FiR Audio VxV

baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Down The Rabbit-hole With The Jack-Rabbit Of All Trades
Pros: Great balanced warm-neutral tonality, pretty all-rounder tuning.
Good technicalities.
Very coherent for a hybrid.
Textured bass which is well controlled.
Comfortable and light, solid build.
Good isolation.
Cons: Somewhat limited accessories/packaging at this pricing.
Semi-proprietary MMCX connectors.
Slight BA timbre.
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INTRODUCTION

I would like to thank Kenneth from Project Perfection for loaning this FiR Audio VxV unit. The IEM will be returned after this review. The VxV can be gotten here!

Project Perfection is a Singaporean audio company that distributes some storied brands like Lotoo, Final Audio, DITA, Stax and FiR Audio.

FiR Audio was founded in 2018 by two brothers, Bogdan and Alex Belonozhko and their friend Daniel Lifflander. Between them, they have over 20 years of experience from working previously at 64 Audio.

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FiR Audio's mascot is that of a rabbit named Firry!


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This FiR Audio VxV is a pretty competent 5-driver hybrid IEM that does most areas well, and has few weaknesses in the tuning. The warm-neutral signature is quite balanced to handle most music genres. In fact, I see the VxV as a jack-rabbit of all trades, and most folk should find something to like about it, perhaps other than die-hard bassheads and trebleheads.


SPECIFICATIONS
  • Driver configuration: Hybrid: 1x Dynamic Driver, 2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature, 1x High-driver Balanced Armature, 1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20000Hz
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: no specs available online
  • Cable: MMCX, 2.5mm TRRS balanced connector
  • $999 USD
As per its namesake, the VxV contain 5 drivers for each side.


ACCESSORIES

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The packaging is rather austere, coming in a small white cardboard box. BTW the Firry rabbit stuff toy is not included!!!

Other than the IEM, these are included:

- 3 pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L)
- 1 pair of double flanged silicone tips
- 1 pair of foam tips
- Cable

- Cleaning brush
- Leather hardcase
- 3 x Firry rabbit stickers

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The cable is made of silver-plated copper. This cable is very well braided and pliant, with no microphonics. It only comes in a 2.5 mm termination, so those that use 3.5 mm or 4.4 mm sources may need an aftermarket adapter (which isn't included). There is a chin cinch to secure fit during usage.

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Sadly, this cable features a semi-proprietary MMCX design, where there is a shroud over the left/right termination of the cable, and it may hence not be usable with other standard MMCX IEMs. If aftermarket MMCX cables are used, they can still pair with the VxV housing, but there will be a bit of a metal sheath that will be exposed. Nothing deal-breaking, as sound can still be generated, just that it may be a bit of an eye-sore as such.

While I'm generally not a fan of MMCX (they seem to deteriorate faster than 2-pin connectors with repeated cable changes), the MMCX quality on the VxV seems very robust. The cables snap off easily and back on without much force needed on the MMCX connectors.

The leather hard case is very elegant, with the inner layer lined by a velvety material.

Everything is pretty usable out of the box, I don't think you will need to source for aftermarket accessories for the VxV (other than the aforementioned adapters for non 2.5 mm sources). Only thing is at this pricing, the provided accessories are not exactly class-leading, but well, accessories maketh not an IEM, and I would be more interested in the sound, as we will read on below.

For the purposes of this review, the stock silicone tips and cable were used.


BUILD/COMFORT

The VxV is tear-drop shaped, and is extremely light and ergonomic, with no discomfort with prolonged usage. It is advertised to be made of hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont engineering plastic, which does explain the very light yet solid build.

I didn’t find any driver flex during usage; the VxV sports a unique ATOM pressure venting system, with the vents placed near the MMCX female connector region, rather than the traditional location on the shell housing. This in theory lessens listener fatigue and pressure, in addition to reducing the likelihood of driver flex.

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The right earpiece showcases Firry (FiR Audio's rabbit mascot), while the left earpiece is emblazoned with FiR Audio's logo.


ISOLATION

Isolation is good (especially with the foam or double flanged tips), this set is quite usable in noisy or outdoor environments. Perhaps it can even be used as a stage monitor in view of the good isolation levels.


DRIVABILITY

I tested the VxV with:
- Khadas Tone Board -> Schiit Asgard 3 amp
- Khadas Tone Board -> Topping L30 amp
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One Neutral Mod)
- E1DA DAC/AMP dongle
- Colorfly CDA M1 DAC/AMP dongle
- IKKO Zerda ITM01 dongle
- Tempotec Sonata HD Pro dongle (BHD firmware)
- Smartphone

The VxV is pretty easy to drive from lower powered gear, but scales with amplification.


SOUND & TECHNICALITIES

The FiR Audio VxV is a warm-neutral IEM with rather good tonal balance. This makes it quite all-rounder for most music genres. Perhaps only die-hard bassheads and trebleheads may dislike this tuning as there are slight roll-offs at both extremes.

For a hybrid, the VxV is very coherent, and there aren't any awkward troughs and peaks that are audible.

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Graph of the VxV via IEC711 compliant coupler. The 8 kHz area is a coupler artefact peak.

Bass on the VxV is north of neutral, but not at bona fide basshead levels. It is mid-bass focused with a slight sub-bass roll-off, though sub-bass still extends quite well. Bass quality is controlled and tight, with minimal mid-bass bleed, and the bass has good texturing and speed. Of note, the VxV kept up with the bass movements in Sting's Englishman In New York, which is my test track for bass speed and texturing; some IEMs with a slower bass may have smearing during the bass solo movements mid-track.

Midrange on the VxV is quite full-bodied at the lower mids. Upper mids are slightly boosted, but with a less than 10 dB pinna gain, this set is not shouty in the upper mids. Vocals are hence forward without being fatiguing.

Treble is moderately extended, there is good clarity and micro-details. Lower treble is boosted around the 5 kHz regions, but upper treble has a slight roll-off, hence the VxV lacks the air and sparkle that die-hard trebleheads would yearn for. There are occasions of sibilance, but by and large, treble sensitive folk should be quite at home with the tuning.

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Technical aspects are pretty solid on the VxV, with good micro-details, imaging and instrument separation on tap. Soundstage is above average, it is not the tallest, but has good depth and width. Layering is no slouch and music never sounded compressed on the VxV even with tracks with complex movements.

Timbre is acceptable considering there are BAs inside. There is a slight tinge of BA timbre for acoustic instruments, but nothing really deal-breaking.


COMPARISONS

Campfire Andromeda 2020


The VxV has a deeper sub-bass extension, thicker note weight and a better soundstage than the Andromeda 2020. Timbre is slightly better on the VxV too.

My biggest bugbear with the Andromeda 2020 is that it is very fussy with sources (due to the low impedance and rules of eights), and it also hisses with sources with a poor noise floor. The VxV on the other hand, is much more source agnostic, and not as troublesome to pair sources with. That in itself makes the VxV less finicky between these two SummitFI sets.


Sony IER-M9

The venerable M9 comes with a much better assortment of accessories.

Accessories aside, the M9 is also tuned neutralish-warm, but even so, it is slightly less bright in the lower treble than the VxV, and more laid back overall. In technical performance, the M9 is better in soundstage, layering, imaging, instrument separation.

The M9 is harder to drive though.


Earsonics Onyx

The Earsonics Onyx has a much heavier and larger shell, this can be fatiguing in terms of comfort.

The Onxy is more V-shaped with a bigger bass. The bass on the Onyx is unfortunately not as textured and bleeds into the mid-bass. The Onyx is also darker in the treble and has worse resolution, imaging, soundstage and micro-details than the FiR Audio VxV.


Mangird Xenns Up

The Xenns Up comes with a bigger spread of accessories and has a bigger sub-bass than the VxV. The Xenns Up are more basshead and also darker in the treble.

In technicalities, the Xenns Up is slightly poorer in imaging, micro-details, clarity, instrument separation than the VxV.


CONCLUSIONS

This FiR Audio VxV is a pretty competent 5-driver hybrid IEM that does most areas well, and has few weaknesses in the tuning. The warm-neutral signature is quite balanced to handle most music genres. In fact, I see the VxV as a jack-rabbit of all trades, and most folk should find something to like about it, perhaps other than die-hard bassheads and trebleheads.

MMCX.jpg


My nitpicks for the VxV have to do with the packaging and semi-proprietary MMCX connectors, plus a slight BA timbre.

The VxV would be a good all-rounder and jack-rabbit of all trades TOTL model for those that are keen to sample something in SummitFI rabbit-hole. I quite enjoyed my time with the VxV and am sad to return this loaner unit. In fact, I very much look forward to what other rabbits FiR Audio can pull out of the hat (no pun intended), and watch with anticipation for their future releases!
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Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Fir Audio VxV IEMs - Flagship IEM Hits Luckiest Notes
Pros: + Natural, Smooth sound
+ Ergonomic Fit
+ Superb build quality
+ Great fit with most tips, no aggressive tip rolling necessary
+ Neat Aesthetics / Logo
+ Detachable, high-end cable
+ Balanced connector
Cons: - Smallest package every, very simplistic
- 2.5mm rather than 4.4mm cable
- MMCX connectors instead of 2-Pin
Fir Audio VxV IEMs - Flagship IEM Hits Luckiest Notes

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Fir Audio VxV or 5x5 is a high-end IEM priced at 999 USD, and with five drivers per ear, a full bodied presentation and a special ATOM pressure venting system. Given their price point, they will be compared with Campfire Ara (1300 USD), Unique Melody MEST MKii (1500 USD), Audeze Euclid (1300 USD), iBasso IT07 (900 USD), and Lime Ears Aether R (1400 USD). I will also be including pairings with iBasso DX240 running AMP8 MK2 Module (950 USD), Dethonray DTR1+ Prelude DAP (1000 USD), and Astell & Kern SE180 (1500 USD).






Introduction

Fir Audio is a company from the USA, focused on creating both Custom and Universal In-ear Monitors or IEMs. The IEM we are reviewing today, 5x5 or VxV, is available in both Custom and Universal variants, and it features some of the company's best technologies, including 5 drivers for each ear. A bug thanks today goes to Project Perfection PTE LTD from Singapore, who are the sellers of VxV in Singapore, and one of the most important distributors of those IEMs. They are also official distributors for Dita Audio, and if you read my review of Fealty and Fidelity, you probably know that both made it to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame, so it will be interesting to see whether Fir Audio VxV will do as well.

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It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Fir Audio, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank Project Perfection PTE LTD for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Fir Audio VxV Universal IEMs find their next music companion.



Packaging

First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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The package of VxV is the smallest, most compact I've seen for an IEM at this date, and they barely have a package, coming in a very tiny cardboard box, where you can find the carrying case, inside of which you will find VxV, their cable, and a selection of tips, plus a cleaning tool. The presentation is made to be space effective, and this is actually something possible, because it helps save our planet and create less waste compared to less efficient solutions.

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Features

  • 1x Dynamic Driver
  • 2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x High-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature
  • MMCX connectors
  • 2.5mm TRRS balanced connector -or-
  • 3.5mm TRS 3-pole connector
  • Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic.
  • SPECIFICATIONS
  • 16 ohm
  • 20-20Khz



Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

Technically speaking, 5 x 5 or V x V is an interesting IEM with dive drivers per each ear, and with a very fair purpose in mind - to sound good with everyday music and everything that is played through them. The company names this the EDC or Every Day Carry, and they tout the VxV as having a welcoming sound. The physical build of VxV is excellent, and they are made of solid Hybrid 6000 Aluminum and DuPont Engineering Plastic.

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Fir Audio is actually one of those big guys who develop new technology and implement new ways of creating IEMs rather than just repeating and purchasing just the drivers from the producers, and they implemented the DAA Sound Reactor technology inside of 5 x 5 as well. They also implemented the ATOM pressure system, and the Tactile Bass Technology in 5x5. The company promises that VxV is made in small batches, to ensure the highest of quality controls, and as someone who just purchased and had to return multiple TVs due to poor quality control, I really appreciate that we can have those nice things as audiophiles, good quality control, and good build quality for our products.

The Dynamic driver takes care of the bass, with two mid Balanced Armatures, One High Balanced Armature, and One Ultra High Balanced Armature. The cable for today's sample is the balanced version, with a 2.5mm connector, and Fir Audio has an alternative that is single ended, with a 3.5mm connector.

The ATOM Venting system is basically a pressure relief system that helps equalize the pressure between the ear canal, the IEM driver and outside pressure, to reduce listener fatigue and reduce hearing loss from wearing IEMs. I can say that it works well, and there is ventilation flex or driver flex with VxV.

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The Tactile Bass Technology is the kind of tech that helps conduct the low notes through the entire IEM shell, using it as a Transducer, having a unique coupling between the IEM shell and the Bass Dynamic Driver. This is borrowed from the flagship M-Series from Fir Audio. We also have the DAA Sound Reactor technology inside of VxV, which is basically a special way of arranging the drivers in a tubeless configuration, with the dynamic driver pushed to be in physical contact with the IEM chassis / shell.

Subjectively, VxV is comfortable, has no round edges, and it is the kind of IEM I can see myself using for many hours in a row without wearing fatigue. The ultra low impedance of 16 OHMs tends to leave the VxV prone to some hissing, especially if you're connecting them to noisier sources like FiiO M11, or Hiby R6, but things are super ok with Lotoo PAW6000, and Astell & Kern SE180. With no driver flex, no microphonic noise, and an excellent comfort, VxV is the kind of IEM that makes wearing IEMs a pleasure, and I can fully recommend them for both their comfort and construction quality.

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Even with quiet music playing, it is impossible to hear my girlfriend screaming at me from 2 meters away, as we're both working, so VxV is great at passive noise isolation. It also has very little leakage, and most people won't hear what you're listening to. Sadly I wasn't able to test the latest cables I had in for review, as the MMCX connectors mean no 2-Pin cables, but I may want to look into some high end cables for VxV.



Sound Quality

Fir Audio VxV is the kind of IEM that sounds great with all sources, as long as they don't have a high output impedance, but for the sonics part of today's review, I've been using VxV with high-end sources, in hopes to find the best performance possible for VxV and to give them the best chance I could. The main pairings I went for are with Astell & Kern SE180, iBasso DX300, and Lotoo PAW6000, but also with portable DAC/AMPs such as Palab M1 Mini, Cyrus One Cast, and unique music players such as Dethonray DTR1+. I also allowed a burn-in time of about 100 hours for VxV, which I do for all IEMs, so that burn-in believers and non believers can both be at peace, VxV having had its chance to shine and change their signature as much as they're likely to do. One thing that I noticed is that if you're using the balanced cable variant, you're likely to experience a good overall sound, and you won't need to upgrade the cable, but if you went for the single ended variant, and your music player / source has balanced outputs, you're best upgrading your cables, VxV getting more energetic and engaging with cables like Effect Audio EVO 1 and Plussound Copper+.

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The overall tuning of VxV can be described as perfectly natural, sweet, well separated, with a full, deep and natural bass, natural tonality, with beautiful female voicing, as well as natural, deep and smooth male voicing. VxV is unique because it really manages to feel the most transparent, all while sounding deep and natural, smooth and impactful. Most transparent sounding IEMs and Headphones tend to be brighter, and have less bass quantity, as well as sub bass, where the bottom extension of VxV is superb. In fact, they also have a superb treble extension, and a lot of air, enough so that if you're listening to brighter tuned EDM and Dubstep, you will hear all the sparkles and the micro details presented there with no misses.

The bass of VxV is deep, rounded and full, with excellent reach as low as 20 Hz, and a lot of energy for the entire bass body. VxV is excellent at present music with good impact, deep and full, with no cutout on the substance for instruments, and a delightful, lush tuning for all instruments. The best part of their sonic presentation is the way the bass can keep up with any song, but won't become too quick or dry even if the song is slow, so Jazz and Classical has all the elementary building blocks in the lows for instruments to sound correct and accurate, while EDM, Dubstep and Metal music sounds quick, delivers outstanding impact and everything just seems to sound natural. The company tried to make an IEM that sounds as natural as it is humanly possible, and this is exactly what they managed to do with VxV, the low end having just the right parameters to sound spot on. The slower and smoother the original music is, so the more it leans towards Jazz and Slow Pop, the more satisfying and sweeter VxV sounds, as it provides the kind of Chugg impact for Deathcore, leaving natural trails after bass notes in Metal music. This natural decay is perfect if you're looking for impact and explosion, but can feel like the note decay is long if you enjoy Infant Annihilator on a daily basis.

