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FIDUE A71 Dual Dynamic Drivers Hi-Fi Earphones

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #123 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Midrange (Vocal), Soundstage width, presentation

Cons: Fit

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

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

 

Technical Specifications

  • 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.

 

SOUND QUALITY

 

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.

 

CONCLUSION

 

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 :wink_face:

 

I am, and will always look forward to Fidue’s next product.

 

Well done Fidue

Posted

Pros: excellent bass, great detailed mids, wide soundstage

Cons: fitment might not be for everybody

Before I start my review I would like to Thank Michael @ Fidue for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion!  A71 is currently available from a lot of different places, including Penonaudio and their bigbargainonline ebay store.

 

### 12/8 Update - scroll down to the bottom of the review to see a diagram with an internal partitioning of the chambers ###

 

Fresh off review of Fidue flagship triple driver hybrid A83, I gave my ears some rest and jumped right back into a testing of their latest dual driver A71 model. To say that I'm a fan of Fidue design and sound tuning would be an understatement. These guys continue to impress me with every new pair of IEMs I get a chance to review (A31s, A63, A83, and now A71). Every pair of headphones feels like a little masterpiece Benny Tan and his team crafted in their Fidue lab, and A71 is no exception. Not quite sure about significance of their incremental model numbering, but it feels like every model occupies its own flagship space. Here is what I found after spending some time with A71.

 

Packaging of A71 follows their typical black and green theme, and you can find a lot of useful info by taking a tour around the box while reading highlights of the design and the sound signature (always found to be honest and accurate without marketing hype), detailed technical specification, and background history behind the company. It never seize to amaze me how much pride Fidue takes in their product and wants to share about their company. Under the box cover you find a foam cutout with headphones hard shell zippered case and A71 in a display setting. Included accessories are very basic with S/M/L pairs of single flange narrow bore tips, two pairs of double flange tips, and a pair of foam tips. As I mentioned above, a nice zippered case was included but I wish it would have a been a bit large since packing headphones with a memory wire is a PITA in a tight space.

 

Headphones comes with a slim textured straight 3.5mm gold plated plug with "A71" model marking. Slim nature of the plug will work with any DAP/amp or smartphone case and a durable strain relief is a big plus. Cable between the plug and y-splitter is a bit thicker but still very flexible and easy to manage. Y-splitter has a matching design as a plug and also comes with an excellent strain relief on both sides, including a small rubber chin slider going toward earpieces. That part of the cable after the split is a little bit thinner in comparison to the common cable part, but still durable and with a similar soft rubber shielding. The wiring of the cable is 7N OFC (99.99999% purity), not silver-plated but still with a high quality. Also, microphonics was down to minimum, especially when you move chin slider up to secure cables in a closer position.

 

Earpiece design has a rather large barrel shape and probably going to generate some polarizing opinion. I'm personally not a big fan of memory wires, but with my ear shape and preferred fitment - I found them to be quite welcome. The only drawback is that unlike other headphones that just go in your ear without any fiddling, here I had to spend a few extra seconds adjusting the memory wire with every single insertion. Though not removable, the molded plastic strain relief and the memory wire itself makes up for one heck of a sturdy design which I definitely appreciate! Due to a large size of the barrel, the earpiece was sticking out a bit from my ears, but still I was able to get a decent seal and after tip rolling actually settled down on my usual go-to UE900 tips with medium bore opening I use on bass-enhanced IEMs (more about it later). I guess the explanation for such earpiece shape comes from Fidue's description of partitioned acoustic chamber to host 10mm woofer and 6.8mm titanium dynamic drivers. I also found a small pinhole air-port opening at the base of the nozzle.

 

When it comes to a sound, I didn't spend too much time analyzing it out of the box knowing these are dual dynamic drivers that will settle down for sure after 20+ hrs of free air burn in (I never trust my brain burn in during actual listening). Though I started with included narrow bore tips, I quickly realized these contributed to a bit of a high frequency attenuation which I wanted to bring back, and successfully accomplished that by switching to UE900 medium bore tips that opened up sound more with a better balance between low and high frequencies. Sound testing was done straight out of HO of X5 which I found to be sufficient enough to drive A71 without any problem. As a matter of fact, I was able to drive A71 with any source.

