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3D printed single Knowles armature earphones with MMCX removable cables

FiiO FA1

Rating:
4.5/5,
  • Unparalleled precision from cutting-edge 3D printing

    The FA1 is created with advanced industrial-grade 3D printers utilizing DLP printing technology with resolution up to 25um. Compared to traditional molding or injection molding processes, 3D printing in conjunction with sophisticated digital modeling allows us to achieve more unit-to-unit consistency and better overall sound.

    Customized Knowles driver for mesmerizing sound, every time

    Inside the FA1 is a specially-customized balanced armature driver co-developed by FiiO and Knowles that especially capitalizes on the strengths of BA drivers for excellent sound. And with its low 15ohm impedance you can be sure the FA1 will sound good out of anything, even from your phone!

    Smooth, velvety yet precise balanced armature sound

    The balanced armature drivers in the FA1, in conjunction with the specially designed micrometer sound tube, have been tuned to provide a natural yet smooth sounding frequency response, free from any dips or peaks. With the FA1, you will get robust yet quick bass, wonderfully rich mids, and treble dripping with detail and speed that only balanced armature drivers can provide.

    A transparent look into the extraordinary

    The FA1's arresting ripple texture faceplate is complemented by an equally stunning transparent body, allowing you to marvel at design and care that went into every detail of the in-rea monitor's design.

    Honed by thousands of ears

    The shape of the FA1 was designed from the input of tens of thousands human ear shapes, to ensure maximum comfort and that the sound flows unimpeded to your ears.

    Choosing the perfect outer shell

    The outer shell of the FA1 employs a skin-friendly resin material, specially chosen for maximum wearing comfort and for its ability to durably retain its color and luster for years to come.

    Light as a feather

    Thanks to advanced 3D printing technology and the skin-friendly resin material of the shell, a single FA1 ear unit weighs in at a mere 4.5g for unparalleled wearing comfort.

    Detachable cables for unleashed sound

    Not only does the included MMCX cable enhance the durability of the FA1 by making it easy to replace, it also enhances the sound you get. The included 3.5mm-terminated cable is made of oxygen-free copper-plated silver wire for supreme clarity and a soundstage.

    Democratizing great sound for the common person

    FiiO has been about making greedy amounts of profit-rather, we aim to provide great sound that is actually affordable for the common person. With the FA1's Knowles BA driver and state-of-the-art 3D printing process, we continue that tradition of producing excellent-sounding great value products.

    The attention to detail starts with the accessories

    Included with the FA1 are a waterproof carrying case, a cleaning brush, ear tips optimized for bass(3 pairs), and ear tips optimized for a balanced sound signature(3 pairs) so that you are immediately ready to listen the way you want to.

    Specifications

    Type: Single balanced armature driver

    BA: Knowles ED-33357

    DD: N/A

    Frequency response: 20-20kHz

    Sensitivity: 111dB/mW(@1kHz)

    Impedance: 15Ω(@1kHz)

    Rate power: 100mW

    Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped gold-plated stereo jack

    Cable length: 1.2m

    Detachable cable design: standard MMCX connector

Recent Reviews

  1. narco dacunzolo
    great entry level iem
    Written by narco dacunzolo
    Published Mar 24, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Accessories
    Signature
    Comfort and design
    Cable
    Midrange and treble
    Cons - bass could have more impact and extension
    vocals could be more mature and organic
    [​IMG]

    Price: 99$

    Where to buy them: https://www.fiio.com/

    Specifications:

    • Single BA Knowles ED-33357
    • Impedance: 15 Ohm
    • Sensitivity: 111 dB @ 1mW
    • Frequency response: 20-20k Hz
    • Maximum input power: 100 mW
    Thanks to FiiO for this free sample. Everything I write reflects my own thoughts and impressions about the FA1.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing and first impressions
    For a sub-100$ In Ear Monitor, I’d say I’m impressed with the accessories. Inside the with box, we find the IEMs, a 4-core black braided cable (MMCX), a hard case, a cleaning brush, some tips (3 pairs of white narrow-bore ones and 3 of red and gray medium-bore ones). And a warranty card too. For the price, the case is a good surprise, even if it’s not the best for the build quality. The IEMs themselves, instead, are built amazingly well and they have a unique design which reminds me of the other FiiO products of their balanced line-up. They are made of acrylic, with a smoke effect which gives an interesting overall look. The faceplate is kind of wavy, and it perfectly merges with the shell. I believe these IEMs are 3D-printed. The nozzle is made of the same resin as the shell, so there’s not a metal reinforcement. For being a universal IEM, the fit is also more than good; and they are very lightweight. They aren’t the smallest earphones out there, but they are not fatiguing to wear, even after a long time. The cable has solid gold-plated connectors, and it feels well-made overall. It’s a 4-core twisted cable (silver, copper-plated) with strain reliefs on the L-shaped connector and on the Y split (which are both made of metal). This cable comes in 3.5mm single ended, while other FiiO IEMs come with another cable which is a 2.5mm balanced. But I’m good with this, considering it’s an entry-level earphone. The only issue I have concerns the ear hooks: they are a little bit too hard, so they keep their shape more than adapt to my ears (it’s because they are just a bit too long, too).

    [​IMG]

    Sound
    This single balanced armature sounds like you expect a single balanced armature to sound: balanced. The FA1 provide a neutral signature, on a reference side, with a touch of color on the upper midrange.

    Because they are pretty easy to drive, the bass is quick and punchy, while remaining very well controlled. It’s not an enhanced bass, so my impressions are far from a fun sound. It’s neither one of the best things of these earphones, actually: even though the sub-bass extension is pretty deep, the body of it is just average, but it feels smooth overall. But this is good for a single armature, considering that usually that work is assigned to specific armatures or dynamic drivers. If you are a basshead, for me it would be difficult to suggest the FA1, which are more on a flat – yet sparkly – side.

    Mids are the best part of the package: they sound full, well-layered, giving the right space and harmonics to vocals. The clarity is stunning, thanks to the body given to the upper midrange. The only less convincing thing is the artificial/metallic feel which sometimes comes in the lower midrange, which may thin the body of it.

    The treble is also really convincing: luckily, it’s not picky or bright, nor sibilant, which are the aspects I’m more sensitive on. Like the rest of the frequency range, the highs are well-tuned and controlled, but airy and energic.

    I wouldn’t say the soundstage is very wide, but the emphasis on the upper midrange helps to widen it, for sure. You don’t feel a congested sound, neither like it’s in your head. It fairly expands in width and depth and it gives a holographic feel, which you may appreciate or not – I’m not sure on its precision. Imaging is average, even more than average if you think of the price of these IEMs. The isolation is top notch, which is a great thing.

    I would suggest the FA1 to all customers looking for a neutral/lean presentation with



    Conclusions
    It seems that single balanced armatures are getting more mainstream (Campfire Comet, Brainwavz KOEL, these ones…). From what I’ve heard with the FA1, they are an easy recommendation and this way that they took is convincing. There are things I like more on single dynamic driver earphones, while others I’d rather on single armatures, like precision, speed, detail.



    Pros

    • Accessories
    • Signature
    • Comfort and design
    • Cable
    • Midrange and treble


    Cons

    • bass could have more impact and extension
    • vocals could be more mature and organic
  2. ustinj
    FIIO FA1 Review: One in the Chamber
    Written by ustinj
    Published Mar 17, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - clear and detailed sound, resolution, excellent build quality, full accessory package, affordable
    Cons - subbass extension / rumble
    Recently, FiiO has been consistent in releasing publicly well-received earphones such as the FH5 and FA7, with the intention of providing great sound at a great value. The FA1 is a new single balanced-armature IEM offering from FiiO, retailing at an even more affordable $99 MSRP.

    The FiiO FA1 sample was provided by FiiO. I’d like to give thanks to Lily and FiiO for supplying the unit for review, as well as the opportunity to share my impressions on the FA1. It is available in two color variants (red/blue and smoke), the latter being shown in this review.

    For more information and technical specifications on the FiiO FA1, or if you’d like to pick up a set for yourself, check out the following links.


    The FA1 is currently selling at a very reasonable $99 MSRP with 2-day Prime shipping available directly from FiiO. Certainly a competitive price range with prospective buyers from many groups — let’s see if the FA1 stacks up as something wallet-worthy.

    GENERAL

    I try not to spend too much time on aspects that don’t directly tie to the product, but the packaging on the FA1 is excellent. Magnetized box, smooth matte cardboard, clean layout. Feels very high quality for a $99 earphone — the unboxing experience really builds up excitement to getting your hands on the actual product.

    Inside the package, you get:

    • FiiO FA1 IEMs
    • black 4-core twist-braid MMCX cable
    • FiiO HB1 hard case
    • 3 pairs of translucent narrow-bore tips
    • 3 pairs of red / gray medium-bore tips
    • cleaning tool
    Included is the FiiO HB1 hard case with a clear cover. The various angles refract light in an interesting way, sometimes casting rainbow patterns outwards. It’s a nicely-sized case with secure snap closure; however, the hinges have little resistance resulting in a rattly ‘cheap’ feeling when open.

    [​IMG]

    BUILD & DESIGN
    In terms of build quality and design, I’m very impressed. The smoke variant of the FA1 comes with a wave-embossed faceplate layered over with a smooth acrylic surface. It catches light beautifully, showcasing intricately-cut ridges and crests with a metallic sheen. Since it’s layered over with the smoke resin, it also has a neat effect where the resin layer obscures the wave-surface beneath at certain angles.

    [​IMG]

    The FA1’s shells are exceptionally finished, there’s not a single smudge, bubble, or imperfection I can find in the housing. To my surprise, the shells are also completely solid, filled throughout (as opposed to hollow, like many handbuilt C/IEMs) resulting in a slightly smokey, mostly transparent housing that looks and feels premium. I’ve paid upwards of $1000 for custom-built IEMs that don’t come close to the level of consistency in the FA1’s resin shell. If anything’s to nitpick, there are vertical lines that can be seen in the IEM (byproduct of the 3D printing process), but since they’re all uniform it just looks like a design cue.

    Comfort is also on the better side of things, as the shell is a ‘universal-custom’ fit. Though my ears are on the smaller side of things, I didn’t notice much pressure or any hot spots on my ears after my longer listening sessions. I would imagine that the fit is even more comfortable for those with average to larger ears. I felt isolation was also fairly good, the ergonomic shell design allowed for a more secure insertion depth. I used these IEMs on the go during my daily walks, as well as in a fairly loud gym environment and had no issue.

    CABLE
    MMCX connectors feel pretty solid in terms of connection. Out of the box, the FA1’s exhibit absolutely no play or instability on the MMCX connectors. To clarify, the cable can be rotated to provide a more comfortable fit with the pre-formed earguides, but it doesn’t rotate on its own — very stable, but not too rigid.

    [​IMG]

    The stock cable is a black 4-core twist-braid terminated in a right-angle 3.5mm SE and MMCX connectors. The hardware seems to be of high quality: the right-angle 3.5mm jack and y-splitter both have ample strain relief. The y-splitter and chin-slider both seem to be made of aluminum, sporting the FiiO branding on a gunmetal tinted surface. In terms of ergonomics, the stock cable is very soft and flexible.

    [​IMG]

    However, the preformed earguides are a bit hard / stiff and just slightly longer than ideal — IMO, the cable would be much better overall without these earguides. I do notice some inconsistencies in the twist-braiding of the cable, but nothing too jarring or noticeable. There is also a silicone cable tie attached to the cable that is good for organization, but kind of gets in the way in day-to-day use — this cable tie is also not removable unless you take at it with a knife or scissors.

    SOUND
    I would describe the overall tonality of the FiiO FA1 as a somewhat neutral balanced tuning, with a bias towards the upper midrange frequencies. Bass is generally uncoloured in quantity, sacrificing rumble / raw power for very quick BA-like speed. Vocals are forward with enhanced clarity and presence, supported comfortably by a detailed treble response. In summation, it has a leaner sound profile overall with solid detail retrieval, resolution, and focus, but can come off as lacking in emotion / musicality on bass-focused genres.

