Pros - Huge sound stage, excellent tone true to the source, very revealing and scales well with better equipment
Cons - isolation not the best for an iem
I've had my Parterre for a few days now which has given me the opportunity to listen to them extensively. I have little experience with iem's but I do own the HD800 and T1 as my reference headphones. My listening preference is mostly classical music. I was attracted to these Parterre because I read a statement from the designer that these were created for classical and acoustic music. He wasn't lying. I have been in the audio game a long time and I have never heard better sound from any headphone with classical music. That is a very strong statement and it is meant to be so. The Parterre is competitive in every way with my full size headphones and in some respects the best of the lot but I am getting a little ahead of myself.
When I first received my Parterre I was anxious to hook them right to my desktop system and see what they could do. That was a big mistake. These need to burn in overnight before you ever put them on your ears. Having not taken my own advice I can say that out of the box they were a huge disappointment. I won't bother to go into a description of how they sounded because by the next morning they were a different earphone entirely. Had they remained as they were out of the box I would have put them in the closet and considered it a very expensive mistake.
Those of you experienced know that it is critical to have a good seal with any iem. Only one of the tips supplied with the Parterre worked for me and fortunately it is a good fit. I have ordered several type of tips to try later but for now, I do get a good seal. These need to be worn over the ear and they are very comfortable. I can barely feel them in my ears after a few minutes of listening to music. Interesting that my HD800 is normally considered the most comfortable of full size flagship headphones and I find the Parterre more comfortable for long listening sessions than the HD800. I also find the Parterre better sounding in many ways. This is a bit of an unusual review as I am daring to compare an iem to a flagship full size headphone. I realize that my application is unusual in that I am using these at home with a high end desktop system. My needs are different. The Parterre is certainly very portable but that is not my application so I can only compare it to my full size headphones. I can say without reservation that it compares very well indeed.
It is often said that iem's are "a different experience" from full size headphones. Part of that is certainly true as technically iem's insert into your ear past the pinna so they cannot produce a soundstage in a natural way as in the real world. Some very clever designers of iem's have not taken no for an answer and found a way to create a very believable illusion of a soundstage through brilliant designs. I can say that the Parterre is one such iem. The sense of the original space is recreated with startling reality through the Parterre. There is height, width and depth competitive with my HD800's. Before hearing it for myself I would have thought that impossible. I will even go so far as to say that with some recordings the imaging is more the you are there feeling then my full size headphones. An astonishing achievement from Fitear.
The tonal quality of piano and strings are reproduced with total accuracy faithful to the recording. The bass is shockingly deep and detailed with actual texture blended with the mids so as not to appear overdone but just right. Mid bass is full when called upon to provide the correct foundation for the music. This is a trick that few headphones get right with classical music but the Parterre sails through without ever straining. There is a richness to the tone that is very faithful to the recording. Bad recordings sound bad. Good recordings sound glorious in a way that few headphones can achieve. The highs are silky smooth for strings but you still get the bite on brass that you should without ever being offensive. You can hear the decay on the notes of a piano with stark realism. These are achievements in a headphones of any type not to be taken lightly. That these tiny iem's can get it right is amazing. What's more, these are universal iem's not even ciem's custom molded. The people at Fitear must be smiling at the praise for they know what they have done. These are purpose built iem's that achieve a level of performance with classical and acoustic music that will make it very hard for me to go back to my full size headphones. I would never have thought that possible. If you love classical music as I do you owe it to yourself to hear these Parterre properly burned in and with a good front end. The Parterre provides a very personal intimate experience not to be missed by classical music audiophiles.
Pros - forward sound with good details - wide sound-stage and coherent imaging - not too picky on source - very comfortable fit.
Cons - stiff cable(replaceable) - sound can be fatiguing
Mr Suyama (FitEar) agreed to lend me a pair of To Go! Parterre and 334. The purpose was to give a chance for a maximum of my French fellows from tellementnomade.com to have a try at this now pretty famous brand. We are indeed very glad to have a go at them.
I'm not getting paid nor selling anything. In fact Fitear asked nothing of me, how confident is that!
