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Pomfinator

[Review] Fitear To Go! 334

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Posted · Original PosterOP

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Preface

Ever since I purchased my Bifrost 4490 about a year ago, I’ve been a little burned out on the full-sized headphone scene.  I feel very satisfied with my HD650, Asgard 2, and Bifrost setup, and I also mainly use speakers at home so some of my setup sits around with minimal use.  Around the same time however, I began to become interested in the deep end of portable audio, and the Fitear To Go! 334 is my first real satisfactory purchase in that market.

 

I’ve been looking for a successor to my beloved Audio Technica IM02 for about a year now, I thought that with the release of the LS200, AT would be able to improve greatly on this amazing earphone, but alas, while the LS200 does manage to keep a similar sound signature and make certain improvements to staging and separation, it doesn’t iron out much of the faults with the IM02.

 

Introduction

The To Go! 334, is a 3-way, 3-unit, 4 balanced armature universal in-ear monitor hand built in Japan by Fitear.  Fitear is a big name in the Japanese custom in-ear monitor market and supply many major artists in Japan.  Their sales policy outside of Japan is convoluted and as a result, it’s extremely hard to get anything made by them without having citizenship in an Asian country.  However, they do allow Ken at ALO Audio to sell two universal models, the F111 and their top of the line TG334.

 

They normally retail for $1399 a pair at ALO Audio, and are in short supply as they only receive about 10 pairs a month.  I bought this pair used in like-new condition for $1025 on Head-Fi.  Now if that sounds crazy expensive to you...well it is, I wouldn't blame anyone from shying away from this IEM just because of it's very high price.  But if you wish to keep following my descent into the endless money pit that is audio, keep reading.

 

Build and Comfort, Misc

These IEMs are built extremely well, and they better be for their cost.  The rather large shells are made of glossy black acrylic with a matte black plastic faceplate.  They are also filled with acrylic rather than hollow so they are a little heavy, though it does mean they feel extremely solid in the hand.  The connector is actually an HD600/650 type connector, with handy red and blue dots to tell you which way the connectors go.  If you look at the clear tip of the IEMs, you can see that the single bore hole is made of metal.  This is dental-grade titanium that is normally exclusive to the Japanese market and is featured in every Fitear universal, lucky us!

 

The cable that comes with the IEM is Fitear’s 006 cable, unfortunately it isn’t hand made like their other more expensive cables.  It’s a pretty good cable, albeit a bit stiff, that has memory wire and terminates in a straight 3.5mm jack.  

 

As with any balanced armature IEM with a crossover, the impedance curve is going to be all over the place, they will be very sensitive to the output impedance of your device, I do not recommend using this IEM with an output impedance above 3 ohms, and the closer you are to 0 the better.

 

When I first put them in, I was extremely disappointed with the fit of my JVC Spiral Dots (we’re not even going to talk about stock tips).  Since the shells are so huge, they stick out quite a bit, which means they do not help reinforce your ear canal by pressing up against the outer part of your ear like more negative designs do.  While the Spiral Dots did seal well, but the lack of plushness in the tips were causing me pain in both of my ears.  Do not make the mistake of sleeping with them in an attempt to get your ears used to the fit, your ears will become extremely sore for the next few days.

 

Foam tips were definitely more comfortable than the Spiral Dots, but they altered the sound in ways I did not like at all so eventually I ponied up for some SpinFits.

 

With the Spinfits, comfort is night and day.  The smaller bore and articulating rubber that gives the Spinfits their name helped a lot.  After a couple of days of using the Spinfits, I can keep them in for a couple of hours with adjustments without any issue.  They are no Etymotics, so the seal they form is not particularly tight, but it’s very easy to take on and off.  Despite this, isolation is good, when music is playing I can't even hear music blasting out of my speakers if I left it on accidentally or the thunks of my MX Brown switches.

 

I bought these used, but they still came with many of their original accesories, which include a Pelican hard case, a soft carrying bag, and various tips.  If you buy them new, they should also come with an earwax cleaner and a shirt clip.

 

Sound

I did most of my listening tests on my iPhone 7 Plus with the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter (a surprisingly good audio implementation, and has near 0 output impedance) and my Massdrop O2/ODAC hooked up to my Bifrost 4490.  I was unable to do listening tests at my desk on my Asgard 2 because these IEMs are very sensitive, and the Asgard 2 was giving me an audible hum.  They also required extremely little power, slightly less then my IM02 and way less then my Audio Technica E70.  Despite this, as long as your source is low-noise, low output impedance, they should not be very picky, they sounded fine out of my AK70 which has a higher output impedance then I would like and they didn’t seem to lose much if anything, though I would not use anything with higher output impedance then 3-4.

