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Pros: Very well balanced across the spectrum, Silky smooth tuning, Great Seperation, Versetile performer
Cons: Not so technical, Nozzle shape leads to fit issue
PENON FAN 2
Penon Fan 2 is a hybrid In-ear monitor from the popular online audio products store Penon Audio. The same store we used to look for purchasing HiFi IEMs and DAPs, and now they are focusing on their own brand of IEMs and offer exciting items across the price range. Fan 2 consists of two Balanced armature drivers and two dynamic drivers. One Sonion BA for Mids, one Knowles BA for high frequency and two 6mm crystal-plated biological diaphragm dynamic drivers for handling low frequencies. One thing that makes this IEM special is the use of biological diaphragm dynamic drivers, which is a high-quality dynamic driver and as per our knowledge, Penon was the first brand to adopt this dynamic driver in their IEMs. Penon fan 2 comes with a 2-Pin Penon OS133 cable, and an OFC Silver plated cable and can be terminated as per your needs while placing order on their website. The item consisting of two variants of silicone ear tips, one wide bore, which helps with treble and soundstage and another one is a narrow bore is primarily for improving the sub-bass. The tips help a lot while listening to different genres of music. For our review, we would be using the wide bore as we believe it sounds best with wide-bore blue tips. Penon Fan 2 retails for 279 US$ with frequent discounts.
- Driver Configuration: 2 Dynamic Driver + 2 Balanced Armature
- Impedance: 13Ω ± 10%
- Freq Response: 20Hz-20Khz
- Sensitivity: 112dB/mW
- Cable: OS133 -2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores
- Plug: Gold-plated copper + Carbon fiber plug accessories
Penon gave us a small discount on the price of the IEM, we’re thankful to them. We were also delighted with the opportunity to review it.
Packaging & Accessories: -
The Penon Fan 2 comes in a small Penon box, inside of it we have the IEM carry case. The IEMs and all the accessories are packed inside of the beautiful carry case. It comes with a Penon OS133 cable which is a high-quality OFC Silver plated cable and for our case, we chose 2.5mm balanced termination. The cable alone usually retails on the Penon Audio website for around 50 US$ depending on the offers. Lastly, it comes with two variants of silicone ear tips, both Narrowed and Wide Bores.
IEM Build & Design: -
It looks like a Semi-Custom design to us. Penon Fan 2’s shells are 3D printed using medical-grade resin and are quite light and comfortable for the ear. The design of the IEMs is kind of semi-custom with long nozzles which provides amazing passive isolation. Nozzles are a bit long which can be a love-hate thing for the users. The faceplate is beautifully crafted with resins with blue and rusty red accents in it.
Sound Analysis: -
Credits: @Soundcheck39 (Squiglink)
- Tonality: - Penon Fan 2 comes with Penon’s house sound with a modest inoffensive tint of warmth, musical and yet balanced and smooth across the spectrum. The sound is balanced from lows to highs where the bass doesn’t split to the mids and highs are airy and right at the point thus can be used for longer listening.
- Lows: - Penon Fan 2 has two 6mm crystal-plated biological diaphragm dynamic drivers for handling bass, which results in a well-rounded textured bass. The bass takes the lead in quality rather than quantity. The mid-bass is slightly forward with a beautiful texture. For testing bass, we made use of the Remix Version of Timmy Turner on the SoundCloud app and Nakshatram by Jean du Voyage’s offline FLAC file. The two 6mm dd is used in a smart way to keep with the tonal balance of the IEM which is quite fun in the EDM genre. As it results in faster takeoff along with the right balance. But we would like to add here that the bass doesn’t hit hard, so if you are looking for a deep and boomy bass with the deepest decay this isn’t the IEM for you. Where the sub-bass is really good with above-average layering. The transient response is seen on those dynamic drivers, where the kick is there with faster decay.
- Mids: - Mids is one of the shining aspects of Fan 2. The Penon Fan 2 makes use of Sonion BA for the mids. The Sonions are quite famous for their full-bodied mids without a hint of BA timbre, and we are happy to see that the BA is beautifully implemented by the Penon Audio team. For testing mids, we’ve listened to “In Your Eyes” by the Weekend and Skyfall by Adele through Apple Music. The mids have a soul and are very musical. The Fan 2 offers a rich tonal presentation. It offers a very dynamic and smooth mids across the frequency. The male vocals especially have beautiful textures, have controls, and sounds sublime.
- Highs: - The Penon Fan 2 makes use of one Knowles BA and comes with the buttery treble if we can say that. The treble is clean and airy without a bit of harshness. So, listening for a longer period won’t lead to any kind of fatigue (at least for us). For trebles also, Penon Fan 2 strikes a good balance. They are vivid, open, almost airy, almost sparky, without ever getting into excess leanness, let alone scanting into metallic or artificial sheen, thus keeping with the musical tonality of the IEMs. While listening to “In Your Eyes” from the Weekend the saxophone doesn’t really shine which should be due to the lack of upper treble. Keeping in mind that it costs that low.
- Soundstage & Imaging: - The soundstage of the Penon Fan 2 is intimate, organic, and very musical. We really enjoyed listening to blues music on Fan 2. The soundstage is decently wide and deep. Macro dynamics is amongst Fan 2 fortes, but micro details are not so nicely pronounced. Instruments are very pleasantly and distinctly positioned on the stage, and there’s air, and clean space between them. Fan 2’s detail retrieval capacity is above average but not the best in its price category. Separation between the instruments across the frequency is really wide and deep whereas the imaging is just average at best.
- Synergy: - After trying it with different sources (Astell and Kern AK100, SP1000m, Dethonray DTR1, DTR1+, Pegasus SG1 Gold, Aune M1p and Tanchjim Space and Space lite dongles) it mostly shines with analytical sources. With Peno Fan 2, DTR1+ pairs and makes the bass more thumpy and deeper. In the case of cables, high-quality copper cable, say UPOCC Copper cable with Fan 2, mids will be more organic. It makes it almost unbeatable in that region.
The Penon fan2 along with wide bore tips + Analytical DAPs + High-quality copper cable sounds sublime, especially with the blues genre. Penon Fan 2 is a unique offering from Penon Audio. It is made from love and not ego by Penon Audio for its fans across the world. It doesn’t try to show off but believes in keeping things beautifully balanced across the frequency. The best thing about Penon Fan 2 lies in its organic timbre, musical tonality and intimate soundstage which stands strong across the genre of the music. The thing which we didn’t like about the Penon Fan 2 is its average imaging ability and limited technicality. So, we would end this review by saying that if you love the blues genre of music and searching for semi-custom kinds of musical IEMs then this is the best way to boost your audiophile journey.
Pros: Rich, silky smooth sound signature. Excellent timbre.
Technical prowess akin to sets several times more expensive
Commendable staging and imaging
Good quality stock cable and hard shell pouch
Technical prowess akin to sets several times more expensive
Commendable staging and imaging
Good quality stock cable and hard shell pouch
Cons: Long nozzle can cause fit issues with wide bore tips. However, extremely comfortable with supplied grey tips or any regular dome/bullet shaped tips.
Bass quality, while excellent, is tilted slightly in favour of midbass punch.
Bass quality, while excellent, is tilted slightly in favour of midbass punch.
I am an audiophile and a reviewer who works with Mr. @Sajid Amit of Amplify Audio Reviews. Amplify generally covers high end IEMs, DAC Amps and Headphones with occasional reviews of budget products. Check out our video reviews at: https://www.youtube.com/@amplifyaudioreviews
Fan 2 was sent to Amplify in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. You can buy the Fan 2 at: https://penonaudio.com/penon-fan-2
Shell material: 3D printed medical grade resin
I am an audiophile and a reviewer who works with Mr. @Sajid Amit of Amplify Audio Reviews. Amplify generally covers high end IEMs, DAC Amps and Headphones with occasional reviews of budget products. Check out our video reviews at: https://www.youtube.com/@amplifyaudioreviews
Fan 2 was sent to Amplify in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. You can buy the Fan 2 at: https://penonaudio.com/penon-fan-2
Shell material: 3D printed medical grade resin
- 2 x 6mm biological dynamic driver for low frequency1 Sonion BA for middle frequency1 Knowles BA for high frequencyImpedance: 13 ohmSensitivity: 112dB
About Penon Audio:
Penon is a Hong Kong-based audio store that carries your usual chi-fi best-sellers as well as their own in-house developed IEMs, earbuds and cables. I have been aware of Penon for some years now but never got to try out any of their in-house products until Fan 2 arrived.
Unboxing, build quality, comfort:
Unboxing Penon fan 2 was quite the unusual experience. The outer packaging is as barebone as it gets. It is basically a plain yellow box with Penon's brand logo printed on the top side. No mention of the IEM model or anything similar anywhere on the outer packaging.
Inside I was greeted with a fairly substantial blue hard shell case with yet another Penon logo. I like this case a lot. It is spacious inside with ample velvet material cushioning to keep your IEM and accessories safe. There are separate cut outs for the earpieces so that they don't knock on each other while in transit.
Inside the case you are greeted with the IEMs themselves, alongside two sets of silicone tips (blue wide bores and grey regular tips), cable winder, cleaning tool and a metal shirt clip. Penon did not cheap out on cable quality. The stock cable is an in-house Penon cable that is sold for 39 USD separately in their store (model name: OS 133).
Build quality is solid all around and impressively so. The earpieces are made of medical grade resin with excellent fit and finish. I am particularly in love with the Fan 2 faceplate. It looks gorgeous in real life and in my opinion, easily trounces the likes of Dunu SA6 as long as outward beauty is concerned.
The stock cable is sheathed in flexible black paracord material and I like the lightweight, malleable characteristic of it, which reminds me of high end gaming mouse paracords. It does not have any cable guide though so make sure both earpieces have identical polarity when connected.
Comfort can be quite divisive depending on user preference and ear canal variations. I for one, prefer long and deep reaching nozzles personally(probably owing to being a longtime etymotic/Sony M9 user) and fan 2 was extremely comfy with the stock grey green tips for me. I did find the blue wide bores uncomfortable though.
TLDR: Build. comfort, accessories and aesthetics gets a solid A+ from me
- Apple type c dongle (brief)Meizu hi fi DAC (brief)Jcally AP10 (brief)Cayin RU7 (extended)Aroma Audio Air (extended)Earmen Angel (extended)Sony WM1ZM2 (extended)The Fan 2 is ultra-easy to drive with an impedance of 13 ohms and sensitivity of 112 dB. Scales significantly with higher end sources.
Penon Fan 2 is a beautiful IEM. But beyond aesthetics, I am happy to report that Fan 2 sounds as beautiful as it looks. The first thing I immediately noticed was how thick and weighty the notes were. This approach is kind of an antithesis to the bass boosted neutral or harman neutral approach chi fi IEMs go for nowadays. Yes, that approach gives an apparent perception of clarity and drawn out details but often at the expense of tonal imbalance and thin, unnatural midrange. Fan 2 goes against that flow and puts timbre and tonal balance at the top of its priority list.
Although some reviews are labelling fan 2 as a warm neutral set I don't find it to be so especially compared to truly warm neutral IEMs, Sony IER M9 or Dita Perpetua for example. Fan 2 is a colourful, thick, warm and organic sounding set from my observation.
Fan 2's bass has a vintage, thick vibe to it. It is not the fastest and decays sometimes overstay their welcome but I don't find the bass to be bloated or woolly. Well textured and similar to how final audio IEMs render bass. Sub bass extension and rumble are decent but the overall bass response is tilted in favour of midbass. This was quite evident in one my all time favourite tracks for insane crazy bass, Kanye West's Stronger. I don't think Fan 2 will satisfy devout bassheads though as the bass, while satisfactory, is not dominant in the mix, But if you value balance over a specific part of the frequency then Fan 2 might be your jam.
Midrange is easily the strongest forte of Fan 2. There are sets out there that are priced several times higher but will struggle to reach the midrange timbre of 280 USD Fan 2. Fan 2 has a thick and weighty yet superbly clean and lifelike midrange. Midbass grunt adds extra heft and body to the lower mids while upper midrange doesn't exhibit any scoop or odd suckout. Both male and female vocals sound equally good as a result. I am often put off by the nasal and shrieky/shouty BA handled midrange in this price range (moondrop stuff for example). Fortunately, fan 2 exhibits no such phenomenon.
Treble response, I think, will be a major divisive point for this IEM. Fan 2 goes for a super smooth, safe approach in the treble region. There is zero hint of sibilance,resonance/percussion compression or sharpness in the treble region but the absence of spice/shimmer did occasionally leave me wanting. Such occurrences are rare though and only happens when I pair the Fan 2 with low/mid low end dongles. With capable sources like Earmen Angel or Aroma Audio Air (basically any source that's transparent and revealing) the treble response has a marked improvement. I would happily choose a treble response that is ideal for long listening sessions over nails on a chalkboard treble that provides cheap thrill for thirty seconds max.
Staging and imaging both are excellent and I would say imaging is actually way above average considering IEMs in this price range. Coherence is brilliant and actually outperforms the remarkably coherent Kiwi ears quintet ever so slightly. I do find the separation and layering slightly less impressive though but that is most likely a by-product of the thick, smooth signature Fan 2 is going for. Detail retrieval is exceptional and competes with IEMs in the $600-700 range. I also find the way detail is presented to the listener to be quite tasteful. It doesn't spoon feed “microdetails” with artificially boosted treble and upper mids. It is a relatively easy listen compared to most 'technical' sub 500 USD IEMs without any form of sensory overload.
- Moondrop Blessing 2/Dusk: I did not like the blessing 2/ B2 dusk when they came out. I still don’t like them. White technically competent, I find both sets to be lean and kind of lifeless. I would choose Fan 2 over both all day, everyday.
- Kiwi Ears Quintet: Quintet's party tricks are separation and layering and it handily beats Fan 2 in those segments. I honestly find both sets equally good, just differently flavoured. Quintet does exhibit some piezo zing and is even more source sensitive than the Fan 2
- Final Audio E5000: Another similarly priced bassy set from Japan. The E5000 is incredibly difficult to drive and requires serious amping to make it sing. I don't like its bloated, slow bass though, even when being amped to the moon. Fan 2 embodies all its strengths in my opinion, but none of the weaknesses.
