Pros: great value for money, punch above their weight, sexy and woody.
Cons: slightly rolled off highs, need good amping.
Hey guys and gals, hoping all are well! So first off i REALLY need to thank Billy of the epic 'Noisy Motel' (www.noisymotel.com.au) for not only being such a great dude, but for bringing in the most interesting, eclectic, and downright amazing selection of personal audio gadgetry and headphones... Thats right, Billy has some of the nicest cans in Australia So today, as soon as i heard the Fischer FA (F#&!ing Awesome) 011's had arrived, i immediately made an 80's mid air fist pump, slid across my mazda 3 bonnet like magnum pi, and halled ass over to Prahran. Ive been tracking the progress of the FA011's on this forum for a while now, following many threads with special attention to one of the great HeadFi Fischer resources "off the deep end" by the all knowing LFF which can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/545368/review-fischer-audio-fa-011-off-the-deep-end/1935#post_9207273 When i first heard there was another FA011 coming out, i hoped they would be remenisent of this "golden revision" i kept reading about. Truth is Fischer released a lot of their pre-production work to their suppliers as stock, this in a way was good as they had a chance to use real enthusiasts as a test market and tweak things based on feedback. In another way it sucked if you got one of the less impressive units. When i heard this new revision came with the curly cord, like others here, my mind went straight to that first revision. At first sight of the pre-sales images i was sent to whet my apetite i noticed a few things. After the cable next of which was the wood finish, it wasnt trick photography, with them now safely in my hands i can confirm the finish all over has REALLY improved! My particular pair had an exaggerated grain which i love, but the plainer pairs also had a cool modern/retro vibe to them, it was hard to play favorites. Second I noticed the new badge, and lastly what looked like different pad material. Being not overly familiar with the first rev pads i cant confirm or deny any difference, but these are certainly different then some of the other earlier models i am more familiar with. I can now confirm that this time round theres a tight weave wool twill with similar inner "leather?" wall, and more/different padding- these are really quite firm, but being so light and comfortable this REALLY works in their favor! Also not as itchy. There also seems to be some sort of baffle behind the smartly badged outer mesh, and they have now perfected the inner lining cutouts. Like i said earlier, greatly improved fit and finishes- shmick. Extras in this package was a kink resistant silicon extension cord for home listening, gold jack adapter, and the usual fantastic freebee padded Fischer zip up case, and hilarious warranty card: "d) unauthorised modification or misuse; e) circumstances out of control of Fischer Audio, including, without limitation to, fires, storms, earthquakes, floods, stupidity or maniacal stubbornness. Failure caused by acts of God, fall of asteroid, Martian attack, hungry piranhas and/or swallowing by Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, is covered by Fischer Audio if such accident has been proven." Now for the important bit, the sound. [while breaking in, 0-3 hours in] If your familiar with the aforementioned LFF thread all the better, if not- i recommend the read never the less im going to treat this as a new review, befitting a new revision. Two things i strongly recommend before even going out to try these gorgeous, revered, and well priced ($169) woodies are: 1/ Take good music with you, and i dont just mean your favorite polka band outro, or Vegas famed Celine Dion impersonator, I mean you need to have good quality files. As good as these cans are, as many light years as they punch above their price point, they wont take kindly to being fed fast food with a plastic spoon... Which brings me to my next point. 2/ The plastic spoon. Amp them properly, they deserve it, and more importantly so do you. Theres good and bad to this particular side of the whole Fischer (and many other manufacturers) range. The bad is that they are surprisingly hard to power on the go. This doesnt necessarily mean they wont go loud enough riding bare back through your iphone for your fully sick grub-shlep, but it does mean that you need a good amount of juice for a night and day change... And you can believe its night and day! Unamped they were pretty good to nice, amped on a portable c421 (which is only one of my most favoriteset amps in the whole wide world), i was further impressed and grinned widely, but not surprised that the Soundmagic HP100's i picked up at the same time conquered them through the same amp in ways you wouldnt want your girlfriend or mother to see. But hey, the HP100's cost roughly $100 more. When i got home i immediately settled by the WA7, and replayed my same playlist. These didnt budge easily for 160ohm's, I cranked it past 11:00 (extremely loud, on this little powerhouse), then i wound it down a tad... My jaw honestly dropped. I was shocked, were these the same cans? Im not being cute, the absolute difference seemed utterly implausible. The good in this scenario is the irrational price point they gave these cans considering what you get. A world class set of handcrafted European wooden open cans, with all the trimmings for $169. How does this relate to amping? Well for that kinda coin it allows you leeway to purchase a matching amp. Considering the kind of headphones these compare to in every aspect other than money, should you have opted for another open headphone of similar calibre, let alone ANY other wooden headphone on the market, you would have been up for $275-$1895 and i shudder to mention those higher than even this. Sure we arent all rushing out to buy LCD3's to match our Zegna man scarfs and boat shoes, nor do these sound like LCD3, but you get my point- with the money you "would have" spent you can now afford to purchase a $106-$1726 amplifier you will enjoy with all your cans for years to come! These headphones are no joke. Ok, they have a little roll off on the high end, they certainly wont offend those sensitive to sibilance. They seem relatively flat with the mids being the star of the show, supported by an excellent representation on the low end. Slightly over capable bass, without any overly obvious coloration to genres that arent flattered by any exaggeration below the waistline. Great staging and separation, and endless unfatigued listening possibilities. These are anything but offensive. In images, and in person they are as well made as an Eames original, and they will command as much attention and interest as the Facebook Gap test. Amp these cans well, and provide them with good quality music and you have a pocket-friendly-rocket. "like".
