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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. I ordered the Dunu Titan 1 back in June and I am pretty happy with the choice, but now I want to try something new… What would you recommend, would this pair of JVC HA-FXT90 be a good choice, the Vsonic VSD1s( the gr 07 would be an expensive choice) or maybe I should go with xiaomi pistons 4?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. I think the Yamahas have better bass – it’s more linear and has better depth. FXT90 is a little more mid-bassy and quite not as controlled, though impact is similarly excellent.

    Presentation is more similar than different, both are forward-sounding and have good dynamics and layering. FXT90 is a little wider, EPH-100 is a little cleaner, but compared to something like a GR07 the differences in presentation between them are pretty much negligible.

  3. Hey Joker. Great review as always. I’ve been considering getting a party earphone for a while and I’m really considering to bite on these. I would like to have an earphone to have the bass level/style of the EPH-100, how do the bass of the FXT90 compare to the Yamaha’s? Thanks

  4. Very, very different earphones. The RE-400 is quite flat, even a little mid-centric. The FXT90 is v-shaped, meaning the bass and highs are boosted relative to the midrange. This is much more similar to the S4 sound signature, except the FXT90 is not as severe of a v-shape and avoids some of the biggest issues that plague the S4 as a result. If balanced is what you want, the RE-400 is better, but it’s going to sound very different from your S4.

    If you want something a little safer, you can try to split the difference with an earphone that still has a balanced sound profile, but with a bit more bass and treble than the RE-400 – for example the VSonic GR07 Classic or the Philips Fidelio S2. I recommend these very often as a first “hi-fi” IEM purchase because of how versatile they are. They let you dip your toes into balanced sound with a slightly “safer” (coming from the S4) tuning.

  5. Hey Joker, I was wondering if you could do a comparison between the RE-400 and the FXT90. I’m looking for an upgrade from the Klipsch S4is and was wondering what key differences there are between the two. I listen to pop, post-hardcore, indie, electronic, so a variety of genres. Looking for a pretty balanced sound, my budget’s around $100. Thank you so much

  6. Joker,

    Thank you for your kind recommendations! I read your reviews on the specified iems. I think I’m going to choose the Yamaha EPH-100. They sound like exactly what I’m looking for. Have an Happy 4th of July!

  7. Probably don’t want the FXT90 if you’re worried about treble smoothness. In the ~$100-120 price range something like a Yamaha EPH-100 or RHA MA750 would be better. If you’re looking to stay under $80, the Sony MH1C is very good, assuming you can live with its flat asymmetrical cable.

  8. Joker,

    You are the man when it comes to iem! I’ve been reading and was hoping you could give me some direction? I am looking for iem that will sound good with hip hop, house, and heavy metal. I like bass and don’t want treble that’s fatiguing (my ears are pretty sensitive to bright treble). What would be a could choices price wise?

    Thanks!

  9. You were right to try and find an FXT90, it works very well for that type of music.

    Alternatives under $70 would be something like a VSonic GR02 Bass Edition or Brainwavz S1. Philips SHE3580 (or 3590) would be awesome too. Don’t let the price of these fool you, they’re among the best sub-$50 IEMs.

  10. I think they are fake, because those headphones come without his box, and the seller is from china.
    Can you recommend for me headphones?
    My budget: 70$~
    My music: house, electro house, deep house, trance.
    Thanks man !!

  11. I haven’t seen any confirmed cases of fake FXT90s, but there’s always a chance. No way to really know from the listing.

  12. Have you or will you have the opportunity to compare these to the JVC-FXH30 any time soon?
    I agreed with your review of the FXT90 and was recently contemplating getting the FXH30 but wasn’t sure how they compare.
    Thanks

  13. They’re very different. The MA750 is tuned for a mildly v-shaped sound, has a warmer tone, and tends to be pretty smooth. The Titan 1 is brighter, significantly more mid-forward, and has a bit less emphasis on the low end.

  14. Yeah, I usually recommend the DUNU Titan 1 as an Ostry upgrade. Really like these earphones as a KC06 step up for their wide soundstage, punchy bass, bright highs, and forward vocals.

  15. Is there anything else you’d recommend having a look at that’s more similar to the Ostrys in a sense that they ‘re v shaped without taking a huge hit in emphasis for vocals? (My FXD80 for example had quite recessed mids so vocals really lacked any shine)

  16. They’re pretty comparable IEMs but the MA750 is a little more versatile and also “safer” in the sense that it’s more forgiving and a little less colored overall. The FXT90 will also be a bigger change from your KC06A with its more mid-bassy sound and more aggressive presentation. The MA750, while still more on the warm/smooth side of things compared to an Ostry, is at least comparable to the KC06 in soundstage size.