- Aful performer 5: Should be named awful performer. I am not sure why this subpar D tier set is being put on a pedestal. It's not good tonally, not good technically, lacks any form of coherence, and I find the BA timbre on this set simply intolerable. Fan 2 is markedly superior on all fronts.
- Dunu SA6: Controversial claim but I think the Fan 2 is better. SA6 didn't click with me. I found the bass response to be lacklustre and the overall sound signature rather non-remarkable.
Final words: Penon Fan 2 is a highly competent IEM that has that desirable mix in between great timbre and competent technical performances. For 279 USD, it hardly does anything wrong in my book. If you are a ‘fan’ of rich, warm, smooth sound signature but tired of all the technically inept options out there, Fan 2 might be your answer. Give it your attention.Last edited:
I'm a Fan of this IEM!Pros: Nice accessory line-up
Solid resin build
Easy to drive
Above average isolation
Natural monitor-like warm-neutral tonality, very well-balanced with smooth fatigue-free sonics
Excellent bass quality
Good soundstage depth and top-notch imaging/layering
Will make a good option for stage monitoringCons: Potential fit and comfort issues
Not for bassheads in terms of bass quantity/extension
Not the most sparkly or airy set (perhaps not for diehard trebleheads)DISLCAIMER
I would like to thank Penon for providing this unit. The Fan 2 can be gotten here: https://penonaudio.com/penon-fan-2.html
- Driver configuration: 2 x 6 mm crystal-plated biological diaphragm dynamic drivers + 2 x balanced armature drivers (1 x Sonion and 1 x Knowles BA)
- Impedance: 13 Ohms
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: 112
- Cable: 2-pin OS133 266 core, choice of 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm or 4.4 mm termination
- Tested at $279 USD (frequently on sale for 50% off)
Other than the IEM, these are included:
- 3 pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips
- 3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone eartips
- 1 pair of double flange silicone tips
- Semi-rigid carrying case
- Cable fastener
- Shirt clip
- Cleaning brush
The accessories are very generous for a $200ish set, perhaps other than the lack of a modular cable or foam tips, but this is nitpicking.
There are 2 variants of regular silicone eartips - a wide-bore and a narrow-bore one. The former provides better treble extension and improved soundstaging, while the latter boosts bass though with some compression of the soundstage. Lastly, we have the double flange tips, which provide the best isolation and deepest insertion, though some might be sensitive to the comfort of these.
The included cleaning brush, shirt clip and cable fastener are really nice value-added accessories for daily usage.
The stock cable is a 2-pin OS133266 core cable, sheathed externally with a fabric material. Consumers have a choice of 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm or 4.4 mm termination during ordering. This cable is slightly microphonic, though it is quite tangle-free with an added chin chinch. Sadly, there is no cable guide/hook, and one may inadvertently connect the Fan 2 in reverse polarity, no biggie using some youtube links to check that you are in phase (music will sound like it is behind the ears if so).
Last but not least, we have a huge semi-rigid zipper case, which is large enough to store the Fan 2 plus accessories. The innards contain webbing and a velvety material to cushion the contents.
The rest of this review was done with the stock cable and stock narrow-bore tips. No aftermarket accessories were used, so as not to add any confounders to the sound.
The Fan 2 housings are real lookers, featuring an amalgamated red and blue marbled faceplate, reminiscent of a maple leaf. The shells are fashioned from 3D-printed medical-grade resin, and the build is downright solid.
The earpieces are light, though the nozzles are long, and the shape lies on the awkward side. Comfort is hence hit or miss, and some may not be used to the longer nozzles. I experienced initial discomfort when using the stock wide-bore blue tips, but when tip-rolling to the grey narrow-bore ones, it managed to fit snuggly with more than decent ergonomics. Hence, please explore various tip configurations - even aftermarket ones if necessary - and the Fan 2's stellar sonics will reward consumers who put some effort here.
As the Fan 2 is a vented IEM, isolation is probably just above average, and it should be usable on-the-go. I did not encounter any driver flex on my pair.
The Fan 2 is a 4 driver hybrid, comprising of
- 2 x 6mm crystal-plated diaphragm DDs - these take care of the bass frequencies
- 1 x Sonion BA, which handles the midrange
- 1 x Knowles BA, which reproduces the treble frequencies.
The crystal-plated biological DDs are covered with special material so as to preserve their durability - regular biological diaphragms may deteriorate in humidity over time. Choice Knowles and Sonion BAs are included - Sonion drivers in particular are found in more expensive gear usually - and these Sonion drivers contribute to a melodious midrange, which we will read about below.
I tested the Fan 2 with the following sources:
- Apple dongle
- Cayin RU7
- Colorfly CDA M1 DAC/AMP dongle
- Creative Sound Blaster X5
- E1DA DAC/AMP dongle
- Hiby R3 Pro Saber 2022 DAP
- Khadas Tone Board -> Schiit Asgard 3 amp
- Khadas Tone Board -> Topping L30 amp
- Questyle M15 DAC/AMP dongle
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One Neutral Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW WM1A DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
This IEM is very easy to drive, though amplification may help it scale a bit in terms of soundstage, dynamics and bass tightness.
SOUND & TECHNICALITIES
Graph of the Penon Fan 2 via IEC711 coupler. 8 kHz is a coupler artefact peak.
Tonally, the Fan 2 sports a warm-neutral signature, something that is akin to a stage monitor-like tuning. This is rather uncommon in a sea of run-of-the mill Harman curves that inundate us weekly. Users will hear an extremely smooth and balanced frequency response, which is euphonic and pleasant.
Graph of the Penon Fan 2 versus Sony IER M9 via IEC711 coupler. 8 kHz is a coupler artefact peak.
Indeed, the Fan 2 is similar tonally to the way more expensive Sony IER M9. Of course we won't be comparing this set against the M9 - it won't be fair for their 5x price differential - but like the M9, the Fan 2 can surely be used for stage monitoring and audio work.
The Fan 2 is a mid-bass focused set, and the bass is just a hair north of neutral. Sub-bass does not have the deepest extension or rumble, but the Fan 2 makes it up in terms of quality. The bass is well-textured, with good speed and minimal mid-bass bleed. Thus, the Fan 2 eschews outright bass quantity for brilliant quality.
The midrange is quite linear, and is intoxicating. Indeed, this is one of my favourite aspects of this IEM. The mids are well-dosed, neither being too anemic (and artificial sounding) nor too thick (which may obscure transparency). The Sonion BAs are really implemented well, and instruments are layered nicely on a black background, allowing notes to be easily pinpointed. The upper midrange is sedate, with not an ounce of shoutiness to vocals.
The Fan 2 is not the most sparkly or airy set, and there is a roll-off in the upper treble. Conversely, this bestows an extremely smooth and sibilant-free higher end, and our treble sensitive brethren will be extremely at home with the tuning. Nevertheless, the Fan 2 doesn't lose too much resolution and details in the music can still be heard - there is no need for an overly boosted treble that many CHIFI use to give "fake" resolution. Trebleheads may need to look elsewhere though, can't please everyone.
When it comes to technicalities, the Fan 2's imaging, layering and instrument separation is a stand-out. While micro-detailing is about average for its price-point, as discussed above, it doesn't veer to the steroid-infused treble of many rival CHIFI that gives phoney micro-details. While soundstage width is about average, it is quite deep and tall, and music never sounds compressed on this IEM.
Timbre is quite decent for a BA containing set, there's just a tinge of a metallic timbre heard for acoustic instruments, but otherwise, the Fan 2 arguably fares better than most other pure BA/hybrid sets in the timbral accuracy department.
Comparisons were made with other midFI hybrids. Planars, single DDs and pure BA types were left out of the equation as the different transducers have their pros and cons.
Sony XBA N3
The Sony N3 is a bassy and warm set, with much more bass than the Fan 2. However, the bass isn't tight and bleeds a lot, with the Fan 2 boasting of better bass quality.
The N3 is bigger in soundstage, but the imaging is worse, so it sounds quite nebulous and fuzzy in a larger sound sphere. Layering, micro-details and resolution are easily won on the Fan 2.
The N3 is a bullet shaped IEM with better fit, though it has worse isolation and driver flex.
AFUL Performer 5
The Performer 5 is a warm U-shaped set with a sub-woofer like sub-bass. Like the N3, the Performer 5 loses in bass quality, with a one-noted untextured bass line heard. Incoherency is also present, with the Performer 5's bass DD being much slower than the faster BAs handling the mids and treble.
The Performer 5 has marked BA timbre, and sounds very artificial compared to the more natural Fan 2. The Performer 5 is a league behind in technical chops, with a small claustrophobic soundstage, weaker layering and instrument separation.
As redeeming traits, the Performer 5 has a more ergonomic fit and better isolation.
The Penon Fan 2 is a smooth warm-neutral set, with a monitor-like natural tonality. It is very well-balanced, with no fatigue or sibilance, and such tuning is not easily seen (or heard) at this price-point. Bass quality is also commendable, in addition to superb soundstage depth, layering and imaging.
Some other plus points are the robust build, generous accessories and easily drivability.
The Fan 2 is not for extreme bassheads or trebleheads, though most other audiophiles should find something to like about its pleasant sonics. While the fit may be slightly contentious, tip-rolling can mitigate this area thankfully.
In essence, think of the Fan 2 as a baby Sony IER M9, and that is really no mean feat, considering it costs a mere fraction of the latter's price! Verily, the Fan 2 can be an option as a stage monitor and audio tool due to these appealing traits.
I'm glad to recommend the Fan 2 to fans (no pun intended) of a warm-neutral tuning with sweet mids and a fatigue-free soundscape, listeners will find a mix of great musicality and fine technicalities in this IEM!Last edited:
Penon FAN 2 - The extraordinary type of versatilityPros: - Great natural tone.
- Immersive soundstage.
- Bass quality.
- Music genre versatility.
- Nicely balanced between analytical and musical.Cons: - Fit could be a problem. Sound varies from fit, from neutral to mild V and W shaped.
- Dynamic range is shortened for the sake of coherency
- (Nitpicking) Stick out from ears like IER-Z1R
- (Nitpicking) Slow timbre.
My sound and music preferences
In sound, I prefer tonal and timbre accuracy over the details. I like all types of tuning. However, my favorite is that closer to the reference. The most important part of the sound for me is the quality of the mids. However, my volume adjustment refers to the bass quantity when I hear enough bass, which means the volume is set to the listenable value.
I listen to all types of music, except Pop, R’n’B, and J-Pop.
Gears that I used
Sony WM1A (with Mr.Walkman firmware, WM1Z tuning, P3 region, and DSEE HX set to DSEE AI) is my main test unit. The Sony DAP has a better timbre representation than Delta-Sigma DAC, which to my ears, has an extra layer wall between the source and headphones.
iFi Go Bar to test transparency and sound signature.
L&P W2 to test soundstage and highs.
I also use Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered or UE 18+ custom IEM as my neutral and reference IEM to understand IEMs’ colorations better.
Disclaimer and my purchase decisions
In writing the review, I want to share my experience with a product and the company’s service. I won’t talk about specs and don’t make a product introduction. The Penon Fan 2 was bought with my money. I bought them because I wanted to experience the Penon House sound and figure out what kind of tuning Fan 2 has and how it fits into my music library. Review is done using the stock cable and stock ear tips.
Warning! Read before moving forward
You should understand that IEM review is subjective because we have different ear shapes and channel lengths that affect our hearing. Despite that, other factors affect our ears, like altitude. The air pressure outside of our body changes as altitude changes. This creates a difference in pressure on the two sides of the eardrum. Heartbeat can also affect how we hear the bass. Some may experience eustachian tube dysfunction, which may cause sensitivity to air pressure and harmonic overtone (shoutiness).
The build quality is quite good. Depending on the light, the faceplate’s blue color will change from dark to light blue. The only minor issue is that the case color will change from black to purple under Sunlight.
The Isolation is quite suitable for hybrid — one of the best I experienced. If CIEM without vents isolates for 10/10, Fan 2 isolation is around 6.5/10.
Comfort could be tricky. Fan 2 has an extended nozzle. I personally feel uncomfortable when I insert universal IEM deep into my ears. I prefer a shallow insert, and Fan 2 sticks out of ears with a shallow insert.
Stock cable and brief cable recommendation
The stock cable enhances Fan 2 sound signature. It extends highs and increases the presence of mid-bass, making the bass more tactile. However, it also increases the upper-mid sharpness, making a sound less warm and less balanced. The tonality of the cable is close to the SS-47 solder combination with the OFC cable.
Changing the cable can make the sound more balanced and closer to neutral, but you will lose the musicality, tight bass, and energetic upper-mids. I recommend an OCC cable with lead-free solder that doesn’t contain silver may result in the best combo that compensates for the balance with minimal losses in the original tonality of the stock cable.
At the first listening experience, Fan 2 sounded mid-centric, with quite prominent upper-mids. After around 50-60 hours of burn-in, bass stars began to appear. After around 100 hours of burn-in, sounds become more balanced with bass, mids, and high with equal amounts.
Fan 2 sound signature is balanced and mild W-shaped, where bass, mids, and highs have the same dB rawly. Timbre is natural, more on dynamic driver type of presentation with slower decay. Fan 2 sounds cohesive from top to bottom, like a one-dynamic driver IEM. Fan 2 sounds remind me of a combination of the “reference” tuning house sound of the Singaporean AAW brand, a “musical” type of neutral tune, combined with Harman-ish tuning due to its upper mids.
