Pros: Balanced SS, lush mids, tight bass, good extension both ways, deep soundstage, detailed, comfortable, great isolation, good build quality and more!
Cons: OEM headphone design, ears get a bit hot when listening, fatigue caused by isolation
Not only am I a relatively newbie audiophile, the FA-003 were my first pair of "audiophile" headphones, therefore, I might be slightly based towards it. I originally got the FA-003 for use as a monitoring headphone for my audio engineering work, and used it through my 2 years of study in UK. I have had this pair for around 2+ years now and it's become a my go-to headphones for mixing. While I have gotten much better/more expensive headphones since then, the FA-003 has remained my workhorse pair and my standard to which I compare all other closed headphones to.
What I like love...
I used to lay on the couch of my office at night just immersing myself in music with my FA-003 (Cowon J3 > Headstage Arrow). The mids are mesmerizing, sometimes almost as if the vocals were resonating in your throat. God, how I absolutely love the sound of the FA-003, an excitement which wouldn't be replicated until I got my HE-500 paired with Asus E1. Incredibly balanced, non-fatiguing while staying musical and engaging (whatever that means). With a tight, punchy bass and excellent treble extension, it performs well with any genre I throw at it (and my choice headphone for K-pop), a mark of a great pair of reference headphones. I found them relatively forgiving to poorer recordings/mixes/masters.
It has a surprising amount of detail, especially for a closed design. Being a closed phone, the soundstage isn't very wide (feels slightly constricted beside open pairs) but it's has a surprising amount depth to it and separates instruments very well.
FA-003 isolates very well, which may be a bit fatiguing after awhile. Practically no leakage whatsoever.
The pleather pads are very deep and comfortable and should easy cover your entire ear, it can get a bit warm for prolonged usage though.
2 years of abuse and still in excellent condition. The white lettering is unscratched, with everything intact.
Not the best looking headphone. Wires get stiff after prolonged use. Alternative velour pads might have been nice.
Quite an incredible pair of headphones. Very versatile and among the best in terms of fidelity for it's price range. I would recommend these over other studio headphones such as the M-50, SRH440/840 and MDR-7506 for monitoring use or enjoyment.
Edit: See the last paragraphs for updated impressions regarding build quality
When I unpackaged these headphones today I was expecting find a nice closed-headphone alternative for my Grado SR125i, but I got more than I bargained for.
From percussions, to strings to vocals, it seems that almost every single music track I listen to has a new breath of life. This is similar to the experience I felt when I bought my first Sennheiser earbuds, back when I had a Minidisk, and is something I haven't felt for years. Rather than feeling like I got a small sound upgrade, I feel like I've broken into a new sound-quality threshold that will be hard to match or surpass, unless I invest a considerably larger amount of money.
These headphones come with two replaceable ear cushions, one pair being faux-leather and the other being almost velvet-like (feel free to correct me on the type of materials), a HUGE carrying case that I highly doubt I'll ever use (almost as big as a shoe box in terms of dimensions).
After I discovered the Koss PortaPro I thought I would never discover another pair of headphones that would offer as great value as they did in terms of sound quality, but I was completely wrong. If these headphones had cost me twice or thrice as much I would still have felt very happy with them. Unless you already own a high-end headphone, I highly highly recommend these.
Two years and a few months after the initial purchase the plastic on the headband on part where it splits into an arch started cracking until it almost completely broke. I tried repairing it with various means but alas, none worked for more than a few days and I also considered purchasing a newer headband which has metal construction rather than plastic, meaning that the issue should not occur with them. However due to the price of the headband which was roughly... 70% of the price of a brand new FA-003 I decided instead to look for alternatives and bought a Fostex T50RP Mk3.
I would advise anyone interested in the FA-003 to make sure they are getting the newer version of the headphone with the metal headband and to avoid Brainwavz's HM5 because it uses the same band as the Fischer Audio and will likely end up having the same issue. It's worth spending the extra dollars getting the newer Fischer Audio FA-003 because the band alone is over $100 to replace.
Good neutral set. I play them out of a vintage Sony Receiver from the early 80's and it provides plenty of power to push these to their limits.
Most versatile set of cans I've owned, everything really sounds good with them. I would however not recommend them for Bassheads, they have the extension needed, but not quite the force of presence. I would say vocal reproduction is their strength, and that for their price they're likely the best option for neutral fans.