Pros:Serious bang/buck ratio, especially with regard to bass.
The Bottom Line: A quantum leap above anything else in this humble price range; good enough for all but the persnickety audiophiles who wouldn't be reading this anyway.
Qualifications to own these headphones are as follows:
Recommend this product?
You dont live for cutting-edge superiority and have no real or imagined need for diaphragms, voice coils and magnets made from materials that have to be synthesized in a particle accelerator or mined on other planets.
You have little or no concern for razor-perfect sonic accuracy. As long as cymbals sound reasonably like cymbals and not bacon frying, youre happy. You have a high tolerance for coloration, as long as its pleasant coloration. You actually enjoy your bass a wee bit on the artificially inflated side, as the obnoxious size of your subwoofer attests.
Youre not obsessed with extreme frequency response, being happy with something that can only go a kilohertz or two above your own upper threshold, especially since that parameter was noticeably pared down many years ago by one Blue Oyster Cult concert too many. When listening to loudspeakers, the old fabric-dome Vifa tweeters are still plenty good enough.
Most importantly, you have no more than fifteen or twenty bucks to blow. Or youre just cheap. Or both, like me.
If there are vanity issues, but you aren't above deceit, and you own one of those little electronic label printers, you can cover the brand name on each earpiece with Sennheiser or Grado. Most people wont know the difference unless they own the same model of label printer.
Onward to the hardware.
Over the last year, Ive bought several pairs of fifteen and twenty-dollar headphones always the circumaural, or over the ear variety - from such prestigious, snooty outlets as Big Lots and K-Mart.
It started with an Aiwa set from Circuit City. These are decent-sounding and comfortable, but unremarkable.
That was followed by a nine-dollar unit from the neighborhood Day-Old-Bread-And-Bent-Can Store. It had no particularly recognizable name, appeared to have been made in one of those places known to the CIA as a failed state, and sounded commensurately awful.
Next, the Tacky Electronics Department at Ross (yes, the clothing discount store) yielded up a sleek-looking Sony, nicely packaged, for fifteen clams. It was uncomfortable and gave only slightly better sound quality than its predecessor.
Then came a TDK set from Frys Electronics. More compact and and handier-looking than the others, but still mediocre-sounding and even more uncomfortable.
Finally, we came to the JVC offering. Fifteen dollars, also purchased from Ross. No high expectations here. Plugged them in, and
wowie! Not bad a-tall.
These headphones isolate you. No open backs, no spaciousness, no airy, mystical qualities. No one can hear what youre listening to, even when the earpiece backs are bulging outward in sync with the bass which these headphones will do without much provocation. The external movement during loud, low notes might remind you of a tactile-feedback joystick or an IMAX theater-ride at Disney World, and there is some suspicion that this behavior was deliberately designed in.
Theyre robust, mostly comfortable, give at least the perception of as much bass as can be expected of headphones, and are capable of sustained medium-high-volume rock & roll listening without an objectionable amount of bottoming out or clipping. You can hear the pedal cadence and hammer strokes in Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue; listening to Tuck Andress on his Les Paul, there's clear visualization of fingers sliding on wound strings.
The ear pads are formed in a somewhat unusual wedge-shaped toroid, which turns out to give a nicer fit and better long-term comfort than is usually encountered with full-isolation headsets. The sole deficiency here is the top headband, which is made from injection-molded plastic and could use some auxiliary padding.
The cord exits in standard fashion from the left-hand driver, and is terminated in the usual 1/8 mini with a 1/4" adaptor, both of which seem to be of pretty good quality, especially considering the price.
If I run across another one of these, Im going to buy it for a spare.
Read all comments (1)