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[REVIEW] Fischer Audio - From Russia, with love.

post #1 of 468
Thread Starter 
[Prelude]
Just a few weeks ago, I have no knowledge what-so-ever regarding Fischer Audio. I would be crazy to even consider recommending any of their IEM models to you. After all, there are literally hundreds of small companies dumping ships-load of zero quality knock-off and generic Chinese made headphones into the market. It is often a very difficult job to sort through these 'offering' and find the handful of brands that actually do pay attention to detail and take the time to fine tuning the sound of their products. I am happy to report to you that Fischer Audio is just one of these companies that do things right.

Before the review begin, I want to take the chance to thank Fisher Audio for sending me the IEM for review and especially Alex (company rep.) for the communication and his boss for finding me. If you guys are reading this: Please do consider selling your products internationally.



[Spec]
There will be 6 models of IEM being reviewed here: The FA-999 is the latest entry of FA's "Premium" series, targeting budget orientated consumers who are interested in the bang-of-the-bucks deal. The Omega is one of FA's "Signature" series. It is a step up of "Premium" series and targeting people who are seeking a better sound with a limited budget. The Paradigm v.2, Enigma, Silver Bullet and Eterna are all in the "Fundamentals" series , which is more audiophile orientated.


FA-999
Frequency range: 20-22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Impedance: 16 Om
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.1 M
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, M, L) and manual.




Omega
Frequency range: 12-22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 105 dB
Impedance: 32 Om
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.25 M with Oxygen-Free Copper cable
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, M, L) and manual.





Paradigm v.2
Frequency range: 10-20000 Hz
Sensitivity: 104 dB
Impedance: 16 Om
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.25 M
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, M, L), soft pouch and manual.




Enigma
Frequency range: 8-22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Impedance: 18 Om
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.25 M
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, M, L), soft pouch and manual.




Silver Bullet
Frequency range: 12-22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Impedance: 18 Om
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.25 M
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, M, L), soft pouch and manual.






Eterna
Frequency range: 8-22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Impedance: 18 Om
Input power: 350 mW
Cable Length: 1.25 M with Oxygen-Free Copper cable
Includes: Single flange eartips (S, L), Bi-flanges eartips, Silicone ear guides, soft pouch and manual

*All come with 3.5mm L-shaped, gold plated mini plug.

[Packaging and Build Quality]
Besides FA-999, which has a blister pack over the paper box, all the models are well packed in a hard paper box with transparent window access so you can get to see what you are going to buy. As you can tell from the pictures, the packaging are neither top notch nor shabby. It is what I'll describe as better-than-average.

For most of the models, you will get a decent soft pouch, though I do hope FA will include a hard case for the better models. I won't even mind paying a little bit extra since it really 'completes' the whole package. This is especially true to Eterna since its ear guides are rather big and a hard case can really be helpful. Being the lower end models FA-999 and Omega don't have any pouch, but Omega does have a Velcro strip on the cable to help managing cable when unused. While most of the models have very well built mini plug, the cable are less impressive. Beside Omega and Eterna (which have thicker yet flexible cable), the rest of the models use what seems to be the same type of black cable mostly found on Sony or Panasonic earbuds back in the 90's. While the cable isn't much to look at, they are still adequate for the job.

One thing that doesn't come with most of the models (except FA-999) is the shirt clip. However, since microphonics is generally pretty low on the plain looking black cable FA used, it really isn't a big problem at all. Out of all the models, Silver Bullet is the only one with full metal housing. The housing is gorgeous to look at and has some weight to it (feel like steel btw), but the included eartips are really too soft to get a good seal. Weird enough, I only found the eartips on the Silver Bullet package to be too soft. Those on other models are actually pretty good. Their isolation are all very decent. Basically they are Eterna > Enigma > Paradigm v.2 = Omega = Silver Bullet (w/ generic single flange) > FA-999. To give you a rough idea, the isolation on FA-999 is about -20dB, which is about average on my scale and enough for daily use.

Granted none of them is built like tank, I find the overall build quality is very solid for their asking price - except for Eterna, which has a better build quality than the rest of the group and comes with ear guides, as you can see on the pictures above.

