A warning before we even get to the review. This is kinda lengthy. I'm not sure how it got so long since it is just one product but yeah it is a bit long.
Fischer Audio has slowly gained popularity over the last year or so and there was quite a buzz on them but nothing interested me enough to go out and purchase them. That changed when LFF posted a review on the DBA 02 and after some waiting I got them :)
Also one thing I don't like is audio jargon but that's inevitable here. I know some of you may be new and don't understand some of the terms so this link should make it easier for you and imo is the best audiophile dictionary I have seen.
I'll put this up in case anyone is questioning my motives here. I am reviewing this product to better help the community here and to help those who may be considering this product as a future purchase as well as increase the amount of information on these since there isn't that much. I bought this phone at retail cost plus shipping with my own money. I was not contacted by any Fischer Audio employee, reseller, affiliate or given any incentive to write a positive review or even write this review.
All my previous gear should be listed in my profile or whatever it's called now. My signature is currently up to date. For those who do not know me my personal bias goes towards the neutral side of things and that kind of signature is what I enjoy. To put into perspective some of my favorite phones in the past have been the Head Direct RE0 and the Audio Technica CK10. Lastly my music preference goes to rock, pop, trance, asian pop and country in no particular order.
Source: Nuforce uDAC, Sansa Clip+
Phones: Fischer Audio DBA 02 with some mention of Audio Technica CK10
Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC
Frequency Range: 20-24000 Hz
Sensitivity: 108 dB
Impedance: 43 Ω
Cable: 1.3 m straight plug
Driver: Dual BA
The package was nice and simple. It gets straight to the point and nothing fancy. Inside the package you get the DBA 02, a set of single flange tips, some overly large ear guides, documentation, and some pathetic piece of fabric that thinks it is a carry case but really is more of a wiping cloth that happens to have a large hole in it with some string in it.
My build quality standard is and will be the Audio Technica CK10 until I own another pair of phones that surpasses that phone's build quality. After owning these phones my standard remains unchanged.
These phones are well built but not the same standard as the CK10. You have your strain reliefs although the one near the housings should be longer, chin slider, straight plug (which I do not like) and your not so typical cable. Typically with earphones you get a cable that has some kind of sleeve on it but this one is different. It almost looks like a DIY cable. From the split down you have 3 cables being twisted (2 black, 1 white) and above the split there are 2 cables being twisted (1 black, 1 white). Although it is built well I would rather the cable be some kind of braid instead of just being twisted as I could see a potential problem. If something gets caught on it there is a chance for some heavy damage but that is pretty much only possible near the plug as there are tiny holes there since the twist isn't done as well. Also it does seem like the cable does retain a small amount of memory from the way it was stored although that doesn't affect anything as the cable is still soft and flexible. The housing are also built very well and it looks like a bigger brother of the ER6i.
edit: I forgot to mention but the Y split is around 4-5 inches lower than usual. The length from the split to the housings are about 4-5 inches longer compared to my CK10. Also the cable is a bit longer than what I am used to as typically they come in 1 m or so instead of 1.3 m. i guess it is because Russians are taller than Asians.
The DBA 02 come with a set of single flange tips. I tried the stock ones and for some reason I had some issues getting it to fit properly. Unfortunately the nozzle size are of the smaller type as almost all of my tips fit the larger nozzle size. Luckily when I originally bought the CK10 I bought some Shure triple flange tips which fit these phones. For the entire review I will be using these tips and nothing else as I don't really have an option and triple flange tips work for me.
Microphonics, Isolation and Comfort
Since these phones are meant to be worn over the ear along with its light and soft cables there are no noticeable microphonics unless you decide to start tapping the cable intentionally before it goes over the ear.
These are very comfortable. They rival the CK10 in comfort but isn't quite there especially the CK10 with sony hybrids on. They definitely do disappear in your ears and are surprisingly comfortable with triple flanges.
Isolation was tested on the go during my daily commute which consists of a bus, subway and the crowded streets of Manhattan. Isolation is very good and the best isolation I have had in a very long time. It was so good that I needed some time to adjust due to the increased loudness of bone conduction. These are easily my most isolation earphones and is probably somewhere in between Shure and Etymotic isolation based on memory since I don't own any of them anymore.
Treble: There is a bit of a focus on the treble with this phone. However a great thing about the DBA 02 is that most phones that I've tried that has this area as the focus have some kind of spike in the upper regions. That is not the case here as the treble is quite smooth to my ears. You have your amazing detail here, air, smoothness and the sense of a very nicely extended treble. Lastly typically with these kind of phones the detail is up in your face letting you know it's presence but it isn't overly so here. I almost want to call it laid back but that isn't what they are if you get what I mean.
Midrange: The midrange is excellent here. You don't have your forwardness like an e-Q7 or recessed like a TF10. It is balanced in the sense that it is aligned with the other frequencies. The mids aren't quite as good as my e-Q7 but still very good. The upper mids gets pushed a bit up but nothing too crazy.
Bass: You have your typical BA bass. That means it is there but lacks the low bass rumble that dynamics have however I do like the bass these phones give you. You don't get thunderous impact but you get speed, definition, tightness and extension. Decay is adequate for me here. It doesn't disappear instantly like the CK90pro or last as long as the Golds so it's just right for me. Bassheads (closet ones as well) should stay as far away as possible or better yet run as far away as you can. This is nowhere near a basshead phone. Neutrality is the name of the game here. If you know the impact of the CK10 and e-Q7 then I can give you a small comparison. Using numbers that have no quantitative or qualitive value if the impact of the CK10 is a 5 and the e-Q7 a 5.5 then the DBA 02 gives you a 5.3.
