Thanks, might give them a try
- 231 Posts. Joined 1/2010
- Location: Rome, Italy
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Have been enjoying these woodies with my new DX90 for a few days... really nice, organic and intimate vocal sound
And bass is awesome too!
Although I prefer them strictly for vocals and some other modern genres. As for classical, they are rather lacking of air and upper treble extension.
After hearing all the hype about the woodies I was really tempted to try them out myself. Went to Stereo in Singapore to give these a try and here are my impressions
Source - Samsung Galaxy S3, Default Music player app
Files: 320kbps MP3, some contemporary R&B ballad tracks from Kpop groups I like (Exo, Super Junior KRY, SM the Ballad)
EQ settings: Rotating between Normal, Auto and Tube Amp Effect EQ on the Samsung Galaxy S3. Personally I swear by the Tube Amp Effect EQ as it makes almost everything earphone I have sound better (more bass quantity, wider soundstage, louder, more forward and 'meatier' vocals)
Tips: Spiral Dot tips, Large
Fit, Comfort, Build
The FX850 did not wow me at first listen, and the fit is something to be desired. While the fit is firm, they protrude out of my ears enough to make me wonder if they may fall off (especially considering their weight) if I listen to music while walking. The tips seal well but the overall fit for me is a little awkward (Coming from Ety HF3s, MH1cs and GR07 Mk 1) As my listening is usually done on my phone only (Amp+phone +skinny jeans +moving around = either your pants pocket or your player/Amp has to give), I wouldn't think I can enjoy these on the move. The size of the phone also seems to suggest wind noise will be an issue when walking quickly.
The build is solid though, no questions from me there and it does look aesthetically pleasing.
The environment was a little noisy (I could hear the melody and lyrics from music played at the store) so do take my impressions with a pinch of salt. The set I demoed was said to have been burnt in for 200 hrs.
Isolation is comparable to my GR07s, and the main thing that struck me when listening was how forward the bass is on the FX850. The bass is positioned in front of the vocals and that made listening to the vocals more difficult, as though I had to peer through the bass to listen to the vocals which is what I usually listen to. The bass is visceral on another Kpop dance track I played. I auditioned the DUNU DN 1000s 5 mins before going to this store and the bass levels were similar. Bass has authority and extension downwards like the Dunu DN 1000s and hit hard when needed. Both the DN 1000 and FX850 has higher quantity of bass than the GR07 (which also had a leaner, more one dimensional sounding bass) and nearly brought out the basshead in me :D. The rumble and authority of the bass is definitely something to experience. If blunt force trauma to the head reduces your IQ, I wouldn't recommend listening to the FX850 or DN1000 with bass eq'ed up while studying.
Focusing on listening to the vocals, they sounded great ('meaty'/lush/ wet as compared to the 'dry', studio monitor sound of the GR07. In this, the mids remind me of my Ety HF3s) and helped make it more enjoyable to listen to vocals. Soundstage wasn't as large (wide) as I would have thought coming from the GR07s, but definitely more than the Ety HF3s.
The treble was much smoother and tamer than my GR07s which sounded airy and 'shouty' in comparison. The DN1000 has a 'lusher' sound than the GR07s (meaning they sound less dry than studio monitors) but has a bit of that 'shouty' (sibilance?) quality which turned me away from it. The FX850 does not have the shouty or dry quality in the treble, which I enjoyed.
I tried on the FX750s next, and the build, comfort and fit were quite similar so I won't repeat myself.
The sound of these was more to my liking. Bass levels were lower than the FX850 which meant I no longer had to 'peer' through a curtain of bass to listen to vocals. Other than that, I couldn't really perceive any differences between the FX850 and FX750. If I had to pick one, I'd go for the FX 750.
Here comes a new challenger!
Next, I tried on the Audio Technica IM03.
The fit was superb. Comfortable, no worries of it falling off, and the cable was thinner and lighter too. Isolation was also better than the JVCs and GR07 (though not yet at the Ety HF3 levels).
This was what I was looking for. The vocals stood out and was more forward than the JVCs or GR07. These phones really make you listen to the vocals and seem to reproduce vocals with greater 'quality' than the JVC or GR07. Vocals sounded more intimate, and yet more ornate. I could hear details like the voices quivering which I couldn't on the GR07 and JVCs. The soundstage was wide and comparable to the JVCs and GR07 (perhaps a little smaller overall) but the vocals take front and centre, being more 'in your face' as compared to the JVCs or GR07. Bass levels were lower compared to the JVCs but still louder than the GR07. The overall sound is even lusher than the JVCs and I think I enjoyed this phone the most. I didn't really pay attention to the treble as I usually focus on the vocals (especially with the tracks I chose), but all I can say is that there should be no worries with sibilance here.
Coming from the GR07 and the Ety HF3, the JVCs and AT IM-03 showed me a lusher sound which made vocals and music in general more enjoyable to listen to with more body in the sound, as well as greater quantities of bass (which should be enjoyed sparingly:D)
I liked FX750> FX850 (as bass is too dominant). and AT IM - 03 > JVCs (better fit, more enjoyable vocals. AT does justice to vocals)
^ Very interesting ^
I'd like to comment on a couple of things:
1. No doubt the FX850 are not the most ergonomic iems out there. But with some getting used to them and inserting them deep in my ears, I've been able to enjoy them on my daily walks (over 1.5 hrs) with no issues, no falling out... or wind interferences (then again, there's not a whole lot of wind here in Oregon).
2. The stock cable is highly responsible for the amount of bass the FX850 deliver as is. I suspect wires are very thin under the isolation, likely 28-30 gauge. Using a pure copper Cardas cable of about 24 gauge dramatically "corrects" the bass frequencies while improving clarity with an iphone 4. The improvement is further amplified with a better DAP. Running them through a HM801 in balanced mode demonstrates the FX850 true potential to scaling up. Still full/fun sounding but also very refined with surprising imaging, sound stage, depth, and layering!!! these are just the best sounding/most enjoyable iems I've had the pleasure of listening to with the Hifiman DAP.
I wish I could give the FX750 a listen, I'm sure they are great, and perhaps a better option for those who want to keep it simple. But I'm starting to think that the replaceable cable of the FX850 wasn't just an option in case the stock cable broke. The FX850 deserves a thicker/better cables and being balanced if your source/amp allows for it. I highly recommend it.