Fidue A83 Reference Class Triple Hybrid IEM - Reviews
Pros: Sparkly highs, airy soundstage, interesting looks, price
Cons: Not truly outstanding at anything
There's a special and much sought after sound signature I'd describe as "glamorous". The Sennheiser IE800 has it, the JH Audio Layla has it and -- at a much lower price point -- the Fidue A83 has it. I'm talking about that out of your head sparkly sound where the treble is the most prominent feature, but it's all nicely balanced and the bass is punchy and liquid too, with plenty of oomph below. A sound like chandeliers hanging above a black lake. Personally, I adore that signature and I'm happy to report the Fidue A83 does an admirable job of bringing it to you at a mortal's price. 
 
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Essentially, this is an IEM in the price point and ability range of the Shure 535: a notch below the 500+ range. As such it doesn't have ambitions of being your end game IEM. The A83 doesn't go against the greats but it will -- to some ears -- knock out the Shure 535. While the A83 doesn't have anything as special going for it as the 535 has in the mids, the general presentation of music is just very pretty. (Chandeliers, black lake, yeah you got it.) Much prettier than the 535, for example. At about 220 dollars (the going price on Amazon -- I got them for 150 from a head fi member) I suggest these to anyone looking for a good entry into IEM's or even a callous old IEM junkie looking for a nice addition.
 
The best thing about these? No sibilance! Although the highs are very pretty and prominent, they're not fatiguing. (As is usually the case with this type of sound signature.)
 
The mids? Nice but unnoteworthy. The A83s are not detail monsters but there's just about enough microdetail to sound hi fi. The treble and bass don't extend too impressively. The highs cut off and so do the lows. This means the Fidues rarely truly wow you with unbelievable reach, which I'd say is their "weakness". Their rounded nature. The soundstage is good but not uncanny like the end game IEMs can get.
 
And they look nice. I have a personal weakness for Fidue's adventurous art deco inspired design and for Asian manufacturers who go for wild designs in general. The Fidues look great next to (and sound wonderful out of) a Cayin C5 champagne coloured amp. Why am I mentioning this? Because to me their look adds to their sound. Sound is all about subtle psychological cues and if you find the A83s pretty the characteristic design will very likely enhance your perception of their sound. (As it does for me.) Their look just suits them well. 
 
The design does come with some fit issues, however. Don't expect a godsend for all ears, like Shure's IEM's. I'd say the fit is "normal". Nothing too fidgety, nothing too solid. The tips fit shallow, as has been suggested by many. Not far enough into the ear canal. The word around the community is that JVC Spiral Dots tips will take care of it. Let's see.
 
One last note. This all means very interesting things for the new Fidue end game contender, the A91 Sirius as they look the same only better, and people are saying the same thing about the sound. 
 
Sail on Fidue!
Pros: Bass (both mid and sub bass), masterful tuning, emotive midrange, crystal clear and crisp treble without any sibilance
Cons: Fit could be tighter, no neck cinch on the cable - nothing major sound-wise
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Fidue A83 – initial impressions
 
I must admit, until recently I was not massively aware of Fidue and their offerings, bunching all of their IEMs together with the mid-range A71 and A65 models in my mind as some nice looking but middle of the road Chinese IEMs not really worth looking into. I came across the Fidue A83 being mentioned in a few threads I frequent here on Head-Fi in a very favourable light against some of my current favourite in-ears, and after more thorough research and a bit of self-enlightenment, decided to arrive fashionably late to the party and pick up a pair of their former flagship IEM. These were bought through the For Sale boards in “as new” condition, so all views expressed here are my own.
 
About me: newly minted audiophile, late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. My ideal tuning for most IEMs and headphones tends towards a musical and slightly dark presentation, although I am not treble sensitive in general. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
 
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Tech specs
 
Drivers: 2 balanced armatures + 10mm dynamic driver
Frequency Response : 9-31kHz
Impedance: 11 Ohm
Sensitivity: 104dB
THD : <1%
Cable 1.3m Silver-plated copper wire (MMCX)
 
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Unboxing
 
The Fidue A83 has until recently been the “flagship” IEM from this manufacturer until the launch of their new Sirius model, and sits squarely in the $200-$300 price bracket at current street price. The packaging is a simple but elegant affair, with a black and lime green box listing some product features in English and a picture of the IEMs on the front, and similar designs on the back and sides, repeated in Chinese and German. Opening up the box, you find some foam inserts and a Fidue branded hard carry case containing the IEMs and the silver-plater copper cable, cleverly wrapped around a foam winder insert cut to fit the waterproof case perfectly. It is a very sleek and practical presentation, and while the case is a little too large to be pocket-friendly, the foam insert will go a long way to ensuring that the A83 can be transported safely in all possible situations. Unfortunately the foam insert doesn’t leave any room for any additional items apart from the IEMs and the attached cable, but it can be removed if the additional space is required. Completing the load-out is a selection of tips (including some Comply foam) in a variety of sizes and shapes, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm plug adapter and a plane adapter, all cunningly concealed in a cutout in the bottom foam packing block. All in all, the packaging is neutral enough not to be too gaudy, but classy enough not to look out of place in its price bracket.
 
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Build quality and ergonomics
 
On popping the case and getting a first look at the A83s, the first thing that catches your eye is the unusual clamshell style outer half, in what appears to be a champagne coloured metal coating. On closer inspection, the casings are actually mainly composed of plastic, but the effect is very stylish nonetheless. The left and right buds are marked with the standard “L” and “R” markings, but also have an unusual visual indicator – the ear-facing side of the right shell is made of a translucent red plastic, with the left ear having a blue inner shell. This lends an almost custom look to the A83s at first glance, and is sufficiently unusual and practical to make me wonder why more manufacturers don’t do this. The overall shell shape also mimics the standard custom IEM form factor, filling the main bowl of the ear nicely. The A83 are designed for over-ear wear, and have a slim enough profile to lie flush with your outer ear when properly inserted, giving them a very sleek look. From a practical viewpoint, the IEMs fit well enough to allow me to wear them while laying in bed without any major issues, which is always a bonus. The fit is good without being excellent, with the universal shape fitting my ears nicely and allowing for a reasonable insertion depth without any discomfort.
 
The MMCX connectors used on the A83 are almost standard – the cables can be swapped out for any of the normal aftermarket MMCX options, but also has an additional tab built in to the cable and housing to lock the cable in place once connected, stopping the annoying cable rotation that normally happens when you are trying to fit some MMCX in-ears with one hand. Like the dual colouring on the shells, this is a simple yet practical idea that I am surprised other manufacturers haven’t come up with already, so kudos to the Fidue design team for being willing to think a little outside the box as it seems like a very logical solution to one of the audiophile life’s little irritations. There have been various comments in the forums here regarding the robustness (or lack of it) of the earlier A83 MMCX connections (both from a cable and IEM side) which I believe Fidue have subsequently addressed – I don’t know if I have one of the later production run models, but I can say I have experienced no issues in the time I have had mine so far. The cable itself is also noteworthy, being an aesthetically impressive and tightly braided silver plated copper hybrid with great build quality and a nice rubber strain relief. Microphonics are also at a minimum on the cable, which remains pliable but almost silent in day to day use. The overall quality is such that if effectively negates the immediate need for any after-market cable upgrade to make the A83s look or sound any better. One criticism is the lack of a neck cinch on the cable, but as the memory-wire ear guides work pretty well for me, it hasn’t caused any day to day wear issues.
 
Overall, the shells feel lightweight and comfortable, with a secure over-ear fit and cable locking mechanism. The unusual colouring and design give the impression of a product that has had some serious thought put into it, and again leaves you feeling quite happy that it belongs in the price bracket it currently occupies.
 
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Sound quality
 
Test gear:
Xperia Z3 Compact (via Neutron Player)
Cayin C5 amp
Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed)
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (straight from the output jack)
 
Main test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
Richie Kotzen – Come On Free (bass tone)
Elvis – various
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
The Chemical Brothers – Go (EDM tester)
Emile Sande – Our Version Of Events
Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
ZZ Top – La Futura
Chris Stapleton – Chris Stapleton
Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane
The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs
 
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General impressions on the sound signature
 
On first listen, the A83 struck me with an overwhelming impression that my brain could only really describe as “zestiness”, like the aural equivalent of sticking a freshly cut lime into each ear (maybe it was the packaging?). The sound signature claimed on the front of the packaging is a “reference” tuning, and to my ears there is certainly enough detail and clarity to lay claim to that title, but for a strictly reference tuning, there is too much bass and treble presence to be called ruler flat, being more of a warm shallow V. The bass presence is certainly impressive, with excellent extension down into the sub-bass arena - 9Hz is claimed on the packaging, and unlike some headphones I have heard with similar specifications on paper, I am more than inclined to believe the marketing people in this instance. The midrange is detailed without being harsh, and sits just behind the bass and treble, imparting good emotional impact to the music. Treble presentation is bright and clear, with plenty of sharpness but managing to steer clear of the usual sibilance hotspots to keep it enjoyable and pretty non-fatiguing. Overall impression is of a highly detailed V, with plenty of bass presence and air and bite in the treble, leaving an instant impression on the listener.
 
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Highs
 
My usual preference for headphones and in-ears is towards darker tunings, so ideally I look for something that is clear and clean without being too sparkly or aggressive. At first listen, I was concerned that the A83 would be a little too sharp in the high registers to be a long-term keeper, with the initial buzz of the high notes definitely knocking some dust off the higher shelves of my audio furniture. After my ears adjusted, I find the treble just on the top end of my personal threshold, but still very enjoyable. There is a higher than neutral overall presence, with a great sense of impact and energy, and extension up as high as you will ever need unless you are listening to a Rosetta Stone recording on how to speak canine. Cymbals sound crisp and etched, fizzing into life and decaying with excellent control. This is an excellent ‘phone for rock and metal, with high notes on electric guitars in particular being very well represented with sufficient definition and crunch to really move the music along. That being said, I never found the A83 to be too sharp or overbearing, and in general it is not a sibilance magnet, with sufficient control over the normal hotspots in the frequency range to prevent fatigue on longer listening sessions. Pulling my usual testers for sibilance and screechiness out of the bag, both Slash (“Starlight”) and Chris Stapleton (“Whiskey And You”) manage to pass the test, with the hotspots on their recordings feeling more “etched” than with my normal gear but still inside the bounds of enjoyability. Overall, an airy and defined treble with energy to spare and just enough slack in the right places to avoid sibilance on most recordings. Pushing some System Of A Down and Slash and Myles Kennedy through their paces on the A83, the guitars and vocals scream where they need to, pulling details to the fore but not sending the listener running for the volume control in some of the more bombastic passages. Resolution in the high frequencies is very apparent, with the sharper tuning helping bring more micro-details into focus for the listener. Compared to some of my usual listening gear like the Audioquest Nighthawks, the A83 can sometimes feel a little bit “hyper-real”, but does add a nice sense of resolution to the music that is very enjoyable without treading into harshness or overcooking the sound.
 
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Mids
 
The midrange on the A83 is tight, well defined and carries a nicely textured sound due to the high detail level drifting down from the overlapping treble frequencies. To my ears, it sits somewhat behind the bass and treble on the soundstage, adding a gentle V shape to the overall sound without ever sounding particularly recessed or lacking. The midrange is a little thicker than neutral, with a warmth due to the prominent lower end that adds to the overall tone and body of the sound nicely. With rock music, this slightly thick and warm tone works very well, pairing with the crunch from the treble to add some real attack to heavy guitar passages. Playing “World On Fire” by Slash, the main riff roars along across the middle of the sonic landscape, crunching and crashing through the song with definition and bite. Led Zeppelin also sounds excellent through these, with the uniquely dissonant tone of Jimmy Page’s guitar cutting across the textured basslines and Robert Plant’s signature howl nicely. Switching to “Coco” by Foy Vance, the grit in his voice and the percussive sounds of his guitar playing in between chords is easily accommodated in the ears of the listener, adding to the main acoustic riff and layered backing harmonies to fill the ears of the listener with detail and a “feel” that really brings the song to life.
 
Switching focus to vocals, the A83 acquits itself well with the rasping falsetto of Myles Kennedy, keeping it just far enough forward to grab the audience among the pounding drums and high-pitched guitar. Putting the more sedate “Whiskey And You” through its paces on the A83 is another good example of the excellent tuning, with the detail around the single guitar and vocal fleshing out the track in the listener’s head without distracting from the smokiness and timbre of Stapleton’s voice, which sounds absolutely fantastic. I find this track is also quite good for exposing harshness on the vocal ranges, as some of the lines can sound a little spiky with poor earphones due to the way they were recorded. The A83 handles these with aplomb, portraying the light and shade and smooth and gravelly interplay within the vocal without grating. To be clear, this isn’t the silkiest or most grain free vocal presentation you will ever hear, so if you are looking for something that is like buttered marble, these won’t be 100% perfect for you, but the overall tone and clarity just seems to feel right, and is excellent at bringing the feeling out of the music for me. The sound reminds me of running my fingers over the sort of paper they use for school certificates and important legal documents, with a physicality and texture you can feel compared to a normal smooth sheet of A4, adding a layer of substance to the sound to complement the smoothness. Female vocals are similarly well looked after, with the Fidue working its way through Emile Sande and Beth Hart’s differing vocal styles without losing anything in the process. One thing the A83 are excellent at capturing is the emotion of a vocal, with the high detail level and “just right” warmth and grit of the sound really bringing a sense of vitality into the track being played, making it very easy to really embrace the sound.
 
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Bass
 
The bass is one of the highlights of the A83 – deep, thick and plentiful while never getting too overblown or sloppy. The main focus in terms of sheer volume leans slightly towards the mid-bass area, but there is also a strong sub-bass on these IEMs which plays excellently with EDM and some rumbling rock music to add a level of physicality to the playback that is difficult to achieve with an all-BA setup. Compared to some other 3 driver hybrids currently on the market, these are certainly not the most bassy offering you will find, but are definitely a bit north of neutral, and no poorer for it. In fact, as an Aurisonics ASG 2.5 owner for some time, I can comfortably say that the A83 certainly don’t lose anything major in comparison with the 2.5s in terms of texture and extension, just losing out on final quantity and detail due to the unique adjustable porting design of the 2.5s (and their gigantic 14.2mm dynamic driver). To be clear, this isn’t a basshead IEM, but it does do bass very well when it is present in the track being played, and is definitely above neutral in amount, lending a nice warmth and solidity to the rest of the soundscape that works beautifully with the overall tuning.
 
My usual bass tester tracks all score well on the A83 – “Bad Rain” by Slash is textured and deep, the driving bassline kicking in with growl and menace. “Hello, It’s Me” by Sister Hazel fills the soundstage with the smoothly shifting bassline nicely, the airiness and clarity of the higher registers playing very well against the liquid basslines sitting at the bottom of the sound. I have heard more bass in both songs through my other gear (specifically the ASG 2.5), but unlike some presentations, these don’t feel lacking in any way. There is enough presence to flesh out the sound but not too much that it obscures the texture and detail underneath.
 
EDM and electronica are handled particularly well with this presentation, with the capable sub-bass underpinning my favourite tracks from Rudimental and Sigma (don’t judge me) with a nice sense of fullness to the sound, balancing against the sharpness of the treble nicely to avoid leaving the sound feeling too thin or etched. One of my new favourites for testing EDM on a headphone is “Go” by The Chemical Brothers, and the A83 gives a good account of itself here as well. The song is built around a rapped vocal sitting in the middle of the track, with driving bass and sub bass firing underneath and the standard electro-synth effects and euphoric keyboards moving around the soundstage like a Tasmanian Devil on crack as the song progresses. The Fidue handles everything with ease, the bass pounding along with real depth and impact, but not obscuring the clarity of the vocals or the swirling keyboards.
 
Overall, the bass is an excellent example of a consumer audiophile tuning – technically good, impactful but never overpowering and only present when called for. Without a slight bass boost, the sharp tuning on the rest of the frequency range may have tipped over into harshness for some, but the slight boost down low helps bring these into balance for me, and leaves the overall sound again feeling “just right” for an enjoyable and slightly coloured audio experience.
 
