The JVC RC-M90 portable stereo radio cassette recorder/player is one of the most coveted boomoboxes in boombox collecting history. It is on the list of almost every collector, yet because of its high prices at auction (since it is relatively scarce because demand almost always outstrips supply), it appears that many collectors are still hoping to acquire it even after years of searching. The competive atmosphere for acquiring an M90 is so intense that serious bickering and arguments erupting over bidding strategies and claims of backstabbing behaviour is frequently seen in internet user forums for boombox collectors. It is likely that more frienships have been ruined over this model than any other. While envy often rears it's ugly head, in reality, there is no entitlement to owning an M90 in this day and age of open auctions and internet search engines where anybody can research the value of a particular item before offering for sale, or bidding. It's merely a fact that any sale, especially for an item as collectible as this model is would be fair game for top bidder wins, or even ripe for sneaky backroom deals to pull the rug out from any sale in the hopes of landing one of these.

In the case of whether such frenzy is justified for a boombox, many collectors are of the opinion that the answer is a resounding yes. In the search for best of the best this one would either give any competing model a run for it's money, or just outright trounce it in performance and aesthetics. These factors coupled with it's deserving reputation translate to demand outstripping supply and hence the high values and fierce bidding competition.

Sound-wise, the M90 most definitely deserves high praise, but that's to be expected, being JVC's top of the line model. Even the next lower model, the M70, is no slouch either, being in the opinion of many the ultimate mid-sized top dog. Bass is mellow and deep even at fairly low volumes, especially with the loudness feature enabled. Highs are crisp and well defined, with excellent projection. The sound clarity is amongst the very best in boombox, and this model has power to spare. Some would argue that there are models such as the Conion C-100 and it's aka's that are louder at max volume setting. While that might technically be true (we are unaware of any head to head SPL measurement tests), those models simply can not match the sound clarity and/or volume at any competing output level when distortion levels are kept at or below levels deemed acceptable by serious audiophiles.

Features include a very generous 8-band tuner on the JW suffix models. The Victor (Japanese domestic) model includes a 2-band tuner.


While the controls do not have the detented knob action that are present on many high quality audio products, for a portable stereo where a compromise between weight, performance and cost demand consideration, this would not be unusual to have standard slide friction components. Overall, the final product performance for the component set chosen for what this product was designed for was perfect. This model does have a grand set of features. However, one feature that is curiously not present is a wide setting for stereo. A wide setting gives the sound output greater spatial ambience of the sound field. However at least some folks suspect that JVC's earlier attempt at a wide stereo setting (Biphonic on models such as the RC-828, RC-838) did not perform as well as wide stereo features offered by competitors such as Panasonic and Sanyo who did it "right" or at least much better.


Being over 30 years old, the original carton and accessories set is seldom seen anymore. Here are some images of what the original carton and included accessories are. The JVC R-15E remote control shown below, while not an accessory that was included as supplied by JVC, fits this model perfectly and allows wired remote control of the cassette deck.

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JVC included a very high quality cassette deck for this model. It is a Full Logic 2-Motor controlled deck and features:

  • Soft touch controls
  • 5-program music search function
  • Record and play timer
  • Metal or CrO2 tape capability
  • Dolby and Super ANRS noise reduction
  • High quality heads
  • Automatic or manual recording level with separate L/R controls
  • Mic Mixing

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The rear has generous ventilation slats, a 10 x "D" cell battery compartment for portable operation, and a full complement of inputs and outputs.
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Top and Bottom Views:
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One detail that is often debated regarding this model regards the 8" woofers. It is believed by some that the speakers as delivered new by JVC were initially blue color. It is also suggested that the speakers were originally dark gray as both bluish and dark gray versions are seen. The argument is that the drivers are all blue as viewed from the backside so the front color must have been blue originally and over time, faded or otherwise changed to another color. This might be true in the RC-M70 model which did in fact use blue colored drivers however on the M70 model, the cone material is blue paper. The M90 however used a unique "urethane laminated speaker cone." While the paper cone itself was made of blue paper, a urethane layer was laminated only on the front side giving the cone better moisture protection. This explains why all examples have blue colored cones as viewed from the backside but varying colors as viewed from the front. Depending upon the color of the original laminating material, the color could range from blue to dark gray. In most likelihood, a transluscent grayish urethane film of varying transparency was employed initially. In any event, the debate may never be settled but one thing is for certain, extremely well preserved examples still remain with bluish or grayish speakers and both would be considered correct and unaltered. Chalky light blue examples are also seen occassionally and those examples are almost certainly the result of the urethane lamination having faded from the sun, much like one sees with plastic headlights on cars. The drivers on these M90's used a ribbed design without a separate surround. This results in a tight speaker cone and through normal aging, the cone surrounds can eventually develop spider cracking and sound degradation. While standard foam replacement surrounds can be installed, such a repair will alter the look and original performance. Here is a link to an example of an M90 speaker surround failure and it's replacement/repair: JVC RC-M90 speaker surround repair(external link)


Replacement speaker surrounds, service manual and owner manual for the JVC RC-M90 boombox can be purchased online through this vendor:
AnalogAlley.com(external link)

Also highly collected are the music releases of 'Radio' by LL COOL J. These are available on record, cassette, and CD.

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It is common for people to want to try and recondition their M90. The closest paint match for the front cover is below. Not recommended for touchups, but is great for a complete re-spray.
1993 Mazda
Code: Z4
Silent Silver - effect
603899 IE

Created by admin. Last Modification: Tuesday 16 of June, 2015 02:06:11 GMT by Reli.
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