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Wow! The Final Audio Design FI-DC1601SB (also known as "Don't go to Yodobashi" lol)

post #1 of 428
Thread Starter 
So if you've seen some of my other posts, I'm here in Tokyo on vacation and was going to audition the Ortofon e-Q7 if I could among others. I like the IE8 I use with my Sony NW-X1060/BI, but they aren't the most comfortable IEMs. I did the turning upside down thing and switched the cable sides and that helps, but I kept feeling there was something better out there for me. I bought the Grado GR8s and they were a no go (I have a thread around here somewhere). Not a good match for the X1060 at all, and way too midrange.

I had a short list of IEMs I was going to look at. Today I went into Yodobashi in Akihabara, and quite frankly, I've been there and it's impressive but I've never looked at their IEM selection before (I took pics). You need to go nowhere else - they've pretty much got it all. I had my Sony with me (as well as my IE8s to do A/Bing). I was about to ask to see the Ortofons but something at the top of the middle case caught my eye - the Final Audio Design line. It's a Japanese only manufacturer and they had five IEMs ranging from roughly $200 to $2000 (yes, $2000). To say I was intrigued is an understatement. The $300 ones looked more like your Shure/Klipsch/Sennheier/UE/etc. standard fare. However, step up to the next level (around $600) and they looked impressive. Silver metal (or something) outside. It looked amazing, and I was curious how it sounded. I shouldn't have auditioned the FI-DC1601SB.

Quite frankly, it's the best IEM in what I consider something I can afford that I've heard. Ever. I've owned or heard a lot over the years. I've compared going from Sony's MDR-EX700 to the IE8 as removing the muffling; the IE8 has a nice soundstage.

Great highs, nice mids, awesome lows, soundstage that puts the IE8 to shame. Rock, jazz, classical - all equally as good. Honestly, the IE8s sound like cheap earbuds compared to the FI-DC1601SB. That's no small feat. This baby sounds like having full speakers (or possibly "real" headphones) - not IEMs. I could tell right away I was in trouble.

I just listened to the album By Request ... the Best of John Williams and the Boston Pops and I'm blown away. I'm onto Face Value by Phil Collins now. If you've got crappy sources, this will reveal it. They match well with the X.

If their cheaper ones are nearly as good as this one, seek 'em out. Seriously.

I'm just glad I didn't audition he ones that were more than the one I bought! They're probably ridiculously good. I can't imagine the $2000 ones. Probably drool inducing.

Pics forthcoming.
post #2 of 428
I remember Sasaki, an experienced head-fier, said that it would be difficult to judge the cost/performance ratio of the 2000 dollars phone, as for the same price you can get a pair of JH13 + ES3X.
post #3 of 428
Thread Starter 
You can do a lot with $2K.

I've had customs in the past (same price range as what I just got; they broke after the warranty ran out) and the ones I got today are way better.
post #4 of 428
Didn't you audition the $2000 IEMs?
post #5 of 428
Thread Starter 
No. Reason? I didn't want to kill myself trying to figure out how to afford them lol And realize that it's difficult enough communicating with people where I don't speak the language. I had someone help me in my communication. So I wanted to make the experience as smooth as possible.
post #6 of 428
waiting for photos...
post #7 of 428
Thread Starter 
.
post #8 of 428
Thread Starter 
OK. Here's one to tease you before I get some sleep.
LL
post #9 of 428
Quote:
Originally Posted by FenderP View Post
.
hahaha Take your time man! I eagerly await for more impressions by the way
post #10 of 428
Thanks for the impressions FenderP! I'm glad I don't have any money right now.

Here's a thread started a while back with info on Final Audio Design's IEM lineup: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/i...al-iem-442357/

Also, here's another pic of the FI-DC1601SB from that same thread.


For anyone who's interested in FAD's upcoming Balanced Armature-based IEM, some pics can be found here: 【今日は店頭イベント】Final audio design店頭試聴会!12:00~18:00|イヤホン・ヘッドホン専門店「e☆イヤホン」のBlog
post #11 of 428
Thread Starter 
BTW, another reason I didn't audition a lot more was that in a loud store, it's not the best conditions and I didn't have all day. I knew the second I heard the ones I bought they were what I was looking for. Sometimes you just need to know when to stop looking

EDIT To put it in perspective:
The FI-DC1350M1 was Y19,800
The FI-DC1350M2 was Y29,800
The FI-DC1601SB was Y59,800
The FI-DC1601SS was Y79,800
The FI-DC1601SC was Y200,000

Big design change at least externally from the first two (more standard IEM) to the 1601 series.

The cable is really nice. You can tell these are not cheaply made and sold for big scratch (*cough* GR8 *cough*). A lot of $300 - $500 IEMs feel pretty cheap if you think about it. Some better than others, but ultimately they're mainly plastic. Not these.
post #12 of 428
Neither plastic nor metal housing cost a lot to make. Good sounding gears are usually more expensive to make, but in general the manufacturing cost for audio gear is only a small fraction of the actual price tag, regardless of whether it sounds good or not. It is just a matter of 'price according to the buyer's expectation'.

For that kind of price, I have the impression that FAD are more interested in selling their 'design' rather than 'audio'.
post #13 of 428
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Neither plastic nor metal housing cost a lot to make. Good sounding gears are usually more expensive to make, but in general the manufacturing cost for audio gear is only a small fraction of the actual price tag, regardless of whether it sounds good or not. It is just a matter of 'price according to the buyer's expectation'.

For that kind of price, I have the impression that FAD are more interested in selling their 'design' rather than 'audio'.
Well, for $2k you bet that it's a limited audience. Nothing costs what it actually makes for the most part; there's usually 100% markup on the street to what the vendor pays, and probablly at least 50% to 100% markup on what the vendor pays to stock it. Believe me, I don't think any of those cost tons to make even if they are a smaller production run compared to "the big boys".

Different strokes for different folks, though. A lot of us who care about sound are used to paying anywhere from $250 - $500 or so for a decent pair of IEMs, and early adopters pay the upper end of that scale until the price drops.
post #14 of 428
Well, I heard 4 of the 5 designs today and have to say that I am impressed with all but the top model. The top will definitely have its fans, but it is too energetic for me; its highs and atmospheric mids are thick - they work well for vocal and slow music, but for fast music can become nerving.

However, The low end and its followers are amazing. I will not say that they will appeal to everyone - they won't. But, in terms of perfect echo, I have not heard any dynamic which does it as well as them. From bass to treble, there is nothing which has been as free from rubbish echos as the FAD designs. And as far as metal being cheap - yes it can be, but tuning stainless steel as well as they have isn't cheap. They are surely selling at a profit, but when you make such limited quantity you have to.

Limited audience - yes. Truly excellent sound: yes. These will not work outside though: They isolate about as much as a PK series or even less. The sound is really reliant on the properties of the housing. Their tips, too, are quite unique. The top models sound best without tips which is strange for me.

Bass isn't largely in abundance until the SS model, but really - the treble and upper mids is unmet by any earphone I have yet heard - any at any price.
post #15 of 428
That reminds me of B&O, good sound with a very high price. That's what I mean by "selling design rather than audio" - Of course the audio (SQ) is there, but the company is targeting a group of people that are willing to pay beyond the sound alone, but for the brand, the design and the idea behind the product.
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