JVC FD01: A new contender for best DD IEM?

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by james444, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. james444

    james444 Friend

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    The grill looks quite sturdy. I got permission from the prospective FD02 owner to remove it if need be, but I'll try out some reversible mod options first.

    Wearing them cable up results in better weight distribution and indeed alleviates the problem for me. However, I have rather large ears, and in order to get a comprehensive picture, we'd also need feedback from someone with smaller ears.
     
  2. james444

    james444 Friend

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    Well, I didn't have much luck with simple reversible mods, so I ended up taking the grill off. The mesh itself is quite sturdy, however it's just glued on, and if you're careful you can get it off unharmed. Fiddled around a bit with different filters and finally settled on 15mm swab. Even managed to get the grill back on again.

    Measurements: (red = FD02 stock, green = FD02 with 15mm swab filter)

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion: The FD02 can be modded to sound very similar to the FD01. However, modding the FD02 is quite a bit more hassle. And if you accidentally destroy a grill in the process, or fail to get it back on, I'm not sure whether the DIY-filter will stay in place in the long run, or eventually slide out at some point.

    Therefore, I'd recommend to go for the FD01 over the FD02, if you can afford it. For about $100 more, you can save yourself risk and hassle, plus it's a more versatile solution with 3 interchangeable nozzles. It doesn't buy you superior sound quality though, since the latter is similarly excellent on both modded IEMs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
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  3. skem

    skem Friend

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    I'll also vote for a loaner

    I'm curious how this compares to Andromeda. The FR on the FD02 looks more to my liking.
     
  4. james444

    james444 Friend

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    I wouldn't read too much into the measured slight FR differences between the FD01 and FD02. Stock responses differ by about +/- 2dB at max, and modded FR simply comes down to the amount of extra damping applied.

    On top of that, the miniDSP EARS isn't the most precise and consistent measuring tool for IEMs either.
     
  5. Mimouille

    Mimouille Almost "Made"

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    Stupid question : can you dampen FD02? Because since you are saying stock is thin sounding, FD02 is not a good option is it?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ordered...
     
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  7. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    @james444 have you tried the Acoustune 1551?
     
  8. james444

    james444 Friend

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    The stock sound on both IEMs is similarly analytical / brightish / thinnish. FD02 are a smidgen bassier, but the high range is just as energetic and forward as the FD01's. In order to balance out note-weight across the entire frequency range, both IEMs require extra damping of the upper mids and highs.

    You can damp the FD02 as described in this post, but because of the non-removable nozzle it's a bit trickier than damping the FD01. Please note that even the damped FD01/02 are no bassy / warm / forgiving IEMs and won't gloss over bad recordings. My guess is that they're most likely to appeal to people who love the UERM or ProPhile 8 and are looking for a DD counterpart.

    No, I haven't. However, these seem to be tuned significantly warmer / bassier than the JVCs.
     
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  9. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Really? All the thinness and analytical speak had me writing these off. I guess I better throw my hat in the sbaf loaner ring
     
  10. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Yes, I read them as a step up from the FW series which isn't entirely a bad thing.
     
  11. Mimouille

    Mimouille Almost "Made"

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    Thanks, since the PP8 was clearly not for me so I guess this won't be either.
     
  12. james444

    james444 Friend

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    Yeah, I believe your preference is towards a slightly fuller / darker signature.
     
  13. Mimouille

    Mimouille Almost "Made"

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    Yes, but just a bit :D
     
  14. La Cenric

    La Cenric Friend

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    Had some ear time on these. Also had plenty of eartime on the EX1000s as a "DD reference" since there are many owners in my local audio circle. And additional preface: owned the UERMs and loved it though I sold it to fund certain upgrades.

    As it had been said, the FD01/02 are very thin sounding IEMs. 100% not for me. Obviously I didn't get the opportunity to try out any mods since I was listening on store demos so everything is stock. To my ears, the timbre was extremely brittle and lacked too little weight for proper realism. During my listening session I had a friend's custom UERM forcefitted as a comparison and I just couldn't get over how sharp and sterile the signature was, moreso on the FD01.

    Hope Jame's mods performs huge magic on these transducers. In stock form, I won't be recommending these to anyone unfortunately.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Got them in. In stock form, they are tipped up. I dropped the 2.5kHz and 6kHz points on the ZX2 EQ to alter the tonal balance to how I would have liked it. I also dropped the ClearBass setting two notches. I wouldn't call them lean, because lean to me means lack of bass in relation to the mids. The bass seems a little bit on the cloudy side. I know it's not BA bass, and DD bass has these tendencies, but still... Measurements and experiments forthcoming. They are surprisingly extended up top.
     
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  16. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    I am with La Cenric on this. After trying/owning plenty of DD IEMs* and looking at measurements of other highly regarded or popular DD IEMs**, I have almost completely given up on DD IEMs, as it seems it just isn't possible to get the tuning right with a DD in an IEM enclosure. In most cases, they seem to lack presence in the center mid-range (700Hz - 3kHz), followed by a bump or a peak in the upper-mid-range or lower treble (4kHz - 8kHz). As a result, they end up sounding thin or bright or both. Sometimes when they have sufficient mid-bass, they don't necessarily sound thin, but sure sound peaky.

    And then there are IEMs like the Simgot EN700Pro ($150), which also uses a single DD, but has a very good tuning. It makes me wonder, if the manufacturers are deliberately tuning the DDs this way, or if it is really hard to get the tuning right when you try to get extract more treble to improve the sense of resolution.

