I am not exaggerating when I say that neckband earphones are gaining popularity. Few years back, there were just 1 or 2 neckband earphones launched, while some years there were none. In 2017 alone, there are no fewer than 4 new around-neck models from Sony (WI-1000X), V-MODA (Forza Metallo Wireless), KEF (Motion One), Sennheiser (M2 IEBT). Here, Fischer Audio too announces its first neckband earphones, Alpha X (FE-611BT), retailing at S$128.
The FE-611BT is quite compact for a neckband form factor that usually requires a large rigid case to store in order to keep the shape. With the Alpha X, I can slip into a relatively compact soft case. The neckband length is one of the shortest and the structure is supported by memory frame that is not as heavily molded, hence some flexibility in storage. V-MODA has the same design mindset when they designed the Forza Metallo Wireless, but the Alpha X is much more compact.
It’s a no-frills design, with plastic encasing and printed logo on the left side, while the 2 earbuds can attach together neatly with built-in magnets. There are only 3 buttons to operate the headset: the 2 volume-skip buttons and the power-playback button. The micro USB port is located facing downwards with a rubber cap to protect from moisture and dust, earning the Alpha X a sweatproof rating.
The benefit of a neckband earphone compared to normal wireless is that the earphones stay around the neck during runs and workouts and the cables do not move. The Alpha X lightweight turns out to be a minor drawback as the neckband do rock a little with every step. And because the neckband is relatively short, it may not be long enough to wrap around the collar of the shirt securely like other around-the-neck models. Not to worry, though, as the included ear hooks will keep the earbuds secure.
The included silicon ear tips do not seal the ambient sound well, but for urban runs, this has its advantages.
The good thing about buying Fischer Audio products is that the retail box will show the frequency chart and a genre recommendation table. And true to the frequency chart, the Alpha X is unbashedly heavier at the lower registers, while the highs might sound slightly veiled but still sufficiently clean and proper. For a listener like me who goes for balanced tuning, the Alpha X sounds bloated. My workaround is to loosen the ear tip seal so that the bass energy is eased off and give room for the treble to sing. Having said that, listening to EDM gives that massive energy and fullness that is going to push you on during your intense workouts. And the tuning on the Alpha X is excellent for old ears like myself listening to the latest treble-biased pop tracks.
The Alpha X happens to be a polite earphones, for better and for worse. All actions are voice-prompted instead of beeps. When the headset is powered up, it will read out “power on”, “pairing”, “connected”. When you start playback or skip tracks, the headset will fade in to prevent volume shock. When it receives an incoming call, the headset will read out the caller’s number. When you double click the middle button, it will read out “redialing”. When battery is low, it reads “battery low, please recharge”, and within 5 minutes, the unit will go dead. Charging takes about 2 hours and will deliver 10 hours use.
I like that the Fischer Audio is a compact neckband earphones that is easy to carry around, with elevated bass suited for motivating workouts, and comfortable eartips with ear hooks to secure the earbuds without pressure. When not on the ears, the earbuds attach to each other via magnets so I can wear it at work the whole day on standby. The retail price of S$128 is affordable, making the Alpha X FE-611BT a worthy recommendation for bass lovers.
Post edit: after completing the review, Fischer Audio Asia has kindly let me keep the review unit. Generally I do not question or insist whether the review unit is permanent or loan, in order to keep my opinions unbiased. For products that I am informed as sponsored, I would clearly mention in my main article.