With the FX series, Fender has earned itself a solid reputation as a manufacturer of in-ears for professionals. Sadly, these handcrafted in-ears from Nashville don’t come cheap. But thankfully, the beloved company has now unveiled cheaper alternatives to add to its range. The Fender CXA1 is one such option, delivering an in-ear earphone that’s kind on your bank balance.
Made in China, Not Nashville
Fender is known for its high asking prices, although the Nashville natives are just as synonymous with quality. However, these CXA1 headphones aren’t direct from Tennessee. Instead, they’re imported from China. Disappointing, to say the least, but these imported electronics are always good for a few surprises. First off, I’m a little perplexed when I open the headphone packaging. I struggled to work out how to wear them for a good few moments, before I realised that the earhooks were in fact bent the wrong way! This is clearly a manufacturing error and, sadly, those putting the pieces together might not have had the best context for how these devices operate. Moving on beyond this awkward first encounter, I take in the rest. A small “L” and “R” highlights which side is which, while a gentle push is all it takes to insert the earpieces into the auditory canal, while a small twist seals them in place. All you need to do then is bend the cable back behind the ear and you’ve a headphone that sits relatively firmly in place.
The headphones are delivered in a classic Fender plastic box, so you can expect to tackle some layers of plastic before getting your device free. Despite a tricky opening, it’s nice to see that Fender has now included the stylish transport case bearing its logo and secure zip-fastening. It’s actually quite a surprise to see an arguably premium accessory thrown in alongside a budget-friendly product from the brand. Furthermore, you’ll find four different silicone ear buds, plus a cleaning tool for keeping your headphones spick and span.
The cable is of the thin variety and not interchangeable. Usually, I’d call this a big drawback of an in-ear design intended for the stage, but these are directed more at the everyday user. At least that’s what the three-button remote suggests, which worked perfectly well when tested along with my iPhone. There’s also an integrated microphone, allowing for telephone calls. The microphone also delivered in performance, providing clear communications both back and forth.
Enjoy the Ear Cushions
The sound of in-ears always depends on an earpiece with a good fit. This was quite clear when testing the Fender CXA1. Normally, I’d opt for the larger earmold option as a standard, although the first test with these headphones made for sobering results. In the end, I found the smallest pair to be the best fit for me, sitting snugly in place. What’s more, the sound I was treated to was massively enriched thanks to the smallest silicone buds in the mix.
The Fender CXA1 sound powerful when it comes to the bass ranges, with the dynamic earpieces utilising those 8.5mm titanium micro drivers to the fullest. Deep bass drums have plenty of boom, although the low pressure is accompanied by a shortfall in precision. The bass proves loud, but the short impulses are far too soft. More problems present themselves in the upper reaches of the frequency spectrum. The in-ears tend to sound a little nasally, particularly in the with the range from 600Hz to 1kHz taking the most of a hit. Those who prefer the finesse of fine details will likely find the CXA1 an ill-fitting match. It’s more of a candidate for pop and rock productions, with the likes of classical music and acoustic-heavy titles not shining their brightest.
The Fender CXA1 is an in-ear headphone model that makes great use of its dynamic technology, but means a few compromises have to be accepted. It’s the upper mid range and upper treble that takes the bullet here. How much this will affect your listening all depends on what’s making up your playlist, with pop and rock music more likely to escape too much distortion. If you’re a fan of a broad raft of music styles, the CXA1 might just deliver.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)14 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance17,2 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)112,8 dB
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Four pairs of silicone pads
- Cleaning tool
- Airplane adapter
- Case with zipper
- available in black, blue and white