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The midrange of VxV is also a full and deep experience, with excellent layering and a natural soundstage, in both width and depth. I am willing to go as far as saying that VxV presents music very holographic, sphere-like, with sounds coming from literally any area and angle, within a natural boundary around the listener. VxV is the kind of IEM that will showcase female voices as well as male voices, having the right amount of smoothness and fluidity to give artists like Mori Calliope, Jill Tracy and even Pop singers like Kesha a sweet and fun tuning, pleasing for listening. VxV is also capable of properly rendering screams and complicated voices such as those of John Mess from Dance Gavin Dance, or Alesana and Asking Alexandria. Something you won't see me saying often, but VxV has a really pleasing presentation for dialogue as well, as the natural presentation doesn't recess the midrange much, so you hear a really natural voicing, which can make movie watching and gaming with VxV considerably more pleasing than I expected them to be. You could call VxV one of the most musical IEMs created to date and tell no lie there.

The treble of VxV is actually fun to hear, because you'd imagine them being too smooth or rolled off, at least when you hear "natural presentation" but that ain't the case at all, and they provide a really nice resolution, micro and macro detail, as their sound is very focused and sparkly. They have a good extension as high as about 16kHz-17kHz, having a natural amount of treble, as well as a natural texture and treble presentation. This means that you're unlikely to be bothered by the treble or fatigued by it, but you'll notice sparkles in songs where the artist intended the highs to be easily audible. All in all, VxV is fun, engaging and plenty enjoyable, being the kind of IEM that you can easily listen to on an everyday basis without ever growing bored or growing tired of. I can't emphasize this enough, but if it is refreshing to see and hear an IEM done for pure enjoyment, without a particular focus on a coloration, and made to be enjoyable in all possible scenarios, VxV being the cup of tea you'd enjoy both with your fancy friends, best friend, and alone, truly a versatile master of all.



Comparisons

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Fir Audio VxV vs iBasso IT07 (999 USD vs 900 USD) - We also have a good comparison with IT07, an IEM that's made to be as clean, clear and detailed as possible, with the least compromise. iBasso is a master of live and alive tunings, and they generally manage to make interesting music players, but their IEMS always had a specific tuning, that's light, clean and slightly ethereal (AM05 and IT04 being good examples for it). IT07 is much bolder, heavier sounding, with a really natural tuning, and it is similar in many ways to VxV, including comfort, but I found VxV to have slightly higher resolution, focusing slightly more on detail, and also managing to reproduce certain male voices, like deep baritones, slightly more accurate compared to how they would sound in real life. I also found VxV to be more credible when it comes to its soundstage, although to be fair both IT07 and VxV have a similar stage, and a similar instrument separation to begin with. IT07 can be thicker, and also slightly more hot in the treble, which can mean a more engaging sound, where we know from the sound quality part of the review that VxV is as natural and as comfortably sounding as it is possible, all while having the highest amount of details possible.

Fir Audio VxV vs Lime Ears Aether R (999 USD vs 1400 USD) - Aether R is the kind of IEM you start listening to, and never stop. This is a characteristic I found true about VxV as well, and you're likely to insert both in your ears and forget how time flies, because both are tuned for enjoyment, and both are comfortable. I found VxV to be slightly smaller and more ergonomic than Aether R, but it doesn't have any switches and ways to tune it, like Aether R has. I also found VxV to be more natural in the midrange, with a more natural bass and treble, where Aether R has certain colorations to its sound, as I presented in my full written review of it. Most listeners will find that VxV sounds excellent out of the box, with their default cable, and with pretty much all sources, where Aether R is slightly more dependent on good tips, a good source, an upgraded cable, and requires more time to get adjusted to. Somehow, Fir Audio managed to really achieve their promised perfectly natural sound with their VxV and this is truly a sight to behold for a music lover who always notices all the minor imperfections in the midrange of all IEMs. Aether R will have a slightly bolder bottom end, a slightly less upper midrange enhancement, and slightly less treble extension, where VxV will have a sound that you can really call natural and transparent.

Fir Audio VxV vs Audeze Euclid (999 USD vs 1300 USD) - Euclid is an IEM that many love, but it is a very neutral and fair IEM, it will present music exactly as it was recorded, mistakes and bad parts included. VxV is the perfect alternative, because both IEMs have excellent build quality, and similar comfort, with Euclid actually being slightly larger. The overall sonics are very different, with Euclid being extremely neutral, clean, clear and crisp, with a very resolute and honest sound that will highlight every single little detail and nuance in music, while VxV is much more natural, considerably less fatiguing and less bright, smoother and generally presents music closer to a real life tonality, where the neutrality of Euclid implies that it is a bit brighter. They are both source dependent, but you could get away with a lower quality music player with VxV, and a FiiO M11 PRO could do just fine, while with Euclid, they reveal the source quality as well, so music players such as iBasso DX300, DX240, Astell & Kern SE180 and Astell&Kern SP2000T are much better sources for Euclid, increasing the initial cost for the best performance. VxV is also slightly more beginner friendly, and more user graphic friendly, compared to Euclid that has a serious and high-end approach.

Fir Audio VxV vs Unique Melody MEST MK2 (999 USD vs 1500 USD) - Unique Melody really knows how to deliver performance and price / performance, since their 3D Terminator IEMS are some of the best selling IEMs ever created, but VxV and MEST MK2 are closer to each other, for comparisons. The general comfort is slightly better on VxV, especially as they are smaller with almost 30%, compared to MEST MK2. The fit is considerably more important on MEST MK2, and they work best with Azla Xelastec tips, where VxV are less sensitive to tip rolling (no IEM will be zero sensitive to tips type and quality, but some are really sensitive to tips quality). The overall presentation is considerably more V-Shaped on Mest MK2, where it has a fuller, more midrange forward kind of sound on VxV. I actually think this is one of those situations where I would generally grab MEST MK2 for rock and metal, but VxV is more versatile, especially when the music was not recorded very well. MEST MK2 tends to apply their sonic signature to music a bit more, where VxV tends to color sound less. MEST MK2 has more sub bass and more treble, where VxV has a fuller sound, less

Fir Audio VxV vs Campfire Ara (999 USD vs 1300 USD) - The price difference between Ara and VxV is somewhat significant by the point we review their comparison, as ara is about 40% more pricey than VxV. The comfort is great on both, and both are really nicely made, with good build quality, but the default cable on VxV is slightly better than that Campfire uses by default with their IEMS (especially as Fir Audio makes Balanced cables an option). The overall sonics are more natural on VxV, with a more versatile, fuller, and more warm presentation. Ara tends to draw more details from music, but it can end up being slightly more fatiguing, especially if you're sensitive to treble sparkle and strong top end. The bass is comparable between them, VxV has a somewhat slower bass note presentation, where Ara tends to be quicker, but has more sub bass quantity, less mid bass. VxV has a more forward midrange, with more emphasis on a perfect tonality, and fullness of voices, where Ara tends to present details more fiercely, the same way Dita Fidelity does, VxV having more of Dita Fealty DNA in their sonic presentation. The treble is stronger, more resolving and also potentially more fatiguing on Ara, where VxV goes with a really natural, clean and safe treble that's versatile and which I can enjoy regardless of how tired I am.



Pairings

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Fir Audio VxV + Detonray DTR1+ Prelude (999 USD vs 1000 USD) - It always seems like DTR1+ does something to IEMS, because it seems to have some kind of adaptive output impedance, always changing its signature depending on what it is being paired with. VxV is one of those IEMs that sounds really engaging, dynamic and punchy, but also really colorful with DTR1+. Somehow, they tend to be natural and well balanced with most sources, but DTR1+ brings the most sparkle, most dynamics and overall color in the sound of VxV, giving them a really detailed, clean, yet active and peppy sound.

Fir Audio VxV + Astell & Kern SE180 (999 USD vs 1500 USD) - SE180 brings a sweeter, fuller sound to VxV, making them really smooth in the treble, yet interesting and engaging. You mainly explore your main music library with SE180, but I found that this is what I prefer to do with most DAPs, as Streaming services never have all of my hipster bands, so once I got a microSD full of music, SE180 is the perfect source to drive the VxV. The background is especially silent, and SE180 is one of the most silent sources you can find on the market, plus one of the fullest, deepest and most impactful ones.

Fir Audio VxV + iBasso DX240 + AMP8MK2 (999 USD vs 950 USD) - This is one of my favorite sources, because the sound is simply sublime. iBasso really knows how to make beautiful sounds out of really normal looking players, and DX240 is one of the best examples of iBasso's finest craftwork. I like the overall dynamics, engagement and the punchiness of this pairing. The midrange in particular is slightly more colorful and sweeter than with most pairings, giving VxV a really well rounded and dynamic presentation. DX240, especially with AMP8 MK2 has one of the best dynamics you can find in a portable music player.



Value and Conclusion

The value of Fir Audio VxV is actually pretty great, and they have a pretty solid position in today's market, despite the diminutive package, and the sparse accessories they come with. The company is the kind of company that will focus considerably more on providing the actual sonic performance to back their products, rather than impressing with their package, so I'm happy to say that for their price, VxV sounds pretty good, natural, and achieve exactly the purpose that Fir Audio set for them.

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The sonic performance, excellent build quality, along with Project Perfection PTE LTD from Singapore's support are so nice that I am going to add Fir Audio VxV to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame as the best IEM to purchase if you want a really versatile take on the audiophile hobby, and something to sound beautiful regardless of the music, mastering quality, or other conditions, as VxV is invariably enjoyable with all music styles.

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At the end of the day, if you're looking for one of the most versatile IEMs ever designed, with a really comfortable fit, high quality chassis and driver technology, support well by the producing company, and sporting unique tech for their sound, Fir Audio VxV is going to spend a lot of time with you, and find a place in your heart, as one of the most natural sounding IEMs ever creating.
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skedra

Head-Fier
Great all-rounder
Pros: Very balanced yet not boring, great technical performance, great ergonomics and build quality
Cons: Very minimalist packaging, can be too much of a jack of all trades for some
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Overview​

For the past year, I kept hearing mentions of FiR audio on forums and from friends, but due to the lack of suppliers in the UK, it was almost impossible to try any of their offerings. Thankfully an opportunity came up to review the VxV, their budget offering and I couldn’t say no.
The VxV or Five x Five is FiRs attempt at getting the best price to performance offering they can, using a 5 driver design with 1 6mm dynamic driver and 4 balanced armatures it doesn’t follow the trend of crazy driver counts or tribrid driver configurations. Let’s see if VxV delivers a worthwhile performance.

I would like to give a big thank you to FiR Audio and Project Perfection for providing me with the FiR Audio VxV in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

The FiR VxV is available for sale on Project Perfection.

In the box​

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  • IEMs
  • 1.2m 2.5mm cable
  • 4 sets silicon tips
  • 1 set of foam tips
  • Cleaning tool
  • Bunny stickers

Build quality and accessories​


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Sometimes impressions of products you get based on pictures are very deceiving, prior to getting hands-on experience with the VxV I thought they were plastic and a bit underwhelming in terms of build for an item of this price. I can now say I was very wrong.

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The shells themselves are solid aluminium with a bit of the Delrin on the faceplate, they are light yet very solid, something that can rarely be achieved when using acrylic. There are no sharp edges and everything is joined very well with only visible edges being the ones between the plastic and metal which is to be expected. The nozzle of the IEM is relatively slim, with a ridge to prevent the tips from sliding off.

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I rarely talk about driver configuration in this section but I feel this is something to address in terms of VxV as it’s not something that is commonly done, FiR calls it “sound reactor” and it allows a tubeless acoustic design. This kind of design is significantly harder to achieve but yields more coherence and much less chance of hearing crossover frequencies of multiple drivers.

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Next up is the case, made out of PU leather, nice enough that it made me think it was leather for a while. It’s quite a standard round case, albeit nicely made with a foam insert to hold all the tips and the cleaning cool which is a nice touch.

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And finally, for the cable, it’s a 2.5mm terminated, silver-plated copper coaxial cable. As someone who generally dislikes coaxial cables for their increased stiffness, the one FiR used is soft and non-microphonic. The splitter is light and minimalistic but still has a touch of added flair from the bunny branding. I wish the connectors matched the IEMs a bit more, either being black or white rather than silver, but that’s a nit-pick.

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I will say this, the unboxing of the VxV is a little bit underwhelming, for example in comparison to Campfire offerings where you feel like unboxing something expensive. On the other hand, it does feel like FiR Audio focused on getting the absolute most out of the IEMs for the money, which partially justifies the simplistic packaging and simple accessories. I’ll leave it to you, the reader to decide whether that’s enough of a reason at this price range.

Another important aspect to note is the VxV is meant to be an EDC (Every day carry) IEM, I know, some people may say “$999 EDC?! That’s crazy!” but, hear me out, they are made exactly to be that. The shells are solid, without flashy colours or crazy shape and faceplate, the cable is light and terminates in a tiny 2.5mm connector which makes it ideal to use with something like a Qudelix 5K or a small DAP. The case with all the accessories hidden inside also screams EDC (Albeit I’d argue it’s a bit big to be carried in a pocket, I wish FiR also provided a pocketable poach). There are more reasons the Five x Five can be called an EDC but I’ll get to that in the sound section.

Fit and comfort​

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I think this is where Five x Five really shines, fit was great for me from the get-go, almost no matter what tips I used the shell never dug into my ear and the cable was laying nicely over the ear. It may not seem like a lot, and you may also say that a lot of IEMs are comfortable nowadays, but this is one of those times where the IEMs pretty much disappear.

Sound​

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The VxV can be described as a take on “fun-neutral”. Never fatiguing and extremely versatile, which is where the definition of EDC comes back, no matter what you want to listen to, they will do it well.

Bass​

Fast, tight and a little reminiscent of a BA bass, albeit with quite a bit more punch and longer decay. This provides quite an interesting presentation where the attack is really fast and is then followed by a slightly slower decay giving a more natural sound to the drums and bass notes. Listening to “Range Against The Machine – Killing In The Name” the VxV handles the bassline really well, I would argue the bass can be a touch dry but at the same time it handles detail and extension really well and on a powerful source it can punch really hard too.

Midrange​

The midrange is mostly even, airy and has a bit of sweetness to it, with a slight emphasis on the upper midrange and a touch leaner lower midrange. It’s by no means very lean or lifeless, but it is a bit leaner in comparison to the upper registers. The timbre is very good, and the whole presentation favours a bit more clarity over being too forgiving. The VxV isn’t harsh by any means but on badly mastered tracks some sibilance can creep in. Listening to “Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own – Special edition” shows this quite clearly, while everything sounds natural, detailed and clear it doesn’t quite take away the slight sibilance. To me, it strikes a good balance of not being too forgiving since that can often make headphones seem veiled.

Treble​

The treble has very good extension, detail and timbre with a balanced yet sparkly presentation. The treble balance is something most cheap IEMs lack, on the VxV it’s extremely well done, comes across as very technical yet smooth and with just enough bite on cymbal crashes. “Pink Floyd – On The Run” shows how VxV can handle a busy track with plenty of air and lack of any congestion or loss of transparency even in the busiest parts of the song.

Imaging and Soundstage​

Those are other VxV strengths, the soundstage is on the wider side when it comes to IEMs, with a great sense of depth, I wouldn’t call it expansive, as that would put it on the “exaggerated” side of things but it gives each instrument plenty of space. This coupled with great layering and imaging lends an amazing presentation overall.

Comparisons​

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Moondrop S8​

The VxV has a more even tonality than the S8, with a bit more weight in the midbass while the S8 is more sub-bass focused. Detail is slightly better on the VxV maybe with an exception of lower midrange, the timbre is quite a bit better too, with less of a balanced armature timbre overall.

UniqueMelody MEST MK1​

Two extremely different presentations, MEST MK1 feels like a wild child next to the VxV being a grown-up. To put it simply, MEST MK1 doesn’t present music in a usual manner, it creates this illusion of texture and physicality, this is coupled with a bit more aggressive and fun tuning which may not work with everything. The VxV on the other hand adopts a more even and safe tuning which lends itself well to pretty much any genre. Technically they trade blows, with sub-bass extension and timbre going to VxV and staging going to MEST. Those two could be great complimentary IEMs.

Softears RSV​

The RSV is arguably tuned more to my preference, with a higher sub-bass shelf vs the midbass and a bit more even midrange. This, unfortunately, comes with worse technical performance, bass on RSV lacks impact and the dynamics of the VxV. The midrange and treble aren’t as resolving on the RSV either in comparison to the VxV.

Driveability and Scaling​

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This is something I don’t mention very often, but also something VxV shows well. My first listen of them was on the Qudelix 5x, the performance while adequate lacked a bit of weight and impact as if the dynamic driver couldn’t quite be used to its full potential. My perspective then shifted quite a bit when I tried the VxV on the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch and Sony ZX300 (modded). The bass literally woke up and was punching quite a bit harder than in all my previous listening sessions. I think this is both a pro and a con, it shows how important source gear can be but also shows that while the VxV is aimed at EDC it needs a decent amount of power and control (more than that of a dongle/Bluetooth dongle) to really show its true potential.

Conclusion​

As you probably expect, I can easily recommend the FiR VxV, and, unlike most times I can recommend those to pretty much everyone. This is one of the few IEMs where the tuning and presentation are such that it will not offend anyone while providing great technical performance in the process. And while I can dwell on the limited accessories and packaging the fact this level of sonic performance and build quality comes at the price of $999 warrants some leeway in that regard.

