depends on what type pf sound you want. Some sites are okay to have a best bass headphone section, but that is touching only the surface. You consider the entire range and group many products according to these subdividions.) Your descriptions are so informed, so tangible/real, I can “hear” the quality of sound without even trying them on. These descriptions tell me exactly what I need to know it a cohesive and relative way—-you weave in and other models to give the reader a sense of how the particular model stacks up to a brand we may have experienced or a popular brand we may have read about.

    I’ve looked at sooooooooo many websites—-cnet, wirecutter, headfonics, head-fi or whatever it’s called haha–and have seen soooo many videos; and you know your sh*t. Your level of knowledge is so apparent: I was just reading up on multiple drivers (dynamic and BA and crosswiring or whatever to make a harmonious union between the drivers) and sure enough… YOU CASUALLY EDUCATE US ON MULTI-DRIVERS GENERALLY–thank you!–AND HOW THIS BRAND IMPLEMENTS MULTIPLE DRIVERS SUCCESSFULLY.

    Sorry to be so excited. Haha. I just felt it important to let you know that you’re quite gifted, intelligent, awesome, well-thought-out to the consumer’s benefit. I’m not sure who your teachers were or how many hours of reading you put in to be who you are, but I thank you–because you’re the sh*t. Haha. Pardon my rambling… It’s Saturday and I’m not even in work or writer mode… I just HAD TO GIVE YOU PROPS. Thanks.

  11. Yeah, they are similar in the very general sense of being somewhat v-shaped sounding but the CKM99 is generally more full-sounding while the FXT90 is more on the lean and fast side with a more aggressive, in-your-face presentation. Unless you want to try something other than a v-shape I don’t think they will be redundant in your collection.

  12. Hi joker, would like to ask if this earphone has a different sound signature compared to the ATH-CKM99 which i own. From what i read these have a v-shaped sound signature and airy presentation like the CKM99s but i would like to know if they sound really different or just slightly different before i make purchase.

  13. They’re both very good earphones for the price. I tend to favor the EPH-100’s tuning with its slightly deeper bass, smoother treble, and overall less v-shaped response.

  14. Hi ljokerl. Long time fan of your work! Thanks for all your dedication to your reviews.

    Just wanted your opinion of how these headphones would compare against the Yamaha EPH-100 (price wise these would be slightly cheaper in AUD). I mainly listen to EDM, RNB and Pop music and I do like my bass.

  15. It’s a very different sound to the MH1C – brighter, more forward and intimate, not as smooth, and just more aggressive overall. It does fine with female vocals but it won’t be a smooth as the MH1C… good if you feel the Sonys are lacking in energy. Clarity and resolution are not better than the VSD3S – the VSD3S is actually more balanced than these, which helps.

  16. Hello Joker.
    Would you consider this an upgrade from MH1C? How does it compare?
    Also, how does this render female vocals?
    Is the clarity and resolution better than Vsonic VSD3 or VSD3S

    Sorry for the many questions
    Thank you!

  17. I was looking at those but since you thought their edgy behavior was too much for rock music I was skeptical. Still keeping my options open though, thank you for your time you’ve been of great help.

  18. Yeah, the BA200 sounds nothing like these. For fidelity these are not in the same league as the TDKs but if you’re just looking for a fun sound, they more than hold their own. I wouldn’t say the FXT90 is cold-sounding though, not like the FXD80 or MOE-SS01 (https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/moe-audio-moe-ss01-review/). Signature-wise the SS01 might actually be the best match for what you’re after – cool tonal character and not very v-shaped or bassy, but more so than a BA200.

  19. Last time you suggested the TDK BA200 for another reason but would you recommend them for this one? Or would you say that it’s too neutral for what I’m asking? Keep in mind that I’m looking for a sound that will make me want to break things (not the headphones). The music, more specifically, is hardcore/punk with mostly shouting like vocals if that at all helps. Example below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxMSy0ZcTEM

  20. Cool, thanks for your input. Just curious, would you have any suggestions for perhaps a colder sounding headphone that can still get down with the brutal tunes? The FXD80 sounds like the way to go but I’m not sure how I feel about the recessed vocals. Something not quite as sharp sounding as an Audio Technica but still in your face with a quick and solid low end, upfront vocals and clear highs. I know it’s a lot to ask but I really appreciate your feedback.

  21. More forward mids and brighter sound on these compared to the TS02, but with better overall clarity, dynamics, etc. I’m having a hard time remembering the exact bass qty of the TS02 but it should be in the same ballpark as the FXT90. Certainly neither of them is bass-light. I prefer the FXT90 to both the SE215 and TS02 for rock and metal.

  22. How would you compare the sound of these to that of the Thinksound TS02 (bass, midrange, treble)?

    Would you prefer these or Shure 215 for rock/metal?

  23. Thanks!

    Knowing myself, I’d manage to lose JH16s in a week or two if I ever decided to get them (though so far I dont think I ever lost IEMs but that’s just my luck)…

    I think I will go for the JVC (if I can find it from a reputable source that will ship to Switzerland, it’s not sold locally and I am a little wary of Chinese ebay vendors regarding fakes) then, less annoying if I destroy a 80USD one instead of a 120USD 🙂 (or 150, in case of the Altone). They ought to be good enough for commuting and the gym and if I find them too bad for the office I can always drag a closed can to the office and just keep it there…

  24. Actually customs (and other IEMs with replaceable cables) do make some sense if you go through a lot of high-end earphones. $50 replacement cables every year are cheaper than even $100 earphones, in the long run. Unfortunately some replacement cables (ahem… Sony) are unreasonably pricy.