The bass is linear, with enough sub and mid-bass presence to hear and enjoy all bass notes and texture. The bass is slightly boosted compared to the neutral tuning. Mid-bass quantity is on the verge of being boomy and remarkably balanced to give a slam and the punch. Sub-bass has a good texture and speed, not the deepest but tight. The bass is still not in the good BA speed territory. Sub-bass present may feel not enough compared to the more “Harman” and V-shaped tuning IEMs. But if you are willing to hear the bass correctly without missing any texture, Fan 2 tuning is done right. Bass is more like on speaker with a good woofer rather than with a subwoofer. Despite that, Fan 2 is not a Bass-head IEM, the bass is still a star of the show, with its quality and quantity quickly satisfying for bass lovers.
The mids are just slightly forward compared to the neutral-tuned IEM. The mids have excellent technicality, without being harsh, slightly smooth and analytical, and have the same speed and decay as the bass, never sound shouty. BA detail retrieval is good, but nothing outstanding.
There is a slight presence on upper-mids or lower-high around the same level as “Harman” tuning IEMs but sensitively more compared to “true” neutral-tuning IEMs.
The highs have good quality, smooth, and very safe from any discomfort. The 7kHz peak adds a nice shimmery to the sound, but I wish this peak were around the 8-10kHz region. Highs are not well extended, so you don’t hear much after 10kHz, and for some, Fan 2 may sound dull.
The soundstage is the second thing that impresses me, except for the bass. Fan 2 sounds like an excellent dynamic speaker. It lacks an excellent instrument separation that could give a 3D holographic effect. However, the soundstage covers a good fraction of the headroom to immerse in the music.
Fan 2 has a minor drawback, at least for me. Their dynamic range of BA drives is shorter than I usually prefer. I believe that to fix the BA harmonic overtone pitch problem, they shaved the BA higher pitches and increased loudness, similar to how dynamic normalizer work. This led to dynamic range shortness, which feels especially on vocals. Despite that vocal has good details, they lack an emotion that gives an excellent dynamic range.
A Neutral or slight U, V-shaped source may work best with Fan 2.
Penon Fan 2 vs. 7hz Zero
Zero is one 10mm budget IEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
Zero has more sub-bass that is deeper and less boomy but slower. Mids have a better balance, and highs are more crispy and sharp. Fan 2 sounds more aggressive on upper mids and less warm on mids.
Soundstage has a similar presentation with up to 3-4 times less headroom. Instrument separation is slightly better on Fan 2.
Penon Fan 2 vs. Tinhifi T3+
I don’t have Tinhifi T3+ and Fan 2 with me simultaneously. I will make a comparison by my memory. Take this comparison with skepticism.
T3+ is 1x10mm DD IEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
There is a lot of sub-bass and almost non mid-bass present on T3+ compared to the Fan 2. Lower mids are recessed, upper mids has around the same presence on T3+, and highs more on T3+, compared to Fan 2, which sounds harsh. The bass is slow and lacks any texture. The soundstage is almost double as smaller on T3+ but with the same presentation style.
Penon Fan 2 vs. VE SIE
SIE is 1x10mm DD IEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
SIE on the graph looks like a V-shaped, in reality, it sounds nicely balanced W-shaped with a bass boost. SiE is also transparent and may sound differently from source to source.
SIE bass sound more bloated compared to Fan 2. It even feels that the bass is bleeding to the mids, but it’s not, SIE loses time-to-time control over the bass that gives such a feeling. Quantity-wise, SIE has much more bass than Fan 2, However, the bass on SIE is slow and doesn’t have a good texture.
Mids are warmer, thicker, and smoother on SiE but still cold and analytical due to increased upper mids. Mids have slightly less forwardness. Although mids on SiE are not detailed like on Fan 2, I like mids on SiE more due to better dynamics.
Highs are more extended on SiE with better shimmery, with the same safe type tuning, but the quality is like on most DD.
SiE has a peak on upper-mids that may cause a sibilance on some female vocals or make old-school mastered metal music guitar sound too forward.
The soundstage is almost the same, Fan 2 has better instrument separation.
Penon Fan 2 vs. Xenns Madrid Tea 2
I don’t have Xenns Madrid Tea 2 and Fan 2 with me simultaneously. I will make a comparison by my memory. Take this comparison with skepticism.
Tea 2 is 6BA + 1DD Hybrid IEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
Tea 2 has slightly more sub-bass, and the mid-bass is less in quantity. Tea 2 doesn’t have the same texture as Fan 2. The speed of Tea 2 bass is also slower. Mids are slightly more present on Tea 2. I would say that Tea 2 has a better mid quality overall, smoother and more pleasant to listen to, especially can be noticeable on vocals. Highs have the same safe type of tuning but are more extended and more lively on Tea 2. The soundstage is equally good, but Tea 2 sounds more holographic. Tea 2, of course, is not cohesive as a Fan 2. Tea 2 sounds like a hybrid with slow DD and fast BA, while Fan 2 sounds like high-quality DD. Overall, I would say they are at the same technical level with their drawbacks.
Penon Fan 2 vs UE RR (CIEM)
While there is a big gap between them in price value, they are worth to be compared since they are both closer to each other by tuning. There is also a big gap between them in release date, 2016 vs 2022, so it will be interesting to compare technology-wise.
UE RR is 3BA CIEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
The first noticeable thing is that even the RR sound is still natural as Fan 2, without any BA artifacts, with timbre closer to the DD, Fan 2, in comparison, sounds slow and colored. The lower mids are missing on Fan 2, bass with upper mids are noticeably presented, and mids sound dry on Fan 2.
Both have linear bass, while RR bass doesn’t hit hard as Fan 2 and is more neutral. However, the speed and texture are better on RR. Fan 2 bass sound muddy in comparison to RR’s.
Mids on RR are neutral, smoother, warmer, with good dynamic range, and both male and female vocals are more emotional.
Highs are more extended on RR, it has the same safe tuning as a Fan 2, but it extends so well that you don’t miss any highs up to 20kHz. The highs also are more crispy and smooth on RR.
While headroom on Fan 2 is almost the same as on RR, there is a noticeable gap in instrument separation, RR sounds more holographic.
Because Fan 2 has more forward upper-mids, detail retrieval on Fan 2 at first glance may look better. However, if look to complete frequency response, Fan 2 falls behind.
If Fan 2 sounds coherent and can be listened to for hours without stopping, RR amplifies this concept multiple times.
Penon Fan 2 vs AAW W500 Ahmorph (CIEM, stock tuning)
While there is a big gap between them in price value, they are worth to be compared since they are both closer to each other by tuning. There is also a big gap between them in release date, 2015 vs. 2022, so technology-wise, also it will be interesting to compare.
AAW W500 Ahmorph is 1x9mmDD and 4xBA CIEM vs. Fan 2 is 2x6mm DD and 2xBA hybrid IEM.
Both have a slight W-shaped signature closer to neutral and are close to each other by timbre. The hybrid timbre issue on W500 is not noticeable at stock tuning because of low and high-frequency sound by DD and mids and highs with BA, which intercept with DD for more coherent sound. In other words, DD that uses AAW for W500 is not used only for bass, and you can even turn off BAs completely by its tuning nob.
The first noticeable thing is that the W500 bass is in another league. While it is not increased as on Fan 2, it hits harder and extends crazy low, like a real big subwoofer. Fan 2 defiantly has more sub-bass and mid-bass present. However, it is like comparing a 6-inch subwoofer with a 12-inch subwoofer. Considering that W500 has a full-range 9mm DD, and Fan 2 2x6mm DD for bass, the quality of DD on the W500 is noticeably better. The echo that generates W500’s bass creates an excellent 3D image, like sonar radar.
W500 mids are less forward but still not neutral. Mids peak at 1.5-2kHz on W500 and can have sibilance on male vocals, especially noticeable in Hip-Hop music. However, lower mids are missing on Fan 2 in comparison. W500 sounds thicker, warmer, and smoother, even though technically, mids are close in quality.
Highs have almost the same tuning as on Fan 2. Same 7kHz peak but is more extended with still laidback presentation as Fan 2. And when music has good extended highs, W500 is a pleasure to hear.
The soundstage feels noticeably bigger on W500 due to its bass and more extended highs. Even though the sound signature is W-shaped, the bass fills so much headroom that the sound starts to feel that you are listening to are good L-shaped IEM.
Since Fan 2 has more forward upper-mids with more prominent presence, detail retrieval on Fan 2 at first glance may look better. However, if look to complete frequency response, Fan 2 falls behind.
Despite almost all music sounding good with FAN 2, some stand out. For such sound signature, the best music that comes to my mind is multi-instrumental electronic music, such as Movie and Games Soundtracks, IDM, Dance, House, Disco, Contemporary Electronic, Trip-Hop, Experimental Electronic, and Electronic with Ethnic and Live recordings, Industrial Electronics, almost all electronic music, even including the Ambient.
Jazz, Rock, Nu Metal, Alternative, some Metal, and classical music sounds all right. However, I prefer warmer and more organic-sounding IEM for such genres.
I personally found that with its timbre, it sounds best for chilling with the slower type of music.
Here is an example of music that I liked with FAN 2:
While this music sounds not bad, I don’t recommend buying them for Dubstep - prominent upper-mids can be a problem. Some Modern Metal - 6khz dip makes on some masterings lead guitars stay behind everything else with insufficient presence, and mids are not warm and smooth enough for guitars, in my opinion.
Here is some of my nitpicking:
Although this track sounds good, I prefer less aggresive upper-mids with Dupstep.
6khz dip makes the lead guitar stay behind everything else with insufficient presence.
While the lead guitar is present, it's thin sounding.
While the lead guitar is present, it's thin-sounding and upper-mids are grainier than the warmer IEMs.
Fan 2 is recommended for some looking for a versatile, cohesive, safe reference type of tuning with extra energy on upper mids. They are well-tuned, and they can be used for long listening sessions. Fan 2 has a good balance between being analytical and musical.Last edited:
PENON FAN2 - LOVE AT FIRST AND SECOND SIGHT!Pros: What I Liked:
Shell shape and fit for me were top notch once I figured out your tip selection which is paramount for getting the proper sound out of the fan two and comfort of course.
The fast speedy base of the dual 6 millimetre drivers are right on my alley not the lowest extension but I just love the fast slam and what it did to instruments and placement.
Treble for me had the perfect amount of Sparkleys and Twinkle's that I love without being overbearing siblings or fatiguing in any way
It's the mids that are the Magic of the F2 the forward vocals just bring out a naturalness in the special PENON house sound way, I just love this tuning.
Another big standout for me was the ability of the F2 to bring out the sense of stage and openness you would get in a rock concert and the ability for to project a sense of grandeur that very few IEM seem to be able to reproduce.
Case fantastic and usable.
Cable perfectly matched and comes in your choice of termination 3.5 SE, 2.5 Bal and 4.4 Penttacon thank you PENONCons: What I Though might not work for everyone.
The nozzle shape and angle might be trouble for some and I will reiterate the fact that finding the right ear tips are going to be the win or lose for you liking this IEM and you must invest in some time and effort and money to get the correct selection.
Not a Bass Monster know going in that the Fan2 Is Mid Bass Centric not sub bass and genre that are bass heavy will play great but won't give you ear hair tingling bass.PENON FAN2
"The Most Balanced PENON to Date!
This is going to be a different kind of written review.
Now let's get into it: The Techy Stuff
2x6mm Crystal Plated Biological Diaphragm Dynamic Drivers
1x Sonion BA for Mids
1xKnowles BA for Highs
Cable is the OS133 - 2 Share with 133 cores per share and comes in your choice of termination SE 3.5 or Balanced 2.5 or 4.4
More information can be found here and non-affiliated link: Penon Fan2 Link or
Subjective Part of my Audio Review.
More information can be found here and non-affiliated link: Penon Fan2 Link or
Subjective Part of my Audio Review -
I share my impressions as I hear them with my ears.
As all our ears are different shapes & size so what I hear as bright or bass heavy -you might hear as dull and Vise-Versa; just something to be mindful of.
What makes my ears happy as a sound signature is a slightly more aggressive L shape. I love my Bass Sub and Mid Bass love it all actually; and in large quantity. With the Bass, I prefer a faster decay the faster the better so as to not bleed into the mids., I am treble sensitive and prefer a slightly darker warmer replay with good treble extension without excessive brightness.
I prefer the fast speedy bass of the Beryllium Coated Driver of my Xenns Mangird UP with a Beryllium Coated Driver. Planar bass is out for me as again it lacks sub harmonics and texture I find Dynamic Drivers do better. Same as BA bass the only exception was from the 64 Audio U12t that doesn't sound like a BA Sub.
My music Library is widely varied from; Metallica, Great White, Cowboy Junkies, Pink Floyd, Adelle, Melisa Ethridge, Fleetwood Mac, Five for Fighting, Manskin, Poncho Sanchez, Jimmy Smith, Chopin, The Crystal Method just to name a few. When not listening to my test tracks the majority is Jazz or Alternative Rock especially Female Rock. Lorde, Halsey, Alanis Morrisette, Evanescence. All depends on my mood.
Sources: E1DA SG3, Shanling UP5, Geshelli JNOG J2 with AKM4493 chip. Truthear SHIO (Dual Cirrus Logic 43198 DAC Chips)
DAP/TRASPORT: From Lenovo Laptop with Qbuz Samsung S22 Ultra with DSD Files.
Amps: LoxjiP20 & XDUOO MT-604 tube hybrid amps and Topping A90D Amp 4.4 Pentagon Balanced Out - Unless stated
I also use a iFi Stack with a ZENCAN and ZENDAC2 for a warmer combo.
Tips Used for the F2 that worked perfectly for me were the Whizzer Easytips SS22 Tips. And I found a set of tips from Japan made for TWS that look like Spiral Dots https://a.aliexpress.com/_mslzunm
OKAY in this written review I won't be doing any track impressions because I covered most of that already in my video review so if you're interested please click the link to that and watch.
Speaking of that, coming around full circle when, I did my video review probably a good few months ago, and the feedback I received from those who watched my video and ended up purchasing one were all extremely positive and I am thrilled others are enjoying the F2 as much as me.
So this is a very interesting experience where I now get to write a written review after putting these away for a good couple months. I haven't had the F2 in my ears because I've had others IEMS I've been listening to and reviewing and it's always a question of OK am I going to love these things as much as I did when I did the review?
