Pros: Realistic 3D soundstage; breathes life into the music
Cons: Cost; Limited resale value; Waiting time
One of the most divisive models in the Fitear range of IEMs is the MH335DW. The MH335DW is a bit of an enigma. There are those who swear that it is too bass heavy with its double woofers. There are others who shrug their shoulders and go “What bass?”
As stated on the Fitear website, like the MH334, the MH335DW is voiced by one of Japan's top mastering engineers, Mitsuharu Harada. In fact, both the MH334 and the MH335DW were designed to be mastering studio reference monitors. It may surprise some but both were voiced for a more natural but nonetheless clear sound. The MH335DW attracted a lot of attention when it was first released in 2013 to the international market because it was then the most expensive of the FitEear customs.
I have had the MH335DW for more than a year now. This was the last of the then available FitEar top end customs I had yet to order and I recall it took almost 6 months for order to delivery. The wait was, for want of a better word, character-building.
The MH335DW is a 3 way crossover configuration, 3 units, 5 drivers (1 high, 2 low-mid 2 low woofer) Custom In-Ear Monitor.
The Road to MH335DW
Claire from Jaben Singapore had been by my side throughout my journey through Custom IEMs: from my first, the ACS T1, then the FitEar C435, Private 333 and then MH334. She was an early adopter of the MH335DW and was always trying to persuade that it was a fantastic CIEM and that I would love it.
For the longest time I had resisted MH335DW because I had issues with the overpowering bass which seemed to bleed into the mids and obscure them and cloud the trebles.
Gavin, aka Spkrs01, then opened my eyes (or rather ears) when he introduced the Ref1 to me. I resisted buying it immediately, for which I am very proud of myself. But as we all know in this hobby of ours, resistance is futile. The Ref1 opened up an entirely new world to me – if the bass can be controlled, it does in fact lend great realism to the sound, as well creating a deep textured soundstage.
By then, I had also picked up the pinnacle of cables for FitEars, the Tralucent Uber cable. Gavin suggested I give the MH335DW another listen. I did. Paired with the Uber as well as the Tralucent silver/gold cable. I was shocked at the results – the bass of the MH335DW no longer bled but was taut and textured. The mids and trebles were also consequently unshackled and were glorious. What was this 3D imaging I was getting in my head?!
The good and bad thing about FitEar is that they keep the ear impressions of customers…. So, ordering the MH335DW was easy as a breeze. Claire just had to make the order for me. No complications.
The build quality of the MH335DW (as with all their CIEMs) is the proud showcase of Japanese artistry and the pride they take with their handiwork. The acrylic shells are lovingly polished so that there is this beautiful glow. Someone had once remarked that it was bling for the ears. The shells are lovingly filled in with acrylic once the drivers have been fixed in place. I think having the shell solid has the advantage that you don’t worry about any lose parts clanging around. Furthermore, it allows the drivers to transmit more sensations than CIEMs which are hollow.
As pointed out in my previous reviews on the C435, MH334, Private 333, having the shells filled with acrylic means reshelling is probably not an option. The connectors are also different from the connectors favoured by other brands - they lock in with a nice solid and reassuring click.
Comfort and Isolation
As with all my FitEar customs, the MH335DW fits me as it should – it was made for my ears only. Since Fitear kept my previous impression, as well as the reverse impression, which had been used for my first FitEar custom, the C435. I believe the same one was used again since I was spared having to sit through another impression taking since my first time. The MH335DW slips in and out with comfort and ease. I can do so with just one hand and with one smooth movement. I am able to wear my MH335DW on long haul flights and I don’t even notice they are in my ears.
The isolation offered by all FitEar customs is excellent, making it wonderful to block out the sound of jet engines, noisy airport lounges, crying babies, nagging significant others and other vicissitudes of life. The same is true of the MH335DW.
I am always tickled by the breadth and depth of my digital music library. My poor teenaged son is half embarrassed that his old man listens to K-Pop when he doesn’t do so. As well as listening to all these Indie bands. Strangely he enjoys my collection of Deep Purple and Metallica in DSD and high res. Of course, he would not touch the church choral music, Mandopop/Cantopop or acoustic vocals with a barge pole.
What I particularly like about the MH335DW is that it is wonderful with most genres. The only caveat is classical music, with which you may be better off with the C435. One category which deserves mention is the albums from the 50s and 60s which somehow sound a bit thin, flat and lifeless. Sometimes even downright harsh. One example is Dusty in Memphis. Even the DSD versions of the album sound less than optimal. However, the MH335DW seems to be able to round up the sound and give it more body and it becomes so much more listenable, if not plain enjoyable. For this quality alone, I would recommend this CIEM to any lover of classic jazz.
