JVC HA-DX2000 headphones
FLAGSHIP products from mass-market consumer electronic companies have never impressed me much. You’d think that with all the decades of technological expertise and millions of dollars worth of research equipment behind them, they would be able to come up with gear that outperforms everyone else’s. But in reality, this has rarely been the case. Either performance doesn’t quite match the levels of specialist audio manufacturers, and when they do, cost significantly more.
However, what the big boys can do is to push the envelope and release products that are well, unconventional. Take JVC, for example. Besides being creator of the VHS video tape (remember those?), it has come up with some really good-sounding mass-market gear in the recent past – the wood cone series of component systems, for example.
The all-wood construction of JVC’s flagship HA-DX2000 headphones under review here isn’t exactly novel, but it is definitely unconventional. So does taking the road less travelled lead to better results?
BITS AND PARTS: The JVC HA-DX2000 headphones are big and bulky – there’s no skirting the obvious here. A closed-back design, its each side has huge, bulging wooden half-spheres that you simply can’t ignore. But they do look quite cool in lacquered, black-stain finish that leaves the grain visible.
The use of wood here is not just cosmetic – these are a crucial part of the design as the drivers are mounted directly to a wood housing and the whole shebang functions as an acoustic lens of sorts. In essence, it’s pretty much the same as attaching two small wood speaker cabinets over your ears.
The HA-DX2000 is also extremely well-made. The headband and hinges are all very sturdy and don’t feel like they can give way easily, similarly is its fabric-covered cord. The cord is captive and a generous 3.5m in length – you can’t change it out easily, but given its ruggedness, this may not be necessary.
Despite its hefty size and weight, the HA-DX2000 is quite comfortable in use. There is ample padding on the headband that spreads its weight over a larger area, and the leather-lined ear-pads sit comfortably over the ears, with the only discomfort being some heat build-up over long listening sessions.
These are definitely not portable headphones, which may not be a bad thing considering they need quality amplification to sound their best, so fit best in a domestic environment.
The driver has a large 50mm diameter, a frequency response of 40Hz-30kHz, with 64 ohms impedance and 102dB/1mW sensitivity.
IN CONCERT: The sound of the HA-DX2000 mirrors its appearance – big and bold. This is one headphone that doesn’t hold the music back and delivers on both ends of the frequency extremes. Notable too is the spacious presentation, which sounds more open than many closed-back designs. In fact, I was quite surprised by the wide soundstage it managed to throw!
Bassheads should take a listen to this pair of cans. It has ample bass energy that hits hard and low, yet manages not to sound bloated. There appears to be a slight emphasis here, but is closer to the truth than not. I particularly like how it is able to give impactful bass and manages to hold on to the note until its natural decay.
Treble performance is excellent – the highs are shimmering, with loads of detail but never strident. It also has a beguiling midrange, and vocal performances are laid bare for all to hear. The pair isn’t a standard bearer in terms of treble and midrange transparency, and in fact may sound a little bright to some, but the sum of it all makes the HA-DX2000 a very engaging listen.
The pair also isn’t easily fazed when pushed hard. Even at high volumes and with dynamic passages of music, it manages to keep its composure. (Note: It goes without saying that listening at consistently high volumes for long periods is not recommended.)
Compared with the resident HiFiMan HE-400i, the HA-DX2000 is a much livelier pair with greater frequency extension in both extremes. However, it doesn’t have the same sense of intimacy and realism that the HE-400i gives. That aside, there’s very little not to like about it. If you want something that’ll inject life into your music, take a listen to this.
APPLAUSE: A very capable all-rounder, with an overall clean presentation. Big bass with excellent, tight control.
BUT…: Size and bulk won’t appeal to some, and these are definitely not meant for portable use. The list price is on the high side, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find online stores offering a pair at a substantial discount.
FINALE: The HA-DX2000 is a highly capable all-rounder. With excellent clarity and clean presentation, it’ll open another window into your music collection.
Sources: Toshiba L40 notebook on Windows 10 running foobar2000/ DAC: Geek Pulse DAC cum headphone amplifier / Headphones: HiFiMan HE-400i / Cabling: DH Labs SilverSonic USB