Fidue A83 Review

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Details: Flagship earphone from Fidue utilizing a dynamic + dual balanced armature driver setup

MSRP: $399.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $280 from amazon.com; $299 on ebay.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic + Dual BA Hybrid | Imp: 11Ω | Sens: 104 dB | Freq: 9-31k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug, detachable with MMCX connectors
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Comply T400; Sennheiser short bi-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange (2 sizes) silicone tips, foam tips (1 pair), 6.3mm adapter, airline adapter, Otterbox-style crush-resistant carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The look of the A83 might take a bit of getting used to, but construction quality is excellent. The metal faceplates comprise the most prominent design element and give the housings a very solid feel. The detachable cables utilize MMCX connectors modified to stop them from rotating, which is something I found slightly annoying with a few other MMCX earphones such as the Shure SE535. Fidue does this using an extra pin on the outside of the connector. This results in the A83′s cable being incompatible with other MMCX earphones, but other manufacturers’ cables will still work with the A83. The quality of the stock cable is excellent and the connectors at the earpiece end are angled to facilitate over-the-ear wear. The only thing the cable lacks is a cinch, but with the memory wire it’s not really a must-have
Isolation (3/5) – Average due to somewhat shallow fit
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low in the twisted cable
Comfort (4/5) – The A83 uses an ergonomic housing design and is worn over the ear with the help of memory wire and angled cable connectors. It’s not a small earphone, but it is relatively lightweight and the shape, which reminds me of the Sennheiser IE7, manages the size well

Sound (9.2/10) – The Fidue A83 is a dynamic + dual BA hybrid earphone that improves on the design – and the sound – of Fidue’s dynamic-driver A81 model. Like other triple-driver hybrid setups, it doesn’t suffer from a lack of bass impact. However, aside from the warm and smooth Sony XBA-H3, it is the least v-shaped and arguably the most balanced of the hybrid IEMs I’ve tried. The overall balance of the earphones did benefit a good amount from a tip switch – the best results I got were with Comply foam tips and “short” Sennheiser double-flanges.

In this configuration the A83 has mids that are not as thin as those of the DUNU DN-2000 and T-Peos Altone200 and a top end that’s not prone to harshness or sibilance. Bass quantity is above what I consider flat or “neutral”, but lower than with most other hybrids including the XBA-H3, Altone200, and even AKG’s flagship K3003 in its “Reference” configuration.

The A83 is clearly bassier than flat-sounding BA sets such as the Etymotic ER4, VSonic VC1000, and Final Audio Heaven II, but also a little less tight and controlled. The Westone W40, which is not as flat as the sets listed above, still can’t keep up with the A83 in bass impact, but the quality of its bass is closer to that of the Fidue.

The midrange of the A83 is a little warmer than neutral. It is thicker and more full-bodied than a flat-sounding IEM such as an Etymotic ER4, VC1000, or even Heaven II, but also a bit less clear. Clarity lags a bit behind the pricier AKG K3003 as well. The A83 also lacks a bit of crispness compared to these other sets, likely because it just isn’t as level across the board, but this is only noticeable when comparing it to a flatter, more accurate earphone. On the other hand compared to the warmer and darker Westone W40, the more v-shaped A83 is actually a little clearer.

The top end of the Fidue A83 carries good energy and strikes a fine balance between sounding revealing and harsh. Among the hybrid earphones I’ve tried it is the best bet for those who are worried about the warmth and bloat of the XBA-H3 being excessive but don’t want to risk the brighter and occasionally harsher-sounding DUNU and T-Peos sets. The treble here is by no means smoothed-over – it just avoids some of the harshness and sibilance of the hybrid competitors and even flatter-sounding earphones such as the VSonic VC1000 and Final Audio Heaven II, which tend to have more treble energy. However, this also costs the A83 some crispness in comparison to those. The Westone W40, on the other hand, is less bright and even more forgiving. At the end of the day, the A83 is a compromise between the brighter sound of many other hybrids and the purposely smooth sound of something like the Westone W40.

The A83 has a very unique presentation, with impressive width and depth but a somewhat diffuse sound. The soundstage is spacious – surprisingly so, in fact – but the slight lack of crispness leaves the presentation a bit vague. Still, it a little more out-of-the-head than even the AKG K3003, which has a more “conventional” with more coherent soundstaging and better imaging.

