Best known for its legendary guitars, including the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Jazzmaster models, Fender Musical Instruments is now looking to plug into the ears of music professionals and audiophiles with its first in-ear monitors. The Pro range will initially be made up of five models, with the line boasting patented hybrid driver technology and 3D-printed housings designed to fit the vast majority of ears just like custom-molded monitors.
Fender is not the first guitar-focused maker to branch out into other areas. Gibson and Marshall have both made successful inroads into mainstream consumer tech markets, and as Fender acquired Nashville-based high-end audio house Aurisonics last year, it was just a question of when, and not if, the guitar giant would launch its own in-ear monitors (IEM).
The top end Pro In-Ear Monitors in the range feature 3D-printed Digital Hybrid Technology housings, which are said to be the result of scanning thousands of ears for shells designed to fit 95 percent of ears. They also feature a patented Hybrid-Dynamic Balanced Armature Array that's promised to deliver a rich, full frequency response with lots of bass.
The entry-level DXA1 IEM is built around an 8.5 mm titanium micro driver, with a frequency response of 14 Hz to 22 kHz, 116 dB sensitivity and a smartphone-friendly 16 ohm impedance. Fender says that users can look forward to up to 18 dB noise reduction, nipping ambient distractions in the bud while also offering some protection against the "strong transients that can occur in a live environment." Each ear monitor is wrapped in a transparent charcoal-colored slimline shell and comes with a detachable silver-plated low oxygen cable.
The FXA2 is targeted at folks who spend much of their time wallowing in low end, such as bassists and drummers, featuring a 9.25 mm rare-earth driver with porting for an enhanced bass response and crisp treble. There's a wide frequency response of 6 Hz to 23 kHz, 112 dB sensitivity and 16 ohm impedance. The IEMs are reported capable of shutting out up to 22 dB of ambient noise, feature 3D-printed shells and come with a silver-plated audio cable.
Fender promises punchy bass, rich mids and a crisp high end from the FXA5 IEMs, which sport dual balanced armature drivers and the same "Groove-tuned" porting as the FXA2 units for a 19 Hz to 21 kHz frequency response, 120 dB sensitivity and 16 ohm impedance. The snug-fitting Digital Hybrid Technology housings are also part of the package, along with the detachable cable.
Aurisonics' patented hybrid driver design makes its first appearance in the FXA6 monitors. This combination of a single Hybrid-Dynamic tuned Balanced Armature Array tweeter and a 9.25 mm rare-earth driver with porting is said to deliver distortion-free low end punch, full-fat mids and crisp highs. Frequency response is given as 6 Hz to 22 kHz, the sensitivity is 109 dB and the impedance 16 ohms.
The final IEMs in Fender's upcoming Pro range are the FXA7 models. This time the hybrid driver design shapes up as a pair of Hybrid-Dynamic Balanced Armature Array tweeters married to a 9.2 mm rare-earth driver and porting for what's promised to be "crystal-clear, distortion-free audio with plenty of headroom." The FXA7s have the widest frequency range at 6 Hz to 24 kHz, with 110 dB sensitivity and 16 ohm impedance. The IEMs feature the one-size-fits-(almost) all 3D-printed shell, silver-plated audio cable and also come supplied with acoustic filter earplugs.
Due for release in March, the Fender Pro IEMs start at US$99 for the DXA1 monitors, and top out at $499 for the FXA7 models.