Details: Mid-range dynamic from Fischer Audio styled after a bullet casing
MSRP: $67.50 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $65 from amazon.com; $60 from fischer-products.eu
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 18Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 12-22k Hz | Cable: 4.1’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Generic single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down
Accessories (2/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and fabric carrying pouch
Build Quality (3/5) – Though the metal shells of the Silver Bullet are extremely sturdy, they have a tendency to oxidize over time from contact with skin oils – a purely cosmetic issue but an issue nonetheless. The plasticky cable is mediocre – though relatively thick and flexible below the Y-split, it is quite thin above the split, hardens over time, and has no sliding cord cinch. Housing-entry strain reliefs take the form of small rubber grommets which may be a threat to the cable over time. The one big positive is the 3.5mm L-plug, which is large and very well-relieved. Lastly, the Silver Bullet can exhibit moderate driver flex with well-sealing tips so those easily annoyed by such noise may want to stay away
Isolation (3/5) – Isolation can be decent with longer tips but the large housings prevent deep insertion with single-flanges, at least for those with smaller ears, resulting in isolation that’s only slightly above average
Microphonics (3.5/5) – The plastic cable carries quite a bit of noise when worn straight-down but remains silent with over-the-ear fitment
Comfort (3.5/5) – The metal shells aren’t particularly heavy but the weight is noticeable in the ear. The design is tapered very slightly toward the front but those with smaller ears will still only get a shallow fit. The lack of strain reliefs makes it easy to route the cables over-the-ear and aside from the weight the SB fits like a conventional straight-barrel in-ear
Sound (8.1/10) – Let me start off by saying that the Silver Bullet I got to audition had had its stock filters replaced with those from the Head-Direct RE-ZERO, not for any modding purpose but simply because the stock ones came loose. According to the owner the original Silver Bullet filters are similar to the Head-Direct RE0/RE-ZERO filters in thickness and composition so the sound shouldn’t be substantially affected by the swap. A point to note – we also tried the (mesh) RE252 filters in place of paper ones and the results were horrifying – the Silver Bullets became bright and shrill in the treble and somewhat hollow-sounding in the midrange. Perhaps a bit of foam in the nozzle could be used to balance them out with mesh filters but RE0/RE-ZERO filters work much better.
As is obvious from the score above, the SB is one heck of a performer as far as sound quality goes. It doesn’t have a particularly distinctive sound signature but what it does, it does very well. The low end of the Silver Bullet is powerful and refined – two qualities that rarely go hand-in-hand in budget-oriented earphones. For my tastes the overall amount of bass that the SB produces is plentiful but the nature of the bass is rather delicate. Impact is well-defined but soft – the bass sort of rolls from one note to the next. The SB is neither the quickest nor the punchiest earphone in its price bracket. It is, however, very well-controlled and not at all muddy. Compare to Fischer Audio’s own Eterna model, the Silver Bullet boasts better bass clarity and superior overall balance, never allowing the bass to step out of line or produce a note out of turn.
The midrange is warmed up slightly by the soft yet impactful bass but never overshadowed – the low end is maybe a quarter-step ahead of the midrange on the SB but the midrange recession is not as noticeable as with the Eterna. Much more obvious is just how liquid and rich the midrange of the Silver Bullet sounds next to the somewhat terse Eterna (and, by extension, the similarly-priced Hippo VB). The mids are very smooth but still very clear and detailed – easily on par with the other good $60-100 dynamics. The treble, too, impresses with its smoothness (as long as paper filters are in place) and clarity. It carries just the right amount of sparkle without coming across as harsh or sibilant. The last bit of top-end extension isn’t as strong as it is with the Hippo VB or Head-Direct RE0 but the Silver Bullet easily keeps up with its other competitors. On the whole I wouldn’t call the treble of the SB laid-back but it really doesn’t draw attention to itself – ‘wholly pleasant’ is how I can best characterize it.
The presentation of the Silver Bullet, I feel, deserves a separate mention. The SB is a spacious-sounding earphone that never feels exceedingly distant. The instrumental separation is quite excellent and there’s lots of air around individual instruments. The soundstage not only has good width and depth but also some height, which is rather rare for budget-minded in-ears. It really sounds surprisingly realistic and involving – the presentation of the Silver Bullet is more immediately likeable than that of the Eterna, which has the immersion factor but lacks the cohesiveness of the SB and can take some time for a listener to come to terms with. Overall, the Silver Bullet really doesn’t do much of anything wrong as far as sub-$100 in-ears go. It’s one of the very few budget earphones out there I can’t imagine anyone hating – and that says quite a lot about every aspect of its sound.
Value (8/10) – Taking into consideration only sound quality, the Fischer Audio Silver Bullet is quite simply one of the best bang-for-the-buck sets out there. With impressive bass depth and impact, slightly warm and very clear mids, smooth and sparkly treble, and a well-separated and spacious presentation, there’s a lot to like and very little to dislike about the Silver Bullet. As a total package, however, it is let down by durability and usability issues, the cable being the principal offender. Looking at the build quality of several Fisher Audio earphones, it’s difficult to believe that the SB is in the same price tier as the Eterna and more than twice as expensive as the TS-9002. Those planning to use the SB as day-to-day IEMs would really need to be extra careful with the cord. The sound of the SB is worth the trouble, at least in my book, but in order for it to become the one mid-range earphone that stands above them all, Fischer really needs to re-think the cable and include a hard case with the next revision.
Pros: Incredibly airy and three-dimensional sound, very good all-rounder
Cons: Mediocre cabling, moderate driver flex, no cable cinch