 

The sound signature/tonality of Fidue A71 is a warm balanced sound with emphasis on mid-bass. Starting with a low end, you get a decent sub-bass extension down to a rumbling layer with a rich texture and a fast punchy mid-bass. Sounds like a typical description for a lot of basshead IEMs, except here Fidue was able to pull an amazing balance between sub-bass and mid-bass without turning it into a muddy bloat! I wouldn't call these basshead IEMs, but to my ears they will definitely satisfy anybody with an extra craving for bass! At the same time, there is a little bit of spillage into lower mids, but it's done in a very tasteful way to add full body thickness to midrange.

 

Mids also have a perfect balance with a bass which is so rare in bass enhanced IEMs where manufacturers like to implement fun v-shaped tuning. Here mids didn't feel recessed at all! They sound very smooth and musical, and with support from lower mids have a full body sound. Vocals are lush and flow smoothly with a natural tonality, and still have plenty of clarity and details!!! Treble doesn't extend as far, but still very clear and smooth, though not as crisp. There is no sign of sibilance and as a matter of fact the sound is perfect for extended non-fatigue listening. I found soundstage to be rather wide and deep, definitely above the average. Also, imaging was excellent but separation was just good where I felt like extra thickness/warmth made a sound to be a bit congested in some of the songs.

 

With this being a dual dynamic driver design geared more toward an enhanced bass, I couldn't wait to compare it to a few other of my dynamic IEMs. One thing I found in common, A71 made them all sound having a lighter bass and a thinner mids. In particular, VSD3 bass was a little lighter and thinner, and mids sounded thinner/brighter and even harsher in comparison, while treble was crispier with a bit more extension. IM50 felt like it had less sub-bass but a bit faster/stronger mid-bass punch, mids were thinner and more forward, and treble crispier. T1E sounded really pale in comparison where bass was less detailed and even sounding veiled, mids more recessed and less detailed, while treble being similar. B3P1 had a leaner bass with less bloat and more details, but also less quantity, mids sounding thinner and brighter and treble being crispier and more detailed. KC06A had less sub-bass, and mids were thinner and harsher, while treble was more extended.

 

Overall, this was another great release from Fidue team where they continue to explore new sound signatures, tuning it to a perfection to stand out from a crowd! From the moment I read the cover of the box where they mentioned "sub-woofer", I knew right away these will be bass oriented IEMs. But their ability to deliver a perfectly balanced upper mids with a high quality of vocals and a wide soundstage really sets them apart from all other v-shaped fun headphones that follow a standard tuning formula. If you want analytical smooth sound with a great bass texture, A83 will be hard to beat. But if you are craving a high quality bass and don't want to compromise on the clarity and details of your mids - A71 will be a tough act to follow!!!

 

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge)..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being very impressed with how well Fidue was able to mix bass and upper frequencies in their dual chamber design, I was curious of how they implemented this partitioning.

 

They were kind enough to send me a diagram of the internal design which I'm allowed to share with you. Very clever implementation!!!

 

Posted

Pros: Building quality, mids, soundstage, comfort, earhooks.

Cons: Bass bloat, straight jack.

Before I begin, I want to thank @H20Fidelity for providing me this review sample. Also want to thank Fidue for creating such a great product.

I did not purchase the Fidue A71 but I will not let review bias effect me and will not hold any punches when there are punches to be throw. Now let's begin!

 

 

The Fidue A71 is what you get when you have have that great idea and have the experience and ability to make that great idea a reality. The overall package of the A71s is superb. Presentation, attention to detail and build quality is above par. The overall sound signature is great for modern listening. Fidue have gone above and beyond to bring you a good product and they did just that.
 

A little bit about the Fidue A71

Driver Unit    10mm dynamic driver & 6.8mm Titanium dynamic drivers
Frequency response   12Hz -25000Hz
Impedance    19ohm ±10%
Sensitivity   103±3db
Distortion   ≤ 1%
Max Input Power   20mw
Plug   3.5mm mini stereo gold-plated plug (Straight)
Cable   1.2m 7N-OFC

 

 

FR Graph:

Thanks to Fidue for providing this for me!

 

 

   

Packaging

The box is hard cardboard and has a great thought out colour scheme. Very contrasting with the lime green and charcoal, with a little bit of a carbon fibre touch that has the Fidue logo within it (which I think maybe a little bit too much). The tones and contrast go great together to attract the eye and get you to come closer and read the box. 
Writing on the box just has the name and specs on it in English, Chinese(?), and German. 

 

Inside the box you find most of the earphones tucked neatly into the carry case and the ear pieces sitting snug in pre cut nooks cut into a felt pad sitting on top of the foam guts of the box. Great stuff!

