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For those earbudphobic users who favor portability over features, such as active noise cancellation, there is a category of headphones that includes over-the-ear speakers and compact designs. Within that, we have JVC's line of lightweight headphones, which is topped by the aptly-coined "high grade" HA-S900. These $130 'phones offer a good combination of comfort, portability, and pleasing sound.
True to their name, the JVC HA-S900 High Grade Lightweight Headphones feature a lightweight (4.11 ounces), flexible design with an adjustable headband. The headband is ergonomically-shaped and padded, but we question the durability: It feels a bit cheap. Each end of the band terminates in a full-size earcup trimmed with a soft, leatherette earpad. The outer portion of each cup is decked out in a circular JVC logo colored bronze to match the accenting on the lower portion of the headband. Although the 'phones are mostly black, there is enough brown to turn off those who aren't keen on brown electronics.
Although the HA-S900s aren't noise-canceling headphones, we found that the cushioned earpads offer a bit of sound isolation on their own. They also served well in the name of comfort--we experienced no irritation after more than an hour of wear. Other features include a tangle-resistant cord, which measures about 4 feet and descends from the left earpiece, and a gold-plated straight plug that's iPhone-compatible. (Note that although the cable is plenty long enough for portable use, you'll need to pick up a separate extender for most at-home applications.) The package also includes a slim, hard-shell carrying case for storing and transporting the headphones.
In terms of sound quality, the JVC HA-S900 headphones are solid. They offer a nice balance of high-end detail, midrange warmth, and low-end thumpiness. These 'phones are definitely not the most bass-heavy we've heard, but the lows are present and tight. The highs and mids shine the most here, with the latter coming through nice and buttery. The choir singing in Gorillaz's "Demon Days" was rich and encompassing while not overshadowing the melodic humming of the band in the background. During the multiple guitar overlays in Cracker's "Been Around the World", not a strum was lost, nor was the mellow keyboard in the background drowned out. All in all, the HA-S900 headphones are a fine option for on-the-go users who want a compact design and pleasant, balanced sound.