So was my review bang on? Or was I just pumping the snot out of something and it wasn't as good as I thought it was! Sometimes I do question myself or not question so much as reflect back on was I in a honeymoon stage or was the hype real.
Now in the meantime since taking a break I have had some serious high end in my ears lately, Aroma Audio Thunder, as well as the 64 Audio U4S which if you watch the video review the FAN2 was the reason why I was struggling so much to do that review. Because the F2 showed up at the same time and upon first listen to this New Balanced PENON, I was star struck. and was honestly enjoying the F2 so much greater than the $1100 U4s that it was making that review way more difficult than it should have been in a good way.
I've also had the FiR Audio XE6 these are also some serious kilo buck fantastic top of the line IEM in their own right to add more context.
One thing came abundantly clear you do get TOTL performance from some nice gear….. But you can also really enjoy and love something for way less money. No matter how much something is you don’t need to chase butterflies to get something that makes you happy!
Second thing I realized is that diminishing returns are a real thing. You don’t get 20x the sound quality from a 20x more expensive IEM the changes are more just refinement rather than A-HA moments.
And here we are.
Falling in love part 2- It has been a few months and over this time my notes were lost. So
Quite honestly I didn’t know how to approach this review except to re listen and rediscover If I felt the same way and If so why?
In the Video review I was more focused on how well the FAN2 did on vocals. After some reflection, I realize its not just the MIDS and the vocals that has enchanted me.
The FAN 2 is more than a ONE TRICK PONY!
For sound impressions for the PENON FAN2 I would say the fan two is a THREE TRICK PONY. The F2 is not going to appeal to everyone but for the people that it will appeal to they're going to be looking for a very specific kind of sound signature, bass texture and highs.
What I mean by that is they'll be looking for something maybe vocal-centric and they've heard about the PENON House sound.
Another person might be looking for more of a balanced version of a PENON and want to try a different tuning without going to far off track from what they are uses to.
Lastly I think another person might be looking for something that is an a bit more laid back without a huge amount of sub base extension to pull you away or an over the top amount of treble extension to make it fatiguing- a balanced sound tuning.
So I think reading reviews and watching reviews hopefully will help you can cut through the hype and see if the FAN2 is going to be for you.
In my video review I was very enthusiastic about how much I really enjoy the PENON FAN2 and as I get emotional about my music sometimes it's hard to separate the enthusiasm from the facts I'd apologize but I really like this IEM so for me it was definitely deserving of the hype.
So let's talk a little bit about why I really enjoy listening to this IEM well songs like "Thank You" from Dido can it just reminded me why I love the F2 I just love the way it presents vocals especially female vocals it gives it that right amount of edge to the vocals and it sounds natural to me. I love all the vocals the PENON FAN2 belted out. Its one of those IEM that makes it hard to review because its musical over being analytical so instead of trying to listen to nuances in the tracks, you just sit back and get lost in the music.
Listen to Thank You by Dido on Qobuz https://open.qobuz.com/track/12361867
The Bass - Ok I love bass but more importantly for my tastes I will take quality over quantity. Now not to say the F2 won't go low , because it will. It just won't do bass-head SUB BASS.
Instead the F2 has a wonderous snappy fast more MID-BASS Centric nature that added liveliness and excitement to instruments but also male vocals that just make them sound perfect to me. If I wanted to listen to a genre with lots of deeps drops I would honestly reach for a different IEM, PENON 10th or ISN Neo5.
Listen to Lux Æterna by Metallica on Qobuz https://open.qobuz.com/track/187221135
So I love the Bass , I even more so love the Sonion BA mids and what that 1 BA does for musicality and the smoothness. Hard to imagine when we hear of 24 BA bla bla bla you don’t need them! - The FAN2 more than proves this and the 10th even more so.
Perfect example of this is the HYPED UP AFUL P8, a classic example a 1+7 that can't even remotely compete with way less expensive JUZEARS 41t with its 1+4 and again Sonion BA mids.
The FAN 2 trumps them both in terms of FUN FACTOR and musicality no contest. Now to be fair the 41t and P8 are tuned similarly where the F2 is more vocal centric and forward, and of course the reason I would reach for the FAN2 if I wanted to chill with what I know it does so well.
The Highs - Smooth , effortless, and engaging yet still balanced in the mix to not overpower the mids or bass a wonderful tuning and again so well implemented in this IEM.
You won't get fatigued, you won't hear sibilance. What you will get is detailed instrument separation and placement with correct tonality and timbre. Is the FAN2 the most resolving IEM - NO of course not. Nor would I expect it to be at this price point and tuning.
Stage - for me I really enjoy the way the FAN2 has a big open stage. With great layering and placement of the singers, instruments and the ability to convey a real sense of venue.
Metallica S&M2 , you are right there 100ft from the stage in the crowd and can tell the entire orchestra is surrounding the band. When everyone cheers you get a real feel of how big the concert hall is and how many people are there with you amazing and not east to reproduce! The F2 did this better than most IEM at any price!
In Conclusion I would sum up saying the FAN2 is more than worthy of your consideration, with words like , clean resolution, punchy articulate bass , balanced mid centric vocals, clean and accurate details and a fun and engaging demeanor. If those kinds of things you look for in a new IEM and appeal to your preferential sound signature look no further you found it.
I re-fell in love with the PENON FAN2 all over again and hope you will too!
Thanks so much for reading, Cheers from the Tone Deaf Monk.
Almost therePros: Very nice organic tonality.
Very good note body compromise.
Commendable bass and treble.
Very good imaging and separation.Cons: (Modest) timbre incoherence.
Somewhat wooly bass timbre.
Layering might be much better.
Highly fit / tip dependent.
May be uncomfortable.Penon is for whatever reason outside my normal “orbits” when it comes to assessing novelties. There’s no negative reason why, I guess, except maybe for the simple fact that I tend to have an apriori higher interest on japanese, american or european products.
Be as it may, I did assess a Penon driver (the Sphere) some time ago and I found it so wonderful it got stuck to our Wall of Excellence as the best single BA money can buy below $250, and that probably still is the case.
So it’s with quite some curiosity that I borrowed this pair of privately owned Fan 2 for a few days. They can be purchased on Penon’s site, here, for $279 plus freight and EU duties if applicable of course.
Test setup and preliminary notesSources: Sony NW-A55 mrWalkman / Questyle QP1R, QP2R, M15, CMA-400i – TRN T ear tips – Dunu DUW-02S cable – lossless 16-24/44.1-192 FLAC and DSD64/128/256 tracks.
I am not writing these articles to help manufacturers promote their products, even less I’m expecting or even accepting compensation when I do. I’m writing exclusively to share my fun – and sometimes my disappointment – about gear that I happen to buy, borrow or somehow receive for audition.
Another crucial fact to note is that I have very sided and circumscribed musical tastes: I almost exclusively listen to jazz, and even more particularly to the strains of post bop, modal, hard bop and avantgarde which developed from the late ’50ies to the late ’70ies. In audio-related terms this implies that I mostly listen to musical situations featuring small or even very small groups playing acoustic instruments, on not big stages.
One of the first direct consequences of the above is that you should not expect me to provide broad information about how a certain product fairs with many different musical genres. Oppositely, you should always keep in mind that – different gear treating digital and analog sound in different ways – my evaluations may not, in full or in part, be applicable to your preferred music genre.
Another consequece is that I build my digital library by painstakingly cherrypick editions offering the least possible compression and pumped loudness, and the most extended dynamic range. This alone, by the way, makes common music streaming services pretty much useless for me, as they offer almost exclusively the polar opposite. And again by the way, quite a few of the editions in my library are monoaural.
Additionally: my library includes a significant number of unedited, very high sample rate redigitisations of vinyl or openreel tape editions, either dating back to the original day or more recently reissued under specialised labels e.g. Blue Note Tone Poet, Music Matters, Esoteric Jp, Analogue Productions, Impulse! Originals, and such. Oppositely, I could ever find and extremely small number of audible (for my preferences) SACD editions.
My source gear is correspondigly selected to grant very extended bandwidth, high reconstruction proweness, uncolored amping.
And finally, my preferred drivers (ear or headphones) are first and foremost supposed to feature solid note-body timbre, and an as magically centered compromise between fine detail, articulated texturing and microdynamics as their designers can possibly achieve.
In terms of presentation, for IEMs I prefer one in the shape of a DF curve, with some very moderate extra pushup in the midbass. Extra sub-bass enhancement is totally optional, and solely welcome if seriously well controlled. Last octave treble is also welcome from whomever is really able to turn that into further spatial drawing upgrade, all others please abstain.
Fan 2 have a mid-bodied note weight, showing some modest timbre incoherence between bass and treble segments (latter beind of course tighter and dryer). The tonality is however very natural across the board, with a modest, inoffensive tint of warmth, in a somewhat U-shaped, pleasant presentation
Rumble is very nicely calibrated, not too impositive nor too shy.
Fan 2 deliver a very good mid bass line as notes are bodied, quite textured and almost punchy. It’s a good compromise between overly punchy / arid on one extreme and bleeding / boomy on the opposite. Timbre is a whiff wooly here, which is at the base of the abovementioned modest horizontal incoherence.
Mids are not forward but their timbre is natural and not lean, notes are decently bodied. Highmids are well present, quite energetic and well rounded, never offensive and almost glare free.
Male singers come across well textured and organic on Fan 2, although not particularly outstanding vs the rest and a bit too lean to sound really organic. They may occasionally be influenced by (without outright succumbing to, though) the midbass warmth.
Fan 2 offer a good rendering of female vocals, not particularly outstanding but not offensive let alone sibilant, while – like males – still a bit too lean to sound truly organic. Not a bad job for a non-vocal-specific driver though.
Treble is another part where Fan 2 strike a very good balance. They are vivid, open, almost airy, almost sparkly, without ever getting into excess leanness let alone scanting into metallic or artificial sheen. Sole negative notes are the already mentioned (modest) timbre incoherence vs the midbass and some very occasional splashyness.
Stage projection will depend quite a bit on fit optimization (see below). In best situation it’s not very wide, decently high and remarkably deep.
Macrodynamics are no doubt amongst Fan 2 fortes: instruments are very pleasantly and distinctly positioned on the stage, and there’s air, clean space between them.
Fan 2’s detail retrieval is simply “good”, thanks to the good work of the BA up there, free from excesses, and the good control imposed on the 2 dynamic drivers in the bass.
Separation between main voices is very good thanks to very good imaging. Layering is also good, however it sometimes falls short, especially from the mids down, which is connected to the previously mentioned sligtly “wooly” timbre I found.
Fan 2’s dynamic drivers are very sensitive to source impedance: a very low impedance host is recommended to avoid getting an evident bump in the mid bass. Apart for that, their quite high sensitivity help making it easy to get them amped mode than decently also by budget sources typically incapable of goo current flows below 16 ohm.
Housings are made of medical-grade resin and they seem quite solid but their most apparent feature is aesthetical beauty which is indeed a welcome if sadly uncommon case. The shape is clearly intended to offer as much hergonomicity to as many users as possible. Nozzles are uncommonly long, which is a love/hate thing I guess.
Fan 2 enter the class of very fit-sensitive drivers: move in-out, or even change their insertion angle and you’ll get quite obvious tonality and technicalities differences. In my case (see below) their particular shape & size is a further hurdle to find the ideal positioning + comfort + sound quality compromise.
After some long rolling I found TRN T EAR tips contribute to shorten midbass transients that little bit that makes them more neatly punchy without losing texture on one end, while – thanks to their short stems – helping on compensating long nozzles.
I’m not particularly fond of Fan 2’s particular shape & size: in spite of the long nozzle the housings stay somewhat too “outside” my concha transferring me an unpleasant sensation of instability.
Passive isolation is going to be quite good for all those who are lucky enough to have Fan 2 housings “seal” into their conchas.
I couldn’t assess Penon stock cable. Dunu DUW-02S pairs wonderfully though.
Housing 3D printing resin, medical grade resin cavity Driver(s) 2 x 6mm dynamic driver for low frequency, 1 x Sonion BA for middle frequency, 1 x Knowles BA for high frequency Connector 2-pin 0.78mm Cable Penon OS133 cable: 2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores Sensitivity 112 dB/mW Impedance 13 Ω Frequency Range 20-20000Hz Package & accessories n/a (assessed privately owned sample) MSRP at this post time $279
Considerations & conclusionsFan 2 are good, and I mean seriously good. They have all it takes, and they do put it to good use to deliver a very pleasant musical experience. They are energetic however not violent, detailed however not aseptic, and feature a spot-on note body compromise, all of which make a superb allrounder of them. They also draw a sizeable scene, and cast wonderful imaging.
The fact that in spite of all that precedes I did not fall in love should honestly be considered incidental. My preference case is quite sided (see description above) and Fan 2’s somewhat too “soft” (slightly “wooly” I called it) note timbre is probably much more a turn off for me than for many others.
I also do value layering quite highly, and that’s an aspect where Fan 2 don’t excel (without however being “bad”, mind you…). So for me Fan 2 is just “nearly there”, but as I said YMMV (for the better).
At their $279 price Fan 2 is no doubt to be taken in high consideration. It’s definitely relieving to find a piece of “chifi” manufacturing which is seriously worth its price. Good job Penon.
This article originally appeared on audioreviews.org, here.Last edited:
I'm a Fan 2 nowPros: -Crisp balanced W shape tonality (near neutral)
-mature and fun sounding
-good and clean resolution
-fast well rounded bass
-great technical performance
-transparent and open mid range
-smooth realist timbre
-fast snappy treble with appealing brilliance edge
-versatile for wide range of musica style
-very beautifull design
-generous accessories of good quality
-good sound valueCons: -not the thickest nor the most luscious mid range
-slightly roll off sub bass
-sensitive to high impedance source
-a bit light note weight
-not the widest tallest soundstage
SOUND VALUE: 8.6/10
Penon Audio is the oldest chinese Hifi audio products seller and with all it's contacts in audio industry has been able to produce incredible earphones like the Penon Serial, which is among my favorite IEM right now when it come to lush holographic and enveloping musicality. It's a 3 dynamics IEM have review here on headfi, so you can give it a look.