    The FXT90 has more bass than a GR07 BE and a more full-bodied sound overall. The GR07 BE is clearer, more neutral and more accurate, but also about 60% more expensive even at the current discounted prices. I’d probably trust JVC’s construction over VSonic’s, too, and honestly these don’t feel as big as they look when they’re in your ears. JVC even has a triple-driver model that’s a hell of a lot bigger than these.

  25. Also, less someone recommends the RE400, I should add that I hated my original RE0 (the only good thing about that piece where the aforementioned giant tips). I am also not too fussed at paying more but seeing that I keep destroying IEMs, 100-150 seems the sweet spot (I have a competent stereo setup and a bunch of good circumaural cans for home use so these are strictly for on the go and the gym)

  26. Wow, I truly I loved my sadly long dead FX500 (ignoring that little detail of nonexistent isolation) and I am sort of trying to decide between I guess this and a GR07 Bass (had the original one, with a bit of eqíng, it did have enough bass). I just destroyed a Brainwavz Dual Driver (plug has gone bad) and I am a little worried about getting another huge ass IEM now (thankfully I have big ears, big enough to need those humongous hifiman dual flanges)…

    I’ve been contemplating customs but at the rate I kill my IEMs, that is a dumb idea. So I guess it’s between these and the GR07 Bass.

  27. Sounds like textbook distortion. If they play fine with your computer but not your phone, it’s probably some kind of electrical interaction – maybe a high noise floor or high output impedance on the Nexus, or something else causing distortion. The FXT90 doesn’t have a crossover but it’s a pretty sensitive earphone overall. Shouldn’t have any problems with the FIIO but I haven’t tried them in combination – only heard the X3 a couple of times and only with higher-end IEMs.

  28. Hi Joker! big fan of yours, got my vsd1s when you helped out and still enjoying it. Now i just got the fxt-90 but using it with my Nexus 4 gives some crackling sound, i noticed this only with this and MH1c, all others sound fine, JVC’s work perfect on PC and with Nexus 7 tablet, so is there something in the JVC’s that make it crackle? its not a driver-flex, its independent of how its inserted or moved. So just wanted to make sure that the problem is with the source and they are fine. Also i am planning on buying a Fiio X3, would it be a better match with JVC’s?

  29. The closest thing I know to a VSD1S upgrade is a GR07 Bass Edition (haven’t tried the new VSD3S yet).

    The FXT90 is a little different in sound signature – warmer, more mid-bassy, and with a more intimate presentation. It’s good but not really a straight upgrade from a VSD1S.

  30. Hey was wondering if these iems would be a good step up from the vsonic vsd1s. Im not really good with hi fi lingo but want something with the similar sound signature to the vsd1s. All help appreciated. Thanks.

  31. I haven’t tried the VSD3S yet, but the FXT90s do have good bass and clarity. Their presentation is less about spaciousness and more about depth and layering, but that’s alright. It works well for EDM especially. I don’t think you can go wrong with them.

    By the way, be careful of fakes of the FX500. As far as I know it’s been discontinued and there have a been a lot of reports of counterfeit units.

  32. Hello, my good sir. I’m a big fan, and your reviews are the best:)
    I’ve a question to ask. I’m currently torn between these JVC HA-FXT90s and VSD3S/VSD3s(which are supposed to be upgrades from the GR06) and possibly even JVC FX500s.
    I like EDM, jazz and Rock, but I also listen to pop, classic, you name it. There isn’t much I don’t listen to, and that’s part of the reason I’m stumped. I seem to lean towards bass and like spaciousness/clarity in audio, though:)
    If you’d help, I’d be so glad. thanks!

  33. Just got mine around 2weeks ago 🙂 this is great! It’s like brainwaz m1 with better everything! It still lacks sub bass weight and some detail on the mid bass and mid treble but it’s very tolerable and may change after physical or mental burn-in.

  34. Hi thanks for your review. I’m very keen on these but to be honest I need something like this with a remote and mic for my Samsung phone because I listen to all my music on there while commuting and I need to be able to answer calls from customers and so on. I am guessing I like the V shaped sound because I do like something a bit exciting and a bit more balanced than just the bass heavy sound. I have had several altec lansing speakers and love all of them . I guess their sound is very expansive and clear and clean with higher treble (I think). A bit of bass is always welcome but clarity is more important to me . Any recommendations ??

  35. These are fine with Android phones – despite the crossover they’re really not very discriminating between sources. The only thing to watch out for is the treble – if you’re using a brighter source it might become excessive on the FXT90.

    And yes, these are much better than the old CX300. Still haven’t tried the CX300-II – sorry.

  36. Hi, I’m interested in this headphones, are they good to be used with an Android phone, like my LG G2? I use them also on my mp3 player and pc. Now I have a pair of sennheiser cx 300 II but I want something better, you have reviewed the model cx 300, however I don’t think the model cx 300 II is much different, and this JVC seems better at everything, what you say?:-D Thanks

  37. Both of them are a step up from the S4 but if you’re looking for versatility I’d lean towards the MA750 with its deeper bass and slightly less pronounced top end. It’s a great earphone if you’re looking for “fun” sound as opposed to accurate/neutral.

  38. Hey Joker,

    I am planning to upgrade from Klipsch S4’s, but I need a bit of advice. I listen to an even mix of hip hop, electronic, indie rock, and pop, and I was wondering if the FXT90 or the MA750 would be more versatile. Thanks for your help!

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