Details: Entry-level half-in-ear earphone from Fischer Audio
Current Price: N/A (est. $23) (discontinued)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 101 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4.1’ -plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges; generic bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down
Accessories (1/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (2.5/5) – The housings are a combination of metal, rubber, and plastic. None of the bits are glued together particularly well but for the price the construction is reasonably good. Metal bits are used at the I-plug and y-split as well but the strain reliefs are too hard and the cable itself is a bit thin
Isolation (2/5) – Not bad for a half in-ear earphone but nothing to brag about
Microphonics (3/5) – the FA-788 can only be worn cable-down and the cable noise can be bothersome
Comfort (4.5/5) – The half in-ear housings of the FA-788 are lightweight and sit well in the ear. The long stems provide something to grip while inserting or removing the earphones but I wouldn’t use them in that capacity too often for durability reasons
Sound (6/10) – The FA-788 is one of Fischer’s numerous entry-level models but that’s not what makes it special; what sets this one apart from most other sets I’ve heard in the sub-$25 bracket is the analytical nature of its sound. The bass is not very rumbly but it is punchy and extremely well-controlled. Extension is good and the note thickness being slightly on the lean side helps keep the low end quick and resolving. Clarity is excellent across the range, accentuated by the bright top end but still very impressive without the treble emphasis.
The midrange is free of bass bleed and tends to err on the cool side tonally. It lacks the fullness and warmth of sets such as the Klipsch S3 and UE350 but isn’t recessed next to the bass. The FA-788 makes the similarly-priced H2O Audio Flex sound a bit muddy but lacks the more realistic note thickness of the H2O. The sound of the Fischers is very clean – almost clinical – and runs into some of the problems common to analytical entry-level earphones. The treble is slightly emphasized over the midrange and not entirely smooth. It is well-extended but sounds a touch sharp and edgy on some tracks. Harshness is not left completely out of the equation either and as a result the FA-788 works best at lower volumes. Plenty is sacrificed for class-leading clarity so those looking for a smooth, forgiving in-ear for relaxed listening won’t find it here. That said, the closest sets to these in sound signature would probably be JVC’a FXC-series microdriver monitors, which I quite like as well.
When it comes to presentation, the FA-788 is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand it sounds airy and spacious, with good soundstage width and impressive instrument separation. On the other hand the stage lacks a bit of depth, the layering isn’t class-leading, and the sound isn’t really fleshed out enough to fill the sonic space. The earphones end up sounding a bit cavernous and – oddly – seem to place the sonic image a bit higher up than I’m accustomed to, as if the listener is underneath the stage. The similarly-priced H2O Audio Flex has a larger headstage and gives a better sense of 3-D space, though its sound is not as clean and accurate as that of the FA-788. Ditto on the pricier Soundmagic E10. On the whole, the presentation of the FA-788 is for those who want the coherence of an in-ear earphone with the lateral width and air of a conventional earbud.
Value (8/10) – The Fischer Audio FA-788 is an entry-level earphone that offers the comfort of a shallow-insertion IEM along with surprisingly crisp and accurate sound. Good end-to-end extension and a very clean note presentation complete the picture and make the FA-788 worth recommending on sound quality alone. It may not be particularly well-built and there are certainly sets with less cable noise and better isolation but it sounds as good as anything else I’ve heard in the price range.
Pros: comfortable half-in-ear form factor; clean, spacious, and controlled sound
Cons: mediocre build quality, isolation, and microphonics