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Soundstage/separation
 
The soundstage of the A83 is wide for an IEM, but not excessively so. It sits somewhere outside your ears in terms of width, and keeps a realistic sense of height. I have heard more spacious presentations (the ASG 2.5 again – it really is that good), but this certainly takes you slightly outside the confines of your own head when the track or the source calls for it. Separation is similarly good but not great, with instruments spreading themselves across the musical backdrop and making themselves easily distinguishable from each other without ever pulling the music too far apart. For the overall tuning of the IEM, this is preferable for me – there is a fine line between musical and analytical, and there is enough detail in the main wall of sound to let you enjoy the nuances of the songs without fully dissecting them and taking some of the soul away in the process. “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” by Blackberry Smoke is always a good indicator for me – there is an acoustic guitar lick that comes in over the main electric riff about 20 or so seconds in that can get swallowed up in the overall sound with some lower-fidelity IEMs, and can jump a little too far out of the main song with some hyper-detailed IEMs I have heard. The A83 gets the balance just about right, with each acoustic note clearly defined and audible, without sitting apart from the riff it is supposed to be accompanying.
 
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Isolation
 
Due to the size of the shells and the reasonable insertion levels, isolation is good on these IEMs, but not stellar. It will do well enough on public transport for me using my tip of preference (SpinFit), but if I was going to be heading off on a long plane journey then I might consider packing on some Comply foam tips to give it a little boost at the expense of some of that wonderful airy treble. As with all decent sealing in-ears, it is easily isolating enough to have to remove them if you want to talk to someone without the medium of sign language/instant message or avoid getting hit by a truck, so you have been warned.
 
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Tip Choice
 
As I am coming late to this particular party, I had read enough about the standard tip choice provided to work out that I would most likely need to indulge in some tip-rolling in order to find the perfect sound and seal for my cavern-sized ears. After experimenting with various included tips (poor seal for my ears), I settled on some Comply foam tips and a pair of SpinFits I had laying around as my two final contenders. The Comply allow for a more isolating seal, and are my normal tip of choice on almost all of my IEMs, but in this instance I found the SpinFit tips to provide a seal that was almost as good, while allowing a little more air into the overall sound, retaining more of the excellent treble definition and spark which can be lost with the foam solution. As mentioned, my ears have particularly wide canals, so the standard tips will most likely be fine for most, but for this particular IEM, I find SpinFit has allowed me to get the most personally enjoyable sound out of it. Another close contender for sound and fit on the A83 are the new "Kombi" tips launched by Trinity Audio (a hybrid silicon/foam tip like the Sony Hybrids) - these only arrived as I was finishing the writeup on these so I haven't had masses of time with them yet, but they definitely ran the SpinFits close in terms of overall enjoyment. There is quite a lot of recommendation on the forums for JVC Spiral Dots as the “end-game” tip for these IEMs, but I don’t have any of these miracle Japanese super-tips in my audio toolbox at the moment to verify, unfortunately.
 
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Amping
 
The overall sensitivity and resistance of these IEMs make them pretty easy to run off an average audiophile setup (mobile phone, standalone DAP) and sound pretty amazing while doing so. Adding in something with more torque to the chain like the Cayin C5 amp and the A83 will quite happily make the most of the extra headroom, with a small but noticeable boost to the fullness and impact of the bass being the most obvious improvement. Verdict: amping not required to get great sound out of these, but more power will squeeze the last few drops of juice out of the lime in terms of sound quality and impact.
 
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Comparisons
 
Echobox Finder X1 – This IEM is a filter based dynamic driver retailing for around $200, with excellent build quality and a sharp “audiophile” U-shaped tuning across all three filters. Using the “bass” filter as my preferred reference, The Finders come across as a more pronounced version of the tuning that the A83 has gone for, with a slightly leaner overall sound and more pronounced sharpness in the high registers, with a bass tuning that leans more towards mid bass thickness and volume compared to the more even split of the Fidue between mid and sub bass. Both IEMs are very detailed in terms of overall presentation, with the Finders just coming across as slightly smoother by a hair in the midrange compared to the more “textured” feel of the A83, but losing out a little to the Fidue in terms of conveying emotion in a track due to the slightly deeper setting of the voices compared to the bass and high end. One area where the Finder does have an advantage is the sheer speed of the bass in the dynamic driver, with the German-designed PEEK diaphragm really providing some pace and slam to the low notes that feels a little quicker and more pronounced. Treble is a matter of preference, with both providing a nice airy presentation but the Finders coming across as the hotter and more “etched” of the two presentations, even though neither cross the line into sibilance. From a personal preference, the A83 has the better treble tuning for me, although both are good. Build quality is a split decision – the solid titanium bell shape of the Finders look and feel absolutely beautiful, and are about as durable as you could ever want from an IEM. In contrast, the cable battle is won by the A83, with a thicker and more importantly detachable cable (both are made from silver plated copper) with memory wire to enable over-ear wear. On a straight shootout, the A83 just edge ahead for me if I had to choose just one IEM as my daily driver purely on tuning, but the Finder do present excellent value for money and a comparable level of quality to make it purely a preference call.
 
FLC8S – The tuneable marvel from Forrest Wei and his team has 36 different tuning configurations available for the listener, so for the sake of sanity and a review that doesn’t run into 50,000 words I am comparing them using my preferred tuning of red-black-gold with Comply comfort tips. This configuration allows for more sub-bass and mid-bass presence in the basic FLC tuning, which brings it more into line with the tuning of the A83. The A83 has a slightly higher mid-bass presence than the FLC, with similar sub bass tuning (if a little more “rumble factor” for me). Both are good, with the FLC feeling lighter and a little less dense than the A83's more substantial overall bass presence. In terms of midrange, the FLC8S has a more forward and velvety smooth midrange presentation, with vocals more towards the forefront of the soundstage. The A83 mids are a little further back overall, with more texture and a little more substance and raw emotion to the sound than the smoother and silkier heartstring-pulling stylings of the 8S. In the high frequencies, both tunings offer plenty of air, with the FLC going for a more diffuse and airier take compared to the more focused “zest” of the Fidue. Build quality is similar on both models, with the pseudo-metal faceplates on the A83 looking a little nicer to the eye than the all plastic industrial design of the FLC that makes them look more like a plumber’s U-bend than a mid-tier IEM. The cables are similar, with the edge going to the A83 both in terms of ergonomics and build quality. These are too different in tuning to pick a clear winner, with the infinitely tuneable FLC providing more tinkering options, but the A83 providing a more enjoyable basic tuning and a touch more rawness to tracks than the smooth and ethereal FLC.
 
Campfire Audio Nova – with a current RRP of $500, these sit in the price bracket above the A83, but share a similar sense of freshness and clarity so I have included these as a reference for people thinking of stepping up (or down) a bracket. When I first put both these IEMs in my ears, they gave off a feeling of clarity that was quite unmistakeable, despite having drastically different basic tunings. The Nova is a dual-BA setup, with a tuning that reminds me of an old vinyl record being played on a really good sound system, giving a sense of realism to the sound, compared to the more classic but similarly clear “Hi-Res” tuning of the A83. Overall, the Nova is a darker affair than the A83, with the treble lacking the sense of air and freshness that the A83 portrays. The tuning of the Nova is more along the lines of a slightly bassy take on neutral, comparted to the more V shaped Fidue. In terms of detail, the level is actually pretty similar, the more closed off treble containing the detail a little further back into the overall sound than the more prominent A83. Compared to the A83, the Nova is slightly more forward in the mids, with a nice substance and clarity to the sound. The A83 has a more detailed feeling midrange, with the vocals in particular feeling slightly more textured and conveying more depth of emotion. In terms of bass, the A83 has a higher sub bass presence than the Nova, which rolls off quite early on down the frequency range, and a stronger mid-bass presence with more defined slam due to the use of the dynamic driver compared to the all-BA setup of the Nova. The one area the Nova clearly wins on is in power requirement – it is much easier to drive. Overall, the A83 wins quite comfortably for me in terms of sound preferences – the Nova has  unique and “real” tuning that I have an enormous respect and technical admiration for, but for sheer enjoyment, the A83 wins me over with its bigger sub-bass rumble and fresher treble tuning.
 
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Overall conclusion
 
It almost feels churlish to write a recommendation on these IEMs, considering they have been in circulation for over 2 years now and reviewed (and praised) by some of the most prolific reviewers on Head-Fi already. On my part, I would just say that the previous high marks are still thoroughly deserved – these IEMs present a beautifully coherent and enjoyable sound, with just the right amount of bass texture and impact to go along with the “fresh enough to be royalty in Bel-Air” treble tuning and emotive vocals. There isn’t an area that you listen to the A83 and think the designers really missed the target, which is pretty rare with a tuning that dares to pump the bass and the treble. Up until this review, my “go to” IEMs for listening when I have time to really sit back and enjoy the music and don’t feel like wearing over-ears have been the Aurisonics ASG2.5 – my experience with the A83s so far has pretty much pushed the 2.5s into semi-retirement, with something that keeps drawing me back to the excellent tuning and raw emotion they can convey. To sum up the whole review in five words: just right, Fidue. Just right. 
hqssui
hqssui
Excellent review as always. Thanks
Pros: Silver Cable, Great Soundstage, Great bass for a reference class
Cons: Isolation
You cannot understand until you try :D
Pros: Sound quality, accessories, design, good stock cable
Cons: Stock cable connector, lack of extra tips, about average isolation

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        I am open to any suggestions or feedback about my writing or the way I present this review, and will try to improve based on any feedback you have.
 
        It was early December, 2014, when I lost my IEM due to a washing machine. Later that month, I believed I could fare traveling around New York with a set of headphones. From there, the realization hit in that a new set of in-ear monitors would suit me much better for portable use. Lurking around Head-fi lead me to multiple hybrid in-ear monitors that were quite popular, with options from Altone, Dunu, and more. I remember reading about the Fidue A83 review a while back, and decided to read the other reviews. So this lead me to choose between either the Dunu Dn-2000 or the Fidue A83. I picked the A83 and started using it during the start of 2015. The A83 hasn't let me down and I still love it, even if it has some negative quirks.
 
About me
        I am currently a high school student with very busy parents, so I use school transportation frequently(until I apply for a parking spot next year). My IEMs are used to and from school just about everyday and use the desktop setup is used mostly the weekends. Once in a while, I will be taking a trip somewhere that would take anywhere from a 30 minute drive to a 12 hour plane ride, in which I will be mainly using IEMs, which also explains why I only have one full-sized headphone. Normally, I will be using the Fiio X5 as my main portable source, with my phone as the backup. Most of my music collection is in mp3 format, with some FLAC files here and there. My collection also includes streaming sources such as Soundcloud or Youtube. I commonly listen to the EDM genre, and listen to various music scores (and maybe even classical music) during my studying and assignment-completion sessions. I do not have much experience in describing sound and trying out many headphones, and I especially have little experience in critical listening, so please keep that in mind as you read my thoughts.
 


DSC_0704.jpg


Packaging and Accessories
        The packaging won't dazzle you, but the accessories should keep you satisfied. The main box of the A83 has a black and green theme and gives you some information and the specifications of the monitor. Once you open it up, you will see everything protected using two large pieces of styrofoam. Inside the box comes with various eartips, an airplane adapter, a 3.5 mm to 1/4 inch adapter, and a pelican case. The A83 itself is stuffed inside a foam cutout and placed inside the pelican case, which presents the monitors as an item of great value the first time you open the case. Here is some more information from the package.
 
Specifications
Driver: 10mm Exclusive Dynamic & Dual-Balanced Armature Drivers
Frequency Range: 9 - 31,000 Hz
Impedance: 11 Ω (Ohms)
Sensitivity: 104 dB
Max Input Power: 30 mW
Distortion: <1%
Plug: 3.5 Gold plated stereo
Cable Length:
 


DSC_0712.jpgDSC_0711.jpg


Design and Build
 
        Keep in mind that I have the second variant of the A83 with a chin slider and the connection with the locking tab. There is an earlier version with no chin slider, but with the locking tab, and a new version that has a recessed socket. Variations in quality may occur, but there is no solid claim as far as I know.
 
        The Fidue A83 uses an over the ear design with an MMCX cable connection, meaning that you can switch and replace the cables of the Fidues. The A83 looks very nice with its golden faceplate and transparent red/blue shells, which help me identify the right from the left with ease. The braided stock cable of the A83 has very good strain reliefs, a chin slider, and an attractive dark silver color. The stock cable also has a tab, which locks in to a slot right next to the MMCX connector of the monitor shell. The version I have is compatible with most aftermarket cables (MMCX), but the stock cable of the A83 can't be used on any other IEM without cutting the tabs off. Although the stock cable has no microphone, you could purchase an aftermarket cable with a remote and mic. Even if the A83 is mostly plastic, it still looks pretty good.
 
        The build quality of the A83 is also very good. The braided cable is very study and the cable jack has a large strain relief. The mmcx connections are also tight and study, although I wouldn't recommend detaching the cables too often or detaching them at all. There is an issue with the sound cutting off/getting quieter in the right piece of the monitor, however, this is an issue that belongs to the stock cable. I had an extra stock Shure cable with me long before the cutting out issues occurred, and the Shure cable worked fine and still works fine to this day. The connections also may cut out when they are dirty, which usually happens over a period of months and can be cleaned with some paper towels and rubbing alcohol. There are several attempted solutions to fix the connection, but I have not tried any of them yet since the Shure cable satisfies me.
 
        So the major caveat of the A83 is just the stock cable connector, although I have an older version. Fidue's newest version with the flushed socket was an attempt to address this issue, and you might find some feedback on the A83 thread, although I don't know if the revision works or not. Other than this issue, the design and build of the monitor is high quality. 
 


 


Fit and Isolation
        Fit varies from person to person. I had the A83's in my ears in less than a minute, and I started fine-tuning the fit for while I settled in with the monitors. People not used to memory wire may have some difficulties, but memory wire is generally a bit annoying to a new user. The locking tab that the A83 has prevents it from swiveling, which is helpful to not have the shells move around the cable. However, the lack of swivel restricted my fit a tiny bit since I could not achieve a better angle for the monitor to stay in my ear. Although I can live with the locking tab, getting another cable without the locking tab improves the comfort and seal. Overall, fit was pretty easy.
 
        Isolation is one of the weaker spots of the A83, but the tips that you use on the monitor also change the isolation. The Comply foam tips provide very good isolation and reassure me by drowning out enough background noise. These are a bit annoying whenever you need to put them on, but it only takes a few seconds to get them into your ears. The up was the Sony hybrid isolation tips was a mix between good isolation and a sound I liked. The final tips, which I settled on, were the JVC spiral dot tips. If extra isolation is not required and and some extra comfort is appreciated, then the spiral dots will end up on the A83. Isolation shouldn't be too worrying unless you travel in some very noisy environments.
 


DSC_0719.jpg


Sound Quality
        The thoughts below are from dedicated listening sessions. The Fiio X5 was used as the main source, and the Schiit stack was used scarcely, but most of the thoughts here will be from the X5. There may be some small changes in the future as I gain more experience and start doing comparisons with other monitors.
 
        The A83's signature has more emphasis on the low end and the high end, but they are pretty close to a balanced sound. The bass is a little above neutral. It has good control and maintains a good speed. When the music calls for it, the bass can hit hard and will present itself as very impactful and dynamic. The bass does not go super deep, but it has impressive layering. The low end can either be exciting or a little reserved when it needs to be, making it work for many genres. The mids are placed behind the bass and treble, but not by much. There is a very good amount of detail and the vocals are handled very well. The male vocals, to me, either is a little laid back compared to female vocals or simply not as full. Either way, male vocals hold their ground, while female vocals are a little more present. Vocals in general are quite close and especially with female vocals, the vocals express a lot of breathtaking emotion. The treble is also a little above neutral, but not excessive enough to cause lots of fatigue. There is a lot of airiness and extension that is captivating if you can handle it. I do not have any problems with fatigue with the A83, but I can't handle more than a few fours of just about any monitor in my ears without taking a short break (for long listening sessions while on a long trip).
 
        The soundstage is spacious, but not massive. I haven't heard any IEM that has a more improved soundstage, but I don't have a chance to listen to many IEMs so my experience is quite limited. The separation and imaging is good; I am able to discern instruments without much effort. The A83 is forgiving, not sounding unbearable on low-quality tracks and less than ideal source components (like a school laptop). Anything bad will stay bad, but the A83 doesn't make it much worse. The monitor is also pretty easy to drive, with the maximum volume being able to destroy my ears pretty easily.
 
        The sound quality of the A83 doesn't let me down. I've come to appreciate the sound after more and more time with the A83, and I plan on keeping it for some time now. For me, the sound is a strong point of the monitor and is really what convinced me to keep it even though I have a couple of other monitors.
 


DSC_0710.jpgDSC_0727.jpg


 

Comparisons
        I currently have two other monitors to compare the A83 with, which are the Earwerkz Supra 2 and the Trinity Audio Deltas. These comparisons will come up during separate times.
 