So before they leave me for one of the big cities in France (a country on earth), I decided to do a little feedback on “le” Parterre. Please take this as one guy giving his opinion and nothing more.
amp: O2, pico slim.
Daps: Sansa clip+/zip, Samsung yp-p3, Sony a865, Cowon I10.
Oh boy they're comfy! Really close in shape to the F111, I just fit and forget. And I'm not an easy guy when it comes to fit. IE80 and the eternal search for tips, PL30 hurting me with the outer body, I can't seem to be able to get a good fit with most Shure/Earsonics/Westone universals and had to give up on buying one of those. I need a deep enough insertion to fit my right ear (outer canal is pretty huge).
If you have a really small ear canal (most girls) you might want to try any cheap universal working with T500 Comply foam tips just to be sure your canal is large enough (same as Sennheiser IE8/IE80 and fits the same tips). https://www.complyfoam.com/content/Compatibility-Chart-Isolation.pdf
Else your fit will be good and really really comfortable. I feel like I'm using some tiny Q-jays again.
Provided tips are the usual 3size silicon flanges and a large bi-flange.
The Parterre feels sturdy, acrylic is pretty thick and made me question the durability of my jh13.
You won't find a grid to protect the damping filter so you should treat them with care (cleaning tool provided).
As you can see Parterre uses the same titanium horn technology featured on the F111 to sustain high frequencies without having to push the driver too hard.
Stock cable named 001 is made out of copper and reinforced with heat shrinking cable making it too stiff for my tastes but I must admit it's built like a tank. From what I get the optional cable 000 is silver plated and even stiffer.
That stiffness is such that I hear directly into the Parterre every button I click on my DAP, how badly amazing is that? Cable noises are bad even when using the great clip provided (I want this on all my cables!!!)
There is a really soft memory wire, I usually cut it out of my cables but this one never hurts me. On the other hand people used to a solid grip from the memory wire might find this one lax.
Connectors are proprietary and almost identical to Sennheiser's connectors on hd600/650. You can already find a few places for replacement cables.
nice marking for side and polarity.
You get the Parterre in a sturdy Pelican 1010 hard case, the inside is rubberised, this should be compulsory for IEM cases.
The soft carrying pouch has a nice foamy feeling to it.
In the end everything feels and is sturdy, you don't look like you paid only the sound.
More tips could be nice, but I usually end up with Comply foam so I didn't mind the scarce choice.
Punchy and strong with less sub-bass than my jh13 don't expect the flat line frequency response here, bass are enhanced and stronger than on a F111.
The idea is power and thump, not much of bloated or immersing bass here, think more 100-200hz sound.
For even more bass and round sub-bass you'll have To go! for the 334 (more bass, less punch)
details level and imaging go on with sound signature to give a very lively sound, high mids are loud and give a strong kick to most percussions. On a few musics, this might push the voices back a little, but never as much as I felt on the Merlin.
I tend to find this fatiguing, but keep in mind that I'm a hd650 kind of guy. I usually sacrifice mids to get that almost dull and non fatiguing sound. The Parterre aren't meant for me to begin with.
Objectively mids are good. I admit it and enjoyed the energy of the Parterre mostly on classic. The same way I enjoyed using some ER4, yet couldn't really stand long listening cessions on other music styles without EQ to tame the upper part of the mediums. again my tastes (most of |joker|'s TOTL IEMS make me run away), nothing wrong with the sound quality.
I know this signature and feeling of strong dynamic and authority is attractive to a lot of people, and they shall be satisfied with the Parterre.
same as high mids, high frequencies get a boost, at least to the point of getting cymbals as one of the big guys on a rock song.
Cymbals and I have been having a love/hate relationship for many years now. I probably went “hifi” on portable because I couldn't stand the harshness and distortion of cymbals on low end universals (B2= arrrrghhh).
Good news everyone, Parterre knows how a cymbal should sound.
High frequencies don't go very far, but have a stronger presence than 334 which tends to be shy above 10/12khz.
