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Custom IEM "Fabolous Ears" (Fabs) from Berlin, Germany

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Short Report of the "Fabolous Ears"


When visiting the German High-End HiFi-Exhibition in May, a new custom IEM was introduced by Claus Zapletal from Berlin. Details in www.fabsearphones.de. It is a two-way 3-driver system which is very small and therefore extremely comfortable to wear. In Germany their retail-price is a very competitive 550,- Euros. After Claus took my ear-canal impressions and some waiting-time for the production, the listening sessions began during my holidays. Here is my report of these wonderful IEM´s.

Keep in mind that this report is based on my personal impression.

 

The pictures show the Westone ES3 and the Fabolous Ears...

 

Es3Fabs.JPG

 

 

FE2.JPG

 

 

FE3.JPG


Test setup and comparison
Players: Creative Zen Touch, Cowon iaudio7
Amplifier: Meier Porta Corda
IEM´s: Fabs (Fabolous Ears), Westone ES3 with 120 Ohms adapter
Music: Pop and Rock and very few classic recordings. (John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, Juli, Christina Stuermer, Bruch, ...).


A) Fabs
My first impression was that the musical reproduction was rather unspectacular with no particular frequency enhancements. This is normally a good sign, because it represents a linear frequency response. This is true also for the Grado RS1 which performs in a very similar way. The sound is very musical and shows a harmonically correct performance throughout the entire frequency band. Especially the reproduction of female voices, violins and piano is very beautiful, natural with fast attacks. Basically the Fabs are soft performers with no harsh sibilances and a very deep and powerful but good controlled bass. If that is your preference you might have found the right IEM´s. If your sonic taste is more towards a superfast hard bass with very short decay and a little brighter reproduction, you might consider the Westone ES3.


B) Westone ES3
Where the Westone ES3 outperforms others (except the AKG K1000) is the tremendous fast effortless impact throughout the entire frequency range - when used with Jan Meier´s 120 Ohm adapter. However there is a price to pay: sometimes the sound tends to be a bit bright and on some recordings even a little harsh. But still their performance is spectacular. However a headphone amp is necessary.  I use the Meier Porta Corda which makes the overall performance a little bit softer.
The Fabs don´t need a separate amplifier because of their high efficiency, however a good amp might further improve their performance.
The included pictures show my heavily used ES3 and the Fabs with an added shirt-clip (taken from my Etymotics and simply attached to the cables) to reduce cable microphonics.


Conclusion:
I personally love both IEM´s, despite their different characteristics. For portable use without amp the Fabs are my top favorites. It is a pity that I cannot use my old UE10´s anymore due to allergic reactions (they had a soft shell, which I heard isn´t produced anymore). It would have been another interesting competitor.

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Joe,

I still like them. It seems, that the sound is not deteriorating. So to sum it up the fabs are very relaxing to listen to, they do not have any spectacular frequency enhancements, voices sound natural. Easy listening for hours is no problem - that is however also due to the perfect ear-impressions. The only minor flaw is a rather soft attack. So when listening to loud rock-music it sometimes seems a little flat. So I use for short time listening the Westone ES3. Their harshness however is fatiguing after 40 to 60 minutes. Decays are fine. As an all-rounder the fabs are rather perfect and the ideal choice for mobile use.

(The AKG K-1000 is however better in all regards - as a stationary headphone, so no comparison for portable use.)

 

Best regards

UAndy

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Joe,

 

I notice the slightly soft attack in: Billy Idol "Don´t need a gun" and Great White "Once bitten twice shy", as well as in some of the older John Mellencamp songs "Thundering Hearts" and "Authority Song".

That should however not be overestimated - just by comparison I feel it is noticable.

A really great advantage is their neutrality, that makes listening so very relaxing.

If I want the ultimate almost lifelike rock performance I choose the K-1000. However no one else should be at home then, because these leak too much sound outside.

 

Best regards

UAndy

post #4 of 9

Only heard them briefly in Munich last year but the impression seems to be the same as yours - they didn´t sound of anything really (which I suppose is a good thing). That and the tremendous isolation, but that might be the case with all custom IEMs, I have no experience with others. Liked them a lot, unspectacular as you said but seemed very correct and easy on the ear.

post #5 of 9
Very interesting. Anything new to update? smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Some months ago I removed the tiny filters in the tip of the earcanal output. That dramatically improves the bass-performance - although it might be a bit dangerous because dust and other debris could come to the drivers.

For me personally it is a great improvement to perfection and I will take the risk.

Best regards

UAndy

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by UAndy View Post

Some months ago I removed the tiny filters in the tip of the earcanal output. That dramatically improves the bass-performance - although it might be a bit dangerous because dust and other debris could come to the drivers.
For me personally it is a great improvement to perfection and I will take the risk.
Best regards
UAndy

Thanks for the info man! So overall, worth the money?smily_headphones1.gif
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi Aegis Yeo,

Naturally I don´t know the great amount of different IEMs on the market - from my experience about Etymotic 4S and P, Ultimate Ears 10, Westone ES3 and Fabolous Ears I can only say that the Fabs are a great companion for easy listening over a long term period - say about 5 hours continously. The (discontinued) UE10 and the (discontinued) Westone ES3 play in a higher league at a much higher price. The ES3 becomes nasty due to rough hights after about 1-2 hours of listening. (The UE10 are defective - I´ve removed them). Considering the low price of the Fabs there is nothing you can do wrong, in my opinion. Durability seems to be great: after 4 years of rather heavy use they play as good as after the burn-in without any flaws.

Hope, the info is useful for you!

Best Regards

UAndy

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by UAndy View Post

Hi Aegis Yeo,
Naturally I don´t know the great amount of different IEMs on the market - from my experience about Etymotic 4S and P, Ultimate Ears 10, Westone ES3 and Fabolous Ears I can only say that the Fabs are a great companion for easy listening over a long term period - say about 5 hours continously. The (discontinued) UE10 and the (discontinued) Westone ES3 play in a higher league at a much higher price. The ES3 becomes nasty due to rough hights after about 1-2 hours of listening. (The UE10 are defective - I´ve removed them). Considering the low price of the Fabs there is nothing you can do wrong, in my opinion. Durability seems to be great: after 4 years of rather heavy use they play as good as after the burn-in without any flaws.
Hope, the info is useful for you!
Best Regards
UAndy

Understood and thanks for the update man:)
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