I've not seen anything like this before. It kind of reminds me of when you buy jewelry or maybe a boutique watch. 

 

Accessories

You get a nice looking black carry case witch is oblong in shape. It's got a nice soft touch and has the Fidue logo impressed into the top of it.

Inside you get a felt backing and a pocket to store the spare ear tip or whatnot. You get a Velcro hook/loop strip to tie off the cable for easy storage inside the case. The felt backing of the case lets you then just stick the earphone in the case so it doesn't fall out when you opening the case.

 

In terms of ear tip you get the following:

 

  • 3 pairs of Silicone tips (S/M/L)
  • 2 pairs of double flange silicone tips
  • 1 pair of foam tips

 

The ones that I like the best were the small double flange tips. Which, if fact, are now my favourite and have been my new go to ear tips for all my IEMs.

 

Comfort

I have to straight out say that these are by far the most comfortable IEMs I've used. They're super light and have this great malleable steel insert in the ear hook which allows you to shape them to your ears. The result is extraordinary! The perfect term for it, and I quote, "Set and forget" (thanks to @H20Fidelity for using this term, it's perfect). I can go for a sprint with these on and would not even notice that they are in my ears, and they are in so well that they will not fall out. And believe me I've done this. Top marks for this.

 

Isolation

Isolation is great. I have 3 kids who just love to annoy me when I'm listening to music. Needless to say that I can thoroughly enjoy my music by drowning out the screams and cries of a needy child. Good marks for this as well!

 

Design and Build

The build quality looks a bit cheap, but because they are so light, unless 

you step on them with your foot they could not break if you dropped them. In addition, it has great strain relief and the cable quality feels great. 

 

The design of them is actually quite interesting. The main part of the housing is black, lightly see through plastic. This means that if you shine light through it you can actually see inside the chamber. The back of the housing is solid plastic, sporting the Fidue logo, which is lofted into a triangular shape of the strain relief, which extended into the earhooks. It a very nice transition. The earhook extending from the strain relief gives you the impression that the cable will last much long in that region.

 

The Y split and jack are made of machined aluminium with round burrs for extra grip. You'll find the Fidue logo on them as well. Strain relief on both is thick durable rubber.

 

You also get a neck cinch, which is a welcome addition, but my quarrel is 

that it is way too tight on the cable and is quite hard to position. I tend to leave it alone in fear of stripping the cable.

 

Sound

The Fidue A71 is a dual chamber, dual driver IEM which means that each driver has it's own chamber to push air from. I'm no expert on this but what I would gather from this information is that the sound waves would not cross paths until it hits your ear. Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

My initial impression was "Mind rattling", but as my ears got uses to the sound the bass got less "boom = ouch" to a rumble that gave me a chill down my spine. 

 

Overall the the Fidue A71 sounds good. It's bass orientated without having any recesses that I can hear. Its very warm but has enough treble to stay detailed for the most part. With the mid bass bloat you get a sense of bloominess in the air which is quite sweet in some tracks.

It has a great soundstage. Way above par to what you normally get with an IEM. It's wide and deep, though the bass makes it quite an intimate listen as it takes away from the airiness.

 

Bass

The bass extends well into the sub-bass of around 30Hz maybe even a little lower. But it has a huge mid bass hump which bloats quite a bit. It bleeds into the lower and mid mids. The bass punch is big and visceral. I quite enjoy it for modern music where you don't need to hear the fine detail, you just listen and enjoy. But when you want to listen to something complex the bass puts a veil over some of the finer details you would normally enjoy. And frankly, to my ears, these earphone are BASS CANNONS!

 

Mids

The mids are very rich and warm. Acoustic guitars sound very real like they're in front of you. Male vocals are somewhat let down by the bass. They sound deep and in some songs I found that they are getting downed out by the bass. This is of course only when there is a mid bass orientated bass line present.

 

Treble

The treble extends very well. It has no sibilance and doesn't really have any peaks or dips which makes the sound unnatural or metallic. There is a tiny bit of emphasis on the "SSS" sounds, which I actually like. Really sounds great with female vocals when they whisper into the mic. Sparkle is present but not as much as I would've hoped for. The sense of air and space is hindered by the bass making the sensation of air more like a bloom instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Fidue have really outdone themselves with the A71. They brought good technology and experience, and stuffed it all into one package. 

Great looks, sound, build and accessories is all a win in my books. And for the AU$149 price tag, they are worth every penny.

