As always, these are strictly my opinions.
I try to present these products as honestly as possible and try to describe them as best as possible.
As always, YMMV.
The Fischer Audio FA-002W-OW
W IS FOR WOOD!
That’s right….Fischer Audio has finally answered the prayers of many of its customers! When I first wrote my reviews about the FA-003 and the FA-002 I wondered how they could possibly improve upon such a good design sound wise. Enter the new FA-002W!
SPEC’S (as reviewed):
· Design: Closed
· Wood: Artificially aged Beech Wood
· Frequency range: 10-26500 Hz
· Sensitivity: 105 dB
· Impedance: 64 Om
· Input power: 120 mW
· Plug: 3.5mm
· Length of a cable: 3 M
· Color: Athracite/Black
· Box: Soft Carrying Case
· Set: Additional cushions, 6.3mm jack adapter
EQUIPMENT USED ON THIS REVIEW:
- Portable set-up: Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed) -> Fischer Audio Mini2Mini -> Fischer Audio Mystify / Grado HPA-1/ RSA Shadow / RSA Hornet
- Portable set-up: Ipod 5.5G -> ALO Cotton Dock -> Fischer Audio Mystify / RSA Hornet
- Home Rig 1: Sony D-25S -> UE Mini2Mini / Fischer Audio Mini to Mini from Line out-> Heed CanAmp / Grado HPA-1
- Home Rig 2: Denon DCD 1560 CD Player – RCA -> Heed CanAmp
- My mastering rig
BACKGROUND & FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
I’m intimately familiar with both the FA-002 and the FA-003. I use both all the time when I master and use the FA-003 for relaxing and enjoying music as well. My wife adores the FA-002’s and I am fond of the FA-003’s. I find both to have natural and musical qualities with the FA-003 being my favorite of the two.
When I received these, I figured Fischer Audio couldn’t possibly improve on the FA-003. How could they? Well…let’s find out how and if they did it….
1. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al from the album “Graceland”
2. Paul Simon – Homeless from the album “Graceland”
3. Nat King Cole – Stardust from the DCC release of “Love Is The Thing”
4. Danny Elfman – This is Halloween from the soundtrack “Nightmare Before Christmas”
5. Absolute Silence – custom demo track made by myself.
6. Bach – Solo Cello Suites from the Mercury Living Presence release feat. Janos Starker
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Sweet & Lovely from the album “Sings Sweet Songs For Swingers”
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication & Scar Tissue from the album “Californication”
9. Lady Gaga – Poker Face from the album “The Fame”
10. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
THOUGHTS ON SOUND:
You only need to read past reviews of mine to know why I use the above listed tracks for auditioning equipment. It’s not the only music I use but it’s easily available and sounds fantastic (except for the Red Hot Chili Peppers) without any further tweaking.
I was expecting a presentation much like the FA-003 because it’s a closed headphone with wooden cups. Did it sound the same?
Did it sound better?
DEPENDS ON YOU (for me YES)!
How and why?
It’s difficult to describe but I feel these somehow sound even more natural than the FA-003. Vocals are simply amazing! I was truly impressed with the presentation the FA-002W-OW gave on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, especially on “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes”. I never expect to be impressed by an album I have heard dozens upon dozens of times. When it happens, it’s really something special. The sound is smooth, natural and completely non-fatiguing. They are ever so slightly heavier than the FA-002 and FA-003 but they are not heavy and remain very comfortable.
The FA-002W-OW were impressive on each and every track, especially on the album “Graceland” and other vocal tracks. I could expand on this and go into detail but I feel there is no need. Read my review on the FA-003 and you’ll get the basics of the sound but in my honest opinion…the FA-002W-OW sound better.
On “Another One Bites The Dust” by QUEEN, the guitar, vocals and drums…hell…everything sounds fabulous. “Bohemian Rhapsody” sounds equally impressive including the distortion. The snaps on the beginning of “Killer Queen” sound real.
“Moondance” by Van Morrison sounds as good as ever and Jacintha as well as Diana Krall have never sounded so smooth.
As you can see from the pictures I posted above, the grain on these things is really cool. The attention to detail is great. Each cup is bookmatched and looks very nice. Perhaps some of you don’t like it…but there is no need to worry. There are more designs available for your visual pleasure….see the end of the review!
Where to start!? I wish I could shake someone’s hand over at Fischer Audio and congratulate them for having such great sounding headphones. Even more than that…I want to thank them for listening to their customers and giving us what we want. Often times great things don't come from something new but from an improvment on an old design. Such is the case with these headphones.
The sound of the FA-002W-OW is very natural sounding while maintaining a touch of smoothness and refinement that I now find lacking in the FA-003. If I was enamored with the FA-003’s then the FA-002W-OW are my new mistress and best of all, my new mistress gives me things I never knew I needed. The FA-003 is not a shabby headphone at all and although the difference might be subtle for some, I find the differences to be clear cut. They are still light and comfy. They look great. The sound is really intoxicating. These are mastering grade headphones much like the FA-003 but the sound is smoother, more pure and yes, more natural. The isolation is very good and dare I say, maybe even better than the FA-003. I was able to listen to music while my wife was asleep without even a single track waking her up from less than one foot away.
I find the mids and highs are the main difference in the FA-002W-OW when compared to other Fischer Audio headphones. They are simply intoxicating. Positioning and soundstage depth is very good as is soundstage width. This in turn makes the FA-002W-OW a very holographic sounding headphone much like the FA-003. The mids and treble are smooth and moderately extended with a velvety touch that is so good you almost feel bad for loving it so much. The bass is extended but very tight and controlled much like the bass on the FA-003. The only time the bass was boomy was when a recording had boomy sounding bass.
Thankfully Fischer Audio decided to keep the carrying case packaging, as it is very attractive and also helps protect your investment when you carry your headphones to Head-Fi meets!
The FA-002W-OW’s do not require an amp, however, I would highly, highly recommend you listen to them with an amp – especially with the Fischer Audio Mystify. While the volume may be sufficient coming straight out of the Clip+ or an iPod, the authority and presence of the FA-002W-OW only increases when an amp is added in the mix. I felt the FA-003’s had particular synergy with the Heed CanAmp but the FA-002W-OW had a very special synergy with the Fischer Audio Mystify. They still sounded phenomenal with the Heed CanAmp but the Mystify truly knocks the sound out of the park. I found myself constantly wanting to turn the volume up but resisted the urge.
The cables, like the FA-002 and FA-003, are removable and user replaceable.
It will now be even harder to pick a headphone from Fischer Audio! A lot of people PM me all the time regarding the FA-002, the FA-003 and the FA-004, not to mention all the IEM’s as well. Now add all these great looking wooden versions and the choices are even harder to make.
Honestly speaking, if I heard the FA-003 priced at $200 and heard the FA-002W-OW priced at $600, I would really lust for the FA-002W-OW. I’m not saying everyone will come to this conclusion but I know I would. Some will be very hard pressed to nitpick and describe the differences between two very similar headphones. Others might hear the differences as very obvious. Ultimately it will once again come to your sound signature preferences, what you value in a headphone and how well you can hear. My wife couldn’t tell the difference between the FA-003 and FA-002W-OW. To her, they both sounded the same. If that were the case with me, I would say so but I do hear a very clear difference between the two, especially on vocals.
Some people equate buying these as buying a fine Patek Philippe watch – a piece of handmade art made by expert craftsmen, a statement not only of class but of refinement. Others will see it as a luxury that isn’t essential when you can buy a nice Casio that tells the time just as well.
Casio fans…fear not!
If you feel pissed because you just got a FA-003 or a FA-002, have no fear as you can buy the cups separately except for the OW model! How cool is that?! Do you want a color they don’t have? Fischer Audio says “Fear not!” for they are willing to work with you!!!! What company does that nowadays!!! Best of all, you can rest assured that these will be HAND MADE FOR YOU! I was told that there is literally no stock on these as they are all individually hand made for each order. That’s impressive!
Here are the designs as quoted to me by Fischer Audio:
3-stepped inner amphitheater:
Alder (Light Beige)
Beech (Light Brown)
8-stepped inner amphitheater:
Beech (Old Wood)
If I find or recieve something that sucks, I won’t write a review about how much it sucks but I don't mind saying it in a thread or in a PM. Why put out more negativity than what’s out there by writing a big negative review? However, if I am impressed, I can’t wait to share it with you guys. Such is the case with the FA-002W-OW! I can highly recommend these simply by the beautiful craftsmanship. They look really nice and darn sexy in person. The pictures simply don't do them justice. Add to that the refined natural and lusciously smooth sound and they are sure to please many people. I know I was pleasantly surprised by the improvement in the sound quality. Oh…and my gosh….did I mention that the vocals on these are just superb. Vocal fans…meet your new best friends!
HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Edited by LFF - 10/26/10 at 9:27pm