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Final Audio Design Adagio First Impressions (and comparison with MDT and Atrio X)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

RIMG1144.JPGRIMG1147.JPG

            Last week I stumbled across the new FAD Adagio line in Nagoya. I had remembered reading about them recently but had forgotten they had come out. Anyways, I was intrigued both by the style and the price.

            I have been a fan of FAD for awhile, since I purchased my since dearly departed FI-BA-SS nearly two years ago! I loved their sound, and have auditioned the A-1 several times (ultimately picking up the EQ-5) as I overall found the sound of the little siblings too compromised from the amazing rawness of the FI-BA-SS.

            The Adagio being an affordable dynamic intrigued me. Especially since they feature the mysterious BAM (Balancing Air Movement) present in the FI-BA-SS and other BA models. Dynamics with the BAM? How would they sound?

            3 models are available, the Adagio II (4000yen), Adagio III (6000yen) and Adagio V (12,000yen). The II and III feature a similar plastic construction and stylish if unexceptional styling. The Adagio V have an EQ-5-like design with quite gaudy chrome playing, but I almost immediately crossed them off my list as I could not get a decent fit with them. I sold my EQ-5s because I found the fit ultimately mediocre, especially over-the-ear, but the Adagio V are longer and even more cumbersome. Since fit is a huge issue for me I abandoned them quickly and went for the cheaper II and III.

            Comparing the two in the shop I noticed quite a difference. Information at the shop recommended the II for Jazz and the III for Rock/Pop, and I can see why. The II were MUCH more polite, smooth, but IMHO unremarkable and lacked any real strengths.

            The Adagio III, by contrast was MUCH warmer, brighter, and just more engaging. Interestingly the III has the BAM, while the II does not….

            So anyways I went with the III, as I found the II to be nothing special. The III had a raw energy that intrigued me, and brought back tantalizing memories of my FI-BA-SS

 

adagioIII_21.jpg

 

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES;

            Quite skimpy, sadly typical of FAD. With this cheaper offering, you don’t even get a case, just 3 sets of silicone eartips. The tips are great though, and seal well.

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BUILD QUALITY

            Acceptable. The cord is thin, but actually slightly superior to the flimsy one on the A1, with a nice L-plug and adequate strain reliefs on the housing and plug. The earphones themselves are plastic but with a nice classy understated design, and though light, they don’t seem overly cheap. They have a cord slider as well. They are also vented…perhaps with the mysterious BAM?RIMG1149.JPGRIMG1148.JPG

 

FIT:

            They are quite light and angled near the nozzle, and I found them to fit well immediately with the standard tips. They are a bit long so over-the-ear fit is a bit difficult but possible.

 

ISOLATION

            Average, to above for a dynamic phone. About on the same level as my MDT.

 

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS; (pre-burn in)

            On my first night with the Adagio III, on the go and back at home, I did find them quite lively but extremely SIBILANT!!! Although I enjoyed their energy and like warm phones, I was hoping they would settle down…

 

AFTER 30-40hrs BURN-IT

            I gave them a couple days to burn-in, and much to my joy, the sibilance was much less prevalent. They still are definitely warm and have very aggressive treble, but well within my comfort zone. But to describe their signature:

 

BASS

            They have great slam and impact, and quantity is just right. BAM may be a mysterious thing, but whether it is a contributing factor they are quite visceral and pretty much perfect to me on the bottom end.

 

MIDs

            Definitely forward, despite their strong bass and treble, I wouldn’t call them V-shaped. Mids are not as forward as my Shure SE425, for example, but definitely more so than my Monster MD Tribute, which are pretty mid-forward themselves. Mids are a bit vibrant and in your face, reminding me again of some BA earphones such as the SE425 or my old FI-BA-SS

TREBLE:

            A weakness or strength, depending on your opinion. Extension is excellent, but they are warm and somewhat prone to sibilance.


SOUNDSTAGE:

            Maybe their biggest strength! Next to my IE8s (now gone) they might have the biggest soundstage I have EVER heard from IEMs. Out of my Ipod Touch they are good, but out of MacBookPro especially with my Fireye II DAC they have an absolutely AMAZING soundstage.

 

COMPARISON to Miles Davis Tribute and Atrio X:

Monster MDT: MDT is smoother, especially with its buttery mids, but they also sound quite muffled compared to the Adagio III. The MDT is definitely a more liquid, relaxing experience, but the Adagio III is much more fun, and lacks the veil that always makes me tired of the MDT after awhile. 

Atrio X; In a similar price range, I don’t think the Atrio X can compete. It has a more conventional V-shaped signature, with good bass, but lack treble extension and also sounds muffled. It is also a bit smoother than the Adagio, but sounds pedestrian in comparison.

