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Review: Final Audio Design Piano Forte X-G

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Review: Final Audio Design Piano Forte X-G

First I would like to thank Robin at hifiheadphones for sending me this sample for review, I will write as honest a review possible, and these received more than 100hrs of burn-in, they smoothed out a little so don't judge them straight out the box.

Gear Used:
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > Silver LOD > JDS Labs O2 > PF X-G



Packaging, build quality and accessories:
Packaging is similar to the Heaven VI, a black box with snake skin type texture, the PF box has a white paper sleeve around this with gold string holding it in place, it has the specs and other info on it. The box feels very high quality, and when you open it you are presented with green cloth, Japanese patterns. You unfold this to find the gold, round metal carry case, inside this neatly placed are the PF. Very high quality packaging with a premium feel and when you open the box it is very neatly packaged.



Build quality, well the housing is full metal and feels very solid, the cable is a little on the thin side but covered in fabric and has a very nice texture. There is no flexible strain relief where the cable goes in to the housing, it has a L jack with sufficient strain relief, and a very simple small plastic y-split with no chin slider. Overall they feel well built but the cable I think is their weakest point,

Accessories included, only one, a carry case which is metal and very strong but heavy, also it takes a while to put the PF in and wind the cable up. I would have liked to see a wax cleaning tool at least as well.



Comfort, isolation, driver flex and cable noise:
Comfort with the PF's is very subjective as some have no problem with their very odd housing and fit, others hate it. Luckily I can wear them for prolonged periods of time with no discomfort, the housing is metal, with a metal nozzle and no silicone tips to create a full seal. They are a mix between IEM's and Earbuds and with no tips to change I see why some people have problems. Once they heat up to body temperature, they are comfy for hours, even though the housing is heavy.

Being vented and also non sealing IEM's the isolation is not very good so they are not really good for noisy situations, they are definitely more suited for home listening.

Driver flex is not a problem as they are vented and they don't create a tight seal when inserted.

Cable noise is not a problem either, the cable is very soft and flexible and transmits no noise.



Sound:

The sound of these is different to anything you will ever hear, they have a very unique sound and presentation. The lows are full bodied with great separation and articulation, they don't have huge impact, but they sound realistic. They also may not have the best extension, but you never feel like your missing any part of the music.

The mids is what everyone talks about on the PF series, and they have reason. Prior to this the Heaven VI had the best mids I have ever heard, now these have taken the title, FAD know what they are doing when it comes to the mids. Very lush smooth presentation, very realistic, again the timbre is spot on. They never sound edgy or shouty, never sound nasal or overly warm. They just sound right, with no major dips of humps, guitars be it acoustic or electric are portrayed as they should be, acoustic guitars with the correct reverberation and resonance, electric guitars with excellent clarity and power. They also have amazing detail and texture without sounding cold or analytical.

The highs also may not have the best extension but timbre is there, decay is perfect and they are smooth and very well controlled. The highs I have the least to say about as they just do everything right.

Soundstage is very enveloping, wide and deep with excellent sense of space, very open.
Instrument separation is equally good with nothing sounding too congested.



Conclusion, as you can see I am impressed, I am pushed to find flaws, I can't even say the fit is bad, as it isn't. With the sound, maybe a little more extension on both ends, but as is they truly are spectacular. All this comes with a price though, they are expensive, and are not the best all rounder and would not be good as your sole headphone, but to compliment an already great collection they are something special. They are unique in design and sound, they may not be the most technically proficient headphones, but musically they are spectacular with the right music.
Pair these with a nice amp and some well recorded jazz/classical/slow rock and sit back, you will be overwhelmed by the honest, realistic presentation. You will hear your albums in a way you never thought possible.

Warning this was a very positive review, as I think they are unique and special, not because they are expensive and a niche product.

These get a sound perfection rating of 10/10 the top at the moment, and I cannot see anything taking their place any time soon.



Tracks Used:
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)
post #2 of 5

Thanks for sharing your impressions, you convey your appreciation very nicely.

 

As soon as I spotted the Piano Forte series, I knew I wanted it almost despite how it would sound (knowing FAD, it couldn't be that bad). However, due to recent experiences, my biggest gripes with any IEM or OEM is the cable. I can see this one isn't replaceable, and that was the second thing I noticed with these ones. You've had it for a few months now, can you tell me a little bit about what type of use the X-G's have gone through and your thoughts on the cables longevity?

 

It's possible you aren't around to answer this, but I'll take my chances :)

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Of course I'm around to answer :)

 

To be honest they haven't been used a lot, but I do use them on occasion and also they got passed around a few people at hifiheadphones. The cable has not showed any signs of failing, and if you go to the Final Audio Design appreciation thread many people have had the PF series for a long time with no problems. The cable is a little on the thin side but very strong, I would not worry about the build quality as it is pretty solid.

