Review: JVC HA-FW02 – Frankenstein’s best

Disclaimer: I purchased this earphone brand-new, from e-Earphone, a while ago. It’s got one driver, that’s made of wood. Its outer barrel is wood. It’s got plastic up front. Ewwww. The JVC HA-FW02 goes for like 300$, maybe a bit less. You can find out all about it here: JVC HA-FW02.

The Victor/JVC FX500 debuted just after Denon’s C700 began tearing up Head-fi’s forums. I openly purchased it, and after it an Audio Technica CK10, and after that a Sony Walkman, in rapid succession.

A few months later, I was hitched and my once-open purchases went into full stealth mode.

I purchased the JVC HA-FW02 in stealth mode after trying out about a dozen earphones. I tried RHA, Ocharaku, Atomic Floyd, and a handful of other single-driver earphones. I purchased the FW02 because history. I purchased the FW02 because nostalgia. I purchased the FW02 because price. Most of all, I purchased the FW02 because, in comparison with every earphone I tried that day, it was clearly better suited to an evolving current in my musical tastes.

Right now it’s jamming with Sony’s awesome NW-WM1Z. What a combination that is. The Sony’s brilliant low-frequency stereo separation and detail make up for the FW02’s single audible misstep: a somewhat balled-up low end. It’s a match made in heaven.

But let’s get onto the unsound.

Not sound

HA-FW02 is just as unwieldy as the FX500. The good news is that now you can change its thick-necked stock cable for something low profile. It’s body is thick, especially around the driver, but because its sound tube juts out near the corner, the body neither bunches up against the tragus nor the concha. Of course, it ends up sticking out kind of like the temple bolts fastening Frankenstein’s monster’s head. Despite owning several such cables, I’ve not once switched out the stock cable for something lower profile. Why? The stock cable has a great neck cinch. And its thick has a nice brace. Best of all, vertical striations run the length of the cable. They feel nice when twisting between the thumb and forefinger.

HA-FW02 is finished pretty well with only a minor patina of notches in its metal rings. It’s wood cabinet is rich, smooth, and luxurious. It’s sound nozzle is the cheapest looking thing on it, but even its sparkly plastic has charm, if not taste. Because the FW02 is wood, sweating on it probably isn’t a good idea. Dont’t exercise with these things.

I was surprised to find out that it is more comfortable to wear the JVC HA-FW02 over the ear. Just like when worn down, the body stays free from bumping too hard the tragus or the concha, and because of the sound tube’s angle, the long body angles out of the ear rather than bunching against it. When so situated, a slight amount of isolation is lost, but the ear pieces fit more comfortably in the ear. Of course, the FW02’s long stock cable necks end up sticking way out and at weird angles. If you swear by over the ear wear, find a good third party cable.

Sound and more after the jump:

4.2/5 - (24 votes)

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

1 Comment

  • Reply September 6, 2017

    Barun C

    Nice review. HA FW02 sounds very much like the HA FX 850s I used to have, they also have a punchy bass mixed with recessed mids and shrieky highs, which get rolled off after 10K or so. So HA FW02 has a typical JVC Wooden IEM house sound.

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