Fischer Audio is a company that was my first true love in this community with the DBA-02. I loved the signature and although I have now heard many like it, I still think that it is the best of a category. I have now heard a few more of their products and some have been good while other have let down so with this I was hoping that the magic will be there. These are a relatively budget, closed, over the ear headphone that retails for roughly £40. I went in with no expectation because of the low price point so I was quite excited about what I was about to hear.
The set-up I have used is no different to normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it. I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier. I preferred the velour pads for comfort!
Now the design of these is extremely classy and slightly retro in my eyes. Perhaps you could say it is a bit 80’s but I was not alive then so I cannot comment on that. What I do love though is the colour scheme and the dark brown of the headband is so nicely complimented by the white cups. In a day were everything seems to have to be plastic and tacky with a huge logo to be cool, I think this just shows all of that how it should be done.
The build is good but I was unsure on the coiled cable. The jack is a straight ‘I’ gold plated plug with average size plastic housing and fairly flexible strain relief. The cable itself is not the strongest when straight but it compensates by going into a big coil but that is not great for portable use.
The cable only enters in to the left channel of the headphones and has a chunk of firm plastic around the part that enters the cups. It feels pretty well done. The cups are light and seem fairly thin which does not seem the best, especially as they are made completely out of plastic. The other sides of the cups when you take the pads on are also all plastic and when I changed pads I did get a bit worried of damaging the drivers which lay under a little piece of linen cloth.
The frame that the cups slide on is a thin metal that are actually really sturdy! The yokes are also plastic but a lot thicker and stronger than the cups. Finally we have the synthetic leather headband, which has a little padding, but I would not want to flex it too much like you can with the v-moda m-80 in case of breaking it.
All that being said all the its far from the strongest it has no outstanding parts that you will end up worrying about.
I think the accessories included are specific to the white version so only expect all of this if getting this version. Overall what you get is a terrific package and oh so surprising that all of this is included in such a cheap headphone. It all comes packaged in a huge case which just great for storage as the outline of the headphone is cut into the foam layers in side so it is just a terrific storage method but obviously not portable. As these do not fold down you get a large plasticy pouch for them that fits the easily but again is still not the most portable and also does not do much to protect. It does look good though. As a little touch you get a ¼ inch adapter jack.
The second thing you get is a pack of two extra pairs of pads. Now the pads change the sound a tad and also effect comfort quite drastically. So the three types you get are the ones pre-installed which are a plastic leather pad which has lot of little holes which add to its amount of cushioning and is personally the second most comfortable and the brightest sounding. The second and my favorite pad is a velour pair and these are super soft and comfy and they also tame the brightness a bit and sound the most neutral. They do however not look as set to last as the other two pairs but we will see. The last pair is just a plastic par of normal pads.
As I have mentioned above the pads to make a difference and for this section I am using the velour pads, which are the most comfy of all the pads. These headphones are of the circum aural variety that means they are made to go completely over you ear. However they do not easily go around you ears like my Sennheiser HD580 or Denon AH-D2000 do so if you have big ear lobes these may rest on your ears a little bit and have a claustrophobic fit compared to my other headphones. These also do have a bit of clamping force to them, it is not like the Beats by Dre Pro which give you a head ache in minutes but it does get annoying after a while in all honesty but a quick re-fit will do the job most of the time. Lastly the headband is actually rather soft and comfortable with its little it of padding.
Even though these are closed headphones and do create a rather good seal I do not think the plastic is that good at blocking sound out as a fair bit of ambient noise did leak in. To test isolation on these I took the tube too Liverpool from Colchester (roughly 4 hours with all the transfers and a small trip on the underground) for the National School Swimming Championships and tested them in a number of locations including on board the train, in the station and by the pool. In the station and just walking around it was okay and they got rid of enough but when you was on the platform things could get a bit overwhelming and the same goes for on poolside. As for on the train it was mostly okay so depending on what you are going to be using these for is a factor on whether these are too suited for your needs, but then as portable headphones go they do not compete with IEMs for isolation.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
The coil obviously is playing effect on the microphonics because there was absolutely zero, which was just great, and you will have no worries if cable noise is something that bothers you.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
Soundstage and instrument separation
Now the soundstage is not huge in width and height sense (even though it is out of your head easily), but a just huge depth with some beautiful work in presentation, which uses both channels, and also the depth to make immersive and true 3-D sound. The whole soundstage is also very airy and spread out. Because it is so airy all the instruments are extremely apart and the driver is actually surprisingly fast and handles most heavy textured stuff well.
For mid-bass of the FA 004, the quantity is very low, and when I say low I mean really low, this is something you expect from like a single BA driver a IEM or something along those lines. The quality is okay, because although its a pretty tight mid-bass, there is a lack of air moved and consequently impact. That is was the bass of this differs from well-regarded BA IEM such as Fischer Audios very own DBA-02 because while that still has the tight quality of the bass it also has a real nice punch to it.
Also I would like to add that when it says a low quantity of bass, I mean it has a real low quantity as it uses a dynamic driver do not expect any sort of even average amounts of bas because the quantity is definitely subpar and if you like base a lot in your music and listen to a lot of EDM or Hip hop then these may not be for you. The sub-bass extension is, sadly, disappointing and these roll of quickly with little to no rumble. As I have just said, these are no bass lovers headphones.
The midrange is well balanced in the middle of everything and is very air and tonally fairly bright from the peaks in the treble. This consequently make women vocalists sound wonderful but can have a negative un-natural effect on some more ‘manly’ male vocalists. The texture of it is not the most built up and it is very thin but this also leads to it be transparent and a lot of details shine through fairly nicely, quite outstanding for the price. The mids are also very airy.
The treble is what these are all about and it is very bright with lots of sparkle and detail. The treble is extended and quite thin in texture. The sparkle can be a bit over whelming but if you like cymbal crashes loud then these will please you a lot.
For roughly £40 I cannot believe the package you get and with all the stuff you get I expected that they could not sound good as well. But the surprise and sound truly amazing, above their price for sure. What they also do is provide a budget analytical, top-heavy sound, which you do not really see often from experience. A quick way to describe them if you have heard Fischers DBA-02, imagine that sort of signature with less speed and details but still truly awesome for the price, that’s what we have here. These will be my recommendation for a headphone in this price range unless you like a bass heavy headphone.
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