[Sound Quality]
As always, I put in roughly 40~50 hours of burn-in (each) before the audition. I do not find any major change on most of them except FA-999, which shows a noticeable better bass control after the process.

FA-999 is one for the basshead. It sounds warm, smooth and very full with a pretty good bass response going down to the 20Hz. Treble rolls off early at 16kHz and the the air killing fullness makes it veil. Bass can be a bit boomy on bass heavy music. Overall, FA-999 is a decent deal for its asking price of $21.

Omega sounds fairly balanced without any major flaw. Good treble and airiness though lacks very fine detail, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is very solid and goes down deep with good slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average. Overall, Omega is definitely the best sub$30 IEM I have ever heard. The SE530 like design and the good fit also add more points to the listening experience. For an asking price of $22, it represents a big jump in SQ over FA-999.

Paradigm v.2 is the vocalist of the group. Slightly warm with very decent treble and bass response (which also goes down to 20Hz but much less in quantity compared to Omega), the strength of Paradigm v.2 lies in its clear vocal and mid range, yet remains fairly neutral without too much coloration. Soundstage is about average. Overall, the $31 Paradigm v.2 is a solid performer.

Enigma sounds warm and full with a good treble and an excellent bass response. Vocal is slightly more laid back but not to a point of being recessed. Soundstage is very good but the warmness does reduce the airiness a bit. It plays well with all type of music genres but really excels in none. Overall, the $40 Enigma does well worth the price.

Silver Bullet is all about soundstage and airiness. Once you replace the stock eartips with any good quality single flange, you will find a slightly warm sound with good airy and well detailed treble, better than average bass that is a bit low in speed and impact and a recessed yet not totally out of place vocal. The sound signature resembles that of TF10 except Silver Bullet is even more laid back with bigger space. While not everyone will like the very airy and spacious presentation, the overall performance is still commendable for a pair of $53 IEM.

Eterna is a pair of very musical sounding IEM - it is not about accuracy of the sonic reproduction, but the 110% dedication to fun and music enjoyment. It has a slightly warm and an upfront presentation. Treble is there but not on the center stage. Midrange is full and vocal is sweet. Bass has a really good body, depth and decent speed though it still misses the deepest of sub-bass compared to that of real bass monster (i.e. Atrio). Airiness and soundstage are almost spot on for a pair of IEM, neither too far or near and yet still retains clear separation and layers. This is by far one of the best dynamic universal I have heard (placing it alongside with IE8 and just slightly ahead of RE0. Note: Read the extra section at the end of the review) and to best them all - it only costs $59. I dare to say I even prefer it over almost dull sounding SE530 and almost on par of TF10 (only because TF10 offers better accuracy with less coloration). To add more points to Eterna, it is almost as comfortable as UM2 and has a really good build quality. If I have to pick a weak point from Eterna, it is the lack of hard case since it is rather bulky with the ear guide in place. Highly recommended with a Sonic Diamondâ„¢ Award.



[Conclusion]
It is kind of strange to just discover Fischer Audio even though they are in business for quite a few years now (not to mention they really have a good line-up of products). In our first email exchange, I remember Alex @ Fischer Audio introduced the companies' products as 'not quite good as Ultimate Ears but definitely better than Philips.' Well, I am quite happy to prove him wrong. They are in fact every bit as good as many of their larger competitors. At the end, the only remaining question is of course "where to find one?" Hopefully this review will give Fischer Audio a bit more incentive to venture out to the international market. For now, those who are in Russia and Scandinavia should really start looking around for stores that carries these lovely babies.

A quick sum-up can be found here.

p/s: I'll be gone for a days or two for a family trip and should be able to return home by Sunday to answer any question.

EXTRA
For those who are interested in Eterna, here is something perhaps you will like to read as well:
Quote:
Originally Posted by weibby View Post
What I've gathered is from these few days listening and studying the character of the Eternas is that you won't be able to pick out a whisper in a symphony or are in a recording studio trying to master a track.

If you hate bass, this will give you motion sickness.
If you're looking for a neutral IEM, this isn't one.
If you don't like to listen to your music loud and proud, it loses quite a bit of resolution at low volumes.

However If you're looking to plug in and rock out and and just enjoy it as it is, then yes, this is what you want.