  17. Would you be able to do a quick comparison between the FXT90 and the RHA MA750? I was set to get the MA750 a say next upgrade from the Ostry KC06A, but the £35 price tag (vs £70 for the MA750) is making me think twice if they’re pretty comparable IEMs.

    If it helps, I listen to a lot of house and garage.

    Thanks!

  18. Haha, thanks!

    Others have been posting about those inexpensive JVCs and they seem like a great deal to me. To the best of my knowledge noone has reported back regarding them being genuine, which is probably a good thing (I’d like to think if they weren’t, THL readers would come back and let the rest of us know).

    If what you’re looking for compared to your Piston 3 is a slightly warmer and fuller sound that still maintains a somewhat v-shaped balance and high clarity, I’d go for the FXT90 over the alternatives. If you want something more specific from your new IEMs, like a flatter sound or a wider soundstage, then the other options you’re looking at may be better but in the absence of such requirements I don’t think you can do better than the FXT90.

  19. Hey ljokerl

    I just love your work… and have been following your work for how long even I can’t remember

    I’ve been looking for something to upgrade my Pistons 3… But I don’t know where to start

    These are selling on ebay and they seem relatively real

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/ORIGINAL-JVC-HA-FXT90-TWO-MICRO-HD-High-Definition-Sound-TWIN-SYSTEM-Earphones-/252301775283?hash=item3abe5b91b3:g:W4cAAOSwzgRW0eZA

    I was also looking at multiple other IEMS like the VSD3S, B3 PRO 1, KC06 and the RE-400, to name a few

    I also found this bargain

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/272101850367?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    (VSD1S) for $17 USD but am unsure whether its much of an upgrade from the pistons

    I thank you for all the work and I hope you do respond ASAP

    <3 you

  20. They’ll work well as long as you don’t mind the emphasis being on the bass and treble, rather than on the midrange.

  21. Hi joker , i tried looking for this iem but was referred to its successor instead the 208 instead so was wondering if theres a review for the new one

  22. Glad to hear they’re growing on you!

    As for an upgrade, you have a couple of of options. You found the FXT90 a little harsh initially, so you can go back to a smoother type of sound with the RHA MA750. It’s still mildly v-shaped, but it also has a warm and pleasant tone with much less harshness. The MA750 also has an upgrade of its own, the T20, but those are brand new and currently a little outside of your budget at $230-240.

    The other option is to gain more accuracy while still maintaining the v-shaped sound with something like the DUNU DN-1000. This is my preference and the IEM I recommend most often for v-shaped sound under $200, but it’s more finicky in terms of fit and not as smooth as the MA750. You do, however, get excellent midrange and treble clarity/detailing as well as deep and solid bass.

  23. Hello Joker
    I don’t know its in head burning or what..but I find now the jvc with a little more spark in treble and better soundstage compared to the piston.Maybe these have grown on me :)..thanks for the recommendations for both of the earphones..
    Though if I was to upgrade from fxt90 with the same type of sound signature-which earphone would you recommend under $200?

  24. The Piston 3 and FXT90 have different treatments of treble. The FXT90 is more energetic overall, so don’t expect it to smooth out to Piston 3 level. I don’t recommend relying on physical burn-in to improve an earphone, either. “Brain” burn-in (i.e. getting used to a new sound signature) is a different matter, but beyond that you’re much better off taking things into your own hands by experimenting with fit and eartips. Those can make quite a sizable difference.

  25. Hello
    I recently bought fxt90 and 2 months before brought piston 3..and I would say piston 3 were quite an upgrade from my earlier earphones..but I’m switching back between piston 3 and fxt90…I find fxt90 a little harsh compared to smoother piston..though I have burn in them for am out 10-12 hours till now..Do these earphones require more burn in and will it sound any better?

  26. Hmm.. in the most general sense a lot of higher-end V-shaped earphones will do all this, especially the better balancing of sub-bass and mid-bass. For instance, the DUNU DN-1000 still has a sizable amount of bass but it’s both more extended and more controlled compared to the FXT90. In the sub-$200 range, the DN-1000 is what I normally recommend for v-shaped sound. However, with the DN-1000 and many of the clearer-sounding hybrid earphones you’ll also hear the v-shaped signature more pronounced, meaning the mids sound will more recessed than on the FXT90.

    As you go up in price, these types of earphones tend to become more balanced, clear, and detailed, and less noticeably v-shaped. For example the DUNU DN-2000 is like a re-balanced DN-1000 with more linear bass and less recessed mids. The higher-end FLC Technology FLC8 can be made even more balanced than the DN-2000.

    If you’re not married to something that sounds v-shaped in the most general sense, you can go for a smoother earphone like the Yamaha EPH-100. The EPH-100 tends to be bassier than the FXT90 but still does what you want with the sub-bass and has less recessed mids and smoother treble compared to v-shaped IEMs in its price range.

