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JVC Xtreme Xplosives (Black) review: JVC Xtreme Xplosives (Black)

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The Good A unique Ring Port structure in the earpads gives the JVC HA-M5X full-size headphones a deep bass kick for a much lower price than competing models.

The Bad The headphones leak sound even at low volumes, exposing your music tastes to the world around you.

The Bottom Line You'll get a kick out of the JVC HA-M5X headphones if you like music that emphasizes thundering bass, and their sturdy construction and adequate noise cancellation come at an affordable price.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6

While most audiophiles value open headphones that emphasize balanced accuracy over artificial bass boosting, the popularity of digitally enhanced headphones like the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio prove the average consumer's attraction to bass. JVC hopes to steal back that market share with the HA-M5X, a $50 over-ear set of headphones that uses a proprietary antiresonance ring inside each earpad to add extra bass without using an external equalizer. If you don't mind their bulky design and tendency to leak sound, the JVC HA-M5X headphones are an affordable alternative to the Monster Beats for listeners who enjoy bass but can't spend $350 on aftermarket cans.

Design and features
The JVC HA-M5X headphones are purposefully overbuilt to withstand the abuse that mobile devices naturally experience. The headband, the outer earcups, and even the 3.5mm plug are all reinforced with tough plastic and rubber for extra impact protection. Still, JVC keeps the weight down to a little more than half a pound, the same as the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio.

Although the HA-M5X headphones are also constructed mostly out of plastic, they don't suffer from the same creaking noises that give the Monster Beats a cheap feeling. The Monster Beats' overbuilt plastic construction is also susceptible to cracks around the small screws holding it together.

One advantage that the Monster Beats headphones have over the JVC HA-M5X set is that they can be folded up into the headband for transport. In contrast, the JVC's headband connects seamlessly to swiveling earcups that allow minor vertical movement and little else. We give JVC the benefit of the doubt and assume its goal was to cut back on weak hinges, but we hope the next generation will fold up and come with a carrying case.

As with most headphones, the nonremovable earpads are made of artificial leather that reduces ear fatigue and keeps your ears cooler than real leather does, even after several hours of use. An extra layer of ribbed padding is fitted underneath the top of the headband for additional support. Not everyone will appreciate the HA-M5X's blue camouflage pattern, but there's no doubt that it adds a unique detail to reinforce its tough appeal.

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.

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