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FAudio is an IEM company based in Hong Kong with roots in the OEM world, eventually branching off the brand that we all know today.
Like many small-scale operations, FAudio began as a resheller that eventually released their own line of custom IEMs, initially dubbed the KF line that comprised of a few pure-BA models. Apparently they did well in their hometown, but their global presence wasn’t very strong at this time so forgive me if my introduction is a little sparse.
The Major was announced in August of 2018, marking a turning point in the brand’s global image as they went on more international shows and brought their products into the limelight. The Minor was announced almost exactly a year later, and so these two dynamic driver IEMs have essentially become the “unofficial mascots” of the company.
(They have other models like the 2-driver hybrid Scale, the 3-driver Chorus, the 5-driver Harmony and the 7-driver Symphony, but very few English impressions exist out there so I wouldn’t put them on the same level as the Major/Minor in terms of international popularity.)
It took me a while to finally get my hands of these IEMs after years of reader requests, all thanks to the generous folks who have graciously loaned me their personal sets. Let’s see how well the cult favourites fare against the mainstream competition.
Product page: http://faudio.co/products/Major.html
MSRP: 10,800 HKD (~$1,400)
Driver configuration: single DD
Special thanks to “Rush” for loaning me this set.
Let’s start with tonality, which would probably be where I diverge heavily from the general consensus within the IEM community. Many, many listeners report the Major as being “smooth” or even straight up “dark”, so I’m probably the only one who would describe the Major as the following: an extremely V-shaped and bright-sounding IEM.
The bass definitely isn’t the cleanest, masking the midrange frequencies slightly. While the midrange tone is decent, my main criticism of the Major’s tone lies in its treble, which is almost-piercing and imparts a very unnatural timbre to percussions. Make no mistake, the Major is a coloured set through and through, with very deliberate emphases that create a distinct wow-factor at the expense of fidelity.
(Now amongst the audiophile circles that I mingle in, there have been rumours circulating around that FAudio did a stealth re-tune of the Major from its original smooth/dark signature to its current iteration, so that might explain the discrepancy between my impressions and others’. Either way, this is the unit I heard and got access to, so I’ll not engage in wild theorycrafting and let the data speak for itself.)
In terms of technical ability, the Major puts on a strong showing but not enough to impress. The decay of the bass is a tad too slow for my liking, contributing to its already-significant bleeding. The resolution is good, perhaps closing in on the likes of the tried-and-true ER4 but not surpassing it. Imaging performance is the Major’s strong suit, being able to generate a somewhat wide and separated staging despite the cloying nature of its bass hits.
Value is the Major’s big question mark. At essentially TOTL prices the Major does very little to justify itself, given its generic V-shaped tuning and middling technicalities. The Major needs to compete with the best of the best in order to be worth its eye-watering price tag, and quite frankly I don’t think it even belongs in the same conversation as established veterans like the Sony IER-Z1R or even the JVC HA-FW10000 (whenever that review drops).
Tone grade: C, Technical grade: B+
Product page: https://www.letsgoaudio.com/products/faudio-minor-in-ear-headphones
(No official product link available)
MSRP: 4,000 HKD (~$520)
Driver configuration: single DD
Special thanks to “animus” for loaning me this set.
In terms of tonality, I would describe the Minor as a balanced, mildly V-shaped IEM. The bass and treble are clearly emphasised, but far from the extent of the Major’s. Bass is more controlled and focused to the lower frequencies, allowing more breathing room and reduced boxiness in the Minor’s midrange. The midrange and treble have their own colouration, but it’s not offensive and more in-line with IEMs like the much-loved Acoustune HS1551.
Caveat emptor: the Minor seems to have some QC issues, as this particular set is one that had already returned from RMA to address some major channel matching issues in a previous set. Note that this set still has some channel imbalance, and even though it is just barely within tolerance, it is still unacceptable for any IEM costing more than $100.
Its technical abilities are where the Minor starts to struggle. The attack of its notes aren’t quite as clean or sharp as other high-performing IEMs in my collection, resulting in a blunted, lower resolution sound. The decay issue of the Major seems to be fixed in the Minor, with basslines coming off as much more defined. Overall, I wouldn’t call the Minor a technical set, and its strengths absolutely lie in its tonality and tuning.
At a pricetag almost a third of the Major, the Minor commands a set of expectations on value that is worlds apart from its big brother. As such (and unlike the Major), the Minor is something that I would consider “worth the price” at its performance level, alongside similarly-priced IEMs like the aforementioned HS1551 and the DUNU DK-3001 Pro. But that’s only purely in consideration of its sound, and the problems that I’ve raised in terms of QC should weigh heavily on your mind when thinking of buying a Minor.
Given that the Minor came after the Major, it does give the impression that the Minor is a refined Major with superior tuning and minor (heh) concessions in technical ability, to create an IEM that should be safer for more people and for cheaper.
Tone grade: A, Technical grade: B
For the most part, unless you’re truly a die-hard fan of an extreme V-shaped signature, the Minor is (in my own personal opinion) the superior of the twins. And even if you’re a fan of the Major’s signature, there are plenty IEMs that does the same extreme-V response. For far, far cheaper.
The Minor is a well-tuned IEM with middling technicalities that’s suitable for its price, though problems in channel matching should not be ignored.
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