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[REVIEW] Fischer Audio - For Your Ears Only

post #1 of 195
Thread Starter 

So this is the second review I am doing on Fischer audio’s (FA for short) portable headphone. When the last one was out, there is quite some controversy as to whether their products were worthy of such praise or perhaps it is just another FOTM, hyper- hyped.  I think by this time around most of the doubt has been gone yet some still remain skeptical.  Before I begin the review I would like to make it clearer as to how I review IEM: A review is not more than a personal assessment which may or may not be agreeable by others. My goal of review is not to simply tell you what is ‘better’ to buy. ‘Better’ is such a complicated words that we all must agree that we can’t really agree on what standard of reference is, as it is all personal. Yet the idea of the review is to give you a glimpse of what may be more/less fitting to your need as to avoid wasting time and money. Thus I don’t want to just telling you what sounds the best, but more importantly what they sound like and how well I feel about each of them as a whole, as objective as I can from a subjective POV. As I have said before, putting a great treble, a great mid, a great bass and a great soundstage together can easily give you the worst of sound as to the best of sound – it is ‘the blend’, the coherence, the synergy and most importantly, the ‘factor of taste’ that determine how an IEM matches you. That is, do the IEM sound signature fits your taste of music? If not, why bother? Trying to be Hi-Fi is one thing, but trying to enjoy the music is another. Fidelity serves no purpose when there is no enjoyment in the music. They are equally significant elements in the quest to a ‘better sound’, or perhaps it is ‘the better enjoyment of sound’. That is the goal.

 

Spec

EternaRev-X.jpg

Eterna (latest reversion?) See UPDATE below

Transducer: Dynamic

Frequency range: 8 -22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Impedance: 18 Ohm
Input power: 350mW
Cable Length: 1.25m OFC cable

Plug: 3.5mm L shaped, gold plated

 

SBA01-X.jpg

SBA-01

Transducer: Single balanced armature

Frequency range: 50 -23500 Hz
Sensitivity: 109 dB
Impedance: 30 Ohm
Input power: 50 mW
Cable Length: 1.3 m

Plug: 3.5mm L shaped, gold plated

 

DBA02-X.jpg

DBA-02

Transducer: Dual balanced armature

Frequency range: 20 -24000 Hz
Sensitivity: 108 dB
Impedance: 43 Ohm
Input power: 60 mW
Cable Length: 1.3 m

Plug: 3.5mm straight, gold plated

 

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality

As far as packaging is concerned, the revised Eterna (? - See UPDATE below) is pretty much identical to the original version. In fact you can’t tell them apart by packaging alone. While it is understandable that FA is trying to avoid reprinting the box, it is nonetheless a hidden issue on the consumer’s part on which version he/she might get. The smart thing to do will be to put a sticky on the box. The box of SBA-01 and DBA-02 is another story. FA is going minimalistic with the packaging (and in a way, pretty green). The boxes are identical b/w the two, basically just paperboard box with different color paper lining on the inside. The boxes are sealed by a strip of color paper with model name on the front and spec printed on the back. It is nothing fancy but in a sense, very classy.

 

Accessories wise, Eterna v2 is the same as old version, a soft pouch, two single flange, one double flange, ear guide and the simple manual. SBA-01 comes with just one pair of small and one of mid single flange eartips, ear guide, two pieces of manual / warranty paper, and a soft pouch. The pouch is made out of padded nylon mesh which is great for ventilation (which is a good thing if you like to put the IEM in the pouch right after you take it off, as moisture is less likely to accumulate). DBA-02 comes with three pairs of quite decent single flange, ear guide, a leather pouch, and the warranty / manual. It is easy to tell that the pouch is real leather just by the leathery smell. The red stitches actually remind me of leather pouch with e-Q7.