Soundstage: The soundstage here is quite nice for an earphone. You have your width and your depth. It's nice and large but not like a large stadium. I don't care for soundstage much as long as it doesn't give you the sense that you are closed in a small closet which is something this phone does not do.
Imaging and Separation: Imaging and instrument separation are quite high on my list of priorities. Separation is done wonderfully here. For some reason I didn't expect this phone to do too well in that area but it definitely is no slouch here. Imaging is done well but from memory I believe the CK10 does it better.
Timbre: Timbre was definitely a surprise here. I've noticed that dynamics tend to have better timbre (I'm guesing because dynamic drivers move around while BA sits still) but these phones have good timbre. They are just as capable as my Coppers outside of the bass rumble which this phone lacks like all BA drivers I've used not including the e-Q7.
Final Comments: These phones are very blunt and they tell you as it is. The phrase “garbage in garbage out” is definitely true here. You feed some crap in they tell will let you know even if it is something you wouldn't like to hear. The only times I heard anything unnatural was when it was fed garbage. Also if you are looking for a sibilant phone then look elsewhere :) You will not get any sibilance unless it is already in the track so you can't do much about it. Lastly clarity is great here.
Note: Although their specs may not look it these do hiss a bit. I do hear a bit of hiss out of my clip+ but not too loud. It doesn't bother me but it may for you.
Here will be a short note on a couple songs. I'll only mention the things in the song that I find important or something special about them. I have compared most of these songs before in my previous review so it may give you a better idea on how capable these phones are if you read that section of my last review since the majority here are probably more familiar with some of those phones than these. Here's the link. http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/amateur-review-audio-technica-ck10-ck90pro-ck100-monster-turbine-pro-gold-miles-davis-ortofon-e-q7-484031/
Also please know that not all of these are in FLAC. I do them in FLAC but I used different bitrates just to see how they would do and also at the time of my previous review I couldn't find all the FLAC files in my library for some reason.
Aerosmith – Dream On (256kbps mp3)
The instrument separation is amazing here. The detail is great as you can hear lots of little things going on. You got your speed and your detail here. Bass is well controlled with good definition and speed. Imaging is pretty precise here. The electric lets you know that it is here and the best part is that the drum cymbals are done wonderfully sounds very natural and lifelike.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Hey (FLAC)
Bass is nicely done here with good speed, definition and quite the highly quality here. Vocals are fairly smooth here. The electric lets everyone know it is there but doesn't cause a scence at the party until the solo closer to the end. There's lots of little details going on here that these phones present wonderfully. These phones seem to have the ability to not mess up when cymbals crash which is something not all phones are able to do.
Sarah McLachlan – Building a Mystery (FLAC)
You start out with your acoustic and it is nicely detailed being able to tell the nuances of the strums. Vocals come out smooth and it's quite easy to tell between the different female vocals here. Separation and imagine are excellent. The breaths of air the vocalists take are easily heard. Drums are done wonderfully. The electric is done nicely with good authority but nothing crazy. Lastly your bass is high quality but nothing thunderous. There's good definition, tightness, speed and well definition.
Markus Schulz – I Am (320kbps mp3)
Now this is what I've been looking forward to..how do the DBA 02 do in trance? You want speed? You got it. Does it handle complexity of trance and all of its changes? Definitely. What about imaging? Precision. Bass is tight, fast and perfect for trance. You get this nice relaxation feeling here and all your worries go away. I can't really ask for much more here.
Priscilla Ahn – Red Cape (320kbps)
I don't think she's too well known but slowly becoming one of my favorite female vocalists. The acoustic guitars is nicely detailed here and you can hear all the strums and plucks. Drums are done nicely sounding very natural. Vocals are smooth and just effortless. Separation is excellent here. It just seems right here.
Reba McEntire – Eight Crazy Hours (FLAC)
Acoustic is done nice with lots of detail esp micro details. Your bass is typical for this phone. Lots of detail, tight, well defined but not your thunderous impact but more towards neutrality. The piano here is done wonderfully and almost sounds as if it was right there. Drums are done nicely with cymbals sounding very natural and definitely not hot. Separation is once again excellent. This is wonderfully done.
Norah Jones – I Wouldn't Need You (FLAC)
Acoustic guitar is done wonderfully here. Bass has great definition and speed but not too hard a slam. Vocals are nice with you being able to hear the little breaths the vocalist take. You can hear the little details in the music here. Piano is nice and sounds natural. Cymbals are nice with the cymbals clashing together sounding natural which imo is a difficult thing to do. Overall an excellent job as these phones are quite capable.
So what you get here is a very good universal that definitely competes higher than its price level dictates. It's definitely up there with the big boys (IE8, TF10, W3, etc.) but at a more affordable price. If you can handle neutrality, balance, low microphonics, relatively low cost, great isolation and everything else mentioned in my review then these are for you. If you came here looking for monster thunderous earth shattering bass or some low quality muddiness filled with distortion, boominess and excessive warmth then get outta here! You can't handle these.
On another note these phones definitely made selling my favorite earphone in the CK10 easier. These phones are more than capable of filling the void left by them. The only thinrg I see is that if you don't like neutrality or don't want a neutral phone then don't get these. In terms of weakness such as the mids of the TF10 there isn't much outside of the slight forwardness in the upper mids which can make some tracks sound harsh or bright and the impact if you are not expecting neutrality.
As with any review please read this with a grain of salt and everything stated here is IMO so YMMV. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions feel free to post here. Also if there are any errors please let me know. Thanks for reading.