Imagine yourself sipping warm tea while the sound of flowing fountain inside your ears.
That's Flat-4-Sui, an IEM of art.
First and foremost, this IEM has a V-Shaped FR. The mids (especially vocals) are laid back.
The story thus far:
I've been listening on my Shure SE535LTD for quite some time. I kept on thinking that BA-based drivers lack a certain thing. A quality that often presents in a great dynamic-driver IEM. It's not that SE535LTD lacks anything tremendously in terms of sound quality, just that I felt I can't grab the flow of music.
Until I met Flat-4-Sui.
It was a dilemma to choose between Sony EX1000 and Flat-4-Sui ($500 and $700 respectively). It's my intention that I do not venture into Custom IEM yet, and I would like to add an excellent dynamic-driver IEM into my treasure box. And I expelled IE800 from that list as from the impression of the Head-Fi IE800 thread, IE800 has the same house signature of the IE8/IE80 series, which the bass is too strong for my liking. I didn't have the chance to try out JVC HA-FX700, so it's still a mystery to me (will try it some time). When I was about to go for the discontinued EX1k, it was out of stock. That left me with Flat-4-Sui.
The day I received the IEM, I gulped. I was really disappointed with the packaging. There is literally close to zero accessory. Come on Ocharaku, just a pair of Comply T200? No earphone case, no other tips, not even a simple bag? I guess they expect the users to be so carefree that they will store the IEM back into the round aluminium can after use. The housing itself is plastic, and the cable to me is poor. It looks like it can break anytime. My first thought was: I was conned into buying this product!
I plugged the IEM into my ears. Well, my first impression was, certainly this thing doesn't worth that much! My overall feeling was that the sound signature is V-shaped, and reverberation. can be heard on a feel tracks. On some tracks, the sibilance is more apparent and on some, the treble tends to be sharp. Bass is present, extended and controlled. But how could I justify it for skipping EX1k?
Ocharaku is founded by the ex sound engineer in Sony, and well, if you mind going to the website, ocharaku.jp, you'll see information on tea (apparently this dude is into tea and art). http://ocharaku.jp/sound/ is where you approach the product information, and most importantly the engineering concepts behind the IEM's unique design.
Well, the IEM has underwent around 100 hours of burn-in. And well, all I can say is, THAT'S MORE LIKE IT.
Here're some pictures I took:
The Left/Right earpiece is easy to spot by identifying the little hole on the housing. The little hole means it's facing back.
2nd part of the trailer:
Well, it seems to me that the Flat-4-Sui has experience quite a change (not really night and day, but definitely more pleasant to listen to compared to 0 hours).
So, how does it sound?
TL;DR: It is a chameleon.
Well, let's start with the Sound-Stage. The soundstage expands and instruments can be identified more clearly after 100 hours. Every instruments are well placed and there's a good sense of depth on the entire presentation. Flat-4-Sui definitely hasn't a wide staging, but this sentence sometimes is flawed due to the fact that the stage width varies across songs I listened. On some tracks the stage is just like within the head. But on some, particularly Live concerts, instruments can stretch far away from my ears. Some occasional shouting and cheering can be heard far away from me. Flat-4-Sui indeed adapt according to what source you feed to it.
Next, regarding the 3 brothers: Low-Mid-High.
Brother LOW: On tracks that require the presence of bass, Flat-4-Sui presents it well. However, the bass never seem to slam with authority. I felt that the bass is clean, tight, and portrays lots of micro details here and there. Well, on the drums, a soft hit and a hard slam can be distinguished clearly. There's a lot of air moving too. I love how the bass dances on my eardrums. Compared to my SE535LTD, Flat-4-Sui's dynamic driver-made-bass sounds so much natural in terms of the decay and air moved.
Brother MID: The mid is obviously recessed in my ears. It is very laid back. Some micro details in this region may be sacrificed here unless EQ-ed (well, EQing up the mids might just made the listening experience more complete IMO). I'm used to songs by the divas such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, who excel in their high pitch. On both the tracks "All By Myself" by Celine Dion and also "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston, the "screaming" part lacks authority and the shrilling pitch. The way the mid is tuned may be more suitable for male vocals and rocks I guess.
Brother HIGH: I've read some comments on how the highs can be too piercing. Well, to me, who are used to T70-level of torture on the treble, I think the highs on Flat-4-Sui is considerably comfortable to my ears. And here's when the treble presents plenty amount of details which I didn't experience in the SE535LTD, which has audible roll off on the peak.
So, as much as I like Flat-4-Sui, I have high hopes on its elder brother, the Flat-4-KAEDE, which housing is made of maple wood and the air chamber is of different material. I'm really intrigued and hope to listen to it some time, maybe half years later.
For people who would ask for comparison, I have SE535LTD and Sony EX600 with me. The rest I'd try to give my impression(s). The highlight is that it is not just compared, and hold a firm ground to the peers within the same price range (IEM like EX1000, IE80, W4, SE535LTD, etc), but rather it can stand on its own with the big names like FI-BA-SS, AKG K3003, and the giants. I listened to the FI-BA-SS and discussed with another friend who has a vast experience in head-fi-ing, and he agrees that Flat-4-Sui is comparable to FI-BA-SS. Maybe just a touch of lesser refined and FI-BA-SS has a darker, quieter background.
Well, don't take my words like it is. Trust Your Ears, go and experience a WOW from Flat-4-Sui now.
Edited by autumnholy - 12/23/12 at 4:55am