Monday, 27 July 2015

Review: Fidue A73 (New dual hybrid from Fidue)

Firstly I would like to thank Michael at Fidue for sending me this sample, I always try to write honest reviews. These received over 50hrs of burn-in, no big differences were noted.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic 7G > A73 (Westone tips)
Dell XPS 15 > Oppo HA-2 > A73 (Westone tips)

Tech Specs:
·         Driver: Φ10mm Exclusive Dynamic & Balanced Armature Drivers Frequency
·         Frenquency Range: 13-27,000 Hz
·         Sensitivity: 107dB
·         Max Input Power: 20mW
·         Distortion: <1%
·         Plug: 3.5mm stereo, gold-plated (MP3, iPod, iPhone & iPad Supported)
·         Cable: 1.3 m
·         Sensitivity of Mic: -42+-3db
·         S/N Ratio of Mic: 55db
·         MSRP: £89.99

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
Packaging is fairly simple with a picture of the IEM's on the front and specs and info on the front and side. The box is thick card and nicely finished, inside this everything is held well in place in a foam insert, with the IEM's on show and the cable tucked in to the carry case. The tips are held in the foam and everything is well presented but also well protected. Overall nice simply packaging, that looks the part too, nothing over the top.

Accessories are ok, you get a semi hard clamshell case, a cable clip, and tips. (S, M and L) in single flange, and also a set of medium bi-flanges. I would have liked to see some Comply tips, and maybe some triple flange tips, or even the bi-flanges in other sizes. But not a bad selection of accessories.

Build quality is good, I like the cable it is not too thick but feels like it is built to last. It has no memory wire which is a plus in my opinion, the jack is straight with good strain relief, the y-split is equally good, the mic uses the same style as the jack and y-split and looks great without being bulky. The housing is plastic but feels well built and providing you take relatively good care of these, I can see them lasting a long time.

(Please note only the tips on the left are stock, the rest are Westone and Comply)

Comfort, Isolation, Cable noise and Driver flex:
Comfort is good once you find the right tips, for me I didn't like the stock tips, they were a little too stiff and didn't fit me very well. One problem is the nozzle has no ridge so you have to make sure the tips you pick for these fit snugly on the nozzle. In the end I settled on some tips from the Westone UM Pro series, I picked the S long tips and got a comfortable fit with them, without changing the sound from stock. After finding the right tips I found these to be comfortable, the cable sits nicely behind your ear, but the nozzle on the IEM's still isn't right for me, they end up sticking out of my ear too much. But overall I find them comfortable, but I'm so used to Comply and Custom IEM's that silicone irritates after a while. Most people won't find this to be a problem.

Isolation is good, plenty for most daily commutes and they would be fine on an aircraft too. They won't block out as much as a fully sealed IEM, but they do block out enough for most uses.

Cable noise is not a problem as the cable goes behind your ear, but there is no chin slider due to the microphone, again as cable noise is not a problem, this isn't a big issue.

Driver flex is not an issue for me, none experienced when inserting, occasionally I will hear a tiny bit when pushing them in further once inserted.

Split in to the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.

The lows dig deep when called for but are very precise and controlled. Bass guitar lines are articulate but excellently controlled with no excess bleed or prolonged decay. Bass drums have good control, the punch is there and backed up with body. The lows keep up with faster rock easily and the sound never sound clinical or thin. The lows don't affect the mids, and everything is well separated, you can feel the sub-bass when it comes out.

The mids are a tad recessed but they come through without warmth from the lows. They cut through with great clarity and also air, you can hear subtle details in singers vocals easily but the tone is also very good lending its hand to all genres. I would even say the mids sound a little thin and lack a bit of body to make them sound more natural and full. They are still good for casual listening, but I would prefer them to be somewhat more upfront. There is a tiny hint of

The highs are good, nice and crisp with good extension and cymbals crash nicely, these have a slight v-shaped sound signature. They are well placed and never over the top, but they do lack a little micro detail and also sometimes do sound a little subdued. But overall they add the sparkle and excitement without going over the top.

Soundstage is good, not huge but has good air and accuracy,
The instrument separation is good also, everything is separated and controlled.

Conclusion: I really like the design, they are very well made but the angle of the nozzle is still not right for me. They isolate and are comfortable, the sound is balanced but slightly v shaped. They have a fun and engaging sound, the lows could be a little more controlled, the mids and high could be brought a little more forward, but as a general on the go IEM it does well. It keeps you engaged and focused on the music. For the price there are lots of IEM's you can choose from, but these should be on your shortlist if you are looking for detailed yet engaging sound.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (v-shaped fun listening)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Event Coverage: Snugs 3D ear scanner launch

A few weeks ago I was talking to Robin who is now in charge of the Snugs marketing department, and he told me about a press release for the first 3D ear scanner in the UK, so obviously I was very excited when I received the invite via email.

The event was on the 1st of July in London, the location was close the Blackfriars and easy to find, it was a nice little restaurant/bar with multiple floors. Snugs had access to a room on the 2nd floor and everything was very well organised.

It started at 12pm and finished at 5pm, I only arrived at 3pm unfortunately as I had to work that morning, but I was very eager to get there as quick as possible. When I arrived I was greeted by Emma Jobin and offered a cold drink, which I gladly accepted due to the outside temperature that day.

