JVC HA-S400 Carbon Nanotubes headphones review: Cheap headphones that deliver rich sound

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MSRP: $39.95

The Good The JVC HA-S400 headphones with Carbon Nanotubes can be found for less than $30, are relatively comfortable, fold up and fold flat, and sound more expensive than they are.

The Bad No inline microphone for cell-phone calls; no carrying pouch included.

The Bottom Line At around $26 online, JVC's HA-S400 Nanotubes are among the better on-ear headphones for the money.

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7.9 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Sound 8
  • Value 9

JVC makes a number of types of inexpensive headphones, though not all of them are good. I'm a fan of the Flats , an on-ear model that retails for around $12 online (£5 in the UK) and the Gumy Plus earbuds, for $7 (£6), are also decent for the money. Now I'm happy to report that I can give a thumbs-up to the company's HA-S400 Carbon Nanotubes headphones, reviewed here. You can snag them for under $30 in the US, or about £25 in the UK.

From a design standpoint, the Nanotubes are a pretty ho-hum all-plastic affair. JVC sent me the white model, which has a chrome-colored trim around the earcups that's a little cheesy and stands out too much. The headphones also come in black, which I prefer.

While their build quality seems only OK, the headphones do feature a fairly thick 3.94-foot (1.2-meter) cord and L-shaped plug that lend some sturdiness to the dual-cord design. The cables are hardwired into both earcups.

In terms of comfort, the Nanotubes are pretty decent for on-ear headphones and they offer some sound isolation (they don't seal out a lot of noise, but some). There's no swanky memory foam, but the earpads are reasonably soft and with some small adjustments from time to time, I was able to wear them comfortably for stints of an hour or so.

Another plus: the headphones both fold up and fold flat, thanks to a hinge in the headband.

At this price, you don't expect much in the way of extras, and there really aren't any. No carrying pouch or case is included and there's no inline microphone for making cell phone calls (for that you have to pay more for the HA-S500 model, which I haven't listened to).

And oh, the headphones come in a one of those brutal-to-open blister packs. I hate those things.

The Nanotubes both fold up and fold flat. Sarah Tew/CNET

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