Pros: Fantastic Classical representation
Great build quality
Stock cable is great
Switch tuning system
Cons: Some sibilance - usually goes hand in hand with good highs
Up for review today are the FAudio Mezzo Limited Edition (Mezzo.) I picked these up from Musicteck: https://shop.musicteck.com/products/faudio-mezzo-le based upon a recommendation from another head-fier. FAudio is a relatively unknown brand based out of Hong Kong. The Mezzo is a limited release celebrating FAudio's 7-year anniversary and only 588 Mezzos were made. The Mezzo has 4 drivers on each side, 1x DD for the bass, 2x BA for the mids, and 1x Piezo tweeting like a bird. There are also 3 switches built into each earpiece that act as physical EQ (see image below.) FAudio designed the Mezzo to be similar to the Fender Stratocaster – which had selectable switches to change the sound of the guitar (also why some of the stock images have a Strat in them.) A quick summary if you don’t feel like reading the whole review: not only are these absolutely gorgeous, but they sound great as well and the tuning switches add an extra level of versatility. See the below image of the switch settings:
Build Quality / Comfort:
I’ll be honest - I partly bought these because of how they look. Green is my favorite color and these are GREEN. Truly, these are some of the most gorgeous IEMs I’ve ever seen and the cable has its own level of awesomeness as well. The box these come in is amazing, the accessories are amazing, the ear tips are great quality, and the hard case is built like a tank and lined with velvet (EE and VE style.) The IEM shells are not only gorgeous, and look like some sort of mint candy, but they feel extremely sturdy and look like they are all one piece. I also appreciate the black ear tip nozzles, which is amazingly cool extra detail. I had no issues with the size of the IEM, or the comfort for long periods of wear, including with stock cable.
Speaking of the stock cable, this is hands down the best quality stock cable I’ve ever encountered. Not only is it also a gorgeous Green/Brown, but it is lightweight, and made with pure silver in a 23 AWG thickness. There is very low microphonics with the cable (a major pet peeve of mine), and none that I can hear while music is playing. On top of that, it’s the first cable I’ve ever encountered that came terminated solely in a balanced 4.4mm. FAudio knows how they want you to use these IEMS and it’s the first time I’ve ever actually wanted to use the stock cable on an IEM (Thieaudio Monarch Mk2’s (MMk2) modular cable being the closest 2nd.) So, if you don’t have a 4.4mm jack, or a balanced adapter, on your listening device of choice, you may want to avoid these IEMs because you will WANT to use the gorgeous stock cable.
Sound / Source / Comparisons:
I don’t have a frequency response chart to show with these in order to compare them to the Monarch Mk2, VE8, or Aroma Thunder (the closest competitors I have on my desk right now.) I’m not sure it would matter anyway with the tuning switches since they can change how each piece of the sound is emphasized (barely.) I am powering these from Tidal Hi-Fi to my Shanling M3 Ultra at 25/100 volume, with the balanced 4.4mm jack, which puts them only slightly less efficient than the 8x BA Vision Ears VE8 (19/100), and far ahead of the MMk2 (35/100.) This of course uses less power than higher volume levels require and that saves battery on portable systems. I will be testing these in the stock position because the switches only change frequencies slightly and if you feel like the tuning doesn’t match your preference, you can always add more of whatever you find is missing.
As usual, I don’t like breaking down headphones solely by frequency range since every song has bass, mids, and highs (and I can’t tell the difference between vocals at 1900 Hz and 2100 Hz.) So, I will start with bass-heavy songs, then move to mids-focused and lastly highs-focused songs, then break down each song by how all the pieces are presented. You can find my Tidal test tracks playlist in my signature if you want to compare them to your headphones. Starting off with bass-heavy songs we have my favorite bass-test song, David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue.)” The intro kick drums come in hard with a quick roll off and the hi-hats can be heard clearly. The mid-synths come in clearly if a little recessed. The sub-bass at 0:37 has a great rumble without overwhelming the mids. The vocal at 0:56 can be heard clearly along with the sub-bass. I would classify these as bass-heavy IEMs, even on the neutral 0-0-0 setting. I prefer this song with switches 0-1-1 flipped on because the bass comes a little heavy for my preference and the mids are a little too recessed for me on 0-0-0 the setting. That’s personal preference, and the entire point of the Mezzo, even if the changes are minor, you can hear them and it’s a cool option to be able to change the sound without EQ.