After the Serila, I become extremely curious (to not say obsess) about discovering other IEM from Penon line up, and the Vortex was another great offering, a single dynamic driver that has nothing to envy to hybrid in term of technical performance, yet, I didn't find it extremely competitive in term of sound value.
So, when I see the Fan2 is an hybrid with 2x6mm crystal-plated biological diaphragm dynamic drivers and 2 high quality balanced armature (Sonion for mids and Knowles for highs), again, I can't hold myself to give them a try.
Priced 280$, the Fan2 enter a very competitive audio market. Let's see in this review if this hybrid IEM have the potential to impress other audiophile than Penon fans.
Model: FAN 2
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Cable: OS133 -2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores.
Plug: Gold-plated copper + carbon fiber plug accessories
I will not be too wordy in that section even if, man, those are real eye candy that get me lot of positive comment about their magnificent back plate design. In fact, these are one of few IEM my ex girlfriend was amaze and jealous too, she's a geologist so I guess it evoke geographic landscape seen from above, but the color are bright and mesmerizing too.Built wise its thick medical resin plastic, feel sturdy and durable and I tend to prefer this material over all metal which can get cold, get scratch or be too heavy. You forget about the presence of those Fan2 body in you ears and can put all your sensitive focus on music instead.Nozzle is a bit long and have a ear canal shape, so it can be use for deep insertion, which will must likely improve isolation too.2pin connector at the top is solid and offer tigh pins grip.
When it come to packaging, their nothing to see, it's a small box and all cost is maximise for quality accessories which are generous. I'm aware of ecological crisis so the less vain box and polluting material I have to trash, the more ethically comfortable i am with a product.
Now, those accessories, well, it begin with an upgraded carrying case which is bigger than other one, so you can fit alot of stuff in there, yet it's not enormous and can be portable enough. I would say it worth 15$. Very nice case.
Then you have plenty of silicone eartips, well choose for this very IEM, include special wide bore blue eartips that don't justify seeking proper ear tips asap.
And then the cable, which is very very nice and unique. It's a silver plated OFC 2 share, 266 cores nylon cover cable, very smooth, light, flexible, no ear hook too which is nice. The mode is call OS133 and sell for 40$ here:Penon OS133 (penonaudio.com)
All in all, do the math, accessories value are about 60$ by itself so it's certainly generous.
The Fan2 are one of those IEM that are both technical and musical, mature and fun, with magnify sense of clarity and openess as well as punchy boosted bass that have a very impressive definition and speed. While some could expect a basshead IEM due to 2 dynamic driver used, here Penon choose to boost quality and speed over quantity and rumble, so it's for serious bass lover but will sure not disappoint those audio enthusiast that need dynamic and well felt punch.
So we can call the Fan2 tonality as crisp neutral with bass boost or gently balanced W shape with clean transparent mids and well resolve snappy treble.
These open up in front of you and immerse you in a embracing spatiality, near hall like but not too distant feeling in center stage since mids instrument presence is brightened a hint, yet, upper mids aren't what I would call agressive but lively.
I listen to those a very long time, and it's evident that bass and treble is what attract attention first, yet, since it's not a hard V shape and more of a W shape with smoothed mids that keep great sens of presence and have wonderful layering capacity which benefit imaging positioning too.
The bass, I love it, it's a mid low bumpy punch, very well define and layered, we have natural texturing, rounded presence that doesn't lack flexibility or dynamism and the hit isn't mellow or pillowy, nor the definition too warm. It's not very boosted in sub bass nor very sustain or physical in rumble, but stangely this doesn't mean the acoustic or electric bass line will feel lacking in meat, grip or extension: it just not have resonant boomyness or longuest deepest decay. This permit to keep articulation of bass line clean and well extracted, so you can follow it easily and focus on bassist performance which can be highly gratifying, especially for electric bass that hook my attention and magnify an engaging sens of musicality.
Since it's textured enough, the contrabass have this attack bite that permit it to be well extracted and separated in presence, tone isn't really warmed yet it's not dry too and sure not thin,the Fan2 doesn't struggle with fast bass line too, another highlight of it's performance capacity.
While the treble isn't 100% perfect for electric guitar, the kick drum sure would benefit rock track, but I would go folk, jazz and classical instead, R&B too is nice, while for soul or trap rap it might lack a bit of chunky romantic slow slam.
Still, I find the thumpy bass performance quite versatile, even safely tuned we can say, it's not feeling detached and layerering does have slight transition warmth to lower mid range but no problematic bleed.
But again if I force myself to nit pick something it would be a slight sub bass roll off that affect natural extension of contrabass in lowest pitch, so this can affect tone perception a bit, which is already hard in very low harmonic, for 2DD i would have expect it to cover whole low end section down to 20hz, like the Penon Serial but with extra mid bass punch layers.
If you where afraid that the mids would be thin, lean, recessed or boring due to smooth W shape balance with extra treble vividness be reassure: in fact, mid range is excellent both in openess, presence and resolution without feeling too thin due to good lower and upper mids loudness. Sonion balanced armature are known to deliver natural mid range, not glassy nor grainy like some inferior BA.
Right now, writing this (yes), I listen to ''Glass Coil'' track from Wojciech Rusin, a fascinating experimental classical album where choral meet electronic, and this is a very well recorded-mastered album. This track have a kind of tenor go soprano vocal with alot of sounds layers going on and Fan2 excell with this track, all vocals pitch sounding dense, right in tone and timbre, with low and high harmonic, the clarity is clean and deep, imaging and layering is mesmerizing as well as attack speed and control are extremely fast and controlled, i don't miss any part of the soundscape which is holographic.
Wow, the Sonion balanced armature do wonderful job here, and is fully stretched to cover whole mid range: piano are lively, rounded, slightly smoothed in edge definition so timbre is not dry or thin, decay feel natural and clean, nothing is blurry or overly distant.
While note weight isn't the heavier, it doesn't feel too light and lead impact have just enough authority for piano to sound lively. Resolution is highly transparent and definition of each instrument is accurate. Woodwinds instrument like trumpet and sax seem to be favor in wideness of presence.
The timbre is airy, not plain thin nor dry, it's clean, realist and smooth, their no timbral imbalance that can distract you with over boosted part of texture details.
With the Fan2, depending of the track you play, you will find yourself be highly impress and attire either by bass, mids or treble part, this is this type of rare IEM that doesn't overly compromise anything yet instead boost sens of excitment and immediacy in music. Its hard to believe only 1 balanced armature cover whole treble section in fact since it's so holographic, sharp, snappy and...even a notch sparkly. I never think i would write this about BA, let say my last 5BA's Kinera Skuld review was very underwhelming in that regard, complete polar opposite of Fan2 well extended, airy brilliant highs…
The attack snap is so fast yet clean in edge and addictive too, pizzicato of violin or lead plucking of acoustic guitar is sharply define and brilliant, improving articulation and separation of instrument note and sens of music urgency. It does add air and extra dimension to whole music too, and I sure have a sweet spot for treble presentation that sit between delicate and vivid like this.
In jazz band, you will be hooked by the percussion which you can follow accurately within the clean space, splash cymbals aren't harsh and the Fan2 doesn't struggle with fastest drummer pace, snare is sharp too but never too loud or agressive.
It doesn't mean the Fan2 is an analytical sounding IEM, their some darken spot in treble, especially in texture abrasiveness so electric guitar can feel overly softed for a more grungy and brutal musicality, but apart this very specific instrument I can't fault the treble since it's really about fuzzy or distorted harmony that it will lack agressivity, if the electric guitar is more similar sounding to an amplify acoustic guitar, the result will be in fact excellent with clean long decay and well felt plucking of attack.
The Soundstage is rather unique with the Fan2 and the source you'll pair with will greatly inflict, mostly in depth which can go very deep since center stange is very open and clean. Wideness and tallness are average but doesn't feel compressed at all.
Then one of highlight of the Fan2 certainly is it's imaging performance, which is examplary and make you wonder if their really just 2 BAs in there since the layering is very articulate, transparent and spacious in amplitude movement. These might be among the best IEM under 300$ in term of static instrument separation with clean spacing and light airy sound layering. All this without sounding clinical.
In simple words, what the Fan2 excell at is: clarity, sens of openess, imaging, vivid balance, bass and treble dynamic.
What they don't excell at: bass rumble sustain and rumble, mids note weight, mids timbre density and end game vocal naturalness, sens of proximity with vocal or instruments.
Ok, these are precious IEM that will scale up with your source, not about power here since they are very easy to drive even with a phone, nope, they benefit from low impedance source as it was evident very first second I hook them to my Moondrop Dawn 4.4 which was at high gain, harmonic distortion was higher and background less black. The at low gain it was solve. But these are transparent to source like reference IEM, so I rediscover the Fan2 with every different source: with Questyle QP2R it become more creamy, have mroe mids presence fullness and vocal are the best. Then with Tempotec V6 its more sparkly, transparent, open and sharp. Then with Hiby RS6 it's mix of both, most balanced tonality and I can go on.
Cable too will inflict a little, it seem hybrid or all BA are more sensitive to cable, but stock one included is decent though it seem its hint brighter, thinner and more V than W shape in dynamic rendering.
Then eartips, i suggest wide bore like KBear KB07, but the stock blue wide bore included do great job, in fact, i havent these model in my collection so it's very welcome!
Then, Isolation wise, it's OK but not the most intense in that regard, i can hear cars passing by with calm classical music for ex, so I become grumpy in those moment!
VS PENON SERIAL (3DD-300$)
Ok, these are quite different, near polar opposite. Serial is smoother W shape with darker treble, thicker and more natural timber. The presentation is way wider taller and have a more holographic feel to it. We are in middle of music with Serial while in front of a stage with Fan2. Serial trigger more sens of laid back musicality while Fan2 offer a more capable and energic technical presentation. Serial bass is denser and dig deeper with more sub bass boost so bass line are more bodied and fowards in extractiong while separation is less well define than Fan2 which is more punchy and textured in mid bass. Mids are fuller, wider and a bit more present than Fan2. Treble is darker, thicker, fuller and less spiky and airy than Fan2. Imaging and clarity is superior with Fan 2.
All in all, one is superior in technicalities and it's the FAN2 (faster attack speed-control, higher resolution, more clean, more extended and sparkly in treble), but in term of long listening pleasure, the Serial is my choice.
VS RAPTGO HOOK X HBB (1planar+1piezo-260$)
Now, we have some kind of mix between the Fan2 and Serial tonaly wise and let me tell you it's highly gratifying, since Fan2 are big boi, I compare them to my fav 200-300$ IEMs of the moment.
Not an easy task here, but let begin by saying bass performance of Fan2 is superior, faster and more controled, better define, less grainy-warm and boomy, less rumbly and thick too. Hook have more slam and weight in impact, but darker resolution, more muddy mid and sub bass separation. Then the mids are more upfront and bodied with the Hook, warmer too, have more note weight and wider more envoloping less distant presentation. Treble is an interesting part and very different in timbre, Hook is more thick, full and crunchy, about as fast but piezo highs are i bit harsher, less brilliant and less well definine in sharpness, less thin. Sounstage is notably wider and taller, but lack clean deepness of the Fan2. Imaging is superior with Fan2 due to greater layering transparency, like with Serial, we feel in middle of euphonic spatiality with the Hook.
All in all, it's very hard to choose a winner here...but i feel technically the Fan2 are superior for similar reason than Serial. Tonaly I would tend to prefer the more immersive and intimate holographic musicality of the Hook X HBB whic have fuller warmer mid range.
VS Kinera Skuld (5A-550$)
Ok, these aren’t really similar, and the Penon is about 2 times cheaper but this is an interesting comparison because Fan2 isn’t bad at all. Here the Fan2 is more W shape to crisp neutral, with similar mid bass boost that isn’t over powering, bass is better define and more flexible and dig deeper, it have more headroom in resonance impact too. Then the mids are brighter in presence but not agressive, yet, less warm and thick than the Skuld and sens of transparency is higher due to less euphonic rendering. Timbre is not as ”colored natural” and charming as the Skuld and sens of mid range note weight is lighter, airier, this make overall sound more open with the Fan2, and deeper…again, due to part of mids being more recessed and lean. So we have more lower treble bite and presence too with the Fan2, overall clarity-resolution is superior to Skuld, it’s less dark, airyer, snappier, but hint spikier too. In other words: less smooth and organic in macro resolution and balance.
Spatiality is notably more open, wider and deepr with the Fan2. Imaging is crisper, more accurate and spacious in separation and positioning.
All in all….i’m quite surprise by this comparisons and would conclude something surprising: technical performance seem superior with the Fan2 but tone-timbre is feeling more natural and appealing with the Skuld….but is it guilty pleasure after all?
I'm still waiting for a Penon IEM i will dislike, and be sure, you will be the first to know it when (or if) it happen! ''Alas'', this isn't the case at all with the FAN2. Nor with the more V shape Vortex, nor with the incredibly musical Serial.
The Penon Fan2 are one of these rare IEM where high technical performance meet fun and balance to offer a versatile and engaging musicality with excellent imaging and very good resolution.
These are as much for bass quality lover than treble addict, yet, I would never say the crisp open mid range is bad, just not colored with warmth and lushness, so, perhaps not end game for mid centric only audiophile in that regard.
Listening to the Fan2 with Questyle QP2R and Hiby RS6 is pure bliss that you would never want to stop enjoying.
I do suggest you to play with cables you have so you can achieve best timbre and dynamic rendering you wish to.
All in all, the Penon Fan2 are phenomenal sounding and beautiful looking IEM that I will keep for the rest of my life.
PS: I want to thanks Penon for sending this review sample after I manifest them my curiosity about Fan2. I have no official affiliation and all my thoughts and audio impressions are independent.
