Fischer Audio’s FA-004
NOTE***These are my subjective opinions and should be taken as such. I always recommend you listen for yourself before you decide to make a purchase.***NOTE
•› Frequency range: 20-20000 Hz
•› Sensitivity: 104 dB
•› Impedance: 32 Om
•› Input power: 180 mW
•› Length of a cable: 1.25 M
•› Colors available: black (Bk), brown (Br).
•› Includes: 6.3 mm 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:
After reading a few reviews about Fischer Audio I couldn’t help but to feel curious and take the reviews with a grain of salt. However, the temptation was a bit too strong so I contacted Fischer Audio through another reviewer and to my surprise, Fischer sent me a box of their products for me to listen to.
On first glance the FA-004 looks like another OEM product you might find at Fry’s. The packaging is simple and it serves it purpose.
Once you open the packaging you will find the headphones with an attached adaptor.
The look of the FA-004 is pure retro. It looks like those old elementary school phones you would use during certain English exercises or when listening to things at the library. In my opinion, the look is awesome.
THE MUSIC & THOUGHTS ON SOUND:
1.Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al from the album “Graceland”
The sound is pleasing. The soundstage is quite large and the bass is pronounced. Good detail.
2. Paul Simon – Homeless from the album “Graceland”
The voices sound natural. The ambiance is there and the soundstage is very good. The baritones come out a bit more.
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 pleasant.
4. Danny Elfman – This is Halloween from the soundtrack “Nightmare Before Christmas”
The voices are all distinct. Bass is very nice. The soundstage and imaging on this track is better than most.
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 ever so slightly boomy. The ambiance and detail is present.
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Sweet & Lovely from the album “Sings Sweet Songs For Swingers”
Nice. Ella comes across rather natural and a bit more upfront. The bass is really showcased here and the soundstage is once again very nice. Imaging is superb. Very airy but not exaggerated.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication & Scar Tissue from the album “Californication”
The bass is really shining through. The distortion and clicks can be heard but are not as clear as they should be.
9. Lady Gaga – Poker Face from the album “The Fame”
The bass is awesome without being over-powering or bloated. Vocals are also very nice. The detail is present as well.
The one thing I noticed while listening to the FA-004 is that it does well with all types of music. It sounds similar to the Enigma IEM but with more authority across the entire range and superb imaging. The bass is pronounced yet the FA-004 has more accurate and articulate bass than your average headphones this size. It really shines with all tracks but especially with rock, pop and hip-hop. Like the Enigma, it has a very pleasing and fun sound signature. While the FA-004 definitely isn’t a transparent headphone, it is very, very pleasing while still retaining an over-all natural sound signature. Is it a monitor grade headphone? No. Is it near monitor grade? YES!
One of the most difficult things I find is describing the exact thing I am hearing because sound is so subjective and so intangible. The sound signature of the FA-004 is fun but natural. Imagine what an RS-1 and HP-2 would breed if they had a child that was adopted by the HD-600 and you have the sound of the FA-004. Complicated? Yes, I know. Let me dive into this further with the help of Frank Sinatra.
The CD pictured above is one I cherish for it’s sound quality. One of the best, if not the best official Frank Sinatra release you will find. The prices on Amazon are also great! Now, let’s cue up track 11, “Love & Marriage”. This track has some nice bass in the intro and Frank’s voice is fabulous. On the HP-2’s, it’s just pure mellow and warm magic. Same with the HD-600’s, just a little less warm with Frank a bit more up front. With the RS-1’s, you get quite a bit more hiss and a slightly leaner sound. With Fischer Audio’s FA-004 you get a warm sound with a tad of hiss and a slightly more forward sounding Frank Sinatra. The FA-004 certainly doesn’t have such an open sound as the above headphones but you have to consider that the FA-004 IS NOT an open design. It’s certainly has better isolation that the above headphones but then again consider it IS NOT an open design. They are very comfortable for me and they isolate extremely well. My wife is not a deep sleeper and wakes up at the slightest of noises. I was listening to all types of music, about 3 feet away with the FA-004’s late at night and she never once woke up! For me, that alone makes these worthwhile!!!! Married guys…I know you understand this part.
Now, using the same CD, let’s cue up track 13, “How Little We Know”. The track starts out with an outtake. With the HP-2, the sound is warm and natural with almost no hiss. The HD-600 also gives out a natural sound with a wee bit of hiss. The RS-1 definitely lets you know that there is a tape playing as the hiss is all too noticeable. The FA-004 gives the natural presentation of the HD-600 with a hiss level between the HD-600 and RS-1.
If anything, for me at least, the above suggests that the FA-004 is a natural sounding dynamic headphone with a slight emphasis on the bass and highs. This give the FA-004 a very fun natural sound with a good sense of space and soundstage which only confirms my initial impression using the track “Homeless” from Paul Simon’s album “Graceland”.
For being a full size headphone, it did sound quite good without an amp – much better than the HD-600 or HP-2 un-amped. Plugged straight into my ipod or clip+, the sound was quite satisfying. However, I would highly recommend it be used with an amp to bring out its full potential. With an amp, the bass becomes tighter and more articulate and the entire frequency range plays with more authority and a clear, fuller body. When it was plugged into the Heed CanAmp, the synergy between the FA-004 and the CanAmp made for an eventful night of pleasurable listening. I listened to about 4 albums from first to last song with a big smile on my face. With the RSA Shadow the sound was just as impressive. Not quite as much synergy as with the Heed but still amazing considering its portability and power.
Not surprisingly, I found that these headphones upscale quite nicely as you move up the equipment chain. They sound great straight out of my ipod. They sound better on the Denon DCD 1560 CD Player going through the CanAmp and really impressed me coming out of my mastering rig. Not shabby at all!!! Certainly better than some Sony headphones I own that cost double the amount these do!
Once some of you handle the headphone and see it, you might think it’s a cheap quality headphone. I have had a few comments from people who have seen the one I have. I think the looks are subjective but if you are in the “cheap looking” camp, I urge you to reconsider owning this headphone as the sound quality it puts out is certainly not cheap at all. I would never have imagined that a headphone with this sound quality would be in the sub $100 market. That’s right…under $100.00 USA!!!!
So...considering everything, do I have any problems with the FA-004? YES. THE ONLY PROBLEM I FOUND: The included 6.3 mm jack adapter wasn't working so well. Easily fixed and frankly, I could care less if the jack adapter broke considering the great sound these put out.
Once again what gets my attention with Fischer Audio’s products is the price/performance ratio. All the prices I was able to find for these were under $80.00 US! If I had paid $150 for these, I wouldn’t be upset at all. I really do think these would be a good deal at $150.00. At $80 or under, these are an amazing deal. Just look at the headphones I was comparing them to and the difference in price! If anything, these could be the new entry level to high end sound and for many outside of head-fi'dom, probably an end point as well.
As always, YMMV, but give these sweet bad boys a listen before your next purchase!
EDIT: I forgot to mention that the sample I got was the BR (brown and gold) not the BL (black and silver). I believe the BL has a coiled chord and the BR has a straight chord.