Disclaimer: I borrowed both the MH335DW and the Private 435 from FitEar. During the course of reviewing both, I succumbed to the lure of the MH335DW and ended up putting an order in for one of my own. By October I hope to have the necessary scratch. I will follow up with details as they unfold.
FitEar’s MH series is engineered by legendary sound engineer, Mitsuharu Harada. And since FitEar custom earphones are used by hundreds of Japan’s top musicians, it’s quite the match. Currently, the MH335 is FitEar’s priciest professional earphone, which is probably why it has attracted so much interest from the audiophile community. The Private 435 is an integral, but little-known part of FitEar’s consumer line of customer earphones.
FitEar ply customers with industrial luxuries: Pelican cases, smudge-free shell machining, Japanese police force-approved cables. These luxuries are offset by a bit of celluloid tape, FitEar’s equivalent of custom art. You can put your name there. Bam! At least they opted for Oyaide cable plugs.
FitEar practically inventing the MADE IN JAPAN custom earphone. With few exceptions, FitEar’s products are made to impeccable standards. But they don’t look as cool as some of the competition. Their products are stoic, stolid, and unassuming.
MH335DW comes with what is called cable 001. It’s a stiff, rather microphonic cable fastened on one end to an Oyaide 3,5mm stereo plug, and on the other to that police-approved connector I mentioned above. Overall, the design is solid. It inspires confidence above a number of products from FitEar’s rivals. It is, however, microphonic almost to a fault. Slight touches transmit loud thumps to the ear. The good news is that the translucent and indestructible neck cinch ameliorate much of the noise.
The Private 435’s cable is a throwback. How I love the Private 333. The 435’s is, I suppose, an evolution of the 333’s cable. It is more supple and less microphonic than the MH335DW cable. It is also much easier to weave below a shirt, and easier to pack into a carrying case. But it doesn’t look or rattle quite the same way a true audiophile cable does. The downside is that its supple outer sheath is more prone to abrasion damage than the 001 cable.
Dear god, FitEar earphones are hefty. Each is moulded by hand and filled with solid acrylic. This is the same Japan that calls hosing down plastic siding, maintenance, that frowns upon people that paint their own walls, whose kids grow up kicking footballs in dust because their city is too lazy and cheap to water a lawn. Somehow, FitEar isn’t prefab. Somehow, it is artisan. Somehow, it reminds me of a Japan of a long time ago, a Japan I’ll only read about. And it is completely charming. I hope nothing ever changes. The solid shells obviate driver rattle, loosening, and distortion.
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