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Fischer Audio Jubilate Review

post #1 of 4
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Introduction

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The past few weeks, I have been thoroughly engaged in listening to Fischer Audio’s new Jubilate headphones and I would like to share my review of these Paduk (sounds exotic, right?) covered headphones. I’d like to thank Fischer Audio for sending these headphones to the US and chris_himself for going out of his way to let me try these headphones.

 

 

First thing first: let me just show the tech specs and some pics here for you all to admire:

Frequency Range:                        10-22000 Hz

Sensitivity:                                     103 dB

Impedance:                                   165 Ohm

Maximum Power Input:              300 mW

Cable Length:                                 3.0 m

Driver Diameter:                           40 mm

Material:                                        Plastic, Wood*

Enclosure Design:                         Half-open

* Paduk for the reviewed pair

 

 

Before I begin the interesting part of the review, I’d like to give you some idea of my biases and tendencies as a listener of music because I do feel that this can have a huge impact on the review. As someone who plays three instruments fluently, has been a musician for over 15 years, and a devoted listener of good music, I prefer that my headphones reproduce frequencies true to the intent of the music (= neutral), do not dissect, anatomize, and parse every bit of the music (= not too analytical), and most importantly, THEY MAKE THE MUSIC SOUND GOOD (= they make the music sound good).

 

I know that last point is true for everyone in this community, but there are expensive headphones that can make good music sound bad. As for my two former opinions, if you modded your Etymotic IEMs with this (http://www.flowerhornusa.com/forums/upload/post-3323-1153005767.jpg), or if you buy headphones based solely on a frequency analysis chart, feel free to read this review, but understand that my biases may unintentionally show through! Personally, I’m writing this review with a focus on the musicality of these headphones and the enjoyment that you might get listening to these.

 

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality

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Kudos to Fischer for the packaging. The headphones came in a foam lined, zipper case that doubles as the consumer packaging. This is a pretty efficient design by Fischer Audio, though the aesthetics are lacking and it is a shame that you don’t get to see the beautiful wood covers before opening up the package. Still, if you have these headphones shipped, they will remain intact for the duration of the journey because of the form fitted foam lining inside of the case. Other headphone manufacturers may provide nicer looking packaging (http://www.head-fi.org/t/628036/which-headphone-has-the-best-packaging), but the case does its job well. We are lovers of music here and some of us would be willing to put our headphones in fecal matter if someone told us it improves the sound. Aesthetics are not important, right?

 

 

 

Thanks to the design of the case, you’ll also have space to keep, drum roll please, all TWO of your accessories!!! Fischer Audio very generously provides a set of velour earpads and a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter. I’m not counting the pleather earpads that are on the headphones from the start or the case, because these are necessary pieces and part of the packaging respectively. Feel free to ding me on this, I’m not entirely sure that’s a fair viewpoint! Really though, Fischer Audio gives you only the essentials, and although entirely unnecessary, it would be nice to get a few extra things as well.

 

 

 

Perhaps the most important aspect of this section of the review is the build quality. Fischer Audio seems to agree because these headphones are built to last, and built to look beautiful. You can see how good these headphones look in the pictures below, but if the pictures don’t do the headphones justice, the following description hopefully does. The Paduk cups show their grain beautifully and Fischer Audio has engraved “Jubilate” in pretty font into the wood. Both sets of earpads are also built to last, and they fit snugly on the headphones. The leather head band is thick and durable with the words “Master Series” printed on top in just the right kind of gold lettering. My personal favorite feature of the build is the replaceable 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable. This should be a standard option on all headphones at this price range, since it means easy cable replacement and modding. I understand that it’s not a rare feature on headphones at this price range, I just appreciate that Fischer Audio did not skip this to cut costs.

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort/Isolation

This is a relatively easy section to write. The Jubilate’s are really comfortable for about 2 hours regardless of which earpads you chose and then slowly become uncomfortable thereafter.  The headphones never become unbearable, but both earpads tend to get warm after sometime. The situation can be alleviated slightly by using the pleather earpads since they retain less heat, but the pads are not as soft and can begin to tire your ears after a little while.  As a result, I find the earpads on Grados or Senns to be nicer, especially since one sits properly on the ear and full size Senns fit fully around the ear. These headphones, at least for my ears, were somewhere in between and rested on the edges of my ears with the drivers almost flush with my ears. On the other hand,  these headphones are really light weight and clamping force is fairly low (though still enough to heat up and hurt your ears after a long time). This is a pleasant contrast to some Sennheiser’s and Ultrasone’s. Although the comfort is not fantastic right now, I’m not convinced that some break-in of the pleather won’t change this entirely. Maybe this will added in an update in the future?

