Wayback Wednesday: Victor/JVC HA-FX500

In choosing the JVC FX-500, an earphone that I reviewed for TouchMyApps for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I’m breaking Lieven’s rules. For that, I’m sorry. But I’ve got my reasons. Those reasons stem largely from my purchase of the JVC HA-FW02 last week. I picked it up at e-Earphone. Like the first HA wood earphone, at its centre is the glorious, if self-destructive idea of wood. In typical FX fashion, it is unwieldy. The other reason is that I’ll be writing about the FW02 soon.

The JVC FX500 was the first earphone to drag the name Victor/JVC out from the mire. The HA-FW02 is hobnobbing it with the best avatars in the best swamp boots.

The JVC FX500 was released for around 150$. If held onto for a few years, it would develop a syndrome called nozzle-twirl. Since I just coined that phrase, let me explain. Nozzle twirl is when the sound tube, or nozzle, twirls when fingered. My pair developed nozzle twirl after a year and a half. Still, I loved it.

Models above the JVC FX500 came and went. I tried each. From me, no more reaction than meh. Each was too bassy than the original. Some were even scratchy than the original. And then, last week, I got to put some serious ear time on the FW02. Better audio balance. Better build. It is heavier, more unwieldy, and about twice as expensive. Spiritually, it succeeds where most, if not all, FX500’s successors failed.

The JVC FX500’s wide stage and dry, textured bass are what hooked me early on. But that creaky high range made it hard to listen to some of my music for longer than an hour at a time. To that add the fact that my preferences have evolved. Today, I prefer high ranges with fewer northward spikes. Sometimes I even dig low-pass filters. Today, I prefer warmth to absolute sharpness. It’s why I prefer the Astell&Kern AKT8iE to the Beyerdynamic Xelento.

I’ve developed a soft spot for z-axis depth, particularly where bass crosses into the midrange. It’s a great substitute for a body-slamming floor-standing woofer, and somehow grounds you in a space. Done right, mids and highs ring around and over you, creating a believable musical stage. Well, the JVC FX500’s z-axis isn’t up to 2017’s par. It sounds good. It pushes stereo wide and delineates most frequencies pretty well.

But it’s got scratchy highs and that damned nozzle twirl.

Its plug end wasn’t developed for the long haul. It’s long, pokey arms are buggers. And yet, it really started things. It’s a favourite no-longer-used earphone of mine. I can’t imagine things changing. I don’t want to get rid of it, but I’m also not going to use it. I’ve moved on. And, it appears, so, too, have JVC/Victor.