Fischer Audio Tandem Review
My first real love of any IEM was that of the Fischer Audio DBA-02, it was like nothing I had ever heard before at the time and it made me just want to try more IEMs to see what else there was to offer. I had actually had a hard time at first finding something better but eventually it did happen. Now I have decided to revisit Fischer Audio and from a dual balanced armature in the DBA-02 I have moved to a dual dynamic with the Tandem. Again this is a rather cheap IEM at roughly £70, which is not bad, and even more so for the technology you get included.
Now I have gone to experience a second IEM from a company I like to be heavily disappointed such as with TDK. I loved the BA200 and the tried the BA100 to find nothing of the same quality so with these I am not expecting these to live up to the DBA-02 and there cheaper price of £75 nor am I expecting the same signature but I am hoping to find what they do very pleasant.
The set-up I have used is the normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier and Audioengine D1 DAC. I have also added the GoVibe Mini-Box Amp to some set ups.
After a long time finding the ideal tips for these, I settled on the stock small bored medium single flanges.
The design of these is pretty unique but for that reason it works for me. The housings are a mix of black and grey but they then have these large circles on them that not only signify what channel they are (red for right and blue for left) but add a nice splash of colour to the earphones and add something different to them. Other than the coloured circles these are pretty low profile in design.
There is nothing to worry about with the build quality of these. They start with a nice 45 degrees jack that is rather recessed so will not struggle with iPhone cases and the housing is slim, solid and combined with a nice flexible strain relief. The cable is not the thickest but does have a coating of material, which adds a nice load of strength to it as well as a good feel. The y-split is low profile and solid and there is a cable cinch, which is great.
The housings are all plastic and do lack a strain relief with the cable going straight into the housings. The two parts of the housing are joined nice and plush and nothing feels weak. There is a port on the back of the housing and the nozzle is short and sturdy. Other the strain reliefs missing on the housing these tick all my boxes.
I love the accessories that you get with these and not just because they cover all the bases (because they don’t) but also because what they do give you they give you it at its best.
The case is okay, a velvet drawstring pouch, and although it is not going to protect from anything major and is far from crush proof it does look nice and will stop scratches.
Now the real reason for the opening statement was the tip selection that you get as it is not uncommon knowledge that you can tweak the sound you get from earphones by changing the tips. Well to make sure that just about everyone is happy and will be getting the best sound, isolation and comfort that they could want. This is because the offer an awesome variety of very good tips. You get a pair of triple flanges, which offer the best isolation, but people may find them a bit intrusive and therefore un-comfy so you have a compromise of isolation and comfort in a pair of dual flanges. The last 6 pair are all silicon single flanges but in two types (both types come in small, medium and large). The first type is a small bore (opening at the end of the tip) and the second type is a large bore design. This is great as both offer a slightly different sound and each individual could lean to either one, I personally like the small bore tips.
Finding a good fit with these is a bit more on the awkward side of things. It is hard to find a good fit of the ball and you will know you do not have one from an obvious emptiness to the sound and lack of bass. Luckily this is when all the different tips come in handy and I went from the double and triple flange tips to the medium larger bore tips and then final the small bored medium single flange. Now these are made to be worn cable down yet the weird shaped housing of these makes it hard to get them to sit properly yet by wearing these over the ear the fit and just fine. It took a while but by using the small bore single flanged and wearing the cable over the ear you know that you have the right fit as the sound is full and the bass present and they are a bit deeper into your canal.
The way you wear these is also affected by the wearing style and I found they sat in my ear wrong when worn cable down and it was rather annoying and uncomfortable. Fortunately when you swap wearing style to over the ear, these become a lot more comfortable. They sit in your ear much better and their shallow insertion is not intrusive. Lastly because of their all-plastic housing they are not heavy and never get fatiguing due to weight.
The isolation of these is subpar. The insertion depth is shallow and there is also a small vent on the back of the housings and together they do let a bit of ambient noise to leak in. Not an unbearable amount that will make these pointless out the home but not convenient for any huge traveler.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
As you must have gathered by now I wear these over the ear and by wearing them this way there is no cable noise what so ever, I mean none. Fortunately if you do decide that you want to wear these with the cable down there is only the tiniest amount.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
Soundstage and instrument separation
The soundstage is elegant and airy and oh so open. The width is just above average and out you ears comfortable and these make great use of the imagery with the right and left channels. The height is rather impressive and I say this as height of the soundstage is not something that ever really stands out for me with IEMs and I normally only look out for height and depth. The depth on these is fantastic and completes the three dimensional sound.
Instrument separation is very nice and the airy feel keeps everything apart from each element.
The bass is very pleasant as well as being casual and with the amount of bass heavy headphones becoming popular these days; I found the tandems to be like a breath of fresh air. It is actually rather small in quantity for a dynamic driver and only a little bit more than what you get with a BA IEM. The quality is great but very dependent on what people want. For me it works. It is very tight and extremely tight; these features resemble a BA IEM. What is not though is punchy or great with impact and it is rather soft and laid back. If you want any sort of big impact or slam then these are not the way to go but if you want a pleasant and casual bass then these going to be more and more appealing for you. Just do not expect any thing huge in the mid-bass section.
The sub-bass is again dependent on what you want. I found these actually reach low but they do so in a different way as they did not rumble yet they were flat from mid-bass regions down to the sub-bass and the bass on a whole was full.
I am a self proclaimed mid-head and I am going to label these a mid-centric IEM even thought the mids are not really at all that forward. I would say they do sit a tad above the other frequencies but only by the slightest. Just like the bass though, everything is soft and relaxed and there is great air throughout. The vocals are soft and lush with a lack in energy yet a very true and textured sound with great tone, which is very enjoyable and never dull. Timbre in the mids again is all nice but with that soft impact and touch and that works well enough with strings and the likes but drums can just seem to lack a tad of oomph which can be a tad wrong. Now I will normally say a IEM is bright, dark, warm or cold but these are non really but that would normally mean dry and these are not that either. The details are great and these are actually rather revealing, now DBA-02 but should satisfy most people who care about hearing every last detail.
Treble is faultless most of the time. Presence is all there, as is extension and there are no prominent points, which cause absolutely no sibilance, are harshness, everything is perfectly smooth. There is not too much energy again and although fully extended I will not say these really sparkle. The detail is just okay in my opinion and there is nothing wrong with that. They do not hold much excitement but are so damn silky smooth.
These did not disappoint and for me I have now had a 100 percent success rate with Fischer Audio IEMs. So who should get these? Well they are not offensive in any area and I can see absolutely everyone falling in love with them. Not only do you get a great package with nice accessories, build, comfort and microphonics all being covered you get a beautiful and chilled sound that will NEVER become fatiguing will keep you satisfied until the end of time. For £75 it would just be mad not to give them a go.