 

Isolation is also modest and helps keep the world out and the music in, though these headphones do not isolate like full sized closed headphones. Even with music playing, voices and street sounds are still audible as with most semi-open headphones.

 

 

 

Sound Quality

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Sources: Macbook Pro, iTunes with Bit Perfect add-on, iPhone 4

* Unfortunately I did not have an amp at the time of this review, and cannot offer any feedback on how these headphones sound with one. If I manage to get an amp, I will update the review with this feedback. Life as a college student means expensive expenses and not so expensive expenses are expensive…

Music: My collection is mostly ALAC with some 256 kbps mp3. The majority of the review is based off of this collection of music, though I have kept a section here for non-lossless music, since I believe that $200 is still within the budget of some non-audiophiles who will not listen to lossless music (i.e. Spotify/Grooveshark/128kbps mp3). So, audiophiles, go ahead and skip that section, but for the few normal people, I hope that this section helps you out.

Notes: The headphones were broken in for 50 hours before reviewing and the pleather pads were chosen because they are more comfortable and produce slightly more bass (much needed).

 

Soundstage/Imaging

These headphones have a slightly better than average soundstage, very similar to Grado headphones in that they place you somewhere from the front to the middle of the stage. As such, music that is meant to be intimate tends to show the soundstage off best. Small band jazz (I’m thinking Miles Davis) comes to mind as an excellent example of soundstage highlighting.  Music that intends to place you in a stadium crowd or on a wide stage tends to get limited by the size of the Jubilate’s soundstage as it is neither very deep nor very wide. In fact, I feel that the width and depth are very average and will not highlight pieces that place instruments very far from the listener.

 

The imaging, on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant, and instruments are placed exactly where they should be. When first listening to the headphones, you notice that the front and center instrument(s) are placed incredibly well right in front of you. Further listening shows how instruments to the left and right also placed very well. Small fills and melodies played by these panned instruments draw your attention briefly away to the left and right much as you would expect in a live concert.

The result captures the best parts of the mastering while truly highlighting the music: Instruments front and center grab your attention while instruments to the left and right carry the song forward, drawing interest through panned harmonies, opposite counter melodies, and separated drums. This is exactly how the instruments should be placed, and it really brings the best out in songs that were mastered well.

 

Bass

Of the three frequency ranges, these headphones have the hardest time reproducing bass well, especially in involved arrangements. True to neutral or analytical headphones, the bass is fairly quick and accurate through low (enough) frequencies. Of course, true to neutral headphones, the Jubilate does not overwhelm the sound signature with bass. As mentioned earlier,  the Jubilate’s bass shines in music that has very little movement occurring in the bass frequencies. With simple movements such as Miles Davis’ “So What” (Sorry to bring this example up again), the bass line that guides the front half of the piece is very detailed, quick, and textured. In contrast, a more complex arrangement with multiple bass guitars, heavy kick drums, and a low frequency organ can really muddy up the bass frequencies. In these situations, you first notice that the textures of those bass instruments immediately disappear, but some detail is also lost throughout the frequency spectrum (not the highs so much) since the headphones are not quite quick enough to handle it all. In a sense, this can be a good thing because, in turn, the bass tends to move a little more air, making the bass simultaneously detailed and fun.

Still, I find that the “muddying” of what modest bass there is in complex arrangements limits these headphones to shine only in simple songs.  

 

Mids

The Jubilate’s do mids second best. The mids are incredibly detailed and are imaged the best of all frequencies. As a result, lead guitars, vocals, solo instruments, etc. all come through beautifully right in front of you with incredible detail. The Jubilate’s do a remarkable job of conveying the timbres and textures of the mid-centric instruments. Coldplay’s “Amsterdam” is an incredible example of this. You can hear the sound of Chris Martin’s fingers pressing the keys on the piano and the slight distance of the piano from the listener.  Soon after, Chris Martin’s voice comes in, and the vocals are suddenly haunting, something I have not heard through and IEMs, or Ultrasones. You can hear that Martin’s is singing very close to the mic, hearing every breath. You can tell that his mouth is dry and you can catch the amount of breath put into each syllable (If you want intimate, this headphone does it…). But in a similar way, John Mayer’s opening guitar solo on “Gravity” from “Where the Light Is,” Boston’s solos on “Peace of Mind,” and the horns section in the Jurassic Park theme all sound incredible as well.

