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