ExpatinJapan

Headphoneus Supremus
FiR Audio VxV Review and Cosmic Archeology
Pros: Versatile, great build, lightweight, durable, quality cable, suitable for most music, great artistic campaign
Cons: I did not get a cute plushie in the mail :(

FiR Audio VxV Review​


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FiR Audio VxV (Accoustune AET 08 tips), iBasso DX300.

FiR Audio VxV Review
and Cosmic Archeology

Initial listening impressions: Kaleidoscopic energy intertwined together betwixt ethereal and underlying tight interplay, full, unearthly lusciousness.

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The company FiR Audio first popped up on Head pie quite sometime ago - before it became the jet setting well loved rabbit of the world and space that it is now.

There is quite a lot of VxV graphic design within this review. This is part of the VxVstory and concept. They go hand in hand - so i thought it would be ideal to try to capture most of the scattered imagery in one place as kind of time capsule.

The idea of a fantastic storyline accompanying an earphone is something new and fresh, incongruent to some perhaps. But unifying and electric to my mind.

This is hardly, simply a review, barely. More a love letter towards ‘art for arts sake’ and also a celebration of doing things differently.

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Head pie did an interview way back when:
https://www.headpie.net/2018/08/fir-audio-interview-expatinjapan.html?m=1

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And also reviewed one of its first products:
https://www.headpie.net/2018/10/fir-audio-headphone-vac-jr-review.html?m=1

More Fir Audio information here:
https://www.firaudio.com/5x5

FiR Audio within the space of only a few years is now well and truly on the audio world radar from its earlier beginnings. I myself have not heard all the line up of the well received M series - but have a couple of Head pie contributors that have reviewed them on their own sites and have shared personal impressions that are very favorable and laudable.

They seem to be well appreciated by the consumer as well as the general reviewer alike both for their build and sound quality.

I had a chat with Fir Audio and relayed my general sonic preferences etc and it was suggested that the VxV or 5x5 might be one that would be a good fit for my lifestyle, music tastes and earphone signature.

Already enamored by the graphical teasers and a wondrous rabbit who fell from space i was well warmed up to give them a whirl.

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The VxV is described in its title generally as ‘everyday carry’, with a lightweight durable shell and an easy fit it seems to fit the bill.

I was able to do achieve various tunings by tip rolling and finally settled on the Acoustune AET 08 for fit and i also found to my ears they bought out the best from the VxV.

I have them pictured with the CA Andromeda above, whilst not the same they share a certain familiarity in scope. Both being easily accessible and all rounders.

‘ FiR Audio’s new Five x Five is designed solely for musical enjoyment: The earphones you reach for—that sound good with everything.’ - FiR Audio.

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Tips n things

(A dialogue of exploration, cobbled from various notes on loose papers).

Finally found time to go through my oodles of tips and decided on these ones

iBasso DX300 & FiR Audio VxV (Accoustune AET 08 tips).

Nicely layered, exquisite separation and euphonic whilst retaining that nice ‘evenness’ i enjoy about the VxV.

listening to the VxV on the train this morning...

it seems to be tip dependent also. I did a bit of tip rolling until i found one that i felt brought out the best (to my ears) of the VxV - Accoustune AET 08. (Might revisit this again).

the "interested (interesting) colored take on a neutral reference signature" Crinacle quote seems to ring true also.
- Linear with a bit of body/weight to it??

It would be good if reviews added which dap/s were used, tips, music track list if no photos of music played, volume listened to...etc as this can help with varied contrasting opinions - (i have been guilty of some of the above - but i am a lazy xxxx) - then again its all a bit of an audiophile Tower of Babble at the best of times.


‘Everyday carry’ i think is the VxV tag line by FiR Audio. A on the go earphone (maybe not for sitting at home in silence analytical listening) but with the level of quality of sound we expect from FiR Audio.

i am getting various levels of satisfaction this morning as i am shuffling tracks randomly on the iBasso DX300 - currently The Cardigans ‘erase and rewind’ is playing and the low end and vocals are very enjoyable.

Hybrids have come a long way towards coherency. Finding those right tracks and volume to bring out the best of both worlds (DD/BA) is a challenge.

when in doubt appeal to a higher power. In @twister6 we trust.

Tokyo Olympics and pandemic interlude…

I was on a roll after publishing several reviews, photos and meme spams etc. then i had some annual time off work, kids summer holidays, the dreaded and generally unwelcome olympics here in Tokyo (which i have enjoyed watching at home on tv), sweltering summer heat - although generally not as brutal as usual and a increase in covid-19 cases doubling each week in Japan.

So i chilled for about week and barely touched a dap, spun the odd cd, went for some runs and bicycle rides.

Although i had a niggle in the back of my mind at times to complete this review i was not too bothered. And i guess FiR Audio are not either. Like most of the companies i have a relationship with, they send out stuff for me to try and it gets finished in due course.

This is common with companies that build products that are built to last, or at least have a long shelf life rather than those that pump out new models every three months and need that review asap - because without that the fear of missing out syndrome doesn't kick in and money is lost. I don't bother with such releases. V1,v2,v3 and sometimes v4 within a year - nope. Pass. I’m sure someone else will cover ‘this is this months best thing ever’ items...

Releases from companies such as FiR Audio are measured in years and not months. Crafting the item towards excellence instead of a quick release (resulting in a momentary pleasure, - ‘la petite mort’ that can lead to melancholy) rather than a long lasting sustained intensity that might lead to a thinning of the veil and eventual transcendence.

The VxV have been my main listening IEMs for the past few weeks as i concentrate on this write up. As usual these days more a meandering journey.
I can easily do the intro, specs, pics, lows/mids/highs mixed with some word salad about transparency, cohesiveness, timbre, layering, extension, sound stage…etc etc and price, comparisons, summary.
Probably i could do without even listening to an item and people would be none the wiser - its such a salad bar out there sometimes.

But there are enough following the easy to read familiar format to keep readers happy. I prefer to diverge.

So yet another tower of babble over for now…back to the VxV.

Listening to Lana Del Rey ‘shadiest moments’ collection. 84 tracks of sultry and funky goodness. A good start to a 5am Saturday morning with a string cup of coffee before i head out to a local park all masked up with my youngest to play before it gets too hot.

This quote kept coming to mind this week:

“The complete saying was originally “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” Formerly intended as a compliment, the phrase means that a person is a generalist rather than a specialist, versatile and adept at many things.”
For me this encapsulates the VxV/5x5 well.
It is not a specialist IEM just for either rock, classical, hip hop or EDM etc. it is a generalist as the above quote says: ‘…versatile and adept at many things..’
This is no more apparent than the trusty old shuffle mode which i employ frequently. Coming from the age of radio, cassettes and albums. I enjoy the pseudo faux radio aspect of randomness although colored by a micro sd card of my mostly favorite bands and albums.
Its a diverse lot and serves me well to find out how an IEM copes overall. I also have a stable of test tracks of popular tried and true songs and artists and a few favorites of my own.
As one shuffles from here to there within the quiet of ones on home and then onto the interrupted sound scapes of a daily commute by train and in between the strengths and weaknesses become apparent over time.
The VxV reminds me of the early Andromeda and Andromeda 2019, it slots in between although not strongly in a familiar sonic sense but more a categorization. An all rounder that has few deficiencies and handles most of what is thrown at it well.
The VxV responds well to tip rolling and is a good example of its general tilt towards neutralness in that one can tailor its soundscapes. The nozzle is medium in width (i found the spiral dots++ to be a just barely fit - sadly as they are a favorite - luckily the afore mentioned accoustune do the job well).
Final Audio tips tended to shave off the highs at times.
Symbios W peel did not provide the right synergy.
Foams: not a favorite kind if tip of mine also did a good job. The Acoustune 08 being a similar sound.
I did more tip rolling earlier on - with a great many. As can be seen, although an allrounder of an IEM one can tailor the sound also towards more specialized needs.
Gain: usually for a hydrid i find middle gain to be sufficient, it brings up the dynamic driver a bit more into the mix without overpowering the BAs.
It is a nicely balanced hybrid, there is no emphasis on either lows, mids or highs, or vocals.
For me the vocals float just above the music which is my sweet spot.
The VxV is not a bass cannon either. It delivers clear, firm, fast and quality bass. Satisfying and clean.
Some might describe it as a w sound signature- which i would add only tells half the story. The other half is lost in magical audiophile pixie dust and unicorns under after storm rainbows.

Specifications, details and technical stuffs​


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  • 16 ohm
  • 20-20Khz
  • XZIdmrsyR5Uu5IeBqDngX7Vs2MygK73QHmcOwfQNRcjkQ9MXsYxlPca7LCVnCcSsxuQ

I have used the VxV for quite some time now. Since around early April 2021. From home, to commute, the odd empty cafe in the time of corona and walking about. Using various sources.

My opinion and impressions have remained consistent throughout that time. The term ‘everyday carry’ rings true for the VxV. Its is an easily accessible earphone that goes with about any type of music.


Fir Audio Pretty Pictures Pre Review Pron
Aka Unboxing.
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Initial listening impressions: Kaleidoscopic energy intertwined together betwixt ethereal and underlying tight interplay, full, unearthly lusciousness.

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Limiting myself to about ten reviews a year nowadays. Only gear that i am truly curious, interested or fascinated by for whatever reason.
Fir Audio 5x5 being one of them for 2021.

More information here:
https://www.firaudio.com/5x5

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Price:
US$999

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Summary

The FiR Audio VxV or 5x5 is an earphone that is easily accessible, non offensive and capable.

It deviates from what i have read of their M range of specially crafted sonic signatures to a more all rounder of an earphone

It begs the question of which is easier to do. Creating an IEM for a certain segment or a general one that can have a versatility. I would as a simple man say the latter although those more expert than my simple self can set me straight. Bass cannon, sure. Done….V shaped ? Ok here you go. But an IEM than walks on a tightrope of trying to please most listeners with a variety of music must be a head ache to try to get right.

And getting it right is what FiR Audio has been able to do with the creation of the VxV.
There have been times when i have wanted a tad more bass or mids with some tracks, but that has been minimal at best. Overall the experience has been one of satiety and pleasure.

It has enough energy to please, controlled,’clean’, smooth delightful trebles, natural mid range and a quality bass. Layering is very good. Imaging and separation are some of the strengths. The sound stage is above medium to large - it goes wide and deep. It has enough texture and emotion to please. Male and female vocals are handled equally well. Overall accurate and faithful to most recordings.

Experimenting with different daps added a dryness, warmth or balance to the existing sound. Not extremely so and i found the tips more of a factor in the final sound.

One is recommended to tip roll to find the right fit and sound.

In short the FiR Audio is an easy choice for someone who is looking for something that is versatile with many types of music. Although the IEMs themselves are well built with Dupont plastic and resistant to the suns harsh rays eliminating any fear of discoloring adding to that the cute designs on the shells and easy fit - to the average joe in the street they would not get a second look which is a plus in more dangerous worldly cities.

The VxV a success for both the end user audiophile and also FiR Audio.

Easy to carry, easier to like.


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Nuff said…

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“ When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless — in short, l'art pour l'art, a worm chewing its own tail. "Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!" — that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a "moreover"? an accident? something in which the artist's instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist's ability? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life? Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l'art pour l'art?” - Nietzsche

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Further fun

FiR Audio also had a comic series as the announcement of the VxV unfolded and relates to the fun sense of the earphone and company.

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They even released a plushie #want!

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Theres snow business like snow business like snow business i know…

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Mysterious etchings…someone is going to steal the Declaration of Independence…again…looking for lost treasure of the Templars on Friday 13th!
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Cute bunny, cute earphones, cute sound.

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Thank you to FiR Audio and Project Perfection for sending Head pie the VxV for review.




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Last edited:
ExpatinJapan
ExpatinJapan
I just leave a cd of Gregorian chants playing with the computer set - speech to text - and thats how it gets written.
fabio19
fabio19
Do you have any idea of a comparison between VxV and Oriolus Isabellae or Tansio Mirai?
ExpatinJapan
ExpatinJapan
@fabio19 no sorry. The Pandemic hs kept me at home more and there are less shows. Perhaps ask in the VxV thread. There must be someone about who can help. All the best <3

ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
FiR Audio 5x5: Be very, very quiet...we are listening to a rabbit...
Pros: Affordable flagship
Wonderful bass
Excellent fit
Vocals are superb
Treble is well thought out
Durable build
Cons: Makes some in their lineup irrelevant?
Not mine
Build to some may seem "cheap"
FiR Audio 5x5 ($999): Be very, very quiet...we are listening to a rabbit...

5x5

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Intro: Having already had the pleasure of the whole M2-M5 lineup, I eagerly signed up for the 5x5 from FiR Audio run through Barra. I already have a favorite picked out from the M-series, and all are quite good. The 5x5 is oriented a bit south of the M3 and a bit north of the M2 pricewise. Using a combination total of the M2/M3 driver count (2+3=5...), the 5x5 has four BA’s and a single DD. I must say from the off, I was jawslacked. To think that one of their “budget models” could sound so darn good made me think this would be a perfect comparison to the Empire Ears Hero I just picked up (after listening to the Hero and Odin). I will state that I pretty much had buyer’s remorse after listening to the 5x5. But after that “new toyness” fell away, I was able to discern between the two.

Up front, the 5x5 is a fabulous sounding unit, and should warrant SERIOUS consideration for those who might be in the market for a high-end IEM. One could also make the case for this being it. Think of the Subaru WRX STi against much more expensive competition. Sure, those others may be faster, or have a higher top speed. But you would dare never take those other off-road like you would the STi. Marketed as a “carry all day,” such as Alex mentioned in his excellent review, the 5x5 certainly is that all-road STi of IEM’s.

I again thank FiR Audio for sending their wares out on tour. This is a really cool unit. I also thank Barra for the faith in this hard of hearing bearded fool for the opportunity to listen to something this cool.


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Specs/Features:
  • 1x Dynamic Driver
  • 2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x High-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature
  • MMCX connectors
  • 2.5mm TRRS balanced connector
  • Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic.
  • 16 ohm
  • 20-20Khz

In the Box:

5x5
Cable
4 sets silicon tips
Cleaning tool
Owner’s manual
Cool Bunny stickers



Gear Used/Compared:

Fir Audio M3 ($1199)
Empire Ears Hero ($1349)
Campfire Audio Atlas $1200
Campfire Audio Ara ($1299)
Moondrop S8 ($699)

Cayin N6 mk2
Shanling M6 Pro
XDuoo MT-602
EarMen TR-Amp



Songlist:

Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Tidal MQA


Unboxing:

Much has already been written about the unboxing, replete with cute bunny stickers and photos. Yes, I know it’s a trend, and my wife’s favorite animal is a rabbit; but other have done it, so I shall leave it to them.

The package is small, which helps to keep waste products out of our waste stream, or fewer materials in the recycling stream. It is a win-win, and I much prefer when people recycle the materials. Inside you have a smaller leather case, but not as small as the metal cases found with Unique Melody or Empire Ears models. I like the larger size, and especially once I opened it up.

Inside there is a soft-cell foam insert, which houses the tip selection, so you always have extras with you. A nice touch, and if you choose to take the insert out, you can include a small DAP such as the Shanling M0 or something of the sort in the bottom. I do see this occurring more and appreciate a slightly larger case, which also can house a small DAP or dongle. Many of late that I have had can still fit comfortably in my pocket whether it be cargo or regular pants. The 5x5 is no exception. Nicely done.

You also get three different stickers (I really, REALLY want to keep these from the tour...) as well as the owner’s manual. Nothing earth shattering, and Fir makes its mark on the sound of the unit, not the accessories. Minimal, but functional.

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Technicals:

Fir Audio is protective, nay guarded regarding their technology, much like Ferrari is with their specs. I don’t blame either as those specs tell only part of the story. One does not purchase a Ferrari because it has 50+ bhp on a Lamborghini or goes 0.3 sec faster to 150 than a McLaren. The same holds here. One should not purchase an IEM for its number of drivers or number of crossovers. Or SNR or THD either. It should be fit and sound.

But anyway, the 5x5 is indeed five drivers per side of 1-DD and 4-BA’s. I for one still appreciate a good, solid dynamic driver since my two favorites are the EE Legend X and EE Hero. DD’s done right. Period. And as you would expect, the DD handles the lows, with each BA handling the notes progressively higher. Two for mid, one for highs, and one for ultra-highs. Tuned properly it is, providing me personally with a solid foundation and a slightly rolled treble. Or maybe I am just hard of hearing enough that this is what I hear. Nonetheless, the 5x5 is done up proper.

Just one listen was all I needed to be convinced that all of this techy stuff works. And works well.

