Pros: Midrange (Vocal), Soundstage width, presentation
First of all, a big THANK YOU to Michael Lin from FIDUE for providing the review unit. It is much appreciated, and my humble ears are feeling so incredibly honoured to be included as one of the reviewers.
This is Fidue’s latest offering, which is a dual-dynamic IEM, which one of them being titanium driver, which is the FOTM at the moment, and it is priced at USD$100/AUD$150. When I was offered the opportunity, it was impossible to say no to, particularly because all of Fidue’s product that I have listened to, and reviewed were all excellent, notably the best-in-class A83 and A63.
Fidue’s official descriptions
- 10mm Exclusive Woofer & 6.8m Titanium Dynamic Drivers inside
- Full-range 2-way System Design for Two Individual Drivers
- Excellent Divider & Acoustic Chamber Design for Accurate & Detailed Sound
- Hi-End 7N-OFC, Single-sided cable for Purer Sound & Better Quality
- Fascinating Vocal & Impressive Sound Stage Performance
- MSRP is USD$100/AUD$150
- Driver Unit: 10mm Dynamic Driver & 6.8m Titanium Dynamic Drivers
- Frequency response: 12Hz -25,000 Hz
- Rated impedance: 19Ω+-10%
- Sensitivity: 103+-3db
- Distortion: ≤1%
- Max Input Power: 20mW
- Plug: 3.5mm mini stereo gold-plated plug
- Cable: 1.20m
The components that I used for this review are as follows
- iPod Classic
- Fiio X5 DAP
- Desktop (through Aune T1)
- MacBook Air (straight out, and through Dragonfly)
- Spotify (highest quality streaming), 320k MP3’s, 16/44 and 24/96 FLAC’s
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
Packaging is standard retail packaging, but to my surprise, Fidue is using a hard outer cover, which is excellent in my book. The green bits on the box and the picture of the earphone itself is glossy, while the black is matte. Overall, the retail presentation has been significantly improved, and it does look a lot nicer and flasher compared to the previous ones. Inside the box, the standard hard foam liner is used.
Accessories wise, they are pretty much standard, you get 6 pairs of tips (three pairs of single flange silicone S/M/L, two pairs of dual-flange silicone M/L, and a pair of foam), shirt clip, and a small clamshell case.
BUILD QUALITY, ISOLATION, AND COMFORT
Build quality is very good, the shell is made from a hard plastic, barrel-style with a memory wire (more on this later). The Y-split and 3.5mm jack is similar to all of the other Fidue’s products
The cable, which is a 7N-OFC single sided, is up to the usual Fidue’s high standard, it is made from rubber-y material that feels strong and robust. It is not as awesome as A83’s cable however, but then again, we are talking about a $100 product here, not $300 product.
Isolation and comfort, well, let’s start with comfort first. To be perfectly honest, when I first looked at the design of the earpiece, I thought to myself, well, this is strange, I don’t think this will work for me, and I was right. Let me just say that I have no doubt that this will work for those with smaller ears, but unfortunately it doesn’t work well for me. Under normal circumstances, with barrel-type body, I would just jam it deep in my ear with large tips, but in this instance, the memory wire is actually preventing me from jamming it deep, and hence, I can only do shallow fit on this one, and took me a few days of fiddling around and tip rolling for me to get the fit and seal that I was happy with.
Leading on from the above, because of the shallow fit, isolation is pretty average to me, I would say about 3/5. At home or work, it is no problem whatsoever, public transport is just OK, not great, but liveable, however, it won’t block out plane’s noise whilst I was flying, nor would it stay in my ear during running and/or exercising.
After a few days of tip rolling, I decided on using the UE900’s large silicone tips, as I get the best fit/seal and sound from it. As with most of Fidue’s product, the sound is very much tip and seal dependant, so I recommend that you guys take some time to find the perfect tips for it to get the best seal, though people with medium/small ears won’t have too much to worry about. To me, the use of medium-sized bore tips gave me the best sound, and foam tips are not really ideal for this. Again, I must say that this is only for me and my taste only, and other people will have different preferences for this.
The general signature of the sound here is flat with a slightly boosted bass.
Bass – perfect, in my opinion, in terms of the quantity and amount across the sub-bass and mid-bass. Out of the box upon first listen, I was a bit perplexed with the bass, because it was very mid-bassy, some roll off, and a non-existent sub-bass, but thankfully, the bass improved a lot after about 10 hours, and settled in nicely
The quantity and impact of the bass here is similar to A83, slightly boosted, but they won’t appear if not needed, but will definitely show up nicely when called upon. The speed and accuracy of the bass is excellent too, particularly for a dynamic driver, keeps up nicely with rock/metal tunes, and perfect length of the bass decay to keep hip-hop/RnB fans happy.
Midrange – the best feature of this IEM is right here, in particular to my taste, the midrange is rich and incredibly detailed, it is not recessed nor forward (could be perceived as a little bit mid-forward, depending on the fit and the tips used), perfect amount of warmth, with timbre that is so natural. Vocals are centered and intimate, female and male vocals are as good as each other, and absolutely clean, there are no peaks or distortion whatsoever.
Listening to vocal-based tracks is such a joyful experience due to the liveliness nature of the sound, it really does make you feel to be amongst the music. It is not as airy as KC06 for example, nor it is as 3D as Havi B3P1, to me personally, this is exactly how I like my midrange, and best of all, I have yet to encounter any vocal sibilance.
Treble – smooth, detailed, has good extension, and non-offensive, in my opinion the treble here acts as a supporting cast to the midrange and bass. It has good extension, and to my ear it is neither bright, nor dark, and just like the midrange, it could be perceived as a little laid back, depending on the tips used.