 

Great job Fidue! You've made a fan out of me!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted

Pros: Fantastic mid-range, good build quality, value and SQ (if EQ’d - bass reduced), fit (personal)

Cons: Initial driver flex, fit (general), copious bass, too warm, very relaxed treble (some may find this a positive), default signature masks detail

For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

INTRODUCTION

This is the third Fidue product I’ve been lucky enough to review, and the first dual dynamic IEM they’ve made (the others I have are the A81 single dynamic and A83 triple hybrid). My thanks go to Vic (djvkool) for facilitating the review samples, and also to Michael Lin from Fidue for giving us the chance to review their products.

 

For those who aren’t aware, Fidue Acoustics is a Chinese earphone company founded by Benny Tan (who has more than 20 years design experience – developing earphones for other global branded companies).  The name Fidue is simply an acronym of the principle design points that the company strives to implement in their product range

 

  • Fidelity
  • Inspiration
  • Durability
  • Uniqueness
  • Enjoyment.

 

Fidue’s product catalogue to date has included mainly dynamic driver models ranging from the sub $50 bracket, all the way to their current triple driver hybrid A83 flagship.  The A71 is a new direction for them, and is their first dual dynamic-driver IEM.

 

The A71’s arrived almost weeks ago, and I’ve been using them every day as my portable IEM – so I’ve clocked up around 50 hours with them so far.

 

It has been an interesting experience as there are some parts of the A71 I like very much, but there are others (which many people may love) that I find not to my ideal tuning. Read on to find out my personal thoughts on the A71 and who they might be ideal for.

 

DISCLAIMER

 

I was provided the Fidue A71 as a review unit from Fidue. I am in no way affiliated with Fidue - and this review is my honest opinion of the A71.

 

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.   (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

 

I'm a 47 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X1 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X1 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83 or A81, Dunu DN-1000 and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

 

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences.  I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

 

I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent.  I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue.  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).

 

I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’.  I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 47, my hearing is less than perfect.

 

For the purposes of this review - I used the Fidue A71 straight from the headphone-out socket of my iPhone 5S, X5, X1 and also from the Beyer A200p when at work.  I did not generally further amp them, as IMO they do not benefit from additional amplification.  In the time I have spent with the A71, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), but am aware that I am becoming more used to the signature of the A71 as I use them more often (brain burn-in).

 

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

 

THE REVIEW

 

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES 

 

The A71 arrived in Fidue’s normal attractive green and black packaging – but this time in a 2 piece box and lid arrangement.  The box is medium sized 180 x 110 x 45mm. A quick note, as you’ll also see in the photos, the packaging Fidue is using is a pretty good design, and appears to be reasonably sturdy and strong.  Unfortunately I think one of our couriers may have dropped my package onto something reasonably sharp – and one of the corners was slightly damaged.  The good news is that the A71 had absolutely no damage, and the only casualty was a small rip on the bottom of the box.

 

Front of the case Rear of the case

 

The other interesting thing with the box is that the information on the outside is in 3 languages – English, Chinese and German.

 

Removing the lid reveals cut-out hard foam (on top of softer foam padding) with the Fidue A71 nestled safely inside the provided cut-outs.  There is also a small zippered carry case. Opening this case reveals the included tips.

 

Lid removed revealing the carry case and A71 IEMs Included accessories

 

Underneath the foam layers in the box is a single warranty document.

 

The carry case is oval, about 90mm long, 65mm wide and 30mm deep. It has a semi rigid exterior, with padding on the inside, and should be sturdy enough to provide protection, whilst remaining small enough to comfortably fit into a front shirt or pants pocket. It’s a perfect for the A71, and has an inner webbed pocket for spare tips.

 

Fidue case - compared to Brainwavz Fidue case - compared to Brainwavz

 

The accessory pack includes 3 pairs (S,M,L) single flange silicone tips, 2 pairs of dual flange silicone tips, and 1 pair of foam tips (non-Comply – but reasonably soft). 

