Fischer Audio is known for their great Audio Eterna IEM, which managed to deliver a “full” sound without compromising much the rest of the spectrum. This time, I’m going to review their second version of their widely known top IEM, the DBA-02(MkII). These are the newer version of the older DBA-02 featuring a new housing, cables, all in all a complete facelift from the old ones. Being the former DBA-02 a staple in their price bracket, I knew these would surprise me in a good way. As I said in my former reviews, my primary musical choices are electronic music, dance, drum and bass and some dubstep. Some say that the former DBA-02 were perhaps a tad too bright for some and lacked some body. Let’s see if either the newer model suffers from those “problems” or if it improves those particular frequency ranges.
Fischer Audio DBA-02 MkII
Impedance 43 Ohm
Cable Length 1.3 m
Accessories Hard case, clip, earguides, 3 pairs (S/M/L) of foamed sony hybrid clones, 2 pairs of sony hybrid clones (M/L), 3 pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L)
Frequency Range 20 - 24000 Hz
Drivers Closed Dual balanced armature
Fischer Audio chose a very appellative case to enclose the IEM, using a black and yellow color scheme. On the top of the case we can see a picture of the DBA-02 mkII themselves. On the sides we can see an earpiece on the right side and the name DBA-02 MkII on the other. On the side which we retract to open, we can see something that reads Master Series, in order to indicate the series these IEM belong. After we open the box, we can see that the IEM are very well cushioned along with all the accessories.
As said above, the first we’re confronted with upon opening the case in which these IEM come, is the earpieces very well cushioned in foam as well 2 pairs of complementary eartips. Upon removing the foam, a plastic bag with earguides is revealed, just like the carrying case. After we remove both foams (the one which sustains the IEM and the other already removed) we can see the carrying case in its full glory. After some further inspection, opening the carrying case reveals some goodies, those goodies being 3 pairs of foamed sony hybrids clones, 2 pairs of sony hybrid clones, 1 pair of tri-flanges, 3 pairs of regular silicone tips (S/M/L) and a shirt clip. The carrying case seems very sturdy and has a compartment for some eartips of your choice, so you can change them on the go. All of the accessories are very well welcomed, although I can’t help feeling that a pair of foam eartips instead of the provided foamed sony hybrids clones (or maybe just let them stay, but add the foamies?), would have been a great addition to the vast accessory repertory of these.
On the first contact, while being extremely lightweight, these feel sturdy for the plastic they’re made off. While I don’t completely trust flat cables (past experiences tell me not to trust these), the cables feel sturdy enough to sustain a certain level of abuse without succumbing. Compared to pictures I have seen of the older DBA-02 model, I can tell that these look much sturdier than the clear two tone plastic, the older model was made from. Going back to the current model, we can see that there isn’t any visible strain relief on either the housings or the jack connection, due to the strain relief being provided by the cable format itself. That being said, both the entering to the jack and the housing, seem to bend enough to sustain some abuse. The Y-splitter, resembles a black barrel with some kind of grey plastic on top of it. The jack connector is made from black plastic with matte finish, just like the housings. The housings also display the name DBA-02 imprinted on the side which stays out of your ear during use. All in all, Fischer Audio seem to have improved the build quality of the DBA-02 in comparison to the older model, because one of the major drawbacks of the older version was the build quality itself. All in all it seems while being sturdy enough, it isn’t a stellar build quality.
One quick note for the eartips provided, they don’t seem perfect all round, they contain some imperfections in the rubber, but the triflanges (which I use) seem good as well as all the other non sony hybrid clones. The carrying case and the earguides present a very good build quality.
These are extremely lightweight, small, and, as the balanced armature they are, there is no need to worry with driver flex, so you can get the best isolation easily. That being said, I have found that the best eartips for me with these, amongst the provided, are the tri flanges. They seem to provide the best sound as well as the best isolation. On comfort, due to being very lightweight, these are easily one of the most comfortable IEM I have ever tried, although being slightly betrayed by the flat cable which isn’t one of the best on what concerns to over the ear use. But after a few hours using these, you begin getting used to the cable and it becomes no longer an annoyance. Another note on comfort, you can forget you are using these, but they shouldn’t be very good for sleeping phones, because they protrude slightly from your ears. But, all-in-all, great comfort.
On isolation, these can be shoved inside your ears very deeply so isolation is just as good. Without music these reduce a lot the outside world sound (really muffled), and with music on they isolate really well. But of course, this depends on how much you insert them inside your ear in order to produce greater isolation. But since there are designed (or so I think) to work with deep insertion, these have a great isolation, more than enough for crowed places or noisy environments like metro.
Overall, these have a great ratio on what concerns to comfort and isolation.
Source – Rockboxed Sansa Clip +, laptop (LG R400), TMN A1 (Huawei Pulse)
Files Used – 256 to 320 kbps and FLAC
Being balanced armatures I didn’t expect many changes (or even none) on what concerns to sound quality. Even though, I let them burn in for about 50 hours to see if there might be some hidden quality in them.
