The headphones have a dark red cable that stretches 4 feet down from the earcups and ends in a standard 3.5mm plug. JVC doesn't include a full-size adapter, so you'll need to pick one up if you plan to use these headphones with a 0.25-inch stereo port. The Y-shaped cord and the plug itself are insulated with flexible rubber that keeps the cord from tangling and adds thickness to the build.
The JVC HA-M5X headphones aren't just about looks; dual 50-millimeter neodymium magnets power the unit inside and give an additional bass boost thanks to JVC's proprietary Ring Port structure inside the earcups that you can feel just underneath the thin mesh covering each speaker. The small rubber ring is part of a larger unit that controls the sound pressure to add bass and prevent outside noise from entering your sound stage.
However, we recommend keeping the volume low on your music player while using the HA-M5X headphones in an enclosed space like a subway train or a bus, as they leak plenty of sound to the outside world that can disturb involuntary listeners nearby.
One downside to bass-heavy headphones is that the rest of the instruments in a song tend to get drowned out if you're not listening to genres like hip-hop and techno that favor artificial instruments. Additionally, the rock tracks we played through the JVCs appear to blend the mid and high sections into a muddy bump.
We minimized distortion by adjusting equalizer levels, though we understand that this can be irritating if you listen to multiple genres in a row. Also, keep in mind that the HA-M5X headphones only cost $50, so you're not going to hear the variable frequency response that you get in active noise cancellation headphones like the Monster Beats.
Design and features
The JVC HA-M5X headphones don't include extras like an in-line remote or a fold-up design, but they're cost-effective and built to last. We wouldn't recommend using them in a library since other people can easily hear your music, too, but active listeners who thrive on lower frequencies will appreciate their bass-heavy sound design and complementary frame.