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Build/Finish/Fit:

Starting with the ever-present bunny-badge, the 5x5 is a “normal” shaped IEM, on the smaller size from its competitors. The nozzle is angled more so than other makes and this counteracts the smaller size a bit as the 5x5 does not fit as flush as one would think due to its diminutive size. I never had an issue with Comply’s or the included silicons. The silicon tips worked better for me, which does tend to go against my normal listening tips of foam.

The thinner than normal wire hangs well over-ear with a long sheath with which to guide and hold in place. I am taken back a bit since it is a plain old 2-wire set up. But the wrap and sheath are such that you need not worry. 64Audio is known (or was) for simplicity of wire configurations and the Fir covers that nicely. With a definitive plasticky feel to it, it does seem a bit under-level, but I do not mind for it is built of such quality as to not matter.

The faceplate of the shell is ringed by what should be for all intents and purposes a plastic you would find in a glow-in-the-dark item. Looking identical to what you would find in a product that does in fact glow at night, Fir did not take this opportunity to produce something that while looking somewhat odd, would be a definitive fashion statement. Making them changeable one could cover the rainbow spectrum of neon quite easily. That would be cool. No matter, the look is simplistic, but elegant.

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The shell itself is of a powder coated aluminum look, and does not draw fingerprints, which is much appreciated. Right at the top, where the MMCX jack lies are two “rubber” inserts, one of which seems to have a vent hole, the other doesn’t. this could also be where the screws are inserted to hold the MMCX jack from the inside as well. Other than that, there are no vent holes to be had. The shape of the shell is flat on the inside, which promotes a lower profile fit within your ear. The teardrop shape is welcomed by me, as are the flush rounded edges all-around. While the faceplate does not seem to fit flush (one can clearly see the seam), I could run my fingers over the “joint” and not feel a thing. What trickery is this? While it might look a bit “cheap,” I assure you it is not, and because of the powder coating, does not yield fingerprints, like those of more expensive ilk.

Using the stock included tips, fit is almost flush, providing excellent seal as well. My MBP is of that ill-gotten age some years ago of the “flat” keys, which sound hideous as you type. My wife and daughter put up with that while I hacked out my master’s thesis. Now though, it is annoying to me as well. But never you mind with the included silicon tips, silent it is without being overly isolating like a sci-fi thriller in space.

Taken as a whole, the 5x5 is a clean, functional unit that looks svelte and a bit different. Yes, the rabbit draws front and center, but the nice shape adds to the appeal, from the flat back to the teardrop shape (or is that rabbit poo?). The cable lays nicely, without microphonics, the fit is very, very good and the ear guide while a bit tall due to the MMCX jack and angled shape holds the unit in place. A thoughtfully laid out unit, that does not offend me in the least.


Sound:

From the get-go with the M-series quartet I lauded the bass response of all. Tight, fast and deep, the Fir models produced bass on par with the best. So much so that I almost considered adding the M4 or replacing one of my current models with the M3/M4. Moving to the 5x5, I do love the dynamic driver aspect of this model. To me like noted above, I really don’t give a hoot what size the driver is, but rather what it sounds like. Lately, the newest flavor of the month is 13mm dd’s. Pushing the size of the shells themselves, we may see the beginnings of a “driver size” war, instead of that silly driver number war we had some time ago. Done properly, multi-driver units can and do sound phenomenal. But done for the sake of numbers is like saying “mine is better.” Beauty and sound are in the eye of the beholder.

And I behold the 5x5 currently, and love the bass treatment of the DD. Not quite as speedy or taut as the M4/M5 (but not meant to be), the 5x5 imparts a feeling upon it, which cannot be quantified. You understand that what matters is how it sounds, not the size. The sub bass hits with authority, even if not as taut as the more vaunted models. This is still quite fine down low, and there is no bleed into the mids. Not disjointed mind-you, but not overwhelming in coverage. Laying down that line, which acts to prop the whole of the song up, the bass, which is present holds its own against models, which actually profess to be bass monsters. Going back to back with my EE Hero, it is close. The Hero reaches deeper, but the 5x5 hits with a bit more authority. But not the in your face of something such as the EE Legend X (nothing really does...). Occasionally I did get some bloom, but I attribute that to the fact that the decay isn’t speedy like some of the Far Eastern ilk. I really like this treatment from the emotive aspect and that engaging feel you get from it.

Moving up, the male vocal treatment of the mids comes across as vibrant and full. Rich, but not thick; Robert Plant on Bones Of Saints comes across showing his age of 72 (holy buckets!!!) with the respect he deserves. You know he is older, but that “thickness” comes across with a rich tonality and depth deserving of his history in our music world. Guitar work can seem a bit behind the scene in the mids, but this I do believe is done on purpose to show support for the vocals. Combining with that wonderful low end, the instruments come at you from various angles giving the sense of surround sound. Not holographic, but surrounding, enveloping sound. Case in point, on Billie Elish’s Therefore I Am just oozes with soul and feeling. Pop, but a slap in the face to pop, her vocals are gritty, developed and have a raw paucity to them, which plays ever so well in the 5x5. That bass line bleeds into both ears with thump and the sound of an excellent sub-woofer in your ears. You automatically turn the volume up here because that lusciousness of her voice pulls you in.

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Moving up top, the treble comes across clean, and a bit tamed, but not rolled. Almost by design, Fir tuned the uppers to allow the end user an increase in volume without drawing attention to the treble, but still providing a full spectrum of sparkle. Following the previous song with lovely, the duet with Khalid is sensuous but never tiring. A presence of upper note comes across with a thicker than normal lilt to it, which to me is sublime in presentation, even if a bit raw when running against the M4/M5/EE Odin-types of flagships. This draws me in even better than the other for it does not press down upon my sensory exuberance. This tone and clarity coming from the nether regions provides the near-perfect complement to the rest.

Moving into how the overall sound presents itself across the soundstage, her bad guy song rings throughout my ears with a cross between Lady Gaga and well, Billie Eilish. Envelopingly wide and deep, the height matches nearly as well, presenting amongst the biggest soundstages I have hears of recent memory. Sometimes this is a bad thing. But not here. Not today. Simply sumptuous in presentation, there is a concert going on inside my ears, and I’m the guest of honor. Fantastic presentation, and with distinct enough layering to give the depth real push like that extra weighty blanket in winter. You know it is heavy but sleep oh so well on that -20F night as a result.

Separation is aided by the 4 BA’s working in concert together through the highly tuned shell, which is tubeless as well. Known for that in the higher models, which is said to reduce acoustic anomalies wrought from vibration, the 5x5 does in fact use that technology for the benefit of keeping all the instruments happy. I would call it good but not great. But at this price going against much more expensive wares, which have better separation that would be like me comparing something very good to something that is excellent. Due to the fun nature of the sound emanating from the 5x5, very good is indeed great here. Sometimes fun overrides technical capabilities.

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Comparisons:

Fir Audio 5x5 ($999) v Fir Audio M3 ($1199):

I used the term “trickledown” and “BMW M3” against the M5 & M6 when comparing to the big brothers. Truth be told, the M5 of the BMW genre is my favorite (which makes that the M4 of Fir fame), but the M3 (the Fir & BMW) sets the tone from the others and is quite good. One could very, very easily be quite content with the M3 and call it good. Well, the 5x5 lowers that aspect (but not expectations) even further. If I could happily cruise along with the M3, then the 5x5 would indeed make me just as happy. Not quite the clarity of detailed aspect of the M3, but that fun factor is hard to pass, plus with the $200 savings, you could get an excellent Eletech or Satin cable as an extra giving you a variety of sound embellishments.

The M3 is one I would happily own, but the 5x5 redefines the price of enjoyment when talking about higher-end IEM’s here.


Fir Audio 5x5 ($999) v Empire Ears Hero ($1349):

As part of the Hero/Odin tour, I immediately (of course) jumped on the Odin for it is the flagship. But after a week, threw on the Hero. My senses tingled as a result from that sensuous bass presentation. Calling it a Legend X-lite is an insult, since it utilizes the newer W9+ drivers. Fabulous treatment down low, but not forgotten up top; I was so taken aback, I found a Founder’s Edition used on HeadFi and purchased it immediately. While I do not regret it, I heard the 5x5 after and almost regretted the purchase. Almost.

I think the Hero is brighter up top, with a bit less smoothing sound, but better clarity. Sometimes song-dependent, the sound can be biting up top as mentioned by many, but the sound is oh so good across the spectrum, that I can live with those minor times. The bass is to die for here, much like the Legend X. Going brand new, I would be hard pressed between the two, and could very well have come away with the 5x5, but when a used Hero cost what the new 5x5 is, I am happy with the Hero. The 5x5 presents a more fun sound, but not at the expense of any one quality over the Hero. I do love the way details come across clean and nearly-crisp in the Hero, and that along with the bass treatment make it my current favorite listen in IEM’s. Garnering the lion’s share of my listening off-review, the Hero is a phenomenal example of the next gen Empire Ears.


Fir Audio 5x5 ($999) v Campfire Audio Atlas ($1200):

Known for its massive bass treatment, the Atlas is now offered at a discounted price due to the newer models. With that discount price, it lies squarely in the 5x5 range and if you desire bass first and foremost, then it should still be considered, even if it is an “older” model. At the time, the Atlas was known as the king, or near-king of bass response in the near-upper price range, rivaling the Legend X. Hits against it were that due to the massive quantities of bass the rest suffered. Not known for its detailed response, or overall clarity, the Atlas suffered from the critics. I for one liked it just the way it was, though. Mids were (and are) pushed a bit forward to accommodate the excessive bass, and the only thing that suffered to me was the upper end. Sounding a bit stuffy, the critics thought it cost too much for what you get. I say balderdash.

Discounted in the same price category, if you want an extremely easy to use unit with huge amounts of bass and female vocals, which are sublime in presentation, but having that slightly muddling top end, the Atlas can be quite fun for lively genre, taming that upper end, which may be strident in other models. I still kick back occasionally and just listen to the Atlas for fun. A cleansing of the palette to me. Listening to Big Head Todd’s live version of Bittersweet from last June, the sound is just sumptuous and one I thoroughly enjoy, even if musically the Atlas falls behind the 5x5.


Fir Audio 5x5 ($999) v Campfire Audio Ara ($1299):

The new “middle ground” of the top three in the CFA 2020 line, the Ara presents a thoroughly sweet sound, and is the favorite of one of the reviewers I respect the very most. I fully understand why he prefers the Ara over the Andro or Solaris 2020 for it provides a sweet amount of details and solid bass if not up to the actual amount of the 5x5. The truth is, that I would be hard pressed to choose any of the 2020 CFA models or the 5x5 over the other for they are all excellent. I will say that if I did, it would be the Solaris 2020, and that I may indeed choose the 5x5 over it. All are good to very good, but the 5x5 may be great due to the price variant factor.


Fir Audio 5x5 ($999) v Moondrop S8 ($699):

A recent addition, I threw this one in due to reviewer mode and I wanted to see how the Moondrop hype fares against a higher model. Truth be told, I have heard the Kanas Pro, Blessing 2 and this S8. All have extremely high consideration on my chart of recommendations, and it is easy to see why Moondrop has such a devoted following. A certain company seems to be gobbling up (or making their own) wares and the Moondrop stays true to its own, even if available in said “other place.” I really appreciate the way Moondrop is making sound that varies but is true to their sound characteristics of quality mids and vocals with sparkle up top and a subtle bass rumble below. If there is a flaw to me, it would be the Moondrop’s are so much harder to drive than the others listed here.

On Bittersweet through the Khardas Tone2 I have to rotate the volume knob a full ¾ of a turn higher to achieve the same rough (seat of my ears...) volume. With more of a mid-push than the 5x5 as well, this can varnish over some flaws. Taken by itself, the S8 is quite good, but it is competing against the big guns here.

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Finale:

Finishing with Bittersweet again, I marvel at the treatment of sound afforded the 5x5. After reading the reviews I was not quite sure what to expect other that it would be really good, and this was more hope after the excellent quartet of the M-series. I was not disappointed. The 5x5 is indeed not only a treat at this price, but something nie-on exceptional. It seems that Bogdan & Co seem bent on upheaving the apple cart of high-end IEM’s with the M2/M3 and now the 5x5. This may not be for everyone, what with its bass response, but I do think everyone should give it a listen. Had I heard the 5x5 before the other flagships of late; I could very well have ended up with one in possession. To me it is that good. FiR Audio do it again, and I am glad I was along for the ride.

I thank @Barra and @Firaudio for sending the wares. All I have encountered have been so good, that they should immediately vault into the conversation for TOTL flagships against all comers.

Cheers, and enjoy your listening.

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HansBarbarossa
HansBarbarossa
Great review!
fabio19
fabio19
Do you have any idea of a comparison between VxV and Oriolus Isabellae or Tansio Mirai?
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
No I do not.

Wyville

Headphoneus Supremus
FiR Audio VxV - Renaissance Bunny
Pros: Very durable build quality, excellent balanced stock cable, balanced and fun sound with great versatility, excellent coherency, great clarity, bass is fast and articulate while maintaining DD texture and detail, competitive price point
Cons: High versatility might mean less excellence for specific music genres
FiR Audio VxV

Disclaimer
I would like to thank FiR Audio and Project Perfection for providing me with the FiR Audio VxV in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

VxV
  • 1x 6mm Dynamic Driver
  • 2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x High-driver Balanced Armature
  • 1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature
  • MMCX connectors
  • 2.5mm TRRS balanced connector
  • Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic.
  • Price: US$999

Links:
https://www.firaudio.com
https://www.facebook.com/Firaudio
https://pp-distribution.com
https://www.facebook.com/projectperfectionsg/
https://www.qobuz.com

For a free 1-month trial of Qobuz visit: https://duneblue.com/portfolio_page/qobuz/

Preamble
Back in September 2020 disturbing eyewitness accounts started to surface of a rabbit unlike any other, as this particular bunny came with megalomaniac tendencies. Subsequent investigation of a crash site appeared to confirm this was the sole survivor of family of rabbits cruelly shot into space in a misguided attempt to clear up a rabbit infestation. Left to fend for himself in outer space, far beyond the reach of human control, Firry (as he was named) started to plot his revenge on the “evil, lazy humans”. The means to his revenge would become a device by the name of ‘VxV’, which -and I speak from experience here- seems to be some kind mind control device because every time I use it, I seem to lose all track of time and space while I drift away into sonic bliss. I know it is a trap and still I want more of it, every day, everywhere, even if it means subjecting myself to the autocratic tendencies of a vengeful and power-hungry bunny. We welcome you, oh Leporidaen overlord!

As far as marketing campaigns go I think FiR Audio hit a home run with their viral Firry cartoons and story. From the very first day the campaign launched I have loved following the super creative and hilarious little teasers. It is a very effective way of getting away from the sterile, boring and endless droning on-and-on about specs and details that distract from the real purpose of it all: enjoying our music to the full. Not that the specs and technical details are not interesting (more on that later), but I for one love to take things lighthearted. What better to do that with than a firry little bunny whose sole purpose in life it is to dominate the human race, one city at a time (the VxV launched first in Hong Kong)?

The VxV have been launched specifically as “EDC” (EveryDay Carry) IEMs and this makes them especially interesting because it adds additional criteria that I think they need to meet to be practical to carry everywhere. They would need to have an excellent build quality to take everywhere and stuff into pockets, bags, etc. without worries. They would also need to have a very comfortable fit for using them all day long and, very important, they would need a versatile signature to allow you to listen to your entire music library with them. Spoiler alert: I think FiR Audio absolutely nailed it with the VxV.

Unboxing
Firry’s strategy for spreading the VxV as far and wide as possible is clearly to make them dangerously unassuming. The VxV come in a small and very simple looking white box with his deceptively cute little face on the front. From what I understand the VxV were actually developed with a higher price point in mind and I suspect that some savings were made on keeping the box nice and simple. I personally like that, as it means I can get to the good stuff without distraction.

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On the other hand the VxV do come with a round case very similar to the one that came with the M4 and I love that one. Perfect in size and comes with a foam insert that holds a good selection of tips in silicone and foam, as well as a cleaning tool. Because Firry knows he is cool, he ensured we never forget his face by including a number of stickers celebrating his greatness. Shame the box did not also fit the awesome Firry pluche. (Dear floppy-eared Santarabbit, can I have one for Christmas? I will be extra nice to rabbits all year long!) Finally of course the VxV themselves in all their glorious glory.

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Build quality and fit
After having been forced into submission by Firry, the VxV were developed by his minions at FiR Audio in collaboration with their Singapore partners Project Perfection. From what I understand FiR developed them with a higher price point in mind than what Project Perfection intended for them. This meant that FiR Audio’s lead audio designer, Alex Belonozhko(yep, from that omnipresent family), went perhaps a little further in this process than intended. The end result is an ingenious Sound Reactor, which is a big tube into which the sound of the 6mm dynamic low driver and dual mid drivers comes together before being combined with the sound from the high drivers. It is complimented with FiR Audio’s Atom pressure release module that is placed super close to the dynamic driver and reduces pressure build up from the low driver by around 30-40% before it goes into the Sound Reactor. This greatly contributes to the superbly easy and fatigue free listen that the VxV provide. I have worn these for hours at a time and never experienced fatigue even though I can be quite sensitive to it at times.