Just like the midrange, the treble here is also very clean, and pretty much free from sibilance and peaks. S sounds like an ‘s’ and not ‘ch’. A good example here is Sia’s track “Chandelier’, which is a track that I use to test peaks and sibilance. A71 renders this with top marks and cleanliness to the perfection level.
PRESENTATION AND AMPING
Soundstage, which I think is the second best feature of this IEM, is wide, in fact, very wide, though depth is pretty average. The width of the soundstage, combined with the centred/intimate vocal give this IEM a very lively presentation, in fact, listening to this gives an impression that you are sitting at a live concert
Imaging and separation are excellent too, and both are accentuated by the width of the soundstage. Instruments and vocals are perfectly rendered, and the best thing is that you can almost see and feel where the instruments are in your head.
Amping , although it is not necessary, it does help to give more energy, as this is quite a power-hungry IEM (almost as power hungry as Havi B3)
I have to mention also that A71 and X5 are the perfect match, from all my testing sources, X5 is the best sounding source by quite a significant margin. For some reason, pairing it with X5 gives it that extra sparkle and liveliness that I don’t get with all the other source
COMPARISON TO OTHER IEM
Fidue A71 vs Brainwavz S5 ($100)
Brainwavz S5 is something that I recently reviewed, and I think comparing the two is relevant as both of them are about on the similar price point.
Bass wise, in terms of quantity and impact, I think both are similar, depending on the tips used, S5 could be perceived as having more bass than A71. From the quality perspective, it’s a different story here, and A71 easily trumps it. A71’s bass sounds much more natural, and much quicker in comparison
Midrange wise, S5’s sounded recessed and subdued in comparison to A71, and also in terms of details level, S5 lags behind A71. Treble wise, S5’s treble has a bit more sparkle and brighter in general, but at the same time, it is more prone to sibilance and peaks.
Fidue A71 vs Havi B3 Pro1 ($65) vs Ostry KC06 ($50)
I have no doubt that this is one particular comparison where a lot of people want to know about, is A71 a real upgrade from the kings of sub-$70, the Ostry KC06 and Havi B3P1. Previous to A71, I have Iistened to A71’s younger sibling, the A63, and I think even with A63, Fidue has been successful in going toe-to-toe with both KC06 and B3P1.
As usual we begin with the bass, to my ear, in terms of both quality and quantity, A71 does trumps both Ostry and Havi. We all know about KC06 having a really delicate, analytical bass, and even some people have gone as far as saying that the bass is almost non-existent. B3P1 does have bass, though it is more on the neutral level, and some serious lack of weight, and sub-bass. A71’s bass on the other hand, provides that nice balance between the mid-bass and sub-bass.
In the midrange section, personally, KC06’s is a bit too airy, while B3P1 sounds a little bit ‘hollow’ and not as detailed. A71 on the other hand, the intimate and centred nature of the vocals, make it sounds more natural and sophisticated (or dare I say it, more audiophile-natured).
To the treble, I think this is where the 3 are quite similar to each other; none are offensive, nor too bright/hot, they all are about equal on the smoothness and details level
Presentation wise, both KC06 and B3P1 are a bit more open, airy and 3D in comparison to the lively A71. The level of enjoyment on the presentation part will largely depend on personal preference.
Going back to my opening remark, and to answer the query of whether this is an upgrade to the hugely popular KC06 and B3P1, the answer is a definite YES!
Fidue A71 vs RHA T10i ($250)
T10i is something that I auditioned recently, although its sound is not of my personal preference, it is however, an exemplary of a manufacturing done close to perfection. The words ‘first class’, ‘indestructible’, or ‘scholar’ are indeed suitable to describe the unit from the outer display, build quality, material, and general aesthetics. In contrast, A71 on the other hand, is packed and displayed on a no-frills, no-fuss, and safe packaging.
Sound wise, just like the build quality, material, and packaging, are very different between the two. T10i is very much a consumer-oriented sound with bass-galore signature, with all the 3 different filters, which reminds me a bit like Hippo VB. A71, as you’ve all read above, is tuned more along the reference-level sound, which can be perceived as boring by the general retail consumer
Personally, I prefer A71's sound over T10i's, by quite a significant margin, even when the T10i fits and seals much better in my ear.
Manufacturing earphones are not easy, with many different things to consider. First you have to decide the shape of the shell, taking into equation the different sizes of ears, then comes to tuning, then setting the price, you need to price your product at a sweet spot that people will buy yours over the others. Fidue is one of this manufacturer who really have done all of the above almost to perfection.
When I was offered the opportunity of auditioning and reviewing A71, I did not have to think twice. I have listened to majority of Fidue’s range and so far nothing has disappointed me. I have to say that I did have a rather high expectation of A71, due to the awesomeness of other Fidue products manufactured previous to A71, and luckily, it did not disappoint, not at any stages of the audition.
Priced at $100 (US)/$150 (AU), it will take the market by storm, if not already. I will make a bold statement and say that not only this is the best sub-$150 dual-dynamic IEM I have heard, it is the best sounding sub-$150 IEM period. During the course of audition and review, I kept thinking that I cannot believe this is priced at $100, and when a company can induce that thought from a user/customer/reviewer, then that company has really done an excellent job.
I have enjoyed listening, auditioning, and reviewing this in the past 2.5 weeks, and the fact that I am able to overlook the fact that it does not fit/seal well in my ear will be a testament on how much I absolutely love the sound
I am, and will always look forward to Fidue’s next product.
Well done Fidue