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[Review] Impressions of the Final Audio Design FI-BA-SS versus the SM3, FX700 and e-Q7 - Page 7

post #91 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


I can understand that impression, although my listening notes in post #1 state otherwise. I think because the FI-BA-SS have more prominent highs than the e-Q7, they tend to appear somewhat lighter in bass. But I bet if you'd A/B them and concentrated on the bass range you'd find the same.

 

 

We hear things differently and equally important, we also listen to different kinds of music. Plus there's the aspect of looking at the sound signature of IEMs as a whole, versus looking specifically at a certain frequency range (bass/mids/highs).

 

The FX700 have clearly more bass quantity than the SM3, if you just look at bass alone. Yet the JVCs have also very forward highs to counterbalance that bass. In comparison the SM3 have rather laid-back upper mids and highs, and therefore (to my ears) their overall sound signature is warmer and more tipped towards the lower frequencies than the FX700's.


Shows what comes out when one goes by auditory memory - even if it's only been a few weeks since I heard the e-Q7 last, the results are anecdotal. :)

 

It sure is as you say - it's the whole sound signature that influences how one perceives one specific frequency range in relation - especially since the FADs have really too much, too hot treble for my ears. They're basically the only IEMs yet where I had to EQ the treble down to suit my taste. They should do well for the 50+ demographic, or PCM1704-equipped players... ;)

 

As for different music tastes - what kind of music do you prefer the FADs with? I haven't found anything yet where they would make my jaw drop. They're certainly nice, but not *that* nice, for my tastes.

post #92 of 268
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfkt View Post

It sure is as you say - it's the whole sound signature that influences how one perceives one specific frequency range in relation - especially since the FADs have really too much, too hot treble for my ears. They're basically the only IEMs yet where I had to EQ the treble down to suit my taste. They should do well for the 50+ demographic, or PCM1704-equipped players... ;)

 

As for different music tastes - what kind of music do you prefer the FADs with? I haven't found anything yet where they would make my jaw drop. They're certainly nice, but not *that* nice, for my tastes.


Like I said in my review, at least 50% of my listening is to classical. I found the FADs almost immaculate with Mahler, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Vaughan Williams, to my ears they have extremely high detail resolution (only the SM3 come close but sound veiled in comparison) and are beautifully airy and atmospheric. I already miss them badly, because although the FX700 or e-Q7 are no slouch with classical, they both fall a bit short of the 'magic' I used to experience with the FADs.

 

Another genre that fits the FADs perfectly is Acoustic Folk or Folk/Rock, like The Unthanks or Indigo Girls. I love how you can make out every tiny nuance in those gorgeous voices and how vividly the FI-BA-SS render acoustic instruments. I have to add that these are examples where I always think there's too much bass with other phones like the FX700 or even the EQd IE8.

 

Or take for instance Diana Krall's cover of 'Too Marvelous for Words' from her 'Quiet Nights' album, IMO the song title already foretells how the FADs render that song. This is an extremely well recorded track and virtually everything sounds right to my ears, crystal clear yet without a trace of harshness, layered, atmospheric, perfect. Even the bass has just the 'right' presence to accentuate the subtle, slow rhythm that accompanies this hauntingly beautiful song.

 

Ok, I'm going to stop the rave here, because I'm aware that there are a lot of other examples where even to my ears the FADs don't fare nearly as well. I certainly wouldn't listen to Dub, Dubstep or D'n'B with them and their highs would be decidedly too agressive for guitar-heavy Hard Rock or Metal.

 

Bottom line, the FADs are niche phones for pretty much the same genres that are a good match with the CK10 and e-Q7, but IMO they do some things better than both of these phones. They have more realistic timbre and bass texture than the CK10 and better refined and extended highs than the e-Q7. I concur with takoyaki7 that they can be harsh (and sibilant) with some recordings, but clarity comes at a price and I found no faults with them on high quality recordings.

 

Last not least, you may of course be on to something with your remark about 50+ demographic and the DAP Thou Shalt Not Name. While I don't own the latter, you rascal know very well that I'm undeniably within sight of the former, so ... never mind.

post #93 of 268

Have you tried removing/replacing the filters on the SM3? I love the sound I am getting, especially on classical music.

post #94 of 268
Thread Starter 

^ Would have loved to try that, but the SM3 were loaners from dfkt - and I constantly felt like his avatar was watching me.

post #95 of 268

dfkt, I wonder what kind of tips you were using with the FADs? For me comply's really makes all the difference in the world. The treble doesn't bother me in the least and they don't seem at all muffled.

post #96 of 268

Amazing review..

Congrats James..beerchug.gif

post #97 of 268
Thread Starter 

Thanks fortress34! I recently received the FADs back after a long loan and they still work their magic for me. Amazing phones. smile_phones.gif

post #98 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

Thanks fortress34! I recently received the FADs back after a long loan and they still work their magic for me. Amazing phones. smile_phones.gif



I'm sure about that and I really wondered to hear them.. Lucky you..

post #99 of 268

Hmm, so this FI-BA-SS is a single driver BA design that costs over $1k. I just thought about this some more. It's insane. I bet Etymotic ER4S is every bit as good and you can get them for under $200. James, could you get the ER4 and compare them with the FI-BA-SS? That would be so awesome.

post #100 of 268

I haven't listened to the ER4, but I owned the HF5 and they aren't even remotely close to the FI-BA-SS

  In fact, I recently picked up the Westone 4, and though I am enjoying them, they don't hold a candle to the FADs in terms of clarity and visceral experience.

  I was hoping to find a cheaper keeper that might justify me selling the FI-BA-SS but I might actually have to put my W4 up for sale soon.

  The FI-BA-SS aren't perfect, they are brutally exposing of harsh sources and are pretty hot, but still definitely the best IEMs I have ever heard!

Their clarity and rawness is unmatched IMHO

post #101 of 268
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Hmm, so this FI-BA-SS is a single driver BA design that costs over $1k. I just thought about this some more. It's insane. I bet Etymotic ER4S is every bit as good and you can get them for under $200. James, could you get the ER4 and compare them with the FI-BA-SS? That would be so awesome.


Hi Pianist, I could get an ER4S pretty cheap here too, but think again: what would be the point of it? It has shown itself many times that we hear things quite differently, RE0 or e-Q5 just to name a few examples. So would you believe me if I told you that the FI-BA-SS are better than the ER4S? I think not and I couldn't blame you, considering our different perception of sound signatures. Having said that, I'll be lending these to a fellow Head-Fier who hears things more similarly to you and there's a good chance that we'll have his take on them within a few weeks.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by takoyaki7 View Post

I haven't listened to the ER4, but I owned the HF5 and they aren't even remotely close to the FI-BA-SS

  In fact, I recently picked up the Westone 4, and though I am enjoying them, they don't hold a candle to the FADs in terms of clarity and visceral experience.

  I was hoping to find a cheaper keeper that might justify me selling the FI-BA-SS but I might actually have to put my W4 up for sale soon.

  The FI-BA-SS aren't perfect, they are brutally exposing of harsh sources and are pretty hot, but still definitely the best IEMs I have ever heard!

Their clarity and rawness is unmatched IMHO


Hi takoyaki, thanks for playing guinea pig regarding the W4! I was tempted to try them dispite of a gut feeling telling me otherwise. To this day I've only heard two other IEMs that I consider at eye level with the FI-BA-SS in some aspects. One would be the SM3 (featured in this review) which have incredibly good detail and refinement, but in the end I couldn't stand their thick mids and lack of forward projection. The second are the EX1000 which have a widely different and much more well-mannered sound signature, yet nevertheless managed to put me under their spell from the day I got them. But apart from these and especially among raw and analytical sounding phones the FI-BA-SS are pretty much unrivaled.

post #102 of 268
It's actually bit difficult to compare the W4 and FI-BA-SS because they are so different.

I was initially pretty disappointed with the W4 because they are extremely laid back and polite. Reminded me
Quite a bit of my SE530s, though the separation is better and the treble roll off not as severe.
But I am warming up to them, they are just so smooth...they are easy to like and sound good with anything.


The FADs don't quite have the speed or details, but they are so clear, more vibrant, and they have that great rawness to them. As I believe you said before, they are somehow and quite mysteriously very clear and accurate, but also really fun and aggressive.

What I can't figure out is with only ONE driver they have greater bass presence and more extended treble than the W4s!!
post #103 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by takoyaki7 View Post
 As I believe you said before, they are somehow and quite mysteriously very clear and accurate, but also really fun and aggressive.
 


They sound like an DBA on crack and steroids by your description.

post #104 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


Hi Pianist, I could get an ER4S pretty cheap here too, but think again: what would be the point of it? It has shown itself many times that we hear things quite differently, RE0 or e-Q5 just to name a few examples. So would you believe me if I told you that the FI-BA-SS are better than the ER4S? I think not and I couldn't blame you, considering our different perception of sound signatures. Having said that, I'll be lending these to a fellow Head-Fier who hears things more similarly to you and there's a good chance that we'll have his take on them within a few weeks.


That's a pretty bold statement to be making. I don't know anyone on head-fi that hears anything similar to Pianist :P

post #105 of 268
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Hmm, so this FI-BA-SS is a single driver BA design that costs over $1k. I just thought about this some more. It's insane. I bet Etymotic ER4S is every bit as good and you can get them for under $200. James, could you get the ER4 and compare them with the FI-BA-SS? That would be so awesome.


Well, I have FI-BA-SB and ER4S and the FAD's are significantly better, in my view. I haven't heard the FI-BA-SS, but the consensus is that they are better than the SB's...

 

The ER4S are OK, but not in the league of some of the better IEM's (though their specific sound may appeal to many). I should have a pair of the EX-1000 coming, so may post some more impressions of the FAD's and Sony's as I feel I have their measure.

 

Kevin

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