The headphones do have their limitations. You'll get a little distortion in the high and low ends, especially when you crank the volume. In other words they're not that clean-sounding. But hey, for $12 they sound pretty darn good.
Steve Guttenberg, our resident audio guru, agreed. I had him try the headphones (without telling him the price) and he said he liked them. After I told him they were $12, he was shocked. "That's all?" he asked. "That's all," I said.
If you're someone who's on a very tight budget and wants headphones that sound decent and are relatively comfortable and lightweight, you can't miss with the JVC Flats. They're also a good choice for kids and people who are prone to losing headphones. Cosmetically, I like them better than the Panasonic HT-21s, which are also a good low-budget pick at $5; the Flats also sound a little better. By contrast, the MEElectronics HT-21 Travel -- another 4-star, $20-ish pair of headphones -- offers sound quality similar to that of the Flats, but isn't quite as comfortable.
To be clear, however, the Flats don't have the sound or build quality of more-expensive headphones that cost closer to $100. But at $12 to $14, depending on the color, they're definitely a bargain. I may just pick up a second pair.