 

Included tips Included tips

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

(From Fidue’s Packaging)

Type

Dual dynamic driver inner ear monitor

Drivers

10mm (exclusive woofer) + 6.8 mm dynamic driver with titanium composites

Frequency Range

13 Hz – 23 Khz

Impedance

16 ohm

Sensitivity

104 dB

Max Input Power

30 mW

Distortion

<1%

Plug

3.5mm gold plated

Cables

1.3m 7N-OFC copper, fixed

Weight

16g

IEM Shell

Moulded plastic shell

 

FREQUENCY GRAPH

 

At the time of writing, I haven’t been able to locate a frequency graph, but for the record I’m expecting a graph somewhat similar to the shape of Fidue’s A81 single dynamic driver – boosted sub and mid-bass, possibly slightly forward upper mid-range, but quite a subdued treble with some roll-off

 

BUILD QUALITY

 

The Fidue A71 has a moulded shell quite akin to the bullet design of a lot of single dynamic driver earphones. Where it differs radically from most is the exit of the cable from the body of the IEM, which is shaped to exit slightly forward of the outer body, then loop around the back of the ear via memory wire.  So OOTB it is designed to be worn with the cable over the ear. I do know that at least one enterprising modder has already taken a steady pair of hands and sharp knife to his pair and removed the memory wire enough to be worn straight down – but for those of us less inclined to take a knife to our brand new IEMS – these are essentially over ear. The good news is that I always use my IEMs over ear, so they are ideal for me.

 

A71 very good build quality for the price A71 dual dynamic IEMs 

 

The body of the A71 is 25mm from tip to rear, with an actual insertable length of around 16mm. The diameter is a reasonably large 12mm.  For comparison the Altone200 triple hybrid is 10mm and Dunu DN1000 is 13-14mm. The actual nozzle is a reasonably small 4-5mm, but designed with a good lip, so that tips stay on very securely.

 

There are two ports or vents – one at the base of the nozzle and the second adjacent to the cable exit.

 

A71 port adjacent to nozzle  A71 port close to cable exit

 

There is a very good (strong but pliable) 75mm section of formable memory wire from the IEM body, and I have found that it keeps its form extremely well, and is very easy to adjust.

 

The cable is OFC cable with a synthetic rubber sheath which is very smooth, very soft, appears very well made, and does not tend to hold kinks. So far (with over the ear wear), it has exhibited reasonably low microphonics.  The Y split is a nice metallic tube with “Fidue” printed on it.  It looks very elegant, and has good strain relief at both ends.  There is also a chin slider – but on my unit, it is quite tight, and takes some effort to move/adjust. I don’t know if this is just my unit or not – but in the meantime I have taken to not using the slider – and just tucking the cable securely under clothes if walking.

 

Cable, jack and Y split Formable ear wire and L/R marking

 

The jack is a standard 3 pole 3.5mm, very slim, extremely well built and has very good strain relief. 

 

Overall the build quality is a very good standard for the cost.  I can’t really fault them too much on build – apart from the cinch.

 

FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

 

I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well.  I initially tried the included large silicone tips, and whilst they fit OK, I was unable to maintain a seal. I next tried their included foam tips, and they fit me well enough but because of the size, I could not go very deep with the A71 without causing discomfort. They also tended to attenuate the highs, and considering the minimal air in the default signature, lessening what was there did not see a wise idea. I tried the dual flanges but they were a little too deep – again causing discomfort. So I finally settled on a pair of single flange large wide bore tips which fit extremely well, allowed full insertion, and gave me a great seal.  The wide bore also helped with making sure I was getting all of the available midrange and treble – which did help the overall sonics for me.

 

Single flange wide bore tips - with the A71 and X5

 

So after playing around for a while, I managed to get a great seal, and reasonably deep fit, that is also pretty comfortable. I also naturally favour an over the ear IEM – so far the A71 ticked all my boxes. Caveat emptor though – if you have smaller canals, you may struggle getting a deep fit with the A71, and this means having them stick out of your ears (similar to the old triple fi 10).  And if you’re not an over ear fan – you’re going to struggle with the memory wire.

 

Isolation with a deep insertion and correct seal was average for an IEM, mainly due to the 2 ports. With music playing, most ambient noise is well and truly filtered out.  I’m not sure if these would be my choice for a long haul flight though. With the length of the body, I would also have difficulty sleeping with the A71 in place.

 

There can be driver flex on initial insertion – but this is minimal.  I also experienced this with the Fidue A81 and A83.

 

So how does the Fidue A71 sound?

 

SOUND QUALITY

 

The following is what I hear from the Fidue A71.  YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).  Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X5 as source, no EQ, and silicone tips with a wide bore.

 

Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

 

Thoughts on General Signature

 

If I was to describe the signature in a few words – I’d choose the words “warm”, “smooth” and “bassy”.

