DROP + JVC HA-FDX1 DUAL CARBON IEM
Couldn’t find anyone else talking about this and can’t start a new thread in the per-model board - please feel free to move!
In a personal first for me, Drop delivered a week early. Have too many unboxing pictures!
One day earlier and I’d have had them at the mini-meet, though…
Had to hold it open for a good shot. Case feels nice in the hand and has some decent reinforcement - not at all crush-proof but I wouldn’t be worried about putting it in a bag…maybe even a pocket.
Two sets of filters are included along with five sets of JVC Spiral Dot tips; I don’t believe they’re the higher-end +/++ models as the stems are all black. They look and feel slightly different from my well-worn set of OG Spiral Dots. The included organizer is made of rather thin plastic.
The IEMs fit neatly with the cable attached; no way to fit the organizer in with them.
The cable reminds me somewhat of the high-end Sony (IER-M9, IER-Z1R) cables. It’s hard to tell from photos but the cable is semi-flat under the splitter. The slider moves with more resistance than I’d like but clearly isn’t going anywhere once in place. I’m wearing the cable down - wearing it up is possible and reduces microphonics but the split length makes it a pretty close fit.
One minor peeve - there’s enough space for “DROP HA-FDX1 DUAL CARBON” etched on the back ring (huh, no JVC anywhere on the IEM…) but I couldn’t find any indicator of L/R on either IEM. The cable has a clear L/R, at least.
I’m a fan of the Spiral Dots so I’m not surprised that they fit snugly on the IEM and in my ears. Wearing them down I’m not getting much slippage.
You can see the small port behind the filter release switch.
First, a disclaimer. I’m fortunate enough to have a stable of TOTLs; I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by these - and I was not blown away. I also haven’t had enough time to do much more than plug it in to my TA-ZH1ES - let alone try the different filters. I’ll update when I’ve had time to mess with the stock filters some more and properly tip roll.
For a DD, the bass weight/impact isn’t really there - Animus Vox’s slams, which sounds earth-shattering on my better gear, sound a little limp. I wouldn’t use it for large, booming, pieces - dramatic soundtracks et al don’t play to its strengths. However, the detail in the track is all there and I’m guessing that was an intentional trade-off.
The closest IEM I can compare it to is the Tin Audio T2 Pro except the FDX-1 is simply better across the board. The T2 Pro gets fatiguing relatively quickly but the FDX-1 doesn’t.
The sound, if lean, isn’t nearly as
Quick track impressions from Tidal + TA-ZH1ES using stock filter and stock (Spiral Dots silicone) tips:
Glitch Mob - Animus Vox
I love this track for the way it starts to build at 1:05 - some epic slams and spacious echoing along with a detailed little rhythm that gets completely drowned out on lesser IEMs. The FDX-1 gets the detail but doesn’t give me the cavernous feeling and resonant impact.
Cardigans - Lovefool
The vocals sound a little off - even more compressed than they actually are. The separation and layering, however, is spot-on. I don’t find myself sucked in to the track but I do find myself pleasantly picking out the tracks and enjoying the clarity.
Justin Timberlake - Say Something
The only nit I can pick here is that the soundstage sounds a little closed-in. The sub-bass is entirely there and the vocals are clear and smooth.
Florence + The Machine - Mother
Detail is there and the laid-back sections of the track sound great; all of the dynamics of Florence’s voice are there. The aggressive chorus, however, comes off as thin/lean.
Dua Lipa - Don’t Stop Now
The tight control of bass and detail really change the feel vs. my bassier IEMs. Enjoyable - even if it doesn’t quite sound like the same track.
Miike Snow - Genghis Khan
Excellent, if vocal-forward, detail.
Darren Korb & Ashley Barrett - Bound Together
This track is a particularly challenging duet where Ashley’s voice can easily vanish (and you would be forgiven for assuming there’s some kind of postprocessing being done on Darren’s voice instead of another singer!) - and I can say that detail’s handled as well as it is on my TOTLs.
Various pieces of electronica, chiptunes, D&B
Meh, and I think I’m being nice with the meh.
Various pieces of 90s-era Rock (e.g. Blind Melon - No Rain)
Guitars sound great.
The FDX1 is a $300 1DD, making it the most expensive 1DD I’ve ever owned. These comparisons are mostly from memory - all of them IEMs I’ve owned were my daily carry for at least a week but that week might’ve been awhile ago…
(h/t Crinacle for having an easily searchable list of what’s in each IEM and the MSRPs - couldn’t for the life of me remember if the T2 Pro was 1BA 1DD or 2DD)
vs Comparably-designed IEMs I own
Sony MH755 ($7 1DD)
MH755 wins on bass but loses on technicalities; not exactly a fair fight.
Etymotics ER2XR ($150 1DD)
The ER2XR’s isolation - along with the rest of its line - is simply on another level.
First, a graph courtesy Crinacle’s measurements:
This might be due to the fit and isolation but I prefer the bass on the ER2XR more than the graph might suggest…but the ER2XR is something of a challenge for long periods of time.
I’d say ER2XR is a less detail-oriented tuning but somewhat more fun to listen to than the FDX1 - the ER2XR is more of what I’d expect out of a DD. It’ll be a hard call choosing between these two in my bag and I expect to A/B them quite a bit this week.
Of note, both come well-accessorized and are well-built. I love the FDX1 cable (although the long connector makes it a questionable call on my IEMs that are worn up, not down) and the Etymotics case is soft and perfectly sized.
vs Comparably-priced IEMs I own
I could put the Noble 3U ($350? 3BA) and the 64 Audio U4SE ($400? 4BA) up here but both are no longer made and it’s unlikely anyone will cross-shop them.
Massdrop Plus ($300 3BA; bought used for $120)
I picked the Massdrop Plus up on the very strong recommendation of my brother. The Massdrop Plus comes with the worst cable I’ve ever used and is nowhere near as well-built as the FDX1. With the release of the FDX1 I’d say there’s no reason to purchase the Massdrop Plus barring a major price drop - the fit on the Massdrop Plus is nice but the FDX1 outperforms it at the same price with a similarly detail-oriented signature and a much better build.
vs Comparably-priced IEMs I’ve heard
Campfire IO ($300 2BA)
The Campfire IO comes with something like $120 in accessories ($30 case, $30 for two sets of tips, $60 cable) and the FDX1 with, I’d say, $70 ($10 case, $20 tips, $50 cable) in accessories. These are WAGs on my part and very subjective - I list them here because both IEMs come ready-to-go with all batteries included whereas some less (and some more!) expensive IEMs come with mediocre accessories. For example, I like the KZ ZSX well enough at $50 but I’m using a $30 replacement cable (stock cable has no chin slider and is not great) and paid $20 for a set of Final Audio Type E (included with all of Campfire’s offerings, I believe) tips.
The IO was something I considered a reasonable first purchase; it’s a certain kind of entry-level for friends that value premiumphile looks over audiophile sound - while it’s not the strongest performer it’s a huge step up from non-audiophile gear. For others, I’d recommend a used Massdrop Plus with the caveat that you’ll want new tips soonish and a new cable immediately.
With the FDX1 you don’t have to make any compromises - except the warranty, Campfire still wins there.
Great - not perfect - technical performer that, looking at other reviewers, might be the best option at its price point. Tuning, accessories, and build quality make it an excellent gift, first IEM, or EDC.