    * - Senn IE80, IE80S, Dita Dream, CA Vega, Simgot EN700Pro, Rhapsodio Galaxy V1, V2

    ** - Senn IE800, IE800S; Sony EX1000, EX700; CA Atlas; Dita Fealty, Fidelity, Answer, Truth; Ocharaku IEMs
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  17. james444

    james444 Friend

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    I think it's being (over)done deliberately, since audiophiles tend to mistake treble emphasis for resolution. As seen in my measurements, it's easy to attenuate the FD01's high range without affecting anything below 3kHz, so JVC could sure have done that if they wanted. Lowering the high range by 2-3dBs, the sacrifice in perceived resolution and openness is very small imo, since treble still retains very good extension. However, the gain in tonal / timbre accuracy is pretty substantial in my book.

    As a side note, the modded FD02 have been forwarded to a friend who's usually into warmer / darker sound signatures, like the Radius house sound. I had some reservations because of that preference and told him he could return them to me, no questions asked. But fortunately, he seems to be really enjoying them... so I think, people who trust themselves to mod the FD01/02 shouldn't necessarily be put off by their brightish / brittle stock sound.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  18. skem

    skem Friend

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    Had these for a few days now.

    Build: The build is nice. The rotating mechanisms are solid. The cable is lovely. It's shorter than my usual headphone cables, but I really like it. I could lose the steel beads they use because it adds unnecessary weight, but that's my only complaint on the build.

    Ergonomics: I haven't worn big metal IEMs before. To be honest, I found them a bit imposing. I had hoped to make these my gym/travel headphones, but first impressions are they wouldn't work for that. However, after a while I got used to them. They no longer felt too heavy, and the ear-tips are such that they never felt secure to me (it's not that they fell out, it's that I was worried they might). Previously, my beater IEMs were shitty Etymotics. By comparison, they're incredibly lightweight and the comply-foam tips seat deep in the ear canal so you could do somersaults and they would never come out. I love how those Etymotics feel—they disappear. Not so with these; you're very aware you are wearing IEMs—heavy IEMs—so my initial reaction is to keep cramming them deeper into my hear canal. Perhaps that instinct would wear off as I learned to trust that they would stay in place.

    Sound: Initial impression was that they were so tipped up in the treble as to be unbearable, or as @james444 says, "cringey." They sound just as his measurements show—incredible energy around 15K. However, they were quite resolving most everywhere (I, for example, find the HD800 is /not/ resolving across the entire spectrum). Nevertheless, I felt there was something off in the upper-bass, but I couldn't place my finger on it with all the treble emphasis.

    Mods: I proceeded with @james444 recommended modifications using 6x15mm strips of alcohol swab in the brass tips for maximal warmth and smoothness. The modification was extremely easy. A quick snip with good sharp scissors and a roll up between thumb and forefinger. Once inserted, I unraveled the cylinder of cloth into a ring by using a wire (from a new capacitor that is going into the M22 :).

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Results: The mod works! It exactly removed the awful cringey character without a general compromise in the sound quality. Treble was great; I went with the maximal filter length / most subdued option, but I wouldn't have wanted much more treble - maybe a tad on this or that song, but it was still plenty and then some for others. This is the first headphone mod that I really liked.

    That said, it was now easy to listen for longer periods and identify the limitations I felt were present before. I feel there are three issues. First, somewhere in the very low bass there is a "resonant" note, which can give them a sort of one-note-bass quality. I tested this theory by listening to an upright bass solo, and indeed one note would sort of overrule all the others.

    The second issue I can identify is that it feels like there's a dropout somewhere in the mid-range. In listening to one of my go-to test tracks, a male-tenor opera solo, it sounded like the singer was using more head voice than I know he is using. The same effect appeared with the bassoon, which accompanies the track. It sounded almost like an oboe instead.
    EDIT: this is probably the residual treble bump making it seem like the mids are cut-out. Perhaps more alcohol-swab filtering would help this.

    Third, I felt there is just something off with the timbre of instruments generally. Now, this may be too harsh a demand, since the only pair of decent headphones I have to compare the FD01 to is the HEK, and well.. that's hardly a fair comparison. Piano wasn't quite right. Classical guitar has lovely pizzicato, but again missing some wood-body sounds. It is probably the same midrange dropout issue I heard above; or it might be something else in the FR. I have a hard time believing the FR is really as ruler-flat as @james444’s measurements show.

    Conclusions: With all the above criticisms in place, I am still very impressed. I do not have experience with IEMs, so really I have no place saying how these compare to other flagship IEMs (although they totally blow my Etymotic HF3s out of the water.) What I can say is that I like them more than many full-size over-the-ear cans that I have heard. These IEMs clearly do not have the finesse and staging of the full-size cans; but in many respects the resolution and overall FR balance are quite decent. If it were not for ear-tips and perceptual sense that if I went jogging they might fall out, I would think of keeping them...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Holy cow, after mods these are good!

    I didn't take a precise approach. Just found a roll of cotton gauze in my first-aid kit, cut off a few small pieces, rolled them up, and shoved them into the fittings with the help of a chopstick.

    It's nice to have a viable DD option on the mid-higher end! Taking measurements now - if I can stop listening.
     
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  20. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    I've warmed up to hybrids as the most realistic option for getting DD impact and timbre and BA balance. I don't understand why hybrids stick so many drivers in them? I think the best way to combine coherence, extension and DDness will be one DD covering bass and mids and one BA for highs like the basic two driver speaker design. However the only hybrid I know with this basic configuration is the EE Bravado, which is getting mixed reviews.
     
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