Saturday, 22 October 2011

Fischer Audio Tandem Review

Fischer Audio Tandem Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample


First Impressions: Well the box is nothing remarkable to look at, Fischer Audio boxes seem to all look identical to me, not that there is anything wrong with that but it makes me forget the Tandem is one of their more expensive models. Opening up them and I’m a little disappointed that there is no case but only a little baggy, poor show Fischer Audio. The cable on them looks really nice but I’ve got to comment, the red and blue right and left indicators that I’m in principle a huge fan of, here they look very Fischer Price. It’s not really what I would call the most positive start but in fairness, I’m picking at stuff that doesn’t actually matter in any significant way. Oh and loads and loads of tips.

First listening impressions and I just don’t know what to think. Firstly they are super duper open, it’s making me think I’m not really getting a seal and they don’t have a huge low end either. But hang on, these are dual dynamic drivered, surely they will have tons of bass and tons of treble, you know, to emphasise they have 2 drivers. Erm but they aren’t doing that. Oh god, these are really nice. This just can’t be right, surely. Where is the hyper dramatic V shaped sound I just assumed would happen? Oh lordy I think I actually really like these, these are just so nice. Burn in time.


Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps

Lows: For something that’s labelled a dual driver really expected an elevated bass response but there isn’t one. I for one am very happy about that. The bass here it oh so polite yet so very skilled, it’s so light and smooth it can just fly. It has absolutely great speed and yet it can effortlessly hold whatever low you ask of it with absolutely no flab or spread taking place. For a dynamic it really is super fast bass. Now I shall grant this is not a bass to please everyone as it doesn’t have the abundance that some will want and there is no two ways about that, if you’re looking for a bass canon look elsewhere. I however love this. It’s exactly the right amount of bass and it’s stunningly beautifully behaved. It’s relatively on the lightish side and very even, no bumps and humps on the way down and its perfectly happy going all the way down. Sure you can EQ it up but the bass here yearns to be polite and well behaved and so long as that matches your expectations you will be very happy with it. Like I said I really like it, it’s so quick fun and bouncy. This is fast shaping up to be my favourite Fischer Audio IEM.


Mids: Great stuff! These are a tiny touch midcentric and while these days that seems to be akin to eating babies but I still love it. For me the midrange is where it all happens, you know I want to hear the song, the bit that is sung, and these do a cracking job of it. They are neither dry nor liquid, cold nor warm. They are utterly flavourless in the middle but oh my they are so clear and transparent. Love love love! Listening to Beverly Cravens “I Listen to the Rain” is such an utter pleasure. Her vocals swoon and sweep as does the rest of the song, everything in near perfect balance. Strings singing in the background, it’s all just wonderful. This is one of those I like so much I’m not really do a great job of being objective reviews. I really out to point out that their neutralness is not going to suit everyone. For me and my love of vocal heavy stuff it goes super well but if you want big heavy beats or whatever then you probably won’t like it so much. That said listening to Mr Buble rendition of “Sway” and I can’t help but dancing in my chair. The timbre is great and these just sound so deliciously natural, okay maybe not natural, better than natural. Every vocal I’ve heard on these so far has been just wonderful, I love it.

Btw I should also say these aren’t the world’s most resolving IEM, they are fab at the price but maybe not quite RE-0 levels. Still I find these vastly more entertaining and beautiful.


Highs: Like the bass I thought “oh no a dual driver dynamic, I better brace myself for a brutal killer V shaped sound.” Oh how very wrong I was. The treble is awesome. Awesome good not awesome “oh dear its beating me into the ground with its overwhelming and blinding brightness.” The treble has a great-ish level of detail (RE-0 is king circa this price and isn’t likely to lose its crown anytime soon) but more importantly its beautifully extended. Oh my and it’s so smooth all the way up. None of the typical lets stick in a sharp edge to make it sound like we have more detail than we really do. The Tandem sounds so effortlessly extended and controlled. It is some of the best behaved treble around and I think its wonderful. It’s in quantity terms pretty much in line with everything else so don’t be hoping for a treble monster. The quantity is also enough that if you feed it crap it will show you it but due to its lack of an edge its very gentle in its expression of it. It’s all about the delicate shimmer of a moon lit pond than the sharp pointy points of light from a disco ball. It’s pretty much exactly how I like treble to be displayed before my treble sensitive ears.


