FatFeq Maestro SE: Lord of the Bass

Packaging and accessories

There seems to be some confusion about the actual packaging that comes with MSE. Initially the IEM shipped in a Pelican-like hard, waterproof, airtight case, with a very basic standard cable and some spare eartips. It looks like FatFreq have upped the game of late, keeping the hard case but adding a fabric-lined, silk-topped box and finely-woven silk pouch as part of the package. The case and box shipped together but separately, so I’m not sure if this is how all IEMs will ship in future, or if FatFreq will transition to the silk box on its own. 

The stock cable has also been upgraded, and is a now a thick-gauge silver plated copper cable with hefty metal hardware that matches the blue IEM faceplate, and sonically seems to be a very good match too. 

Be warned, the cable is heavy, so expect to use the included collar clip if you’re intending to walk around with it. It also has the largest, most awkward-looking modular plug system I’ve ever seen on an IEM cable, which adds convenience but makes the cable quite impractical to carry. 

I’m not quite sure which eartips will show up with each MSE, because I’ve seen them unboxed with different eartips almost every time. Mine came with generic gunmetal silicone and red base tips, and a set of new-in-box Azla Sedna Max tips too. It’s a good thing that you get several different tips to try out, because as you’ll soon see, finding the right tips can be a real challenge with this IEM.

Overall, I find the packaging and accessories quite acceptable, if a touch inconsistent, at this piece tier, and while it’s not the fanciest unboxing I’ve experienced, it should prove very practical for those who want to carry their MSEs around with maximum protection. 

Design and fit

With all the drivers, chambers and whatnot packed inside the shells, you’d expect MSE earpieces to be chunky, and chunky they are. These are large IEMs, make no mistake, but made of very smooth resin that sits neatly in my smallish ears. The faceplates are finished in an attractive blue swirl pattern, with a gold-foiled MSE logo on one, and FatFreq logo on the other.

Build quality seems very good indeed, with no obvious seams or glue residue, and the shells are dark and opaque, just as I like them to be. The 2-pin connectors are a little loose, so be careful when plugging in a cable and letting the IEMs dangle. One of my earpieces came off on its own, and I was lucky enough to catch it before it hit the hard floor. 

What could be more challenging for many users – as it is for this one – is the nozzle. MSE nozzles are long, very long, and curved like a semi-custom nozzle. They are designed to sit deep inside the ear canal, which should be fine for many, but not so fun for some. 

The saving grace of these nozzles is that they’re relatively slim. Any thicker, and they simply wouldn’t fit in my ears at all. 

As it is, I’ve had to find the smallest, softest tips I could to not only get past my ear canal opening, but also settle comfortably deep inside my ears while creating a tight seal. Believe me when I tell you I must have trialed a dozen tips or more before finding some that would sit deep, seal, and not rub my ear canals raw. 

With most tips I couldn’t get a deep enough seal, meaning the earpieces would wedge and dangle awkwardly. That would normally be ok, but it seems MSE has been tuned for a deep fit, otherwise the treble sounds off and the bass is too distant. 

The included Sednas, JVC Spiral Dots and even Final E tips would give me a medium depth fit at best. Divinus Velvet tips, while comfortable, were too bulbous to go all the way in, even the smallest size, and the usual deep-fit suspects like SpinFit W1 and CP155 were simply too large, long and invasive for my ears – again at the smallest size.

I finally found two tips that would go deep enough, and provide a decent seal, without chafing: Spiral Dot SF (Stress Free), and the soft grey tips that shipped with HiBy’s Zeta’s IEMs. The latter is the one I finally settled for, being soft enough, small enough and wide enough to fit deep and seal without causing pain or irritation. 

To be clear, these could be challenging IEMs to fit comfortably. My feeling is that MSE was designed first and foremost as a custom IEM, and I believe that would be the optimal design for it too. With any luck I’ll get to try a custom MSE myself, but for now, I’m happy to have found tips that let me use the universals comfortably without compromising the sound. 

Continue to sound impressions…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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