Up and Down We Go
Starting with the sound now and one of my first impressions was that we have a bit of that classic hybrid incoherence on show here. Individual components of the sound just don’t always seem to compliment the rest of what is going on. The overall presentation seems to be composed of a lighter note presentation and quite an obvious high frequency range, just without crossing the cusp to becoming bright!
Speedy, tight punches and a touch of warmth… the bass is not for those desiring something more weighty. Even with the inclusion of a dynamic driver I think they could have done a better job coaxing out deep bass. In the QE-80 it doesn’t thump or help create the illusion of a visceral experience in the slightest. It’s not an empty frequency range but I was getting more rumble from the £23 RockJaw Clarito. The mid bass does have just the right decay to sport the smallest sense of warmth, with most tracks that have enough bass information registering with the earphones. However, it is such a quantity that does not in the slightest leave you with any warmth shimmying into the mids. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t interfere but leaves the midrange without any richness. The position of the bass may be perceived as pretty neutral to most people but actually has the smallest amount of gain, getting it out of Etymotic HF5 territory!
Due to a lack of any warmth, the midrange is fairly balanced with lower mids being perfectly in the mix and the upper midrange having slight priority. Boosted upper mids seems to be a trend with IEMs I am currently reviewing. The upper mids are quite strong, to a point I am getting sibilance and I find a thinning of the midrange as a whole. Obviously sibilance is not actually created in the upper midrange but actually treble. I presume the peak at roughly 7-8kHz is the cause of the sibilance and also some harshness and fatigue in the treble. To be fair to the midrange does seem a rather detailed and clarity oriented frequency range but the sharp edges and sibilance can be hard on the ears. I wish there was more flesh to the sound as well!
Treble seems pretty calm until that peak at roughly 8khz. After that it shows extension and energy. They aren’t as boosted as with Dunu’s DN-2000J but I am pretty certain they are splashier. There is also a lot of sparkle through the upper treble but with a very thin and brittle presentation. Extension is a strong suit making these a very airy earphone!
Maybe these do exactly what you always wanted from a hybrid. They went for that neutral armature like sound you expect from a balanced armature model, think a Fischer Audio DBA-02 with lots of detail, treble and bit of sibilance. But they just use the dynamic driver for a bit more bass. They certainly did not go over board with the bass either but it still resides north of neutral by a small margin!
Lastly I want to mention the distant and wide soundstage. It seems a bit shorter and depth is not as easily portrayed because it is quite a projected soundstage. I know people are a fan of this as it lessens the “headphone” effect and gives more a feeling of watching live music from the stands. While height and depth aren’t strong suits width is fairly impressive, not in a crazy sense but with good left right tracking and the odd appearance of something sounding freakishly out there!
Not A Dunu
If I am completely straight, I am not a huge fan of how these sound as a whole package. I think it could certainly have been refined a little better, with less sibilance, harshness and also a bit more body throughout. On top of that between the DN-2000, DN-2000J & DN-2002 everyones needs are met to a higher level with those similarly priced products. They do the hybrid thing better, have more refinement, detail and accuracy as well. I prefer them! That being said I get exactly what Fidue/UPQ are going after with this earphone and UPQs cheaper pricing does make this a little more likeable as a reviewer. At £290 I would be wincing… at £200 I guess this is a tolerable option but not the best. Even comparing to the new Trinity Phantom Sabre (£130) I find better refinement and coherence across the board.
The bottom line though, if you were going to buy the Fidue A83 save some money and get the UPQ QE-80!
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