JVC Flats review:

Inexpensive headphones that sound great for the money

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MSRP: $19.95

JVC Flats (Blue)

(Part #: HA-S160-A) Released: 23 Nov 2010
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

5 stars 2 user reviews

The Good The JVC Flats are very inexpensive on-ear headphones that are lightweight, comfortable, and sound quite good for the money. They fold flat and come in multiple colors.

The Bad They look like the inexpensive headphones they are, and they don't come with any sort of carrying case.

The Bottom Line Though they look a little cheap, the JVC Flats are lightweight, comfortable on-ear headphones that sound surprisingly good for sub-$15 headphones.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0

I'm forever on the lookout for inexpensive headphones that sound good and are comfortable to wear. As part of that quest, I purchased a pair of JVC Flats for $11.99 and took them for a spin.

I came away pleasantly surprised.

At first glance, the Flats look like a slight upgrade over a pair of headphones you might get on the plane. Under closer inspection, they're a couple notches up from that but they still look and feel like inexpensive headphones.

But they are lightweight and should offer a comfortable fit for most people. They're an on-ear model, so the earpads sit on your ear and don't entirely cover it. People with bigger ears -- and bigger heads -- may find these a little too small. But I had no problem with them.

As far as extra features go, there really aren't any. They don't come with a carrying case or have an inline remote with microphone. The headphones are all you get, and while they don't fold up, as their name implies, they do fold flat. They're designed to be slipped into a bag, but I advise you to keep them in some sort of cover or case if you want them to last a while. The glossy finish on the earpieces -- they come in multiple color options -- will get scuffed up over time and the headband doesn't seem incredibly sturdy. But to reiterate, I paid a little over $12 (with tax) for the Flats, so I wasn't expecting too much.

The Flats come in multiple colors. Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from their price, the best part about them is their sound -- for the money, anyway. These sound as good as many $30 to $50 'phones I've tried. Their sound is well balanced -- they don't push the treble or bass -- and they're fairly clean and detailed. The bass isn't huge but it's ample. I was able to wear them for an hour without experiencing any listening fatigue, which I consider a good sign.

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