In fact, the mids tend to falter in that they tend to all sound good in the same way. Many mid-centric instruments tend to get drawn towards the middle of the stage unintentionally and lose their placement in the piece. They tend to draw more attention than intended and this can interfere with the quality of the song, though very rarely. Truly, this is a minor problem, as the headphones do a great job with a mids, and it is not a horrible thing that the mids draw your attention away from other frequencies.

 

Highs

Sweet, singing highs. These headphones do a fantastic job with the high frequencies. The detail here is stunning, and does not get affected by the arrangements like the bass. Although the extension is not sky high (at least from what I’m hearing), the range of frequencies produced is more than enough to capture the details and essence of the music. More importantly, what frequencies are produced are musical, detailed, and show texture very well.  Only occasionally, and usually briefly, do the headphones become sibilant. It’s hard to address as a notable weakness to these headphones, as the sibilance almost never takes away from the music, and really is a minor complaint for headphones in this price range.  I don’t have any lengthy descriptions or examples here because, simply put, the headphones reproduce highs well in almost all music, regardless of the genre or arrangement.

 

Poor Recordings/Low Quality File Formats

Let me be straight. These headphones make bad recordings sound terrible. Recordings that avoid panning instruments, over compress the dynamics, or do not have well recorded instruments sound bad on most headphones and sound terrible on the Jubilates. That being said, if you’re the kind of person that can hear these things, you probably don’t listen to this music anyways.

Low quality file formats are clearly identifiable with these headphones, though they do not sound bad. If you have a large section of your library in *insert compressed format here*, these headphones will make it sound good, but if you get these headphones, you’ll know why lossless is great.

 

 

Conclusion

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The Fischer Audio Jubilate is a fantastic headphone for only $180-200 for certain listeners. If you listen to a lot of small band jazz, string quartets, 3 piece rock bands, or any intimate music, these headphones will sound much more expensive. If you listen to arena rock, death metal with 15 lead guitars, epic concertos, or Dubstep, these will sound like $125 headphones. If you dabble in both, these headphones still come recommended because they respond well to equalization, and they are very neutral in sound signature.  The extra features such as the aesthetics (great) and the accessories (not so great) are good enough that they do not detract at all from these headphones. In short, I recommend these beautiful headphones to the casual listener, the audiophile, and the music lover alike because these headphones make music sound good.

 

 

Packaging:  8/10

Accessories: 5/10

Build Quality: 9/10

Comfort: 6/10

Isolation: 6/10

Soundstage: 7/10

Imaging: 9/10

Bass: 6/10

Mids: 9/10

Highs: 10/10

 

* Note that these ratings are given with price in consideration.

 


Edited by sav9797 - 10/4/12 at 9:08pm
post #2 of 4

Heya,

 

Nice looking headphones. I dig anything woodback and especially closed back. Interesting comments and perceptions, so thanks for taking one for the team with this headphone. Looks like a different FA011 in a way. Doesn't sound at all like my cup of tea. But interesting none the less.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

Heya,

 

Nice looking headphones. I dig anything woodback and especially closed back. Interesting comments and perceptions, so thanks for taking one for the team with this headphone. Looks like a different FA011 in a way. Doesn't sound at all like my cup of tea. But interesting none the less.

 

Very best,


Yeah, from what I've read, these really aren't quite like the FA011. These are definitely more detail oriented where as those are slightly more "fun." Even then though, with a bit of modest EQ, these really open up as a casual headphone and are actually really fun to listen to.

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by sav9797 View Post




Thanks for the info. I don't have any D2000 pads lying around, but I might consider buying them if you think it was worth it? Sorry for the late response here, but I'm just curious as a fellow Jubilate listener.


JMoney audio is selling out is last D2000 handmade leather pads as we speak , till wednesday that is.
I bought them already , that's why the spare pads. They are very comfortable.
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