You can order the Fan2 for 279$ here:https://penonaudio.com/penon-fan-2.htmlLast edited:
My Gosh.......Pros: The most neutral sound Penon Audio has ever produced
2 X 6mm "dual" bass pumpers
1 Sonion mids
1 Knowles treble
Extra long nozzle..........going deep, whether you like it or not
Gorgeous OS133 high-line cable included, a $36.60 cable purchase by itself
Timbral accuracy with-out barely a hint of sheen, don't believe me........buy them
Swanky deep low-end textures
Beautiful midrange that will take you places
Warm yet agile treble which centers around the all important note-weight
Unique sounding, yet totally accessible and ultimately naturalCons: Hmmmmmm.......
Just look at the Fan 2 will you? The faceplate can represent many things to many people, but to me they look like islands in the ocean. In fact these imaginary islands represent the soundscape you’re visiting when you drop the Fan 2s in your ears…………an escape…….an escape from reality. All of a sudden you look closer and those red islands have small valleys and volcanos…….seemingly a small microscopic world filled with adventure. The water surrounding…….filled with sparkles and highlights. Am I crazy…….or is my imagination running away on me? Let’s get down to earth........I will sum-up the sound signature for you. Neutral………..the most exquisite form of neutral was obtained by Penon Sound Design in the form of a warm-neutral. Gone are any references to an Eastern Tune, gone are the tones found in a Western Tune.
THE PENON INTERNATIONAL TUNE
If I could humbly add, this is my “made-up” nomenclature for what we are experiencing sound-wise. A sound so even and correct that now the finite details can be absorbed because nothing is overpowering anything else. Before with certain tunes the lower midrange was added to Western Tunes or the sub bass was added to Eastern tunes, which arguably pushed around other frequencies for attention. If you had a certain style of music, a certain genre then it all worked out, except often these IEMs only excelled at specific music genres. Except now the Fan 2 plays it all, it really does. This is related to a dexterity in abilities. This International Tune goes with every style of music and file quality, fully ignoring the past thin and analytical ideas of flat.
Get them here!
Penon FAN 2 2BA + 2 Dynamic Driver Hybrid 2Pin 0.78mm HiFi Audiophile In-ear Earphone IEMs
3D printing resin, medical grade resin cavity, light and beautiful, comfortable to wear
2 Balanced Armature +2 crystal-plated biological diaphragm Dynamic driver hybrid Audiophile FAN In-Ear Monitor IEMs
2 x 6mm dynamic driver for low frequency
1 Sonion BA for middle frequency
1 Knowles BA for high frequency
From Penon Audio
Introduction of crystal-plated biological diaphragm:
Among many new types of diaphragm materials, biological speaker diaphragms are commonly used in loudspeakers in recent years, high-end headphone manufacturers have gradually cited them.
The so-called biological diaphragm is the traditional beating technology using physical or chemical methods, adding a special proportion of biological materials to form modified materials to overcome the shortcomings of ordinary diaphragm.
Ordinary biological diaphragms will mutate due to humidity problems. The latest technology of crystal-plated biological diaphragm can solve the humidity problem and improve the compliance of middle & high frequency.
Model: FAN 2
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Cable: OS133 -2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores.
Plug: Gold-plated copper + carbon fiber plug accessories
Who is Penon Audio and what are they about?
Penon Audio is really just like you and I. Through the love of music they started in 2013 building/selling cables, then expanded out to include a full gambit of merchandise. With sound quality as a priority they have single-handedly started their own following. Again with people just like you and I, the followers have had luck with prior purchases, so they are retuning to the watering hole. If there is a better validation of company worth than return customers, let me know? Penon Audio is doing day-in and day-out just what they specialize in.....making great audio products and supplying professional service to the Head-Fi community. And just like you they are into what they do, because all these sound making devices are art. So (in a way) you could say this is simply artistic expression. It's a passion and a hobby, a distraction and a focus. Now for a news flash, this is way different than any Penon to come before. Yep, they have added a variant to what they were up to. It doesn’t lessen any of their previous adventures in IEM creation, it’s just a new departure and a new journey in sound reproduction. In many ways this is like the history of Sony……where in the late 1980s Sony had a more neutral/midrange focused house sound, then graduated to a thick meaty 2014 sound with the XBA-Z5 and MDR-Z7. Even the historic Sony WM1Z Walkman was almost stifled when it arrived, with software 1.01 showing just how far down the syrupy/dark rabbit-hole Sony could go. But just like Penon, Sony made an about-face and started to explore much more detailed and neutral avenues. Now that in no way means the Fan 2 sounds like the IER-Z1R, but to a Sony affectionoto like myself, I instantly recognized Sony moving to a more neutral response from the bass heavy flagships like the XBA-Z5. For Penon to explore this style of neutral ends both a refreshing blast of creativity and a no-nonsense step into true technicalities. In case you don’t know FR and technicalities cross over. They intermingle due to a give and take relationship between clean FR abilities and clean technicalities. It’s safe to say the Fan 2 excels at the technicalities it owns partially due to FR. It’s actually more technical than I first thought, and almost at the place of calling it perfect, yet I don’t want to use that word……..but I just did!
Ever heard the term “Artistic Leeway”?
Such freedoms allows for creativity to occur. Artistic license gives freedom to an artist to apply smaller departures from the rigorous idea of a neutral response, yet we still call it neutral in the very purest form of the word. The entire Fan 2 frequency band sits within 6.5 dB………….that's right the difference from bass to mids to treble all stays within a range of close proximity, giving illustrious attention to every frequency, because not one frequency is overpowering another. This is exactly what the definition of neutrality is.......exactly. Though keep in mind most people will have a different definition of what neutrality is. So it’s best to consider neutrality as a range. The reason the range is fine as recordings differ. Each recording is mastered in a non-standardized fashion. Giving a somewhat broad leeway as to reproduction in a neural manner. It means reproduction of neutral is more of a city address and not a strict street address…….and that is the basic response of the FAN 2. While its brother, the H30 offered a more forward and intense upper treble/midrange, that also can be considered neutral as far as response goes. My personal preference is the FAN 2, not just because it costs more money and has a more complete sound……..but there is something about the tuning (even with-in the restraints of neutral) is even more involving and offers an accessibility which ends more profound. The Fan 2 is warmer than the H30.......the Fan 2 has more of that ever important note-weight! The mid bass seems slightly bumped in relation to the H30, which to my ears is a better idea of a tune. This creates the end result of not being a Western or Eastern tune, but transcending any geographical pigeonhole. You see the Chinese tune was always thought of as a set of frequency focus which varied from the Western tune, having an additional frequency departure from neutral……….now we are witnessing a true unification of tuning ideas which results in a form of uniqueness!
The bass is ample and complete. So for understanding of what is going on here, completely forget that neutral has to be thin and boring……in-fact the musicality found in the bumps can be one of the best parts of the Fan 2 response. It’s just that some music genres make emotional use of more low-end. So also remember........I’m using a bass heavy source….which somehow makes the Fan 2 come alive with an endearing warmth. But EDM and other electronic genres will show how the Fan 2 is neutral, yet the bass will own a style of charm that’s truly provocative. Why...........well kids……because it’s fast and complete. Remember two 6mm drivers are kicking here to generate a correct response with authority. Two of a smaller than normal (bass driver) diameter means faster take-off and faster breaks. Full-on exquisite pace and note weight……..but most of all the bass timbre is correct and consistent. Still with all that said, maybe, just maybe more bass could be utilized to further (bass heavy) specific tracks? Still I don’t know…….these are so well rounded performers that I could definitely go out on a month long vacation and simply take the Fan 2s………that’s how good and complete they are………..don’t believe me? Buy a pair!
Seriously these do it all, and I like bass!
To help prove my point here……….
Days Of Dissent
96 kHz- 24 bit
The first thing you feel is the bass notes accompanying the synth strings adding just the right amount of tie-down. At 44.5 seconds the rhythm bass hits with full force. Here a plethora of Rolland drum machines takes control…….the fact that we can hear all parts of this watch-work progression starts to take precedence. At 2.57 the bump starts to get sexy and show a groove……what? At 4.10 the groove intensifies once more…………truly this is all the bass I need. And finding myself here is not what I expected a week ago when the Fan 2 was placed into my ears upon open box? That’s right, a full 7 days of burn-in was crucial to this performance in electronic music replay, though to be fair I was 90% there after only two days of constant (burn-in) music replay.
Mick Gordon & Chad Mossholder
Doom Eternal OST
48 kHz - 24 bit
Chad……his name is Chad…..Lol. I’m sorry, but there is a lot of messy gossip with the introduction of this OST to the world. And……in being good, I am not going to continue to feed the fire. But you should note, most of the time I include the songs featured only by Mick Gordon……..something about this being the last Doom OST for him to work with iD software........and he in-fact gave them a boatload of material, yet possibly it wasn’t enough, and wasn't maybe the quantity of material they were expecting? So Chad…..came in to finish the adventure off. Still this is one of my favorite releases ever, besides the first DOOM OSTs……and I’m not even a gamer any longer. Anyway……………
Phobos Space is an incredible introduction to just what the Fan 2 is about. Big, super big drops make this intro an example of what truly is possible in the bass department. The song literally opens with an ambient bass drop. And a follow-up drop at the 22.00 mark……this is the rhythm of the song……..the size was so big I couldn’t get true perspective? It's all here, all of it! Such magic is truly special............in that the bass is the fullest ever. I’m in a style of (bass) paradise found with the Fan 2………a paradise (bass) island. And the groove……same as the last song………the groove is the ticket here……..the reason we have these things in our ears in the first place. I don’t want this song to end…….in fact I want it to go on forever and ever! Probably the best union of Mick Gordon & Chad Mossholder ever? This is that style of OST which pushes every button I’ve got! Big washes of ambient sound and blasts of synth effects……….they’re coming……….something is coming…………and it’s not human.
Same song (Phobos Space) at the 03.17 mark. While later I will go into standard rock replay…….yet, this style of OST immersion is involving to the point of mentioning it. The way the everything is balanced!
Theater of Tragedy
44.1 kHz - 24 bit
I use this song daily to understand midrange and guitar replay……with different IEMs. Because here can be found a truth, a truth in tone. The way the guitar is parlayed can be one of a multitude of playbacks………..yep, it can actually be done a thousand different ways. And just like almost anything……this style of performance can be judged. Judged for authenticity…….yes, there is a closer to correct way and a farther-out way to be accepted…….and faults can often be forgiven as again artistic merit, still when it’s right it’s right, and this is right/correct. Both this song and the next song “Play” showcase the incredible guitar team of two guitar players! Vegard K. Thorsen makes his debut and I can only guess this giant guitar tone is 2 guitars.
I choose guitars to judge IEM timbre due to liking the sound of guitar, that and there is part of the tone I can’t put into words, but when it’s right it’s right. Here the Sonion midrange BA is so fluid and textured, not really holding any BA timbre at all…..none. This is wild as I know some off-timbre must be provided, yet it’s hidden so well. I could probably do a whole review just on this Sonion model…..lol. It’s both harmonically accurate and rich, it has a certain character with guitar that appears to be simply giving you more…….more detail, but it’s a workhorse………..you don’t need anything more……nothing. We are not asking for more drivers.
Theater of Tragedy
44.1 kHz - 24 bit
At 0.44 the blast of dueling guitars enter with full-force. Here the guitar is used with economy, yet they are startling in surprise and emphasis. The guitar is only used to propel the chorus to the whole song. Open power chords ringing-out in perfect pitch and timbre……truly a delight to behold here. The attack at 0.44 gives us a clue as to the transient quality as well as the leading edge definition bringing about the emotion of such 6 sting instruments. Truly this is why we choose BAs for IEMs and why so far BA technology still has winning attributes over other sound making methodologies. In fact, whether in-fact this is some new style/model of BA from Sonion, or just a beautiful implementation of an old one, this is the cat’s meow! While slightly more laid-back than the midrange tone of the ISN H30 that just came out, there is an extra layer of accessibility and realness I just can’t argue with. It wins out on any question of correctness, as found an in absolute example of how to do this “art” correctly.
(Metal Mind Productions reissued the album on 27 July 2009. The album has been digitally remastered using 24-bit process on a golden disc and includes three bonus tracks, "You Keep Me Hangin' On", "Let You Down" (Remix) and "Motion" (Funker Vogt Remix). The album is limited to 2,000 copies”)
“All Cats are Grey”
44.1 kHz - 16 bit
And………..remember we are still judging the midrange. All this is so slight, in a way, as when I reviewed the ISN H30 I talked about how I felt it was about the mids, that even though they were showing a slight upper midrange emphasis, still it’s where the soul of the H30 is. The Fan 2 does a more even-steven style of approach, where there is more of an exact balance…………so much even-balance that just that fact becomes an area of neutral-fascination. All Cats are Gray starts out with a wonderful drum sample. Such rotations of rhythm, are fully reverberated in the style for the time. It was like a new sound, where drums took a front and center place in the world of pop music, just adding this style of studio reverb and the sound of classic 1980s was born. There is much more to this reverb effect, but this is not the place to talk of it. Here though we find the drums reaching way out to the right and left of the stage……seemingly again right in the zone……..the tone zone! And amazing, the reverberations actually have a decay and note weight that seems not too fast in fall-off. Filled with extra harmonics of piano chords………this is both a warm bath and neutral at the same time. Each instrument having absolute timbre in identity to character…I’ve heard this album 100s and 100s of times and this take on replay is totally correct………not a version of correct……100% correct.
