Getting Down and Dirty: JVC’s DX-1000
Almost all the expensive headphones today pale in comparison when it comes to the DX-1000’s user friendliness and efficiency. It is rare to find a headphone that can do almost anything you ask of it, yet also one that is very efficient. For a closed back headphone of this price, one would assume it requires lethal amounts of electricity to power, this could not be further from the truth as the D1K runs very well off just a decent portable source. For example, my Cowon J3 powers it immensely well and with plenty of kick and push. While on the subject of the J3, the Daps amazing EQ features really push the low end of the JVC DX-1000 to its limits. It is capable of serious bass potency, and boy is it awesome. Bass heads rejoice, this is one of the best Bass headphones out there. This headphone is so efficient, I had it modified with a shorter copper cable so I can use it primarily with my portable rig. I love being able to move around the house or sit outside and enjoy clutter free Hifi Audio. Words cannot express how happy that makes me feel sometimes, sitting outside in my favorite area just watching the wind blow through the Forest nearby. Never having to worry about a giant cable in my way or needing to lug a large amplifier around. Ah…bliss.
Build quality is dependable at best, no qualities here really stand out for me enough to rave about. It is good quality all around. The wooden earcups are nowhere near as beautiful as something like the Fostex TH900, but I would not dare to say they are ugly. They lack a good finish to make it shine. They are just very plain. Upon closer look during modification and re-cabling, I was worried about the unexpected thinness of the wood used in the cups. I would have liked to have a nicer, thicker cut of wood. A minor gripe that would not affect the great classic Woody headphone sound. The set is also prone to cracking near the hinge joints on the earcups area of its frame. Easily fixed with some glue, but a common issue I wished JVC would have addressed when the problem started appearing so often in the first production run. The stock cable is easily the best looking headphone cable out there, in my opinion. A beautiful wooden quarter inch jack equipped with a very nice fabric laced cable. Stunning.
Sound staging qualities are among the best the closed back world has to offer and is only bested in vastness by the Audio Technica Wx3000 and Wx1000. It is huge. Shockingly huge, as a matter of fact. This does not sound even remotely like a closed back headphone, plenty of air and separation between instruments provides a deeply immersing experience. Of course, the staging qualities just do not compare to one of the great Open Back headphones out there, so don’t expect it to be the closed back version of the Sennheiser HD800…that would be the job of the ATH WX3000ANV. Switching up between the Koss ESP 950, the JVC is less realistic in terms of placement and stage height. The Koss is simply better at producing sound waves large enough to simulate vocals and instruments that sound longer, leaner and more realistic in terms of the physical size of the “sound” coming into your ear. But is it fair to compare one of the best open back headphones ever made to one of the best closed back headphones ever made in a sound stage war? In this case, it sure is. The DX-1000 more than holds its own. Phenomenal staging qualities. Expect plentiful width and height with excellent imaging all around.
Amplifier and Source Pairing
I was unable to find an amplifier and USB Dac combo that did my DX-1000 justice. Most amplifiers and Dacs out there are lacking a forward sound signature. I very much prefer the sound of the Fiio E10 with my Audioengine A5 Speakers as well as my DX-1000. Sonic Qualities aside, the Fiio E10 is very forward and there is a huge difference when I add my Bottlehead Crack into the mix. The problem here is that I have to make that sacrifice. Taking a forward headphone and subjecting it to a more distant sounding amplifier is something that I do not wish to do. Of course, the stock Bottlehead Crack is exceptional in clarity and all other sound staging qualities. It is the only amplifier I kept for myself after I reviewed it and my only gripe with it was its lack of a forward sound. Suited for Sennheiser stages, not so much for JVC or anything forward in presentation type. Seek an amplifier regarded for exceptional staging qualities. Skip high power output. You don’t need it with the DX-1000. Moderately powerful amps with great staging qualities are the way to go. Otherwise, you are missing out on this headphones best quality: Vast and immersing sound. None of the Schiit amps paired well with it, nor the Burson or Woo Audios did as well. The best amp I have ever heard in combination with the JVC DX-1000 is by far the Bottlehead Crack in regards to staging qualities.
In regards to portable sources, I’ve found the Hisoundaudio Studio V to be the only Hifi Dap worth using with the JVC when it comes down to sound staging and mids. Unfortunately, Bass potency takes a serious nose dive if you pair it with the Studio V. It is a Dap seriously lacking a low end and one known for potent upper regions. However, for staging qualities nothing else even came close. Not the Colorfly C4, Hifiman HM801 or the IBasso DX100. Pair the DX-1000 with the Studio V and a portable amplifier with a great Bass Boost function. I highly recommend the TTVJ Slim. You will be immensely happy you did so.
As mentioned earlier, the Cowon J3 is another great choice to pair with the JVC DX-1000. It’s incredible EQ features can produce a serious low end experience with excellent quality all around. Sacrifices will have to be made here as well, as the J3 is not as powerful as the Studio V and lacks sound staging qualities. You will take a serious hit in that department if you go this route. In my opinion, these two Daps are the only two popular Daps I would ever use with the DX-1000.
Proper Dac Selection is not something you would need to worry about. The DX-1000 sounds incredible with the $75US Fiio E10 Dac. Via the line out function fed to the Bottlehead , the sound quality is stellar and more than well fed. Lacking nothing what so ever. Via the E10s direct output with the Bass Boost active, the low end is significantly more enjoyable but at the cost of clarity everywhere. Even soundstaging takes a major hit with this method. However, Via just my Aune T1 USB Dac, in either dedicated amplifier or Dac mode, the sound is phenomenal…and this is without a great tube. Stock 6922 is good enough to make my ears boil with glee. The scary thing is that I recently purchased an expensive Telefunken 6922 and I’ve yet to receive it, test it and hear it with the DX-1000 in the mix. The sound quality should drastically increase. I think the Aune T1 is the best USB Dac out there in the sub $200 price category. It is very flexible, well implemented Tube Dac and amplifier. A serious win no matter what tube you put into it. The T1 becomes more amazing when connected to the Bottlehead.
Overall, the JVC DX-1000 may not be for everyone. However, it is my favorite headphone of all time. I have reviewed hundreds of pieces of audio gear in my time on various other webpages and media outlets and nothing has ever clicked so well with my ears as the DX-1000 has. It just does it right. I have no gripes beyond a lack of clarity to match it’s price point. It is clear the headphone is massively overpriced, which is a common trend in many of the newer Hifi headphones released lately. $1300.00US for this headphone is an absolute rip off but ONLY in the case of sonic clarity.
I adore this headphone. It is an exceptionally fun and lively sound with a powerful and yummy low end, fantastic staging qualities for a closed back headphone, immensely efficient, beautiful, a true wood sound that is desired by many audio enthusiasts. The headphone is a Jack of all trades, master of none. It also has great gaming qualities such as moderate pinpoint accuracy. Placement of sounds works well, something that is hard pressed to say with pretty much all Hifi headphones. I cannot find a genre of music that sounds bad with this headphone, it simply does everything I ask of it. From classical to metal, jazz to sound-scapes the JVC DX-1000 is a vastly underrated headphone that I wish more people could experience.