Mini Comparisons

VSonic GR07 Classic ($99)

VSonic’s dynamic-driver GR07 is, by and large, a balanced-sounding earphone, and sounds quite neutral next to the more v-shaped A83. The top end of the A83 is highly tip dependent but tends to be a little brighter and more energetic overall. With the stock tips it can be more sibilant than the GR07, but with my preferred eartips it is actually smoother and less sibilance-prone than the VSonic unit.

The bass of the GR07 seems a bit deeper. This is likely due to it having less of a mid-bass hump to draw attention away from the sub-bass, rather than due to actually having more depth. In the midrange, the A83 sounds both clearer and a little more full-bodied than the GR07 – an impressive feat. It also has a slightly more 3-dimensional presentation with better depth and is quite a bit more efficient.

T-Peos Altone200 ($185) 

The T-Peos Altone200 is close to the Fidue A83 in performance but offers up more bass and brighter treble for a more v-shaped sound signature. The bass of the Altone200 digs deeper and delivers more of both impact and rumble, though it is also a touch more boomy. The A83 is more neutral and a little more natural-sounding, though I can definitely see the more colored sound of the T-Peos being preferable with some genres (such as EDM), thanks in large part to the juicy bass. The mids of the A83 are not as recessed while the Altone200 has a thinner and more withdrawn midrange. The clarity of the T-Peos is much more striking, due in part to the Fidue having thicker mids and lower overall treble energy, though the A83 is also smoother and less sibilance-prone.

DUNU DN-1000 ($199)

DUNU’s original triple-driver hybrid makes for a good contrast to the Fidue A83. Though both earphones follow v-shaped sound signatures, they are tuned differently. The DN-1000 has deeper bass with noticeably more slam. The A83 has more neutral bass quantity, but actually sounds a little warmer thanks to a slightly larger mid-bass hump. It is also a bit thicker and more full-bodied in the midrange, though the more v-shaped DN-1000 seems a touch clearer. The highs of the DUNU unit are less forgiving while the A83 has smoother treble (probably its biggest advantage). That said, the A83 sounds a little less crisp and coherent, but more spacious, whereas the DN-1000 offers a slightly more congested sound.

DUNU DN-2000 ($300) 

The A83 and DN-2000 are both high-end triple-driver hybrid earphones that, to my ears, differ most in presentation, with the A83 having a more out-of-the-head sound and appearing a little more distant and diffuse, and the DN-2000 sounding more focused, but also a bit more closed-in. The Fidue set carries less emphasis in the sub-bass region and more in the mid-bass region, which actually makes its low end sound a little more integrated into the overall sound. The midrange of the DN-2000 is a little more recessed but the A83 is lacking in the way of crispness in comparison. The A83 also tends to be a little less forgiving up top, though it falls closer to the smoother DN-2000 than the lower-end DN-1000 in this regard.

Sony XBA-H3 ($348)

Compared to the Sony XBA-H3, the Fidue A83 boasts a brighter tonal character and sound that’s more balanced overall. The XBA-H3 has more bass impact at the expense of greater bass boom whereas the A83 is both lighter and more controlled at the low end. The mids of the A83 are slightly clearer, but also thinner. The XBA-H3 has a more full-bodied sound but also appears a bit more veiled/muffled in the midrange. The Sony is smoother, too, while the A83 is brighter and less forgiving. Surprisingly, the A83 has a slightly more spacious presentation than the XBA-H3, which is already very impressive in this regard.

Value (8.5/10) – The Fidue A83 is a triple-driver hybrid earphone with sound that combines impactful, yet well-measured bass with mids and treble that are less recessed and more forgiving, respectively, compared to other earphones of this type. The overall sound is slightly v-shaped and not 100% neutral, but punchy and enjoyable. The earphones are also very well made, with the plastic-and-metal housings and good-quality detachable cables covering all the bases. Indeed, there’s a certain thoughtfulness and attention to detail permeates all aspects of the A83, from the packaging onward, enhancing the user experience. Wearing comfort for the ergonomic-fit housings is also quite good. I do wish there was a mic cable included, as with the less expensive A81 model, but for the price that would simply be too much good stuff.

Pros: Great construction; detachable cable; enjoyable, slightly colored sound
Cons: Treble quality is tip-dependent


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

36 Comments

  1. Yannick Khong on

    Hi there, just found this review, I’m trying to decide between Oriveti new primacy, campfire polaris and mee pinnacle p1….. thx!

  2. matt c on

    Hi, I’m a bit confused as you gave these 9.2 for sound, but your review doesn’t back this up… if anything it makes them sound fairly average.

  3. Leeyeo on

    Hi joker, great review.
    I own the a83, i think the upper mids are a bit too hot does the ie80 tips minimize sibilance?
    or even replacing the cable.. I dislike comply because they don’t last..

    • ljokerl on

      Foam tips are likely the best bet, but if you are just too far from being OK with the the A83’s top end, a smoother-sounding earphone (like the IE80 itself) may be in order. I think the A83 is less harsh than most of its direct competitors with the IE80 tips, but it’s still not exactly a HiFiMan RE-400 in that regard.

  4. Dan Shepherd on

    I wish there was a mention of how these compare to the Sennheiser IE80’s which i’ve been running for a few years and are the same price here in the UK.

    • ljokerl on

      The IE80s are more bass-heavy and have smoother, flatter highs. They are closer to the Sony XBA-H3 than the A83 (compared above) in overall tuning, except the clarity difference should be smaller (i.e. the A83 won’t be significantly better than the IE8, if at all, in that regard).

  5. KC33 on

    I got these, A83, a few days ago. It took me all week to find the right tips and get use to the fit. These IEMs are a real PITA but they sound absolutely fantastic. I would say that they’re pretty neutral with just a tad of treble boost. The clarity is outstanding and the bass is perfect for me. What an awesome product if you have the patience to find the right tips and OMG the memory wire is awful. I may get a new cable down the road but I’m starting to get use to it.

    • ljokerl on

      From what I’ve seen Fidue seems to be going for more conventional housings with their future releases. Might be in part because of feedback they’ve received regarding the A83.

      Glad you’re enjoying them now 🙂

  6. Arjav Mehta on

    Thanks for the review.. The A73 has recently launched.. Could you A-B them if you’ve heard them yet?

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t have them yet, but I’m sure I’ll try them eventually. Also looking forward to the A65, which is supposed to be a more comfortable version of the excellent A63.

  7. happy on

    Hello joker i recently find a great deal of ue900 for $300 which is about the same as a83 ( $259 on Amazon)
    So I just want ur opinion about midrange and sound stage compare those 2 and which 1 u recommend. Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Very different sound signatures – the near-flat UE900 vs the enhanced-bass, slightly v-shaped A83. For mids I would pick the UE900. Soundstaging is good on both, probably a draw. The A83 sounds pretty “big” and spacious but the UE900 is very precise in terms of imaging.

  8. Larry on

    I’ve tried both the DN2000 and the A83, I’d say that the DN2000 sounds slightly better, in all the reasons mentioned above, but the A83 looks and feels a touch more premium. It has a pseudo-CIEM look, over-ear-design cables, removable cables, and thicker, braided cables. the DN2000 sticks out of my ears a little too much, looks very awkward with over-ear cabling, but has much more microphonics when worn down.

    However, more recently, Custom Art, and Advanced AcousticWerkes makes very affordable CIEMs. AAW offers dual/triple driver hybrids for close to the price of these universals. I’d love to see joker’s take on those CIEMs(he even had an article on them recenty, the collaboration with Null Audio): High-end universals vs affordable customs

    • James on

      Hi Larry, can you elaborate on this comparison between the A83 and DN2000?
      I found the DN2000 lacked bass extension, falling off below about 40Hz giving a response that isn’t actually flat in the low frequencies – something a hybrid should do better at. I’m wondering if the A83 will do better or not, and what sacrifices I’d have to endure as a result of the changeover…

      • Larry on

        Sorry James, I really don’t remember much anymore, that was really long ago ><

        At that stage of my shopping, I haven't started specifically testing for low bass.

        Decided to save and test a few more months, and went with a pretty high-end custom in the end.

  9. getclikinagas on

    Very very good review ljokerl, and quite an enjoyable read. Lush with comparisons that painted a nice picture of the sound signature.

    -Considering the earpieces are light, could it be worn cable down using a standard mmcx cable(one that doesn’t swivel-lock)?
    -Do you prefer the A83 or the DN2000?

    PS: Is it just me, or are IEMs becoming a lot more aesthetically pleasing nowadays. 😛

    • ljokerl on

      Hmmm… I guess cable-down wear could work if you get an MMCX cable without memory wire, switch the left and right earpieces around, and switch the cables as well to maintain L/R positioning. Don’t think it would be super secure in the ear, though.

      I personally favor the DN-2000 but it’s a matter of tradeoffs. To me the bass and presentation are a toss-up depending on what you prefer, but the flatter and more crisp mids and treble of the DUNU suit my preferences better. Some listeners might find the warmer tonality and more spacious presentation of the A83 more important for overall enjoyment.

      Everyone is trying to stand out in an increasingly crowded market, so I do think there’s a trend even with audio-focused companies to pay more attention to cosmetics and other factors. You still get plenty of conventional-looking sets, but on the other end of the spectrum there are some cool designs like the A83 and the RHA T10i.

  10. Daniel on

    Loved the review, and was looking forward to with great anticipation after your summary of the hybrids. Will definitely look forward to the review of DUNU DN-2000 as am trying to decide between the two. Do you have a sense already of which genres might shine best on each? Also, my sense is the removable cable on the A83 makes this a much better long-term value. Would hate for the cable to go bad sometime after month 12 and have to replace the whole thing, like I did on the W4. Thoughts?

    • ljokerl on

      You know, that’s kind of a tough call because two people may like two different signatures best with a particular genre. Also, the A83 and DN-2000 are not extremely colored earphones so it’s hard to say something like “these will sound great with EDM but avoid them for classical because they just aren’t tonally natural enough” (I can probably say that about the less neutral T-Peos Altone200, though).

      As for the detachable cable, we’ve actually already seen some that created more problems than they solved, such as early Shure and UE ones where the connectors went bad after a while, and the VSonic VSD3S, which is now being replaced with a non-detachable version. I personally consider replaceable cables an asset and I don’t see anything wrong with the A83 connectors at this point, but I can’t really knock the DN-2000 for using a fixed-cable design because it’s not necessarily less reliable in the long term. If you feel more comfortable with the idea of being able to replace the cable, then it totally makes sense to put extra value in that feature (and the A83).

      The one segment where I don’t really value detachable cables is on the budget end of things, because replacement cables usually end up costing a large chunk of the IEM’s worth and you can end up paying more in the long run.

      • Daniel on

        In trolling some of the threads on DUNU I saw a couple of comments about cable stiffness developing over time. With my experience of both the shure non-detachable cable splitting and the recent failure of my W4 cable I’m overly sensitive to the risk of this happening on my next IEM, which is likely to be either the A83 or DN-2000. However I understand your point about detachable cables posing their own set of risks too. From my view the reality is that IEMs are just more likely to break down, so it’s a risk one must take with eyes wide open.

        • ljokerl on

          Yeah, that’s a very good way to look at it.

          A also lot depends on the user. In all the years I’ve been using IEMs the only ones I’ve had break on me were some shoddily-made cheapos and sets from brands like Skullcandy and Monster (not counting gym sets and a few that I sent out on loan to their death). If you’re mindful of your gear you’ll have fewer problems.

          I am still hopeful that the recent trend for good quality detachable cables with standardized connectors (looks like it’s going to be MMCX) continues. Someone will eventually make inexpensive, high-quality replacements.

          P.S. From what I’ve been told, cable stiffness is typically the result of skin oils interacting with the cable. If you sweat with the earphones on or just wear them non-stop all day it’s going to be more of an issue than it is for someone who just wears them at the office or while commuting and puts them away afterward.

          • Daniel on

            How’s the DN-2000 review coming along?

          • Daniel on

            Ended up purchasing both the A83 and the DN-2000. Based off your reviews I knew I’d end up with one but was especially hopeful about the DUNU. I’m using comply tips on each of them, and strangely, I find certain mids and highs on the DUNU impossibly harsh. I can’t listen to them. A83, on the other hand, doesn’t affect me that way at all. In fact, other than the shallow fit which I am getting used to, I love the A83 and will likely keep them.

            Does that surprise you at all about the DN-2000? Wondering if I got a defective unit…

          • ljokerl on

            I don’t use Complys with the DUNU as I don’t think they really help. It probably depends on your ear shape as well but I find wide-bore tips with the largest practical spacers to work well for me. The DN-2000 will always have more presence in the upper midrange than the A83 because the A83 has a sizable dip there (which is what causes its slight lack of crispness/focus), but in the lower treble the DUNU can have less presence with the right fit.

          • Daniel on

            Loving the A83. Will begin working from home shortly and hoping for some advice. Looking for great sound quality and comfort while also maximizing ISOLATION. But I also need to attend frequent conference and video calls.

            Am I better off replacing the cable with some third party accessory with inline mic or should I look into a new setup with active noise cancelling in both the mic and the phones?

          • ljokerl on

            I haven’t tried a headphone with good ANC that also sounded great, but there’s probably one or two out there. A high-isolation IEM like an Etymotic (or a silicone-shelled custom, hehe) will still do a better job in my experience, especially against variable noise (ANC does a great job with constant noise like airplane engines, not so much with sudden noises like gunshots, conversations, etc).

            The Shure cable works fine on the A83 if you needed to make it a headset. And I think the UE one as well (from the UE900) but I’m not sure those are available separately.

          • Daniel on

            Sounds right to me. Intrigued by the idea of a CIEM, or a high isolation IEM. How well does SE846 isolate? Thanks!

          • Daniel on

            And follow up question is what’s your recommendation for best value CIEM with maximal isolation and comfort, and sound signature similar to A83 (if possible)? Sweet spot is probably in $500 range but would consider going up to $1,000

          • ljokerl on

            SE846 isolates very well – it’s probably the next best thing after a custom IEM or an Etymotic ER4.

            For maximum isolation you want a silicone-shelled custom IEM but I haven’t tried one that sounds much like the A83. For acrylic, the 1964EARS 1964-V3 is a good one at $500. Has a v-shaped sound sig with some enhanced bass (a-la A83), whereas most customs tend to sound flatter and more neutral.

            As you go up in price you have more options, like the Westone ES5 (a bit on the warm and dark side, but punchy and pleasant overall; a bit overpriced at $950 IMO) and Custom Art Harmony 8 or 8 Pro (more neutral but silicone-shelled for maximum isolation and with pretty good bass punch still).

            However, if you’re open to spending $1000 I’d probably save up an extra $100 for the $1100 JH Audio JH13.

  11. Anthony Kimball on

    Another great review, thanks!

    Although it’s not a hybrid, it seems to me a natural comparison given the price point & sound signature would be the Shure 535. I’d guess from your review that the Fidue sounds better to your ears than the more expensive Shure…very impressive, indeed!

    • ljokerl on

      I do think the A83 and other hybrids such as the DN-1000 and DN-2000 are competitive with the SE535 in their own way, but to be honest I doubt many people will end up going back and forth between the two because of the different sound sigs. The SE535 is mostly balanced, maybe even a little mid-centric, with smooth highs. The A83 is v-shaped (though less so than most other hybrids), has added bass punch, and brighter highs.

  12. Mr. Will on

    Thanks for the review, and for keeping us all informed about new IEMs. You say, “In this configuration the A83 has … a top end that’s not prone to harshness or sibilance…” Judging from the measurements on Inner Fidelity, I’d say that is due to the important fact that the A83 has the necessary dip in the presence region (roughly 2 – 5Khz, as defined by Stereophile). The dip is maybe larger than it should be, but it’s important because even if there is some distortion in the highs (as appears to be the case here), sibilant or strident sound can still be avoided if the dip is present. Too many IEMs actually have peaks in this region, though Ultimate Ears, Westone, sometimes Sony, and some others manage to avoid that.

    After listening to the Sony XBA-H3, I’d agree that its mids are a bit too muddy. It’s bass too, a little bit–but in terms of the amount of bass, rather than its quality, I suspect many people might prefer it to these A83s. (You seem to be one of the more bass-averse reviewers around.)

    • ljokerl on

      What I meant by “In this configuration” is “with the tips I actually ended up using”. Unfortunately with some of the stock tips the top end was still not as smooth as I like.

      In regards to distortion in the highs – it’s a direct result of the dip you are talking about due to the way InnerFidelity does the distortion measurements. When taking a distortion reading at a particular frequency, the rig will raise the volume (add power) as necessary to reach the 90dB SPL or whatever level it is set to take measurements at. With a sharp dip or roll-off, it becomes way more difficult to get up to 90dB in that spot. The result is that as the output at a particular frequency tends towards zero, distortion tends towards 100%. At regular listening volumes you will have the dip, but not the distortion.

  13. Chad Cook on

    Great review! I have been reading about these for awhile on Headfi and was curious how they compared to my Dunu DN-2000. I appreciate the comparison that you have provided here. Thanks joker! Will you be reviewing the DUNUs soon?

    • ljokerl on

      Thanks!

      Yep, the DUNU is definitely in the queue. Very solid performer as well.

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