Purchase Date: May 2012
Vendor: Musica Acoustics Japan (Dimitri Trush)
Purchase Price: $1000 USD
Purchase Condition: Used, Minor Scratches, Missing Ear Tips
It's time to bid adieu, for real this time.
For about a year, I've been half wondering out loud if I should let them go, as I simply don't give them enough ear time. It's not that I don't love them; multiple times have I professed my love for this earphone. I've likened it to the one ring, and to many other characterizations. It is the one earphone that does sparkle like nothing else; it selectively sparkles, always eye-catching, yet never unnecessary. It'll scoff at modern music and throw a hissy fit if you use source equipment it doesn't like. It's single-minded and abstinent, much like its departed creator. It surely won't suit everyone and may downright infuriate some.
Theater aside, there's just something very special about the way it presents treble, at least to my ears. The way it's tuned will actually make some tracks sound absolutely terrible; you'll hear harshness, that famed FAD distortion characteristic, and more --- but the spacing in the treble is unique. It feels open, spacious, and has an intricate sparkle that no other IEM seems to possess. I've heard the UERM --- it has effortless treble. The TO GO! 334 has gentle, subdued treble. The 1Plus2 has powerful, intense treble. There are no real words to describe the FI-BA-SS's treble except that it's unprecedented.
In terms of pure transparency, I think some people will be disappointed, but to me, it still manages to make music feel transcendent. It's not like I haven't heard really transparent universals/CIEMs before --- I know what they sound like. The FI-BA-SS is not like the others in that regard. The midrange almost feels deliberately fuzzied out, but it feels good to hear it (others might not agree with me).
There are lots of practical issues with it: it's extremely picky about tips and insertion depth/angle, extremely hiss sensitive (it's the IEM I use to test noise/hum on amps; it manages to pick up periodic group loop noise on units that normally suppress that to inaudible levels). Never mind about the chrome polish --- it's one of those IEMs that I never wear outside, and I'm sure people with the Piano Fortes don't either.
But it's my precioussss...
Even as I type up this ad with the FI-BA-SS in my ears, I feel my resolve starting to wane. However, I think it really is time for them to go. Perhaps it takes selling them to allow me to truly appreciate them and want them back.
I don't know what the going rate on a second-hand FI-BA-SS is these days; I imagine it's a bit less than before. I set a number I feel is fair, but if you feel it isn't please provide me with relevant evidence that it isn't. The unit is in just about the same exact condition that I bought it in; it has some scratches on it, akin to small swirls in the paint job of a silver car. I don't have a macro lens, so it wouldn't be possible for me to photograph them. Besides, shooting them with a macro lens would also amplify their severity. It's also got only two sets of ear tips, but I am including a third pair of tips that I feel work well with them (but gives a different sound than the stock tips). The oblong case will also be included.