    A83 ($270) vs Supra 2 ($399) - Current Amazon (A83) and direct (Supra) prices if September 2015
        Both the A83 and Supra have over ear cable designs (the Supra has two other versions with a straight cable) with durable braided cables. They both look very astonishing and both have very good qualities. The Supra features more customization options before buying (unless you choose to buy the ready-made Supras), and has higher quality production with each model being hand-made. The A83 uses an mmcx socket while the Supra uses the 2-pin cable socket, so you cannot switch the cables between each other. The Supra's size is a little smaller than the A83, but only because it has a more unique shape with the purpose of better ergonomics. The Supra also has a deeper nozzle and a sealed design (due to having only balanced armature drivers). The A83 is a hybrid monitor with one dynamic driver and one pair of TWFK balanced armature drivers, but the Supra uses just two balanced armature drivers. The A83 and Supra both maintain high quality, although the Supra edges out the A83 for ergonomics, customization, and isolation. The Supra's isolation due to a deep nozzle and sealed design makes it isolation better than the A83 and even most other monitors around this range.
 
        The A83's has a more exciting sound signature compared to the Supra's. The A83 has an elevated bass and treble response in comparison. The Supra's bass is neutral, having tightness and control. The bass is faster than the A83's, but the A83's bass has a more desirable texture and layering. The A83's elevated bass is more impactful and works better with genres that could use of dynamic and elevated bass (EDM for example). The Supra's mids have a fullness on both male and female vocals, and is thicker than the A83's. The A83 is special with female vocals, but the Supra presents male vocals just as well as it does for female vocals. As for the treble, the A83 has more elevation here. The Supra has a very neutral treble that is fatigue-less, and doesn't overpower the music in any way. The A83's treble is more pronounced and and has energy than the Supra's. Both monitors have good treble extension, with the A83 edging out a tiny bit. The sound signature of these two monitors vary quite a bit, with the A83 being exciting and the Supra being neutral and reserved, and is up to user preference.
 
        The soundstage of the Supra is its weaker spot. The A83 is gives a bigger sense of space in this regard. The Supra maintains excellent imaging for its lack of a larger soundstage, and is a little better than the A83. The Supra separates and presents details with ease, and does so with greater skill than the A83. The Supra is also harsher with poor quality sources while the A83 is more forgiving on the source track. Since the Supra is more sensitive than the A83, but can still be enjoyed with low volumes with the A83 is excellent for louder volumes.
 
        As I commute over various places, I would take the Supra over the A83 for its isolation (school bus, school commons with insanely noisy teenagers), and the A83 if I don't need any extra isolation (cars, normal buses). My tastes personally lean toward's the A83 signature, but it may be different for someone else. The Supra suits those who prefer a neutral signature, even more so than the A83's mostly balanced sound.
 

 

Conclusion
        The review was written over a series of a few weeks, mainly due to my lack of time. Most of my writing, whether it's an assignment or something out of school, is usually done in one go, or at least with small breaks in between. If the review sounds choppy, this would be one of the culprits (and the lack of transitions). After I get this review up, I will work on writing comparisons first with the Earwerkz Supra 2, then the Trinity Deltas.
 
        When I bought the A83, I chose it and meant to use it as a daily driver longer than any of my other IEMs. It is September now; I can look back at the countless times I've put these in my ears, and I still use the A83 despite having other IEMs. The sound signature suits my tastes well and the quirks I mentioned in this review haven't bothered me during the times I've used it. Fidue has attempted to fix these problems with the third variant of the A83, but I do not know of its effectiveness, but I give them props for listening. There are also many stories of Fidue's customer service with Michael, and they seem to be very positive. I appreciate the listening they have done to everyone else and I will see what Fidue is planning as the successor to the A83.
 
Here is a picture album for the A83 by me. I plan on adding more pictures of the A83 with different tips and etc.
 
Revision History:
9/25/2015
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SyntheticShotz
SyntheticShotz
Thank you! I appreciate the response.
dnun8086
dnun8086
Totally agree, good work bud and very nicely presented.
SyntheticShotz
SyntheticShotz
Thanks!
Pros: Deep & Powerful Bass, clean & clear Mids, Detailed & Clear Treble, Very Well Built
Cons: Limited ear tips, Some sibilance
Introduction
Well it’s now time to review the Fidue A83, I have been using these earphones for 3 months straight and while I had issues at first it all ending very well, but more on that later.
 
Firstly a bit about myself, I have been listening to Music since I first heard Trivium - Ascendancy album in 2005 and since then I have explored every aspect of the Metal Genre and I have been slowly moving into old school music from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. I have had many portable players, like the Fiio X5 & Astell & Kern AK120, and I have had many headphones, like the Heir Audio 4.ai & Sennheiser HD 800.
 
But while I have tried a good amount of Portable Players & Headphones, I have never found a combo that has made me keep it… Until now!
 
Specification:
 
Distortion
< 1.0%
Frequency Response
9Hz-31kHz
Impedance
11 Ohms
Max. Power Input
30mW*
Sensitivity
104 dB

 
Design
The design of Fidue A83 is very neat, clean and elegant. The plastic inner part of the housing allows for a comfortable fit where the housing touches your ear. The metal outer part of the housing is very well machined, giving a premium feel. Well all over this set of earphones you get a premium feel whether it’s from the housings, the cable or even the jack. Though I will say it would of be great to see a 90 or 45 degree jack but then the straight cable is great if you put your player into your pocket cause then the cable will just go straight out of the pocket without bending.
 
The packaging is in my opinion adequate, not the level of Astell & Kern but get’s the job the done. The included case is very nice, it’s a Pelican Style case which is something I really love to see as I am not a fan of these soft leather or fabric cases as I have spent £270 I want something that will protect my earphones in transit.
 
Overall the design of the earphones is very good, but would of liked to see a V-Moda style jack just to make it easier on the cable.
 
Fit
Now we get to the part that took me over a month to get right, there isn’t a large selection of ear tips included with the Fidue A83 and in my opinion I kinda went in a full circle with ear tip swapping. I started with the spherical rubber tips (Medium) first which were preinstalled on the earphones, I then moved from their to the double cone style ear tips, then moves to the Comply T-400 and then TX-400. Finally thought I found a tip company called INAIRS, these are foam tips just like Comply, once I have got these I was blown away. The tips were easy to install, comfortable and sounded fantastic. So if you're going to get these then I highly recommend getting the INAIRS tips for these.
 
Sound
Finally… The Sound!
 
Source: iPod Video 5.5th Gen + Fiio A3
File: MP3 320 Kbps
 
Bass:
Ok so while many people would argue that having an earphone/headphone that can go down to 9 Hz is pointless, honestly it makes the Bass an awesome experience! If you love bass and have tracks that are well recorded then the bass you will hear will be immense, it’s not so much that you hear all the way down to 9 Hz but you can feel it. Overall the bass is tight and well controlled but never overpowering or boomy.
 
Mid:
I am someone who loves hearing vocals in my music and on the Fidue A83 the vocals are not forward but they are given their place in between the bass and highs, this gives the vocals a nice sense of purpose and presence without being in your face.
 
Treble:
The treble can come across a bit harsh or sibilant but I feel that this is simply just the slightly boosted 4-8Khz range that offers more detail. Overall the treble is very clean & clear with no distortion, there is hardly much smoothness giving a nice sound to cymbals.
 
Conclusion
Overall these IEM's are fantastic, some may find the treble a bit too harsh but for me I find them fantastic and offers some great detail. 
 
I will happily recommend them to everyone, 100% get these!
Pros: Great Vocals, Detailed sound, Plump Bass
Cons: Tricky fit, Possible durability issues?
Introduction

 

The A83 have been on my wish list for a while now, saw them at a reasonable price so thought why not snatch them up. So here we are I finally have the lovelies plugged into my ears and what a joy it is!

 

Initial impressions

 

I'm having to write this as I've noticed quite a significant amount of adjustment since the A83 and I first met.

 

Well my initial impressions had me feeling a little lost didn't quite know how to sum them up, couldn't get a good read on them at all.  The sound was good at best and the fit well that was just plain awful. Don't get me wrong I didn't feel these sounded bad just a little off considering what I was expecting.

 

The highs felt rolled off, the midrange lacking the raw emotion I'd heard so much about and a bass that didn't know where it belonged. Good thing after having a few finickity earphones recently, I now know source and tips can be incredibly crucial in bringing out an earphones true character.

 

Packaging

 

Ooo lovely I just love getting new toys in the mail hehe. 

 

I've posted some pictures below as you can see:

 

A nicely presented box, inside we find; 

 

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A solid foam earphone holder which is rather handy if you’re anal about neatness like myself 

 
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An incredibly tactile plastic carrying box

 

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And last but not least all your standard accessories i.e Ear Tips and adapters etc. (Unfortunately not receiving the unit brand new I'm missing some ear tips but ah well)  

 

Build quality/Design/Fit

 

If it's one of the things that contributes to that half a star drop it would be in this section. The build quality is fantastic solidly built shells encase the drivers and every contour joined together perfectly. 

  

The design is as you can see a typical over ear hook which is fine most of the time unless of course you have fit issue like myself. Even with the Dunu 2K ear tips I still can't seem to get a great deal of comfort for listening longevity. In all honesty I would probably buy this earphone all over again, with no upgrade to sound, if the bloody things would fit comfortably for longer listening sessions without faff but I digress.

 

As of yet no problems have occurred with the connectors, but as you can see in the picture the left earpiece doesn't quite sit flush like on the other side. I think this may be due to a problem with my cable connector not the iem itself. Thankful I had a friend to hold them so I could get a better picture the left earpiece being the blue and the right one in red.

 

image4.jpgimage3.jpg

 

 

 

Apart from my moans and groans overall they seem very solid and the cable looks like it's built like a tank so all is good.

 

 

Sound impressions after playing

 

As a disclaimer I just want to point out what works for me might not necessarily work for you. Now that being said I found my ideal ear tips thus far have been the Dunu 2K's grey silicon tips. You can find more information with regards to ear tips and sources on the thread. (A winning combo seems to be the Shozy Alien Dap and JVC spiral dot tips) which I have yet to try.

 

The first source I started using was the AR-M2 player, which I have been smitten with for some time now, but partnered with the A83 it just sounded a little unflattering like everything I mentioned in regard to my initial impressions. So I pulled out my good old Meridian explorer, plugged her in and using my newly acquired Quickstep amp began really enjoying my music, no like really enjoying.

 

There is this lovely quality about Fidue's house sound which really allows you to start enjoying your music again. I had the same feeling with one of their younger model the A63. Anyway with the correct source and tips everything said about these bad boys began to ring true. 

 

Highs

 

The treble isn't subdued by any means but a little more relaxed sounding than something like the Dunu 2K. I really quite like the treble and timbre the A83 portrays. Detail retrieval is pretty damn good not the best I've heard but certainly enough to keep up with most if not all TWFK designs I've heard to date. 

Truthfully extension is fairly good but it could do with a touch more to really bring out all those nuances we all love to hear so much. Whilst on the subject of improvements I wish the presentation had a touch more space with slightly airy treble to accompany a wider deeper stage but I will get to this later.

 

Midrange

 

There is much to love about the A83 and the way it lures you in with its vocal reproduction. I would call the mids slightly forward sounding and absolutely packed with fun. I don’t find them quite as enjoyable as the ASG 1Plus however, that being said these are very addictive earphones to listen to. Vocals don't come across overly thick and there is a great detailing to match which add to the ambience. I think the A83 strikes an almost perfect balance between a fun and serious listen experience.

 

As much as I love the mid range there is still room for improvement. One thing I would have hoped for is a touch more air to surround the mids, this could have really made a great thing even better.

 

Bass

 

Texture is great you get a real full bodied sound with spades of detail to match. Immediately coming from some bass lighter earphones I thought the midbass was a little overcooked. However, with a bit of time and after brain burn in kicked I started to hear a rather clean bass. Don't get me wrong there is still a little mid bass bleed but not as much as I'd initially thought.  Personally I’d like a touch less mid bass and an added bit of sub bass to clean everything up a hair but overall the bass is very well done. The speed is great keeping up with complex passages and manages to stay out of the way when needed 99% of the time. 

 

There is a touch lack of extension when reaching to the lowest of bass notes but nothing to complain about, or would even be picked up upon unless critically listening. 

 

Imaging/Soundstage

 

This again is an area which I feel is good really quite good but not quite great. Firstly let us start with the soundstage, I am still trying to get my head around this one, it is wide but not overly so I would say depth is lacking slightly detracting from that traditional open stage monitor kind of signature.

 

Moving on to the imaging side of things the A83 are competent everything is where is should be you get to hear those clicks in the mix as you listen in and get swept up by the music. Once again I find myself coming back to this point of air I love an airy sound signature but with the A83 I feel they are lacking that separation I desperately crave. Certain passages just felt a touch congested this could be due to the mid bass bleed but I am nit picking now.

 

I wouldn't call this a complaint just personal preference as the A83 still deliver an overall stunning package for the price if I had a restricted budget I would choose these over the 1Plus but only if funds were absolutely inflexible.    

 

Conclusion

 

I know it seems like the A83 have been picked apart by a seemingly uninspired review but I assure you this earphone is still a beauty. I think with the price performance ratio, despite a few shortcomings, this is certainly one of the most enjoyable earphones I've had the privilege of listening to. I really hope Fidue don't change too much and work on some improvements I certainly will be first in line for the A83 2.0.

 

As always if there are any questions or comments feel free to ask away. Hope you guys enjoyed this review.  

 

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ardacumhur
ardacumhur
Thank you for your review :)
Pros: Hi-Fi sound, Outstanding resolution, Fantastic separation, Plays all genres extremely well, Great accessories
Cons: Memory wire makes putting them on a PITA, They are pricey for a universal IEM
At the time this review was written, the Fidue A83 hybrid earphone was on sale for $279.99 USD on a major distribution/selling site (not to be named), and on Penonaudio.com for $339 USD. The Penon model comes with an extra MMCX cable with a microphone. Here is a link to Fidue’s product page, and to Penon Audio’s listing of this product:
 
http://www.fidue.com/index_en.asp
http://penonaudio.com/Fidue-A83
 
Introduction
 
When Michael at Fidue contacted me to possibly review products, I was excited at the opportunity. I had never tried any of their products and was looking forward to it. The A83 had a lot of hype at the time, and was the talk of many Head-fi threads. To be honest, I was expecting to get an entry level model as a feel out process to see where we would go after that. I was floored when I realized that I was going to get their flagship A83 right off the bat.
 
Disclaimer
 
First and foremost, a HUGE thank you to Michael over at Fidue for the opportunity to try this world class earphone. I am in no way affiliated with Fidue, and was given an opportunity to sample this product in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
 
My Background
 
To start this review, please allow me to share a little bit about myself so you can better understand my observations. I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
 
There’s something about quality DAPs, amplifiers and earphones that intrigues me, ESPECIALLY if they can be had for low prices. I’m a budget-fi guy. I buy the $5 to $400 headphone or IEM that looks promising, in hopes that I can find that one new gem that can perform above its price range, and compete with the big boys of this industry. If you look at my profile and inventory you will see I have purchased many, and I mean MANY different headphones ranging from $5 all the way up to $400. For me, it’s been more about getting great price to performance ratio, and hearing a variety of different gears with diverse signatures. With this hobby, we often times pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned is that price DOES NOT always indicate good sound and build quality.
 
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me that “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different signatures as long as they are presented in a way that is pleasing to my ears. It’s my pleasure to share my experience with audio products, and make recommendations based on what I have heard.
 
The Package
 
The Fidue A83 came in a slightly larger than normal black box featuring a minimalistic display that featured their name, the model, a brief description of their product’s features, and a glossy “cut out” image of the product.
 
DSC_0002.jpg
 
The back of the package had a nice statement from the company explaining their 20-years of Hi-Fi audio experience and commitment to audio excellence. It also displayed their technical specifications for the A83 in three different languages.
 
Driver Type:                          10mm Exclusive Dynamic & Dual-Balanced Armature drivers
Frequency Range:                 9-31000 Hz
Impedance:                           11 Ohm
Sensitivity:                             104dB
Max Input Power:                  30mW
Distortion:                              <1%
Plug:                                      3.5mm stereo, gold plated
 
DSC_0003.jpg
 
Opening the package revealed a baggie with accessories and tips. Being the gear junkie I am, I skipped that for the time being to go straight for the earphones. They came in a Pelican-like case that was made of very rugged plastic. The case was the type I’ve seen only come with custom earphones for the most part.
 