 

SBA01-05.jpg

SBA01-06.jpg

 

Build quality is decent with the Eterna v2. I have had no real problem with the old Eterna and I certainly don’t find the new v2 to be any lesser in quality. The only issue with the old Eterna is perhaps the slight memory effect on the cable. FA seems to notice that issue and change the cable to a softer, less affected type. SBA-01 and DBA-02 are mainly hard plastic construction. The full plastic housing with transparent section might look a little on the cheap side, but the build quality is pretty good. Beside the good looking metal grill on the nozzle, I especially like how small the SBA-01’s earpieces are. I can wear it over-the-ear or straight down without any trouble at all, though I do think FA should have included a cable guide on the Y-splitter up. The housing of DBA-02 is slightly on the bigger side which requires a little more adjustment when wearing though I do not find it too bothering. The only improvement I would like to see is the strain relief on the earpiece, which should be elongated just a few more millimeters and hold on tighter to the cable. It will make wearing it over-the-ear easier. I am quite happy with the Westone-like twisted cable, but do feel a little strange to see the black and white retro color combination. While SBA-01 has a more UE like nozzle size and DBA-02 has a more Westone/Shure like nozzle, they are not totally confirmed to the common standard. SBA-01 nozzle is smooth with no bump/ridge to hold the eartips, and Comply T400 is slightly too big to have a firm grip. DBA-02 nozzle is simply a little too long for most single flange from other companies, which exposes the filter closer to earwax. Comply T100 or P-series (for Westone) seems to fit fine on the DBA-02 though. Shure olive will probably fit as well but it will be on the tighter side. Microphonic is not a big issue with all three models since they are designed to be wore over-the-ear. Isolation is great on Eterna stock bi-flange, but a little below average for SBA-01 and DBA-02. They are still however enough for street use, but I won’t recommend them on extremely noisy environment.

 

Overall I am happy with all three models. FA has shown improvement on build quality since I last reviewed the company’s products.

 

DBA02-05.jpg

DBA02-06.jpg

 

Sound Quality

As always, I put in roughly 50 hours of burn-in (each) before the audition. I do not find any major change during the process.

 

EternaRev-05.jpg

The old Eterna is a very musical sounding IEM. It has a slightly warm and an upfront presentation that is ‘not about accuracy of the sonic reproduction, but the 110% dedication to fun and music enjoyment’.  The new Eterna (? - See UPDATE below) is technically more balanced and polite. It still retains the same warm sound, but in a lesser form. Treble is smooth and fairly detail, but rolls off just a little early. Mid is full, decently sweet but feels a little dull. Bass has good impact and decent bodied, but a tad too slow and slightly congressed. Soundstage is slightly above average though lacks a real sense of air. In a quick sum, the new Eterna sounds like a compressed version of the old version – less extreme edges, more polite yet also lost the ‘magical blend’ which I rated so highly.

 

SBA01-07.jpg

 

From looking into the transparent housing, SBA-01 has a rounded BA driver which I assume to be Siren transducer by Knowles. Since this is not the first Siren transducer I have heard, it becomes apparent that all Siren transducer share some common characteristic in sound signature. That is they all sound warm and musical in different degree. The overall SBA-01 sound signature is also in similar trend, but with a full sounding mid, especially in the upper region. Treble is well extended though not quite as refine and lacks good sparkle. Mid is decently full with a sweet vocal, but a little harsh on the upper region when in loud volume. Bass is quite deep with a good speed and impact but not vest in body. Soundstage is about average.

 

DBA02-07.jpg

 

DBA-02 is fairly balanced sounding with a brighter, more analytical presentation. Treble is very well extended to the top, detailed and full of sparkle, but might be a little too aggressive for non-analytical listener.  Mid has good texture, neither too forward nor recessed, but the upper mid is a little more forward which can sound slightly harsh on brighter music. Bass has good impact, body and speed. Not quantitatively big, but above average. Soundstage is quite good, very airy.

 

Verdict

In just little over half-a-year since I wrote about Fischer Audio, I have seen the company’s market expended in both demographic and product line. While I am not too impressed by the retuned Eterna (? - See UPDATE below), SBA-01 and especially DBA-02 really standout well as the company new venture into balanced armature based IEM. More importantly, I am glad to see FA still maintains its bang for buck pricing policy and willingness to explore the unknown territory. I have given the old Eterna an SDA for its unique blend of sonic signature, and now I think it is time for the new flagship DBA-02 to receive the same recommendation for its technical performance.

 

The MSRP are $59 for Eterna, $76 for SBA-01 and $150 for DBA-02. Actual street price might be higher.

 

Read the quick sum up here.

 

[UPDATE] I got words that the new Eterna I have could very well be a beta unit which might not be the same as the new revised version due to some shipping error. So this basically throw most of the conclusion I have out of the window and back to square one. I will keep the review intact but please read it with a grain of salt (not that you shouldn't in any review).


Edited by ClieOS - 5/19/10 at 2:30am
post #2 of 195
Thread Starter 

First, I will like to thanks the Malaysia local Fischer Audio distributor WS Trading for providing the samples.

 

Though this is a review, I don’t want to spend too much time covering things such as specification or build quality since they have been mentioned in my previous two reviews (this and the above) and pretty remain the same in both v1 and v2. For Eterna v2, besides having the new improved cable, it looks and feels almost identical to the old Eterna. For Omega v2, it is pretty much the same except it doesn’t have the cable tie and cable guide. So, please read my previous two FA review for detail that haven’t been mentioned here. As you have seen below, the new v2 comes with new packaging to avoid any confusion of which version a buyer will get.

 

OMv2-X.jpg

 

Omega v2
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.

 

ETv2R-X.jpg

 

Eterna v2

Frequency range: 8 -22000 Hz
Sensitivity: 110 dB
Impedance: 18 Ohm
Input power: 350mW
Cable Length: 1.25m OFC cable

Plug: 3.5mm L shaped, gold plated

 

Sound Quality

As usual, both IEM have been burn-in for over 50 hrs before the review. So the questions have been, are the new v2 better than the v1? It is a hard to answer. On one side I really wish they are better, but as far as dampening goes, it can go both ways.

 

The overall sound signature of Omega v2 is close to that of v1: fairly balanced without any major flaw. Good treble and airiness with a slightly improved detail presentation, Vocal is neither too close nor too far, bass is smaller though still solid and goes down deep with decent slam and speed. Soundstage is better than average. The impression is that V2 is a more mature version of v1, smoother in overall frequency with better control. Improvement is nothing major but noticeable.

 

The over sound signature of Eterna v2 is also close to that of v1: Warm and musical, but smoother and less fun. Technically the v2 shows more control. Treble rolls off early, lacks sparkle and detail. Mid is full to almost wet. Bass has decent impact and full bodied, dominating the overall sound though doesn’t bleed too much into other frequency. Soundstage is about average and lacks a real sense of air. Basically the new Eterna sounds like a warmer, smoother version of v1. While it is still technically not an accurate sounding IEM, the tuning definitely makes Eterna a different beast in my ears, trained. While the V1 has been rated highly for the fun sound (but not for it technically ability), the similar yet more polite v2 doesn’t quite seem to do the trick. Technically better or not, a preference is a preference.

 

ETv2R-5.jpg

 

Verdict

I love my original Eterna and wish that you can hear what I call a ‘musical blend’ is. The Eterna v2 is simply too polite, too smooth for me to really rock out with – don’t get me wrong to think Eterna v2 is just a bad sounding IEM - It is not. It is still a very good sounding IEM for its price and compared well to other more expensive IEM, just that it doesn’t quite have the blend of sound which I have enjoyed a lot. For both the v2 models I sense that Fischer Audio is tuning their IEM toward a more controlled, perhaps in a sense ‘more acceptable’ sound that depends lesser on the listener preference, a kind of ‘popular’ sound signature. Though Eterna v2 might not fit my taste totally, I still want to take my hat off to FA for their dedication to continuously improve and update its older series. For now, I think it is safe to assume the new DBA-02 is cleanly taking over the crown as the new flagship models

 

Read the quick sum up here.

 

 

Here is a simple mod for both Eterna v1 and v2: There is a vent on the back of the earpiece right under the strain relief, just seal it off with a small piece of transparent tape. It clams down the bass and bring the treble and detail more forward, making the whole signature more balanced and enjoyable. I have been listening to it for a few hours now on my v2 and actually quite like it this way.


Edited by ClieOS - 6/15/10 at 5:42am
post #3 of 195

DBA-02's on the way!

post #4 of 195

Too bad the Eterna's changed so much. I was really looking forward to this new revision and planning on grabbing a pair but reading this review and some other comments now i'm not so sure. All the things that interested me about the old eternas are gone or toned down.

I might save up and get the SBA-02's, who knows.

