Pros: Mids, highs, design, look, soundstage
Cons: Bass, comfort (clamp), availability, very source dependent
Packaging & Accessories: 10/10
Build Quality: 10/10
Design & Look: 9/10
Audio Quality: 8/10
My final Rating: 8/10
Purchase Date: July 2012
Purchase Price: £245
First of all I would like to thank the lovely Tanya, from Fischer Audio for sending me out the FA-002W Master Series High Edition Headphones!
Before getting into the review I would like to say that Fischer Audio was to me, an unknown, but yet a very established brand in Asia. Thus it came to my delight when I found these earphones being listed around the EU a little more; For example, the FA-002W’s can be bought from Top Dog Headphones, who are also an authorised dealer!
Packaging, accessories, box content, overall first impressions (look wise)
For my initial impressions and unboxing video – Click here
The packaging of the FA-002W’s was very nice and it doubled up as a carrying case. The case itself is very good indeed, as it has an inner foam material protecting the headphones. The case also is quite handy to have as it also can be carried around, due to the inclusion of a little strap that allows you to carry the case with you.
The accessories that come with the headphones are just right. As the headphones are made to be used indoors, due to the long cable, and the quite bulky size of them, it wouldn’t make sense to have a carrying pouch. Thus the case is great for storing the headphones at home, and protecting them. There is also included a 1/4 to 3.5mm adapter, and a pair of extra pads (more on the pads later). Finally there is the warranty and manual included too.
Overall first impressions:
Overall, my first impressions of the headphones were very good, especially with the look and finish of the headphones themselves. I quite liked the carrying case too, as it proved to come in very handy when storing the headphones at home, and more so carrying it outside the house.
The build quality of the FA-002W’s is incredible. These headphones are really built to last, as the whole construction of the headband assembly feels sturdy and more so not flimsy like the Denon AH-D2000’s that I own.
The removable cable is also a very nice feature of the headphones, as this allows the users to play around with cable size. The left and right indicator of both the wire and the headphones is clearly marked with blue and red colours respectively.
The headband itself, apart from being sturdy is actually also very much comfortable, with nice leather padding situated at the top of the headband, and the inner lining (where it sits on your head) made out of a soft and stretchable material.
The assembly of the headphones is made out of a plastic material, that seems to be protected with a rubber-esk material. Which means that it provides a nice surface and good finish to the product. There is also left and right indicators “painted” on the side of the headphones, which makes it very easy to distinguish left from right.
I also found the adjustment of the headphones very well done, with markings indicating how much they had been opened. This is ideal and great for adjusting the headphones to your head.
Another thing to look at is the ear pads. The ear pads are interchangeable, and are done so very easily by simply twisting the ear pad and removing the ear pad with its plastic ring from the headphone’s driver. To change ear pads, it is very much easy to do so by carefully removing the plastic ring and applying it to the new set of ear pads.
Last but not least, the build quality of the wooden cups themselves, is immaculate. Here we can see the beautiful workmanship of Fischer Audio coming into play. The wooden cups are well made and very nicely engraved with the Fisher Audio logo and information of the headphones.
Overall the build quality is one of the best headphones I have had, or even in comparison to some I have tried. The build quality has a lot going for it, and should really be admired for the overall attention to detail that FA has put in.
Now the overall look, comfort and isolation
The look of the headphones, on their own is very beautiful. They look as my mother said: “for a professional executive, who has a strong passion for audio”. The wooden finish gives these headphones a look of master-class. The overall finish as well makes these headphones look quite elegant and classy.
It should be noted however that these headphones are huge on one’s head. They really do stick out, and you can see why these are made for indoors use.
The isolation of the headphones is very good too. This is mainly because of the quite strong clamp, making the headphones stick to your head. Also due to the fact that these are close-back cans, it means that there is little to no music that is leaked or entered. I felt these are one of the best passive noise cancelling headphones I have tried.
