JVC Marshmallow HA-FX34 In-Ear only Headphones - Silver

3 ratings (3 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
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I Can't Hear You, I Have Marshmallows in My Ears

Mar 15, 2009 (Updated Mar 15, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Tight fit in the ears, block outside noise nicely, sound great.

Cons:Cord length is a tad short for use outside of portable media players.

The Bottom Line: A recommended buy.


Hey there, stop talking to me, will you? It's not that I'm not listening. It's that I can't hear you (there is a distinction, dontcha know). You see, I have Marshmallows in my ears. And although that may sound like a rather gooey mess, I assure you, it's not: these are JVC Marshmallow earbud headphones I'm talking about. And they sound pretty darned good, so I'm not taking them out.

Admittedly, I've always been a music buff, but that tendency has never been so blatanat as it has since I became hooked on Microsoft's Zune digital media player. My latest version, the Zune 120 GB, goes with me everywhere, and I use it all the time. As one might expect, I also go through a lot of headphones, too. And since my brother recommended the Marshmallows, I thought I'd give them a try.

The Marshmallows are easy enough to find, and reasonably priced, too: a mere $20.00 at Wal-Mart. And the specs on them seemed impressive enough, with Frequency Response rated at 8Hz to 23,000 Hz and 100 dB sensitivity. That might even be a bit of overkill, since human hearing usually runs the gamut of 20Hz to 20,000Hz. But it was a good sign, anyway. My aforementioned brother mentioned that it's a good idea to "season" your headphones for about 24 hours, and sure enough these did sound a bit better after a week or so of use.

I expect three things really from my in-ear headphones. The first, of course, is that they sound good; all remaining conditions are irrelevant if my first criteria is not satisfied. Second, since I exercise frequently, they should not fall out of my ears while I'm running. Lastly, they should provide a firm seal and block out at least some of the surrounding noise from the rest of the world. I am a bit of an isolationist after all, you see.

Happily, the Marshmallows meet all of my conditions. The headphones take their name from the squishy yet remarkably firm fittings which attach to the posts and are inserted into the ear canal. I suppose they are somewhat akin to marshmallows, after a fashion, in the way they slowly spring back to shape if you squeeze them. JVC calls this "memory foam", and for me it works quite nicely as the memory foam expands to form a tight seal in my ears. I think I like them better than the usual rubber gaskets most earbuds come with, and you get two pairs of them, too.

The construction seems solid enough, with the actual earbuds being crafted from  very tough and solid plastic. They're also clearly marked as to left and right phones, something one would seem to think would go without saying but actually doesn't these days. The cord is about 3.3 feet long, plenty long enough for use with my Zune (or any digital player for that matter) but not, surprisingly, for use with my PC. That unit resides under my computer desk, and the cable on the Marshmallows is not long enough for me to move my head around while listening to music and typing at you. On the plus side, there is plenty of length from the split of the main cord into the phone lines, and a small sliding adjuster allows you to change that length as you like.

Once firmly inserted, the Marshmallows are quite effective at locking out outside sound. I've used them at the gym and of course along the Chattahoochee River, and they nicely lock out the noisy traffic of Interstate 285 on the way to the latter. Indeed, as I was walking by a few gents hard at work power washing a building, I popped my Marshmallows in my ears and they very nicely blocked most of the chattering din even before I turned on the music.

When I do turn on the music, I'm always impressed with what I hear. Stereo separation is excellent, as attested to by tracks like the Doobie Brothers Listen to the Music. The opening alternates nicely from left to right channel and the background guitar notes float around wonderfully. Indeed, the Marshmallows create a sense of spatial reality much larger than their tiny size implies, almost like a tesseract around my head.

The same spatial effect is recreated on Hall and Oates Out of Touch, which also demonstrates the Marshmallows' impressive dynamic range. Deep bass pounds alternately from either channel at the opening, while the delicate chimes ring in the higher end of the spectrum. On a live performance of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, the soaring violin notes seem to simply float on the air, while the competing piano notes resonate in the background. Both build to an impressive crescendo that I've missed on some other phones. Indeed, even the gentle background sounds of the audience are clearly discernible with the Marshmallows.

Overall, these are fantastic headphones and a bargain at the price. They do seem to consume more power than my standby favorites, the Skullcandy Ink'd (I have to adjust the volume slightly higher on these to get the same level of sound). And they cost slightly more, but I think they may sound just a tad better, too.

I've said it before: you don't need to spend $100 for a great sounding pair of headphones, and the JVC Marshmallows are the proof to that pudding. Four and a half stars, but I'll give them five for Epinions.

Other Headphones I've Used:

Koss KE29

Sennheiser MX75

JVC's Gummy Phones

Philips HE-592s

Philips SHE-9500s  

Skullcandy Smokin' Buds

Skullcandy Lowriders

V-Moda Sport


Recommend this product? Yes

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