DSC_0004.jpg
 
Opening the case, the earphones were wrapped up in a foam that held the earphones in place, and had a cord winder around the perimeter. It was something along the lines of the Pistons earphone concept, but with foam instead of silicone. I have to admit, I was smiling the whole time. This thing reeks of high class audio. It’s a beautiful package that won’t disappoint. There’s not a single thing that would make you feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth.
 
DSC_0005.jpg
 
The A83 comes with a ¼ inch adapter and an airline adapter. Both are gold plated and of very nice quality. There are six pairs of tips:
 
1X High quality comply foam tips (appear to be Medium/Large size)
1X Medium/Large dual flange silicone tips
1X Small/Medium dual flange silicone tips
1X Small single flange silicone tips
1X Medium single flange silicone tips
1X Large single fange silicone tips
 
DSC_0006.jpg
There are plenty of tips for just about everyone to get a secure fit and seal
 
The build on these are fantastic. Starting at the housing, they have a metal exterior on the outside. The inside portion of the earphone housing is a solid and translucent blue (left) and red (right) plastic that reveals the innards of the A83. It is a very clever and cool design which not only indicates the left and right channels with, taking a close look at them under light I could see the detail and technology these things have. The housings are solidly built and light weight.
 
DSC_0010.jpgDSC_0011.jpg
 
The A83 has a unique MMCX connector that has a special metal tab on each phone that prevents the connection from rotating. I really like this feature, as it assists in getting a more solid and consistent fit. And, another positive with this design is that other MMCX cables without the metal tab will fit on the A83, but they will rotate. The Fidue cable can’t be used on other models because the tab will get in the way.
 
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Starting with the Cable jack, we have a straight version that is made of metal and seems very durable. The strain relief is made of a rubbery material and is really well done. I don’t see having any problem with the jack holding up to the test of time and use.The cable is beautiful, period. It’s made of silver plated oxygen free copper and is a heavy duty dull silver/lead colored with a shimmery finish and braided all the way up to the Y-splitter. You will seldom if ever see a cable this thick and nice in a universal IEM.The Y-splitter is made of the same metal as the jack, and displays the A83 model name. It’s well built and leaves me with no complaints at all. Rubbery strain reliefs are at the Y-splitter to keep the cord from getting any kinks. Once you get above the Y-splitter, it gets pretty interesting. The cable now becomes a twist cable (same dull silver/lead with shimmer) and appears to be wrapped with clear heat shrink tubing all the way up to the housing. If I had to guess, it was done in an effort to further prevent microphonics. There is no chin slider. The A83 uses memory wire to go over and around the ear to hold things in place.
 
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Fit & Microphonics
 
The one thing on the cable I didn’t care for was the memory wire leading from the final 3-4 inches of cable to the housing. I don’t mean to be picky, but I find memory wire to be very finicky and hinders my ability to get a solid and consistent fit unless I tediously manipulate the wire to conform to my ear each and every time. There have been some comments on Head-fi about these having a “shallow fit” and people having a tough time getting a solid fit and seal. I’m guessing that some/much of this has to do with the memory wire. Don’t get me wrong, I got a good fit, but I would rather not deal with memory wire and opt for a cable that leads all the way up and over the ear, and snug things up with a chin slider. As for microphonics there is little if any. If I do get any microphonics it’s from the memory wire brushing my ear. Like all in-ear monitors, finding the right tip that is the right size and seals well is essential in getting the best sound quality you can achieve from your earphone. For me, I prefer the large single bore silicone tips
.
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One thing I noticed while tip rolling is that tip selection plays a big part in how these sound. Smaller bore tips bring the bass and treble forward from what I heard, and a wider bore tip seemed to yield a more balanced presentation. Your mileage may vary, just be sure to experiment with tips to see what works best for you.
 
Review Materials
 
I primarily did my demo with my LG G3 phone, and with my portable rig, a Samsung Galaxy S (Wolfson chip) with Topping NX1 amplifier. I also used my Fiio E17 DAC/AMP at 24 bit, 96000 Hz out of my laptop setup. I also tested them with other portable DAPs and amplifiers, and didn’t notice any significant changes with different sources. I used Google music downloaded in its highest quality download setting (320 kbps), and streamed flac via Tidal streaming service. I made sure to have approximately 30 hours of burn-in by playing them at loud volumes with different varieties of music.
 
I used my usual same songs for testing this gear:
 
“Limit to your love” by James Blake
“One” by Metallica
“Madness” by Muse
“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk
“Some Nights” by Fun
“The Soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
“Bassically” by Tei Shi
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie
“One” by Ed Sheeran
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack
“Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits
“Ten Thousand Fists” by Disturbed
 
Sound
 
Its amazeballs, period. There are times when people pop IEMs and headphones on, press play, and feel like they are hearing their favorite songs for the first time all over again. The Fidue A83 did that for me. They are the best IEM I have at the time of writing this review. I feel blessed to have a pair. It is a combination of power and finesse. Its musical and articulate. Its Batman and Robin. Its peanut butter and jelly. Do I need to keep going to prove my point? Nah…
 
Bass
 
The bass on these are great. Out of the box, I thought that maybe it would be their downfall, as the bass response seemed sluggish and just a micro fraction slower than the rest of the sound, but even that is no more after burn in. It has beautiful punchy bass that rumbles as low as it needs to go. Is it as fast as balanced armature bass? The answer is no, and to be honest I don’t want it that way. There’s a reason why hybrids use the dynamic driver for the bass frequencies, and it’s because some audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts understand and crave the type of dynamic bass that the Fidue A83 brings to the table. Its perfect attack and decay that lingers long enough make you jones for the next note. It’s bass has weight, rumble, punch and bounce. It makes kick drums sound the way they should. It makes that hip hop bass line make you want to bob your head to the beat. During low frequency test sweeps my ears heard/felt the bass all the way down to 10Hz. It put on a clinic during James Blake’s “Limit to your love”. It never intruded into the midrange, nor did it overwhelm male or female vocals in any song I listened to. There is no mid bass bleed from what I hear. There is enough mid bass to give it a natural and pleasant texture and nothing beyond that. It’s basshead-audiophile in my opinion. The bass is forward, kick butt, and awesome.
 
Midrange
 
Midrange is high resolution, and with great separation and balance. I wouldn’t say that it takes a back seat to the bass but it’s just a hair back of the bass presence. It’s more noticeable with Hip Hop, Pop, and EDM music, but with acoustic it’s hardly noticeable at all. I consider this a good thing because those genres call for more bass anyways. Female vocals and guitars sounded especially good. In case anyone was wondering, I didn’t sense there being any kind of problems with this hybrid seeming disjointed in its sound. The balance and transition in frequencies from the dynamic driver into the armatures was seamless and perfectly executed. There’s not a single thing I played that left me thinking the A83 didn’t put on a clinic in how it should sound.
 
Treble
 
The A83 treble is crisp without being harsh. The armature driver is very natural sounding to my ears, and plays cymbals much better than many other armature drivers I’ve heard. I know some of you reading this know what I’m talking about when I say there’s some armatures that make cymbals sound unnatural and harsh. The A83 doesn’t suffer from that at all. The upper frequencies can extend pretty high, but the resolution is so good and natural sounding that it isn’t bothersome. A really good song to test to see if the sound is distorting is with “Ten Thousand Fists” by Disturbed. The A83 played every cymbal perfectly, even at the most complex passages of that song, and I NEVER got a sense that the sound was pasting together. That really impressed me because usually there’s at least one point when that happens with even my most expensive other gears. While I think some people who are extremely treble sensitive will think they are a touch hot up top, most others will fall in love with the crisp and accurate treble response these have.
 
Soundstage and Imaging
 
Soundstage width is good with depth and height. They don’t hang with the best of the best full size cans, but for IEMs they are world class and I can’t think of anything that’s particularly better.
Imaging is great. One of my favorite listening sessions with these was listening to the album “Sessions from the 17th Ward” by Amber Rubarth. I could close my eyes and envision the band playing in front of me. The great texture and separation puts space between instruments. The sound is open and airy for an IEM. Their Hi-Fi tuning also helps promote a great sense of imaging.
 
Comparisons
 
Sony H3 ($250-$350 USD on many sites)
 
The clinic that the A83 puts on with its top end resolution and balance from bass to midrange makes the Sony H3 seemed veiled in comparison. The H3 has considerably more mid bass that puts more weight on most male, and some female vocals. The separation and texture on both are great, with a slight edge going to the A83. The H3 has more relaxed and less fatiguing treble that some will prefer. While I have found the bass on the H3 to be fatiguing at times, I don’t get that from the A83 bass.
 
As far as build is concerned, I’m split between the two. The A83 has an awesome case and a beautiful cable, but the H3, comes with two stock cables (one with a microphone and one without) that features much easier to use memory wire that is coated with a soft rubber exterior. I love the hybrid sony tips, and the bonus foam filled hybrid tips that come with the H3 are epic. The H3 also comes with a very nice leather zip up case.
 
VSONIC GR07 Bass Edition ($125-$175 USD on many sites)
 
This was a close one. The Fidue destroys the GR07BE in build and accessories (although the GR07BE does come with A LOT of tips to choose from). In terms of sound, it is really hard to say that anything bests the bass quality of the GR07BE, but the Fidue A83 gives it a run for it’s money by coming close. GR07BE wins in bass response by a hair. The A83 has a more articulate and defined midrange with better separation, but the GR07BE is more musical and slightly (very slightly) fuller sounding to my ears. I consider it a tie for midrange. Treble extension is similar in both models, but the A83 plays treble more accurately and with better resolution.
 
Dunu DN1000 ($200-$250 USD on many sites)
 
I give a tie in terms of build quality and accessories. Where one company got something wrong, the other company got it right, and vice versa. Bass response goes to the A83 and it seems to be just a touch leaner and faster in its response. Midrange is a draw, as they are both world class in both imaging and resolution. Treble is also a draw. These two were actually very similarly tuned with the exception of the beefier and slightly more sluggish low end of the DN1000.
 
Conclusion
 
The A83 takes hybrid technology to a new level. I own several hybrids, and seldom does one take the “best of both worlds” in dynamic and armature technology, and combine it flawlessly. I don’t hear anything I would consider a shortcoming in their sound signature. NOTHING. You will be hard pressed to find an IEM that bests these. I often times ask myself “If I broke these would I spend the money to replace these?” Even at the higher asking price, the answer is ABSOLUTELY! Until I hear something better, the A83 is the current king of the hybrid market in my opinion.
 
Thanks for reading and happy listening!
luberconn
luberconn
good stuff HSF!!
ardacumhur
ardacumhur
Thank you for your review and impressions.
 
Honestly, I think there are just minor differences between GR07BE and A83 if we only consider the sound signature. Detachable cables and hybrid drivers are the major differences of course.
 
I'm not absolute clear about buying A83 after my current GR07BE. I can't be sure that is not a real upgrade.
 
I think I need a good comparison for choosing A83.
willyvlyminck
willyvlyminck
Wow! Impressive, AKG were the first with this Technology back in 2011 with the K3003,in the meanwhile there are lot of brands who moved into this territory, and some with great succes so it seems, great and passionated Review.
Pros: nice sound signature and details
Cons: SOLVED (before: quality problems, customer support.)
In short words:
 
The Fidue is on par with the Sony EX1000 (little less sound stage and depth, but better, more flat sound signature)
 
 
Downside:
Cable plugs to the earphone speakers was worn out after very short time.
They has play and lost contact then. Maybe they was not resistible against (my) sweat. ^^
 
I switched to Ultrasone cables with identical mmcx connectors, then. They work flawless for the moment, but it doesn't look and feel like the pretty original cable. (Ultrasone cable goes 360° round about when plugged and has a simple plastic look)
 
Contacted my dealer in CN and Micheal from Fidue. But no service, help or spare parts till now.
Not acceptable for inears in this price range. Sorry. This is pretty dissapointing, otherwise it'll be a 5 star rating
 
Update: Michael from Fidue was a little late with his answer for some reasons. But he did, and it was not only a "better late than never" thing. He also contacted his UK sales man.
They shipped me "spare parts" for free, much more than I expected! I'm a happy customer again :)
 
This is what we are talking about. A premium product and a premium support. Now 5 stars are the only rating I can do.
I won't use them for extreme sports anymore, but for everything else they are top notch next to my Sony 1k.
 
 
 
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twister6
twister6
Unless ultrasone cable is pure silver, there is no way it will sound better.  Fidue A83 cable is TOP notch.  The only regret it has an inner-locking tab to mate with earpiece side to prevent from spinning.  Otherwise, I would be using this cable with all of my mmcx based IEMs.  Also, it supposed to have a bit of play when connected, but not much.  Perhaps you got a defective cable or something, but personally I would have waited for resolution of your problem before slamming this hybrid IEM with 3-star review.  I still consider A83 to be one of my top IEMs.
Airwin
Airwin
Hi, yes - it is one of the very best  IEMs out there, and I love it.
 
@tbg: The rating changed with the customer support. No matter how good a product is, without a strong company / customer support, it's pretty fast worthless in some situations.
Customer support is cleared now, and all thumbs are up.
Sorry if I caused irritations ...
garcsa
garcsa
Similar cable contact problem here. Now the A83 is on the way to far east.... I heard there are too much cable/contact issues. Hope you guys at Fidue will resolve this "miscellaneous" problem! The iem is great! Love them!
Pros: reference sound with non-fatigue highs, full body mids, and very detailed bass, excellent quality removable cable
Cons: no cable cinch, lack of eartips
Before I start my review I would like to Thank Michael @ Fidue for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion!
 
This is a Review of Fidue A83 triple driver hybrid hi-fi IEMs, available from a lot of different on-line sources, though I would like to mention that Penonaudio is running a special now with a bonus silver-plated replacement cable with in-line remote/mic included for free.
 
Fidue A83 has been on my radar for quite some time. I had an opportunity to review their A31S and A63 headphones in the past and already familiar with a high level of attention they pay to both physical and sound aspects of the design. If you add to this a fact that I have a soft spot for hybrid IEMs, you can understand my natural curiosity to find out what Fidue was able to accomplish with a single dynamic driver and two balanced armature drivers. What I found during my testing made me realize how quickly these hybrids got elevated to the top level, surpassing every other hybrid and multi-BA driver IEM I have tested in the past. Here is what I found.
 
Arrived in a traditional black box with green stripe details, I never take for granted their cover description of the sound and design since from my previous experience I learned that Fidue is always spot on. While reading "reference class" in the description did trigger a possibility of cold/bright sound, so I was a bit anxious to find out results of their dual BA tuning. I also would like to mention that I always appreciate how they include a little bit of history and design philosophy behind their company on the back of the box. It's a nice touch that shows how much pride Fidue takes in their product. Out of the box you will find a small bag with accessories and a protective case with headphones inside. These accessories include a flight adapter, 1/4" headphone adapter, 3 pairs of single flange tips, 2 pairs of double flange tips, and a pair of foam tips. This being their premium pair of headphones, I would have expected a better selection of eartips but the included hard shell pelican-style case makes up for it big time! I can't comment if this is a genuine Pelican case, but it has exactly the same build quality to survive anything! Headphones were in a display setting wrapped around foam insert in all of their glory with an outer champagne color wings design.
 
That particular outer part of the shell felt metallic because it was cold to the touch in contrast to a plastic inner part of the shell. From the initial glance the shell looks rather large and flashy, but I actually found a fitment to be quite comfortable from the moment I put these in. Overall fitment is rather shallow, so a right selection of eartips will be very important. The inner plastic part of the shell is translucent, revealing outline of internal drivers, and also color coded for red being a right side and blue for the left side. No confusion here, even so they also labeled each side with L/R marking. There is also an air port on the inner part of the shell next to the nozzle, a design detail I found to be very important in sound shaping of these IEMs. The cable is removable and uses a standard MMCX connector, but the included cable has a unique design with a latch tab that interlocks with an earpiece preventing it from spinning. This design is quite ingenious and also makes it backward compatible with any standard mmcx connector replacement cable.
 
I have a number of IEMs with mmcx connector cable and other silver-plated replacement cables, but nothing comes even close in durability and sound quality provided by this Fidue cable, not to mention that it also looks super cool! Starting with 3.5mm straight gold plated plug with a color matched scheme and excellent strain relief, it is connected to a high quality thick braided cable. Following the y-splitter, also with an excellent strain relief on both sides, the individual earpiece cables afterwards are twisted and have a clear soft tubing over it. The significance of this clear tubing is to eliminate microphonics effect of the cable rubbing against your cloth. I was surprised they didn't provide a cable cinch which comes handy considering over-ear fitment of these IEMs, but perhaps they thought a provided memory wire will be sufficient enough. I still think cable cinch is a good idea to include in the design to keep the wires together for a better fitment.
 