 

I’m finding the Fidue A71 to be a very interesting IEM to try and categorise. On one hand there is a beautiful lush smooth midrange and lower treble, with great body and fullness, and absolutely no treble fatigue. On the other hand, there is a lot of sub and mid bass which makes the A71 borderline ‘dark’, and for me (unfortunately) detracts from the good points it brings to the table.  The bass has reasonable extension, with an additional mid-bass bump.  The mid-range sounds quite full – but I suspect there may be a slight hint of slight recession in the lower mids, emphasis on the upper mids, and a smooth lower treble – with not a great deal of treble extension.  This combination gives a reasonably clear mid-range with north of neutral bass slam.  The A71 is a very warmish sounding IEM that sounds a little thick on the bottom end (the mid bass has a slow decay with many tracks). It is definitely a coloured sound overall.

 

Overall Detail / Clarity

 

For this I always use both Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in both tracks, and the recording quality for both is excellent.

With Gaucho, the sax intro is natural sounding and very smooth – with more bass guitar emphasis than I’m usually used to.  Vocals are also smooth and lush – but the cymbals and high hats are quite subdued – almost lost in the background. I can definitely hear the bass guitar, and thump of the kick drum coming through.  Overall – a smooth and warm listen. I am missing some of the upper end sparkle that makes this track magic though.  There just isn’t enough contrast.

 

Switching to Sultans of Swing, and again it’s a really warm and smooth listen.  The constant background sound is the bass guitar. With other IEMs, this is usually punctuated with the crunch of Knopfler’s guitar and the polite splash of cymbals, but this time that crunch doesn’t have edge, and the cymbals are a gentle ‘tish’ – hardly there really.  The bass is reasonably good overall, with a slight mid-bass bloom and longer decay.  Vocals are clear – and this is where the A71 shines, but all the upper end detail is being masked by the overly warm signature.  I know the detail is there – I can hear it, but I’m straining to get it – and normally the contrast is what supplies this track its dynamics.  The contrast is missing. Sadly so is the magic.

 

Sound-stage & Imaging

 

For this I use Amber Rubarth’s binaural recording “Tundra”.  I use this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage.

 

It’s usually difficult to get a reasonable stage size from an inner ear monitor.  The stage is often quite small / close – with an average impression of space.  The Fidue A71 has an intimate stage with this track, and although there is reasonably good directional imaging, the sense of space is not expansive, and the overall stage is diffuse and a little cloudy. The direction is there, but the pinpoint accuracy isn’t. It is an enjoyable enough listen though.

 

I also used Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and the Fidue A71 gave quite a dark and overly warm rendition of this track. Once again the tonality of this IEM is a lot darker than I am used to – and although it still delivers reasonable direction (the cello is where it usually is to the right, and piano slightly off center), once again the overall accuracy of the stage is a little diffuse. I am missing most of the sweetness of Loreena’s vocals that the A83 delivered (in comparison).  The portrayal of timbre with the piano on the other hand is actually pretty good.

 

In this track, the applause at the end is so well presented that with some headphones (HD600) I can actually close my eyes and imagine myself in the crowd.  With the Fidue A71, the applause doesn’t take me into the audience (it’s quite lifeless really) – I feel more of an observer than a participant.

 

Bass Quality and Quantity

 

I’m used to hearing some quite impactful and good quality bass with the recent triple hybrid IEMs I’ve been spending time with lately – so I was looking forward to seeing what Fidue could do with a dual dynamic driver set-up. The A71 definitely has copious amounts of both sub and mid-bass, but its problem (to me anyway) is that the decay is quite slow, and the bass bloom and overall warmth detracts from the beautiful mid-range it obviously possesses.

 

Amongst my test tracks, one of the tracks to emphasise this was Muddy Waters by Mark Lanegan.  This blues rock track is quite dark and brooding anyway – and the while A71 really had the bass thumping, and Mark’s vocals were relatively clear, the whole track is so smooth and dark, there is just no magic.  Usually Mark’s vocals have a rough gravelly texture to them.  This is lost in the warmth – it renders his vocals smooth – and they are not supposed to be.

 

I wanted to see how low the bass would go – so switched to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” – and the A71 delivered – but just too much boom for me. The bass is effortless and the quantity is copious – but the quality is not tight and it quickly became fatiguing. Once again the quality of Amy’s vocals is lost - overpowered.