Cons: The bass is overpowering and loose, the earpads are like torture devices
After hearing the glowing reviews for these I was looking forward to getting them on my head to hear this reportedly "fun" headphone. After waiting over two weeks to get these from Noisy Motel in Australia, that wasn't their fault (Aussie post must be one of the slowest carriers on Earth), they finally arrived.
Build quality and comfort:
Oh boy... from the outside they seemed okay and in good cosmetic condition. In terms of appearance, they look attractive. Mine are the dark wood finish, which I find to be more sophisticated than the natural version they're shipping now.
However, placing them on my head and getting them situated is another matter. For me these aren't "over-ear" headphones, the pads are small and very shallow. So the whole time I listened to them part of my ears were sitting on the outer pad while the rest was digging into the foam over the driver. This is exacerbated by the somewhat scratchy material they use. The clamping pressure is okay and the headband system works well, but overall I have to say that, for me, they aren't comfortable, at all.
At any rate, soldiering on, I plugged them into my Benchmark DAC1 PRE, started up my first test track, Paul Simon's Graceland, and... all I got was a massive flood of bass. Let me clarify, there was no treble, as in none. Just a torrent of loose, overpowering bass. Well, something was wrong, so I checked my connections, tried other headphones, checked the FA-011s, everything. All seemed fine.
So, after trying other songs, which yielded the same results, I did what any sane audiophile tinkerer would do, I took them apart, completely apart. That even included removing a wad of resistors soldered on to the back of each of the drivers. Then, after checking out their guts, which seemed okay, I put them all back together again. For whatever reason, that did the trick and was finally able to get treble and was able to start the sound test in earnest. As an aside, for a DIY kit, this is expected, for a retail product it's ridiculous. Normally, I would have just sent them back, but the shipping charge to do so would have been high and the wait would have been a month or more.
So I fired up Graceland again and it was better, much better, I had treble. However, the bass was still too loose and heavy by a decent amount, even to the point that it bled into the lower mids. The upper mids were pleasantly colored, almost Grado-like, and the treble was the same, though too peaky from 6-8kHz (even compared to my Grado PS500s and AKG Q701s).
Kind of expecting what I'd encounter, I switched to Dubstep, Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling. Those unfamiliar with her work, she is a violinist with a flare for modern music styles. Unfortunately, no tight, satisfying bass was to be found, just more mud. Though, again, the mids were enjoyable and at low volume the highs weren't too piercing.
Moving along, I switched to Madonna's Lucky Star, to get a feel for the imaging and soundstage. It wasn't bad, though I have to admit the depth and precision weren't up to par with other offerings in their price class, such as the Sennheiser HD518s and Audio Technica ATH-AD700s.
At that point my ears were hurting from the pads, so I decided to call it quits and just let them break-in for a while. Some say this doesn't matter, but I was wanting to give these cans another chance down the road, so I set them to run some pink noise, put them in a drawer, and let them run for a few days at higher volume. When I came back to them after over 100 hours nothing had really changed. I even went back over them, to ensure that they were functioning properly, but no dice.
I'll admit, I'm a mids and treble lover, but I do appreciate and enjoy tight, articulate bass. These don't have that quality. Even for bassheads, I can't recommend them, not when there are much more pleasing offerings such as the M-Audio Q40s and Sony MDR-XB500s. Compound that with the discomfort of wearing them, and I see no reason to buy these.