 

Anyway, great review as allways!

post #5 of 195

Ah I was wondering when you were going to put up this review :) It's too bad about the Eterna..I was thinking of picking one up eventually but I think I found another dynamic driver to fill in that void. What kind of impact does the dba 02 have? Is it similar to the e-Q7 in terms of that?

post #6 of 195

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Ah I was wondering when you were going to put up this review :) It's too bad about the Eterna..I was thinking of picking one up eventually but I think I found another dynamic driver to fill in that void. What kind of impact does the dba 02 have? Is it similar to the e-Q7 in terms of that?


Which one, if I might ask?

post #7 of 195

is it possible to take out dampening material from eternas?

post #8 of 195

 

Quote:
The old Eterna is a very musical sounding IEM. It has a slightly warm and an upfront presentation that is ‘not about accuracy of the sonic reproduction, but the 110% dedication to fun and music enjoyment’.  The new Eterna is technically more balanced and polite. It still retains the same warm sound, but in a lesser form. Treble is smooth and fairly detail, but rolls off just a little early. Mid is full, decently sweet but feels a little dull. Bass has good impact and decent bodied, but a tad too slow and slightly congressed. Soundstage is slightly above average though lacks a real sense of air. In a quick sum, the new Eterna sounds like a compressed version of the old version – less extreme edges, more polite yet also lost the ‘magical blend’ which I rated so highly.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from this review, it appears that the latest Eterna revision may be more suitable for electronic fans?

 

While the old Eterna review was impressive, I was under the impression that the details I look for in layers upon layers of beats and tracks may be a bit lost due to the sound signature tailored towards 'fun' over accuracy... While the new revision is a bit more polite, does that also mean that the sound is more detailed due to a slightly cooler signature?

post #9 of 195

Thanks ClieOS!

 

I have just found my replacement for my current earphones when they break.  Better start saving for those DBA-02s now.

post #10 of 195

So, ClieOS, since you have both the Fischer Audio products and the e-Q7 (probably the only person to do so), how do these compare the e-Q7's as I'm pretty much set on them (over the FX700)?

Would love to know.

post #11 of 195

Nice to see another review regarding the fantastic DBA-02's!

post #12 of 195

SQ: 6.3 Ummm....almost seems like you were trying to intentionally shoe-horn these in between the Phonak's and the Ortofon's.

 

I could never shell out that kind of $$ for the Ortofon but the Phonak which is about the same price makes for an interesting comparison vs the DBA-02 - particlarly as they are so close in price and apparently performance judging from the respective reviews. I see 1 white star (build quality) for the Phonak vs 3 white stars (build quality, packaging and isolation) for the DBA-02.

 

Maybe it's the slightly better bass (DBA-02) vs the slightly better treble (Phonak) I get a hint of in the respective reviews?

 

I do wonder in looking at THE LIST :

 

                   Price     SQ      Value

DBA-02   $150      4.63    4.9

Phonak   $159      4.6       5

 

why the Phonak gets the better value score. I was looking at the Phonak (without the mic) earlier which is $139 so this is why I am interested.

 

 

Another  really good review. I love all your reviews - been waiting for this one since you first mentioned it was in the works.


Edited by Leavenfish - 5/18/10 at 11:19pm
post #13 of 195
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidcorpo View Post

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from this review, it appears that the latest Eterna revision may be more suitable for electronic fans?

 

While the old Eterna review was impressive, I was under the impression that the details I look for in layers upon layers of beats and tracks may be a bit lost due to the sound signature tailored towards 'fun' over accuracy... While the new revision is a bit more polite, does that also mean that the sound is more detailed due to a slightly cooler signature?

Your assumption is true in the sense that detail is more pronounced in the new Eterna due to the new sound signature. As I said, the new Eterna is more balanced sounding. But it is not because the new Eterna has more detail than the old version, just that the old version sound signature doesn't make detail very obvious to the listener ears.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

So, ClieOS, since you have both the Fischer Audio products and the e-Q7 (probably the only person to do so), how do these compare the e-Q7's as I'm pretty much set on them (over the FX700)?

Would love to know.