Finally the comfort:
The comfort is something that really annoyed me. Due to the size of the headphones, and its ear pads, it means that the overall clamp on your head is quite substantial. I felt uncomfortable wearing these for over 1hr due to that very reason. More so, with glasses it becomes even more apparent of the strong clamp. After 2hrs of listening to these with glasses on, I had a terrible pain above my ear, due to the ear pads pushing against my head, where my glasses were situated.
I gather this does depend from head to head, as all head sizes are different, however for me, I found these vastly uncomfortable, especially seeing as these are made to be used for long period of time (as they aren’t made for portability, but for indoor use. Thus meaning you should be using them on your head whilst being indoors, and that often means using them for several hours).
The pads themselves however are comfortable. I would strongly suggest using the leather-esk pads, as they don’t irritate you for long periods of listening. However, I did find the velvet-esk pads to be more comfortable regarding the clamping force. So it really was a hit and miss of which pad to use.
Overall, the comfort for me was the biggest let down of the headphones. They weren’t comfortable to wear, and I was even “forced” to use the velvet-esk pads instead of the leather-esk ones, simply because they were a slight bit softer on my head.
The sound quality of the FA-002W’s is quite intriguing. I found them to be very much source and amp dependant, in other words, pairing this up with something not strong enough to drive them, would lead you to wanting more for the headphones, and putting this to an amp that’s not “made” for it, would lead to a very unnatural sound reproduction.
Thus these headphones were very picky, but when sourced and amped correctly, these shined. That said, the sound signature was very open, mainly due to the soundstage feeling very deep (due to the wooden cups). The FA’s were also quite sibilant with an emphasis on the mids and highs. Meaning at times the headphones were actually unbearable to listen to, and also very hard to tell if the reproduction of sound was accurate. I also felt that the lows were completely missing – it felt as if they had no bass, and literally no sub-bass, almost reminiscent to the DBA02-MKII’s
The lows on the FA-002W’s I felt was the weakest factor of the sound quality. I felt there was no real punch or detail to the bass: The sub-bass is non-existent, and I felt that the extension of the lows wasn’t very well pronounced. The mid-bass is a little more present, however its extremely faint, and not really worth mentioning. I feel the emphasis of bass wasn’t on FA’s list, which I’m sure some people, like the mid-centric folk will prefer.
The mids and highs are very much accurate, however at times I felt that the highs were a bit too sibilant and the mids were a little bit too accentuated in their reproduction. Thus at times, with different amps/sources, it felt as if the sound wasn’t natural, and sometimes even unbearable to listen to. It is a point to bear in mind, however not a point to critisize, as when paired perfectly with the right things, the FA-002W’s becomes very much enjoyable and extremely accurate to listen to.
The soundstage I felt was very deep, and sounded vast. I quite enjoyed listening to these, however at times it felt the sound was too far from my ear. That said, the soundstage is overall very well presented and very much enjoyable. The onyl reason I dropped 0.5 in its rating was the fact that it felt a little too deep at times, unlike open-back headphones which sound very open.
Sound Quality Ratings
Conclusions and final thoughts
Overall, I couldn’t give these headphones more than a 8/10 overall rating, despite them being very accurate in the mids and highs. This is because they were so source and amp dependant that most would give up and end up returning the headphones. If you are one of those that has managed to properly pair it with an amp or source that works for you, then congratulations. I felt I could match these to my setup, such as with the EPH-O2D, however felt at times it wasn’t that perfect, and enjoyable in comparison to my Denon AH-D2000’s for example.
I did want to run this through different setups and make other people try it, and after letting other people listen to the FA-002W’s they had the same perception as me regarding the source and amp selection, and more so with the sound quality factors of these headphones. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to think that. I also had the chance to run this through some very expensive headphone amps, and found them to be much better detailed and overall sounding in comparison to your “average” amp and source.
The value for money is there on these headphones, especially with the whole package in mind. I would like to have seen FA concentrate on making these a little more generic and not super specialised in their reproduction.
Hope you enjoyed my review!