    BASS
    The FA1’s bass leans more towards a neutral, more agile presentation. Deep subbass extension is fair, but it doesn’t have much substantial rumble or authority behind it. Midbass sits at what I’d consider a slightly-above neutral quantity, while subbass sits just behind that. In terms of speed, the FA1 is most certainly BA-like — it’s very quick, but limp. Impact doesn’t compare to a dynamic driver; decay is very fast, what some may consider a bit unnatural. It has adequate punch for the majority of genres I’ve thrown at it, but doesn’t have the rumble to compete with other earphones for electronic music. The FA1 is not an IEM I would recommend for bassheads, or those who listen to music with heavy reliance on low frequency riffs and melodies.

    MIDRANGE
    The FA1’s midrange is without a doubt the highlight of the overall tuning. There’s an emphasis on the upper midrange, providing good vocal clarity and articulation. The lower midrange doesn’t feel to be overly thin, rather just making the mark for appropriate thickness. As a result, the result is a clarity-enhanced midrange balance with ample note weight, but an occasional hint of artificiality (a bit of grain) on the top octave (presence?). Resolution is rather nice, vocals have good texturing and the overall tone seems fairly accurate.

    TREBLE
    Treble also seems to be one of the strong points of the FA1, sitting at a neutral quantity that doesn’t come off as overly bright. It sounds pretty controlled overall, without any major peaks or dips in the treble response. Extension is pretty average — it doesn’t give off the perception of having enhanced air or sparkle, nor does it sound closed off or constrained. I’d say that the FA1’s treble response does not have any particular aspects I feel the need to criticize, it seems very safely tuned and apt in resolution.

    SOUNDSTAGE / IMAGING
    The FA1 is no slouch when it comes to soundstage and imaging, but it also doesn’t seem to try hard to impress with three-dimensional imaging or holographic staging. Soundstage sounds to be about average if not slightly better in width and depth. However, stereo imaging seems pretty spot on in the manner of an in-ear monitor. It has good directional cues and lacks any of the vagueness that I’ve noticed with some other IEMs (i.e. Pinnacle P1), though I would not go as far as to say it has the three-dimensional sense of space that something like a Campfire Andromeda may have. A good descriptor for the FA1’s imaging and soundstage capabilities is ‘natural’. It isn’t so big it’s overblown, but also not constrained enough to feel suffocating.

    [​IMG]


    CONCLUSION
    The FiiO FA1 is a single balanced-armature IEM, and it definitely has some single-BA characteristics to its sound. It puts an emphasis on providing a clear listening experience with great resolution, highlighting vocals with enhanced clarity regions and safe yet supportive treble; however low frequency notes feel very quick and a bit light in impact as a tradeoff. At the affordable $99 price point FiiO is offering the FA1, I have little to genuinely complain about. From a sonic standpoint, I really like the approach that FiiO has taken on this earphone — the FA1 allows consumers another viable opportunity to dip their toes into a slightly different flavour of earphones. In addition to tackling the small market of entry-level balanced-armature IEMs, FiiO tops it off with prime build quality, aesthetics, and accessories.
    1. Fawzay
      How well this iem compares to a similar single balance armature from CampFire Audio Comet?
      Fawzay, Mar 20, 2019
      George Taylor likes this.
    2. ustinj
      @Fawzay Hi I no longer have the Comet, but if I were to compare by memory... the Comet would have greater subbass extension and impact, but the FA1 handles complex passages better, clearer imaging, and finer resolution. If you are dead set on getting quality bass, I probably would not be looking at single BA setups though.
      ustinj, Mar 21, 2019
      Fawzay likes this.
  3. B9Scrambler
    FiiO FA1: 3D BayBee!!
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Feb 27, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - High quality 3D printed housings - Balanced, detailed signature - Great accessory kit
    Cons - Bass roll off - Treble can sound a touch metallic at times
    Greetings!

    Today we're checking out one of FiiO's first forays into the balanced armature market, the FA1.

