Fischer Audio Billy's Band Edition Headphones: Sound in Russian

    “Like Sabinin in Glinka’s opera, I exclaim:“ Immense joy! ”. Great happiness fell on us from heaven. You don’t believe yourself. I was amazed, as rarely happened in my whole life. Admiration, enthusiasm, awe, joy ... were enormous. Well! ”

    These words were written in 1898 by the famous once critic Vladimir Vasilievich Stasov after visiting the opera Pskovityanka by Rimsky-Korsakov, where the role of Ivan the Terrible was played by young Fedor Chaliapin. Stasov was amazed at how accurately and deeply the 25-year-old youth understood the most difficult figure of Grozny, and how masterfully he reproduced it on stage. Not a single domestic performer could ever boast of such a combination of acting and vocal data.

    Today, almost 120 years later, I repeat after Stasov - immense joy! After a week listening to the Fischer Audio Billy's Band Edition headphones, I can say with confidence - domestic companies have not released anything like this yet. Yes, and in the midst of foreign abundance, such a magnificent sound is rarely seen. And if you meet, then at a completely different price.

    Do you know Billy's Band? Until the summer of 2013, I only heard the name several times, but it was in no way associated with music. In the St. Petersburg office of Fischer Audio, they showed me a prototype of the upcoming headphones and put on a few compositions. Honestly, not really my music. Billy's Band balances on the verge of several styles, blues, swing, jazz and rock. Does it expertly, not take away. But - not mine. And Valentin Kazanzhi, the founder of Fischer Audio , loves Billy's Band music. And these headphones were not a way to earn some more money (I’ll tell you a secret that this model is not commercial for the company at all), but a favorite brainchild and an expression of sympathy for your favorite group.

    Headphones are sold in a large black box. On the upper part there is a large (and, it seems, not the most successful) portrait of Billy Novick, the founder of the group. On the back of the box, you can admire the entire Billy's Band. A solid solid case meets us inside, and the heroes of the review lie in it.

    Cables are removable with standard connectors. So if they break, you can always find an alternative. Two things are in the kit: one ordinary, the second with a remote control and a microphone. So, if necessary, it is quite possible to use headphones as a headset.

    The headband is made of steel, and in the right places is covered with soft artificial leather. The junction of the headband with the movable part, to which the cups are attached, is decorated with dark plastic, which at first I even mistook for some kind of mineral - it looks very solid. Ear pads are made of material called “bio-skin” on the official website. Again, at first I took the skin for natural, so nice to the touch. But, to the delight of defenders of animal rights to death from old age, this is still a successful imitation.

    The cups are made of African sapele wood. Due to its complex fibrous structure, sapele is used in the manufacture of musical instruments (in particular - electric guitars) to increase the spectrum of resonant frequencies. Here, it came in handy. It is worth noting that Valentin Kazanzhi likes to experiment with varieties of wood, and in the Fischer Audio office you can find special turning equipment.

    Inside the cups are newfangled membranes made of Mylar polymer. It is also known as Melinex and Hostaphan. This polymer is very popular and is used in a wide variety of products - from packaging materials to road signs. And now he penetrated the headphones, promising to "reproduce the smallest nuances of the musical signal and, at the same time, provide an incredibly wide dynamic range."

    Honestly, I found out all these details when I started writing the review. And at first I just put the headphones on my head. And stunned.

    Now in the description of many headphones, they promise us an "accurate studio sound." Like, that's how musicians hear - and you will hear. But long gone are the days when music was recorded right from the beginning to the end with the participation of the whole collective. In the vast majority of cases, we hear a certain construction of many takes and tracks, assembled and improved along the way by a team of sound engineers. Well, or one person, when it comes to budget entries. Therefore, it is more accurate, probably, to say that in good headphones we hear music as the authors intended it .

    Some models display fierce meticulousness by pulling out all the details (e.g.Monster Inspiration In-Ear ). Others finish something, think out, using their own electronic brains (a vivid example of smart headphones is Parrot Zik ).