Soundstage: It’s lovely, biggish but then you’d expect that being a dynamic. It has a great sense of scale but is a but fuzzy in were exactly things are coming from but I don’t mind that. Instrument separation is very nice. The lows, mids and highs are all very independent and never interfere with each other.

Comfort: For me this was absolutely fine. The buds are a little biggish but they never caused me any issue. Oh and they are super light.

Fit: On the whole pretty good, their openness and size meant I always felt like I didn’t really have a great seal with them and I kept wanting them shoved in further. These pretty much require to sit fairly shallow but they come with plenty of tips so you should be okay.


Cable: I really like the cable. It is cloth covered, super soft, light weight and flexible. What’s not to like?

Microphonics: Well there do seem to be intended to be worn down, I of course didn’t, so you will have to decide yourself. If you wear down you do get quite a bit but they have a chin slider and that pretty much remover it all. Or you could just wear them up in which case you get nothing.

Amped/Unamped: These do like power. I can safely say they stepped up a level on plugging into the FiiO E9 than running off the 1G Shuffle. Not that they were bad on the Shuffle but these just have the ability to make use of whatever power you throw at them. Honestly if you get a pair I really would suggest thinking about an amp at some stage as they do love it and refine nicely in the highs, the low end becomes more authoritative too.


Isolation: Erm, it’s a bit meh to be honest. If you need isolators then it’s likely not this. While I love isolation I don’t love it at the expense of sealing in a dynamic driver so that it becomes unusable giving nothing but venting issues. I think they made the right call. These would do okay for walking about and probably on a bus but I really wouldn’t bother if you’re on the Tube every day.

Build Quality: Very nice. They clearly are very plastic and super light but the cable especially feels great.

Accessories: You get a ton of tips, I count 9 pairs which is pretty good. What’s not so good is you get a little baggy to put the Tandems in. I don’t know about you but I always use cases and frankly at this price level I think it’s a bit bloody cheeky for Fischer Audio to give you this thing. Okay so not everyone will want a little case but you should still offer one. Poor show.

Value: Coming in at £75 I can’t think of much that’s competition for these. The only things I can think of are the RE-0/ZERO. Everything else tuned to be very much flavoured and they are both pretty much toward neutral / natural. The RE’s are both excellent and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any one claim otherwise but they aren’t always the most enjoyable whereas I have fond the Tandems to be super enjoyable. I readily accept they won’t be for everyone with their smooth natural sound but I’m hard pressed to think of anything for the money I would personally rather have, I really like these.


Conclusion: Just in case you haven’t noticed, I really, really like these. They are fabulous and make music come to life. It’s so dynamic and smooth and unaggressive. I love everything they do and they do not a thing to P me off. The bass is just excellent, light, smooth, controlled and easily capable of holding a deep low if you want it. It’s so even on the way down too with no bumps getting in the way. The mid range is much to same too, so smooth and even yet with such great dynamics. The Tandem really has no trouble soaring and diving as required and it does it all so effortlessly and without any fuss. You tell it to do something and it just does it. The highs too are just how I like them, full of delicacy rather than abrasive sparkle. I know that’s not going to be loved by everyone but I do. I want extension and shimmer and that’s just what the Tandems give. Granted they could be accused of being a little boring because they have a natural and undramatic, unhyped sound but their fantastic dynamics to me feel so alive.

I fear I may not really have been as objective and neutral an observer as I really ought to have been but on the other hand I think so sue me. I know I’m supposed to be neutral but every so often something you hear and for a variety of reasons they just fit you perfectly and even though you know they aren’t perfect you just love them. The Tandems are fitting in there. I know some people won’t love their natural sound and will want more aggressive bass and treble or more isolation. Still it’s not like there isn’t those options out there for you. However if you want something with fabulous dynamics, incredible poise and tremendous transparency that is super smoothly delivered to your ears then buy gum I’m not sure you do can do better than the Tandems.

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