 

 

OVERALL:

            For the price (around $75) I think the Adagio III are pretty much a winner, if you are a fan of their kind of signature. They have a quite “raw” and aggressive sound, with impressive clarity and an amazing soundstage. They seem especially suited to rock, and though I still need more time with them, at more than 1/10 the price I find them to be quite a nice alternative as a “baby brother” to the FI-BA-SS.

            The lack of accessories, especially a case, is disappointing, but in their price range, they are still more than competitive!


 


Edited by takoyaki7 - 12/12/11 at 6:11am
post #2 of 20
Hey takoyaki7, thanks for the nice review write-up of the Adagios. I think you may have mispelt the product name though in your topic title, so you might wanna correct that error.

I have noticed these IEMs as well when I pre-ordered my CK100PROs from JP Fujiya-Avic during late-October as that was roughly the time that these were unveiled in JP. Quite frankly I was caught off-guard by their retail prices as usually the FAD heaven series at least cost abt 300 dollars if I were to import one in after the necessary exchange rates, and they usually retail for 400+SGD and above in one of my local stores here, so I have never really considered them for back-up phones as I already have a few back-up IEMs at the moment in my possession. I think the design and prices of these are quite intriguing though, and since one of my local audio stores here do bring in FAD IEMs, I will be proceeding to audition them once it's available here, and if it fits my tastes then no doubt I will be getting one due to their very attractive pricing. That said, I don't think the Adagio V series will appeal to me as they seem to come with the same design as Ortofon e-Q5s, and the since I didn't like the fit of Ortofon e-Q5 myself naturally I don't think the Adagio V will fit well in my ears, despite that these are still cheaper than the heaven A/S/C series.

Considered myself subscribed. smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for pointing out my mistake Haonan!

 

   And I wasn't a big fan of the EQ-5 fit either (though I tolerated it) and I found the Adagio V quite a bit worse, so I would definitely recommend being a bit wary of those.

 

And I do think the pricing is very attractive especially since FADs build quality quirks (like poor strain reliefs and cables) are really improving. Even little ergonomic touches, like

a dimple on the L earpiece (which my FI-BA-SS didn't have) shows that they are taking the market more seriously and not just making extravagant luxury products.

 

 

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:

 

 

   Microphonics somewhat prevalent wearing cord-down. Also, they scale-up amazingly with any amps that I have tried. Soundstage is still the most remarkable thing about

these IEMs...

post #5 of 20

Got a quick listen to the FAD Adagio line today; most of my impressions were similar to yours with the Adagio V, but my thoughts on the Adagio II were more favorable.

 

I thought that while the Adagio II was a bit unrefined, it had a spacious presentation that reminded me of the Piano Forte X. I agree that it's not as engaging as the Adagio III; everything seems pushed back a few rows in terms of soundspace while the Adagio III is more forward. IEM beginners might actually like the Adagio II more, considering its more relaxed presentation.

 

My thoughts of the Adagio III were about the same as yours, so ditto. I also noticed that both the II and III had significant driver flex when I was putting them in my ears, surprising because both the II and III are vented. Seriously though, FAD has a way of tuning their IEMs to have huge soundstages... I would've never guessed they would have soundstages like what they have judging from their tiny look.

 

As for the Adagio V, my experience was similar; I could not get a good fit with it, and helped put the last nail in the coffin for any thoughts on buying the eQ-5. However, it is significantly more detailed than both the Adagio II and III, and has a presentation that reminds me of an amalgamation between the FI-BA-SA 'Heaven C' and the FI-BA-SS. I think all three share the same material of metal alloy. I wish the Adagio V didn't have those housings... if they only made the metal housing along the same lines as the II and III, they'd be much more appealing.

 

In short, I think the new Adagio line comes a long way in putting FAD in reach of the major market. All three earphones retain a characteristic 'FAD house sound' that remains a love-or-hate affair with most people. The FI-BA-SS remains FAD's crowning achievement in my eyes, though. If only its price were slashed by 50%.... sigh, one can wish.

post #6 of 20

What is the street price over there on the Adagio V? Been wanting to try out the FAD signature and the V seems to be the one that will have the FAD sound, worthy technical ability, a decent build with the slightly better cable, and a fair price.

 

I could check out with MA and Rakuten but if the street price is right maybe also a fellow Head-fier could grab one for me. Might as well give "service fee" to a fellow Head-fier instead of Tenso or the middleman. I would be happy if they are going for ~$140 and then shipping and fee comes to about $175.

