Mid-forward and damn proud of it!
PROS: unique mid-forward signature, detailed sound, excellent all metal build, quality removable cable, plenty of accessories.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
It has been awhile since the last Fidue release, considering their flagship 5way hybrid Sirius (A91 model) was announced almost year and a half ago. Turned out, Benny Tan and his team were busy in the lab crafting their next hybrid IEM labeled Virgo (A85 model). Coincidentally, Virgo is the 2nd largest constellation in the sky, just like A85 release being 2nd in line, next to A91 flagship.
Once I learned it’s going to be 3way hybrid, the first thought that crossed my mind was how it compares to their legendary A83 which hasn’t faded away yet, even years after its release. Fidue usually puts a lot of thought into the design and the tuning, trying to create something unique, something that going to stand the test of time. That’s how it was with A83 and A91 releases, so let’s find out if A85 follows the same footsteps.
It’s amazing, but throughout all these years and different releases, Fidue packaging still has a similar theme with a signature black and green box, and nearly the same layout of printed info. You still get a detailed description of the product, printed across the green wide stripe on the front magnetic cover, and detailed specification of IEMs on the back.
Under the magnetic cover, you will find a printed user manual with tips about the maintenance, wear, and cable removal. Fidue cables have a very tight secure mmcx connector fit, and require use of the included shim tool which looks like a guitar pick – some might not even realize that until you read these cable removal instructions.
Inside the packaging box you will also find a foam insert with a cutout for the case and A85 iems, along with a box of additional accessories underneath the top foam insert layer.
While there is no denial that A91 has a truly premium accessories package, A85 takes it a notch down so it’s not overshadowing the flagship. You get 4 pairs of standard silicone tips (L/M/S/XS), 2 pairs of double-flange silicone tips (L/M), a pair of no-brand medium foam tips, and another pair of genuine medium Comply T500 foam tips – plenty for any shape of the earcanal.
You also get 3.5mm to 6.3mm stereo adapter and airline adapter, a filler which some might find useful. You will also find a guitar-pick shaped tool for cable removal, as mentioned before, instruction how to use it is printed inside the packaging cover. Plus, you get a little poker tool which is intended to clean IEMs.
Last, but not least, is a custom storage box, all plastic rectangular box with rounded corners and aluminum cover plate with Fidue name. It’s a nice looking iem storage box, though I found the latch to be not as secure, so make sure you don’t drop it.
The cable is removable, with universal mmcx right-angled connectors that have red/blue edge ring to indicate Right/Left sides, standard 1.3m length, and upgraded Silver Plated OFC wires. The 3.5mm TRS plug is gold-plated with a straight aluminum housing that has a nice grip and short strain relief. Y-splitter has a matching shape and strain relief on each side, and you will also find a short aluminum chin-slider with one side open to break apart the cable going up. I have seen this on a few other cables before, not sure if it’s indeed for security purpose or just to look cool.
The cable itself is soft and flexible, no memory effect, with a clear rubbery coating and what appears to be another tightly-braided aluminum shielding underneath. There was a little bit of microphonics, but not too bad. Going up after the splitter toward iem connectors, there is a flexible black rubber pre-shaped earhook tube that goes all the way around your ear. At first, I had to use both of my hands when inserting A85 and securing the cable, but then I figured out a way to do it with just one hand. This is not a memory-wire earhook, it’s springy and pre-shaped and very secure when you wear it. You can go running, jumping, any kind of extreme exercise activity without worrying of these coming off your ears.
When it comes to removable cable, I usually like to cable-roll, but majority of my premium aftermarket cables are 2pin. Plus, considering the price of these monitors, it probably makes no sense to use a cable which cost 2x-3x as much as IEM itself. Thus, I figured why not try Oriveti Affinity I recently received for testing, those are 8-conductor hybrid cables with 4 pure copper and 4 spc braided wires.
Stock vs Affinity – expands the soundstage width (quite noticeable), lifts the low end with more sub-bass rumble and slightly lifts the mid-bass impact. Upper mids are a little brighter now with some improvement in transparency, but a little less natural and colder in comparison to a stock cable. Treble has a little more crunch. Also, Affinity has less microphonics and you can select any termination with this cable when ordering (2.5mm, 3.5mm, or 4.4mm).
According to Fidue, A85 is a 3-way hybrid design with their own exclusive dynamic driver, covering lows, and 2x custom-made premium BA drivers, for mids and highs. Also, Fidue mentioned a custom 3D acoustic chamber design with internal divider. While I don’t know how it looks inside, on the outside it’s a very compact and ergonomic all aluminum slick design. The shape kind of resembles their A73 design around faceplate area, while inner part of the shell has resemblance to A91, especially around the vents.
The shells are very lightweight, only 4g each, fit very comfortably in my ears, and the length and the angle of the nozzle are just perfect. The nozzle itself doesn’t have a lip, just straight, but surprisingly the eartips never came off or slide out easily. Nozzle has a perforated mesh cover to keep earwax out. Also, on the inside you have R/L clear marking, and on the faceplate a traditional overlapping 2-wing design.
As I mentioned already, mmcx cable attachment is very secure, and unlike A91, there is no threaded part for extra security, though the metal red/blue rings on the right-angled connector housing do remind me of A91 cable. When it comes to the size, A85 is smaller than A91, and even smaller than A83, with in-ear fit which is the most comfortable among 3.