In the world of tech, we spend a lot of time praising the best earbuds and pointing fingers at the worst. But what about those that sit somewhere in the middle, that are neither outright horrible nor breathtakingly wonderful? JVC’s HA-XC50T earbuds are precisely that and honestly, that’s just fine.
In fact, that’s exactly how I’d describe these earbuds: just fine. While they can’t compete with Sony’s outstanding WF-1000XM4 earbuds, they’re still leagues above the more budget-friendly picks. They’re a run-of-the-mill earbud that’ll work just fine in most scenarios for most people, plus they’ll only set you back a Benjamin. Just don’t let the audiophiles near them.
The most notable thing about the HA-XC50T’s design—and this goes for both the case and the earbuds—is their size. They are large. The case, for example, measures 2.6 x 1.7 x 1.5 inches and weighs 51 grams. It’s uncomfortably bulky for anyone wanting to carry them in their pocket, especially if you’re at the gym or don’t like to carry a bag with you.
The earbuds weigh in at 5.6 grams each, which is roughly the same as the Google Pixel Buds A-Series and the Jabra Elite 75t. These earbuds certainly don’t feel heavy, though. Their weight is well-distributed, and they’re super comfortable to wear all day long. They also rock an impressive IP55 rating, offering protection against dust and low-pressure water. Their shock-proof design is also true to name, as they withstood being dropped several times on tile and cement, and having various items dropped on them while on the ground, looking no worse for wear afterward.
Despite this, and despite JVC’s attempts to market the earbuds as a great choice for athletes, they still miss the mark when it comes to on-the-ground usability. How? They slip out pretty much every single time you lean forward or bend down. In testing, this was the case no matter which size of earbud tips I used, which is unfortunate. So, if you’re just sitting around? No sweat. But if you’re out on the court or even just looking down at your phone while walking around, you’d better be quick on the draw. This is a disappointing flaw, especially because the buds have a nice durable construction that feels like they can hold up to lots of daily use.
I was also disappointed to learn that these puppies only charge via Micro-USB. I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t use any other gadgets with that charging standard; having to dig out an old Micro-USB cord and add it to my setup just to charge these sucks. It’s 2021, most things use USB-C, and given that these cost $100, they should, too.
There’s an old mantra within the audio community that states, “You shouldn’t hear the bass; you should feel it.” JVC’s big selling point for the HA-XC50T’s is that they have deep bass, hence the XX—which stands for Xtreme Xplosives—etched all over the packaging, case, and earbuds. However, these do not live up to the hype.
The 5.8mm drivers tried to have some impact on the audio I queued up during testing, but all I heard was treble. No matter whether I listened to metal, hip hop, country, pop, classical, trance, or, damn, even some emo, these earbuds were never up to the task. In fact, the only music that sounded good on them was generic ’90s rock. So if you love Weezer, and only Weezer, these are absolutely the earbuds for you.
That said, mids and highs sound just fine on them. They also do a flat-out terrific job of handling podcasts, talk radio, TV shows, gaming, and movies. If you aren’t super fussy about how your music sounds, or if you’ll primarily be using them for non-music-listening purposes, the HA-XC50T’s are easy for me to recommend.
Unsurprisingly, the microphone on these earbuds is also just fine. When using them on a phone call, it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re even using earbuds. Audio quality sounds just like it would if you weren’t using earbuds.
For Zoom calls and the like, the audio quality doesn’t hold up quite as well. It sounds noticeably lower quality and—oof—somewhat cheap. Overall, though, microphone audio is fair, if quiet. You can easily hear what the speaker is saying, even if it doesn’t sound like they’re using a dedicated microphone. Again, not top-of-the-line performance, but far from the worst.
Despite the large size of the HA-XC50Ts and their case, you only get 14 hours of juice total. With four hours from the earbuds and only 10 more from the case, you’ll only barely make it through the morning before you’ll need to throw the earbuds back in the case for another round of charging.
This is really rough given that you’ll need to leave them in for two hours for them to reach full charge again. The case itself needs three hours to fully recharge, so you’ll need to charge it at least twice a day if you’re a heavy user. However, they have a limited fast-charge capability; 15 minutes gives you an hour of playback, which can work in a pinch to get you through your commute at the end of the day.
Given how ubiquitous earbuds are in modern lifestyles, it’s disappointing to see such lackluster performance here. These giant earbuds and their giant case should be able to pack way more of a punch when it comes to battery life.
Fortunately, JVC’s HA-XC50Ts are easy to use. Once paired, they’ll automatically power on and connect to your device once you remove them from the case. I wish the earbuds had a functioning companion app wherein I could adjust the equalizer or other settings. Techniclaly, JVC does have an app—Headphones Manager (iOS/Android)—but it doesn’t support this pair, only the HA-XC70BT and HA-ET90BT models. What a bummer!
Another bonus is that they don’t use touch controls, which are infamously finicky and not user-friendly. A single press of the button on either side pauses whatever you’re listening to. Two presses on the left side lowers the volume, while the same gesture on the right side increases the volume.
Long-pressing can do different things depending on which app you’re in. For example, in Spotify, it takes you back or skips you forward a track in your playlist (depending on which earbud you long-press). In YouTube, the same action takes you to the next suggested video or back one video. It has no effect within Netflix or Twitch, and skips you forward/backward 10 seconds in Hulu.
As a tech reviewer, the JVC HA-XC50Ts admittedly put me in a bit of a tough spot. They are, as I’ve said a few times in this review, just fine. They’re comfortable and easy to use. They also have a rock-solid IP rating and are great for gaming or watching movies.
But at the same time, they don’t offer any particular features that really wowed me, and they have a few quirks and issues that some people may not be able to overlook. Their battery life could be better, they can’t handle the bass, they’re large, they can only charge via Micro-USB, and they don’t stay in when you’re moving around.
Let’s look at it this way: they’re a hundred bucks, and they won’t break the bank. If you’re mostly going to be using them while sitting at your desk or on the couch, and you’re not an avid audiophile, they’re just fine. But if you need your hundred dollars to go further, you might want to look at a different pair.
Here’s What We Like
- Solid IP Rating
- Comfortable Fit Despite Large Size
- Super Durable Design
And What We Don't
- Lackluster Bass
- Poor Battery Life
- Only Charges via Micro-USB