Reviewed March 2014

Details: Part of the first IEM lineup from Fidue, a new manufacturer hailing from mainland China
MSRP: est. $65 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $60 from amazon.com / $59 from ebay.com / $60 from mp4nation.net / $63 from CTC Audio
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 101 dB | Freq: 18-21k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock bi-flanges, MEElec M6 single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear (preferred)

Accessories (3/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange (2 sizes) silicone tips; soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (4/5) – The A63 features aluminum shells and cabling identical to my older ViSang and Brainwavz earphones – internally braided and covered in a smooth, glossy sheath. It’s a little stiff and lacks a cable cinch but in my experience these cables tend to be quite durable. I also like the soft strain reliefs where the cables enter the housings, as well as on the aluminum I-plug and y-split. A raised dot on the right strain relief makes the earpieces easy to tell apart in the dark
Isolation (3/5) – Isolation is about average for this type of earphone
Microphonics (4/5) – Present when worn cable-down; low otherwise
Comfort (3/5) – While the A63 is lightweight and not too large, I did have an issue with the housings – the metal ridges at the rear are quite tall and sharp. The corners hurt after a while unless I either switch to bi-flanges and position the housings farther in the ear, or simply wear them cable-up. Not a deal breaker, but I would have preferred smoother housings nonetheless

Sound (8.2/10) – If there was one sound signature I could single out as being unpopular with manufacturers of reasonably-priced in-ears, it would be mid-forward sound. There are a few good earphones with forward mids, but the vast majority of budget in-ears are either bass-focused or v-shaped. A solid mid-forward set is a rarity, which is why I was intrigued by the Fidue A63 from the start.

The A63 is a punchy earphone, but not downright bass-heavy, and presents a mild mid-bass “hump”. On the whole it has less bass, especially deep bass, compared to the popular Sony MH1C, but bass control is similar between them due to the more midbass-oriented nature of the A63. Next to the VSonic GR02 Bass Edition, however, the low end of the A63 is significantly tighter and cleaner. That’s not to say that the bass is in any way lacking in quantity – the similarly-priced Astrotec AM-800, another capable dynamic-driver earphone, is rather light on impact compared to the A63.

The Fidue A63 sounds quite clear and impressively detailed through the midrange. The prominent mids provide absolutely fantastic vocal clarity compared to most mid-range IEMs. The Sony MH1C, for example, sounds mid-recessed and has poorer vocal intelligibility next to the stronger midrange of the A63. The rather v-shaped GR02 Bass Edition, likewise, has very recessed mids and misses out on much of the clarity (the GR02 is, generally speaking, the inverse of the A63 in sound signature). Only the brighter-sounding Astrotec AM-800 manages to keep up with the A63 in midrange clarity at the expense of sounding more harsh and sibilance-prone.

At the top, the A63 is pretty smooth and inoffensive. It’s not quite as forgiving and refined as the Sony MH1C, but the Sony is more an exception than the rule. The A63 definitely has an upper hand in treble quality on brighter earphones such as the VSonic GR02 BE and Astrotec AM-800. Maybe it isn’t for fans of energetic, sparkly top ends but I much prefer this approach to treble that brutalizes bad recordings and sensitive ears. The soundstage is as one would expect – the A63 is a spacious earphone that presents a good soundtage without compression or congestion, but the forward mids pretty much guarantee that it won’t sound as out-of-the-head as, say, a VSonic GR07 or Fidue’s higher-end A81 model. That said, for the price there’s certainly nothing wrong with the presentation of the A63.

Select Comparisons

VSonic VSD1S ($45)

Like so many of the best-performing budget sets, the VSD1S emphasizes both its bass and treble for a lively, v-shaped sound. It has more bass impact than the A63 and presents a warmer tonal character and more full-bodied sound. The A63 has less bass and more prominent mids, which at times give vocals greater intelligibility compared to the VSonics. The VSD1S is brighter and more sibilant compared to the A63, which has smoother, less prominent treble. Both earphones impress on the soundstage front and are as spacious and well-layered as anything I’ve heard in the price bracket.

SteelSeries Flux ($50)

These two earphones lean only slightly on different sides of “balanced”, with the Flux coming out just a touch v-shaped and the A63 going the opposite way. They have similar bass quantity overall but the Flux boasts better extension and more subbass presence. Its mids, however, are a little recessed while those of the Fidue A63 are prominent. At times, this gives the A63 better vocal clarity and intelligibility. The A63 also places more emphasis on its upper midrange while the Flux is a touch smoother all the way through the treble. As a result, it tends to be a bit more forgiving when it comes to harshness and sibilance. There is also a large difference in efficiency between the two earphones, with the A63 being significantly more sensitive.

MOE-SS01 ($65)

The somewhat v-shaped MOE-SS01 makes for a strong contrast to the mid-forward Fidue A63. The SS01 impresses most with its bass depth, which is superior to the A63, and clarity, which is about on-par with the Fidue set. The A63 has similar bass punch to the SS01 but is more midbass-oriented and warmer in tone. Despite this, its strong mids manage to avoid veiling quite well and maintain good vocal clarity. The SS01 has more upper midrange and treble presence and sounds more harsh and splashy than the relatively smooth A63.

Dunu DN-23 Landmine ($69)

Dunu’s mid-range Landmine model is a warm, bass-heavy earphone that also has good presence in the midrange. Compared to the Fidue A63, the bass of the Landmine is noticeably more powerful, but also more bloated. The low end of the A63 is tighter and cleaner, though perhaps less well-suited for bass lovers. The mids of the Landmine are prominent, but still sound veiled thanks to the plentiful bass. The A63 sounds clearer and more balanced. The two earphones differ less in the treble region, with the DN-23 being only a touch smoother.

Value (8.5/10) – The Fidue A63 may be the company’s first mid-range in-ear monitor, but it ticks pretty much all the boxes for sound quality. Solid bass impact and strong midrange presence are complemented by an uncongested soundstage and treble that is neither harsh nor sibilant. I like the construction, as well. The only downside is that the sharp edges of the housings necessitate some fiddling to find a truly comfortable fit, especially for those with small outer ears – a small concession as there are precious few IEMs that can hope to keep up with the A63 in intelligibility, but it takes away slightly from what is otherwise an outstanding design.

Pros: Excellent sound quality and solid construction
Cons: Housings have sharp corners

Note: the Fidue A63 earns a recommendation badge for pursuing a unique and enjoyable sound signature while keeping up with the segment leaders in overall audio performance.