The sound quality of the MH335DW is a dream – everything sounds fuller and there is a wonderful 3D soundstage and a great sense of space. As I am writing this, I am listening to some mainland Chinese singer and the entire song sounds full, alive and textured without any loss of the nuances or details. At the same time, there is wonderful instrument separation and excellent timbre.
The width and depth of the soundstage of the MH335DW once you tame the bass and have it tightened with a silver-based cable is breathtaking. The notes have good weight to them as well. And did I say that they have the best bass out of a BA IEM that I had heard at that point in time.
Save for classical music, the MH335DW is excellent: breathing life into the recording with its full range of sound, and creating a balanced soundstage both deep and wide.
I currently run the MH335DW with the Tralucent Uber Too cable.
While I am not terribly fussed with regard to source, I do find that the MH335DW flourishes with a more neutral source. I love it with my Aurender Flow in the office, and balanced off the AK240 or the Lotoo Paw Gold. It is also excellent with the Hifiman HM901 and 901S.
For a full and realistic sonic picture of the music, nothing comes close to the MH335DW in the range of FitEar customs that I own.
Cons: Rigid cables, Very exclusive process to obtain, Expensive, Sensitive
FitEar has gained a great amount of respect these days, thanks to the venerable FitEar To Go! 334 UIEM. After having owned a TG! 334 I decided to take the plunge into my first custom, the FitEar MH335DW.
The first thing I have to mention is the whole process in obtaining these customs. FitEar is a very exclusive company, and apparently there are only two places where you can have impressions taken from a FitEar-authorized audiologist, their offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Jaben. I was lucky to have been able to get in touch with FitEar directly, months in advance, and secure a nice time to visit their office to get my impressions done. One week later and I drop by again to pick up my brand new FitEar MH335DW Custom In-Ear Monitors.
Of course you're not here for that story, so I'll cut that short and here's my review:
One of the things that you'll notice at first, using the FitEar MH335DWs, is the resolution of the CIEM. It isn't noticeable the first time using them, but after for some time it just dawns on me how much of a voyage I'm going through with my music because of them. Every time I use a FitEar IEM its always a journey of rediscovery of my music. I can't help but listen to the details presented in my music because of them. The soundstage it presents is enveloping, reminding me much of my Sennheiser HD800s (with none of the sibilance). The 3D-ness of the soundstage really brings you into this sense of losing yourself in your music. Listening to tracks like Mary Stalling's "Sunny", Amber Rubarth's "Strive", and even Rage Against the Machine's "Take The Power Back" really show how wide the soundstage of these CIEMs are, and how enveloping the sound is. The mids remain forward, but are more laid-back than the TG! 334s. All in all I can say that the MH335DWs are more transparent than the 334s, but still having a bit of "musical flavor" to make one very happy with one's music.
Another thing people would note is the fact that the "DW" in the name of the CIEM stands for "Double Woofer". Many people (at least of those whom I'd spoken to about these CIEMs) think that this means there's more bass response with aforementioned CIEMs, but that's not really the case. There's a little more bass bump on them than the TG! 334s but the bass is now more controlled on the 335s. One of my friends who owns a TG! 334 also noted that the 000 cables seemed to add a bit of bloat to the bass of the 334s, but with the control of the 335s this isn't the case, making the 000s a no-brainer (albeit expensive) upgrade from the 001 cables the 335s come with. While we're talking about bass, that same friend who has the TG! 334s made me try an "Silicon Sound System Bass Test" on his iBasso HDP-R10. On low gain and at a volume of 200, the MH335DW was able to image (without raising the volume further) bass response from 360 cycles to 10 cycles in one go.
Also as my first pair of CIEMs, the first time I put them in made me notice how "tight" they felt, but not the tight that made me uncomfortable (I was actually waiting for the discomfort, but found none). Isolation was very good, with only minimal noise actually bleeding out and going in. The build quality is very top-notch, as well. Though one thing that people will notice is, just like the TG! 334, the MH335DW is very very sensitive. I've used these with several DAPs and setups since after getting them and I've heard hiss on some of them (The RSA Intruder [almost none], The ALO International [minimal], The Altmann Tera Player [minimal], Continental V3 [heavy hiss]), but on others like the RWAK100 and the headphone out on my MacBook Pro, there's no hiss at all.
I guess my final say has to be this:
This is an endgame CIEM for me, not my last one but I think its a great "final point" in someone's audiophile journey. Its very hard to say if there will be anything that will challenge this, but I'm planning to pick up more CIEMs now, as I've finally entered this stage in my audiophile life, and compare them to this amazing CIEM. I'll say this isn't a "bang-for-buck" CIEM but if you can shell out the cash, time, and voyage to get them done, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I love my FitEar MH335DWs, and I look forward to rediscovering more of my music with them.