Fender Buys Aurisonics And Announces Five New IEM Models!
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Fender Musical Instruments Corporation--known to most as the legendary guitar company "Fender"--has decided to enter the headphone world, and, to me, that's big news in itself. What makes this story even more significant in our little part of the world is that Fender decided to get into the business of headphones by acquiring Aurisonics, the Nashville-based specialty maker of custom-fit and universal-fit in-ear monitors (IEMs) founded by Dale Lott, and known to many of our community members here.
 
In the recent past we've seen Gibson (another famous guitar brand) buy Onkyo (which bought Pioneer Home Entertainment)--and also recently bought Philips' audio, video, multimedia, and accessories business--in huge, large-scale deals that headphones were parts of. For Fender, though, this was all about headphones, and saw them seeking out a boutique manufacturer who developed, made, and sold nothing other than headphones.
 
For those of you here not familiar with them, Aurisonics is a small, sophisticated headphone manufacturer whose customer base is comprised of a solid mix of professional musicians/performers and, of course, diehard headphone audiophiles. Aurisonics was a regular at Head-Fi meets and events in the past several years. Aurisonics, and its founder Dale Lott, have been very genuine members of our community, and I'm thrilled for them that such a renowned name in the music world saw enough value in the types of products that thrill this community to acquire Aurisonics.
 
When Dale called me to tell me about the deal, he was beyond excited about it. He said:
"I wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t make sense. From our earliest days we’ve been positioning ourselves to serve musicians. Finding a market among audio fanatics has been welcomed, but being acquired by the biggest name in the music industry is the right marriage--it's authentic to both our brands. It's kind of surreal, in a way, the little company I started in the basement five years ago is now part of one of the biggest companies in the music industry. It’s just crazy!”
 
Fender will be coming to market with five new in-ear monitor models:
 
  1. The Fender DXA1 Pro, priced at $99, has a custom 8.5mm titanium micro dynamic driver.
  2. The Fender FXA2 Pro, priced at $199, uses a custom 9.25mm rare-earth dynamic driver and mechanically tuned bass port.
  3. The Fender FXA5 Pro, priced at $299, is of particular interest to me, as it is Dale Lott's first design using all balanced armature drivers (two of them).
  4. The Fender FXA6 Pro, priced at $399, uses their HDBA (Hybrid Dynamic & Balanced Armature) Array, with a single balanced armature tweeter and a custom 9.25mm dynamic driver, in a design that doesn't require a crossover, and is mechanically tuned and ported.
  5. The Fender FXA7 Pro, priced at $499, also uses their HDBA Array, with dual balanced armature tweeters, and the custom 9.25mm dynamic driver, with mechanical tuning and porting.
 
Here are some photos Dale just sent me from NAMM (where the launch is happening):
 
 
 
 
 
 
More information to follow below.
 
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Regarding the FXA products, Andy Rowley (formerly of Aurisonics, now of Fender) emailed me this:
 
There was a great opportunity for Fender to utilize the knowledge base and technical abilities of Aurisonics. These new products have been very quick to bring to market, but it wasn’t an exercise in re-branding. The FXA series began with the Digital Hybrid Technology (DHT) shells that Aurisonics has developed over the past 5 years - based on 1000s of ear scans to ensure comfort and isolation. 3D printing technology allows the creation of a shell shape that can’t be injection molded, and an internal cavity shaped to enhance the performance of our dynamic and balanced armature drivers. Each model has been specifically tuned to balance performance, all the while ensuring we would out perform our competitors.

We made existing competitive products the benchmark at every price point; spectrum analysis gave us a performance guide. But critical listening has always been essential to the Aurisonics sound. Ensuring that, at every price point, Fender IEMs exceed all competitors has been a scientific process; but shaped by a musical inclination. And it’s the team that has made this possible, a skilled production crew of passionate music lovers. More from Dale, "The heart of Fender IEMs remains the same. My original team is still here. We still build everything in Nashville. But now we have the full support of Fender - which is an incredible company. So everything can only get better."

The FXA2, FXA6 and FXA7 are the successors to Aurisonics’ prior IEMs, reconfigured and improved since the acquisition.
 
Regarding the Fender FXA5 Pro (Dale's first all-BA design):
There is a first, for Dale, in the new product lineup - a balanced armature-only model. Dale said, "When Fender first asked me to make a BA-only model I said, 'No. Hell, no!'" We have used BAs before in the patented Hybrid Dynamic Balanced Armature Array IEMs - but to produce a BA-only model "it would have to be done right, and not sound like anything else that I have ever heard." To do this required us to develop a new Dual Balanced Armature Array driver that remains true to our sound.
 
Regarding the entry-level Fender DXA1 Pro, Dale wrote:
 
"In order to be accessible to players at every level we needed to be at the $99 price point. The only way to do this was to lower our production costs. However, to be true to who we are, we couldn’t compromise our values and have it produced outside of the US. From our benchmark testing we saw that the time-tested and proven shell shape that is cheap to make could be utilized and improved upon. The powerful new titanium dynamic driver is the other ingredient to this entry-level IEM. And it is "ready to rock."
 
Some quick first impressions to follow below.
 
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Gilleron0

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Exciting news indeed!
 
I hope they will continue to put out products with the same (or better) Aurisonics build and sound quality that we've known and loved for years.
 
Cheers!!! 

 
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We'll see if this helps selling their IEMs outside the US, there are currently too few distributors worldwide.
 
And I hope above all that they will keep the level of service they provided until now, I was always treated nicely.
 
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Congrats. Sounds really exciting! What happens then to the current AS line up?
 
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Oh wow, I was wondering why they've been quiet lately.

Also it seems like they've repurposed the bravo line.
 
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Oh wow, I was wondering why they've been quiet lately.

Also it seems like they've repurposed the bravo line.
 
I just added a post above that mentions the previous models, and how these fit in. It seems the FXA2, FXA6 and FXA7 are based on the Aurisonics Bravo Series, but re-tuned enough to be new, according to Dale Lott (in a text message exchange). (I hadn't previously heard the Bravo Series models, so I can't personally comment on this.)
 
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This is interesting. Being a musician myself and mixing monitors for bands, I always find guitar players the hardest to please and convince about IEMs. Wonder if the sound signatures on the new series and brand will appeal to guitar players now. This could be interesting and with their brand and worldwide distribution, these guys are gonna be all over the place now.  
 
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Antihippy

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I just added a post above that mentions the previous models, and how these fit in. It seems the FXA2, FXA6 and FXA7 are based on the Aurisonics Bravo Series, but re-tuned enough to be new, according to Dale Lott (in a text message exchange). (I hadn't previously heard the Bravo Series models, so I can't personally comment on this.)

Alright, thank you. Looking forward to impressions.
 
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Fender customer service is top notch for the things I needed. Strange to see them going this way but this might benefit both companies well.
 
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Congrats Dale. And hey, I can ask my Fender rep if I can get any deals on them. 
 
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