    The FA1 is an earphone with some appealing features, like lightweight, 3D printed, custom-styled housings, the use of a Knowles 33357 full-range driver, and the ability to replace the cables via a common MMCX connector. Add to that an extensive accessory kit and a low price tag of 99 USD and the FA1 is setting itself up as a competitive entry in the 100 USD market. But is it?

    Let's find out.

    Disclaimer:

    A huge thanks to Lily at FiiO for entrusting me with a sample of the FA1 for this review. The thoughts and opinions within are my own subjective opinions based on weeks of time spent with the FA1. They are not representative of FiiO or any other entity. At the time of writing it was retailing for 99 USD. You can check it out here: https://www.fiio.com/fa1

    Source:

    The FA1 was paired with the mostly uncoloured Radsone ES100 connected to the LG G6, LDAC enabled. I also used it with FiiO's own uBTR. It was also run straight out of the warm Shanling M0 that was a nice match. The TEAC HA-501 with ZiShan DSD sourcing some mad beatz also played a part in running the FA1. Since it was easy to drive, I didn't find amping necessary. The FA1 seemed most at home running through neutral to warm devices. Something bright like the Walnut F1 sounded too harsh with the FA1.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800 Silver, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Specifications:
    • Driver: Knowles ED-33357 balanced armature
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20Hz
    • Sensitivity: 11dB (1kHz@1mW)
    • Impedance: 15ohms@1kHz
    • Maximum Input Power: 100mW
    DSCN0041.JPG DSCN0016.JPG DSCN0018.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    As has been the trend for many years, the FA1 arrives in a white cardboard box with minimal accents. On the front is an image of the FA1's ear pieces made from fine black lines, along with the usual branding and model details peppered about. The sides, top, and bottom contain nothing worth mention while the back contains just a brief description of the earphone, “Full frequency single balanced armature driver earphone with detachable cables”, a code to scan, and some company information. It's all very clean, neat, and quite attractive in it's simplicity. FiiO did a nice job with the exterior packaging.

    Grabbing the magnetically sealed flap and flipping open the lid sees three boxes in the interior. The first box has the FA1's ear pieces nestled tightly into a protective plastic insert with the cable attached. The performed ear guides wrap up and around with the cable disappearing into a couple holes. Opening the box you find the cable neatly wrapped and tied with one of the Dunu-style rubber ties that FiiO adopted with their early partnership with Dunu. The second box contains the carrying case and accessories. The third and final box resides under the first box. It is wafer thin and contains the manual. I like this box-within-a-box style of unboxing since it's fun to see what's stored where. Maybe not the most environmentally friendly, but everything here is recyclable cardboard so it's all good. In all you get:
    • FA1 earphones
    • MMCX copper-plated silver cable
    • Waterproof plastic hard case
    • Nozzle cleaning brush
    • Green single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • White single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    The presentation is attractive, refined, and fun to unbox. The plastic case is deceptively large. I was able to fit the FA1, Shanling M0, and a Topping NX1 portable amp in there. Space was at a premium, but it all fit without forcing it. That's pretty awesome. The included tips are pretty decent too. The green tips in particular have a nice feel to them with soft, flexible flanges that provide a nice fit. Overall this is a really nice kit, especially considering at 99 USD you're also getting a silver cable and a genuine Knowles driver. I'd say we're off to a good start.

    DSCN0020.JPG DSCN0024.JPG DSCN0037.JPG

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    FiiO is making a big deal of their 3D printing process for this earphone, and it's easy to see why. If I didn't know this earphone was 3D printed, I would have guessed it was made from the same process as the similarly shaped and equally drop dead gorgeous Kinera Idun. The only thing I can see that gives it away is the inner nozzle and sound tube which contain a layered texturing common to the printing process. Other than that these are basically flawless. The shells are polished smooth and the wavy rippled pattern of the face looks amazing, especially on the black sample I was sent. The MMCX ports are perfectly integrated into the top, while the base sees a small vent on each ear piece to help prevent pressure build up. Thanks for thinking of that! I'm quite impressed with what FiiO has done with the build.

    The cable is pretty fantastic too. Silver wires with a copper plating is nothing to scoff at. On first glance I thought the sheath was the same as that for the twisted copper Litz cable Campfire included with the Polaris and Comet. While not the same, they are quite similar. FiiO's cable is a bit thicker, not as stiff, and has a looser twist to it. The hardware is quality stuff too. The sheath for the MMCX plugs is a ribbed plastic that's easy to grip with a coloured aluminum ring at each base to denote channel: red for right, blue for left. The y-split is metal with what looks to be a laser engraved FiiO logo. Leading into the bottom is an effective strain relief. Out the top, relief is omitted in favour of a useful chin cinch that also happens to be metal. The 90 degree angled jack is a familiar site, quite similar in design to the one on the older FiiO F1. The sleeve leading down to the 3.5mm plug is extended to avoid interaction with cellphone cases.

    Comfort with the FA1 is excellent thanks to their low weight (4.5g per ear piece) and a very ergonomic, semi-custom design that we have seen quite a bit lately on products like the Tenhz P4 Pro, Kinera Idun, and TFZ Secret Garden, to name a few. The design locks into the outer ear and remains stable even under heavy movement. The preformed ear guides keep the cable securely wrapped up and over the ear using a material that slides comfortably across the skin. Some might find them a bit long though, so I suspect FiiO could take off nearly an inch of material without it affecting the usefulness. Due to the shape and size of the ear pieces, someone with small ears might experience issues getting them to insert naturally, but that should affect a minority of users.

    As with all earphones of this style I've tried, isolation is excellent. The FA1 snugly fills the entirety of your outer ear which blocks a ton of noise. Toss on some foams and you will feel like you're in a vault. These are awesome to use in noisy areas like the bus or in a busy coffee shop.

    DSCN0034.JPG DSCN0032.JPG DSCN0030.JPG

    Sound:

    The FA1 has a fantastic signature that borders on neutral. Starting with treble, I find it sees a small bump in the upper regions giving the FA1's representation of cymbals a bit more shimmer than I'm accustomed to from single armature models. At times it does display a metallic edge that can be slightly distracting, such as on Massive Attack's “Mezzanine”, though it's not particularly common nor does it detract much from the experience. For the most part everything is smooth and refined with a snappy but realistic decay with good control.

    The mid-range really stands up and sounds forward making vocals and instruments in this region quite prominent. I really enjoy these qualities with classic rock and thoroughly enjoyed running through the entirety of Supertramp's “Crime of the Century” album for the umpteenth time. Note are imbued with a touch of warmth and while not lean, trend more in that direction than not. I find this highlights the FA1's outstanding articulation and clarity. Timbre is quite accurate too with instruments sounding as they should.

    The FA1's low end is smooth but textured with decent depth and a solid thump of impact in the otherwise reserved mid-bass region. As is often the case, roll off into sub-bass regions is felt earlier than on your typical dynamic driver. For anything that doesn't require silent bass that you feel, not hear, the FA1 should be plenty sufficient. This bass presentation felt particularly well-suited to Daft Punk's “Give Life Back To Music” where the bass line plays a support role to the synthesized vocals and funky guitar. Texture is pretty good with grungy bass represented well, though it's more liquid than some other single armature based models like the Brainwavz KOEL and EarNiNE EN120.

    The FA1's sound stage spreads out from your head with the physically forward mids acting as an anchoring point. I felt a greater impression of depth than width. Vocals are generally quite intimate with instruments dancing away just behind. It doesn't make the FA1 sound congested thanks to accurate imaging and competent laying and separation, but it falls behind some multi-driver offerings like the Brainwavz B200.

    Overall the FA1 makes for a fantastic listen. A strong mid-range and vibrant, detailed treble steal the show while a punchy but reserved low end urges the rest of the signature on. The sound stage borders on intimate, playing well to the impressive vocal performances the FA1 regularly delivers.

    Select Comparisons (volumes matched using Dayton iMM-6):

    Brainwavz KOEL (69.50 USD): The FA1 and KOEL are both 3D printed earphones with single armatures and MMCX equipped removable cables, though the FA1 comes in a full 30 USD more expensive. The FA1 is slightly more treble forward with additional energy in the upper treble regions. While not quite as refined, the FA1's treble gives chimes and cymbals more sheen and in general sounds more exciting. The KOEL's mid-range isn't as forward, either in emphasis or stage placement, but it is warmer, fuller in body, smoother, more natural, and just as detailed and crisp. Bass on the FA1 sees a slight bump in emphasis and extension to a slightly greater depth, though it still doesn't rumble like something with a dedicate low-range armature, such as the KZ BA10. KOEL still has an edge in impact and texture. Raw sound stage size goes to the KOEL as it is able to toss effects further into the distance, however, the FA1 is able to bring sounds in closer and as such is the better performer with intimate vocals. Imaging, layering and separation are pretty much on par. Overall, I think the KOEL is more enjoyable and a slightly better performer.

    In terms of build, it's clear the FA1's extra 30 USD can be found there. As much as I like Brainwavz's improvements to their 3D printing process, and appreciate the unique and comfortable designs they have come up with, there is a rawness to their shells and overall construction not present in the FA1. The fairly common (see Kinera H3 and Idun, Tenhz P4 Pro, and TRN IM1 for an idea of the FA1's shape), custom-like housings seem to be crafted with a more matured process, from the smoother surfaces, to the more well-defined nozzle, to the stylish face plate. The FA1 also has a more impressive cable given it is VERY similar in look and feel to what Campfire Audio included with the Polaris. The FA1 has a premium air to it that the KOEL just can't match.

    Campfire Audio Comet (199.00 USD): The Comet and FA1 are both single armature earphones with removable MMCX cables, though the Comet doubles the price coming in at 199 USD. The FA1 has a brighter, leaner signature with more upper treble energy. It sounds more raw than the smoother Comet, albeit with similar clarity. The Comet's mid-range has more meat on it's bones with vocals having more weight behind them and a timbre that is slightly more accurate. Bass on the Comet is a bit slower and less nimble but provides better extension and more visceral feedback. Texture is improved on the Comet. Sound stage isn't amazing on either, but the FA1's thinner sound helps give it a great sense of space, particularly in the mids which are more physically forward and intimate on the Comet. Overall I find the Comet offers a more balanced and fully fleshed out sound, which is what I would expect given the price. That said, it's not twice as good and the FA1 certainly puts up some stiff competition.

    In terms of build, as beautiful as the FA1 is the Comet with it's very unique design and hand-polished stainless steel housings up the ante. They look and feel more premium. In the FA1's favour they're lighter, more ergonomic, and nicer to wear regardless of the circumstance, though some people will prefer the Comet simply because of their more universal shape. Their cables are very similar with the Comet's having a tighter twist and slightly nicer hardware to the FA1's greater flexibility and reduced memory. What it really comes down to here is that the Comet is better built with some stunning but polarizing looks while the FA1 is more traditionally gorgeous with better comfort and ergonomics.

    DSCN0012.JPG

    Final Thoughts:

    The FA1 has proven itself to be a very well-rounded product. It has a coherent, balanced signature with a spectacular mid-range and clean treble, though it's low end is unlikely to please someone that prefers some extra emphasis down there. The housings offer a ton of isolation and are extremely stylish. I doubt many would have a clue that these were 3D printed given just how refined and well put together they are. In my opinion, that right there is FiiO's crowning achievement with this model. Their printing process is seriously impressive. Add to that a high quality cable, a bunch of accessories with a case that is useful beyond just carrying around the FA1, and this one gets an easy recommendation.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album)
    Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
    King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco - F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone) (Album)

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    1. View previous replies...
    2. Dani157
      How do C16 compare to these as both are similarly priced? Especially with the hype around C16s these days
      Dani157, Mar 6, 2019
    3. B9Scrambler
      @Dani157 If I get the C16 in I'll let you know :)
      B9Scrambler, Mar 6, 2019
      Dani157 likes this.
    4. B9Scrambler
      @Dani157 Hoping to have the C16 review out tonight. Includes a brief comparo with the FA1, if you're still interested.
      B9Scrambler, May 30, 2019

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