Pros: Huge sound stage, excellent tone true to the source, very revealing and scales well with better equipment
Cons: isolation not the best for an iem
I've had my Parterre for a few days now which has given me the opportunity to listen to them extensively. I have little experience with iem's but I do own the HD800 and T1 as my reference headphones. My listening preference is mostly classical music. I was attracted to these Parterre because I read a statement from the designer that these were created for classical and acoustic music. He wasn't lying. I have been in the audio game a long time and I have never heard better sound from any headphone with classical music. That is a very strong statement and it is meant to be so. The Parterre is competitive in every way with my full size headphones and in some respects the best of the lot but I am getting a little ahead of myself.
When I first received my Parterre I was anxious to hook them right to my desktop system and see what they could do. That was a big mistake. These need to burn in overnight before you ever put them on your ears. Having not taken my own advice I can say that out of the box they were a huge disappointment. I won't bother to go into a description of how they sounded because by the next morning they were a different earphone entirely. Had they remained as they were out of the box I would have put them in the closet and considered it a very expensive mistake.
Those of you experienced know that it is critical to have a good seal with any iem. Only one of the tips supplied with the Parterre worked for me and fortunately it is a good fit. I have ordered several type of tips to try later but for now, I do get a good seal. These need to be worn over the ear and they are very comfortable. I can barely feel them in my ears after a few minutes of listening to music. Interesting that my HD800 is normally considered the most comfortable of full size flagship headphones and I find the Parterre more comfortable for long listening sessions than the HD800. I also find the Parterre better sounding in many ways. This is a bit of an unusual review as I am daring to compare an iem to a flagship full size headphone. I realize that my application is unusual in that I am using these at home with a high end desktop system. My needs are different. The Parterre is certainly very portable but that is not my application so I can only compare it to my full size headphones. I can say without reservation that it compares very well indeed.
It is often said that iem's are "a different experience" from full size headphones. Part of that is certainly true as technically iem's insert into your ear past the pinna so they cannot produce a soundstage in a natural way as in the real world. Some very clever designers of iem's have not taken no for an answer and found a way to create a very believable illusion of a soundstage through brilliant designs. I can say that the Parterre is one such iem. The sense of the original space is recreated with startling reality through the Parterre. There is height, width and depth competitive with my HD800's. Before hearing it for myself I would have thought that impossible. I will even go so far as to say that with some recordings the imaging is more the you are there feeling then my full size headphones. An astonishing achievement from Fitear.
The tonal quality of piano and strings are reproduced with total accuracy faithful to the recording. The bass is shockingly deep and detailed with actual texture blended with the mids so as not to appear overdone but just right. Mid bass is full when called upon to provide the correct foundation for the music. This is a trick that few headphones get right with classical music but the Parterre sails through without ever straining. There is a richness to the tone that is very faithful to the recording. Bad recordings sound bad. Good recordings sound glorious in a way that few headphones can achieve. The highs are silky smooth for strings but you still get the bite on brass that you should without ever being offensive. You can hear the decay on the notes of a piano with stark realism. These are achievements in a headphones of any type not to be taken lightly. That these tiny iem's can get it right is amazing. What's more, these are universal iem's not even ciem's custom molded. The people at Fitear must be smiling at the praise for they know what they have done. These are purpose built iem's that achieve a level of performance with classical and acoustic music that will make it very hard for me to go back to my full size headphones. I would never have thought that possible. If you love classical music as I do you owe it to yourself to hear these Parterre properly burned in and with a good front end. The Parterre provides a very personal intimate experience not to be missed by classical music audiophiles.