Robert Smith’s voice comes in at the 2:19 mark, now right before that there is a sonic emphasis in the way of a crash cymbal. It’s actually though-out the song……….the cat sounds are actually (an effect) in the tail-off of the cymbal tails. Now while the cat (sonic) effects sounds are more prominent in the cymbal strike at 2:11. I’m getting ahead of myself in that we will go into the treble character in the treble chapter to soon follow. At the 2:19 mark Robert Smiths voice is of a both relaxed and detailed manner, such a placement into the soundstage is just right. Yet somehow we hear his voice enveloped in echo too? While I have heard it more showcased and showing more of microscopic detail, here somehow it’s more integrated and part of the song. This character is also connected to how the treble ultimately plays out 100% of the time. It’s that the Fan 2 gets it’s strengths though correctness of timbre yet at the cost of creating more of a laid-back atmosphere. For all-night easy listening, I’m all in, for taking the Fan 2 as my only IEM on a trip, it’s fine too. It’s the very same reasons that the Fan 2 plays back everything……everything. One of my most important aspects of testing IEMs…………..let’s face it, it’s stupid if you have to search for recordings to make an IEM listenable. Not here, and not with the Fan 2, it plays every file I throw at it, now obviously old, dusty old recordings only sound so great, but they are not too bright or wrong sounding in any way. So as far as vocals go, they are not vocal specialist IEMs which showcase the vocals, yet they also are not a V shape response which can bury them in the mix. With the Fan 2 we are never wanting for the volume to be tuned-up louder, just to hear vocals. Vocals in-fact are heard for just what they are, with a smidge of warmth thrown-in for good measure.
There is a studio artifact at the 00:09 mark which I have used for years to judge IEM playback. In truth I don’t know what created this sound but it only lasts a fraction of a second. It’s maybe a dirty knob turn, or static electricity, whatever it is they failed to take it out of the mix. I have found this artifact to be of genuine value when getting a clue as to the true nature of IEM playback. In an instant it gives me an idea of the tone we are working with. This little sound can go and truly explain a lot. And here it’s just as expected, reflecting the neutrality of the Fan 2s playback, while not the most delineated, like some emphasis creating IEMs would perform, it’s fine and correct for what we are hearing.
I’m actually going to use the “All Cats are Grey” Cymbals as a great example of what treble character is going on. The lower treble focus of Fan 2 is a big part in contrast to how the upper treble on the ISN H30 differs. Typically in spending more you get a more complex and detailed treble with the more expensive model of IEM. Yet in this case it’s the 8-9 Khz treble focus of the ISN H30 which while still being very neutral, is more bright and airy. Where (to me) the ISN H30 is missing a slight bit of note weight, which while the H30 is more emphasized and louder in that treble area, I find the laid-backness so much more inviting with the Fan 2. The two IEMs didn’t come (to me) at the same time, so I reviewed the ISN H30 first…then came the Fan 2. While some may feel the Fan 2 is pricy in comparison to the ISN H30, here because they are both supplying an interpretation of neutral, the simple fact that the Fan 2 exists, makes having the H30 almost unnecessary. I simply feel the overall Fan 2 sound warrants the extra cost. That is of course unless you really want the style of treble the H30 does, then by all means get it. In truth though I don’t really miss the upper end sparkles the ISN H30 bring to the table……..and somehow find the Fan 2 more complete and natural, despite the lesser contrasts in tone.
Further comparisons to the H30:
It’s that in truth the Fan 2 is more well rounded. While they both do the Rock genre of music really well, the extra bass genres like techno are a plus for the Fan 2, but more than that, the Fan 2 is just a more well rounded performer in the end. Hence I gave the ISN H30 one-half less star, where the Fan 2 gets the full 5 star approval and sincere recommendation. I had no idea the Fan 2 would be this great, this forgiving and this much fun. Normally I rely on extra bass (read bass-head) for the thrills, here we are given an extra dose lower midrange that’s still relatively neutral and bass (that’s also close to neutral) to finish this reviewer off. Where the H30 is a few dBs short on bass, it becomes even more noticeable due to the (accented) treble balance. Hence the perfect combination found with the Fan 2! It’s just that the Fan 2 has this note weight to the treble, a realism which is uncanny, despite being rolled-off a tad in comparison to brighter V shaped responders. You know Penon did this on purpose, they almost never release a new IEM, yet is a short time we have the ISN H30 (a sub-brand of Penon Audio) and the Fan 2 released. This double-barrel shot gun effect works to create even more excitement than a single IEM release. And…….there is nothing wrong with the value the H30 represents. The cable it comes with, the abilities, especially for the price asked are phenomenal. It’s just when two IEMs come out back-to-back (at the same time) they beg to be compared.
Laughably the H30 probably fits better...........actually not probably, the H30 does fit better than the Fan 2. Still for the sonic attributes, I will choose the Fan 2, and while both are great at what they do and represent value in todays marketplace due to originality in tone, and technicalities. Those technicalities arrive from being both fast and agile in performance tempo..............still the Fan 2 has more midrange and lower midrange thickness. This adds to the realism in my humble opinion.
I have reserves about including cable rolls in this review. Mainly because it changed to IEM so far from the norm. Yep……..folks, I’m about to drop some bombs is this section.
The Penon Audio PAC480:
I’m putting this 1st as it won out over the included cable. This beast of a cable was $99.00, now (on-sale) for $49.50. To me it just sounded bigger and offered a more expanded soundstage. The sound was also fuller and a tad warmer. And while later cable takes talk about the $699/$799 Penon Audio Totem cable being somewhat costly/impractical, it's still the bees's knees with the Fan 2.
But really the OS133 stock cable and the Penon PAC480 are the two most recommended cables in this review due to price sound value. Both offer incredible synergy with the Fan 2, and both are warm, but in slightly different ways. Depending on the tone of your DAP, and personal preference, really both the included cable and this PAC480 are both the path to success. Though I must warn you, if you eventually decide to give the Penon PAC480 a try, keep in mind........it's giant, and a beast of a cable.
The ISN Audio G4:
Laughably the Graphene is pumping the soundstage, the sound response is just slightly brighter than stock...........but it’s the imaging and emotion that brings-up the entertainment factor with the G4! Bass is not only more separated, it’s slightly better defined than any cable described as of yet. Still this G4 addition is a kind of compromise that would only be of value if you held it as personal preference in the end. Meaning while the G4 does add separation, it also may add a brightness to the treble that may simply be too much for some. All and all, after days of testing and backtracking again on the comparison to the included Penon OS133 cable.........there is a specific tone with the included cable that's just right, being the silver add is less than the G4, we are left with a more well rounded yet slightly less detailed rendition with the Penon OS133. But for those curious as to the hidden information in the top-end of the Fan 2, adding the G4 may shorten your listening times, but add a little top-end spice!
Penon Totem Adapter Cable:
Plus the Penon Audio OS133 (stock cable)
This is when part of the review is going to get crazy. Are you sitting down? I hope so. For a modest price of $79.90 Penon offers a way to grasp part of the Totem TOTL cable’s abilities. Now remember this simply adding special metals cable onto the front of the signal. Attaching any cable plug you normally use, to go ahead and add to the front part of your existing cable. First you plug in the Totem adapter and plug in your favorite cable on-top. Simple. What you are doing is using the Palladium, Gold, Silver and Copper in a co-axial environment to pre-filter the regular signal. Such filtering adds part of what the complete Totem cable does to the Fan 2 anyway. Bigger soundstage, more instrument separation, and more involvement……….better defined bass, midrange more real and even the treble has slightly better articulation.
The Penon Totem Cable:
This is science fiction. So days before this review came out, Penon Audio revamped the Totem Cable. They ditched the pig-tails and now include a modular plug system. The covering went from a strange otherworldly blue to dark blue cloth style weave that almost resembles the black Penon Audio OS133 stock cable. Oh……and they knocked-off a $100.00 due to less pig-tail building costs. So the Penon Audio Totem comes in at $699.00. That’s a lot of money to put with a $279.00 IEM I hear you saying............off in the background.
Well, yes it is….............it is a lot of money……and with many so-so IEMs it would be a waist to even attempt this style of tomfoolery. I mean..........yes, the cable makes an improvement with every IEM I have used it with………..still with the Fan 2 it’s dramatic…….and if you can float-it……….I’m not going to suggest you get the Penon Totem just with one paragraph of information…………but read some reviews, don’t take my word for it……..until you read my TOTEM review, which should come out shortly. The Penon Totem maximizes everything, everything under the sun……334 Shares X 2. Litz 6 silver plated single crystal copper, palladium plated pure silver, pure gold plated single crystal copper. Each element that makes up the shares could be a cable of its own. Basically the Totem makes the Fan 2 sound louder at the same volume as other cables, so somehow its sound is not only more vibrant, but clearer.
Fan 2 build:
Consisting of 4 drivers and three driver types, the bass is handles by two 6mm biodynamic drivers. As talked about earlier, the idea here is a smaller DD moves faster, stops faster to create a nimbleness. The Mids are created by a single Sonion BA driver, as the treble handled by a single Knowles BA. I can’t help but think this combination is special, due to both soundstage and cohesion, transient edges and naturalness. The medical resin shell will be noted as being the first of its kind. Really it looks like the H30 and is relatively the same size, both with extra-long-nozzles. This goes about to create an impactful sound due to the sound exit point at nozzle-end actually being deeper in your ear. Though take note, the Fan 2 takes it one step further an has a slight downward angle to the nozzle, different from the H30. The nozzle tips are furnished with the same high-end lips and screens found on the ISN H30. There are a number of (screen) holes here, instead of a wire mesh used. Such ideas in shape offer a further stance on the universal custom, almost becoming even more custom due to shape. A two pin allows for connection, along with only a single vent for air-pressure in and out duties. Such a dark resin means you can barley see inside of the Fan 2. The faceplates have the Penon name on the left and Fan 2 on the right.
The included cable:
A $39.60 purchase on its own.
Laughably I did an entire review just on the cable the Fan 2 comes with. Before the Fan 2 the OS133 was a stand alone purchase. A 2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores, OFC silver-plated cable. Though typically I regard this cable sounding more to the copper side of the mix, than expressive of the slight silver add. It does have an increase in midrange spaciousness and a treble tilt in relation to a pure copper cable. But the main question in your mind is does the cable fit the IEM? And yes, without a doubt the cable just works………reason being is it’s one of the Penon cables which only has a hint of silver…….at least that’s how I interpret the OS133 to be. Where there are brighter cables, yet we don’t want that here. We want to bask in the low-end warmth, using what silver is there to kind-of add detail to the midrange and treble………and that’s exactly what’s going on. In fact after all my cable rolling I returned to the OS133 included cable to reconfirm its excellence. If anything the extra cables simply go-on to show that other signatures were possible, but there is no reason you can’t be happy with the included cable long term. Penon understands an IEM’s cable needs, and stepped-up to the plate to bring you a great balance of value, ergonomics and sonics.
New for Penon Audio, a new fangled GUCCI IEM case. You know what these things are. I will say this shape is slightly smaller (than normal) yet holds everything securely. Some of those new cases are LARGE! Disclaimer: GUCCI did not make the case in question.
Big, bounty-full and fun. There is nothing boring about the Fan 2. And the reason why it not boring may in fact start with the stage? The soundstage is the vary reason I placed this part of the review near the end……..that’s right, I saved the best part for last. And while I’ve heard bigger stages, there is something special going on here. It’s probably the ultimate balance that comes with FR……that’s right, there are technicalities which transcend due to FR and spill-over to effect pace and imaging…..and quite possibly soundstage, it sure seems like it. A light breezy pace with perfect placement of all sound constituents. While it’s more wide than anything, it does have ample thickness that seems to draw imaging? It’s not really that tall, but how it’s done is fine……….Producers play with soundstage, meaning at times stuff is mixed way-out to the sides, then other mixes will center a bass throb directly in the center. But the beautiful part here is whatever was planned in replay, IS experienced………..and far greater than the price of the Fan 2 would have you believe. It’s this separation which goes down due to never one single frequency over-shadowing anything else. Part of this effect is called hidden bass, this occurs due to fast bass response, and will actually delineate a fine section of the stage………..that’s right, siting right in its own little area, due to the tightness heard……..none of that bass bleed to clog up dynamics and bass perception. Literally it’s reserved bass, but it’s warm, fluid, fun and deep.
When playing songs which have the stage contained as an add, it’s amazing. Still low quality songs are shown (soundstage wise) for what they are, it’s realistic and truthful. The stage (to me) comes off exciting and big, with yet a big part of my findings has to do with how the Fan 2 responds with cable rolls. To be blunt, the stage is slightly better than average width, yet what makes it seem bigger is the correctly formed imaging.
People are always asking me what my favorite part of the Fan 2 response is...........and I always response with imaging and stage, besides the bass. Reason being is the technicalities are truly superior for the price asked. It is first noticed with these broad floating vocals.......perfectly detailed and separated in the mix, the violins having there own room to exist. You see, with-in neutral there is a space where instruments are never crowded, they add the nice pace, due to a perfectly reserved low-end.................and imaging is even better delineated! Really I need to address bass imaging too........while very dependent on both your cable and DAP character...........after a while you can really learn to find the low end! And.......what's found is a tailored form of quick imaging separated and sculptured......truly it's all I could want. But get the Fan 2 a thin source and the bass can become too thin, or lacking punch and depth. A perfect example would be using the new TRN silicone ear-tips combined with the PAC480 cable..........that set-up with the more mid centric Walkman WM1A, it was just slightly too thin. A change-out to the Walkman WM1Z was absolutely perfect! So the lesson for all here is at times it's a super small adjustment which means the world of difference between wining and losing!
While priced much more than its sister release, the H30. The $279 Fan 2 is taking the signature to a whole new level! $297.00 is a lot of money, it’s $168.00 more than the H30. Yet if it’s a keeper…….then nothing wasted. In fact if you love it…………well.........you love it!