My burn-in consists in pink noise along with a playlist that is composed of the songs I usually hear on my daily basis.
Being balanced armature, these don’t need an amp to sound loud, but will they improve with one? I am still yet to find out, because I still don’t have one! Moving on to what matters, the sound.
On one quick note, I think that the lower range (or perhaps me getting used to these) has become tighter with burn-in.
These DBA-02 MkII have pretty much been my first contact with an high end IEM, so what I have heard other IEM do in my former reviews, these do it better indubitably than them.
Starting on the overall tone of these, I can feel a balanced sound with the most forward mid range I have ever came across. These have a feel of air, without having the lack of bass (I was expecting a lower quantity of bass, from what I have heard from feedback of balanced armatures), and extending very high on the high range.
On the lower-end, we can feel bass that hits not that hard (but nowhere as low as I thought it would be), with texture and extension to pleasure pretty much anyone (who isn’t looking for skull shaking bass). The texture and extension provide the much needed basis for bass lines to become epic (such as Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.) without changing the rest of the spectrum. It also has bass that goes deep enough for those low-end Dubstep listeners to be pleased.
The mids are simply one of the best things these IEM have to offer since I hadn’t heard any IEM that could deliver vocals like these can. It is kind of like we can hear anything that goes on the singer’s voice, like a faint, the breathing pauses, anything. And also these have a nice bodied mid range, so listening to these to artists that have an incredible voice (since I have recently surrendered to Adele, I have been pretty much “Rolling in the Deep” with these). It seems that they manage to reproduce the vocals so faithfully. Also these have also make me re-listen to Rock. (Down with the sickness from disturbed sound really great in these). Also, due to the air that they have all throughout the spectrum, they are great for live versions of songs, since you can close your eyes and, due to their imaging, imagine that you’re in the audience, in the second/third row. Of course, you need to get concerts with a good mastering and nice source files.
Moving on to what they say it was the older version “welcoming card”, the high-end. These can get really high, extending really well, but I haven’t heard the excessively present treble that the older version was supposedly known for. I mean, the upper range is pretty good, the cymbals feel crisp and on spot, but not they don’t seem nothing like the older versions was described. Although, this might be a good thing, because while the older version was a hate/love case, this new one might be a little bit tamed for those who didn’t like it so much. All in all, good high-end, extending well, feeling crisp and with a good resolution without an overdone feeling to it.
Another thing these do very well is the instrument separation. For example, now when hearing metal or some constricted rock, I can tell one instrument from the other, not a big blob of sound like many other IEM. Also separation is very well complemented by the positional accuracy of these, for example on live concerts we can close our eyes, and know which instrument is playing and where it is playing. The great positional accuracy along with the very good instrument separation are also helped by a fairly good soundstage, being larger in width than it is in depth.
Overall these have a sound signature that shouldn’t disappoint anyone who is looking for an excellent all rounder IEM, since these don’t have any special emphasis (perhaps on mids) throughout the spectrum. Of course, these shouldn’t be enough for the lovers of the sparkly treble of the older version, but these might do wonder for those who didn’t like the older version treble. These have set my new benchmark for IEM, since they do everything I have heard better.
Music worth listening:
- Adele – Live at the Royal Albert Hall
It is not a simple song, but her whole performance, with these, it is simply amazing one of a kind experience.
I will limit the music worth listening to, to the Adele performance because it is simple a one of a kind experience, at least for me. Of course, these handle very well anything you throw at them, from Dubstep to Metal, passing by Pop.
Fischer Audio had to get it right with this update of the DBA-02, since it was a staple in their price bracket for its sound characteristics. While differing a bit from the older model, Fischer has managed to appeal a broader audience, while maintaining the quality it was known for. Fischer managed to join in one package a good sound that should appeal almost anyone (slightly mid centric), great comfort and isolation (in a literally tiny package) alongside a vast collection of accessories. These have set, as already said before, my new standard for IEM, since I haven’t hear anything as near as good as these.
Fischer Audio have done well with the newer DBA-02 MkII, but the only point where they might fail is the distribution, which was one of the weaknesses of the older version. Luckily, Fischer has certainly learn with its mistakes, and will not do the same again.
All in all, I undoubtedly recommend these for those looking for an higher end, very good all-rounder, that will handle anything they might throw at these.
Fischer Audio DBA-02 Mk
Price: Around 199 $
Site: Currently Fischer Audio only has the older DBA-02 on their site
Thanks to Fischer Audio to let me get a hear of these :)
As known, YMMV, as these only reflect my opinion on these.
Also, any tips on how to improve my reviews are welcomed and don’t be afraid and post any doubts you may have on what concerns to the model, I will do my best to try and help you.
Edited by kiler - 2/21/12 at 4:02am