e-earphone Japan – Featuring Impressions from FitEar, FAudio, Rhapsodio and more!

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FAudio

FAudio is a brand I’ve watched closely for quite sometime now. Their stunning designs – which include multi-colour swirls, stabilised-wood faceplates and intricate watch-part inlays – have been featured prominently on Instagram. Their 22-driver FAudio Engine also made noise at a Hong Kong trade show. At e-earphone, I had the chance to briefly listen to their entire line-up: From their 2-driver, entry-level, hybrid Scale, all the way to their flagship, universal, single-DD Major.

FAudio Scale: The Scale is a warm, lush and forgiving piece reminiscent of in-ears like the classic UE5. It’s rich, smooth and musical the way most in-ears were in the 2012-2014 era – a nostalgic, audiophile sound. However, there’s sufficient articulation here for even the most upbeat genres of music, and adequate bass authority prevents it from sounding congested or overtly-veiled. Soundstage expansion is probably its weakest point, as well as midrange resolution. But, those looking for a safe custom in-ear monitor- perhaps as their first ever – will find the Scale worth considering.

FAudio Chorus: The Chorus is an intimate, vocal-focused piece. The midrange is forwardly-placed, but neither overtly-saturated nor smeared. Rather, it’s balanced beautifully against an articulate lower-treble. The upper-treble is left linear for tonal balance, imbuing the air with a tinge of warmth. Unfortunately, extension isn’t the Chorus’ fourte. The stage – again – is intimate. As musical and absorbing as it is with simpler arrangements, the stage may get crowded – and resolution subsequently lost – with busier tracks. The Chorus is a great mid-tier option for vocal aficionados or jazz enthusiasts, with sufficient presence, finesse and organicity to serve ballads to a tee. Just don’t play any Metallica on it.

FAudio Harmony: A-ha! Some upper treble! The Harmony is FAudio’s first true all-rounder (including technical aspects as well) with a fun, well-balanced, dynamic sound. This is certainly one for fans of rock and EDM, where dynamic contrast, clarity and bass impact are prioritized. The Harmony has a healthily thump-y mid-bass. Combined with a laid-back upper-midrange, the Harmony’s melodic instruments are more compact relative to the thick bass line. But, enough balanced is maintained – in upper-treble sparkle, especially – to prevent the low-end from overpowering the rest of the range. Harmony is one for uptempo music, with enough body, warmth and finesse for adequate vocal reproduction too.

FAudio Symphony: The Symphony is FAudio’s custom top-of-the-line. Consequently, it’s their most technically-capable too. Superior treble extension gives the Symphony great headroom, and peaks here provide clarity and articulation. It’s more balanced down-low than the weightier Harmony, whilst maintaining similar energy due to superior extension. So, the Symphony is more neutral in tone, with its treble adopting a brighter profile. But, appropriate control in the lower-treble allows an inoffensive signature at all times. The upper-midrange again takes a backseat, so this is certainly a piece for those looking for detail and definition (in addition to a guttural bass line), rather than blooming warmth or lushness.

FAudio Major: The Major was undoubtedly one of my favourite listens throughout the entirety of my trip. It shares some tonal DNA with similarly-configured flagships – like Dita’s Dream and Sennheiser’s IE800S. Consequently, its signature is driven towards fun, energetic hi-fi; equally bombastic in dynamic energy and technical performance.

Immediately, its stage is outstanding. The single-driver design grants high linearity and flawless coherence, which in turn constructs a vast, spherical, concert-hall-like stage with no shortage of background blackness, stereo separation or air. In terms of imaging precision, I’d rank it a hair above the aforementioned flagships, because it achieves this performance whilst delivering more resolution. And despite its compromises, the Major performs adequately in tonal realism as well.

Its low-end is an absolute highlight as well. Satisfyingly guttural and visceral, the Major’s bass is woofer-like in ways that’s reminiscent of EE’s dual WIX drivers, but a touch more thwack-y and upper-bass-inclined. It works equally well with 808 beats and kick drums as a result. The lower-mids are shelved for cleaner definition, alongside a neutral upper-midrange for depth. This is where the Major pushes its luck most in naturalness, but the refinement and linearity it manages to maintain prevents any artificiality whatsoever. No more than half-a-track’s worth of adjustment should be required.

There are peaks along 7-8 and 12kHz for sparkle and clarity, but the treble region as a whole is cleverly positioned; effortlessly balanced with the rest of the frequency response. The Major may read like a very typical, hi-fi, clear-cut universal, but how it comes together is a treat to listen to. Due to outstanding spatial performance, near-flawless linearity and a sufficiently warm timbre, it sets itself apart from the crowd as a one to watch in the universal space.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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