 

The Adagio III sounds pretty good and might be cheaper to try but I don't mind the V's housings and would only try the Adagio with the best technical ability. A shame to get a III and have the Thermaltake Isurus be just as good for $20. 

post #7 of 20

Thanks for the review! I've always been intrigued by the FAD mysteriousness. How is the bass extension?

 

@Tomscy2000

Any chance we can get a quick off the top of your head comparison to the GR07? I understand you don't have the Adagios.

post #8 of 20

This is a hard comparison to make; the Adagios are very different in character from the GR07. Both the II and III are a bit 'poofy' with the bass, which is in stark contrast to the tightness the GR07 offers. You can assume that the GR07 outstrips all three in technical ability; the Adagio V comes closest, and is actually quite capable, but has a different signature as it has more of an analytical feel than the GR07. I didn't actually A/B against the GR07, so take these thoughts with a grain of salt.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vwinter View Post

 

@Tomscy2000 Any chance we can get a quick off the top of your head comparison to the GR07? I understand you don't have the Adagios.



 

post #9 of 20

any comparison between this earphone and shure se215?might be getting 1 of those earphones


Edited by rocketair91 - 1/29/12 at 9:59pm
post #10 of 20

Gave these a test run at Jaben Singapore last month... and almost pulled the trigger. Not sure which version it was, but was most likely the III. Agree with takoyaki's review, and I must say that these IEMs really impressed the heck outta me. Test unit was pretty sibilant, almost off-putting but mainly because I wasn't expecting that sort of brightness in a dynamic driver IEM. Bass slam was pretty impressive, offhand I'd say they were about the same quantity and depth as my Atrios without custom tips. The signature was more V-shaped than I'd expected. Being a longtime Atrios user, I'd become quite accustomed to the midrangey character of the Atrios. Even having spent the last 3 months getting used to my Beyer DT1350s which have a relatively flatter and drier presentation, the Adagios still struck me as having much less midrange presence.

 

Rock music was pretty much... rocking... and if the sibilance eases up after burn-in, it should make for very lively and engaging listening. Female vocals suffered a bit from the reduced midrange IMO. But what surprised me was how the Adagios handled instrumental jazz. I ran the Keith Jarrett Trio's "Out of Towners" album and almost pulled the trigger after a minute. The Adagios brought out more sweet high end than I remember, and the low end provided a firmness and muscularity to the reproduction that I've yet to encounter with any of my other headphones & earphones so far. The only reason why I didn't pull the trigger was because I didn't need the Adagios... but I sure as heck want em! 

 

On a completely shallow note, I must say that the Adagios are dead fugly, compared to some of Final Audio's other offerings. I must admit to being a bit turned off when I first saw em. The sound sig pretty much makes up for all that though ;)

post #11 of 20

I just got the Adagio III today and I have to say I absolutely love it. Upgrading from my previous EP-630 it's just so much nicer. However I found the stock tips not so comfortable for me. I get the best sounding from the larger pair of eartips but it's somewhat itchy to my ears (my previous EP-630's eartips are softer and thus sit more comfortably inside my ears). I read that the Sony Hybrid eartips are good so I'm just thinking if they will fit and is it worth buying them to replace the stock eartips?

post #12 of 20

Bump, anyone?

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by caspersky View Post

I just got the Adagio III today and I have to say I absolutely love it. Upgrading from my previous EP-630 it's just so much nicer. However I found the stock tips not so comfortable for me. I get the best sounding from the larger pair of eartips but it's somewhat itchy to my ears (my previous EP-630's eartips are softer and thus sit more comfortably inside my ears). I read that the Sony Hybrid eartips are good so I'm just thinking if they will fit and is it worth buying them to replace the stock eartips?


I haven't listened to them in a while, but those stock tips definitely aren't the most comfortable. Unfortunately, I never tested out hybrids on the III. It might muddy up the bass more, which can already get a teeny bit boomy.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post

Unfortunately, I never tested out hybrids on the III. It might muddy up the bass more, which can already get a teeny bit boomy.


You can shorten the hybrid's stem for better treble and less bass boom, if they sound too dark and congested. I'll get the Adagio V in a few days and try them with the hybrids, don't know whether the III or V are comparable though.

post #15 of 20

Hmm, I'm still looking for a ported, open style IEM.  So this has similar isolation the MDs and driver flex?  I would presume less so by comparison?

 

1-Resolution and SS-how do the II's compare to the EX600 and 1000?  Closer to which would you say?  Or use any other IEM if those don't work.

 

2-How's the low volume dynamics?

 

3-Are they open enough to maintain a conversation and perceive your environment with low volume?

 

4-How much information are they missing compared to the SS if you could guess.  They 80% of the SS?  

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