    If you want to go high-end, I think the 1964EARS 1964-V3 is the best FXT90 upgrade you can get overall – it provides a a much more accurate interpretation of a similar sort of sound, preserving the energy of a slightly v-shaped signature without any of the drawbacks. You don’t get quite as much bass as with the FXT90, but there’s still more of it compared to the majority of custom IEMs and it is the IEM that comes to mind when I think “v-shaped feel but not really missing mids”.

  27. Hello there
    First, thanks for your excellent work. Your reviews guided me in my early days of foraying into the world of iems and headphones at headfi.
    My focus and priorities changed in the past few years but I am now returning to exploring good sound. With all the iems I tried I have found that my favorite is still the FXT90. Even though it is V-shaped, the layering does not make me feel like I am missing the mids in the least bit.
    With that said, I would like to “upgrade” from the FXT90 but the only requirement for that is more focus on the sub-bass than the mid-bass and perhaps highs that are just a little less harsh.
    Do you have any recommendations?

  28. Thank you! THL 1.1 is coming soon, and it’s our readers’ support that’s made it possible. We’ll be working on THL 2.0 from there.

    P.S. V6-Stage at black friday prices (assuming they run a sale again this year) is very hard to beat 🙂

  29. Thanks, I’m really happy with Dunu, I’d still have the Titan, as well, but I couldn’t get use to the fit. Next step, which won’t be until the middle of next year is something like the Noble 4S, UM Miracle or V6 Stage Drivers.

    Thanks again Joker, it’s always a pleasure to stop by for a visit. 🙂

  30. Hah, I should question recommendation requests more often :p

    Both the DN-1000 and DN-2000J in your collection – very nice. That should go a long way towards satisfying different needs.

  31. I think i figured it out. I needed to adjust my ears to the some other earphones before judging their capabilities. There’s just nothing in my arsenal that comes close to the definition and separation of the 2Kj. I grabbed my Dunu 1K and changed the tips from Comply to some of the stock silicone tips that came with the 2Kj which opened up the 1K, particularly the highs, and sound wonderful.

    Thanks again Joker, you Sir are the greatest. 🙂

  32. While far from dull and lifeless, I’m not sure the v-shaped sound of these is an especially good fit for classic rock, either. The EPH-100 will be much smoother but not sure if has the bright highs you’re looking for. I guess it would help if you could clarify where you want the bass and treble levels to be in comparison to the DN-2000J, because to me that already has a good portion of bass and fairly bright treble.

    Maybe the Alpha & Delta AD01 is worth considering: https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/alpha-delta-ad01-in-ear-earphone-review/ . It has more of a deep bass focus than the FXT90 and is a bit less bright. I thought it had a slightly dry and gritty sound compared to most other similarly-tuned sets and worked better for rock.

  33. Hiya Joker, I need some help. I’ve been listening to the Dunu 2Kj’a for the past few weeks, which I love, But, all my other iem’s sound dull and lifeless now. I don’t think the 2Kj is a great match for classic rock, allman bros, hendrix, etc. I need something gritty with a good portion of bass and fairly bright and can handle high volume without breaking up.

    Think these could fit the bill? I was also considering the Fidue A73 and maybe the EPH 100. Any suggestions would be great.

  34. Quite well if you don’t mind a colored (non-neutral) sound – the FXT90 provides quite a bit of impact and the highs are quite energetic compared to a balanced/reference earphone. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on the listener. The layering and soundstage depth of the FXT90 are an asset.

  35. I suppose it depends on your budget, as well as how much of that v-shape you want to retain (if any). All of the customs I’ve tried are less v-shaped than the FXT90 – it’s just a matter of degrees. The most v-shaped one in my collection, the 1964EARS 1964-V3, maintains much of that “fun factor” of the JVCs without sounding quite so colored, but it is more fatiguing than the UE900, for example. I still like it quite a bit and it’s always been my recommendation for a more fun-sounding custom in the sub-$500 range, but if you want something closer to the flat UE900s, the V3 isn’t it.

    On the smooth end of the spectrum you have sets like the Custom Art Pro330v2 (if you budget is in the $500-600 range). It has great mids and clarity, with a detail and resolving (compared to UE900) but still smooth (especially compared to 1964-V3 and FXT90). If your budget is in the $500-600 range, this is the one I’d consider most strongly for a smooth, yet accurate sound.

  36. Hi |joker|, really appreciate all your reviews on these iems and helpful replies 🙂 I currently own a jvc fxt90 and a ue900 and am thinking of going into customs, which custom would you recommend for a less V shaped response of the fxt90 with better details and nice mids as compared to the ue900?
    Personally find the fxt90 more fun but the more neutral ue900 is less fatiguing and more true to life

  37. Hey Joker,

    JVC seems to have recently released FXT90’s successors – FXT100 and FXT200 with even more tech and at very competitive prices.

    Any chances of a review/impression and how they compare to the FXT90s?

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