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Image courtesy of Fir Audio

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The build quality of the VxV is very similar to the M4 I reviewed before with the same metal shell, except that FiR Audio asked Project Perfection to come up with a newly designed faceplate. It is fairly low-key in black and white, which I think works very well for something you want to use everywhere because it draws less attention than faceplates that are all blinged-out and scream “This is expensive, please rob me”. Firry doesn’t want you to get hurt. He has other plans for you. [Insert evil bunny laughter here.] It consists of a black medallion with in white the FiR Audio logo on the left shell and of course Firry’s face on the right one. The medallion has a bezel made of Delrin, a very high quality plastic that can be easily combined with metal and even replace it, so should be very durable. The resulting build quality is excellent and the shape is also very comfortable. For me personally the VxV are among the best fitting IEMs I have used. In an act of boldness Firry put the coordinates for his base of operations on the left shell, which seems to be buried underneath FiR Audio’s headquarters. The right side has a prototype number on it, but I suspect there might be a code to that. I tried to decipher, but after following the trail I ended up lost somewhere in Montreal. He is a clever little bunny!

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The VxV come with MMCX connectors and an SPC cable that is very well designed. It is very supple, feels nice and light and the parts used for the y-split and plug show attention to detail. Those parts too are very light and fairly small, which means the cable is not pulled down by them, as you can often get especially with heavier y-splits. Overall I would say that every part of the VxV is designed with comfort and durability in mind, exactly what I think is essential for IEMs that are intended as EDC.

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Of note here is also that I have used the VxV extensively during training and find them absolutely fantastic for that. They are light, the fit is great and very important is that the Atom module is super effective in reducing any pressure fluctuations that can occur during exercise. With closed IEMs I often get a feeling of the seal pushing and pulling my eardrum with every physical movement or (for instance) when pressure builds up while pushing weights. A while ago I did an “Audiophile Boot Camp” review of the Shanling M0 where I used the Final E4000 because their vented design had similar qualities. The VxV offer everything I got with the E4000 at a higher level, including of course sound quality. Superb IEMs for training (where traffic awareness is not an issue).

Source
I have used the VxV with a number of different sources and I honestly think scale incredibly well, something I noticed with the FiR Audio M4 as well. So while I think these can be driven from a variety of sources, I do feel that they are well worth the extra investment of a good source.

-Dethonray Honey H1-
The Honey H1 is a very powerful, yet clean, portable DAC/amp with single ended and balanced headphone out. I really like it and think it performs very well for its price. The result with the VxV is a neutral/warmish sound with a relatively intimate presentation. The bass is on the looser side when compared to the other sources and the treble is toned down a little. It can give a slight perception of veil when compared to TOTL sources such as the LPGT, but at the same time it is a super enjoyable pairing.

-Lotoo PAW6000-
The PAW6000 is a more neutral source with a slight note articulation and that is instantly recognisable with the VxV. The presentation is again relatively intimate and the VxV get a touch more brightness in the treble that could actually feel a little sharp at times. Nothing fatiguing and for some people even desirable to get a bit more sparkle and perceived detail.

-Shanling M8-
The M8 is a neutral source with a hint of warmth and one of the most analogue sounding bass responses I know of. The pairing with the VxV is heavenly for anyone who likes that analogue type of bass. It gives the VxV both punch and texture while maintaining excellent control over the bass. I really enjoy this pairing and think the M8 compliments the VxV’s musicality perfectly.

-Lotoo PAW Gold Touch-
The LPGT is of course a true TOTL source that comes in three times the price of the VxV, yet I adore this pairing. The LPGT scales the VxV (and M4) incredibly well with a very spacious presentation, tons of air and great mid range tonality. The bass is impactful, yet very tightly controlled and detailed. It does not quite have the analogue quality of the M8, which I love, and yet I prefer to use the LPGT whenever I can for the overall presentation. Treble is incredible and extends well, as well as being superbly smooth.

Presentation
I think that we have come to a point in this hobby where IEMs under $1k are considered affordable in light of the $3k, $4k and even $6k behemoths that are floating around these days. Yet, only a few years ago this price point would have been the absolute Top Of The Line. So what to make of the VxV? Affordable EDC or old fashioned TOTL IEMs? How about both? Relatively speaking affordable IEMs with a performance that a few years ago would have been absolute TOTL.

Perhaps I should explain it better because this still does not adequately explain my thoughts on the VxV. In terms of technical performance they do very well for their price point, but much more importantly (to me personally anyway) is that the VxV sit in a category where I would list ironically few of the most expensive IEMs I have heard. The category of IEMs where, when I listen to them, I forget all about price, forget all about technicalities, forget all about this idiotic hobby that has kept me reviewing like an anal retentive and instead gets me enjoying music to the point where I could happily live with just the one pair of IEMs. Firry must be a pharmaceutical genius too because the VxV work like a the best laxative for uptight audiophiles. Just to illustrate how rare this is, there is only one other IEM-entry in this category for me, the CustomArt FIBAE Black, with the Sennheiser HD650 as the sole headphones (I have not heard many headphones though).

The VxV present music with clarity, excellent imaging and superb coherency. The sound feels perfectly balanced with musicality in mind. Starting with a very well controlled bass that is tight, but with texture and impact to make itself known whenever called for. It reminds me of the quality of the M4’s bass, which I still consider one of the best, if not thebest quality bass I have heard. The VxV’s bass leans more towards fun while maintaining similar outstanding control. I still think the M4 has a better quality, but I do kinda prefer the bass of the VxV because I am a bass head at heart. It is not bass head territory, just such great quality and texture that it satisfies my inner bass head nonetheless. Mids are natural, accurate and super clear. Clarity is one of the key strengths of the VxV and it makes for a wonderfully enjoyable balance between impressive clarity while maintaining an easy-going, natural sounding character. A really good job on that! Vocals too are very, very good and as I write this I am very curious to pit the VxV against the exceptional vocal quality of the Vision Ears VE5, so look out for that later on in this review. Treble is subdued sparkly. Nothing edgy or bright, but not so far rolled off that it makes the VxV sound dark or lacking sparkle. Cymbals sound natural without too much splashiness. I really love this sort of treble and it makes the VxV perfectly suitable for listening all day long without fatigue. Time to go and explore some new music (like I did in my review of the MMR Gáe Bolg).

Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind
Straight in with the heavy metal and a real challenge in my opinion for the VxV. I have never been much into Slipknot, but haven’t given them a lot of time either. So sitting down with We Are Not Your Kind was truly exploring new territory for me and darn good territory at that! I actually found this album because a while ago someone asked me to test Unsainted with the FiR Audio M4. Much like Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia, which I discovered while working on my review of the MMR GáeBolg, We Are Not Your Kind has skyrocketed to one of my favourite albums.

Unsainted is a great track that shows off how well balanced and technically capable the VxV are. There is a mix between powerful drums and guitars that bring a ton of energy and the vocals of Corey Taylor that transitions between rough and raw on the one hand and more traditional on the other. Despite all the power in the track, those vocals rise above it with impressive clarity. The layers all separate perfectly and you can pick up an incredible amount of detail in music that could easily turn into a dark mess. The track Nero Forte shows just how much the VxV can punch with amazing drums and this track is a firm favourite of mine when during training my muscles start to fill up with lactic acid and I still want to push on. Drums have incredible impact, detail and texture, yet the VxV maintain incredible agility in it too. I feel it shows how articulate and well controlled the bass is, with just enough lift to give the VxV a musical character without making it dominant.

Gregory Porter - All Rise (Deluxe)
Oh boy, from one extreme to another, Gregory Porter was on my “to try” list for ages and I never got around to it, but what an amazing voice and superb songs. All Rise is an album I can listen to at any time of the day and instantly relax and enjoy. Try a song like Revival and tell me you can sit still for more than 2 seconds. The VxV show off superbly balanced and somewhat forward vocals with great clarity and density, and while I initially tried them with (my usual) female vocals, Gregory Porter’s vocals are just as good and presented with great accuracy and power. A punchy beat thanks to the tight bass adds rhythm that really suits the gospel-like song.

The VxV’s talent for acoustic music comes through well with the more jazz-style Merchants of Paradise. I feel the tonality is accurate, yet presented softly with a sweetness to instruments that makes them indulgently beautiful, giving the feeling of a more intimate, jazz-club setting. Sometimes that comes from a veil over the midrange, but not with the VxV that maintain beautiful clarity. Really enjoyable.

Rise Against - The Sufferer & The Witness
I am not quite sure how I got to Rise Against, but at some point I read somewhere that The Sufferer & The Witness was a well-produced album. True or not (I am not really one who can judge that accurately), I love good punk and this album does not disappoint.

The VxV can keep up with the pace easily and a track like Drones feels fast with great energy. Articulate drums accompanied by a nicely texture bass guitar and great, be it slightly (naturally) distorted vocals of Tim McIlrath, which I think actually suits punk really well. The track Bricks, has tremendous drums and feels like proper punk. Here you can notice that cymbals are natural sounding, but not too splashy. There is sparkle, but it is not pushed forward and that makes the VxV so easy going. You get the fun, but not the fatigue.

Tash Sultana - Terra Firma
A suggestion by Qobuz on the front page (awarded ‘Qobuzism’ in February 2021), Tash Sultana’s Terra Firma surprised me in a really good way. Tash is an amazing musician and their music combines a lot of different styles into something that is perfect to relax to. Greed has a lovely bass line to it, thick, heavy and textured, yet not pushed forward in any way. Much like the M4 the VxV seem to have a talent for positioning the bass perfectly so that the presence is well balanced and positioned. Their vocals too are once again clear and with good presence/density.

The opening guitar in Blame It On Society is great and almost like you are sitting next to Tash in a private session, while the mystical sparkle of Musk shows how the VxV can provide sparkle without getting into anything fatiguing. One of my favourite songs is Crop Circles, which I think shows how well the VxV separate the many details that are going on and yet at the same time work together in perfect coherence. That is a particular strength of the VxV: wonderful coherency that feels almost like listening to a high-end single dynamic driver IEM.

Astropilot - Soul Surfer (Remastered 2019)
A few years ago I came across a picture on Head-fi with someone showing their portable gear playing the album Flight 420 by Astronaut Ape. It started a love of this kind of music that I generally just describe as downtempo EDM, although it can be hard to define. So while exploring Qobuz I was keen to find more of it, which proved not so easy. Of Astronaut Ape I found only a single album and a few tracks and my favourite Carbon Based Lifeforms are all but absent from Qobuz, despite Interloper being a superb album and one of my absolute favourites. I ended up spending half a day finding new albums and ended up with Astropilot’s Soul Surfer, as one I really liked. Closer to Astronaut Ape than Carbon Based Lifeforms.

This music is in my opinion a bit different as it is more of an experience than just good music and so imaging is really important. What I personally like is a spacious and airy presentation with great imaging because the music is supposed to invoke a feeling of traveling through outer space. To feel what I mean and get the most powerful effect you need to lie down, close your eyes and just drift along with the sound. Entering Godmode is great for this. The VxV have the spacious and airy presentation, especially with a higher end source, where the soundscape is filled with a loads of detail, all presented clearly and moving around the space pulling your attention along. Thanks to the Atom module the feeling is open (very little occlusion effect) and it gives a great sense travelling through infinite space. Superb album too, btw.

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Comparisons
-FiR Audio M4-
One of the most interesting comparisons in my opinion, as the M4 is at the higher end from the same company. So what do you get in both cases? A lot of similarities in terms of build quality, with the M4 perhaps having a more premium feeling faceplate, but I doubt the quality of the VxV is any less. The VxV also come with a balanced cable, which is a nice bonus.

In terms of sound the VxV have a slightly warmer and much more forward presentation. The M4 are much more spacious with greater sense of depth. It is combined with a leaner note size on the M4, which gives the VxV a more intimate feel by comparison. The bass on the M4 is still the better quality in my opinion and the M4 can produce a lot of energy throughout the signature, but I actually think the VxV get better coherency, as the bass of the VxV is complimented by thicker mids and sweeter treble and that works incredibly nicely. Vocals on the VxV are more forward and a little warmer. The M4 can be a bit bright in my opinion and I have not experienced that as such with the VxV, so I would say those are more forgiving. In terms of pure technical performance I still rate the M4 higher, but the VxV offer a bit more fun and still offer a lot. Comparing to the M4 is of course a bit hard, as I rate those very highly at their own price point, so the VxV again perform very well for their price point. In terms of versatility I feel that both have it, but the M4 push that to the next level and (for instance) perform superbly well for classical music, where the VxV are simply good. The VxV are a little on the warm side and of course have the more intimate presentation without the incredible ability to separate that the M4 have, so less ideal for orchestral.

-Vision Ears VE5-
The Vision Ears VE5 were until recently only available as CIEMs and as such offer a very different proposition in terms of build quality to the VxV. The shells of the universal VE5 are much like the custom version made from resin that either allows for a more affordable (€1,250) standard design or a fully customisable design that is a bit more expensive (€1,450). The fit with the VE5 is superb and feels more ergonomic than the VxV, although I still get a very comfortable fit with the VxV.

The VE5 are superb mid-focused IEMs that are very accurate and offer outstanding clarity and exceptional vocal performance. Although I consider the VxV balanced, the VE5 offer a different type of balance. The VE5 are less warm, but very accurate and with a focused presentation that can convey the smallest nuances with crystal clarity. The VxV are by comparison much more bold and fun with a stronger bass presence, much thicker notes, but lacking the transparency and delicate touch of the VE5. Absolutely a case of apples versus Oranges. I dearly love the VE5 and every time I listen to them I love them more, but the VxV are just as enjoyable and more versatile in my opinion.

-MMR Gáe Bolg-
The VxV came in just as I was finishing up my review of the MMR Gáe Bolg and that was a lucky thing because both of these offer very interesting propositions. Gáe Bolg are a little more expensive at US$1,199 with the stock cable, but if you want balanced like the VxV have, you can choose the US$1,399 Complete version that comes with the Eletech Prudence cable. Both feel great as an EDC option, but the VxV feel more purposely built as such. The Gáe Bolg are a little bigger and heavier with a more intricate and ornate design, while the VxV have similar build quality that is a little bit lighter and smaller. In terms of comfort both do really well and I have used both extensively without problems. The VxV however have the advantage of the Atom pressure release module that is very effective in combating fatigue.

In terms of sound this has been a really difficult comparison because these are very close in character and yet have different presentations. The GáeBolg feel more linear and balanced with a more spacious stage and perhaps more airiness. However, while the VxV have a more forward feel to them that gives a sense of intimacy, the Atom module still generates a spacious presentation and separation of instruments is outstanding, as well as imaging. The VxV feel a little warmer and even more dynamic than the Gáe Bolg and with better vocals, but don’t have the richness that makes the Gáe Bolg so nice. The bass is really tricky because both have a nice bass. The Gáe Bolg feel like there is more weight behind it, whereas the bass of the VxV has more texture and impact.

These two are incredibly close and it is hard to pick one over the other. I personally prefer the VxV, but listening to the Gáe Bolg never makes me feel like I want to switch. The choice here is really down to personal preferences and budget, but both are excellent performers.

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Conclusions
Firry, you dastardly villainous villain, you win and I subject myself to your megalomaniacal whims if it means I can enjoy the VxV some more. Just one more time… Please!