In many ways the Fan 2 opens a doorway. To me that door is to new lands of adventure and tone. In fact the sound kept reminding me of something. I couldn’t put my finger on where, but I had heard this sound before? That in and of itself is strange because you wouldn’t think a neutral sound would be rare in an IEM, but in my experience the Fan 2 comes off pleasantly unique in my collection, and possibly yours too? The sound of the Fan 2 is very much from memory like the famous Sony MDR-R10 which came out in 1988. Sony continued the sound-tuning even with my own personal pair of Sony headphones the MDR-CD-870 to which I purchased in 1998 and used (as my only headphone) until I discovered Head-Fi in 2006. When I finally got a chance to hear the MDR-R10 it was in the very best of situations. While experiencing my second Head-Fi meet in 2010, the R10 was left alone in a quiet room upstairs. I could listen just as long as I wanted, it was being fed by the ultimate upstream equipment too! I came to realize that this headphone was Sony’s take on neutrality. Introduced back in 1988 they continued with this Sony house sound for years. While Penon’s version in the Fan 2 is slightly warmer, also the R10 treble is slightly more refined, which you would expect from a $2500 (at time of release) full-size headphone. Today the Sony R10 brings in on average $6000 a pair! So an IEM version of this old Sony sound is a welcome embrace.......also strangely new in the IEM world. Yet the Fan 2 is powerful because it gives you the ability to play any file type and any musical genre. In playback there is a style of completeness that is truly special. This results from soundstage as well as a lickety-split bass department! And.....I haven’t even started with the genuine midrange!
When you start to add up the features, you start to get a glimpse of the value. Truth to be told, there is nothing more I could ask for in this Fan 2 sound signature, it’s all there, doing everything right! In fact this sound is both exciting and unique. Unique because somehow Penon went and figured out a tune that could be introduced to market as fresh and new. There is nothing that I have heard that even begins to approach what the Fan 2 is! So in that it stands alone. I haven’t heard the original Fan made by Penon, but I can guess it has nothing to do with the IEM we are discussing today. The Fan 2 sound is textured and vivid, fast and embracing. Truly this single product is like nothing you have ever heard in your life, unless you have a pair of Sony MDR-R10 laying around!
I want to thank Penon Audio for the love and for the Fan 2 review sample.
These are one persons ideas and concepts, your results may vary.
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudioQuest Carbon USB
UA3 Dongle DAC/Amplifier 4.4mm
Dual DD+Dual BA Hybrid IEM from Penon AudioPros: Newest IEM from Penon audio with the aim to meet their fan base needs.
The most neutral Penon IEM tuned to date.
Excellent use of 3 different types of drivers.
Two 6mm bio dynamic for bass+Sonion BA for mids+Knowles BA for trebles
Excellent passive isolation due to longer than usual nozzle for Resin designs
Nicely resolving technically proficient sound tuning with excellent balancing
Versatile due to its neutrality and excellent stage.
Includes a new style larger carry case for Penon with a liner for the IEMs.
OS133 included cable matches well with the sound of the Fan2
Excellent neutral tonality, highly technical
Tight speedy punchy dynamic bass. Moderate in emphasis.
Well balanced extended trebles.Cons: Longer nozzle of the Fan2 has a bit of a strange shape to it that might cause some discomfort
Tip and fit sensitive it seems due to the new shape of the housing.
Slightly uneven bass with more mid bass focus than sub bass.
Could use more tips.Penon Fan2
Not often do we get Penon made IEMs and the Fan2 happens to be the latest offering from the group that keeps on making premium in ears. The Fan2 consists of 4 drivers in an all resin build. The build you should be familiar with but the actual shape of the housing is new. Its got the longest stem of any of the recent Penon offerings for one. This seems to give an added effect of stage with better passive isolation. Will share more thoughts on that later but for now, inside the new medium sized shell are 2x 6mm dynamics and 2 BAs. More specifically a Sonion BA doing the mids and a Knowles BA doing the treble.That leaves the two sets of dynamics handling the bass.
From a design standpoint I have always advocated the use of smaller dynamics to handle bass. Contrary to popular belief, just because a dynamic is smaller in size does not mean it will have smaller bass. It has everything to do with tuning more than physical size for drivers. In the headphone space I have owned plenty of 40mm dynamic headphones out punch and out rumble larger 50mm dynamic headphones. I suppose it's the idea of a bigger driver gives you bigger slam. I found out the two sets of 6mm dynamics are both handling the bass frequencies in unison. Kinda like a dual push pull system for bass. Penon is using their latest biological dynamic with what they claim has a crystal plating.
Apparently, humidity can affect a biological dynamic, hence the need for a “crystal plating.” Which is a newly revised version of the biological dynamic Penon has used for their prior IEMs. My experience with biological dynamics is that it does bass splendidly well for IEMs. Will get into that later in the bass descriptor but for now just know you're getting the latest and greatest from Penon tech.
The Penon Fan2 was provided for the purpose of a review. You can read more about them and purchase a set here. The Fan2 has been burned in for a weeks period and are now ready for evaluation using my sources. IBasso DX300Max, IBasso DX160, Shanling M6 pro, Shanling M5S, Fiio BTR7, Fiio K3 2021, IFI Gryphon, IFI Signature.
What you get/ build
The Penon Fan2 comes with a new medium sized rectanglish 3”x4” clamshell type zip up case with a soft formed lining for the earphones and cable to be more secure inside. If you don't need or want the lining you can take it out of the case for more room if you wish. Accessories include two sets of silicones, a cleaning tool and clip. Accessories are standard fare here and nothing too spectacular. Overall just ok with usable tips. The cable on the other hand clearly makes up for any shortcomings for the accessories. The highly regarded OS133 makes a debut as an included cable offering with the Fan2 which matches splendidly with the sonic qualities. The cable will come in any termination when ordering.
I spoke briefly about the new resin housing and I have to write about this new shape. It clearly has the longest nozzle of any of the Penon resin designs. Some pros and cons of this design is that it forces the user to have a deeper insertion into the ears. Witch unto itself is not a bad thing if you're used to using IEMs. However the nozzle shape is slightly awkward in that it points at a downward angle. I have a friend who has owned and heard 100s of IEMs and he finds the Fan2 new resin housing a bit uncomfortable for him. I happen to have a larger ear than him so they seem fine for me. This guy owns numerous other Penon IEMs so this was a bit of a surprise to me. But I can understand due to the new housing shape. This longer nozzle also seem to cause a variation of its sound based on tip selection. These do seem to be more tip dependent than most. If you find the mid bass to be a bit much or too little with too much treble it might be due to how they fit for you so you have to experiment with different type of tips more so on the Fan2 than most. It was clearly designed for a deeper insertion so know this before experimenting.
Sound design and technicals.
As stated, Penon is very deliberate in everything they design. There was a prior FAN IEM they created that was a single dynamic design. Fan series of earphones, I can call them now are named as such as they design these for their audiophile audience. Therefore the name FAN. With the 2nd iteration of the FAN design we go from a dynamic IEM to a hybrid in the Fan2. Fan2 is the most neutrally tuned Penon IEM and I do believe was designed about the same time as the new ISN H30 which interestingly enough also happens to be a neutrally tuned IEM. You can read my review of the ISN H30 here. The Fan2 is very similar in many ways to the H30 design. They both use two BAs. Possibly the same BAs, not certain but they have differences in their tunings. Both are neutrally tuned IEMs but with the obvious design differences being their dynamic drivers.
The other difference is how the Fan2 was tuned to be a higher end IEM vs the H30. Fan2s neutral balanced tuning has a more refined extended treble tuning vs the H30. Its bass has greater definition. Mids are the most similar between the two IEMs as well as the actual balancing for the frequencies. The use of a slightly larger shell, and how the treble was tuned with a dual dynamics on tap doing the bass. The Fan2 is basically a higher end ISN H30.
The Fan2 technicalities are standard of Penon fame. Meaning they use quality components and drivers for their designs.Technicalities are some of the best for the bucks always.. Trebles with a different better balanced tuning focus with better extension, bass which is tighter, a touch better defined, speedier and then using a larger shell vs the H30 seems to give the Fan 2 even a wider sense of stage, airier trebles, an airier sound. That wider sense of stage and space makes for a different level of immersion. A different level of earphone. It seems Penon tunes for the given price points they sell their IEMs for. The Fan2s sound profile being neutral has everything in moderation with no particular parts of the tuning that stands out above the others. Excellent balancing, has very good definition both macro and micro, imaging in space with good timbre be it BA timbre, sound separation, very good cohesion, neutral tonality with a hint of richness. Excellent well defined, tight and speedy bass impact with good rumble and texture for its price level. Very good stereo separation, excellent wider stage with a moderate depth for IEMs. Fan2 is fan service for their patrons.
The trebles of the Fan2 were tuned differently from the similarly neutral ISN H30. Here is where treble tunging makes for a different level of IEM. The Fan2s treble tunging is the opposite of the H30s mid treble focus. The Fan2s treble focus is more at the heart of the lower trebles and then a nice treble extension for the upper trebles. It does have the Penon classic anti sibilance/fatigue free dip at around 8-9Khz. Which was the actual focus for the trebles for the ISN H30. Micro detailing for the trebles could be a touch better but for the most part the better balanced trebles of the Fan2 injects air to the treble frequencies. Excellent crisp macro detailing and is easily the more refined treble experience. One of the best aspects for Penon branded IEMs is to expect fatigue free trebles for their IEMs and this is at the heart of their treble presentations.
I have seen some rumblings of enthusiasts that have posted that would like more of the 8Khz presence for the brilliance factor. It isn’t that Penon neuters the area altogether. It is not as emphasized as the other regions of the tuning. This makes for better versatility. Ask a rock and metal listener how they like the 8Khz spike and more than likely they will tell you it is not pleasant to get a whole helping heaping of crash cymbals in your ears. I would like to think Penon knows what they are doing in that regard and it shows for their IEMs. The trebles overall are handled splendidly with the single Knowles treble BA. The treble blends in seamlessly with the mids presentation.
Mids of the Fan2 are affected from the better treble and bass tunings of the Fan2. Mids sound broader, somehow deeper and airier sounding vs the similarly tuned ISN H30. The mids are the meat and bones of the Penon tuned IEM and here we get an excellent Sonion BA handling the mids duties for the Fan2. Mids come with one of the better imaging aspects for IEMs. The Sonion BAs are amazing for mids due to their tonal qualities. This is reflected in the Fan2 richer tonal presentation. It does sound like a different Sonion BA that is being used vs the Orbs, Globes and Volts. Can’t confirm this but it is probably due to having moderate bass ends on the Fan2 vs the others mentioned that use the Sonion BA. Mids have excellent neutral clarity and presence in all parts of the mids bands. Utilizing roughly 6dbs of upper mid pinna gain, the Fan2 has just enough to really balance out the mids presentation while injecting a very good clear definition for the mids. It wouldn’t be a Penon tuned IEM without a dimensional character and you get that with the Fan2 as well. Penons mids presentations are emotive with their deliberate use of the Sonion BA. And I can say there are not many really neutrally tuned Penon IEMs. The Fan2 is now the closest to a neutrally tuned IEM even over the Serials.
The two 6mm crystal plated biological dynamics handling the bass has about roughly 6dbs of bass. You can see the balancing of the 3 types of drivers here with the Fan2. 6dbs is really the bare minimum for a neutrally tuned IEM. Anything lower than that and the bass will start to sound anemic and lack in impact. I know 6dbs of bass does not seem much but for a neutrally tuned IEM it is right at the moderate level of bass in all aspects related to bass. Here is where the level of bass presence is identical to that of the recent ISN H30 hybrid. Both sets are focused more for mid bass vs the sub bass presence. Which is OK but I would have liked to see the Fan2 have just a bit more in the sub bass.
Where the slight lack of emphasis is made up is in the sheer quality of the bass performance on the Fan2. Fan2 has a tight well defined bass presentation. Which is exactly what you want from a neutrally tuned IEM. Its bass tonality is natural with excellent transient and speed qualities for dynamic bass. Percussion sets especially sound excellent for the Fan2. It has a moderate level of rumble for sub bass. All of their prior made IEMs for Penon has more emphasis for bass. However to get a greater bass presence your best copper based cables and tips apply here. Bass has plenty of impact and its cohesion with the BAs are done well. I have heard plenty of hybrid IEMs where the bass sounds different altogether from the BAs it is using. Not so with the Fan2. The idea of using a hybrid is to get the natural bass impact and rumble of the dynamic vs the tight clean well defined BA presentation. You get just this with the Fan2 as the bass integration is nicely done. Sure I would have liked to see just a bit more emphasis for the bass but as far as the overall balancing goes. The Fan2 is the very definition of balance.
In the end
The Fan2 is yet another nicely designed hybrid from Penon. It actually fits in perfectly with their current line up as it is the most neutrally tuned Penon IEM out of the bunch. It is the one area they have not really explored in the past. I suppose the Serials come the closest to the Fan2 but those are differently designed altogether. Even their flagship Volts and Legends are more colored in comparison. Its overall tuning is clearly a Penon version of the neutral tuning. You will never see an analytical type tuning from Penon. Well balanced and refined yes but bright neutral will never happen. Penon IEMs are all about listening to music and that includes bass genres. I own bass first hybrid IEMs where it will pound your ear drums into submission if need be. The Fan2 is not it. While being very versatile due to its outstanding balancing the Fan2 is not the IEM I would choose for bass genres..They sound surprisingly capable for bass genres it's just that that is not their strongest strength. Fan2 still shows good versatility and you know it is a Penon made IEM when mids are clearly some of the better aspects for the IEM. Vocals sound superb be it male or female, acoustic tracks sound fantastic, punchy for pop and is surprising just how well it does for Jazz, orchestral and rock music.
Penon Obsidian cable shown.
The all-resin design Penon uses are outstanding for their solid nature. The new Fan2 has one of the longer nozzles that sit on a medium housing. This makes the Fan2 have a deeper insertion of the ears and seems to present the Fan2 sound with an outstanding sense of a wider stage for IEMs with added sense of a greater passive isolation. The Fan2s neutral tuning gives precedence for accuracy and detail which bodes well for a versatile listen. The included cable for the Fan2 is the highly regarded Penon OS133 cable in any termination you want. You can read about the cable here. The cable matches amazingly well with the Fan2 sound signature but like all good things that are made well. A higher end aftermarket cable brings out even better performance for the Fan2. If you're in the market in search for a well made, excellent sounding neutrally tuned hybrid. Penon just released a very competitive and compelling product in the Fan2. Thanks for taking the time to read.
Fan2 optimiazed. IFI Gryphon+ Penon Obsidian+ Fan2+ Spiral dots.Last edited: