Details: 2nd revision of popular mid-range dynamic IEM from Russia-based Fischer Audio
MSRP: approx. $70 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $68 from fischer-products.eu
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 18 Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 8-22k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: UE Single flanges
Wear Style: over-the-ear
Accessories (3/5) – Single-flange (2 sizes) and bi-flange silicone tips, over-the-ear cable guides, cloth carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The housings of the Eterna are fully plastic but feel quite solid despite showing some molding artifacts. The nozzles feature metal mesh filters and the cabling is properly relieved. The cables, while thick and tough, possess some annoying memory character and aren’t as soft as I would like. For me, cable guides are a must to keep the cord in place
Isolation (3.5/5) – Surprisingly high with stock single- or bi-flange tips
Microphonics (4/5) – Low since over-the-ear fit is compulsory
Comfort (4/5) – Ergonomic angled-nozzle housings are very comfortable for prolonged use, not unlike higher-end Shure and Westone models. However, the Eterna is rather bulbous and as a result not nearly as friendly towards those endowed with less aural real estate as smaller earphones
Sound (7.7/10) – The Eterna is the last earphone in my small group of bottom-heavy test subjects, and arguably the most distinctive. The driving force behind the Eterna’s signature is the bass, which is quite vociferous even when compared to the Hippo VB and ViSang R03. The Eterna’s low end is more conventional in nature than that of the VB, with much of the bass coming in above 100Hz. Though the mid-bass hump of the R03 comes in even higher, the Eterna’s is bigger and gives nearly as much warmth to the midrange while at the same time reaching lower into the sub-bass (though not as low as the VB, IE8, or Atrios). The bass is fairly forward, not immensely accurate, and sounds a bit ponderous on certain tracks but bleeds far less than expected into the midrange and generally remains very enjoyable.
The midrange of the Eterna is warmed up by the mid-bass hump and sounds a bit veiled and recessed in comparison to the aggressive low end. However, it is still more forward than the mids of the VB/IE8 – two earphones that generally sound more distant than the Eterna does. Like the bass, the midrange has good body and sounds rather lush and sweet, especially compared to the dry and colorless VB, but also lacks the clarity and fine detail of the Hippos and many higher-end earphones. Transparency is at least on-par with other earphones in the price bracket and emotion in vocals is conveyed to the listener adroitly. Similarly, the treble of the Eterna is competent but not outstanding. It is not at the forefront of the sound signature but remains in excellent balance with the midrange. Though the highs are rather clean, they do lack the crystal clarity of more analytical earphones as well as more treble-focused budget entries such as the JVC HA-FXC80 and don’t quite have the extension of the VB or IE8 (but fare better than the rolled-off treble of the ViSang R03). Most importantly, the Eterna’s treble is smooth and non-fatiguing in nature, remaining very likable despite the lack of sparkle and microdetail.
In terms of presentation, the Eterna is a spacious-sounding earphone that loses a bit of air due to the general thickness of the sound. The soundstage is quite wide and has decent depth. It doesn’t have the out-of-the-head feel of the IE8, but for an IEM it is very spatial and engaging – more so than the Atrios, for example. Separation is hindered ever so slightly by the thickness but still quite good for a bass-driven earphone. Imaging is solid and the sound is properly layered. Like most mid-range dynamic IEMs, the Eterna needs a bit of volume to reach its technical best. Personally, I found that my enjoyment of the Eterna’s presentation varies greatly from track to track, perhaps more so than with any other IEM. On extremely fast and busy tracks, I found myself wishing for a bit more clarity and resolution. On slower and/or less complex tracks, the musicality of the Eterna’s sound signature starts to show and gives one of the most enjoyable listening experiences in the its price range.
Lastly, a note on the differences between the two Eterna revisions. The review above is based on the 2nd revision of the Eterna, which is the model currently stocked by Fischer retailers. However, the question on everyone’s mind seems to be whether the rev.2 Eterna is actually a step backwards from revision 1 of the earphone. Luckily, I was loaned a rev.1 model by a fellow Head-Fier for comparative purposes. To my ears the two revisions of the Eterna are extremely similar in sound – they have far, far more in common with each other than either one has with any earphone I’ve previously heard. However, even just noticeable differences can manifest en masse. My impression of the differences as a whole is that the rev.1 Eterna is something of a rev.2 Eterna gone wild. It is very clear that Fischer Audio attempted to ‘fix’ the significant mid-bass hump of the rev.1 by evening out the response of the rev.2. However, despite being even bassier than the 2nd revision, the rev.1 earphone actually has slightly superior low-end clarity and resolution. It is also not quite as thick-sounding, leading to slightly better air and separation and making the soundstaging seem even more impressive. The newer Eterna does have some advantages of its own – the evened-out response helps bring the treble into focus, making detail easier to pick out, and the midrange has slightly better presence. And then there’s the background hiss, which is quite noticeable with the older model but almost nonexistent with the newer one. Yes, I personally like the Rev.1 earphone a little better still – it just sounds more unique, more special. But the fact that only the new revision is currently available will not stop me from recommending the Eterna in the least.
Value (9/10) – The Fischer Audio Eterna is not a balanced earphone. Its sculpted response was not designed for absolute fidelity and it would make a pretty poor studio monitor. What the Eterna does best is deliver the fun factor in a completely unadulterated form. The sound of the Eterna is big, smooth, and powerful, but at the same time it is both reasonably detailed and quite forgiving. The Eterna makes a great earphone for movies, for the gym, or just for being out-and-about – it doesn’t fatigue and never becomes boring. Truth be told, the Eterna has become one of my favorite bass-heavy sub-$100 IEMs, alongside the ViSang R03 and Hippo VB, despite being oh so very far from my preferred sound signature. Just as importantly, the Eterna does not disappoint in the usability department – it is comfortable, well-built, and highly isolating. If I had one complaint, it would be that the cables don’t stay behind my ears without the cable guides, but I expect that to straighten itself out over time. Either way, having to use ear guides is a small price to pay for a highly enjoyable listening experience at a bargain price.
Pros: Big, smooth, and powerful sound, good isolation, low microphonics
Cons: Voluminous housings, cable guides required to keep cord in place, not for lovers of analytical sound