Final Audio Design Heaven IV

FAD Heaven IVMy terrible camera skills and the use of my phone camera really doesn’t do the beauty of these things justice.

I learnt of the crazy gorgeous and niche-tuning Final Audio Design via Head-Fi.org, and I’ve lusted after these babies for a long while now. While I understand that FAD are more sound than design, you can’t run away from the fact that the stuff they make looks ridiculously beautiful.

I auditioned the Heaven series before at Jaben, but the Heaven IV didn’t strike me as anything great then. It felt like there was no bass, which must have been related to a seal issue. Instead, I liked the Heaven V a lot. In the end, the much lower prices of Heaven IV in Japan compared to the Vs convinced me that they were the way to go, especially when I was buying it to try out a different sound.

Recently, FAD announced they were going to increase prices to go along with a name change. Realising my window was shutting, I jumped on them along with the limited edition Ocharaku Donguri Raku, Koicha version. I wanted the black version, but the prices for those went back up, so I settled for violet which stayed at a very low price. I need less black in my life anyway.

The box is nothing too special. unlike Heaven V Aging and up, where they have a faux crocodile-skin texture thing going on. Inside though is the most gorgeous IEM case ever. Polished to a bright gleam, it’s a fingerprint magnet and probably easily scratched, just like iPods. Impractical as hell, but it’s a work of art that really tickles my fancy (and is, frankly, one of the reasons why I want an FAD earphone).

The IEMs themselves are plenty shiny, with a metal body that inspires awe. The cables are a mess though. Flat cables don’t tangle as easily, but that’s the only advantage these have. They are ridiculously microphonic, and the design of the IEMs and the strange angle the cables stick out means that they can’t really be worn around the ear. Also, wind noise is an issue.

That all fades into the background when you listen to them though. My tastes have transitioned towards clearer mids and brighter treble as time passed and I invested more and more into audio. The impulse buy of my MSR7 is proof. So it was a bit difficult to adjust to the mid-centric sound of the Heaven IVs.

For a single BA driver, they have quite the lush signature. The bass is not weak like when I auditioned it, but quite present and punchy. They don’t intrude into the midrange much though, which is where this baby really shines. With a bit of brain burn-in, I found myself drowning in the rich midrange. Vocals and acoustic music sound lovely, a smooth presentation that irons out flaws and engages you.

The treble is not very prominent, contributing to the warmth of the sound. It sounds a little diffuse, where details don’t pop like they do with my MSR7. However, FAD never fashioned these as neutral, detailed monitors. They are musical IEMs, intentionally coloured to be very melodic indeed. The soundstage isn’t anything special despite the BAM tech FAD crow about, but then the Heaven IVs are sealed, so that could be why it sounds more congested.

The IEMs come with ear tips with two different bore sizes. The wider bore does give the sound a bit more air, but it’s not very obvious. Given the general warmth of the sound, I went with the wide bore ones. To think the Heaven V and VI are even more coloured; I can see why these are niche products that don’t appeal to everyone.

It’s not the most practical of earphones, and the MSRP is a little high. But if practicality isn’t a concern, if a gorgeous design and a coloured, mid-centric, lush sound signature is what you’re looking for, then the FAD Heaven IV (and perhaps the V and VI) are just the ticket.

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