 

Female Vocals – A Special Note

 

I have added this section simply because around 60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera.  I’m an unabashed fan.  For me the sign of a successful IEM is how successfully it conveys emotion and timbre with my female vocalists. Other IEMs I’ve owned in the past had sometimes struggled with some of the artists I like – and this includes IEM’s like Shure’s SE535 LE (upper-mids on the SE535 LE are quite forward).

 

I didn’t really know what to expect with the A71 – but with its slight upper mid-range bump, I suspected it may perform well.  One of my early litmus tests is usually queuing Agnes Obel – as some of her recordings can become quite strident or shouty if the mids aren’t quite right.  With the A71, her vocals aren’t as euphonic as with some of my brighter IEMs – but the magic is there, if lost a little in the overall warmth. The cello also shows promising signs – great timbre and tone.

 

I then proceeded to play a medley of other tracks from artists including Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi (the track Safer was absolutely beautiful), Florence and the Machine, and Norah Jones (almost too smooth and buttery). The A71 definitely does vocals incredibly well – and it shines when there is less bass in the track to mask the mid-range.

 

Male Vocals

 

At the other end of the scale sits a lot of my rock tracks. 

 

Kicking off with 3 Doors Down “Away from the Sun”, and the vocal presentation is very good – intimate and very pleasant to listen to. Moving to Green Day, and once again the vocal quality is very good – it’s just a pity that some of the guitar crunch is AWOL. By now I’m getting pretty used to a continuing theme – good vocals, but no magic in the rest of the track.  Time for my litmus test – Pearl Jam.  Either I’m getting fatigued – or this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Vedder’s voice is lifeless. At least I’m hearing cymbals in the background – but there is no emotion in the track.

 

Genre Specific Notes

 

Again for tracks, albums, artists – please refer to this list:  http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks

 

Rock – Vocals are good for the most part – and the bass is always there, so if you like smooth and thumping they may well tick your box.  They don’t do it for me – not enough contrast.

 

Alt Rock – First up (in my usual test rotation) was Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and the A71 delivers no contrast. So I quickly move on.  Porcupine Tree’s “Trains” starts well enough – Wilson’s vocals are nice with the A71.  But when the bass hits it is too much mid-bass oriented and just delivers more warmth than dynamic contrast.

 

Jazz / Blues – Portico Quartet’s “Ruins” is always a first stop for me when testing a new IEM with Jazz, and the A71 sadly continues where it left off with other genres. It’s too smooth, too warm, and loses all contrast. I quickly switch to Miles Davis and Miles trumpet is the star of the show – really good. Cymbals are usually a nice punctuation in the background on this track – sadly these are more of an afterthought.  I’m struggling to hear them.

 

I quickly switched to blues – with Bonamassa’s vocals and guitar being a favourite of mine. The A71 was pleasant to listen to – but again missing the crunch of Joe’s guitar. Everything continues to be too smooth. I also tried Beth Hart’s “Live at Paradiso” album – which is mastered very hot (bright).  On the A71 it was superb – smoother than I’ve ever heard it.  Beth’s vocals were the focal point and the bass was actually reasonably tight this time. A little bit of magic.

 

Rap / EDM / Pop – Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was one of the standout tracks with the A71. Hard hitting bass but very clear vocals. I actually really enjoyed this one, and I’m not the biggest rap fan. Time to try some straight Pop – and Adele’s vocals with piano accompaniment is once again very good. Two for two – are we on a roll? Time for some Electronic / EDM – and Lindsay Stirling’s “Electric Daisy Violin” = magic. The bass is thumping but the violin is clear and this is somehow smooth and also vibrant at the same time. Next track in the queue is Little Dragon’s “Little Man” and it’s equally as impressive – although I’d like to dial the bass back just a little.  In fact any EDM or electronic music seems to work really well with the A71, and even lighter electronic like The Flashbulb is enjoyable. If there is a single genre that the A71 performs well in for my tastes – this is the one.

 

Classical / Opera – I’ll keep this short. Kempff’s solo piano – tick. Zoe Keating’s cello – tick. Opera and orchestral – nope. Too dark, no dynamics.

 

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

 

Tested with iPhone 5S, X1, X5 and X1+E11K (above)

 

The Fidue A71 is easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and I haven’t experienced any issues with the X1, X5 or iPhone 5S.  As a reference with a typical rock track (Seether’s Immortality from One Cold Night), I’m at 26-27 on the X5, and I wouldn’t want to go much higher – my SPL meter is showing an ave SPL of around 75 dB and peaking at 85-90 dB.  Normally I’d even dial it down a few notches.

