First of all let me begin this review by saying the FXT90 did not leave a good first impression. I stumbled upon them at Bic Camera a few weeks ago while auditioning several other phones, and gave them a brief listen. My first impressions were that they sounded muddy and distorted. Of course I had just been listening to several Audio Technica IEMs like the CK100/CK10/CK90Pro, so part of that bad first impression might have just been not being ready for their more dynamic signature.
Flash forward to last week, in Bic Camera again, and I decide to give the FXT90 another try. First impression again was they again sounded muddy, compared to the CK90Pro which I had just been listening to. However I gave them more time, tried some other phones, came back, listened again, tried some different tracks, and found myself starting to enjoy their richness and warmth. Considering they were under 10,000yen, and I had points on my card, I decided to take the chance.
On the train ride home I was already starting to enjoy them more and more, though I was still bothered by their relatively thick sound.
Well after more than a week and significant burn-in, they have opened up significantly, although accuracy will never be considered their primary strength!
Packaging & Accessories:
The FXT90 come in a square plastic box with the word TWIN SYSTEM and CARBON NANOTUBE plastered on the front. Inside you get 3 sets of silicone tips, a shirt clip, cable winder, and excellent compact zippered case. For the price pretty much a home run here. The stock tips are good, though I quickly switched to double-flanged silicones which isolate better. The clip and winder are also very nice extras, and absolutely essential as I have been using the FXT90 for my long subway commute.
The FXT90 are made of Carbon, with Carbon nanotubes. The housings look and feel very solid, although their vertical orientation is a bit odd looking. Strain reliefs are good, with the L-plug relief being nicely flexible. The one chink in the armor here is the average cable. It has a plasticky character similar to the TF10 or HJE900 cables, though I will say it is definitely a bit better. It can be a bit tangly and microphonic, though luckily with the cord winder and shirt clip it doesn't become a problem. Length is pretty much perfect at 1.2m.
A strong suit. The housings are angled and can fit very deeply for a dynamic earphone. They can be worn either cord-up or cord-down very comfortably. Isolation is very good as well, as they don't seem to be vented and do a great job blocking out the world on the busy train!
Sound: (including comparisons with MD Tributes and ATH-CKM99)
I will be comparing them to two other dynamic phones, my MD Tributes and recently acquired CKM99. I would love to be able to compare them to the Radius DDM, but I sold mine off some time ago!
Bass: Very good dynamic slam, full and rich. Sub-bass is present but nowhere near the level of the MD. The FXT90 have the least quantity of bass of the 3, especially compared to the MD but the bass has very good presence and texture. And while they are not bass monsters in terms of quantity, they have EXCELLENT impact.
Mids: I find the mids on the FXT90 a bit perplexing, but also absorbing! They seem recessed at times, but also somewhat forward, definitely more so than the CKM99, and slightly less than the MD. This might be due to the very full bass and treble. There is a very warm and liquid quality to the mids, not as clear as the CKM99, but fuller and richer.
Treble: Very, very smooth, if a tiny bit rolled off. Compared to the CKM99 which have bite and a bit of sibilence, or the MD which have a touch of sparkle, the treble is buttery, warm, and smooth just like the rest of their signature.
Soundstage: The FXT90 has a very good soundstage, clearly superior to the CKM99 and MDs. I don't know if this might be due to the dual-drivers, but they remind me a bit of the IE8/DDM soundstage but with deeper insertion!
Overall, the FXT90 are a smooth and fun performer. All 3 of the earphones I compared here are "fun" to me, but amazingly the FXT90 sound full, rich, even aggressive, but with the least drawbacks! was expecting something very unique, but instead their truly standout quality is their smoothness and versatility. They are easy to drive, fit and isolate well, and sound very good with most types of music. By contrast, I find the MDs great with certain genres (electronic, hip hop, jazz) and awful with others (metal, rock). The CKM99 are very, very good IEMs, very transparent for a dynamic, but their treble is also a bit hot, which I know can turn a lot of people off. I wish I could remember my DDMs better, but I know what made me sell them was poor fit and isolation, not the sound, which was quite good.
For their retail price of around 10,000yen ($120) They are definitely a steal. They are certainly worth what I paid for my CKM99 (about $170) and to me a much better value than the Radius DDM if you are planning on using them on the go. If accuracy and transparency are a priority I would lean towards the CKM99, but in every other way the FXT90 pulls ahead! Overall they have a fun and aggressive sound, but with a richness and smoothness that works well across genres and are a solid all-rounder.
Excellent fit and build quality.
warm and liquid mids
smooth, non-fatiguing treble
Thick sound means more "fun" than "accurate"
Playback frequency 8 Hz ~ 25,000 Hz
Sound Pressure Level 107 dB / 1 mW
The maximum allowable input 150 mW (IEC ※)
Code OFC approximately 1.2 m (Y-type), φ3.5 mm stereo gold-plated with 24 L-type
Ear Tips S, M, L
Mass Approximately 6.8 g (without cord)
Edited by takoyaki7 - 5/22/11 at 12:30am