In cymbal value, new reference measurement I just invented (take that Dr Olive and Welti) 334>Parterre>F111>most IEMs I've heard under 400$
ER4's cymbal may be top notch clean and for that deserves to be at the top for a pro. Yet FitEar removed some harshness, losing a little bit of the surgical details to gain some micro smoothness. My choice goes to Parterre for cymbal enjoyment (even better with 334 but not the same price range).
oh I forgot to talk about sibilance!! there's absolutely none that I could hear despite the bright signature. I'm starting to be a fan of this titanium tube.
It is really good, with several layers in width and height. Depth looks good, but I don't really have a source to test the extent of that dimension, O2 isn't the king of depth, and the pico slim doesn't know what I'm talking about, at all. So you'll have to ask someone else about the Parterre's depth, sorry about that.
Imaging is really high level and I could spend the entire song mentally jumping from one place to another. I was more impressed by the 334 (in every ways except energy) but to me the Parterre has a more coherent imaging. When the recording is bad and almost in mono, you don't get much. When the recording has an amazing imaging, you get amazed. Moving sounds can be followed from start to end perfectly, when I noticed some tiny ruptures on the 334.
334 is a hell of a fun toy, and will tend to put a multi layered imaging even on some trashy punk song recorded with a phone (each driver gives a different vertical position).
So 334=impressive and fun, Parterre=realistic and coherent. (from memory the F111 is also really good with sound-stage and imaging)
My JH13 (old version) is at a loss here. They're more in the head than anything, but I was still proud of JH's imaging, now I wonder and fear of a bad flu (upgraditus fastus). The Parterre is in the league of my IE80 for the max distance, but when IE80 is limited to around the head as a minimum distance, Parterre gets inside when it wants to, giving a superior amplitude (IE80's bass still surround me like no BA driver I've tried could do).
First thing I would do if I had to buy this universal would be to get another cable. I want a right angled jack and as little cable noise as I can get. This cable fails to provide my needs. On a brighter note, it seems like you can make it into balanced just by changing the jack.
I strongly believe people would prefer some 50$ custom replacement cable with the right termination, and a large variety of tips instead of the actual bundle.
The Parterre in itself is really good, not too sensitive so HO noises shouldn't be too much of a concern unlike the uber sensitive To go! 334.
Parterre is in essence so punchy that your source doesn't matter that much (punchy to me, it sounds calm in front of an UM merlin). I enjoyed it right out of a Sansa clip+ (let's forget those electronic noises when you change songs), on my Sony A865 I genuinely enjoyed it as it was like an automatic EQ ^_^ (this dap is a high freq murderer on the HO). on my old boy Samsung yp-p3 it was too cold, but no noticeable damping problem. And my cowon I10 was also a good combo but might reveal too much of the slightly artificial sounding of the brand. Of course it will always benefit from a good source/amp but to my surprise I could live without one, and the smaller sound-stage of mediocre sources was still good enough to satisfy me.
We're on the bright and punchy side of sound, you don't get any sense that an instrument is muffled and the level of transparency is high. Added the nice imaging and you really need a lot of instruments and bad recording to be unable to pinpoint each instrument. Again It was soon fatiguing for my old ears and really not my cup of tea when it comes to sound signature as I like my frequency response graph to go down, not up. Maybe behind a warm RSA amp I could really enjoy it … “no wallet I'm not talking to you!”
As is I had fun with classical, everything close to groove, and bands like “hybrid” (sorry I don't know what genre this is ^_^). and I enjoyed all kind of music on a warm dap.
By the time of this review I couldn't find any measurements or intels so your guess is as good as mine on specs. Suyama san decided to challenge our ears with close to no information. It is said to be a multi driver, and I would bet on 2 as the titanium horn does pretty much the job of a third one. but you shouldn't take my word for it.
I hope I didn't do too bad of a job putting my tastes on one side and my “as objective as I could” views of the Parterre on the other. I personally felt more attracted to the 334 (a lot actually) with its round bass and less 3khz boost, but I know this Parterre will make a lot of people happy. Those exactly who would find the 334 to have too much/round bass and miss the strength of a louder 3khz. Adding the F111 to the party as a neutral IEM, I feel like FitEar covered all bases.
A few random pictures to get an idea of the real size and side by side with To Go! 334 http://www.head-fi.org/g/a/789702/fitear/