Internationally renowned for its electric guitars and amplifiers, Fender has released its first ever line of in-ear monitors geared towards audiophiles and professional musicians alike. Although a bit too late to the party there Fender. Nevertheless, we were excited to have been given the momentous opportunity to review one of six in Fender’s new professional-grade series of in-ear monitors – more specifically, the FXA6 model. Hand-assembled and designed in Nashville, the FXA6 are Fender’s intermediate offering boasting an ergonomically-shaped, 3D-printed housing for a better universal fit said to be compatible with 95% of users. Fender’s custom molded-like design is made precisely so that it can fit the natural shape of the ear while not only greatly reducing ambient background noise with a superior seal, but also ensuring a low profile is maintained whilst inside the ear. Where it gets even more exciting is what’s waiting for you on the inside. The FXA6 combine the best of both worlds using a hybrid driver array comprised of a single balanced armature tweeter along with a custom full-range 9.25mm driver to produce some seriously impressive audio performance. In other words, we haven’t reviewed a pair of in-ear headphones quite as good as these.
Inside of that showcase packaging the Fender FXA6 come included with a Fender-branded hard carry case, a 1/4" adapter, a cleaning tool (to clean out ear wax build up), and three additional Sureseal tips in various sizes.
What you won't see included with professionally geared in-ear monitors such as the FXA6 is some form of in-line remote and mic to adjust volume, skip tracks or take calls while you wear them. The FXA6 in this regard are strictly serious when it comes to offering a pure audio experience. Though I must admit that it would have been nice if there was a second cable that you could swap out for added controls.
Fender's FXA6 share the same exact professional in-ear monitor style design as every other model in Fender's FXA series, and it looks really great. Perhaps even not as great in this shiny (and sparkly up close) candy apple red colorway we've got here, but fortunately these are also available in stealthy all-black color scheme too. You can find additional colors like blue, silver and gold on FXA2/FXA5/FXA7 models, respectively. Pricing starts conservatively at $200 for the single dynamic driver FXA2 - and goes up as high as $500 for the top of the line FXA7. The FXA6 will set you back $400, and we think it's the best choice out of the four models if really clear highs and really deep bass is what you like most. They're the only in-ear monitors in this line that offer the best of both worlds using two different types of driver technologies akin to what you'd find in a pair of studio monitor speakers. Whereas Fender's more affordably priced entry-level FXA2 feature a single dynamic driver that produces a very rich and full sound, and the FXA5 having a much lighter sounding signature due to having dual balanced armature drivers.
Out of the box, I was a bit let down when I first touched the FXA6 as they failed to impress me with their build quality. These are by far the least impressive high-end IEMs that I've had the pleasure of using, and it's unfortunate. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but like the rest of Fender's FXA series of IEMs, the FXA6 feel cheaply made and not as solidly constructed as I'd hoped for when paying this much money. Even when closely inspecting the applied white Fender logo across the glossy finished surface you can see how sloppy and fuzzy of a quality it is. Refinement is definitely lacking overall. It's little details like this that can leave a bias impression on your enjoyment of using such expensive pieces of tech.
That being said, I do appreciate the FXA6's professional IEM features like the braided, detachable MMCX tangle-free cable and the integrated formable wire that lets the user adjust the fit of the cable going around the ears for a customized and secure wear. And what a secure and comfortable fit do these afford. You can even workout with these, although we would recommend using wireless headphones instead.
The FXA6 are incredibly comfortable to wear and seem as if they were designed to fit your ear perfectly. The low-profile ergonomics fit the contours of the ear just right. At least from my personal experience wearing them. Everyone is different of course, but judging by the amazing fit and Fender's claims of these having a design that should fit 95% of most people's ears, chances are good that you'll find them just as comfortable to wear as I have. But what also makes the FXA6 amazingly comfortable are the included tips. While these may not seem special, they are in fact very different from the standard silicone tips you find included with most in-ear headphones. I can't quite explain it but they feel somewhat different. And they seem to create one of the best sound isolating seals that I've ever experienced with using non-foam tip type tips. I couldn't have asked for better tips even though Fender only included a limited number of the same exact tips with the FXA6. They create an outstanding seal that blocks out a bunch of external noise and ensures that you'll enjoy the optimal audio quality, and that's all that matters.
These are one in-ear monitors that cannot be beaten by the less expensive V-Moda ZN, and for good reason. The clarity, depth, detail and instrument separation produced by the dual hybrid drivers of the FXA6 is a mood-shifting, heart-pumping, visceral audio experience that makes you forget all about that cheap build quality and $400 price tag. Because sound that is this incredible...is unforgettable. If you think having a balanced armature tweeter and large 9.25mm full-range driver working together doesn't make a noticeable difference in sound vs a single driver of the same kind, it really does. The clarity, lifelike vocals, huge bass, and details you can hear in music using the FXA6 is absolutely brilliant. It can only get slightly better than this when you introduce a second armature driver like the triple driver array found on Fender's top of the line FXA7. And even then, the FXA6 already combine the best of both driver worlds less one Benjamin Franklin.
Sure, it might have taken Fender quite a while to introduce its own selection of in-ear monitors, but they’ve obviously done their research and have used all this time to come up with some of the best professional in-ear monitors around. Fender isn’t just a known name being slapped on some headphones for marketing purposes, the FXA6 are truly worthy of every audiophile’s respect.
If you're looking for one of the most comfortable and secure, noise-isolating, full and detailed sounding in-ear headphones - you should probably save up some money because Fender's amazingly engineered FXA6 will cost you as much as they're professional-grade. The FXA6 offer a classic in-ear monitor styling with the added benefit of researched ergonomics as they offer an incredibly light, non-fatiguing comfortable in-ear fit that is extraordinarily secure, a vibrant balance between lifelike vocal clarity and impressively deep bass, and professional lightweight detachable MMCX cable with minimal drag.
The only thing holding us back from giving the FXA6 an even higher rating and an Editors' Choice award is the fact that their cheap 3D-printed construction and lack of overall refinement isn't what we would expect to find on such high-end in-ear monitors. That said, this does tend to be a common fault when it comes to most audiophile-centric in-ear monitors.