I have spent a lot of time with the VxV in what is actually a relatively short period that I have had them around. This is a testament to how much fun the VxV are to listen to. They offer a very complete package for IEMs that you can use as “EDC” to take everywhere and listen to everything. The build quality is top notch with a very comfortable fit and a design that is fun while not attracting too much attention. The signature is balanced with a bit more emphasis on fun, providing a superb bass, clear mids and sparkly yet inoffensive treble for a fatigue-free listen. They present the music a bit more forward and yet maintain air and great separation as well as excellent coherency. The Atom module is very effective in relieving pressure, which provides a more open feel and makes the VxV ideally suited for use during activities, including training. The VxV have made me even more a fan of FiR Audio and while I need to maintain a sense of objectivity, I can’t help but share my excitement for these. They are among the most fun IEMs I have used and make me forget all about their price point. A price point that I think is very competitive and the VxV easily outperform it. Well worth a demo if you have the opportunity!
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G
gmdb
A very high quality review. Thanks.
fabio19
fabio19
Do you have any idea of a comparison between VxV and Oriolus Isabellae or Tansio Mirai?
Wyville
Wyville

Zortven

New Head-Fier
Pros: Attached stickers
Backstory
Very comfortable cable
Bunny design!
Good case
Comfort
Build quality is more than wonderful
All technical aspects are on the highest level
Natural sound signature...
Cons: ...that's not for everybody
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Zelda

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Solid build quality
Comfortable design and more relaxed fit
Sound quality: Detailed, airy and open. Accuracy, speed, imaging
Cons: Accessories (lack of quantity/quality)
(Uninspiring unboxing?)
Review – Fir Audio VxV (5x5 / Five x Five)

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Website – Fir Audio

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Features
1x Dynamic Driver
2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature
1x High-driver Balanced Armature
1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature


Price: $999

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Design

The Fir VxV has a fixed over-ear IEM fit in a metal and plastic mix and fairly comfortable shells. Build quality is very good made from aluminum for the main chassis (inner body side, nozzle and faceplate base) and DuPont plastic applied on the outer faceplates contour. It is only available in the black and white color theme, that while less fancy, does look sleek. The only part that breaks this discreet look would be the added artwork on both faceplates, with the rabbit ears company logo on the left side and the more cartoon-like image on the right side of featuring the company ‘mascot’, “Firry”. The nozzles have proper length and are angled upwards (40~45º) for a more natural fit into the ear-canal, and have the needed lip to hold ear tips easily. A filter is placed deeper inside the nozzle tube, so would be challenging to replace it if ever needed. The design may not look specifically ergonomic in shape but in practice fits really comfortable in the ears and the isolation is surprisingly good for everyday use. I should note that the included ear tips didn’t work well for me and aftermarket ones were needed. Personally, I settled with larger bi-flange tips for best seal, comfort, isolation, and ultimately, optimal sound results.

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The VxV adopts a traditional hybrid drivers’ formula, and as its name suggests has five drivers per side. A combination of a single dynamic driver and four balanced armature units. However, like the previous Fir M series, the VxV differs from the common hybrid IEMs in its inner structure having a tubeless design and the five drivers inside arranged in a specific arrangement, Direct Aperture Technologies – ‘sound reactor’, as named by the company. This ‘tubeless’ system in which the drivers’ sound reaches the nozzle without any tube separating them can have its technical advantages over the usual multi-driver systems and also become less limited, providing a greater acoustic performance. However, it can be a risky gamble and demand more dedicated R&D.

Moreover, the dynamic driver used here is unexpectedly smaller than many hybrid IEMs, being just of a 6mm diameter diaphragm versus the more common 9mm and larger ones. For the balanced armature part there is a dual BA for mids and for highs a single BA twitter and single BA super- tweeter. There is no mention of the specific BA models used on the VxV (but I had confirmed Fir Audio are using a mix of Knowles and Sonion), the dynamic coating material, and actually there are limited specifications data shared about the VxV (just frequency response and impedance).

Another key feature of the VxV is the use of the Air Transferring Open Module, ‘ATOM’ in short, that consists of an internal valve installed as an essential component of the whole earpiece structure. A similar idea to the Apex modules of 64 Audio, but differently applied. Like the other Fir universal models this module is fixed, and in the case of the VxV, placed right next to the dynamic driver. As you may know, this feature is not only meant for actual sonic performance but also should help to relieve the constant air pressure produced by the vacuum-like seal usually found on in-ear monitors. The result is a more comfortable listening experience, and in the long run healthier, too. And it seems to work just right; the fit is more relaxed and in a way feels like a more open-back design earphone.

The detachable cable is of the standard MMCX connection type. However, the sockets on the earpieces side are exposed, instead of being completely flushed with the main metal body surface like on most IEMs. To complement this design, the MMCX plugs’ covers on the cable side are extended in order to completely cover the sockets, so once connected there is no space left, and while it can still rotate, is more secured. While the cable cannot be used on other earphones with the traditional MMCX installation, any standard cable should still work on the VxV side, but do note that the connection won’t be as fixed and secure as when using the included stock cable. The cable itself looks pretty nice and of fair quality for a stock cable (reminds quite a lot of the BGVP DMG cable). Silver plated copper (SPC) wire of two twisted strands on the lower half and single for each side. It is terminated in a balanced 2.5mm plug and there is no 3.5mm adapter included; both the plug and y-split are well assembled, surrounded by TPU layers and covered by solid metal shiny pieces. There are pre-shaped plastic tubes installed at the upper-end that act as ear guides.

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The Sound

Having already described all the special design and drivers’ setup, here’s the most important section, the real sound quality. Hybrid combo, ATOM and tubeless system all considered, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the VxV. In fact, upon first listening to this IEM I must admit that I wasn’t very impressed (or at least not $1K impressed). Blame it to the cable or source pairing, or probably the selected ear tips, but if felt that there was something missing on the sound dept. to be worth the $1K tag.

Luckily, it didn’t take much work and time to start to appreciate the VxV audio performance. A brief break-in period, the use of better tips (extra bi-flange in this case) and sticking to the included balanced cable, revealed a great sound quality with a pleasant and somehow unique presentation. As mentioned before, there are no specs about the VxV, though from real use it proves to be a very effective IEM. Do note that it was used mainly with the 2.5mm cable connected to a balanced source (both 2.5 and 4.4), and so gains a greater output driving power. Even so, there was no hiss, even at higher gains.

Main DAPs used here were the Shanling M5s, M6, iBasso DX220 (Amp1), and on the higher level, the Lotoo PAW 6000 and the larger Shanling M8 as top model. On a more portable option, the Hiby R3 Pro, and the Oriolus BA300s for a tube-amp.

Worth noting that the VxV scales well according to the playing source and the final signature may vary a little (more details at the end of this section). But in general the VxV presents a nicely tuned sound that goes from very even to slightly more midrange forward, yet keeping always a very good overall balance. There is a hint of warmth from the dynamic driver with good extension on both ends, high level of detail and especially a great sense of air and openness.

Starting from the low-end, the small dynamic unit impresses with its quality. It is not very pronounced in quantities for what could be expected from hybrids models compared to most offers out there. It is still above neutral with a linear boost that starts from the sub-bass region down to the low-mids, yet without classifying as being ‘warm’. Technical abilities are very strong, and part of the reason might be addressed to the ATOM tech applied here. ‘Agility’ and ‘dynamics’ could be the best words to describe. The bass is fast and very accurate with a natural decay and timbre. Very tight and well layered, and with sufficient impact when called for. Very even from sub to mid-bass, never interfering with the midrange.

The midrange is neutral to slightly forward, mostly depending on the paired source. Equally balanced between low to upper mids. Very transparent and surprisingly very airy and open. Low midrange is a bit lean to my preference and missing some texture and richness, especially for male vocals that could benefit from having more weight. Upper mids are more energetic and sparkly, if occasionally a bit edgy. The VxV is not harsh but not sibilance free; wouldn’t suggest the foam tips, though, unless you want to miss the transparency and airy presentation. It is a less liquid midrange than other BA based IEMs like the qdc Fusion or Fibae 3, and similar to the RE-2000 in its nice texture, if a little less sweet for upper vocals.

Highs extend very well and are present all the way up to the upper-treble area with little effort. Coherent and very clear; not completely smooth but not harsh or too sharp either, just a little sizzling. The detail is excellent on the VxV and among the best I’ve heard on the ~$1K range; instead of an analytical character, it is capable of showing small micro details naturally. Again, the presentation is particularly special with VxV. While the soundstage is not particularly large in width or depth dimensions, it is still good and tends to scale well the better the audio playing source. What is more unique here is the open and more out of the head feel and more height, very rarely found on IEMs. And if it is thanks to the ATOM or specific structure or whatever, so be it.

Like with any IEMs, the selection of the right ear tips can have a very important effect on the sound, and with the VxV I found it specifically crucial. I didn’t care much about the included tips and opted for better aftermarket tips. While I tried SpinFit and a variety of single flange tips, the best results were with larger/wider dual flanges (which unfortunately are impossible to find online). Not just for the better fit, seal and isolation, but mainly the sound that is more vivid and revealing, more solid in bass impact, air and extension on the highs and more open transparent midrange.

Pairing with different players also shows the transparency (or versatility) of the VxV. With the Shanling M5s it has a more ‘fun’ presentation, where there is a stronger mid-bass lift (and less sub-bass presence), smoother midrange that is fuller on the low-mids and yet an energetic complementing low-treble. Vocals with the M5s sound particularly nice textured. Well-rounded stage, still not the best the VxV can reach but a great portable combo for everyday use.

Going a bit higher with Shanling M6, the soundstage is wider and more open. The extension is further on both ends, especially on the low-end. Sub-bass is more focused than the mid-bass (typical effect of the M6). Midrange is detailed, but colder in tonality, less forward and a bit leaner. Treble is more even than with the M5s, less aggressive though sharper. Overall, the most ‘neutral’ synergy for the VxV.

With the Lotoo PAW6000 it has a more midrange-forward presentation, greater dynamics, bass speed and more accuracy. Midrange is more natural, very airy and sweeter with vocals (more with females’). Excellent control on the treble with no hint of sibilance. Soundstage is not really wide from right to left but the imaging is more coherent.

Lastly, the top players Fiio M15 and Shanling M8 boost the VxV to a higher grade. First since to notice is the wider and larger presentation in all dimensions with greater distance and space and excellent dynamics. I prefer the M8 synergy with VxV over the M15; on the M15 it sounds drier and more neutral on the midrange. The M8 is more flavored and engaging, bigger bass response, very smooth and clear midrange with still high separation. Treble is very smooth with the M8 and more natural and forgiving but with a lot of micro details. The more open effect of the VxV is really appreciated with this higher DAPs, sounding less than traditional IEMs and more like open headphones.


Comparisons

qdc Fusion


The Fusion is also a hybrid IEM of 4BA+1D. The dynamic driver is physically a bit larger than on the VxV, while the BA setup consists of 2 dual BA (same) units, and all arranged in the usual tube hybrid setup to the 3 bore nozzle. Acrylic shells with metallic nozzle, good build quality but behind the all-metal VxV. The Fusion may look more ergonomic in shape but in practice they are both equal in comfort and fit, and I find the VxV to have even better isolation.

Sound-wise, both models share a similar evenly balanced signature, accurate and very little colored. The Fusion is even more neutral than the VxV, with a less mid-bass impact, very neutral mids and with a cooler tonality. Treble quantities are about the same, but timbre doesn’t sound as natural, and can be more annoying on a A/B test when it gets to sibilance next to the VxV. The VxV can be fuller on the lows and more forward on the mids, more resolving and especially more open. It extends better on the treble and sounds more natural and comfortable. Wider stage and airier presentation and better detail.



Dunu DK-3001 Pro

Another 5-driver hybrid, 1 dynamic, dual BA for mids and dual BA for highs. A box presentation and accessory pack that will embarrass almost every product. The Dunu’s is tougher built with thicker stainless steel shells and while more shallow-fitting it isn’t as comfortable as the Fir and isolation is low to average at best.
As for the sound, they are quite different, the DK-3001 Pro being more midrange-centered with decent bass and treble. Despite the 13mm dynamic driver inside, the bass is very polite, small in impact and not too extended. Mids are more mellow, smooth and well-tuned for vocals thanks to the sweeter texture. Treble is inoffensive, laid-back, but of the best quality I heard in the sub $500 price. At a double price, the VxV is more balanced, pushing more bass power and boosting much higher clarity and detail. It is more accurate and brighter on the treble, less forgiving but more extended and much greater sense of air. The mids are more dynamic and resolving, though more neutral and more equal when it gets to instruments and vocals balance.



Hyla Sarda

The Sarda is a triple driver type hybrid (or tri-brid, aka ‘chimera’) of a dynamic, 2BA and Piezoelectric combination. The sound is opposite to the VxV, having a v-shaped tuning. Full and powerful bass with among the best sub-bass presentation, depth, rumble and extension. Midrange is relatively distant yet thick, mostly on the lower mids, though the timbre is rather off and not natural. Treble is strong and extended while it can be occasionally tiring. The VxV instead is light and tighter in the bass, and cannot reach the same depth but has quicker attack. Midrange is more favorable, leaner, thinner but more open and clear, and natural too. Treble is similar in quantities, though the VxV is less aggressive. The Sarda has still the widest soundstage I’ve heard on an IEM so far, while the VxV offers better imaging.


Oriolus Reborn LTD

Yet, another hybrid of 1 dynamic and 3 BA. The Reborn LTD has a smooth and warmer signature and in a rather mellow ‘safe’ tuning. While stage dimensions are similar, the VxV sounds more open and airy. Bass is more emphasized on the Reborn LTD with a gain towards the mid-bass area, deeper and slower in decay, while the VxV is lighter and faster. Midrange is more forward on the Reborn, and probably the best part of the IEM with its rich, smooth and sweet texture, very suited for vocal focused music. Treble is much more relaxed and a bit rolled-off on the Reborn, whereas the VxV is easily brighter and less forgiving. Details are easier to pick on the VxV, too.


Hifiman RE-2000 (Silver)

The RE2000 is probably the closest in sound (tuning) to the VxV I’ve heard so far. Putting aside all the build, fit and cable that are all way better on the VxV, both IEMs focus into accuracy, resolution and detail. The RE2000 demands more power to sound best, while the VxV is much more sensitive. Bass quantities are very close, though the VxV can deliver a little bit more mid-bass impact (specifically with my preferred dual flange tips) and is a bit faster. Midrange on the RE2000 balance is shifted towards the upper-region, while the low-mid is lean. It also has a critical up-mid/low-treble peak and is more prone to being sibilant. The VxV mids are more even and forward, and the highs easier to handle, and overall sound is more natural. Soundstage: about the same in width, but the VxV has more height and better front to back distance. The RE2000 suits well for acoustic instruments, while the VxV is easily a more all-rounder in comparison.

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All-in-all, the VxV might be of the more affordable option within the Fir Audio’s line but definitely packs very good features. Solid build quality from the outside in addition of the interesting and well applied technology in its whole structure, all in a smooth and well finished design that proves to be surprisingly comfortable and more relaxed for long listening periods. Audio quality is pretty good at this price, very competitive in the $1000 and above segment. Easy to drive from any music source and very transparent, scaling even higher with the better source. The sound presentation is fairly natural and very accurate with excellent level of detail.
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Palfim
Palfim
Thanks Zelda and the other reviewers.. great reads and impressions.
These are the coolest looking IEMs ever! Nice simplistic design language, not too bulky , ingenious and cute bunny logo , nice job for boosting their brand recognition. Haven't had the oppertunity to try them out, but I'd buy it on looks alone (as soon as I'm rich haha) but seriously , those look awesome ( same should be true for sound , considering all the good reviews)

justrest

500+ Head-Fier
Fir Audio VxV
Pros: Fantastic Sound
Great Ergonomics
Material and Build Quality
High Quality Leather Case,
Fatique Free listening experience
Desing
Comfort
Price and Performance ratio
Cons: Some people find bass light
Fir Audio VxV

Before starting the review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details. Also, special thanks to Bogdan for this great opportunity.

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Specifications
  • 1x Dynamic Driver
  • 2x Mid-Driver, Balanced Armature
  • 1x High-Driver, Balanced Armature
  • 1x Ultra-High Driver, Balanced Armature
  • MMCX Connectors
  • 2.5mm TRRS Balanced Connector
  • Chassis: Hybrid 6000 Aluminum and DuPontⓇ Engineering Plastic

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Package Details
  • Leather Carrying Case
  • VxV Earphone
  • Stock SPC Cable
  • 4 pairs Silicon Tips
  • 1 pair Foam Tips

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Test Equipment
  • Opus #1
  • Lotoo Paw Gold
  • THX AAA 789 & Topping D50s
  • JDS Labs Odac and Amp
  • Earment TR-Amp

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Package, Design, and Isolation:

Fir Audio VxV comes in a cute little white cardboard box. The tops of the box displays a Firry (rabbit) logo, which is designed and used for the first time with the VxV. It is a wonderfully cute logo and I hope Fir Audio will use it with their future products. Do not be fooled by the plain and simple cardboard! After opening the box, you are welcomed into the luxurious world of Fir Audio with the high-quality leather carrying case. The black and rounded shaped leather carrying box is made of soft quality leather, with a Firry logo on the top of the lid. Overall, the quality feel of the carrying case, with its soft leather material and its flawless stitches, is simply wonderful.

Moving inside of the box, we have the obvious earphones and cables, some silicone and foam tips, and various Firry stickers. The stock, silver-plated copper cable is excellent in both construction and material quality. The cable comes with a 2.5mm TRRS balanced terminal end, so those who want to use it with 3.5mm and 4.5mm sources will need to grab an appropriate adapter. The cable is ergonomically very comfortable, extremely light, and tangle-free. The connectors are MMCX and have a very rigid, and solid feel. The pre-shaped ear hooks offer good ergonomics and provide a pretty secure fit behind the ear. A BIG Thank You to Fir Audio for not using memory wires in their cables. The stock cable is so nice, in fact, that you will not feel the need to use an aftermarket cable.

The body design is extremely cute with the Firry logo on the faceplate(I really like the logo). I’d love to get some multi-colored markers and paint it wildly with colors like a nice purple/green/pink mix. Besides being cute, the body is also made of high quality materials, including a combination of hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPontⓇ plastics, which give the VxV a very high-quality feel. The body is basically built like a tank and feels quite solid. The faceplate has a white Firry logo on its right and a Fir Audio logo on its left. Like Fir Audio’s other models, the VxV only has one color option. I also really like the white and black color mix, which creates a very nice contrast. The body has a relatively small size that fits comfortably in the ear. Its rounded design does not cause any pain or discomfort in the ear, which makes it possible to listen for long, long hours without the need to take any breaks. The nozzle is average in length and also helps to provide good isolation.

Lastly, let’s talk a little bit about the technical details. As you may or may not know, VxV has a 5 drivers hybrid design in each earphone. These consist of a 6mm dynamic driver that takes care of the bass, 2 armature drivers for mid coverage, 1 balanced armature driver for high coverage, and 1 balanced armature driver for super high frequencies. Of course, there are some technologies inside the shell that improve the sound quality, such as Fir Audio’s patented design, “Direct Aperture Acoustics,” which provides a more physical feel in bass frequencies. Additionally, the ATOM (Air Transferring Open Module) system offers a more comfortable, airy, and spacious listening experience, as well as keeping the VxV fatigue-free. I’d like to say that I definitely feel this Atom feature while listening, which I certainly can. I listened with an average sound level for 5 hours without the sensation of ripping the earphones out of my ears after I was done, which I think is a record for me. In conclusion, with magnificent body quality, design, and technologies, the VxV is an absolutely fantastic IEM.

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Sound

The VxV is an earphone that plays every frequency in a balanced way, does not put any frequency in the foreground while suppressing others, pushes mid frequencies forward, keeps the bass tight, and extends the treble very well. At a technical level, it is incredibly successful, especially in its mid-frequency which I feel is the star of the show. The textured, emotional, and forward presentation of the mids makes it very enjoyable to listen to vocal-based or instrumental music. The upper frequencies are crystal clear and extend extremely well without sibilance. The bass isn’t super powerful but it is not forgotten when it kicks in and is surprisingly tight and fast for the dynamic driver. The stage is incredibly wide, which I believe is due to the ATOM system. Solaris is one of the few earphones with the largest stage I’ve listened to, and the VxV is wider and more spacious than that. I can easily say that the VxV is the best earphone that I’ve listened to in 2020, as I received it near the end of 2020. I’ve listened to many musical genres with the VxV, such as Classical, Progressive House, Jazz, Pop, etc, and I have never felt a shortage in any genre. Basically, the VxV is a great all-rounder earphone.

The VxV has great detail and resolution on its high frequency and there is absolutely no roll-off, and no sibilance either. Balanced is perhaps the most accurate description of the VxV. Although the treble is extremely well extended and sparkles, it is quite balanced and does not exaggerate in any way. The natural presentation does not create a dry and clinical atmosphere. The trebles are bright and crystal clear, and with all the sources that I used, and never tended to be harsh. The performance of the stringed instruments is absolutely great, and I highly recommend trying them out with the VxV.

The mid-frequency is pretty natural and transparent without any coloration. It is so smooth and clean that I’ve listened to vocals and instrumentals more with the VxV than any other IEM I’ve tried. Although the mid is forward, it is not thick and meaty and it does not create a mid hump and stress the stage. The instruments are spread over an extremely wide area in a spacious way. As an example from string instruments, it does not play with any coloration by exaggerating the sounds from the thick notes, on the contrary, it offers a very natural and transparent concert. In terms of detail and resolution, it definitely does things above its price. It is possible to catch and listen to the sub-details in the track with critical listening. Both male and female vocal performance is great here. Although the mids are forward in presentation, the vocals are not right up in your ear, which is awesome.

The 6mm dynamic driver is responsible for bass frequencies and does a great job here. The bass can go pretty deep and has a decent amount of punch, but it should be noted that it is not at a bass-head level. The beats are strong and punchy as well as tight and controlled. The dynamic driver acts as a balanced armature driver and achieves great recovery time. Even in very fast passages, it does not lose its control and does not tend to turn muddy. It’s an extremely fast driver, although it cannot compete with the balanced armature in terms of speed, it gets very close. The bass is strong and doesn’t exaggerate, which is something the VxV does very well. The bass has a delightful tuning in quantity and intensity and in no way dominates other frequencies. I can say I was amazed by the performance of the bass with certainty, and the VxV is a great performer in this area.

Lastly, the soundstage is another area I love about the VxV. The stage is extremely wide and airy and the ATOM system creates an extremely realistic atmosphere, making it easy to listen to for long hours without fatigue. The stage definitely doesn’t feel artificial, like those Bose Acoustimass Home Theatre systems do. It puts an excellent amount of distance between instruments and makes them very easy to distinguish.

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Comparisons

VxV vs Rai Penta:


Both the Rai Penta and VxV share some similarities in materials and technical specifications. Both earphones are hybrids and they have 5 drivers per side, with 1 dynamic driver and 4 balanced armature drivers. Although the configuration is the same, they are very different in tuning. Both earphones are beautifully made with aluminum bodies. Rai Penta is slightly smaller but somehow the VxV provides a better seal and fits for my ear. The Penta also comes with a high quality custom cable but the VxV’s cable gives off a higher quality feel. Overall, they both have great build quality and materials. Soundwise, the Penta has more tamed and smooth trebles while the VxV has better sparkle, details, and expression while providing a much cleaner and clearer sound. The mids are forward, transparent, and natural on the VxV while the Penta is more bodied, warm, and smooth. The clear and airy presentation of the VxV provides better details and a fresh atmosphere in the mids while the Penta feels more limited and narrower, but it has a nice organic texture. Vocals are slightly more forward and have great tonality on the VxV. The Penta is bold in male vocals and somehow feels veiled to me after switching back and forth between the two. Bass goes deeper and hits harder with the Penta while the VxV is faster and more controlled with better detail and also bass notes are absolutely better on the VxV as per my taste. The soundstage is wider and deeper on the VxV and puts more air between instruments than the Penta does. Overall, both are great earphones but the winner here is the VxV for its technical capability, tonality, and overall performance.

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VxV vs Campfire Audio Solaris:
The Solaris is one of my all-time favorite earphones with its looks, sound, and design, but today it has to deal with a very tough competitor. I have the original Solaris, not the 2020 model. Good luck Solaris! Both earphones are beautifully made with aluminum and their build and material qualities are fantastic. The Solaris has a relatively bigger body than the VxV and sits well in the ear, but the VxV provides a better seal and fits without a doubt. The VxV doesn’t require any frequent adjustments. The Solaris is a 4 drivers hybrid earphone and has 1 dynamic driver with 3 balanced armatures per side. The VxV has 1 more driver but that really isn’t much of an advantage. I really hate the ‘more drivers the better’ sound arguments. Well, it’s time to get down to business: which one sounds better. They both have a similar extension on trebles but the VxV extends slightly better and has more sparkle. VxV trebles are more natural and transparent while Solaris’ is warm, smooth, and creamy. The details and resolution of both are pretty similar but due to its clean and clear presentation, the VxV provides more in this department. The mids are more bodied and textured on the VxV and its clean and clear presentation continues on here as well. The Solaris is warmer and smoother and is more V-Shaped in the mid area. Vocals are laid back and more distanced in the Solaris while the VxV has a forward and more emotional presentation. The bass is slightly more powerful, punchy, and deep on the Solaris at the cost of being slower, where the VxV has better decay, control, and tightness. I thought the Solaris had a huge soundstage and its stereo-like performance is unbeatable but the VxV has a wider, deeper, and more holographic soundstage than the Solaris. Wow. The Solaris is super sensitive and you might hear some background noise from your source, but the VxV has a pitch-black background. I really like the Solaris and its warm, musical, and enjoyable presentation but I like the VxV more with its balanced, transparent, and beautifully detailed presentation. Good job rabbit.

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VxV vs Oriolus Percivalli:
The Oriolus Percivalli is another great gem to me, and I always enjoy listening to any genre with it. It is more than double the cost of the VxV, so it is not a cheap earphone. The Percivalli is also a 5 driver hybrid IEM and has 1 dynamic driver, 2 balanced armature drives, and 2 electrostatic drivers per unit. The Percivalli is made with resin and has a wooden faceplate with a smokey grey translucent body. The materials and build quality are top-notch, just like the VxV. They are pretty similar in size and both provide great comfort in the ear. Soundwise, the Percivalli is more engaging, warm, and musical while the VxV4 has great transparency with fantastic balance and a natural presentation. The Percivalli’s treble has more quantity and sparkle, and also has better technical performance. Surprisingly, the VxV holds its own against the electrostatic weapons of the Percivalli. The VxV is slightly less extended but the clean and clear presentation with fantastic transparency brings out some great performance. The mid frequencies are similar overall, but the Percivalli has organic and warm mids while the VxV has a slightly more forward and natural presentation. Vocals are slightly more forward on the VxV, and the Percivalli has laid-back vocals but both male and female sounds are just a bit thicker. The clean presentation of the VxV feels great in details and resolution, but the Percivalli pulls ahead slightly as there is no significant difference. The bass is more powerful, heavy, and punchy on the Percivalli but the VxV answers back with its fast, controlled and tight bass. When you play both earphones back-to-back like an A/B test, it becomes more obvious. First, the Percivalli’s bass becomes more excited and fun, but after that you realize it feels slow and perhaps even muddy when compared to the VxV’s bass performance. It is more obvious with EDM-like music. The soundstage is more open, airy, and white on the VxV which makes it very unique, but the Percivalli also has an excellent and fresh soundstage where you never feel congested. Overall, the Percivalli is better in some areas, but it’s over double the cost of the VxV, which gives a lot for a lot less money.

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VxV vs QDC Anole VX:
The QDC Anole VX is well known and is a pretty famous earphone in the audiophile community. It has a fully acrylic body and is simply beautiful. Unlike the hybrid VxV, the Anole has 10 balanced armature drivers per side. The build and material quality is fantastic, much like the VxV, but its design provides a better seal and fits like a glove. The Anole VX has tuning switches that you can make minor adjustments on sound and I have all the switches turned on. The VX is also more than double the cost. The sound signatures are quite similar but they are different in some areas. The trebles are similar in quantity and quality but the VxV has better clarity and cleaner presentation. The VX mixes both technicality and musicality that present a great harmony on the mid frequencies, while the VxV is slightly less fun but it has a slightly more forward and emotional presentation. Both earphones are great in transparency and technicality, but they don’t drown you in the details either. The bass is more clinical, drier, and faster on the VX. The VX definitely takes advantage of the balanced armature drivers here. On the other hand, the VxV’s bass response is fantastic for a dynamic driver that has great recovery time, and keeps the bass tight and controlled. On the VX, bass notes mostly come from low mids while the VxV has a better sub-bass feel and goes deeper but in much lower quantity than the VX. The VxV definitely has a wider and deeper soundstage and has a better airy feel while the Anole VX is slightly narrow and doesn’t have the feeling of freshness like the VxV has. Overall, both earphones are great and it really comes down to preference, but the VxV has bang for your buck.

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Verdict
This is my first Fir Audio product review, and I had a chance to listen to the M5 for around 5 minutes which was awesome with its thunderous bass with hyper-detailed lights. After listening to the M5, my expectation was quite high for the VxV before I got it, and the VxV did not disappoint. When we look at the pricing of the VxV on the Fir Audio line up, we see that it has an almost entry-level position, but don’t be fooled! The VxV is an earphone that salutes the TOTL level with its sound performance, material quality, and ATOM system for long listening hours. It is a fantastic earphone with an ability to handle all kinds of genres and its easy-to-love sound presentation. I know it’s hard to use price/performance definitions for $1,000 earphones, but these days, TOTL status earphones almost go up to $5,000 and the VxV deserves to be recognized as a fantastic earphone with a reasonable price.

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fabio19
fabio19
Do you have any idea of a comparison between VxV and Oriolus Isabellae or Tansio Mirai?

rev92

Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Fir Audio VxV
Pros: Fantastic storytelling
Those stickers!
Great case
Very comfortable cable
Cool design
Superb build quality
Non-fatigue, natural tuning
Great technical capabilities
One of the best customer services
Price is more than fair
Very comfortable
Cons: Safe tuning might not suit everybody
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Five x Five is the newest release from Fir Audio. It uses a 1DD + 4BA driver configuration, and its design is like nothing else on the market. This little bunny costs $999.

Sound quality for the price
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Build quality and design
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Value
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.



Introduction

Even though Fir Audio is one of the youngest companies in the High-End IEM market, they’ve already gained a lot of attention, thanks to their M series. Founded in 2018, these fellas have already released five different models, all of which have been quite successful among both audiophiles and professionals.

Today we’re looking at their newest release – the VxV, Five x Five, 5×5…well, you can probably call them however you want. It is a hybrid in-ear monitor with a very original approach to the design. Needless to say – these have a bunny on their faceplates. Yes, a bunny. Overall, this mascot and a couple of other things create one of the absolute best story-telling in IEM market.

It’s great to see a new company with such a different approach to marketing and previously mentioned story-telling. These two things are often undervalued by many manufacturers. I’ve been working in marketing though, also in the IEM industry and I truly believe, that this is where the interest in your brand starts – in creating a fun, attractive story around your product.

Packaging

Every Day Carry – Fir Audio couldn’t have been more right with that.

That bunny theme leads us directly to the unboxing experience, which is a very pleasant experience.

First of all, the original packaging comes in outer cardboard, and it is wrapped with bunny-themed tape. How pleased I was when I first saw it in the hands of the courier. I remember thinking – damn, these fellas really know their stuff, they even used a freaking custom tape to further emphasize the whole story about the IEM itself.

Just after I closed the door, I quickly rushed to get my butcher knife and I ripped this little guy apart. Inside, there’s an original box with…you guessed it, a bunny on top!

VxV – Even though I’m not a big fan of this kind of theme, I can’t stop loving the overall feeling and story around this IEM.

Other than that, it’s a pretty basic white cardboard box with a yellow seal. But don’t make it fool you, this seal has something very important in terms of this review. “EVERY DAY CARRY”, which is written on it is essentially the perfect way to describe the VxV, but more on that later on.

Inside, you’ll find a round leather case with that fantastic Fir Audio logo on top. Open it up, and you’ll find the IEMs themselves, the cable and a pretty generic set of eartips, so I won’t waste your time with those. Lastly, you’re getting a set of stickers, and I must admit – I’m a huge fan. They are quality, fun and company/product oriented and you could proudly stick them to your laptop or basically anything. Yet another fantastic aspect of story-telling.


I believe you cannot go to space with the VxV, but this little buddy seems to not really care about it.

Cable

Attention to detail is absolutely extraordinary.

The cable included is actually one of the absolutely best stock cables I’ve ever used, at least in terms of comfort and flexibility. It is a silver-plated copper mmcx cable terminated in 2.5mm, which is both the least popular choice on the current market, but at the same time there are the most adapters going from 2.5mm to 3.5mm and 4.4mm, so that’s fine.

Onto the most important thing about the cable – it is fantastically well-built, super flexible and comfortable. If you’re about an absolute sound perfection, you’re probably gonna replace it anyway. But if you simply want a good cable that is a joy to use with your new IEMs, I truly believe this is an absolute stunner. Also, thanks to its coaxial geometry and clear TPU jacket it simply looks like fine jewelry in good lighting conditions. Fantastic.

Build quality and design

Well thought, well designed and well executed.

I’ll start by saying that the VxV feels and looks much better than it does on the official photos (not to say, that they look bad, not at all), but when I touched them for the first time, I’m not gonna lie – it was a positive surprise.

The shells are made of Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic. They feel very solid and lightweight in the hand. The shape is nearly identical to the M-series, which provides great comfort.

Design-wise it’s a great IEM as well. The faceplate of the left IEM has a Fir Audio logo on it, while the right one is a home for yet another bunny. They do reflect the light a little bit and look stunning in good lighting conditions. Overall, a well-build and fun looking IEM.

Comfort

One of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever used.

As stated previously, the VxV inherited the shape from its older brothers in M series. That resulted in a very ergonomic shape that is not too big and sits just about perfectly in the ear. Thanks to the MMCX connectors, the cable can spin and you can easily put it behind your ears, and the overall shape of the IEM makes them easy to insert.

On top of that, the nozzle has an elongated shape which is beneficial to use those in a deep-fit fashion. All of that makes the VxV one of the most comfortable universal IEM I’ve used.

Tech

The fun begins even before turning on the music.

In terms of the tech inside the VxV, there’s not too much to say. It uses a 6mm dynamic driver for the low-end, a 2BA driver for the midrange, 1BA for the high frequencies and 1BA for ultra-high.

Also, there are two Direct Aperture technologies from the M-series implemented: The Direct Bore and Tactile Bass, as well as a modified ATOM module, that provides a pressure-free listening experience.

All of that makes for a refined hybrid construction, which may not be too revolutionary, but the focus is being held on taking the well-known hybrid array and polishing it in a well-thought manner.

Sound

Tech meets enjoyment.

Let’s put one thing straight in the beginning – The days of calling $1000 IEMs “High-End” are long gone. With that change, more and more manufacturers are pushing this segment hard, releasing some screaming edge constructions, utilizing EST drivers, Planars and many others. Why am I even mentioning that? Because the VxV offers a different approach to this segment. Instead of pushing as many drivers and as many technologies inside, these are all about being refined and just fantastically tuned.

The bass was the thing that surprised me from the get-go. “Is that really a DD driver?” I thought. Then I focused a little bit and yea, it is. But it is tuned as a BA bass, which is quite impressive actually. Flat, clean, fast and precise, with just a hint of rumble. If you’re looking for a hard-hitting, elevated bass response – these are definitely not your IEMs.
Nonetheless, it has a lot of strengths. Just imagine a well-tuned, precise BA bass and add a bit of an attack and punch from a DD driver, and you’re basically getting the VxV’s bass response. I haven’t heard a single track when it was too weak, or too strong. It might not satisfy bass-heads, but everybody else should be pretty happy with it.
An album by Nils Lofgren called “Acoustic Live” showed how natural and revealing this bass is. I strongly recommend checking this one out.

The midrange is natural, with a slight focus on the lower and upper parts. That means that male vocals have this slight warmth and body to them, which is the best thing that could have happened. Also, thanks to the latter, female vocals are well-pronounced, and they step forward a bit, resulting in a captivating and energetic sound. Melody Gardot really shines thanks to that, with her voice pleasantly vibrating and being full of air. Actually, the VxV has a tendency to create a sense of spaciousness around the mid frequencies. This reminds me of one IEM on the market, which does a similar thing – Vision Ears Elysium.
In terms of detail retrieval and timbre, these are basically as good as it gets in a $1000 price bracket.

What a good tuning can make.

The treble is also natural, extended and pleasant sounding. It may lack a bit of an edge if you’re into more Asia-oriented tuning, but hey, there’s plenty of options on the market if you like that kind of presentation. Nonetheless, it’s a very neutral kind of treble that is neither dark nor bright sounding. A good amount of details, yet it’s smooth and refined. It complements the rest of the frequency range perfectly, giving you that signature that is both very universal yet engaging.
While metal could use a bit more energy, it’s still a pleasure to listen to with VxV. Overall, this IEM is well suited to every music genre thanks to its neutral presentation.
Let’s get back to Nils Lofgren “Acoustic Live” album for a while. This is a great showcase of acoustic guitar’s sound with a lot of strings action. The Five x Five handles this music perfectly if you’re looking for an overall natural and pleasant listening experience. Of course, you’re getting more energy and an overall more spectacular sound with IEMs like Campfire Audio Ara or Unique Melody Mest, but those 2 might be tiring after some time actually. You won’t be having this problem with the VxV.

Based on the previous impressions you might actually get a hint of what staging characteristics the VxV has, and you’d be totally right. It sounds natural, simple as that. It’s wide and deep, but it’s not exaggerated in any way. Its biggest strength is imaging, provided by the great separation between instruments and fantastic layering. Thanks to that, the IEM creates a musical sphere around your head, with each instrument placed in its place. While it’s not as impressive as MEST or Solaris 2020 by Campfire Audio, it has its own way of creating an immersive and lifelike soundstage.

I’ve got a couple of thoughts about the Fir Audio VxV. I believe this is an IEM that is easy to overlook as a reviewer. I usually find myself looking for something exciting, different, even crazy about the product, that might differentiate it from the rest of the market. That’s totally true with the Mest, Solaris 2020 or Elysium for example. And then we’ve got the VxV, which stands out by…not having anything that stands out.

And that’s its biggest strength. Remember the “Every day carry” sentence written on the packaging? That’s totally it. This is a remarkable IEM for your everyday listening sessions. Pairs with just about everything, sounds great with every music genre and could meet everybody’s expectations.

A great “everyday” companion.


VS Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

These two are as different as they could be. The Dorado is a spectacular sounding IEM with heavily boosted bass frequencies and an edgy treble response, resulting in a fun and super engaging sound. VxV on the other hand is much more neutral, calm and universal sounding, and they will suit more people – no doubt about it.

VS Campfire Audio ARA

These two are also different. While both are neutral sounding, the Ara has more edge to the upper midrange and lower treble, resulting in a more brave sounding IEM, which might be more fun sounding in acoustic music. The VxV has a better bass response thanks to the dynamic driver and thicker notes in the midrange.

VS Vision Ears EVE20

I somehow see the EVE20 and VxV as the IEMs competing for the same type of customer. While the EVE is a good every day IEM, I find the newest release from Fir Audio to check more boxes. It is definitely better made, has a more intriguing design and on top of that, the sound is more detailed and neutral.


VS Campfire Audio Solaris 2020

The Solaris 2020 is a thicker and more analog sounding of the two, no doubt about it. It also has a bigger soundstage and more refined, moist vocals. The VxV on the other hand is more neutral and has a more flat bass response. While the CFA is all about charming the listener, the Fir Audio aims more for an easy and forgiving listening experience.

Down to the rabbit hole.

Pairing

The Fir Audio VxV pairs well with just about everything. It sounds good with Shanling UA1, but tended to sound a bit too dry with that combination.
The JDSLabs Atom stack provided a great energetic boost, which gave them a bit more excitement.
Cayin N3Pro has been a great companion for the Five x Five, both in ultralinear and in balanced mode. While the ultralinear warmed up the midrange and turned them into a quite warm and lush sounding IEM, the balanced output gave me similar results as the Atom stack.

Lastly, a brief listening session with the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch resulted in a stunning amount of details and the staging being absolutely great for a $1000 pair of in-ear monitors. This pair-up could be a bit too neutral and uhm…unexciting for some, but to say it sounded great in terms of technical performance, would be an understatement.

Summary

If Fir Audio continues to launch such great products so often, they’ll be one of the best IEM manufacturers in no time.

Fir Audio VxV is a phenomenal IEM tuned nearly to perfection. Fantastic, one of a kind story-telling and unboxing experience make for a different, fresh approach to handling a rather expensive audio product. Great stock cable and build quality, in addition to a very mature and pleasant tuning, makes it one of the absolute best IEM that 1000 dollars could get you in the present market. Add an absolutely mind-blowing and super friendly customer service, and you’ll end up with the product that you’re gonna like immediately.

Highly recommended.




Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020, Lime Ears Aether R, Vision Ears EVE20, Elysium, Meze Rai Penta, Audeze LCD3, Campfire Audio Ara, Noble Audio Khan, Final A8000, Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Solaris 2020, Solaris LE
  • Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, Cayin N5ii, Fiio M15, Cayin N6ii, Cayin N8, JDSLabs Atom stack, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9
corgifall
corgifall
Great review! I really need to try these out sometime.
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rev92
rev92
Thank you! Yea, definitely give them a try :)

HansBarbarossa

100+ Head-Fier
FIR Audio VxV: chasing a naughty hare
Pros: Sound, ergonomics, design, build quality, kit, price.
Cons: No (if you leave the price behind the brackets).
FIR Audio VxV: chasing a naughty hare

Hi everyone!

Last summer, we told you about the amazing custom CIEM (there is also a universal version of IEM) earphones FiR Audio M5. And now, in parallel to its cool M-line (M2, M3, M4, M5), this American brand with funny bunny ears on the logo (how I like them) has created its new sound wonder under the VxV (5x5) index, which has slightly different, but no less interesting sound signature and is produced exclusively in the IEM version.

This model has, as you might guess from its name, five drivers: one dynamic (DD) and four armature (BA) drivers, as well as a built-in atom-X module. The sound of today's hero is somewhat different from its also "five-fingered" brother M5, built according to a different hybrid scheme, using an electrostatic driver as a super twitter (1-ESTAT, 1-BA High, 1BA High-Mid, 1-BA Mid, 1-DD Low).

I must say right away that I was delighted with the acquaintance with VxV. The sound, design and ergonomics are fully consistent with the model's slogan: EVERY DAY CARRY. Yes, you always want to have such musical and visual beauty with you and take it with you.

In general, it seems to me, given the quite humane price tag for such a sound, FIR VxV may become one of the most interesting IEM representatives of 2020 in the category "above average". And much higher, this must be emphasized.


So, we ran after the hare, he knows the right way!



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Text by Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa



Specification
1x Dynamic Driver
2x Mid-driver Balanced Armature
1x High-driver Balanced Armature
1x Ultra-high Driver Balanced Armature
MMCX connectors
2.5mm TRRS balanced connector
Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic.



Appearance kit and ergonomics

VxV IEMs are delivered in a small laconic white cardboard box with a fun and witty design. On its front surface there is a drawing of a mischievous hare "Firry" in a space helmet, and his ears are also victorious two fingers up - "Victory", and sly eyes with a nose indicate the model "VxV" (5x5). Detailed specifications can be found on the back of the package.

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The box is protected by a yellow seal, which contains the brand's logo, model name and the already familiar motto "EVERY DAY CARRY", as well as the proud clarification that the product is made in the USA.

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In the box we find a stylish black leather case-washer with the brand logo, designed for storing and carrying IEM, and a scattering of various beautiful stickers, as well as warranty documents.


The whole set neatly fit inside the case: VxV IEM with a removable cable (MMCX / 2.5 mm balance) installed in them, 4 pairs of silicone and one pair of foam tips, and a brush for cleaning the sound guides.
In general, there is everything we need here that we may need to use these IEMs.


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Black IEM shells are made of aluminum, and the front panel - faceplate - is a white thermoplastic (Delrin) with a metal central insert. On the left IEM there is a logo of the brand in the form of bunny ears, on the right - the very winning hare we first met at the very beginning of the review. Everything looks stylish, cute and humorous - I really like it.

The elegant teardrop-shaped VxV body is quite lightweight, durable and extremely comfortable. It is smooth and tactile to the touch. The straight sound pipe is covered with a metal mesh that protects the headphones from moisture and sulfur. On the upper side of the shell there is a connector for a removable cable. The IEM is expected to be worn behind the ear.


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Nice braided cable made of silver-plated copper litz wire. It is silvery white in color, elastic, MMCX connectors with a "key", balanced jack TRRS 2.5 mm, and a splitter made in the same style. The cable length is 1.2 meters. If you wish, you can replace the cable with any other with MMCX connectors, although personally to me it seems very attractive and effective. Well, in my case, the cable was replaced, but due to the fact that it is much more convenient for me to use a regular 3.5 mm jack. And the fact that I already have a cool cable that fits VxV connectors made me want to replace it.

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As I mentioned, this IEM model has a hybrid design and is built on five drivers: four BAs and one dynamic (DD, 6mm) with an integrated Atom module. Let me remind you that the Atom-X is a metal cylinder-valve that acts as an acoustic filter for fine-tuning the sound of headphones. It also releases the air lock that forms between the earpiece and the ear drum. Thus, the pressure on the eardrum is reduced, and our hearing is not exposed to any risks.

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The VxV uses the tubeless technology we saw with the FIR "M" series, but this time in a slightly different design, like a reactor.

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I support this innovative approach in every possible way. FIR Audio engineers are trying to bring technical innovations into every new development, and they are great at it! The brand's designers are also keeping up with them, creating a unique IEM look from FIR. As a result, we get, like this time, a thing that looks great, is incredibly convenient, and is extremely interestingly implemented from a technical point of view.


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After the first acquaintance (kit, appearance, workmanship and convenience of these IEMs), I sincerely liked the VxV with great sympathy, but the most important thing is ahead of us - let's move on to the sonic yummy that is hidden inside these IEM!


Sound impressions

Listening (audio testing) was conducted on: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, Lotoo paw Gold, Lotoo PAW S1, iBasso DX220 (AMP7), iBasso 220 MAX, QLS QA-361, iFI micro iDSD BL & iFi HIP DAC.

The VxV were burn-in for 50 hours before listening.

With all sound sources, the earphones played at a decent level.

I strongly recommend that you take a responsible approach to the tips selection process, as it makes a noticeable contribution to the creation of a sound picture.


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The sound of VxV is balanced, with a well-developed low-frequency range, tight, precise punch, smooth, charming and rich, emotional mids, as well as clear and unobtrusive high frequencies. The audio landscape is drawn broadly, in contrast, moderately expressive and naturalistic.





The main emphasis here is on maximizing the potential of the mid-frequency range, while Lows and Highs are clearly and harmoniously woven into the overall unusually melodic sound canvas.


This is a neutral and at the same time extremely expressive manner of sound presentation, with a bodily filling of audio images in the mid-range register, a light velvet background added by low frequencies, as well as an accurate, unobtrusive and clear high-frequency range. VxV strikes a good balance between serious academic manners and the emotional component of the music. I also note their competent configuration of these IEMs with good driver matching.

In general, universal IEMs have a slight advantage over custom CIEMs, which, I suppose, not everyone knows about. The fact is that with the help of thoughtful and leisurely selection of tips, you can achieve various nuances in the sound. So personally, after playing a little alternately with different tips, I opted for small silicone single-leaf tips. This variation makes the VxV sound as neutral as possible, only gently adding emotion to the mid-highs. Another good variation with two-flanged silicone or foam tips. But here, for the most part, everything will depend on the diameter and structure of your ear canal. In any case, try to keep the IEM as deep as possible in the ear and the tip to close the ear canal tightly. Well, okay, let's get back to the sound experience directly.


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These IEMs perfectly build a stereo panorama and have good detail, presenting compositions wide, spacious and very musical.


The bass for the dynamic driver is pretty accurate and fast, with good control, tight punch, and good texture. In fact, if I didn’t know that the VxV has a dynamic driver installed, I would probably think that it is a BA receiver.

Well, the truth is, FIR managed to masterfully and gracefully make the manner of sound something between the warmth of DD and the bite of BA.

The bass is delivered quite evenly and smoothly, with a slight casual accent in the lower mids. It clearly interacts with the mid-range register, complementing it with depth and rhythmic basis. The drum set sounds accurate and rather polished: the rumblings of beats briskly and fractionally scatter on both sides of the delighted listener. Midbass is almost on par with the middle.



The mids is flat, smooth and natural. Here, each musical image is endowed with volume and its own bodily basis. This is an extremely melodic manner, where all sounds or instruments are in the right place in space. Strings, brass, piano and vocals sound gracefully and at the same time monumental. It is also worth noting the overall smoothness, good detail and harmonious work with micro and macro contrast.

There is a light and elegant rise in the upper mids, which adds gloss to the vocals, and expressiveness and sophistication to the strings. This was done as clearly and correctly as possible, you will not find fault. The sound canvas is drawn harmoniously, reliably, with a spreading stereo panorama, in neutral and expressive colors. It is a well-balanced, smooth and at the same time emotional performance, where all the elements of the composition are presented accurately, large and multifaceted.



High frequencies are reproduced clearly and harmoniously. Their quantity and quality also does not cause any serious criticism. They harmoniously contribute to the overall sound picture, precisely matching the play of the entire frequency range. The register is transmitted cleanly, accurately and distinctly, without harshness and distortion. This is an authentic and maximally correct manner, with good articulation, served in a light, graceful and comfortable manner.


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In terms of genre preferences, FIR VxVs are not whimsical at all. They play instrumental music, jazz, electronic, rock, and brutal genres quite interestingly.

I am sure that quite a few people will like this approach to sound tuning.


Conclusion

FIR VxV is definitely a good model!

These IEMs have a remarkable appearance, high-quality assembly, excellent ergonomics, a decent kit, outstanding technical implementation, and as a result - great sound!

Well, their slogan - EVERY DAY CARRY - was written not for the sake of a catchphrase. The model has received such a competent sound setting that you can listen to music and enjoy it from morning to evening and from dusk to dawn - there will be no discomfort or other unwanted side effects.

At the same time, the manner of sounding FIR VxV, in my opinion, can satisfy the tastes of both the widest circle of music lovers and demanding audiophiles.

It remains only to inform about the price of this pleasure. You can purchase the VxV model on the official website firaudio.com for $ 999. Considering all the above mentioned advantages, I recommend FIR VxV for purchase without a shadow of a doubt. These headphones are simply made for endless listening pleasure.

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sm0rf
sm0rf
Saw that you also have (or had) the Prophile and Softears RSV, can you compare the 3 in few words ^^

In my opinion PP-8 is the better tonal IEM compared to RSV, while RSV is playing musical and the PP-8 trying to reproduce it "note-by-note" with all it (dis)adavantage and where fit the 5x5 ?
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HansBarbarossa
HansBarbarossa
@sm0rf FIR VxV is more musical, emotional IEM, made for fun. PP8 and RSV sound neutral, naturalistic, slightly muffled, but soulful with a "sound studio taste". If PP8 and RSV have a lot in common, then VxV is a completely different sound, moderately beautiful but also of high quality. A matter of taste.
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