If you want a good pair of earphones and are willing to look beyond well-known brands, look east. Chinese personal audio equipment has been flooding the Indian market and offering buyers serious options. Of course, you’ll have trouble finding a lot of these small brands in traditional brick-and-mortar stores – that’s where the Internet comes in. Buyers today have access to brands such as SoundMagic, Ostryand Fidue.
Fidue is a specialist earphone brand based in the Guangdong province of China. The product we’re reviewing here is the Rs. 10,549 Fidue A73, a ‘hybrid’ pair of earphones. It features two distinct drivers within each casing which fire together: one dynamic driver which focuses on the low ranges, and a single balanced armature driver for the mid-range and highs. The result is a sound that is unique and unlike anything we’ve heard before. Read on to find out more.
Specifications, design and comfort
The Fidue A73 is a hybrid headset with a 10mm dynamic driver and a single balanced armature driver in each casing. Frequency response ranges from 13-27,000Hz, with an impedance of 20 Ohms. Sensitivity measures at 107dB, and the length of the cable is 1.3m. The box includes four pairs of ear tips, a shirt clip, and a hard carry-case. The headset is equipped with a single-button in-line remote and microphone.
The in-ears themselves are rather plain to look at. There is no branding on the earphone casings, which maintain a blank, unassuming look. The outer part is metal and is coloured a dull shade of grey, while the inner portion is a slightly transparent maroon plastic which allows for a cloudy glimpse at the innards of the A73. It isn’t particularly impressive to look at, although it does feel solid and well-built.
Fidue says the cable is made of silver-plated oxygen-free copper, and at 1.3m is the ideal length for mobile in-ears. The in-line remote and microphone, Y-splitter and 3.5mm pin are all solid metal and look fantastic, in our opinion. The maroon accents look a lot better here than on the casings. The cable itself is tough and resistant to noise, but is extremely tangle prone.
The four included pairs of ear tips are of varying sizes, so you’re bound to find one that fits well. The fit is good, and the casing slots into your outer ear rather effortlessly. However, this means that the cable runs along the top of the casing and you will have to tuck it behind your ears. While this method has its advantages and ensures the earphones stay on securely, it may not appeal to everyone. Furthermore, the extremely bouncy cable inevitably gets itself loose, and we found ourselves constantly adjusting and fiddling with it. Needless to say, the fit could have been much better.
We used our reference Fiio X1 high-resolution audio player and an Android smartphone to test the Fidue A73. Focus tracks for the review included Queen’s I Want To Break Free in 16/44.1FLAC; and DCup’s Don’t Be Shy and Nucleya’s Heer in 320kbps MP3.
We started with Don’t Be Shy, a peppy dance track with pop elements, with the volume turned up a fair bit higher than safe listening levels. This turned out to be the perfect track to give the A73 its first run with, since it capably showcased the talents of the earphones. The balanced armature drivers produce brilliantly detailed highs and mids, although this also leads to some sharpness in the tone. The dynamic drivers produce the low frequencies with impressive tightness and thump. Together, it’s the best of both worlds; the thump neutralises some of the sharpness, while the detail manages to shine over the raw attack of the dynamic drivers.
There is a very distinct difference in the sound coming from the two drivers, and you can clearly tell them apart as you listen. This makes for some of the best sonic imaging we’ve heard with in-ears, along with a wide open soundstage. This was particularly clear in Heer, a track that beautifully combines a classic Indian folk track with some of the most aggressive dubstep we’ve ever heard. Elements tend to jump out at you from different places in the virtual soundstage more often than you expect. It’s a proper sonic rollercoaster ride.
Finally, a word on immersiveness and tonal superiority: no matter how loud or how aggressive the track, the Fidue A73 can handle it with finesse. You can completely lose yourself in the music, which surrounds your senses and completely gets into your head. I Want To Break Free sounded clean, detailed and immersive. The highs and mids were tonally superb, while lows were phenomenally calculated and gentle. Responses at both the upper and lower ends of the frequency range were defined and clean.
Without a doubt, the Fidue A73 produces some of the most entertaining sonic performance we’ve heard using in-ears. It combines the detail and prowess of balanced armature drivers with the raw power and attack that dynamic drivers are capable of. It truly is the best of both worlds, and has more character than anything else we’ve reviewed in a long time. At just Rs. 300 shy of 10,000, the A73 is the most impressive sound that this kind of money can buy.
It’s also an excellent mascot for the idea of hybrid earphones. Combining the talents of balanced armature and dynamic drivers in one is theoretically genius, and the Fidue A73 makes this a practically sound solution. Who knew a small Chinese company would achieve so much? The Fidue A73 is available now throughhifinage.com.
Price (MRP): Rs. 10,549
- Tonally fantastic
- Detailed highs and mids; aggressive, punchy lows that play well together
- Tight, powerful bass response
- Imaging and soundstaging are excellent
- Decent build
- Average looks
- Extremely tangle-prone cable
- Fit won’t suit everyone and needs constant adjustment
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 3
- Performance: 5
- Value for money: 4.5
- Overall: 4.5