    Fischer Audio Billy's Band Edition does not hide anything from the listener and does not add anything from itself. They honestly and with breathtaking craftsmanship recreate the very construction, invented by musicians and sound engineers, in your head. Great stereo. Careful attention to detail. The widest frequency range. I understand that I’m going over with superlatives, but in this case everything is really very good. The first word I associate with Fischer Audio Billy's Band Edition is "honesty." No tricks and tricks. Just sound sound and accurate presentation. Probably, the same impression was once made by Fedor Chaliapin against the background of the traditional opera mongers traditional for that time, even with decent voices.

    I studied headphones with the iRiver Astell & Kern player, on which you could easily feel the difference between the same composition recorded in mp3 and FLAC. The difference was felt so acutely that listening to mp3 immediately got sick at all. Moreover, although I understand that it is almost impossible, I managed to feel the difference between the sound quality of FLAC 16 bit / 44 kHz and FLAC 24 bit / 96 kHz. Any otolaryngologist will tell you that this is a game of imagination, but - as it is. And even on mp3 of more or less decent quality, it struck me - how voluminous, almost tangible the sound is, how accurately all voices and instruments are positioned, and how pleasant it is to listen to even well-known music.

    Billy's Band Edition also sounds good in conjunction with smartphones. I tried on the iPhone 5s and Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, and the impression was the most positive. Of course, on an expensive player, but skillfully made FLAC is more pleasant to listen to. But on a more modest technique, the results of the work of Fischer Audio will be clearly distinguishable.

    Great headphones. They are good regardless of geographical origin, and yet one cannot but rejoice that such a work of art was born in St. Petersburg. The retail price of 6500 rubles is not shocking either. Of course, you won’t buy such a bag every day, but even a not very hardworking student can collect this amount.

    There have been questions - is it worth taking the Billy's Band Edition, or can it be limited to the Coda model, taken as a basis and costing 500-700 rubles cheaper?

    If you love the Billy's Band - do not even hesitate, take the more expensive version. At least for the sake of an unusual design and a disc with rare recordings in a box. If not ... Coda differs from Billy's Band Edition not too much. More about this will tell the project manager, Valentin Kazanzhi.

    Sergey Villanov : Valentine, how are Coda different from the heroes of the review?

    Valentin Kazanzhi: Actually, there are no fundamental differences between the Billy's Band and Coda models. The difference in price is due only to the more expensive, premium packaging from the Billy's Band Edition, the presence of an additional carrying case for this model, and the packaging with an exclusive gift CD issued by us specifically for this series (the Billy's Band have never before released collections of their compositions, but here, except well-known recordings were added and previously not published. In addition, all the material for the disc was mixed and recorded again, especially for this edition).

    Another difference is the type of wood and the finish: if COBA used ebony wood and varnish, then Billy's Band Edition used sapele wood and the laborious method of coating Oil-Finish. Given the half-open design of the headphones, the influence of the species of used wood is rather aesthetic in these twin models, since the difference in the sound of the species of wood in this case is extremely negligible.

    SV : The musicians say that they like the “wooden” sound, but what really? Does the tree have some unique features that cannot be repeated when choosing metal and plastic as the material?

    VK.:The musicians are certainly right. Absolutely right. The unique features of wood when used in musical instruments have not been doubted for centuries. But the fact is that headphones can be safely attributed to musical instruments, and moreover to acoustic ones, where the influence of wood is extremely important. I see the difference between headphones and, for example, a guitar, except in the way of sound extraction. In the first case, the sound source is the strings and fingers of the musician (and, ideally, his skill), and in the second case, the driver is the source (ideally, with high quality characteristics). For almost a thousand years, acoustic instruments have been made exclusively from natural wood of certain species.

