Pros: Sound quality, neutral & balanced sound, soundstage, comfortable, carrying case, extra ear pads, PRICE!!!
Cons: No velour pads
Fischer Audio’s FA-003
- › Frequency range: 10-26500 Hz
- › Sensitivity: 105 dB
- › Impedance: 64 Om
- › Input power: 120 mW
- › Length of a cable: 3.0 M
- › Color: bronze/black
- › Etc: additional cushions, 6.3mm screw-on jack adapter.
EQUIPMENT USED ON THIS REVIEW:
- Portable set-up: Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed) ->UE Mini2Mini ->RSA Shadow
- Portable set-up: Ipod 5.5G -> ALO Cotton Dock -> RSA Shadow
- Home Rig 1: Sony D-25S -> UE Mini2Mini from Line out-> Heed CanAmp
- Home Rig 2: Denon DCD 1560 CD Player – RCA -> Heed CanAmp
- My mastering rig
BACKGROUND & FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
When I received this new package the rush of fear set in. I started to sweat at the thought that my box might be empty and someone may have stolen the headphones that were destined to be reviewed by me. Luckily that wasn’t the case.
When I opened the box I was greeted with the FA-003 among other headphones. The FA-003 came packaged in a cool black carrying case. On opening the case you find the FA-003, the cable, warranty and some replacement cushions. How awesome is it to get replacement cushions along with your initial purchase?!?!?! Kudos to Fischer Audio for that added generosity!
The feel of the FA-003 surprised me. No wonder I thought I had been robbed! These headphones weigh nearly nothing! They look heavy and well built but are surprisingly light. The cushions are soft and the metal coverings look really nice. Just for prep work, I hooked up the FA-003’s on one of my rigs along with my custom test disc and let it be for 48 hours.
THE MUSIC & THOUGHTS ON SOUND:
1. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al from the album “Graceland”
The sound is just awesome. Detail is there. Air is there. No sibilance. No boomy bass. VERY NICE!
2. Paul Simon – Homeless from the album “Graceland”
The voices sound natural, as natural as my HD-600’s.
3. Nat King Cole – Stardust from the DCC release of “Love Is The Thing”
Nat’s voice sounds natural, the strings are as airy as they should be but they aren’t bright or suppressed. The sound is very natural.
4. Danny Elfman – This is Halloween from the soundtrack “Nightmare Before Christmas”
The voices are all distinct. Bass is very tight. The soundstage and imaging on this track is better than most and is quite impressive considering they are closed headphones.
5. Absolute Silence – custom demo track made by myself.
Except for a slight pop the Clip+ added when the track finished, it was completely dead silent for the entire duration of the track.
6. Bach – Solo Cello Suites from the Mercury Living Presence release feat. Janos Starker
The cello sounds as natural as could be. On par with my HD-600’s. Ambiance and detail are fantastic.
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Sweet & Lovely from the album “Sings Sweet Songs For Swingers”
Nice. Ella comes across very natural. The bass is really tight and extends very naturally. The dynamics and transients are quick. Imaging is superb. Listened to entire album!
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication & Scar Tissue from the album “Californication”
The bass is nice and tight. The distortion and clicks can be heard quite clearly. Very impressive.
9. Lady Gaga – Poker Face from the album “The Fame”
The bass is awesome without being over-powering or bloated. Once again, the bass is very tight with nice extension. Vocals are also very nice. The detail is all there. Nice imaging for such a monoraul sounding track.
Where to start!? I wish I could shake someone’s hand over at Fischer Audio and congratulate them for having such great sounding headphones and IEM’s. Much like the DBA-02, I found myself listening to track after track and album after album. The sound is very neutral while maintaining a touch of fun. I gotta be honest and say that I am rather enamored with the FA-003’s. They are light, comfy and sound fantastic. These are mastering grade headphones and I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to recommend them for such critical sound applications. The sonic picture the FA-003’s painted time after time never failed to impress me. By the way…Ella Fitzgerald on the FA-003’s is like a fine wine at the end of the day – just awesome.
The actual FA-003 case is very cool. I hope Fischer Audio decides to keep this packaging as it is very attractive. It’s not only attractive, but it also helps protect your investment and to carry your headphones to Head-Fi meets! I hope to see them keep this packaging with their more expensive headphones and leave the boxes for other models.
The actual sound of the FA-003 is very open and sounds like an open headphone design. However, the isolation is very good. I was able to listen to music while my wife was asleep without even a single track waking her up from three feet away. This is truly the best of both worlds. If you have heard an HD-600, then you know for the most part what to expect from the FA-003. It has a very balanced, neutral sound without ever being sibilant or boomy.
While waiting for these headphones I was informed that they are often compared to the HD-650’s and that the quality was not considered to be that good because Fischer Audio did not design the actual headphone casing. This would lead to poor bass and a veiled sound. This did bring some concern to me but upon handling them and most importantly, hearing them, I can say that these concerns have no basis whatsoever. They sound nothing like the HD-650’s and are built very well as far as I can tell.
The mids are beautifully positioned, front and center right where they should be. Positioning isn’t an issue either as it presents a very accurate soundstage. Soundstage depth is very good as is soundstage width. This in turn makes the FA-003 a very holographic sounding headphone – as good as the HP-1000 in terms of positioning. The treble is smooth and moderately extended without being bright or sibilant. The bass is extended but very tight and controlled. The only time the bass was boomy was when a recording had boomy sounding bass.
What about that veiled sound? My response: What about it? It’s none existent in the FA-003. I hate a veiled sound and I am happy to say that there is no veil here.
Although the FA-003’s do not require an amp, I would highly recommend you listen to them with an amp. While the volume may be sufficient coming straight out of the Clip+ or an iPod, the authority and presence of the FA-003 only increase when an amp is added in the mix. I felt the FA-003’s had particular synergy with the Heed CanAmp.
Another cool thing are the actual headphone cables. They are removable and user replaceable. I can already see a ton of people making custom cables for the FA-003's. They connect at the base of the headphone cups using a mono jack for each side. The cable is soft, provides no microphonics and is held securely in place. A cool design IMHO.
It will now be harder to pick a favorite headphone: HD-600, HP-1000, FA-003, RS-1, CD-3000, R-10 or others. Yes, this headphone is now one my favorites. Is it the end all, be all? No, but it is worthy of being considered along with other great headphones.
It will also be much harder to recommend only one Fischer Audio headphone or IEM to you guys and gals. I was having a hard time before but now, it’s just become harder still. Fischer Audio is really on their game and the products show it. I have no doubt that if these products were better known, they would have no hard time usurping the throne of many famous or popular headphones. Yes…they are that good!
The killer as always is the price/performance value of the FA-003’s. MSRP is under $200! If someone told me they paid $600 for the FA-003, I wouldn’t call them liars nor would I call them stupid if they were indeed worth such an amount. Considering the price, the sound and the build quality, everyone here should have a pair of these.
The only recommendations I would have for Fischer Audio is to keep the carrying case and maybe include some velour pads along with the attached leather pads instead of a second set of leather pads. Extremely minor quibbles for what I feel are some amazing headphones at an unbelievable price. Now…GO GET A PAIR!