 

Everytime I do listen to them, I am amazed at how well they portray certain genres, and they will always be a place for them in my collection.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by ostewart View Post

Review: Final Audio Design Piano Forte X-G

First I would like to thank Robin at hifiheadphones for sending me this sample for review, I will write as honest a review possible, and these received more than 100hrs of burn-in, they smoothed out a little so don't judge them straight out the box.

Gear Used:
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > Silver LOD > JDS Labs O2 > PF X-G



Packaging, build quality and accessories:
Packaging is similar to the Heaven VI, a black box with snake skin type texture, the PF box has a white paper sleeve around this with gold string holding it in place, it has the specs and other info on it. The box feels very high quality, and when you open it you are presented with green cloth, Japanese patterns. You unfold this to find the gold, round metal carry case, inside this neatly placed are the PF. Very high quality packaging with a premium feel and when you open the box it is very neatly packaged.



Build quality, well the housing is full metal and feels very solid, the cable is a little on the thin side but covered in fabric and has a very nice texture. There is no flexible strain relief where the cable goes in to the housing, it has a L jack with sufficient strain relief, and a very simple small plastic y-split with no chin slider. Overall they feel well built but the cable I think is their weakest point,

Accessories included, only one, a carry case which is metal and very strong but heavy, also it takes a while to put the PF in and wind the cable up. I would have liked to see a wax cleaning tool at least as well.



Comfort, isolation, driver flex and cable noise:
Comfort with the PF's is very subjective as some have no problem with their very odd housing and fit, others hate it. Luckily I can wear them for prolonged periods of time with no discomfort, the housing is metal, with a metal nozzle and no silicone tips to create a full seal. They are a mix between IEM's and Earbuds and with no tips to change I see why some people have problems. Once they heat up to body temperature, they are comfy for hours, even though the housing is heavy.

Being vented and also non sealing IEM's the isolation is not very good so they are not really good for noisy situations, they are definitely more suited for home listening.

Driver flex is not a problem as they are vented and they don't create a tight seal when inserted.

Cable noise is not a problem either, the cable is very soft and flexible and transmits no noise.



Sound:

The sound of these is different to anything you will ever hear, they have a very unique sound and presentation. The lows are full bodied with great separation and articulation, they don't have huge impact, but they sound realistic. They also may not have the best extension, but you never feel like your missing any part of the music.

The mids is what everyone talks about on the PF series, and they have reason. Prior to this the Heaven VI had the best mids I have ever heard, now these have taken the title, FAD know what they are doing when it comes to the mids. Very lush smooth presentation, very realistic, again the timbre is spot on. They never sound edgy or shouty, never sound nasal or overly warm. They just sound right, with no major dips of humps, guitars be it acoustic or electric are portrayed as they should be, acoustic guitars with the correct reverberation and resonance, electric guitars with excellent clarity and power. They also have amazing detail and texture without sounding cold or analytical.

The highs also may not have the best extension but timbre is there, decay is perfect and they are smooth and very well controlled. The highs I have the least to say about as they just do everything right.

Soundstage is very enveloping, wide and deep with excellent sense of space, very open.
Instrument separation is equally good with nothing sounding too congested.



Conclusion, as you can see I am impressed, I am pushed to find flaws, I can't even say the fit is bad, as it isn't. With the sound, maybe a little more extension on both ends, but as is they truly are spectacular. All this comes with a price though, they are expensive, and are not the best all rounder and would not be good as your sole headphone, but to compliment an already great collection they are something special. They are unique in design and sound, they may not be the most technically proficient headphones, but musically they are spectacular with the right music.
Pair these with a nice amp and some well recorded jazz/classical/slow rock and sit back, you will be overwhelmed by the honest, realistic presentation. You will hear your albums in a way you never thought possible.

Warning this was a very positive review, as I think they are unique and special, not because they are expensive and a niche product.

These get a sound perfection rating of 10/10 the top at the moment, and I cannot see anything taking their place any time soon.



Tracks Used:
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)

How do these differ from the VIII that you reviewed in another post? Obviously the price is over twice as much, do you think they are worth twice as much as the previous model? Also how do they sound with EDM? I notice that you mention Jazz and Classical, does that mean they are not taht great with EDM and are they not forgiving of bad recordings like the VIII?


Edited by baronkatz - 5/8/14 at 2:49pm
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have not tried the VIII

These are not really suited for EDM or most modern rock/pop.
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