    But the headphones, for some reason, stubbornly riveted from plastic and, in the top series, from metal. What is the reason for this? I think that it’s not worth talking about it - and so everything is clear. Expensive! And unprofitable! Only a few manufacturers produce their top models with wood components. Well, maybe heels typed. The tree has its own unique character of sounding (as the masters of musical instruments say, “sings”).

    SV : How much time was spent on these headphones?

    VK.: It took a year to implement the project. Four prototypes were proposed. The musicians of the group tested them very carefully and chose one. It is worth noting that the decision was made not only by the musicians themselves, but also by their sound engineer, who has extensive experience in terms of sound. In principle, even the kind of wood, the method of processing it, the material of the ear pads (protein skin, or, in a popular way, bioskin), the design, the nature of the sound - everything was discussed and approved together with the group during repeated “gatherings” in the Fisher Audio office " Fortunately, the headquarters of the group itself is located in a neighboring lane, a 3-minute walk.

    Some points in the creation of this model caused very heated debate and disagreement. But it was interesting, and most importantly, everything worked out. It is fair to say that the band’s musicians are very “advanced” and extremely scrupulous in terms of sound quality. These guys are real, professional, with a lot of experience worthy of respect. Of course, they have some sound preferences, the very style in which they create, “Alco Jazz”, alludes to this. Old classical rock groups of the 80s, jazz, soul, Russian rock from the time of BG and Alice, classical instrumental music - this material was considered by them as test when approving the model.

    And one more important point. Since the creation of a new model is an extremely costly task and, given our current headphone market, which has shifted its benchmarks towards frankly cheap consumer goods, as well as a very limited batch of the produced model, we would not be guaranteed to pay back half the costs of this project.

    It's no secret that only the production cost of a single promotional sample translates into a tidy sum (usually 10-20 thousand dollars, this is the cost of launching a new model into production). Therefore, an agreement was reached with the manufacturer that almost all of the costs are borne by the plant, but the model remains at their disposal. And they can sell it to any third-party customer, in case this customer does not deliver the model to Russia. Moreover, we honestly indicated on the packaging the manufacturer on all models of the Renaissance series (except, directly, the Billy's Band). Today, this model has already appeared among the agile Americans, British and Italians. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the sound will not be exactly the same in any case. Because there is another small change that has already been made here, in Russia. So to say, they added a pinch of cunning spices.

    And the last one. Given the features of the “tricky” driver used in this model, truly headphones begin to sound only after a long “warm-up” for 100-120 hours. Moreover, during the warm-up period, the character of the sound changes dramatically, the sound “floats” either in the direction of increasing bass, then in the direction of its complete disappearance, then in the direction of the appearance of “dirt” in the upper range, then the appearance of “sibilants”, you might think that Headphones live their own lives. But you need patience! And in these 100-120 hours they will show what they are capable of, in full! It's simple - the moving parts of the system must enter the operating mode. As with any mechanism, break-in is necessary.

    Opinion of Ilya Tarakanov, a respected expert in portable acoustics.

    At the request of Sergei, I quickly tested the headphones, and would like to slightly lower the degree of positive in his review. But, I’ll say right away that the model is interesting and will find its customers - at least because of the design.

    The appearance of the headphones pleasantly surprises, as well as the build quality. Slightly overshadows the positive impression of backlash of metal cup mounts, but this is a trifle. The fit is typical for overhead headphones, quite comfortable - but the constant pressure of the cups to your ears will definitely not allow you to listen to music for hours on end.

    As for the music - the headphones combine a rather reckless bass feed and, oddly enough, a “monitor” bass and treble feed - which makes them a truly “tasteful” model. It doesn’t even smell of genre universality; you’ll have to put up with it (or buy some other headphones).

    In conclusion, I note that because of its, for the most part, “monitor” presentation of musical material, the Billy's Band clearly identifies MP3 flaws, and they are definitely shown a high-quality source (for controlling bass) and music files.

    PS All ears are different. And sound addictions - too. Therefore, no matter what the review authors, including myself, write, before buying, be sure to listen to the headphones yourself. And buy only if you personally like them.

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