If you like hard hitting high impact music.
If you enjoy soft rock/accoustic rock with sweet vocals.
If you're a basshead.
If you enjoy the sound of being at a concerts and being at the 3rd/4th row of your favorite band/singer.

To make it sound really good, you need to feed it enough power - have a very neutral source.

It is as it is, I've came to a conclusion if you're trying to nitpick about everything to tear it apart, you'd find it lacking against a certain standard of (insert preferred/familiar brand). Abandon that and you'd have a very engaging and fun IEM that you can listen to for hours on end.
If you are looking a technically superior IEM that is going to beat $300 IEM with a single punch, no, Eterna is not that IEM. I rank it high because Eterna to me is a highly fun and engaging musical experience, not because it has absolutely the best treble, mid, bass, or soundstage. I rank it high because it 'blends' things well, but not necessary the best of things. In another words, it is the sound signature that I rank high, not the individual sound quality.

Sometime, listening music is like trying to enjoy the sensation of every single musical notes flowing pass your hearing nerve. But other time, it is about relax, have a fun time and rock out with the music. If you are looking for the latter kind of experience, if you are not going to trying to be picky, then maybe Eterna will fit your need.
post #2 of 468
nice review! seems like they only included single flanges (except for the eterna), wonder how the sound would change with a better seal with double flanges.

i just hope Fischer decides to sell these in the US. even if only through an online reseller like amazon or overstock
post #3 of 468
Very nice review, all the products seem very nicely made. Definitely interested in the eterna's.

Is there any convenient way of purchasing any of these products currently?
post #4 of 468
Thanks again for another excellent review! I'm glad Fischer got a hold of you, otherwise we would have never known of these Russian gems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
[The Eterna] is by far one of the best dynamic universal I have heard (placing it alongside with IE8 and just slightly ahead of RE0)
So here's our Sonic Diamond!

I just find it strange that a company with such a diverse and well-performing lineup is confining themselves to such a small part of the global market. Hopefully if Fischer has the financial resources and the ambition, they will make their products more readily available. Until then, I will be patiently waiting.
post #5 of 468
The USD59 Eternas are more fun than SE530... Impressive. IEMs are getting cheaper and more interesting. More choices and good for us.
Thank you.
post #6 of 468
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakhtiar View Post
The USD59 Eternas are more fun than SE530... Impressive. IEMs are getting cheaper and more interesting. More choices and good for us.
Thank you.
I agree, the Eternas have caught my interest.
post #7 of 468
it scored what now??????????

wtf????
post #8 of 468
Okay so now how do we go about actually buying these precious badboys.

Damn the Eternas sound great.
post #9 of 468
Too bad you didn't have a chance to review Equilibrium and Evolution models, those are most neutral of their line. In Russia Eterna is considered as quite a basshead earphones, with amazing bass and a bit hollow mids.
post #10 of 468
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maeglas View Post
Too bad you didn't have a chance to review Equilibrium and Evolution models, those are most neutral of their line. In Russia Eterna is considered as quite a basshead earphones, with amazing bass and a bit hollow mids.
Looking at their English site, what about the Axiom model. Is it the top of the Fundamentals line? Sure wish they were available here in the US.
post #11 of 468
I'm really interested! I'm surprised at the low cost and how highly you regard these models, especially the Eterna. Might pick up a few different sets for the holiday time if they become available over here.
post #12 of 468
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmhaynes View Post
Looking at their English site, what about the Axiom model. Is it the top of the Fundamentals line? Sure wish they were available here in the US.
Nope, its actually bottom of line, also quite universal, but not as good. Overall Silver Bullet and Eterna are the most popular ones.

Here is quite good review of Fundamentals line.
post #13 of 468
Very nice review! I wish Fischer Audio will go international and sell well.
post #14 of 468
thanks Clie for the reviews. Also very interested (dammit).
Is there a contact e-mail address for alex or someone else as fischer? perhaps if enough head-fi'ers contact them from around the globe regarding potential sales this may encourage them to expand into other countries?
post #15 of 468
I read about these before on Russian forums. Man, do they sound promising.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] Fischer Audio - From Russia, with love.