Pros: Looks and design, mids, lightweight, wire
Cons: Price, comfort, lows, isolation
Build Quality: 9/10
Design & Look: 10/10
Microphonics (higher ratings means lower cable noise): 10/10
Audio Quality: 7/10
My final Rating: 8/10
Packaging, accessories, box content, overall first impressions (look wise)
The packaging that comes with the FA-004's is in fact its carrying case. I've previously stated how much I like the Fischer Audio packaging and it's no different here. I really like the packaging and carrying case that comes with the FA-004's. It's simple and yet extremely effective for portable use.
I was surprised at the amount of accessories you get included with the FA-004's.
You get a very nice pouch, which can be used to transport your headphones. I really like the pouch as it can be used for a variety of things too. Such as putting your portable amp alongside your headphones and transporting it.
You also get a 1/4 adapter, which is useful for different sources and finally you get 2 sets of extra headphones pads included. The pads that are included are a leather-esk set and a velour-esk set. The ones that come with the headphones are a set of leather-esk breathable pads, which have small little holes within them to allow it to breathe.
Overall first impressions:
Overall my first impressions were very positive. The headphones seem well presented and are accompanied with an excellent set of accessories.
The build quality of the headphones is very good, there's not much to fault them on. The padding at the top of the headphones is sufficient enough for longer period of listening. The construction of the headband seems sturdy and more so quite flexible, which means that it will be able to withstand a lot of force. The finish on the drivers seems well constructed and the wire is particularly good.
I quite like the wire, due to it being coiled and thus can be extended to further lengths, without having the need of a long 2-3m wire dangling from the headphones. Despite the headphones having a straight 3.5mm jack, I find it appropriate for headphones such as the FA-004's and thus I have no complaints in terms of its build quality.
My only complain of the headphones is linked to the headband assembly. Despite it seeming very sturdy, I'm not too confident in acknowledging the longevity of its headband. The part I'm alluding to is the way the drivers can freely move up and down the headband assembly. This is of course great for adjustments of different size heads, but I would have liked to see a more solid and/or more secure way of adjusting the headphones. It just seems a bit too loose for me, and coupled this with heavy usage and time, I feel that the headphone's drivers might lose their "grip" on the headband assembly.
Apart from that, the build quality is excellent, especially for a set of £40 headphones.
Now the overall look, comfort and isolation
The looks of the headphone is very elegant. I got the black and gold version and I must admire the attention to detail that Fischer have applied. From the Fischer Audio brand being embedded at the top of the headphones to the gold trim finish of the headphones. The colour coding in this aspect, really works and definitely gives a nice impression. The right and left indicator are also clear to see and thus make using these headphones very pleasurable. I can't fault the headphones in any way as far as looks goes.
The isolation is expected to be bad for on-ear headphones and the FA-004's don't really surprise me in terms of isolation. The isolation and sound leak was quite bad - I found that the isolation the worst thing on the headphones, but yet again, it was to be expected with on-ear headphones.
Thus don't expect these headphones to isolate in any way on your daily commute.
Finally the comfort:
The comfort was another factor that made me woeful of the headphones. They just weren't comfortable for me - especially when I had my reading glasses on. Due to them being on-ear one would expect somewhat soft pads. Unfortunately the pads that comes with the headphones are all pretty hard. Which means that I wasn't comfortable wearing the headphones for more than 30 minutes. I normally don't like on-ear headphones due tot heir comfort versus over-the-ear headphones, however the FA-004's just really didn't feel comfortable for me. I know there's personal preference that comes into this - but in all honesty I've tried a few on-ear headphones and they were more comfortable to wear than the FA-004's were.
The sound quality is something that's interesting to note. I felt in some ways that these had the same signature and traits as the DBA-02mkII earphones. A lot of it sounded quite similar and familiar. With that said, I felt the earphones far surpassed the headphone's performance, but as an indication to some people who might have heard or owned some of the earphones that FA have to offer, then one could assimilate these to the DBA's
The low presence was extremely faint and non-existent when it came to extension of the low end frequencies. The bass just didn't have any sort of presence and felt very weak to my ears. I felt the headphones weren't capable of producing low-end frequencies, even when I used my DigiZoid ZO2 with them to try and amplify its low-end response.
The mids and highs are what the headphones prize themselves on. The mids especially, are very accurate and quite neutral sounding. I feel that the highs on the other hand are a bit sharp at times and tend to roll off. This leads to having a headphone that wants to perform good but seems to be limited each time on each end of the frequency. With the lows being toned to an extremely non-existent level and the highs rolling off, the mids is what strikes you the most.
Thus the mids are very much pleasant and remind of of the DBA-02mkII earphones quite a lot, but the highs and lows disappointed me quite a bit, as they just weren't well extended.
For on-ear headphones, the soundstage of the headphones is reasonably good, but sound a bit boxed in. There's no real depth or width to my music and I felt more often than not that the soundstage was being cramped by its design.
Sound Quality Ratings
Conclusions and final thoughts
Overall, I found the headphones decent for their price tag of £40 and I can see myself recommending the headphones to people who are looking for a set of headphones that look good and have a good mid frequency response. With that said, due to their poor isolation, comfort and lack of detail in the lows and highs - I find it a little hard to recommend these headphones over over-the-ear headphones offered by FA or any other company. The fact that the FA-004's don't fold, leads me to believe these headphones are mainly made for home use rather than portable use. Despite having all the traits for portable use - I just don't see why anyone would buy these headphones for portable use, knowing their very poor isolation.
Thus, I'm not quite sure where to place these headphones. Are they supposed to be portable or made for home use? It doesn't seem quite clear, nor do I think Fischer Audio really thought about the use of the headphones.
If they were designed for home use, why aren't they over-the-ear headphones?
If they are designed for portable use, why don't they fold and/or have better isolation?
I feel that if the FA-004's were over-the-ear headphones, they would benefit in a few things: comfort, isolation and soundstage. It would then make the headphones a much better buy and make it easier for me to recommend. With that said, for £40 they do offer a decent sound and a great overall package.
Hope you enjoyed my review!