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JVC HA-NCX77 review: JVC HA-NCX77

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MSRP: $79.95

The Good The JVC HA-NCX77 headphones offer impressive bass response for earbuds, and the noise-canceling unit has a built-in clip for convenient stowage on your person. The 'buds are inexpensive and come with desirable extras, such as a versatile case and an airplane plug adapter. The easy-to-open packaging doesn't leave your hands bleeding and scarred.

The Bad The HA-NCX77's noise-canceling unit is bulky and the headphones can't be disconnected from it.

The Bottom Line The JVC HA-NCX77 Noise Canceling Earbuds inspire little complaint. Good sound quality, useful extras, and a relatively low price point make them a fine option for commuters and frequent fliers.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

For many in-ear headphone users, the passive noise isolation offered by an effective seal with the ear is plenty. In fact, some even find the essentially inaudible filler of active noise cancellation irritating to the ear. But if you're a frequent flier who needs more noticeable hushing of low-frequency rumblings and who wants it to come in a super-compact package, all is not lost. The JVC HA-NCX77 earbuds offer battery-powered noise cancellation for a very palatable $79.95.

As far as earbuds go, the JVC HA-NCX77s aren't all that compact. That's simply because in order to incorporate active noise cancellation, JVC had to attach a box to the cable that could take a battery and let you turn the feature on and off. Unfortunately, there's no way to detach the unit from the headphone cable so, although you can listen to tunes sans battery (with noise cancellation off, of course), you cannot get rid of the box while doing so. The box itself is roughly the size of a flash MP3 player (the Nano, for example), and it incorporates a battery compartment and handy belt clip on the back, a power switch and volume knob on the side, and a monitor switch on the front. The latter is a rather useful feature that lets you mute playback so you can hear your surroundings without taking the earbuds out (note that this does not pause your song).

The JVC HA-NCX77 headphones include a dual-prong airplane adapter and a versatile carrying case with various pockets inside to help with cable management and storage.
As for the earbuds themselves, they're admirably tiny with a shiny gunmetal finish. JVC includes three sets of silicone ear tips in different sizes and--shock of all shocks--the smallest ones fit in my freakishly tiny ears perfectly. Provided you can get an adequate seal with the ear, the HA-NCX77s offer good passive noise isolation, so you can save the battery (one AAA, included) for situations with excessive low frequency noise (trains, planes, and subways). The cable running from the earbuds to the noise cancellation box is 36 inches, so it should be long enough for even tall individuals to keep the box comfortably clipped to a waistband. A 30-inch stereo patch cable, which is included in the package, runs from the box to the sound source and is sufficiently long for storing your MP3 player out of sight in a bag or purse.

With so few things to complain about so far, I half-expected the HA-NCX77s to offer disappointing results during sound-quality testing. Fortunately, my jaded expectations were not met: these earbuds sound great. Most surprising is the excellent bass response, which rivals many full-size headphones in the same price range. And while the low end will satisfy bass addicts, it's not overpowering: all in all, music sounds rich and warm with sparkly highs and a balanced midrange. I sampled rock, hip hop, jazz, and electronica, and the headphones performed well across each genre. The noise cancellation feature works fine, though as the 'buds offer good passive isolation anyway, it's not terribly noticeable. The 70-hour battery life is certainly adequate.

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