The phones/earcups are smaller than I expected (perhaps I should’ve assumed that since they are ‘portable’ after all). More importantly, they’re damn comfortable: perfect clamping force, the cups’ padding isn’t too soft & mushy but not stiff & painful either. In other words, simply perfect as for an on-ear phone. Artwork and craftsmanship on the wood cups is excellent, too. These are truly portable in their slim style & the way they fold up.. yet feel quite sturdy. Not built for a nuclear explosion but if that’s what you’re facing, you got bigger problems than preserving some headphones..lol.
I’ll comment on the sound more extensively as I let these burn in a bit.. but my initial feelings? I love what I’m hearing. One thing I did notice quite quickly was that these are revealing phones in terms of source file quality. Not quite as stark as the 011 but close, IMO. “Garbage In Garbage Out” is fully in effect with the 33/13. Feed them HQ, well recorded music and they will reward you with ear candy.
Given their technical ability & signature, they’d sit quite comfortably in FA’s premier ‘master series’ (alongside the FA-003/002w, 004, 006, 011 & DBA-02). They present a balanced sound that’s firmly on the neutral & natural side of things.. though they’re very musical & engaging. Excellent extension at both ends with every part of the spectrum possessing impressive body, weight, control, & depth. In terms of texture.. they’re not too smooth or too crisp. Not too thin or too thick.. balanced & natural (more than absolute neutrality) in practically every way is what the 33 1/3 seems to be about. Bass has very nice punch & thump but isn’t boosted or bloated. Treble is smooth & natural but possesses just the right sparkle. Those lovely FA mids are thankfully, preserved, too! The mix of neutrality & natural sound reminds me of a fine blend of the 003 & DBA actually.. particularly through the mids. What you don’t have to worry about is any lack of dynamics or note thinness (which the DBA can suffer from) or lack of bass impact (which the 003 can suffer from when unamped) from the 33 1/3.
Per FA, the special APC-02 filter these phones employ (a piece of technology they’ve incorporated into their most premier phones.. i.e. the 002w High Edition) allows the 33 1/3 to be driven easily from portable devices (despite the high impedance ratings). Briefly listening to them from my iPhone (unamped), I’d say FA has definitely delivered with this technology. I’ve got the volume pretty high (~90%) to get the desired listening level (very slightly above average).. but the thing that impressed me most is that they sound quality was damn good straight from my iPhone 4. I’ve listened to many portable-friendly phones that can be driven by DAPs but don’t necessarily sound all that great from them. Despite the iPhone 4 being one of the better, more robust DAPs out there, I often find myself reaching for the Arrow to get the full potential from my phones & IEMs.. With the 33 1/3, I don’t find myself scrambling for the Arrow like I would with some of my other phones (that boast better sensitivity specs, no less). So, kudos to FA for the APC filter.. I hope they continue to use it in their phones in the future. All that being said, these phones certainly benefit from (and take advantage of) a good DAC & amp. Running them through my Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11, the overall improvement & refinement is easily noticeable.
I’ll report back with more sound impressions in a few days.. but I can confidently say the 33 1/3 will (and should) put a legitimate scare in the On-Ear headphone market.. not only in style but in substance (don’t be surprised if Brainwavz ‘copies’ this soon, either.. lol). In terms of sound quality alone, it most definitely deserve to be among the best in the <200-$250 pricepoint.
– February, 15, 2012 Posted in: Head-Fi
I’ve been doing more listening with the RPM the last couple of weeks.. they’ve improved slightly (but noticeably) since my initial impressions. OOTB, they were a bit flat & lacking dynamics (at least compared ot how they sound now). At the moment, they’re livelier more open sounding.. music has better depth & clarity too.
I’ll have more to say about the phones in the next few days but it’s late now & I’m not in the mood to type.. I’ll leave you with this teaser, though:
To say I’m impressed with the RPM would be an understatement. These phones have become my among favorite Fischer Audio phones. I like these more than the DBA & 003/002w. They tie with the Silver Bullet & Tandem, in my book. A very impressive feat, IMO.
The RPM isn’t necessarily more technically capable (in some areas) than those other FA phones.. but in terms of sheer enjoyment & compatibility with my ideal sound preference, they hit all the right spots. The RPM’s ability to sound very neutral, natural, and musical at the same time is chief among the reason for my infatuation with them. Their sound signature & texturing reminds me of the UM Miracle in more than a few ways.