As far as sound signature is concerned, e-Q7 and DBA-02 is totally different. While e-Q7 is smooth, dynamic, a little warm with a good bodied bass, DBA-02 is more analytical, bright and aggressive with good resolution but fast bass which is more typical of BA driver. I would rank DBA-02 just a little under e-Q7 actually in overall performance, but still among top-tier. Of course the main thing of concern is which kind of sound signature you are looking for. e-Q7's sound has the blessing of both dynamic and BA transducer, while DBA-02 sound is obviously very BA-like.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leavenfish View Post

SQ: 6.3 Ummm....almost seems like you were trying to intentionally shoe-horn these in between the Phonak's and the Ortofon's.

 

I could never shell out that kind of $$ for the Ortofon but the Phonak which is about the same price makes for an interesting comparison vs the DBA-02 - particlarly as they are so close in price and apparently performance judging from the respective reviews. I see 1 white star (build quality) for the Phonak vs 3 white stars (build quality, packaging and isolation) for the DBA-02.

 

Maybe it's the slightly better bass (DBA-02) vs the slightly better treble (Phonak) I get a hint of in the respective reviews?


The problem with numeric ranking system is that it will run out of space eventually as the data continue to pile up. While I find DBA-02 give better resolution and more dynamic than Phonak, the aggressiveness of the presentation becomes a concern when I compare it to the very natural sounding e-Q7. I believe most people (whom are mainly not analytical listener) will appreciate e-Q7 sound signature over than of DBA-02, and so that reflects in the final ranking.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leavenfish View Post

I do wonder in looking at THE LIST :

 

                   Price     SQ      Value

DBA-02   $150      4.63    4.9

Phonak   $159      4.6       5

 

why the Phonak gets the better value score. I was looking at the Phonak (without the mic) earlier which is $139 so this is why I am interested.

Phonak gets better score for having a very good packaging, good selection of accessories, outstanding two years warranty and an (proven) excellent customer service. Those are the 'extra' bits that give it a higher score.

post #14 of 195

I'm curious how you might compare the DBA-02 to say the RE252, CK10, or Triple.Fi 10 in terms of treble presentation.  You say it can be a bit too much, but I'm curious outside of sensitivity how it is presented.  For example, I see the Triple.Fi 10 to have strong yet sweet sounding treble.  The RE252 is one of the only other earphones I've used that has sounded as extended as well as offered as much edge on the top end as the Triple.Fi 10.  The RE252 simply doesn't have the sweetness of note but is more natural.  The CK10 is really articulated and detailed up top but doesn't show the same edge/bite as the Triple.Fi 10 or RE252.  It is hot only because of the sensitivity.  Once EQed, it's rather natural and really detailed but also not quite as edgy.  Where does the DBA-02 stack up?  I am one that is not so much curious in the frequency response (since it's fixable), but I am curious in how the notes are presented in the sense of dynamic energy, articulation of note, detail, etc.  These are aspects more inherent with and bound by the driver choices made.  Sensitivity can be balanced as desired, but you're stuck with sound characteristics.  I guess a final question, if you had to pick one earphone you've used that sounds more like the DBA-02, what would it be?

post #15 of 195
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

I'm curious how you might compare the DBA-02 to say the RE252, CK10, or Triple.Fi 10 in terms of treble presentation.  You say it can be a bit too much, but I'm curious outside of sensitivity how it is presented.  For example, I see the Triple.Fi 10 to have strong yet sweet sounding treble.  The RE252 is one of the only other earphones I've used that has sounded as extended as well as offered as much edge on the top end as the Triple.Fi 10.  The RE252 simply doesn't have the sweetness of note but is more natural.  The CK10 is really articulated and detailed up top but doesn't show the same edge/bite as the Triple.Fi 10 or RE252.  It is hot only because of the sensitivity.  Once EQed, it's rather natural and really detailed but also not quite as edgy.  Where does the DBA-02 stack up?  I am one that is not so much curious in the frequency response (since it's fixable), but I am curious in how the notes are presented in the sense of dynamic energy, articulation of note, detail, etc.  These are aspects more inherent with and bound by the driver choices made.  Sensitivity can be balanced as desired, but you're stuck with sound characteristics.  I guess a final question, if you had to pick one earphone you've used that sounds more like the DBA-02, what would it be?

Have not hear CK10 yet, but if you like TF10 the chance is you might like DBA-02 as well. I kind of think of DBA-02 as a flatter version of TF10 (both in FR and Soundstage) with edgier treble.
 

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