 

RESPONSE TO EQ?

 

The iphone and EQ (bass reduction) provided a needed SQ lift

 

I know the A71 have a really good mid-range, so time to get rid of some bass and see what happens. This time I switched to the iPhone and just used the bass reducer EQ preset.  Bliss.  I then went back to revisit a lot of the tracks I’d had issues with previously and all of a sudden the missing contrast, and more importantly emotion is there. Vedder’s voice is wonderful, and I don’t have to strain to hear cymbals. Best of all is that the mid-range is magic. If this was the default signature, I’d buy these in a heart-beat.

 

QUICK COMPARISON OTHER IEMS

 

I was originally going to try and give a comparison with some of the other $70-$120 IEMs I have on hand – to give my thoughts on comparative value. My issue is that without EQ, the default signature of the A71 is one I simply do not like.  As such, it would be handily beaten by Brainswavz S0 and S5, and flat out slaughtered by the sonics on Brainwavz R3 (which is also a dual dynamic) and RockJaws Alfa Genus.

 

L to R : S0, A71, R3, S5 and Alfa Genus

 

The problem is, if you EQ the bass back, the A71 becomes one of the best IEMs I’ve heard in this price range, and would best most of the afore mentioned IEMs.  So what is a fair comparison? At this stage I’ll leave this section – except to say that if you like contrast and clarity, and don’t like to EQ – then there are better IEMs out there.  Especially look to the R3 and Alfa Genus. If you are happy to apply EQ - then these are definitely worth considering.

 

FIDUE A71 - SUMMARY

When I first listened to these, I can remember commenting to Vic that I fully agreed with his initial excitement regarding the clarity and value of the A71.  As you’ve read above, those impressions were very premature, and my excitement waned the more I listened to them.

 

First up I want to thank both Vic and Michael Lin for including me in the review process. I don’t like writing reviews that find a lot of fault with IEMs and sadly I’ve done that twice in the last couple of weeks.  First with the RHA T10i, and now with the A71.

 

I’ll qualify my comments by saying that in this case I’m really at the opposite end of Fidue’s intended audience for this IEM. I think the A71 has been deliberately tuned for a younger generation looking for a bass heavy and warm presentation. Where the A71 shines is in its mid-range and smooth non-fatiguing treble.

 

The A71 could suit:

  • Fans of Rap, Pop and EDM who like a warm and bass heavy presentation
  • People who are severely treble sensitive
  • People who like a warm dark signature

 

The A71 will not suit anyone who looks for:

  • Good contrast
  • A high level of detail
  • Good balance across the frequency

 

However, for someone prepared to use simple EQ to tone the bass down, there is a lot of magic still there. I’m still listening to the same PJ album 30 minutes later with this EQ applied, and I’m loving every minute of it.

The build and fit is pretty good for me, and the value proposition once EQ’d is extremely good.

 

The question is now how to grade this.  It is a hidden gem if the bass is dialled back, and would represent real value to me. Today I’ve given these a 3.5 star rating (primarily based on the default signature, and how much it masks natural detail) – but it would easily be 4.5 stars if I didn’t have to EQ these to achieve the sonic signature I prefer. I hope that makes some sense.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS TO FIDUE

 

As I’m clearly not the intended demographic, I find it difficult to make any recommendations except one. If you think there is value, and you can achieve the tuning, consider a drastic cut in the mid-bass and release an additional model (A73?) tuned closer to reference. I’d be the first in line to buy a pair.

FIDUE A71 Dual Dynamic Drivers Hi-Fi Earphones
By:
Description:

With 20-year development experience, producing ultimate headphones for world-famous brands, Benny Tan, the Chinese Top Earphone Designer and Chief Engineer of FIDUE, has unique methods and insight into all aspects of headphone design - from high fidelity speakers and acoustic chambering to audio cabling and sonic tuning. The guiding principle of FIDUE Acoustics is reproducing original sound accurately, and maintaining clarity, dynamics and natural expression.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandFIDUE
EAN6923139417102
Feature10mm exclusive woofer & 6.8mm Titanium dynamic drivers 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
LabelFIDUE
ManufacturerFIDUE
MPNA71
PublisherFIDUE
StudioFIDUE
TitleFIDUE A71 Dual Dynamic Drivers Hi-Fi Earphones
Package Height1.8 inches
Package Length7.1 inches
Package Weight0.4 pounds
Package Width4.3 inches
PartNumberA71
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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