Fischer Audio Toughstuff TS-9002 Review

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Reviewed Jul 2010 

Details: Budget-oriented IEM from Fischer Audio’s Toughstuff line, which emphasizes build quality and durability over all else
MSRP: approx. $27.50
Current Price: N/A (discontinued)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 91 dB | Freq: 20-22k Hz | Cable: 4’L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: UE Single flanges, stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear 

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and soft denim carrying pouch
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The finely-machined metal shells are rock-solid and the thick, flexible cables are identical to those used by the Meelectronics IEMs. The nozzles are metal but, like most budget IEMs, contain paper filters. By far the biggest weakness of the TS-9002 is the lack of strain reliefs, both on the metal stems of the housings and the plastic 3.5mm L-plug. On the upside, the shells can actually be unscrewed quite easily and the earphones can probably be recabled should the need arise
Isolation (3/5) – The Toughstuffs are shallow-insertion earphones but the wide bodies seal well and isolation is quite decent
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Very low when worn cord-down, nonexistent when worn cord-up
Comfort (3/5) – The TS-9002 housings are quite large and have very short nozzles. Their fit is similar to that of the Ortofon e-Q7 but with housings that are rounded at the front. They are a bit weighty but not as heavy as Monster Turbines or HJE900s and are easy to wear cord-up or cord-down. The overall fit will be similar to most other straight barrel IEMs for all except those with the smallest ears 

Sound (5.4/10) – For a mainstream budget-oriented earphone, the TS-9002 is surprisingly well-balanced and competent. The bass is fairly deep and very impactful but relatively well-controlled right out of the box and tightens up a bit more over time. Some mid-bass emphasis is present but it would be unfair to call the TS-9002 bloated. The sub-bass rumble that the Meelec M9 is capable of is absent but so is the slightly boomy nature of the Meelecs – a fair trade-off in my book. However, the Fischers also lack some of the texture and detail present in bass of the M9s.

The midrange of the TS-9002 is slightly warm and quite clear. Compared to the dry and slightly de-emphasized mids of the Meelec M9, the midrange of the TS-9002 sounds well filled-out and balanced, if not quite as crisp. The treble is in good balance with the rest of the sound and rolls off mildly at the very top. Compared to that of the Meelec M9, the treble of the TS-9002 is less detailed and lacks sparkle and extension but also boasts better refinement and control. Soundstaging is adequate but not great. The Toughstuffs carry decent air and a spacious sonic image but calling them open-sounding would be a huge overstatement. Soundstaging is just adequate – no more, no less. Overall the sound is very respectable for a budget-oriented earphone and offers a good alternative to those who may find the Meelec M9 too aggressive, especially in the treble.

Value (8/10) – The Fischer Audio Toughstuff TS-9002 is another capable and well-built budget entry from the Russian audio firm. The unique metal shells look and feel like they should cost quite a bit more than the asking price and the sound isn’t far behind in terms of value for money. The lack of strain reliefs all around is slightly disheartening and the large housings with short nozzles may not fit absolutely everyone, but the TS-9002 is still one of the better sub-$30 earphones I’ve encountered, beating out some far more expensive units when it comes to sounding and looking like a quality product.

Pros: Housings are sturdy and pleasant to the touch, low microphonics, surprisingly capable sound
Cons: No strain reliefs, rather large shells

 


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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.

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