The next bass-test song is Pendulum’s “Witchcraft.” The bass drums come in clearly again and once again I find myself preferring the 0-1-1 setting over 0-0-0. The bass drums overwhelm less with the all-off setting than they do in “I’m Good.” The bass is very clean with a quick response here, but the sub-bass at 1:08 has some bloat and extra reverb – very common on this song and very few headphones can present the sub-bass here without experiencing that (MMk2 and VE8 do a slightly better job.) The intro vocals sound great, and the background guitar/water-synth comes in clearly. Layering seems excellent since I can pick out each piece of the sound and it moves around the relatively large soundstage (for IEMs.) Overall, the Mezzo does a good job presenting bass, but I prefer the MMk2’s and the VE8’s bass here, it’s cleaner – bassheads will likely prefer the Mezzo with 1-1-1 or 0-0-0, you can really feel the sub-bass on the Mezzo.
The Dirty Heads’ “Sound of Change” intro on 0-0-0 sounds REALLY good with the intro bass and vocals/guitars sounding forward and just about perfect until the drums come in. The Mezzo even manages to make the tough transition at 0:38 sound good, but the bass drums here come in too hard and overwhelm the other pieces of the song. Switching to 0-1-1 cleans it up and pushes the bass toward the back after a little volume adjustment. This is how this song is supposed to sound, at least to my ears. It’s really cool that you can change how the Mezzo performs according to your preference or style. As someone who believes that EQ shouldn’t be taken into account when reviewing because it discolors the sound the manufacturer was shooting for, having that option built in without impacting the rest of the sound quality is awesome.
The Piano Guys' “Code Name Vivaldi” is one of the first songs that really blew me away with the Mezzo. Strings come in cleanly but with a lot of body, feeling more full than on most IEMs. The soundstage feels large, and the piano notes come in accurately and with purpose. The bass drums and sub-bass are presented well, and you can really FEEL the bass on the Mezzo – they also don’t fade into the background like they can with a lot of IEMs on classical. The Mezzo really pulls off some of the best classical instrument presentations I’ve ever heard on any headphones – ever.
Moving to the High-test tracks, we once again have Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes” to test sibilant “S” sounds. With the Mezzo on 0-1-1 there is definitely some sibilance on the “S” sounds throughout the song. It’s about on par with the MEST Mk2. Flipping to 0-1-0 and the sharper “S” sounds are still there, but more muted. So, the really well-presented treble from some songs becomes annoying on songs that have sibilance built into the recording. Everything else in “High Hopes” sounds great. The trumpets are beautifully presented with full body and crisp, clean notes. The vocals are accurate and clear and not too far back. The high hats come in clearly, which is impressive and rare, and the soundstage appears large once more. The drums sound great with no bloat or overwhelming presentation. I think 0-1-0 is my personal favorite for this song – too bad about the sibilance in the Upper-mids and low-highs (though to be fair, some of the best headphones I’ve heard have this same issue.”
The last test song is Michele McLaughlin’s “Across the Burren.” This song easily crosses into harsh sibilance on a LOT of good headphones. The Mezzo has none of that. In fact, this is possibly the best representation of the piano on this song I’ve ever heard without any pieces feeling like they're cutting out or missing parts of the notes. I’d put this right up there with the VE8 and Monarch and above the MEST Mk2. Just amazing, especially on 0-1-1 as the high notes reach into the upper 3k+ Hz range.
Hmm, wow, so where does the Mezzo fall amongst the other IEMs I’ve heard? That’s so challenging because you can change the tuning to match your preferences or the song. They’re easily the best classical music IEMs I’ve ever heard. They have great mids, on par with the MMk2 (that’s high praise), though a little further back feeling – which, again, you can just flip the middle switch to bring them more to the front. There’s a little sub-bass bloat, but it’s not bad enough to hate and a lot of people might prefer that sound to the cleaner sub-bass sound of the MMk2 (based upon how many people have sub-bass loud enough to rattle their car at a stop-light, that’s apparently a thing.) And yes, they have some sibilance on songs that have high sibilance, but you can tune that down a bit if you’d like as well. So there’s not a ton to complain about in the sound, heck some people might call that sibilance “Sparkle” – I don’t know.
That’s the thing about the Mezzo. It’s a little bit of everything for everyone – and if you don’t like how part of it sounds, you can change that (though getting out the little SIM card tool to change it can be a tad annoying - i've found that legos does a good job too.) These are the best IEMs I’ve ever heard for classical (and a lot of ther things) and can match the MMk2 on mids (no small feat), with a stronger bass response. The Mezzo is one of the most gorgeous IEMs I’ve ever seen and it comes with a fantastic cable and some of the best packaging I’ve ever seen as well. Getting the Mezzo is just an overall impressive experience. I think that in the sub-$2k bracket, these are about as good as it gets for a total package with looks, quality, and sound/modularity.
Headphone Scoring - Each category can be split into quarter points: