As more and more products are created that allow s to take our digital life on the road with us, there has been a need to deliver better audio from these palm sized powerhouses. Most of these devices come with basic or proprietary headphones that do not do justice to the quality of audio that they can produce. This is where companies such as JVC have made a mark, such as the high-quality JVC HA-FX300
earbud style headphones.
Out of the Box
||JVC HA-FX300 Headphones
||$45 - $99
|Weight (without cord)
Like many companies, JVC has adopted a standard “look” for the packaging and presentation of their products when they hit retail shelves. The HA-FX300 package (like most JVC ear buds) display the speaker ends of the headphones though a clear window while the remainder of the package touts the performance.
Included in the FX300 box are the ear buds with attached 3.28ft cord, zippered storage case, three pairs of silicon ear pieces (small, medium and large sizes) and a pair of memory foam ear pieces. Overall, this is a fairly robust amount of included accessories, but something you should expect from the JVC higher end speaker lineup.
The first thing that will catch your attention is that the ear buds simply look cool. Whether it is in the packaging, the storage case or your ear canal, they look like a high-quality audio product. Most buds are nondescript and disappear when they hit the ear canal. With the FX300 and their colors (Red, Black and Gold), they look as good as they sound.
The cord length (3’ 3”) is a bit of a disappointment, as anything less than 4 ft tends to restrict the range of movement. I found that while using them connected to a laptop, iPod or PSP that was in direct vicinity I was in good shape. However, forget about using them for any type of workout or activity where the device they are connected to is not stationary. The cord smply restricts the movement too much unless you buy a 6ft extendor, which may degrade the sound quality.
The FX300 ear buds provide one of the best fits of the many pairs of buds I have used over the years. In addition to the contoured tips, the lightweight aluminum chassis of each bud fit perfectly inside my ear. Obviously all ears are different, but with the four separate tip options, there will be one that fits your ears.
After choosing the middle tip (the one on the bids at shipping) I put them through some rigorous testing, including several marathons consisting of at least three consecutive hours of use. These consisted of listening to music with my iPod Touch, playing games on the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS or just plugged into my work laptop. Not once did I feel the need to remove the FX300’s in order to give my ears a break. They fit tight, yet comfortable and I forgot they were in my ears most of the time.
One quirk to the instructions directs the wearer to loop the cords up and over their ear to the back. The design is simple, yet very effective, as it prevents the buds from being accidentally yanked out of your ear at any given moment. With the cords over the ears, it takes about 10 times the pressure to get the bid to move (after your ear bends down) and will virtually eliminate any accidental removals.
Let’s face it, when using ear buds, the two stigmas attached to this type of headphone revolves around how well they stay in your ear and how well do they handle deep bass. I talked about the comfort and fit previously, but the way the ear buds reproduce audio is paramount for any headphone. While most buds only handle midrange and tweeter levels well, the FX300s also excel at providing superior bass response with a perfect blend of mid range and highs.
I started my testing with a decidedly bass-heavy montage including a healthy does of Metallica, 50 Cent, Houston, Akon and Godsmack among others. However, the two songs in particular that really stood out were ‘Irreplaceable’ by Beyonce and “I Like That” by Houston. Both songs have very clear vocals and a great background beat with an underlying bass track that really showed off the entire range of the ear buds. They FX300s reproduced the songs exactly as I would expect them to. In addition, I tested them against a couple of very distinct deep bass notes in specific songs from Stone Temple Pilots (‘Creep’) and Korn (‘Got the Life’). In both instances, it sounded like the sounds produced by my Athena speakers in my home theater system.
For testing of overall music range, I started using “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock in addition to Queensrÿche’s “Real World.” Because they both contain multiple music elements, including a solid bass line, gospel style background vocals and clean lead vocals. As I expected, the FX300s handled both songs exceptionally well, including the hard hitting bass drums in “Real World” with absolutely no muddiness in the audio.
With any set of speakers or headphones there is always a best sound when using an Equalizer of some sort to tailor make the sound to your personal preference. After playing around with several of the option on my iPod Touch, I found the best EQ setting to be “Small Speakers”. With this pre-set, it reduced the overall brightness of the head phones and provided a solid blend across the bass, midrange and high notes except at obnoxiously high levels. However, for the majority of the testing I used the “flat” setting on any equalizers if they were available.
The only negative I found was when the volume was turned up to the higher levels. As the volume rose, the FX300s tended to brighten up a bit and in some cases overwhelmed the bass. However, at the volume levels this occurred at, you would be unable to listen to the headphones for very long or it would simply hurt your ears. Despite this issue, the overall audio range and sound quality that come from the JVC HA-FX300 is some of the best I have ever heard from a sub $100 ear bud headphone.
Game Audio Testing
I played several full rounds (18 holes) in Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the iPhone and was extremely impressed with how well the FX300s produced the game audio. There are a lot of background noises in this game including the commentators, gallery comments, birds and so forth. The FX300s picked up every little detail I was expecting to hear, and some I didn’t even realize were in there. Other games I tested using the FX300 ear buds included Bejeweled 2 (iPod Touch), Madden NFL 10 (iPod Touch), Hot Shots Golf (PSP) and Guild Wars (PC).
Overall, I was greatly impressed with the FX300’s ability to deliver clear and concise audio across many types of games. Whether the audio consisted of explosions, golf club swings or the shuffle of cards, it was always clear and concise. Probably the best ear buds I have used for gaming to date.
Miscellaneous Items of Note
• Cord length is a rather short 3.28 ft
• Ear Buds have aluminum housing
• Three sizes of tips plus a memory foam option
• iPhone Compatible plug
• Three color options, Red, Black and Gold
• Storage case is well built
||Cord could be longer
|Excellent Audio range
||A bit "bright" at high volume
Items utilized in the testing of the JVC HA-FX300 headphones included, but not limited to:
iPod Touch, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS Lite, HP Laptop
All devices that utilize any type of equalization had testing done with it both on and off.
The JVC HA-FX300 headphones have an excellent sound field and were able to reproduce all facets of the audio for which they were being tested. Like all ear bud style headphones, the key to the best sound comes from the ability of the bud to seal off the ear canal from any outside noise. With four tip options and a contoured design, the FX300 accomplishes this no matter the size of the owner’s ear and with some of the best comfort of any bud I have used. Unfortunately, despite the superior performance and comfort, the biggest disappointment is that the cord is just a shade over 3 ft in length which will be an issue for the majority of users. While it certainly isn’t a deal breaker (a $3 extender is an easy fix), the headphones will be best used for non-strenuous activities such as chilling in a chair or at your desk working or playing games.