– February, 15, 2012 Posted in: Head-Fi
Fischer Audio Oldskool rpm 33 1/3:
Striking portable woody placed above the Oldskool ’70 in Fischer’s lineup
Build Quality (6.5/10):
The 33 1/3 is a compact supraaural headphone with a flat-folding, collapsible structure. It is very similar in construction to MEElec’s HT-21, seemingly sharing all of the same external bits except for the cups. Like the HT-21, the Oldskool sacrifices some solidity for its light weight and extremely portable design. It features the same thicker-than-average, single-sided cable and 45-degree 3.5mm plug. Aside from the metal inner headband, the only non-plastic part is the wooden insert on the rectangular cups, which features an engraved winged ‘F’ and a stylized model name. The engraving quality is fantastic, which makes the plastic outer structure just a bit disappointing, but the rpm 33 1/3 does hold the honor of being one of the most lightweight headphones in its class as a result.
While the headband pad is identical to that of the HT-21, the earcup padding is of the flat (non-doughnut) variety a-la Sennheiser’s HD238. The pleather and stuffing are extremely soft and the light weight of the headphones makes the thin headband pad a non-issue. Clamping force is very low and the multi-axis folding system allows the 33 1/3 to conform to the wearer’s ears comfortably at all times. The only potential issue is the headband length, which might rule the 33 1/3 out for those with larger heads.
Being a small supraaural headphone, the rpm 33 1/3 is hardly noise-isolating despite the closed-back design. Much of the isolation is traded off for comfort with these. Leakage is still reduced significantly compared to most open sets but they are best used in low noise environments.
While the original Fischer Audio Oldskool pursues a crisp and aggressive sound, the 33 1/3 is radically different, offering up a darker, smoother signature. For a tiny on-ear portable with a plasticky outer structure, it sounds remarkably mature and refined. The bass is good – clean and punchy, but not overly aggressive or dominant. The note presentation is on the soft side, resulting in full, rounded bass notes and a smooth, liquid sound. The low end is similar in depth and quantity to that of the AKG Q460, beating out the Phiaton MS300 and lagging just behind the V-Moda M-80. Compared to the Oldskool ’70, the rpm 33 1/3 sounds warmer and fuller, with better bass depth and more realistic note thickness. The Oldskool ’70 sounds a touch quicker and more crisp, but the rpm 33 1/3 is clearly the more natural-sounding of the two.
The midrange is neutral-to-warm, with good detail and a lush, full character. While the bass is punchy, the mids are not at all recessed and barely affected by the low end. The V-Moda M-80 does bleed a touch less but both sets have clean, smooth mids. Like the pricier M-80, the 33 1/3 manages to impress with its clarity and transparency without sacrificing note thickness, as Sennheiser’s HD428 and Superlux’s HD66B tend to do. It also doesn’t push the mids forward to create an illusion of greater detail and presence, again unlike the HD428 and AKG’s Q460. Compared to the Oldskool ’70, the mids of the rpm 33 1/3 are warmer and fuller, maintaining similar detail levels without sounding thin or aggressive and making the ’70 sound grainy and a touch cold in tone.
At the top end, the 33 1/3 is again smooth and refined. The treble is not at all peaky but at the same time doesn’t sound recessed when the headphones are properly driven, offering up a bit more sparkle and air compared to the V-Moda M-80. Treble clarity and detail are on-par with the brighter Oldskool ’70 and ahead of the Phiaton MS300 but the real strength is the realism of the top end, with the 33 1/3 beating all but the M-80 in timbre. The same can be said for the presentation – while the 33 1/3 lacks the imaging and layering of the M-80, it beats most of the competition handily. The sound is a bit laid-back, as expected, but far from overly distant. While the soundstage is not particularly big, it is very well-rounded, revealing just how poor the depth of the Oldskool ’70’s presentation is.
A note on powering the Fischers – despite the high rated impedance, high sensitivity allows them to be driven reasonably with portable players. However, they do scale up quite well and just don’t sound as impressive as they should at lower volumes, leaning towards a darker tonality and a duller, less detailed, and less dynamic sound. Driver by a Cowon J3, the 33 1/3 doesn’t come alive until around 50% of maximum output – quite high compared to most portables and about double that of its lower sibling, the ’70.
(MSRP: $129.00, Street Price: N/A) The Fischer Audio Oldskool 33 1/3 is a retro-styled on-ear headphone with a smooth and pleasant sound signature. Admittedly, it is not all things to all people – the 33 1/3 isn’t a rugged, highly isolating DJ headphone. It isn’t a good match for bass junkies or those looking for sparkly, emphasized treble. It isn’t aggressive or analytical. What it is, is an extremely compact and comfortable supraaural designed for casual listening. The sound is clean and detailed, with a slight tilt towards the bass and midrange, and scales well with proper equipment. Its design is unobtrusive and – even with the engravings – unassuming. Keeping in mind that it can sound a touch boring at lower listening volumes, the 33 1/3 is certainly one of the more capable performers in its weight and price class and a great example of what portable Hi-Fi is all about, making it easy to focus on the music and forget the headphones are even there.
Frequency Response: 15 – 22,000 Hz
Impedance: 164 Ω
Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 4ft (1.2m), single-sided; 45º plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding, collapsible