 

Signature

Here's the fluffy part of the review.  The sound signature of the 334’s is definitely warm.  The bass has a lot of weight, extends well, and like most BA’s it has pretty fast bass with low decay.  It is not the quickest bass I’ve heard, but it charms you by being extremely smooth.  The mids are the high point of this IEM, they’re very lush.  They have this very specific tuning in the upper-mids that I like to call “Japanese tuning in a nutshell”, it creates a very specific kind of female vocal section that makes them crisp and breathy, without being too harsh or sibilant.  The highs are there, but unemphasized. They extend well, far past bassier IEMs like the E70, but they have a little less presence than I would like.

 

In terms of musical variety.  I’d say this is a great all rounder.  While it’s technicalities are probably best expressed with acoustic and jazz, Fitear love their anime songs, the majority of which is plagued with the horrors of modern mastering.  It will handle that, EDM, and other modern pop genres without any sibilance or harshness (something even the IM02 couldn’t do 100% despite it’s reputation for being a smooth IEM).  It’s biggest weakness is probably classical.  It ultimately lacks the treble energy of something like the AD2000x to make violins pop, and it’s warm signature does mean it won’t be as airy as some other options.

 

If I were to directly compare to the two other IEMs I've mentioned in this review (IM02 and E70), the 334’s are more bassy than the IM02, but less bassy than the E70.  They have a much more lush and involving midrange then both. They extend much farther in the treble then the E70, but loses a little in terms of treble presence to the IM02.  In terms of overall coloration, I'd say the IM02 is less colored in terms of FR, but the TG334 is a much better performer in imaging.  And the E70 is garbage I should've sold a long time ago.

 

Soundstage and Imaging

These are the best IEMs I have ever heard in terms of imaging.  While the width of the soundstage only slightly larger than your typical IEM fare, the image presented is so pinpoint and separated that I almost get a feeling I’m listening to speakers instead of IEMs.  The titanium wave guide in the borehole is definitely doing it's job, separating out the frequencies

 

Tips

  • JVC Spiral Dots - by far the most uncomfortable of the three, it tightened up the bass and made it a little punchier, but their wide bore really worked against them as there was not enough rubber in between my ear canal and the 334’s tube.  Using them for any more than 20 minutes was painful.
  • Comply Foam Tips - the most comfortable option.  BUT, they sound absolutely awful with these on.  The bass becomes slower and boomier, the lush mids get a little muffled, and they roll off the treble even more.  I also would not enjoy the prospect of spending even more on foam tip upkeep.
  • Spinfits - The best compromise between the three, they are fairly comfortable and they extend the highs slightly since they have a similar bore size to most stock tips.

 

Summary

 

What’s good?

  • Smooth bass that doesn't lose out on speed or punch
  • Lush mids that are especially great for vocals
  • Great imaging for an IEM
  • Great all-rounder

Not so hot?

  • Lacks a little in treble energy
  • Source dependent (do not use with high output imepdances or very high power amps)
  • Restrictions make it hard to obtain

 

Conclusion

If the above review wasn’t enough for you to guess by now, after a year of searching, the TG334’s will now replace my LS200/IM02 as my daily driver IEM.  It’s warm signature accompanied by it’s extremely good female vocal delivery just suit my weeb tastes too well.  I hope in the future I will get to demo and ultimately purchase a Fitear custom through arcane means, I definitely want to hear the MH334 it’s based off of, as well as the Monet 17, a custom IEM that is supposedly made for anime songs, it even has it's own anime style mascot.


However, the TG334 is over half a decade old, and in that time Campfire Audio and Etymotic have come knocking on the door with newer, shinier low-driver count IEMs.  For people who want more clarity, the ER4XR is probably more up your boat, and the Andromeda may be a potential upgrade to that.  But, if what you wanted out of your big IEM upgrade was an IEM that would closely match something like the HD600/650, definitely go this route.

 

And remember boys and girls, it’s not about how many drivers you have, but how you use them.


AD2000x Review  Fitear To Go! 334 Review

Speakers - KEF LSX

Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, Kumitate Labs KL-Lakh

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