Fanny Wang 3000 Sound Quality
With the in-line splitter, testing out the Fanny Wang Series 3000 headphones was easier than most. First, I tested out the three modes: Pass Through, Noise Canceling, and Noise Canceling with Bass Boost. One of the nicer features of the Series 3000 is that they have a Pass Through mode. This allows you to use them even if your batteries are dead. There are plenty of noise canceling headphones on the market that don't have this feature. If I were to judge the Fanny Wang headphones on just the Pass Through mode, I'd be fairly unimpressed. The sound overall is very compressed with a muted top end and anemic bass. In comparison with headphones from Denon and Audio-Technica, they fared poorly.
Of course, the Pass Though mode is a mode of last resort. You didn't buy $300 Noise Canceling headphones not to have them cancel noise. You often read in audiophile reviews about how testing out new gear was like "lifting a veil" or removing a blanket from the sound. That is what turning on the noise canceling is like with the Fanny Wang Series 3000 headphones. The top end becomes much crisper, the noise floor completely disappears, and the overall presentation is light years better than the Pass Through mode.
I did a number of comparisons between the Fanny Wang Series 3000 headphones and my Denon AH-D1000 headphones (MSRP $150) and Pioneer SE-MJ591 headphones (MSRP $299.99). The comparison between the Denons and the Fanny Wang headphones was fairly close. The top end of the Fanny Wang headphones was a bit more extended but there was more bass with the Denons and the overall presentation was fuller. Both were enjoyable and, when I was wearing them, I liked what I heard. But switching quickly between the Denons and the Fanny Wangs, I'd have to say that I preferred the Denons. Over the longer term, the Fanny Wang's top end tended to be a bit fatiguing at higher volumes. Lower volumes were much better.
Remember, these tests were conducted in a quiet environment and are based on sound quality alone. Add in ambient noise, and it is easy to see how the Fanny Wangs would be the clear winner. If for no other reason than because I could enjoy them at lower volumes without external noise bleed-through.
Overall, the Fanny Wang Series 3000 headphones had decent soundstage and dynamic range. The high end could was well extended though, at times, harsh and I thought the bottom end could be better extended and fuller. The overall presentation of the music was quite accurate, though, and seemed to be distortion free. While I can't say that the Series 3000 headphones could be used for reference listening, in noisy environments, they sounded absolutely fantastic and much better than anything else. Even headphones that outperformed them in quiet listening tests were surpassed simply because of ambient noise leakage.
The Pionner SE-MJ591 retail for the same price as the Fanny Wangs but, of course, they are simply a set of headphones. None of that money is going toward noise canceling technology. Where the Denons and the Series 3000s had a lot in common, the Pioneers were in a completely different league. There was so much more information on the top end that switching between the two was jarring. The depth of the music with the Pioneers left the Fanny Wangs in the dust. Interestingly, the bottom end of the two headphones sounded very similar in this mode.
I did a number of tests with the Bass Boost enabled. While I felt the Fanny Wang Series 3000 needed a bit more bass in general, the Bass Boost feature (which adds 6dB to the bottom end) was too much for most serious listening. There were some tracks where the Bass Boost was just enough but, overall, I preferred it off.
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