Monday, May 24, 2010

[REVIEW] Fischer Audio oldskool’70s – Blast from the Past

Before we started, I’ll like to thank Fischer Audio for the review sample.
 
I must confess I am not much of a portable headphone user these days when I have access to a good collection of IEM. I guess the same can be said to most portable headphone user these days, especially among the younger generation. You’ll find less and less people on the street with headband or clip-on headphone but more with IEM and earbuds. It reflects the trend of miniaturization in the audio world where equipments that were once considered very portable now being classified as big and bulky. We are spoiled by technology, no doubt. Here comes FA’s oldskool’70s, a rigid supra-aural design that resembles the old time stock headphone that came with your PCDP (that’s assuming you are old enough to even own a PCDP).  I must admit that this type of styling has some strange attraction to a person like me, who grew up using one of these. But does it perform? We will see.
 
OS70s-X.jpg
 
Spec
Frequency range: 20-20000 Hz
Sensitivity: 112 dB
Impedance: 35 Om
Input power: 100 mW
Cable length: 1.25 M
 
Gears for review: Sansa Fuze / PC->3MOVE
 
OS70s-06.jpg
 
Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
Without a doubt, Oldskool’70s has the fanciest packaging compared to other FA products, even to most other similar products. I guess it is no need to be shy about it. After all, it is supposed to give the user a taste of the 70’s. The actual box that holds the headphone has an outer paper sleeve with the headphone proudly printed on the front. The basic color of the whole packaging is fiery red. The headphone itself is held in the box by a piece of paper with silvery printed words. Does it really a retro way of packaging things as people did in the 70s? I don’t know, but it is definitely very classy.
 
As far as accessories are concerned, all you get just a soft pouch. While I don’t think there is any other accessory that will be very help for a portable headphone, I think an extra pair of foam pad will be a great idea. The foam pad on the headphone is extra thick and marked with the FA brand. It will be difficult to find a generic foam pad replacement with such thickness.
 
OS70s-07.jpg
 
While the overall design is obviously trying to be retro, the build quality needs not be. The back of the transducer housing is made out of aluminum (so is the left/right color button on each side) and appears to have a fully sealed back design. The headband is stainless steel and the two arms that the transducers housing attached to are thick plastic. Since there are very little moving parts (as compared to a foldable design), there is very little thing that can go wrong with it. The only odd thing is the position of where the cable leaves the housing, which is at an angle facing backward (as opposite to just straight down), though I don’t find it to be any trouble at all. The cable is semi-flat. It is not very flat like those on Monster Beat Tour or JAYS’ a-JAYS, but  more like rectangular in cross section. The straight mini plug is iPhone friendly. Overall, the build quality is very solid.
 
OS70s-08.jpg
 
Sound Quality
While I am personally more of an analytical listener when it comes to IEM, I actually do enjoy a warmer sounding supra-aural headphone. Since there is very little isolation to speak of, plus the fact that I generally use my headphone on-the-move, micro detail will be hard to notice anyway.  In situation like that, I would rather just rock out with the music instead of being peaky on detail. On that notion, OldSkool’70s perhaps is not my preferred on-the-move cans, but it works out rather well in a more stationary situation.
 
The headphone has a sound signature that is not easy for me to describe – if you ever heard a pair Alessandro MS-1 (or a pair of lower end Grado), you would know it has a kind of generally neutral to slightly lean, airy sound with bright, analytical treble and quick bass -which many like to describe as a fun “Grado’ish” sound. If I would to describe Oldskool’70s sound signature, it would be ‘MS-1 with forwarded mid and good soundstage’ cause that is how I feel about it right after I A/B’ed it with my old MS-1. Treble is crisp and bright, extends very well , full of sparkle and detail. Mid is forward with a sweet vocal but a little leaner on the lower end. Bass is tight, fast hitting and quite impactful, but lacks just a little warm. Soundstage is a strong point. Though it is not the widest soundstage that I have heard on supra-aural headphone, it is still better than most consider it has more of a closed back design.
 
OS70s-09.jpg
 
A few things to note: First, Oldskool’70s scales rather well with a good source as it is rather revealing. Second, it responds well to EQ. As I said, I like a little warm with supra-aural headphone when I am on-the-move, so I give a little bass bump EQ to Oldskool’70s and it actually sounds very close to what I like (more easy going) and doesn’t degrade the overall SQ at all.
 
When compared to other portable headphones I have, Cresyn C550H, Sennheiser PX200, and Koss KSC75, Oldskool'70s is unmistakably more resolving, more big cans like instead of tuning toward portable use (i.e. stronger bass, warmer bottom) like the others.
 
OS70s-10.jpg
 
Conclusion
As a portable headphone, Oldskool’70s is a little too revealing (and perhaps too hi-fi in a way) for my preference of an easy going sound. However, it serves me well as a stationary headphone. I dare to say I even prefer it over MS-1 in the matter. While I can’t say it has a better price/performance ratio than a $15 KSC75, it is still very well worth the MSRP of $62 (could be a little higher depends on where you are) and thus, recommended.

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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