Before I get into sound description, let me revisit a topic of eartips. The anatomy of our ears is not the same, so fitment will be different for everybody. But in case of A83 a proper selection of eartips will either make it or break it especially if you are sensitive to high frequencies. I started with a proper 25hr burn-in which had little effect on dual BA drivers, but did contribute to tightening of the bass and bringing up it's rich texture. From my previous experience I thought the included narrow bore large tips will be sufficient enough to attenuate the brightness I'm typically "allergic" to. But that wasn't the case at first. I went through half a dozen of different single flange and foam tips without too much success looking for a good seal (to accentuate the bass) and a way to attenuate the brightness. Not until I came across HiFiMAN custom wide bore eartips (from RE400) with a long extended cap, I realized that I'm hearing one of a kind sound sig like I have never experienced before!!! Again, my eartip experience might not be applicable to everybody else, but a combination of these large eartips that sealed my ear canal and the extension of their cap down to cover the air port of the inner shell - yielded an AMAZING sound results!!!
 
I found sound signature of A83 to be a unique blend of smooth analytical sound truly reaching a reference level. It's very unique to experience a sound with such high level of micro-details without artifacts of cold sibilance typical of other BA drivers and hybrids. Also from my previous experience, an analytical signature usually makes a sound thin and harsh, but here you have just the right amount of non-fatigue brightness and low end warmth to give it more body and to make it thicker and fuller.
 
Bass extends down to a rich sub-bass level with a nice rumbling texture and has a great balance with a mid-bass punch without any exaggeration or bloat. The level of clarity and details of low end really stands out beyond anything I heard in the past. It's definitely north of neutral and comes to play only when called up by instruments in the song. The bass is also well controlled without spilling into lower mids. Mids feel a bit forward due to their bright and clear nature, but at the same time they have a smooth musical feeling with an easy listening perception. Vocals delivery has a natural tonality, high level of details, and no harsh peaks or sibilance. Treble was also crisp and detailed while still feeling a bit smooth and maybe even laid back. It had a nice extension, not even a hint of sibilance, and very enjoyable for an extended listening period. The layering of the sound was excellent, and I was able to focus with ease on separate instruments and vocals in space. Which brings me to a staging where you have a wide separation but not as much depth to match it. Surprisingly it doesn't make sound congested or less dynamic, just more intimate and up close, similar to a front row experience.
 
I have quite a few multi-BA driver IEMs and hybrid IEMs, and typically uses them in different setups for different listening purposes. The only one I would consider as my go-to universal is ATH-IM03, but it still fell short in the level of details when compared to A83. In other comparison starting with UE900s, I found UE sound to be more congested and a bit veiled, with less sub-bass quantity, mids not as natural or detailed though smoother and thicker, and soundstage deeper and more open. W40 also sounds more congested and less detailed, while being smoother and thicker. Another good comparison is Altone200 which sounds thinner, with less body and harsher upper mids/treble, not the same level of sub-bass texture, and overall inferior balance between bass and mids/treble. When it comes to IM03, even with silver-plated cable it sounds warmer, smoother, less detailed, and with bass not having the same level of clarity/details, and soundstage being deeper.
 
Overall, I was expecting a high level of performance from this flagship pair of Fidiue's IEMs, but wasn't expecting it's going to be that good! The biggest surprise was a tuning of upper mids/treble where Fidue delivered a detailed analytical sound which is still very ear friendly and non-fatigue. A perfect balance of upper frequency smooth/bright details with a low frequency warmth turned these IEMs into all around headphones for any type of music, regardless if it's EDM or pop/rock or jazz or classical. In addition to a fantastic sound tuning, these IEMs also look stunning with the highest quality removable cable I have seen to date. I can't be 100% certain about build quality since a shell is a mixture of plastic and metal material, but I'm sure time will tell because these A83 IEMs going to get a lot of mileage!!!
 
Here are the pictures (click for to enlarge):
 
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rajeevrn
rajeevrn
This is my next IEM!
johthor
johthor
These are really good photos.  So many new IEMs so little time.  Thanks for the good review
Pros: Detail, Vocals, Bass Quality, Mid-Range, Excellent Price to Performance Ratio
Cons: No cable cinch, Extra tips required for newer users. (little things)


Let me start off by saying this review is a little different from others I write, mainly because this IEM has set a new level for me to call a reference towards future testing and comparisons. Floating around the forums I had seen the name Fidue mentioned a few times but completely overlooked it due to the abundance of new IEM hitting the market each month. However, thanks to a good friend of mine was offered the opportunity to sample Fidue's A83 hybrid. What was about to happen came from completely no-where. So let's take a look at what came to be the best Hybrid I've heard in 2014.



Fidue A83:

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Price:


At the time of writing this Fidue A83 is currently $319 USD on amazon.com

Can also be purchased from other sites like Penon Audio or eBay (prices vary)



Specs:
Type
Hybrid Inner Ear Monitor
Drivers
10mm Dynamic + dual Balanced Armature
Frequency Range
9 – 31 Khz
Impedance
11 ohm
Sensitivity
104 dB
Max Input Power
30 mW
Distortion
<1%
Plug
3.5mm gold plated
Cable
1.3m silver plated OFC copper, removable (MMXC connector)
IEM Shell
Molded hard plastic with alloy faceplate
Total Weight
23g (A83 including cable)
 
 


Design / Build:


Coming from hybrids of this design before it's quite easy to tell A83 is designed to be worn over the ear as you can see the memory wire coming off each housing, the wire is quite flexible but takes some fiddling to get the fit correct first time on open box. I recommend folding the wire out flat inserting the IEM in your ear then lastly curving the memory wire around your ear to fit. The shells although made of plastic are quite sturdy in a deep color coded red and blue. I will say I am not the hugest fan of the faceplate color but we can't have everything our way.

Why not make the shells from metal you say at this price? Well, the reason being trying to keep the weight down to a minimum, that's very important for comfort levels so the plastic housings do have their place in this while keeping the design light and robust. Fit is not a problem but it's very important you find the right tips with this IEM.

Moving down further you can see each cable is detachable which is a big plus for higher priced IEM. Using a common MMCX connector any aftermarket Shure cable will fit just fine, the connectors on A83 are made so they do not swivel like the common Shure series. However, who's to say you want to change the cable at all when it already comes silver plated copper (that's a big plus). Not to mention the stock braided cable is quite durable in itself. One thing that is disappointing is Fidue have not put a cable cinch on their stock cable, that's a bit of a bummer for my standards. 



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Moving onto the Y-Spilt below you can see Fidue continue their style with a very well thought out design, we aren't talking plastic anymore because we've covered that where it needs to be light. The Y-Spilt has a little weight which helps pull the cable down and straighten it out. This is good thing because any weight then cancels back up at your ears where the memory wire sits over, but it also keeps the cable from swinging too much so there's no tugging or pulling on your ears. You can also see quite thick strain reliefs here to make the cable last.  I would have however liked to see a shirt clip included and of course the missing cable cinch we mentioned earlier. Microphonics are present but due to being an over the ear design much of the noise is canceled out there.

Now for the 3.5 straight jack made to fit any MP3 player, as you see the same metal design to make it robust. I'm especially a fan of the rubber strain relief on this jack, its quite flexible, with the flick of the finger it feels quite cool to do, soft and springy are words that come to mind, it will take some pressure when in a pocket connected to a phone or MP3 player. I do however wonder why a right angle jack wasn't used, I wonder if its because it simply wouldn't sit well with the cable design overall.



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Accessories: 

I'm not sure what to think here, while a sufficient amount of accessories are included I would have liked to see a little more in the way of tip variety. Fidue have covered the 1/8 adapter and an airline adapter but due to A83's over the ear design I'm reading comments about members having some fit problems, at least with the provided tips. Maybe a slightly wider selection could have been welcome to help people get started, but by no means is the accessory package overly lacking, maybe just some different styles for future buyers. For someone like myself who has accumulated many tips over my time on Head-fi that's not a problem but a few more would be good to see in future A83 batches for not so established buyers.


This is what you get: 

Airline adapter
3.5 to 6.3 adapter
x1 medium foam tips
x3 single flange silicon tips (S/M/L)

x2 Double flange tips
Warranty Card
Carry / Storage Case



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One thing absolutely great about this package is the included lock tight case included, not only that there's an insert that comes inside for the earphones to wrap around. I am not sure I would use this every single time I put away  A83 as it tends to put the memory wire back to Its stock shape, though for long term storage and showing your friends this really is a nice touch. I completely adore the design and appeal in this little storage case. The actual plastic lock tight case is basically crush proof, I highly recommend using it when transporting your expensive purchase anywhere, these cases are built like tanks and could almost be run over by a car (almost)



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Sound:


During my time with A83, I have used several sources at different times. It has come to my conclusion the winner from the batch below is actually the little Colorfly C3, I feel it gives me the best synergy with A83 and especially vocal reproduction you're going to hear me praise very highly below.

All files were 16/44 FLAC.


Sources below:

DX50 / JDS C421
iPod Video / iBasso D-Zero
Hisound Studio V
FiiO X1
Colourfly C3


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Overall tonality:

Tonality on A83 can be known as the common TWFK sound balanced armatures provide, being the most common they tend to lean towards being analytical in nature of their tuning, so A83 does share a  dash of brightness, similar to a DBA-02, where it differs from other hybirds using the same drivers like Altone200 or H-300 is there's still a slight hint of warmth to the BA section which makes it smooth, but it mostly comes through as being a thicker sound around the mid-range. Where an IEM like Altone200 can be overly vivid and edging the boundaries of coldness  A83 tends to keep it toned down a little, not too much that it sounds warm or veiled but a fine line between analytical and musical. I think the tonality of A83 is spot on for my preferences, the earphone is very clear and involving. One thing that made me think before ordering my A83 was if I really needed another hybrid that shares similar aspects to a few others I own, but if you read on further you'll find out why this IEM separates itself from the crowd.



Bass: 

Wonderful texture, detail and clarity here. While the low end is rather balanced with mid / highs it has a great amount of detail that really separates each bass note, there's solid impact and dynamics spreading across that stage which draw you into the music hitting when required, the kind of impact reminiscent of a Tralucent 1Plus2 unit. Due to the hybrid design bass bleed is kept to a minimum at all times, I must stress again though how capable this bass is in a song when needed and staying out of the way when unrequited. While I find the bass to be a little mid-bass focused and extension isn't at the fullest in sub-bass regions the low end of A83 does exactly what's required to fit in around the IEM's signature. I don't think I'd want the low end any other way for this style of tuning. Speed is top notch as is each bass note well laid out across the stage.



Mids:  

Vocals, emotion, intimate detail are words I'd use to describe A83's mid-range, of all the IEM I heard this year including some very expensive at $1k none could reproduce a mid-range the same way A83 can. While I personally hear the mids slightly forward vocal reproduction is the kind that brings entirely knew emotional connection from your music. Listening to my favorite artist Maria Mena the amount of detail extension in her voice has several times sent goose bumps through my body, not only that, brought me closer than many other IEM have before to her songs. Not many IEM have been able to achieve this from the many I demoed this year or previously, but A83 can.

While the mid-range is slightly thicker sounding than that on Altone200 or H-300 it's especially involving with a specific tone that edges out on the best mid-range I've heard to date. It was this mid-range that set A83 as my new reference hybrid for future comparisons outclassing my $650 Rhapsodio RDB Mini by about 15%, (so keep that mind). The emotional connection it brings is far above its price point like I said for the $300 price you're getting in my opinion something far superior to some $500+ hybrids in detail levels.

That in itself right there is exactly what made me purchase an A83 within 2-3 days.


Treble:

So I think we got the point across in the mid-range, moving onto the treble it's a little laid back compared to some other TWFK designs I've heard a little calmer than that found on DBA-2 or Altone200, though it does a good job of being in the mix without causing fatigue. Opinions on the treble are going to vary in each review for a few reasons, One of them being source material, the volume you listen and of course the music genre you listen too. I have tracks I test which I know are treble happy A83 lets me crank up the volume without that high end stepping out of line so that for me is perfect, to be honest I am usually so drawn in by the mid-range and intimacy there I'm often losing focus on the high end.

Extension is good but not the best I've heard, an IEM like my RDB Mini Rhapsodio hybrid does give A83 a good run for it's money in that area. So I guess in short Fidue hit a real sweet spot and a sensible one that's not going to overcook the presentation at high volumes, something I can really appreciate when wanting to lift the volume and extract those extremely capable mid-range vocals at higher listening levels.


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Seperation / imaging:

Highly capable here however not the best I've heard, while every instrument is well separated between the lows and mids, there is a slightly congested feel to A83's mid-range at times, if you listen to an another hybrid like Altone200 the mid-range separation is just a fraction cleaner but it mostly comes from some extra tilt in cool tonality and transparency. Because A83 sounds slightly thicker it isn't quite as see through as some other hybrids I've heard, but for the price range you wont hear any complaints from me

Every instrument is well placed and can be distinguished easily around the stage and you do get a ticking metronome like effect hearing the music pushing through a track while each instrument counter plays the other however, for those who want absolute 100% separation it's not quite there. But again pushing that aside until you hear A83 it's not terribly easy to express what the signature and presentation tries to accomplish so in some ways this particular technical area is just about perfect for the IEMs sound overall.

Anymore in this area may disconnect the story A83 tries to tell in each song.



Soundstage:
 
Great sense of width here providing the source will allow however not the greatest depth or height, because the mid-range to my ears sounds slightly forward you don't get a real grasp in depth to the center channel, though for those who like a wide stage A83 will certainly come to the party cueing samples outside your ears. The low end also has this ability to spread across the stage, contributing to the impact you heard me mention in the bass section. So While A83 doesn't quite reach the level of a 1plus2 unit it far passes that soundstage on Altone200 for example or many other IEM I've heard priced more expensive. In a nut shell not lacking in anyway but not the widest I've heard.

Height is also kept at sensible levels, the actual head-stage is on a regular level rather than terrible expansive, but again  this really comes down to what Fidue wanted from A83, we can't talk all day about changing things because our preferences might not fit, It's like telling someone they designed a car seat wrong. In the end you want to absorb what A83 was intended to do rather than point out what ones personal opinion might be.


Conclusion:

Like I said many times the intimacy, vocals and highly detailed mid-range are what A83 is about, its entire presentation extracts a new level of emotion from my female vocal tracks. The package is quite well thought out, I would like to see some more tips provided so users can get started quicker, but for the price this IEM punches well above some other more expensive IEM I had on audition this year, I really don't want to mention names of those IEM because I don't find that fair. But what A83 has shown me is you really don't need to spend $500+ to get the best sound out there, of course preference plays a big part, but when I sample 2-3 IEM (some priced at $1K) and A83 surpasses them not only in detail but technical ability that's enough right there for me to make a purchase. A83 set a new reference level for me, not only on a price to performance ratio, but also a sound quality level that now needs to be beaten.

Big appreciation to Fidue and their A83 hybrid, it's been a total pleasure to review this product, not only for them but myself in what became my new reference IEM. I'm going to leave you one track that A83 connects me very close too emotionally. Maybe if you decide to make the purchase you can source it in FLAC and experience the same feeling!





 


~H20
jinxy245
jinxy245
I enjoyed the review...and the song! keep it up..thanks!!
icefalkon
icefalkon
Great review bro!
Aero Dynamik
Aero Dynamik
Great review! Thanks! After having read this I'm itching all over to hear the A83!
Pros: Balanced natural SQ, clarity, stellar build quality, aesthetics (looks), accessories
Cons: Initial driver flex, fit can be tricky to get right, (update) - removable cable issues
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For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images
 
The formula above in the title simply refers to Sound Quality + Build Quality + Perceived Value.  Read on to find out why for me they became a must buy.
 
INTRODUCTION
 
I’d read a little about the Fidue A83 on these forums, but really knew nothing about the company or their IEMs.  And whilst I’d looked at a couple of the reviews, and was genuinely interested, at USD 320-399, and considering I already have a set of Dunu DN-1000 and Altone200 (both also triple hybrids), I was a little reluctant to take the plunge.
 
Then Vic (djvkool) contacted me and generously offered to send me his pair to trial and review them.  Naturally I jumped at the chance.  I’d like to thank djvcool, Loquah and !joker! for their superbly written reviews and impressions – as these are what captured my interest in the first place.
 
Fidue Acoustics is a Chinese earphone company founded by Benny Tan (who has more than 20 years design experience – developing earphones for other global branded companies).  The name Fidue is simply an acronym of the principle design points that the company strives to implement in their product range
  1. Fidelity
  2. Inspiration
  3. Durability
  4. Uniqueness
  5. Enjoyment.
 
Fidue’s product catalogue to date has included mainly dynamic driver models ranging from the sub $50 bracket, all the way to their current flagship (the A83 which I’m reviewing today) at $320-399.  The A83 is the first triple hybrid IEM released by Fidue.
 
In the last 4 weeks I have spent countless hours assessing the Fidue A83.  In that time I have also listened to my Altone200 and DN-1000 so that I can reference differences, but the A83 has taken most of my listening time – and it has been a very pleasurable experience.  With this earphone, I was “wowed” from day one – and that sense of enjoyment with the A83 has not diminished at all the longer I have had them.
 
I started with Vic’s loaner unit, but very quickly I arranged to purchase my own unit – and once it arrived I returned Vic’s A83 with grateful thanks.  I’d estimate that so far I’ve logged around 100+ hours with the Fidue A83, split roughly evenly between Vic’s model and my own brand new one.  I noticed no change between the well broken in model from Vic (it was used on an Australian tour), and my brand new A83.
 
DISCLAIMER
 
I was initially provided the Fidue A83 as a loaner from dkvcool, and I have returned it after purchasing my own unit from Fidue.  I am in no way affiliated with Fidue - and this review is my honest opinion of the A83.
 
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.   (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)
 
I'm a 47 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, and iPhone4) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs (I do also have the Beyer T51p, but IEMs command most of my portable time) - and up till now it has mainly been with the Dunu DN-1000 and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
 
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced.  I am neither a bass nor treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though).  I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and  DT880.
 
For the purposes of this review - I used the Fidue A83 straight from the headphone-out socket of my Fiio X5, and iPhone 4, and also from the Beyer A200p when at work.  I did not further amp them, as IMO they do not benefit from additional amplification.  In the time I have spent with the Fidue A83, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (I do not believe in 'night and day' burn-in).  I will respect others choice if they believe in physical burn-in, but I am yet to experience it.
 
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
 
THE REVIEW
 
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES           
 
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Fidue A83 Retail Packaging Front
Fidue A83 Retail Packaging Rear
 
The Fidue A83 arrived in a very attractive green and black retail box which was probably a little larger than I would normally expect for an IEM.  The outer retail carton has very good colouring though and is quite attractive – with my only criticism being that the gray on black text for the specifications (on the rear of the retail box) is a little hard to read.
 
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End On - Foam Covering Over Pelican Case
Pelican Case Sandwiched Between the Foam
               
Sliding open the retail box reveals a white foam inner covering – which houses the accessories (more on them shortly).  Removing those reveals that the foam is in fact two pieces and fits snugly over a clear pelican case containing the Fidue A83s.  Once you see this, you realize the need for a little more size with the outer packaging, but also appreciate the extra care taken to make sure these IEMs are well looked after.  You could drop a bowling ball on the outer case, and although the retail box may not fare too well – I guarantee the A83 would survive quite nicely.
 
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Pelican Case
Pelican Case And Inner Enclosure
 
The pelican case opens to reveal a molded inner foam enclosure which snugly holds the A83 with the cable wound around a groove in the sides.  If you’re storing the Fidue A83 in its inner case, they will be very well protected.  For my personal day to day use though – I’ve been using one of the Brainwavz cases (slightly more pocket friendly).
 
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Accessory Package
The Fidue A83 - Gorgeous!
 
The accessory pack is generous and includes an airline adaptor, 3.5-6.3mm adaptor, 1 set of medium foam tips, 3 sets of single flange silicone tips, and two sets of dual flange silicone tips.  There is also a QA card which has the warranty information written in Mandarin.
 
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Fidue A83 Accessories
Fidue A83 Accessories
 
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
 
(From Fidue)
Type
Hybrid Inner Ear Monitor
Drivers
10mm Dynamic + dual Balanced Armature
Frequency Range
9 – 31 Khz
Impedance
11 ohm
Sensitivity
104 dB
Max Input Power
30 mW
Distortion
<1%
Plug
3.5mm gold plated
Cable
1.3m silver plated OFC copper, removable (MMXC connector)
IEM Shell
Molded hard plastic with alloy faceplate
Total Weight
23g (A83 including cable)
 
 
FREQUENCY GRAPH
 
freqgraph.jpg
 
The above frequency graph was supplied by Fidue – and my thanks to user jopok901 for initially posting it.
 
EDIT : Added graph from Veritas.  Please note this is raw data with no compensation - but it is very similar to the same raw data shown on Innerfidelity. For those wondering, the dip at 4kHz doesn't translate as a cavernous hole in the frequency - and even now two years after first reviewing the A83, I still think it is a great sounding IEM.
 
A83graph.png
 
 
BUILD QUALITY
 
The Fidue A83 has a molded shell designed to be worn with the cable over the ear, and the body of the A83 sitting inside the outer ear – similar to a Shure or Westone type design. When I’m wearing mine, the shell sits relatively flat against my concha with the nozzle protruding on an angle into the ear.  As stated in the specifications, the shell is a molded plastic (right is red, left is blue) which is very smooth and seamless, with a very attractive metallic alloy faceplate.  The A83 is approx. 21mm long and 15mm deep at its widest point.  It is approx. 10mm from the faceplate to the base of the nozzle, and the nozzle itself extends approx. 7mm from base to tip.  The nozzle has a generous lip, and tips are held very securely.  There is a single port or vent adjacent to the base of each nozzle.
 
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Fidue A83 Shells
Fidue A83 Shells
 
The cable is connected to the A83 housing using MMXC type connectors.  Fidue’s cable actually has an additional slot for added stability (it also stops it excessively rotating) – however this slot is not necessary to make a connection – so any compatible MMXC connecting cable should also fit.
 
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MMXC Connector
Outer Faceplate
 
The cable is (in my humble opinion) one of the best built cables I have ever seen, and a real thing of beauty!  From the MMXC connectors, there is a 7 cm length of memory wire which is both soft and extremely pliable, yet still holds its shape.  Above the Y split, the cable is a twisted pair encased in a soft yet durable clear sheath.
 
Update 19 Sept - I should have listed this a while ago - my original pair developed a connector fault about a month after posting the review (one ear piece had audio cutting out).  I contacted Michael and arranged a replacement pair. Fidue's service was impeccable as always. Unfortunately the replacement pair developed virtually the same fault.  It is the MMCX connector, and it seems to be a relatively common fault.  I know Fidue has tried a few times to fix this over the last 12 months. I still use the A83 - but now with a Shure cable, and have had no issues since.  I've modified the review score accordingly.  Something to be aware of.
 
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Memory Wire
Triple Braid Silver Plated Copper Cable

Below the Y split – the cable is encased in a grey sheath and beautifully braided until it reaches the 3.5mm plug.  The Y split is minimal, stylish and has extremely good strain relief.  The plug itself is straight, slim, and again is both stylish and has very good strain relief.  The entire cable is extremely sturdy, quite flexible, and is not prone to tangling.  Microphonics are minimal (worn correctly over ear) unless it comes into contact with textured (ribbed) clothing, or a zip – and then the contour of the cable can create quite a bit of noise against the contours of clothing.  However – I had no issues with walking – having the A83 cable tucked inside my shirt – and I really doubt many people would be using these for strenuous exercise.  They just aren’t ‘that sort of IEM”.
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Y Split
3.5mm Plug
 
The one missing thing is either a shirt clip, or neck cinch – however the need for this is minimized due to the build of the cable tending to hang naturally anyway.
 
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Close Up Of The Cable
Beautiful Overall Finish Of The A83
 
Overall the build quality is very good - apart from potential cable connector issues.
 
FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
 
I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well.  I initially tried the included large silicone tips, and whilst they fit OK, I was unable to maintain a seal.  The dual flange tips were similar but for my ears, again could not maintain a seal, and weren’t as comfortable as I’d prefer.  I tried their included foam tips, and they fit me well and were comfortable.  I’ve also used the blue foam tips from my Altone200s – but lately have settled for Comply T400s which seal reasonably well for me and, are very comfortable.
 
The fit can be a little tricky at first until you find the right tips for your own ears – but with the T400s it takes no time at all for me to get a perfect seal every time.
 
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A83 With Included Foam Tips
A83 With Included Foam Tips
 
Isolation with the T400s fitted is average (nowhere near Shure’s almost perfect isolation – but quite effective), and they're not bad for long distance air travel (you still get engine noise, but it's drowned out by the music ).  Because of their flat profile (when worn they do not extend past the ear), I have had no issues at all relaxing or sleeping with the Fidue A83.  They would rank up there as one of the more comfortable IEMs I’ve worn – especially with the T400s.
 
There can be slight driver flex on initial insertion – but this is minimal.  I experienced this with both Vic’s pair, and also my own.
 
So what does the Fidue A83 sound like, and why did I arrange to purchase my own pair within 48 hours of trying them for the first time ?
 
SOUND QUALITY
 
The following is what I hear from the Fidue A83.  YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).  Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X5 as source.
 
Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
 
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Beautiful Match X5 + A83
Beautiful Match X5 + A83
 
Thoughts on General Signature
If I was to describe the signature in one word – I’d chose the word “natural”.
 
I’m finding the Fidue A83 to be very balanced across the audio spectrum with nicely extended bass, a very slight mid-bass rise, full  and rich lower and upper mids, and a slightly brighter than strictly neutral lower treble (but not excessive for my taste) - with good extension into the upper treble.  This combination gives an extremely clear and articulate sound with very good bass slam that shows up when it’s needed, but remains firmly in the background when not required.  I'm also finding a very natural true to life signature with good timbre, and in a lot of ways it reminds me of across between my HD600 and the DT880 I used to have (probably closer to the HD600 overall).
 
Overall Detail / Clarity
For this I always use both Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in both tracks, and the recording quality for both is excellent.
 
The Fidue A83’s detail retrieval is excellent, and to me it sounds extremely similar to my HD600.  With Gaucho, the sax intro is natural sounding and smooth. For me there is no hint of peakiness or glare.  Cymbals in this track usually sit delicately behind the vocals and other instruments, and the A83 delivers perfectly.  Everything sits exactly where it should be.  What I love about listening to this track with the A83 (in contrast to my other more V shaped hybrids) is the balance and cohesion between both vocals and main instruments.
 
Switching to Sultans of Swing, and once more the overall balance of the A83 is just stunning.  The bass is tight and fast – but not over-emphasized.  Vocals are clear – but more importantly sound natural – and far better than the Altone200 delivers with male vocals.  Knopfler’s guitar is allowed to contrast nicely with his vocals, and the overall coherency of the track is wonderful.  Detail is all there – the subtle hits of snare and cymbal – and while it may not be as vivid as the Altone200’s more V shaped sound – the combination of raw detail and perfect tone (for my tastes) just resonates. Separation of every instrument is excellent, and there is no evidence of smearing on any track I’ve listened to so far.
 
Sound-stage & Imaging
For this I use Amber Rubarth’s binaural recording “Tundra”.  I use this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage.
 
It’s usually difficult to get a reasonable stage size from an inner ear monitor.  The stage is often quite small / close – with an average impression of space.  The Fidue A83 does give more of a sense of space than most typical IEMs, showing very good width with this track. Depth and height are just average though – but that’s OK as it is extremely difficult to achieve good depth with any IEM In my experience. It does sit on par with the overall staging of Dunu’s DN-1000 though. Directional cues are very good – so I have no problem overall with imaging.
 
I also used Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and the Fidue A83 gave an extremely captivating performance.  Once again the tonality of this IEM is just incredibly natural – and whilst the sense of space is more intimate than spacious, it still delivers very good imaging within the intimate stage it sets.  In this track, the applause at the end is so well presented that with some headphones (HD600) I can actually close my eyes and imagine myself in the crowd.  With the Fidue A83, the applause does not quite take me into the audience – but this does not detract from the thorough enjoyment I got from the track overall.
 
Bass Quality
With most triple hybrids I’ve heard, you generally expect a V shaped tuning with the dynamic delivering copious amounts of bass, and often a contrast with very clear upper mid-range emphasis for vocals and stringed instruments.  The Fidue A83 shatters this mold by displaying a really balanced overall frequency response.  The bass is definitely there, and can hit hard when called for – but it’s balanced with the rest of the track, generally well defined, and more importantly conveys a natural mix of speed, definition, power and timbre.  The best part of it, is that there is no bleed, and the slightly less emphasis (to its other triple hybrid cousins) has allowed Fidue to tune a balance into the lower mids which conveys realism (especially with male vocals).
 
Listening to Zoe Keating’s “Escape Artist” (Zoe plays Cello – and has a Bandcamp site – definitely worth looking her up!), and the cello’s depth and timbre is rendered incredibly beautifully with life-like decay.  It’s very easy to get lost in the music with this sort of realism.
 
Switching to something with bigger sub-bass impact like Lorde’s “Royals” or Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” and the impact goes up markedly – but this is precisely what it should be doing as it’s the way both tracks were recorded.
 
Change to Seether’s version of “Immortality” and the impact of both drums and bass guitar slides back a notch – still there but leaving vocals, guitars and other instruments to shine.  The key here is balance – and the Fidue A83 just keeps delivering – exactly what the track contains – no more, no less.
 
Female Vocals – A Special Note
I had to add this section simply because around 60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera.  I’m an unabashed fan.  For me the most captivating thing about the Altone200 I reviewed previously was how it rendered female vocals. Other IEMs I’ve owned in the past had sometimes struggled with some of the artists I like – and this includes IEM’s like Shure’s SE535 LE (upper-mids on the SE535 LE are quite forward).  The Altone200 just nailed everything though – often bringing an almost euphoric quality to the overall presentation.
 
With its superior balance I was concerned that the A83 might lose a little of that euphoria with female vocals – and to be fair, it did a little.  But what it brought to the table instead was a greater sense of realism. Artists like Agnes Obel had no signs of the shoutiness which can sometimes appear with other IEMs and the contrast between vocals and instruments (the cello contrasting with Agnes voice for example) brought its own magic.  I then proceeded to play a medley of different tracks from artists including Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi, Norah Jones, and even Dolores O’Riordan – and each time I was stunned by what I was hearing.  The presentation is definitely different than the Altones – and there will be times when I’ll prefer their special colour.  But if I had a choice of only one IEM to listen to all of my female artists from this point on, I’d be going with the Fidue A83.  For my preferences – the natural presentation trumps the coloured one.
 
Genre Specific Notes
Again for tracks, albums, artists – please refer to this list:  http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks
 
Rock – The Fidue A83 nail this genre for me – and although on some tracks the bass is not as strong as either the DN-1000 or Altone200, it’s there when called for, and it’s the overall cohesion of many of the tracks I tried which has won me over. 3 Doors Down “Away From the Sun”, and Alter Bridge’s “Broken Wings” are both captivating – more so because the Fidue  accurately portrays the timbre of the vocals – especially Miles Kennedy’s special timbre.  If anything they may be slightly brighter than strictly natural – but it’s only slight – and for my preferences it still sounds perfect.  I’m not getting any signs of fatigue.  Switching to the much faster paced “Diary of Jayne”, and the drivers are keeping up quite nicely without the confused “wall of sound” presentation you sometimes get with less capable drivers.
 
Alt Rock – First up (in my usual test rotation) was Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and The A83 once gain delivers nicely.  Everything in the track appears to be presented – although I’m noticing some of the more accentuated detail of cymbals and bells portrayed by the Altone200 or DN1000 sit a little further back with the A83. Everything is still very clear though, and the Fidue A83 is easily handling the complex changes of contrast.  Switching to Porcupine Tree’s “Trains”, and once again – perfection for my tastes. Before I’d noticed it, I’d listened to half the album, and had to try and remember that I was supposed to be writing a review.  The bass line for Trains is rendered extremely well – definition and contrast of the dynamic bass with the smooth and flowing vocals is just so enjoyable.
 
Jazz / Blues / Bluegrass – Portico Quartet’s “Ruins” is always a first stop for me when testing a new IEM with Jazz, and the A83 impresses once again.  The sax is smooth and soulful, cymbals crisp and engaging, percussion tight and snappy, and the double bass deep and textured.  Once again everything gels – and once again I’m on off on a sidetrack to load another song from the album (the song “sleepless”) because I just have to find out how the A83 handles Cornelia’s vocals (the track is sublime by the way).  I need to tear myself away though and get back to the review – so time to queue up Mr Davis.  The track is “So What” from the album Kind of Blue, and once again I’m stuck by how much the A83 sounds like the HD600 – and it really does just have a stunningly good tonality with everything I’m listening to.  Again the A83 is crystal clear, and has the ability to showcase the overall contrast (double bass, brass, cymbals and percussion), whilst remaining coherent, smooth and utterly entrancing.
 
Next up was Blues – so I alternated between Joe Bonamassa’s India-Mountain Time, and Mark Lanegan’s “Bleeding Muddy Water”.  Two contrasting tracks – both fantastic with the A83.  Joe’s guitar work and vocals are portrayed brilliantly with plenty of crunch and liveliness.  And when switching to Mark’s brooding bassy blues-rock, the texture of his voice with the thump of the bass line – magic.  Reminder to self – I need to go back to both albums and listen to them in their entirety!
 
Rap / EDM / Pop – Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is stunning with  Fidue A83s – and one of the biggest differences with the Altone200 is that although the Altone has more sub bass, the A83’s do better with Marshall’s vocals.  Time for a little Florence and the Machine, so onto “Howl” – and although here both the Altone2100 and DN1000 might portray this track more vividly – the A83 still handles the track very well, and I think I prefer Florence’s vocals with the A83 as they are simply more realistic. On to some EDM – and Lindsay Stirling’s “Electric Daisy Violin” definitely thumps – but what impresses me more is the projection of the violin – perfectly clear, smooth, and haunting.  Little Dragon’s “Little Man” was equally as impressive, but it was with The Flashbulb that I was once again lost – and dangerously close to losing another few hours just listening to my music again (review forgotten).  The tonality, the contrast, the depth of sound – all truly sublime.
 
Classical / Opera – By now I’m already accepting that the Fidue A83 are genre masters, so I was expecting more of the same with my classical and operatic albums.  Kempff’s Moonlight Sonata was as captivating as always, but it was with the multi instrumental pieces (Netrebko and Garanca portrayal of Lakme’s Flower Duet, and Julia Fischer’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Violoin Concerto in D) where once again the magic, the pure captivation of the Fidue A83 shone yet again.  In particular the performance of Netrebko and Garanca was enchanting – and this particular piece still gives me goose-bumps when I listen to it.
 
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
 
The Fidue A83 is easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and I haven’t experience any issues with the 2 DAPs I’ve tested (iPhone 4, or Fiio X5), nor from my A200p (at work).  With typical pop/rock songs on the X5 I’m usually at a volume level of  25-30 (so less than 25%) and that’s on low gain.  So far I’ve had no issues with hiss on the X5 or iPhone4.
 
RESPONSE TO EQ?
 
So far I haven’t used EQ – at all – with the A83.  For me, they don’t need it – they are already beautifully natural in tone.  But for the sake of the exercise I loaded Accudio Pro on my iPhone, set the preset for HD600, listened, then applied an AKG701 filter over the top, and repeated the process switching instead to an LCD-2 filter.  In both cases, the A83 responded well to the EQ (no noticeable clipping or distortion), but for my personal taste it was a case of applying a colouration to an IEM that simply needs no additional colouration.
 
QUICK COMPARISON OTHER HYBRID IEMs – Fidue A83 vs T-Peos Altone200 and DN-1000
               
For this exercise I’ll try and give you a rough general comparison with two other Hybrid IEMs which I have on hand, and which range in value from around USD 150 – 200 (the Fidue A83 is considerably more expensive).  Rather than referencing particular tracks – I’m trying to make this general.  I’ve volume matched as closely as possible when performing the comparisons (using test tones and an SPL meter) – but it is relatively difficult to do this without a perfect set-up, and I fear that the results may not be entirely accurate.  So as always – take the following with a large grain of salt.  Remember these are my preferences only.
 
Vs Altone200
The Fidue A83 has a more balanced frequency response overall.  The Altone200 is more V shaped with deeper sub-bass and more emphasis on upper mid-range and lower treble, so appears slightly hotter/brighter, and maybe has slightly more perceived clarity.  The Altone can shine particularly with female vocals, giving them an almost euphoric colouration at time – but this is at a cost to slightly less lower mid-range emphasis which can detract from male vocals. The Fidue A83 handles all vocals beautifully, being both more neutral and more natural sounding – with a fuller and more cohesive mid-range overall. 
 
Vs Dunu DN-1000
This one is really interesting as both are a little more balanced through the mid-range, but again where the DN-1000 has a pronounced V shape, the Fidue A83 is more balanced, and overall more cohesive.  The DN-1000 has a slightly hotter lower treble and a little more stridency – where the Fidue A83 is definitely smoother.
 
FIDUE A83 - SUMMARY
 
This review has taken me longer to write than any other review I’ve written (almost 4 weeks) – and the reason for this is testament to how well I regard the Fidue A83. I’ve often sat down to start writing something and simply become lost in the music along the way – review forgotten.
 
Before getting the chance to listen to the A83, I had been perfectly happy switching between my DN-1000 and Altone200.  They are both fantastic IEMs, representing wonderful value and great sonics – and were the reason I’d become a “hybrid IEM junkie”.  But I fell in love with the Fidue A83’s presentation from virtually day one – and despite the steeper price, I ordered my own pair within 48 hours of trying them.  If I was forced to only have one pair of IEMs – the Fidue A833 would now be “my keepers”.
 
The Fidue A83 is an exquisitely built and stylish IEM with a beautifully balanced and naturally coherent sound signature. It has excellent bass speed, texture, definition and impact. The mid-range is full – both upper and lower-mids – and once again shows marvelous tonality and timbre.  The treble has very good extension and clarity.  I personally find it quite smooth – but acknowledge that it is brighter than many would consider being completely flat.  The A83 has less treble than either the DN-1000 or Altone200.
 
IMO the Fidue A83 sounds tonally very similar to my HD600 – and that alone for me makes it an incredible sounding earphone. Due to its size, and shape, the fit for me is extremely comfortable.
 
My litmus question is always “would I buy these for myself”, and “would I recommend them to my family”.  The answer to this question is glaringly obvious – because I have bought a pair and have no regrets.  I’ve even gone as far on the forums as suggesting that the A83 may be end game for me as far as IEM’s go. Over the last 4 weeks they have frequently immersed me in the music so much that I have literally forgotten what I originally set out to achieve.  And they do this with no listening fatigue (YMMV).
 
I’ve given these IEMs a rating of 4 stars, and sonically they deserve this (I’d rate them higher if I could - but the cable issue isn't one to be overlooked).  I’ve listed purchase price at USD 300.00 (I paid a little less than this – but I cannot disclose the amount – it was a bargain, but not significantly less).  The lowest I’ve seen them so far has been around the $270 mark (promotions).  Even at $350-399 to me they would still be worth it, and I would have purchased at the higher price. 
 
FidueA8322.jpg
 
RECOMMENDATIONS TO FIDUE
 
Fix the cable, and maybe add a chin slider.  But don’t change the sonics.  These are perfect.
 
And thank you for the privilege of being able to own these excellent earphones.
jinxy245
jinxy245
Thanks for a great review...I find your reviews really informative and enjoyable.
I had a quick question about these...they really pique my interest. I've seen lots of good reviews, but I hesitate because of the HUGE 4K dip I saw reflected in Tyll's measurements (http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/FidueA83.pdf) I don't think I've heard anyone mention it (although Tyll posted the measurements w/o comment) but it gives me pause... From your review, I'm guessing you didn't hear any such anomaly...did you get to measure these?
 
Thanks again for all the reviews.
Brooko
Brooko
Hi @jinxy245 - thanks for the kind words.  I added a graph from my own Veritas measurement system  Please note that it is raw data only - with no compensation, but is does very closely match Tylls raw data (the grey uncompensated recording in his graphs). You don't actually hear the 4kHz drop as a cut out or anything, and they still sound great.  The only reservation I have with the A83 is that I've had to change the cable due to frequent cut-outs with the stock cable.  It can be an ongoing issue with the MMCX connector.  Some have it cut-out, some don't. It cut out on the first pair for me, and then much later with the replacement pair.  I'm using a Trinity cable with them (and Shure cables also work) and the connection is a lot more solid.
jinxy245
jinxy245
Thanks for the reply... I did assume the 4K dip wasn't audible since you, @ljokerl etc. seem to give the SQ high praise, but I thought it was worth a question. It's good to know your measurements mirrored Innerfidelity. I've seen a bunch of these on sale here and I've been tempted to give them a try.
(I'm not too worried about the cord...my Shure is currently being used with a Plussound cable, so I have an extra cable. Meelectronics has a replaceable cable for $12 too...I wonder if that would work??)
 
thanks again!
Pros: Clear, neutral, tight bass, accurate mids & highs, sensitive to source, superb cable and box, nice metal face plate
Cons: Fit and sound is highly dependent on tips, may detect noise if source in not clean
After burn in of ~ 100hr, correct tips, and placement of iem, they sound great and the most neutral hybrids I have tried.
 
The is very detailed, so detailed that if the source/player is sub-par, it will detect base noise. 
 
The best "kit" cable ever seen in a pair of IEM at this price range.
Pros: Cable, bass, treble, build quality
Cons: Sensitivity to bad recordings, could be tricky to get perfect seal for people with large/deep canal
1X5A4259.jpg
 
 
First of all, a big THANK YOU to Michael Lin from FIDUE for providing the review unit. It is much appreciated, and my humble ears are feeling so incredibly honoured to be included as one of the reviewers
 
This is the first triple hybrid IEM from Fidue, and it is being offered as one of the top offering from Fidue, alongside its single dynamic A81.
 
Technical Specifications
  1. Driver:                         10mm Exclusive Dynamic & Dual-Balanced Armature Drivers
  2. Frequency Range:        9-31,000 Hz
  3. Impedance:                  11Ω
  4. Sensitivity:                   104dB
  5. Max Input Power:         30mW
  6. Distortion:                    <1%
  7. Plug:                           3.5mm stereo, gold-plated (MP3, iPod, iPhone & iPad Supported)
  8. Cable:                         1.3 m
 
Hybrid IEM has taken the music world by storm lately, with more than half of vendor have an offering or two, so when I was given the opportunity to audition and review A83, I gladly accepted the offer with open hands.
 
With many excellent offering lately from different manufacturers, A83 does have a lot of competition, and being priced across the top end of the market, there is no doubt that people will have somewhat big expectations. How will it perform, and will it satisfy the enthusiast and audiophiles? How does it compare to some of the competitors in the market?
 
The components that I used for this review are as follows
  1. iPod Classic (straight, and through C&C BH)
  2. Fiio X5 DAP
  3. Desktop (through Aune T1)
  4. MacBook Air (straight out, and through Dragonfly)
  5. Spotify (highest quality streaming), 320k MP3’s, 16/44 and 24/96 FLAC’s
 
Packaging and accessories
 
The packaging of A83 is standard retail packaging, carton outer and hard foam liner inside, with black and green being the prominent two colours.
 
Tips wise, there are single-flange silicones (S/M/L), dual-flange silicone (S/L), and a pair of foam. Also, there are also an airline adapter, and a 6.3mm adapter.
 
The case is very good, it is an otterbox drybox 1000 style case, as well as a hard foam winder and the earpiece placer, cut and measured to perfection for the case. This way, your investment is superbly protected to avoid it to move inside and hitting the case.
 
1X5A4244.jpg    1X5A4245.jpg
 
 
Build Quaility, Isolation, and Comfort
 
The body is ergonomic type, similar build to universal CIEM, though not as thick nor solid, but feels strong and can take some rough treatments. Right and left are easily distinguishable by the red and blue shell colour. The overall finish is top class with gold-coloured layered fascia with a white logo. It’s very unique and it you can spot it and know what it is if you see someone else is using them.
 
1X5A4250.jpg  1X5A4251.jpg
 
 
The cable is detachable and using the MMCX connector, and a rather long yet soft and flexible memory wire. The quality of the silver-plater copper cable itself is, well, absolutely superb, hands down, the best standard cable of any universal IEM and CIEM that I have ever encountered, full stop. It’s dual-braided and solid, yet it is soft and flexible enough and tangle-free, and it is pretty much unbreakable (unless if you try to do it using tools such as scissor or pliers of course)
 
1X5A4246.jpg
 
      1X5A4247.jpg
 
Comfort relies heavily on the tip that you are using, and to some extend it can depends on the size and depth of your canal, for those whose canal is deeper and bigger, you have to use a large-sized tips, or longer tips, as due to the wide body, you won’t be able to push this too deep. Isolation is not too bad, and again, depends on your ear size and the tips that you are using. For me personally, this doesn’t isolate as well as the barrel-type body IEM
 
1X5A4257.jpg  1X5A4258.jpg
 
 
SOUND QUALITY
 
A quick note here before we go on to the sound, historically I like using large-bore tips whenever possible, mainly because of the bigger soundstage, and enhanced bass effect to some extent. The same applies here, for the purpose of this review, I am using UE TF10’s large silicone, as that is the only silicone from my collection that gives me good seal, as mentioned above I have a rather large and deep canal that requires me to use a large and long silicone tips with this kind of body. Comply foam tips works too, but I feel that using Comply takes away little bit of clarity/sparkle from the sound
 
The general sound signature is slightly bright, balanced, and detailed, very very close to neutral. This in fact is the most balanced, most neutral, and least coloured hybrid that I ever heard/auditioned
The most important thing here is to get a seal that is as close to perfect as possible, I have tried combinations of tips with different bore size and length, each one gave me some different sound
 
Bass
 
The bass is warm, thick, well textured and controlled, and has excellent timbre. Impact wise it is slightly north of neutral, although nowhere near H-300 nor DNk. If 5 is neutral and 10 is extreme basshead, I would say A83 is at around 6. It hits around about the same impact than DN2k (though does not go as deep), however, it certainly shows up when called upon, after listening to a few pop, country, and jazz tracks, I switched to EDM, thinking that this will be quite boring, but it does the opposite, actually surprised me to hear how present the bass is, even though supposedly it’s not boosted.
 
In terms of the bass’ speed, tightness, and accuracy, it is up there with the best of the BA’s bass, it is very impressive for a dynamic bass to have such an excellent speed, tightness, and accuracy. Compared to the other mid-tier hybrid universals, it has the quickest and most accurate bass, perfect for rock/alternative music and the likes. I am listening to A Perfect Circle right now, and the way the bass drum hits and keeps up with the music is just breathtaking. Another good track to showcase this is Sia’s Chandeliers, and Meghan Trainor’s All About Bass.
 
Going back to the earlier discussion about tips, using the large-bore silicone tips does enhanced the bass by a bit. I do get the same bass effect with Comply TS (with a similar sized bore), albeit
with a smaller bass-stage.
 
Midrange
 
The midrange is detailed, smooth, and rather sensitive (to bad recordings). The sensitivity here is so much that it can be quite revealing to bad recording. It can also lead to some sibilance and peaks. A good example here is Katy Pery’s Roar, listening through Spotify, sibilance and peaks are quite prominent, but switching over to FLAC, it renders Katy’s vocal superbly with just very slight peaks at the top of her voice.
 
Male vocal sounds better than the female’s with A83, which is mainly due to the slight peaks in the upper region of the midrange, although the level of the peaks is nowhere near other hybrids such as H-300 and Altone200. It can be ignored, except maybe by some people who are incredibly sensitive to peaks.
 
Presentation wise, the midrange is neither forward nor recessed, and it is in fact quite addictive given that it is fed with some quality recording
 
Treble
 
The treble is slightly north of neutral, has excellent extension, and slightly forward in presentation. It can be perceived as bright by people who are sensitive to treble, however, it is very well controlled, and non-fatiguing. I can easily listen to this for hours without having to take it off for a ‘break’.
 
Just like the midrange, the treble is also quite revealing in bad recordings, not particularly in the cymbal/bell sound but more so with the ‘s’ and ‘ch’, especially in female vocals.
 
Feed it quality recordings and the treble shines superbly, as good as winter morning sunshine. In tracks such as Destiny Child’s Bills Bills Bills 16/44 FLAC, all the bells and cymbals are rendered almost to perfection, without anything being sibilant
 
Presentation and Amping
 
Soundstage is pretty wide, although depth is average. It is not as expansive as say DNk, H-300, or Altone200
 
Transparency and separation are excellent, listening to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Cowboy Boots is such a joy, instruments and vocals never seems to be congested and sounds out of place (this track can sounds very congested with a badly tuned IEM – you won’t be able to make out the lyrics when everything is going on at the same time)
 
Imaging is rather good, though it is not as wide nor as satisfying as A200 or H-300
 
A83 benefits with amping, especially in the bass department. By having a little bit more power pumped through its drivers, it certainly benefits the bass as it adds to the fullness and richness of the bass.
 
COMPARISON TO OTHER HYBRIDS
 
T-PEOS Altone200 (Triple Hybrid)
 
Straight off the bat, compared to the v-shaped A200, the A83 sounds very warm and mid-forward.
 
Let’s start with the bass, in my mind, there is no competition here. A200’s bass hits harder, deeper, and sounds richer and fuller overall, though speed and accuracy wise, it lacks behind A83. A200’s bass also sounds a bit muddy next to A83’s.
 
Moving on to the midrange, although A200’s mids sounds veiled and recessed, compared to A83’s, it does have better clarity overall. For vocal tracks, A83 definitely sounds better than A200, as I prefer the smoother and warmer rendering of vocals from the A83, compared to the veiled, and sometime harsh A200’s.
 
Treble wise, first thing I notice is that A83’s treble sounds quite warm next to the very bright, very sparkly A200’s treble. Due to the brightness and sparkle, A200 can get quite fatiguing after a while, so for a long session/travelling, I prefer to use A83 as its brightness is completely non-fatiguing.
 
Dunu DN-2000 (Triple Hybrid)
 
This is probably my recent favourite amongst all the mid-tier triple-hybrid universals; general signature is rather similar, though not completely the same. Also, just like A83, DN2k’s sound also depends on the bore size of the tips you use. For the purpose of this comparison, I am using exactly the same tips (TF10’s large silicone)
 
Bass wise they both have similar impact, although in my opinion, A83’s bass sounds slightly thicker and fuller compared to the Dunu. In terms of extension and sub-bass, DN2k has bigger sub bass and slightly longer decay. Speed and accuracy, A83’s is quicker/tighter, and more accurate.
 
Midrange wise, DN2k’s is slightly forward, thinner, and has slightly better clarity. It is also much more forgiving compared to A83’s. In terms of preference, I am torn in the middle here, I prefer A83 for male vocals, and DN2k for female vocals.
 
Treble wise, in terms of brightness and sparkle, they are really alike. DN2k can be perceived to have a cleaner and smoother treble than the A83, but this is mainly due to the more unforgiving nature of A83. Give them both quality recordings however, they are as awesome as each other.
 
Last but not least, DN2k fits more snug and gives me better isolation with its barrel type body. Comfort wise, A83 is more comfortable for a longer session due to its ergonomic type body.
 
Audiofly AF140 (Triple Hybrid)
 
Another one of the similarly priced competitor within the mid-tier hybrid universals, and just like A83, AF140 is built with the ergonomic type body (similar to the shape of FA DBA-02 Mk2). To my ear however, A83 is much more comfortable to be worn for prolonged use.
 
Let’s start with the bass, AF140 has bigger impact, slightly better extension, and sounds a little bit richer compared to A83. However, unlike A83’s zero bass bleed, A140 does have some mid-bass bleed into the lower midrange. Bass speed is rather similar, however, to my ear; A83’s bass is slightly better textured.
 
Midrange and treble wise, next to the balanced A83, A140’s midrange sounds warmer, as well as muddy and veiled. The treble also sounds quite recessed compared to the brighter and more energetic AF140.
 
Conclusion
 
      1X5A4252.jpg 1X5A4256.jpg
 
 
It is very nice and refreshing to see a triple-hybrid IEM tuned differently to the more generic v-shaped sound like most of the current hybrids. As we all know, the majority of the current mid-tier hybrid universals are tuned with v-shaped signature (except maybe DN2k).
 
Some people might call this boring, but I call this refreshing. It is not as energetic as Altone200 or H-300 for example, but I personally prefer A83, especially for longer listening session and to take with you when you are travelling, as it is comfortable and non-fatiguing. In fact, amongst all the mid-tier universal hybrid in the market at the moment, A83 is one of my favourite, alongside Dunu DN-2000.
 
Priced at AUD$399/USD$350, it certainly sits at the top end of the mid-tier universal IEM’s, given the uniqueness of the sound, I do think the price is spot on, fully reflect the value and the ability of this unit, and not to mention, there are no hybrid universal in the market at the moment that are tuned towards natural.
 
Well done Fidue
Brooko
Brooko
Great review Vic - looking forward to hearing them!
Bintouch
Bintouch
Hi, first of all congratulation for the superbly review... as always.
It seems this new iem Fidue A83 is fantastic... but I have to decide between 3 different iem: this new Fidue, or the Dn-1000, or the Altone 200... I love a v-shaped sound, so good bass & hights and the mids a bit more backward... So any advice would be appreciate.
Cheers
sniperwill0
sniperwill0
Wow, the design is fantastic!
Pros: Balanced sound without sacrificing bass, beautiful looks, detailed and revealing, great accessories, awesome cord!
Cons: Unusual fit took a little while to get used to
At $399 (AUD) the A83 is at the upper end of the mid-priced IEM range as there tends to be a leap up to the near-$1000 range once you crest the $500 mark. For this price I was expecting big things and I am convinced that they justify their price tag.
 

Specifications

 
  1. Drivers:  1 x 10mm dynamic + 2 x balanced armatures (BAs)
  2. Frequency range:  9 – 31,000 Hz
  3. Impedance:  11 ohms
  4. Sensitivity:  104dB
  5. Cable:  Detachable 1.3m silver-plated copper cable with MMCX connectors (same connector as Shure, Audiofly and a few other manufacturers)
  6. Max input power:  30mW
 

Design & Comfort

 
The A83s initially caught my attention for 2 reasons – the fact that they might have been the hybrid that finally got it right and their design. These are one of the most unique looking IEMs you can buy. They have transparent coloured inner shells in blue and red for left and right respectively. These inner shells are married to beautifully sculpted metal outer shells with a striking, finned design like nothing I’ve ever seen in an IEM. I’m not sure what metal they’ve used either because it’s a subtle gold colour, but it’s subtle, not that cheesy gold colour you sometimes see on products seeking the “bling” factor. No, to me these aren’t bling – these are classy, but striking.
 
Inside the retail packaging of the A83s you receive a nice set of tips, an airplane adapter (single 3.5mm to twin 3.5mm) and a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter and a clear pelican case with a FIDUE label and a sneak peek to the goodies inside. I loved seeing the gold shell of the right earpiece peeking through at me when I first unpacked the box – it’s a nice touch and continues to bring a subtle pleasure each time I see that hint of gold through the clear case.
 

The Cable

 
Sometimes I discuss cables, sometimes I don’t. This cable though… this cable has to be discussed because it’s perfect!
 
Not good.
 
Perfect!
 
The cable is a greenish-grey fabric covered, silver-plated copper cable in a tight braid emerging from a beautiful custom, metal, slimline 3.5mm jack. There’s a nice, metal cuff at the split and the lengths from the cuff to the earpieces are twisted and wrapped in soft heatshrink to protect them and keep them in a tight twist I assume. Finally, the cable ends in MMCX connectors with a small locking tab to prevent them from spinning in the earpiece like the Shures do. I personally have no issues with the “Shure spin”, but others do so this will be welcome to some and has no drawbacks that I can see so it’s a good feature.
 
The cable is soft, just the right length (1.3m) and no more microphonic than any other IEM cable I’ve tried and far better than many. In other words, in my experience all IEMs produce some degree of microphonics if you try hard enough. The A83 cable is as good as it gets in my experience.
 

Fit & Comfort

 
The shape of the A83s may have you believing (like I did) that they will nest neatly in your ears like Shure and Westone offerings. Don’t be so sure…
 
The angle and position of the nozzle means that these sit out a little at the front, just above the ear lobe. It’s not uncomfortable in any way, but it’s not quite as streamlined as I expected when I first saw the A83s. The good news is that the back portion of the A83 is perfectly curved and nice and shallow so they do nestle in the hollow of your ear quite nicely and are comfortable for long sessions in that regard.
 
The other challenge I faced with the A83s is the angle of the nozzle. For many people the following points will be of no concern, but I have relatively small ear canals that bend quite sharply close to the opening. The A83s have a similar nozzle size to the RE-272s which I find extremely comfortable, but the nozzle is a tiny bit longer and angled slightly forward and up. This tiny change made getting the right fit extremely challenging for me at first. I tried lots and lots of different tips and even bought some Comply foam tips (which were a complete disaster when combined with the A83s’ design and my bendy ear canals). In the end, I have found a silicone tip (which may have been one of the FIDUE ones, I’m not sure) that provides a perfect seal and good comfort. Interestingly, once I got used to the slightly different, quite shallow insertion, I’ve found these to be a welcome change because the nozzle and tip seal quite close to the outside of the ear canal rather than forcing their way inside my head.
 
The moral of this story is that the A83s may not fit quite how you expect so please work with them and don’t expect them to necessarily be the same type of insertion as your other IEMs. They are not actually difficult to fit – just different. Once I found the right tip and angle of insertion I could get a good and comfortable seal quickly and easily every time.
 

Sound Quality

 
The FIDUE A83 is a beautiful example of natural, balanced, enjoyable sound. It’s not analytical and cold like some IEMs seeking detail at all costs. It’s also not bloomy and boomy like some IEMs seeking the “wow” factor of prodigious bass. No, the A83 delivers every frequency equally with just a slight treble tilt, but it’s slight. This isn’t another sizzling hybrid. This is a tamed, controlled hybrid delivering the detail and control of a full-BA setup and the bass warmth (not quantity) and control of a pure dynamic setup.
 

Bass

 
For most of us, the term hybrid means bass-oriented or V-shaped earphone. Certainly, the A83 shows all the capabilities you expect from the possession of a dynamic driver, but it does it with subtlety and control. The T-PEOS H-300 showed me what dynamic bass could be like when it wasn’t overdone, but was present, well controlled and beautifully detailed. The A83 shows very similar characteristics with slightly less bass prominence (from my memory of the H-300), but equal agility and detail from the bass registers.
 
The bass is present, firm and warm, but tight and controlled with absolutely no bloat or bleeding into the mids. There’s nice bass energy, but if you’re expecting an earphone like the other hybrids on the market you’re going to be disappointed – that’s not what the A83 is about.
 
I recently reviewed the Noble PR which is an analytical IEM designed for detail and clarity. My one issue with that earphone was its lack of bass which left larger instruments like cellos sounding a bit hollow and lifeless. I used a 2Cellos track to test that so I decided to do the same with the A83s. The results were much more satisfactory in terms of realism in the cellos. Plucking and strumming of the cello strings had body and warmth, but no bloom. The sound was tight and punchy, but full and realistic.
 
That’s not to say the A83 is an all-around better earphone than the Noble PR – they are quite different, but they share a sense of accuracy and neutrality so it was a parallel worth making and the A83 brings extra firepower with its dynamic driver and perfect bass tuning.
 

Mids

 
Unlike many of the A83′s competitors, vocals and midrange instruments are present and accounted for with the A83s. There’s a slight dryness to female vocals, but nothing that detracts from enjoyment – it’s just a character of the sound and possibly exposes some of the vocal textures that are sometimes smoothed over. Either way, it’s not good or bad – it just is.
 
To my ears, the A83 probably has a slight dip in the lower mids which create that slight dryness, but also keeps the sound clean and crisp. Male vocals have less sense of the dryness because they live a little lower in the frequency range. Other midrange instruments like guitars and horns receive a beautiful sense of agility and texture from the A83′s tuning. I wouldn’t say the sound is coloured, but that the A83s have a noticeable character similar to the subtle differences from one instrument to the next. The sound is still very, very accurate so don’t be worried that the A83s will mess with your enjoyment of your favourite music. Regardless of the genre I’ve tried, the A83s have stayed pure, realistic and accurate – just right.
 
While writing this review, I actually heard some distortion in the vocals of some tracks I know very well and thought were very well recorded. The distortion sounds like the recording levels were just a touch too hot during the peaks in the vocals and the result is subtle, but noticeable with the A83s. I have never heard the problem before though so this is a sign of how revealing and detailed the A83s can be. The reason I haven’t put this front and centre though is that the A83s don’t shove detail in your face – they aren’t detail-mongers, they’re just accurate and revealing IEMs which, to me, is far more fun and far less fatiguing.
 

Treble

 
I really dislike hot, sibilant earphones, but as I approach the 90 minute mark of this review, having listened to the A83s throughout at normal listening levels (estimated at 75-80dB), I can honestly say that I haven’t once reached to turn down the music, switch tracks, or otherwise reacted to splashy, rowdy treble.
 
Yes, the A83 presents a tiny treble tilt, but like its control of bass, its control of treble is equally poised and graceful. This is one of the few IEMs I have tried where I find myself actively enjoying the treble and that puts the A83 in some good company with the Noble PR and Shure SE846.
 
A fellow Head-Fi’er recently posted a frequency response chart of the A83s on the discussion thread which might explain the A83′s treble voodoo. According to that chart, the A83s have a small treble peak at around 2-3kHz (hence the enjoyably dry vocals and agile strings) before dropping away around 4kHz and then peaking again around 8kHz.
 
Our ears are most sensitive to the 4kHz frequency range because it’s where a lot of the detail in speech occurs in the form of consonants (t, s, p, th, f, etc.) There’s no need for this area to be boosted in audio gear and it often results in sibilance from vocals because all of those consonants suddenly get over-cooked. If indeed that chart is accurate then Mr Benny Tan, the mastermind behind the tuning of the A83s, is a genius because he’s simultaneously created beautifully detailed and slightly prominent treble while deftly side-stepping the common issues with this approach – namely sibilance. Perhaps Mr Tan and Dr Moulton (“The Wizard” behind the Noble PRs) have been comparing notes because they have both nailed the perfect treble presentation that’s a joy to listen to without becoming fatigued (in fact I just turned my music up a notch).
 

Imaging and Staging

 
The imaging and staging from the A83s isn’t something I’m drawn to rave about, but it’s very good and easily on par with anything else I’ve heard in the price range. There’s not a great deal of depth to the soundstage (forwards / backwards), but it extends really well from side-to-side to the point that some sounds seem to come from slightly beyond the extremities of the earphones themselves. What’s good about the staging is that it is coherent, accurate and realistic. There are no phantom sounds appearing outside the stage all by themselves and there are no glaring gaps or irregularities in the shape of the stage. Playing my favourite staging track (Dancing Flute & Drum) from the Chesky Sensational Binaural Album (not its full title) shows an accurate sense of space, but not a huge sense of space.
 
Imaging from the A83s is equally as competent, but also not mind-blowing. That said, there are very few truly mind-blowing IEMs out there when it comes to staging and imaging and the A83s sit very comfortably in the tier directly below the mind-blowing tier. To let you in on my little rating scale of imaging, there’s:
 
  • Whoah!!!
  • Nice!
  • OK
  • Meh
 
So the A83s receive a score of “Nice!” There’s a good sense of each instrument’s position and enough space between them to be believable, but I didn’t find myself wanting to reach out and touch a vocalist or an instrument like I have on one or two very special occasions with IEMs. For the $399 price tag, the imaging is easily as good or better than you’d expect and you’d have to spend a significant amount more to achieve better performance in this area.
 

Summary

 
Recognise what the A83s are – a detailed, accurate, neutral IEM with a tiny treble boost and perhaps a slight touch of warmth in the bass, although that’s debatable given that our impressions of what is “natural” all vary. To me, the A83s are dead accurate with a touch of treble and I love that about them. To my ears the bass brings realism and life to the music without becoming a prominent feature. They have bass that can hit like a subwoofer when it’s in the track, but completely retreat when not required.
 
The A83s seem slightly eccentric to me. They sound different to their peers. They look like they should nestle completely into your ears, but actually stick out ever-so-slightly and don’t insert as deep as you might expect. They are vibrant and colourful on the inside, but subtle and classy on the outside. And they can slap you around with bass in one moment before dancing through delicate passages like a ballerina the next. They are warm in one moment and bright in the next, but they’re not confused – they just know what the music is saying.
 
Know going into any introduction to the A83s that they are eccentric, but revel in that eccentricity because they are like a wonderful eccentric friend who you might not “get” at first, but as time passes and you get to really know them you are treated to one surprise and delight after another. The A83s have certainly become a friend of mine who’ll be sticking around for a long time. I hope you’ll find the same experiences if these sound like a good fit for your tastes!
Averruncus
Averruncus
Wow, these looks super stylish! Hows the isolation though? Good enough for use in noisy environments (busy roadside/trains in tunnels)?
White Lotus
White Lotus
Great review mate!
fluffyberry
fluffyberry
thanks for the review! looks like another pair to check out :)
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