The Fidue A83 is a treble head dream and with the right match (DAP or amp) bassheads will find enough satisfaction in the bass extension and detail. Tonally the Fidue A83 is neutral to bright with a slightly forward treble that after around 50 hours burn in becomes nicely controlled fast and very articulate. The extension on the A83 is superb with plenty of width and an almost ethereal feel to the top end. The slightly forward treble has a peak in and around 7-8k but rarely does it result in any excessive sibilance or harshness unless there is a poor recording being played back or a poor source player. There is a fantastic amount of transparency in the upper mids and lower treble particularly and detail does shine though with ease with the right settings.
The mids of the A83 are perhaps a little less forgiving of bad vocal recordings with the upper mids tending to display a little sibilance in female vocals if the source or recording is a poor fit. Though they are not as full as I would like they are neither recessed nor veiled and nor do they suffer from any excessive bass bleed. In fact it is quite even and smooth though not as full and rich as I tend to prefer. Top marks though to the A83’s mid range clarity. There is nothing claustrophobic or congested in the mid range so whilst the A83 can easily offer above par separation and accurate imaging there lacks just a little bit of body from time to time on the likes of rock and male vocals to really grab me by the throat. I would not call it monitor like either. The mids are not sterile in any shape or form, just more suited for detail lovers.
There is also a very slight elevation in the bass response with a presentation that is more about support and coherence than anything overpowering or slamming. It is fast, tight and snappy yet full and detailed with no bleeding into the mids or any excessive bloom. This is a quality but controlled dynamic driver implementation. It was not stuck in there to purely satisfy the bassheads. The guys at Fidue definitely had a concept of the sound signature they wanted and the type of bass they wanted in that mix.
Comparisons and matching
The A83 does need a good match from a DAP or amp. It could be the difference maker in your enjoyment of the A83. When it comes to DAP matching I also found levels of hiss in some and none in others. Oddly enough the best tonal match was the lusher warmer FiiO X3 with the Fidue X3 but probably suffered most from audible hiss on lossy recordings. The X5 didn’t quite nail it for me with that little bit of sibilance I noted before in the X5/DX90 review being more audible and the lusher tones of the X3 lost in favor of a more neutral albeit smooth tonality. The DX90 brought in an excellent level of control in attack and decay which really excelled in classics, acoustics and jazz but at times I felt it to be a bit too strident with the A83, particularly with guitar heavy rock.
Stacking with amps and surprisingly I didn’t like the Continental V2 matching with an Ipod Classic and the A83. I was expecting something far more lush and liquid in the mids from the A83 with the Continental but ended up sounding a little strained and congested. Not sure what happened there. Thankfully the best match of the night was a classic 160gb with the Vorzuge DuoAmp with the bass gain switch on. The Vorzuge has oodles of warmth and a satisfying bass extension translating into a much weightier bottom end from the A83 and a slight thickening up in the mids. Almost as satisfying was the Just Audio uHA-120 but curiously I was using this around 12-1pm on the dial and I remember a while back the LCD-2 being relatively well driven from the same amp. Anyhow the UHA-120 is a warmish amp also with a nice thick bottom end but just doesn’t have quite the same agility in the uppers as the Vorzuge masterpiece.
Some of the competition
The Fidue A83 is almost the exact opposite of the Westone W50 in terms of tonality and presentation with a much cleaner sound and more forward and extended top end. The W50 is so much darker and with a far more gut wrenching bass response that is sometimes overpowering using the stock EPIC cable for my taste. Comparing also to the UM3X the mid range of the Westone is fuller richer and perhaps a bit more natural than the A83 but feels a little less dynamic with the edge in snap and extension at both ends of the spectrum in favor of the A83.
The UE900 comes a bit closer but the top end is quite relaxed sounding compared to the A83. The UE900 does sound a bit richer and fuller overall but I give the A83 the edge in speed and articulation. The tuning on the hybrid UM Merlin is also warmer with a heavier bass response than the A83. But whilst the Merlin has a superior soundstage and mightier bass extension the A83 actually has the more forward and neutral top end making the Merlin sometimes feel a little laid back and lacking in snap compared to the A83.
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