I will be perfectly honest with you, I am not quite sure what UPQ is. It seems to be a Japanese company funded late last year and to have a huge array of tech related products. From their own mobile phone, to bags, camera stabilisers and even gadgets (clear glass keyboard anyone). It was their Q-music range that interested me, but looking through their portfolio of IEMs and headphones I did get a sense of de ja vu. Mostly because both their QE-50 and QE-80 models are rebranded Fidue A73 and A83 (respectively) with new colour schemes. That of course means by me reviewing the UPQ QE-80 I am in essence reviewing Fidues A83. I am not sure if they make the rest of the products themselves but on an audio front they OEM!
I have had a small run in with Fidue in the past, I got their A31 for review but really didn’t like them and only ended up giving them a brief “Measurement Monday” article. This was until the recent release of the A91 their flagship model featuring two balanced armature drivers (Knowles TWFK) and a single dynamic (10mm) for a three way hybrid configuration. I can hope it is a lot better than their generic entry level model.
While I have already established this is simply a Fidue A83 in the UPQ turquoise instead of the classic red right channel and blue left, if you wanted to buy this earphone, UPQ’s version is a no brainer. While I do indeed prefer its aesthetics, that’s not the point at all, price is. For me in the UK Fidue’s version would set you back £289.99, the UPQ, just £199.99. It doesn’t matter where you are the UPQ is cheaper and by some margin as well, why? I have no idea but I won’t complain, the UPQ QE-80 is a much better deal than the Fidue A83!
The Signature UPQ Look
It seems very apparent that UPQ are very much based around their green and blue colour scheme, shaping the aesthetics of this earphone and all their other products. These design cues also found their way onto the QE-80 packaging which is indeed very trendy but the actual contents are very diminishing. They are much more disappointing that what you can expect if you went the Fidue route for this earphone but for the sake of a £5 case and £5 worth of tips, the UPQ is still the better option. All that is included is a small clamshell carry pouch (absolutely ok) and 3 sizes of silicone tips. This is not ok with £200 IEM. It shows I have started to take for granted the absurd selection of tips “most” companies now include because they understand tip rolling is an important part of making an earphone sound good. Fidue know this, UPQ don’t.
Thankfully build quality is solid for the price. The cable, which is detachable (MMCX), is a quad braid that is thick and sturdy and gleams a dark silver. They fix my main issues with MMCX by adding a rotation lock which is great, but may reduce compatible cables. I do have quibbles with the 3.5mm straight jack which combined with its stress relief is quite long and sticks out from your player but apart from that it is a lovely cable. You will probably agree unless you wear glasses and don’t like memory wire. Also worth noting is that it isn’t just built with longevity in mind, being a silver plated oxygen free copper cable, it should sound pretty decent too!
The housing sees an all acrylic ordeal. It may look like we have an aluminium faceplate but that is purely for the looks, nothing more. Acrylic does keep the weight down which is nice when worn and it also lets you have a peak inside at the guts of the earphone. Trinity have shown how effective metal can be at this price and I would rather see it here, I think Fidue agree as their latest flagship is all metal! Regardless these IEMs look AWESOME!
For the majority of instances I am a big fan of this form factor of earphone. The level of success and ergonomics do differ through from brand to brand. While the QE-80 fits into my ears just lovely and doesn’t cause any irritation, I am not getting the deepest of fits nor is the seal the easiest achieved. Regardless as one would expect with this type of earphone, isolation is great, even with venting for the dynamic driver.
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