I got chatting to a few people when I arrived, who turned out to be Tom Court and Sam Light, both world class Kite Surfers, who have helped launch Snugs as suitable for extreme sports. Both really nice guys to talk to and it's interesting talking to people outside of the audio world and getting their opinions.

I felt very welcomed when I arrived, and shortly after talking to Sam and Tom I got talking to Paul Jobin, whom I had met previously at Hifiheadphones.

I had a few questions about the scanner, which he gladly answered, as many have questioned about Ultimate Ears having exclusivity to use this technology. Paul explained that Ultimate Ears have exclusivity worldwide to use the scanner for professional products, whereas Snugs are a consumer product, he also talked me through what they wanted me to do to help them get better coverage in the market. I will be making a short video, demonstrating the Snugs in use during my daily commute to work on the train.

We also discussed the upcoming CanJam event in London, as it would be an excellent place for them to showcase this new technology and also market the brand alongside a retailer.

Shortly after speaking to Paul, Robin came over and asked If I wanted my ears scanned, well that is what I had come for. First of all I had to clean my ears out, fairly standard procedure, then they put a headband with ovals  over your ears. The scanner itself is a handheld device that has a light probe and accurately scans the inner and outer ear. It is not invasive like normal ear impressions, and it is also quicker, you just have to stay still when you have your inner ear scanned.

"A complete ear scanning solution capturing precise dimensions by use of a 3.2mm light probe and integrated tracking system."

It is nothing like having normal ear impressions, and those that do not like having their ears filled with putty can rejoice with this new technology.

After having them scanned, I had to pick the colours for the Snugs, as they are providing free samples to the people that attended the event, they are supplying the SoundMAGIC E10 with snugs tips.

Once done I got chatting to Emily Hewitt who runs the social media side of the company and we had a few drinks and chatted about audio and more. It was a chilled atmosphere, I missed the rush at lunchtime when it got busy, but around 4:15pm it got busy again, and Shaun Gostelow from Hifiheadphones arrived and I had a good catch up with him.

It was a great afternoon, meeting some new people and catching up with old friends, I thoroughly enjoyed it and Paul Jobin is a great guy who is always happy to answer questions about his products, I look forward to a long lasting partnership working with Snugs, and to receiving the E10 with my Snugs tips which I will duly review.

A big thank you to Paul, Robin, and everyone who organized the event and made it what it was, well done!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Review: plusSound Apollonian+

Firstly I would like to thank plusSound for sending me this cable to review, I know cables are a source of arguments in the audio world, personally I think there are small changes between cables, not night and day as some people say, but small differences. I also think cables should be the last part of a system to upgrade as they bring the least change.
Many also buy aftermarket cables for aesthetic and also durability reasons, which makes sense as it makes each individual rig more personal.

I do not believe in cable burn-in but I did use this cable for over 50hrs. I will try and write an honest review.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic > Apollonian+ > InearZ IE-P350
iPod Classic > Oppo HA-2 > Apollonian+ > InearZ IE-P350
Dell XPS15 > Oppo HA-2 > Apollonian+ > InearZ IE-P350

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: Audiofly AF120 (smooth and sweet)

Firstly I would like to thank Mark over at Hifiheadphones for lending me this sample for review, he suggested 50-100 hours of burn-in, and I noticed very small differences. These were used as my daily headphones for 2 weeks and more, and I will try to write an honest review.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic 7G > AF120 (S comply tips)
iPod Classis 7G > Oppo HA-2 > AF120
Dell XPS 15 > Oppo HA-2 > AF120

  • Driver configuration: 9mm dynamic and balanced armature with crossover 
  • Frequency range: 20-20kHz 
  • Sensitivity: 108dB at 1 kHz  
  • Impedance: 12 Ohms
  • Cable length: 1.6m / 64” 
  • Plug type: 3.5mm gold plated, right-angle format 
  • MSRP: £189.99

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Review: Oppo PM-3 (Portable Planar Magnetic Headphones)

Firstly I would like to thank Alan at Napthine Porter and Oppo for sending me this sample to review, I always try to write honest reviews, these received over 50hrs of burn-in before the review, no major differences were noted.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic > PM-3
iPod Classic > USB out > Oppo HA-2 > PM-3
Dell XPS15 > iFi iDAC > iCan > PM-3

Tech Specs:
Acoustic Principle - Closed back
Ear Coupling - Circumaural
Nominal Impedance - 26 Ohm
Sensitivity - 102 dB in 1 mW
Clamping Pressure - 5 N
Cables - 3 m detachable cable (3.5 mm with 6.35 mm adapter), 1.2 m detachable cable (3.5 mm)
Cable Connectors Output - 3.5 mm stereo jack
Input - 6.35 mm stereo jack, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Weight - 320 g (without cable)
Included Accessories - Carrying Case
Driver Specifications
Driver Type - Planar Magnetic
Driver Size (Round) - 55 mm diameter
Magnet System                Symmetric push-pull neodymium
Frequency Response In Free-Field - 10 - 50,000 Hz
Long-Term Max Input Power -500 mW according to IEC 60268-7
Pulse Max Input Power - 2 W
MSRP - £349.99