Hardy build, Pressure-free yet isolating design, Balanced sound, Tight bass, Wide soundstage, Resolving and sparkly top-end, Non-fatiguing
Bass extension and dynamics may leave wanting, Signature isn’t especially engaging
A resolving yet non-fatiguing sound and thoughtful design make Fir’s latest offering a perfectly evolved complement to the audio enthusiast’s EDC.
Fir Audio is a company that is quite new to me, but one that I’ve been keeping an eye on for the expertise that they carry. Though just over 2 years old now, the staff at the company carry almost a decade of experience at leading audio brands. At first, the company made some noise with their innovative IEM utilities; a micro vacuum for removing wax and a cable tester, both valuable tools for professionals or simply those wanting to maximise the performance of their gear. I was then surprised then, when I found out that the man behind Fir was none other than former 64Audio CEO Bogdan. As you would expect, when the company inevitably launched its first IEM line-up, the M-series monitors, Fir Audio quickly rose to prominence. The VxV represents an interesting departure from this direction. Much like the M-series, it sports Fir’s signature Direct Aperture, ATOM and Tubeless Driver tech in addition to a very generous 3-year warranty. However, the design and goals differ substantially from their previous releases. This is a high-end limited run IEM that targets simple yet versatile daily usability. It represents the start of a sister branch of products alongside the professional leaning M-series.
I would like to thank Asher from Project Perfection very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the VxV for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Drivers: 1x DD, 2x Mid BA, 1x High BA, 1x Ultra-High BA
- 2.5mm TRRS Balanced Connector
- MMCX Connectors
- Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminium and DuPoint engineering plastic
- Impedance: 16 Ohm
Behind the Design –
Direct Bore Drivers
We’ve seen tubeless drivers on a few models, think 64Audio’s TIA drivers and Campfire Audio’s T.A.E.C. By bypassing the usual tube and damper system used by most IEMs, especially hybrids due to the sensitivity mismatch between drivers, manufacturers are able to extract better extension and less distortion from traditional drivers. Fir take this one step further by removing the spount from the driver on top which permits a more natural and organic sound as per the company. The VxV is a completely tubeless design with direct bore referring to the two tubeless tweeter drivers placed within the sound tube itself, reducing reflections as much as possible for the most detailed sound possible.
Tactile Bass Technology
In fact, Fir have outdone themselves with their tubeless design, not only applying it to all 4 BA drivers but the DD woofer as well. The dynamic driver fires into the entire chassis rather than having its own chamber. This maximises the air volume it can work with and enables some mass loading with the metal chassis, helping to improve detail and optimise decay.
The VxV has a vastly different internal structure than the M-series which has enabled Fir to bring all of the technologies pioneered by their flagships to a more accessible price point. Dubbed sound reactor, the internal acoustic design does indeed resemble a reactor with the myriad drivers branding off a central channel. This gives the company greater control over the sound tuning and desired characteristics.
Atom Super +
ATOM, short for air transfer open module, was pioneered by the M-series and works similarly to Adele and apex we’ve seen adopted by professional orientated monitors. These technologies were designed to reduce ear fatigue by minimising pressure on the ear drum but in the same sense I do find these technologies to greatly enhance wearing comfort for enthusiasts too as it greatly reduces the sensation of wearing pressure generated by the in-ear form factor. All have differing implementations, here using surgical grade tubing to permit a smaller footprint. In the case of the VxV, we observe a 3D printed unit integrated into chassis which means they can’t be swapped to change the sound or isolation. Fir Audio promise 20dB of isolation alongside a pressure-free wearing experience.
In tune with its EDC focus, the VxV has a simple, utilitarian unboxing focusing on thoughtful essentials. The earphones come within a clean white box with Fir branding. Inside is a leather carrying case containing the earphones and accessories. Papers and Firry stickers are also included for the user to enjoy. The case contains 3 pairs of silicone tips and 1 pair of double flange tips in addition to a cleaning tool. The earphones come pre-installed with memory foam ear tips that provide stronger isolation and a slightly warmer sound well suited for these earphones. I found Azla Sednafit ear tips to be a great aftermarket complement for these earphones both from a fit and sound point of view and used them for this review. Of note, units from Drop will also include a DD HiFi 2.5mm to 3.5mm adaptor as the earphone does ship with a balanced 2.5mm cable, however, this was not included on my review unit.
Fir’s shell design assumes a minimalist approach with basic yet ergonomic geometry derived from their M-series monitors. Though it may not be clear online, these shells have a very sturdy 2-piece construction dense metal bodies with tough integrated nozzles and Delrin faceplates with a metal insert sporting Fir and Firry branding. The shells uphold a high-quality feel and the faceplate matching is nigh perfect. The small vents for the ATOM system are well integrated into the metal chassis. It’s also easy to appreciate Fir’s knack for compelling story telling, with prototype insignias and coordinates marked on each faceplate coinciding with their mascot Firry and his plans of world domination. It’s a small touch but something that makes the product feel personable and special.
Up top are MMCX connectors that feel like high-quality components. They are outset, seating inside a recessed groove on the cable to prevent moisture and dust ingress. The cable itself has been made specifically for the VxV, sporting SPC conductors and a 2.5mm balanced termination alongside a silver colour scheme that matches the shell. It has a smooth and super supple TPU jacket with Teflon inner sheath that enables essentially zero memory or microphonic noise, making it a pleasure to live with. The ear guides are comfortable and well-shaped and the cable has quite a robust thickness that means, though it is soft, it doesn’t feel delicate. The metal plug and y-splitter are a nice touch, especially with their laser etched Firry logos. As always, it’s attention to detail that upholds a strong user experience and Fir flaunt their extensive experience with IEMs through their mastery.
Fit & Isolation –
As aforementioned, the VxV is not a compact earphone but of modest dimensions that will be compatible with a wide range of ears. The shape of the shells too is very well considered, not excessively sculpted but thoughtfully composed to maximise fit compatibility. The smoothly rounded rears hug the ear and prevent hotspot formation. Meanwhile, the narrow apex slots confidently behind the tragus without introducing much pressure due to its slimness, further enhancing long-term comfort. I was able to wear the VxV for hours without issue and also found the fit and seal desirable, with very well-angled elongated nozzles.
The nozzles aren’t too wide and didn’t limit fit depth as on some longer-nozzled earphones. However, you will be limited to T400 size ear tips. With the right tips, I received a consistently strong seal and a very stable fit despite the vented housings. The earphones feel snug and securely locked into the ears despite a lack of any fins or stabilisers. As promised by Fir, I experienced zero wearing pressure and no driver flex on behalf of the ATOM modules; a great addition for air travel or those sensitive to in-ear wearing pressure. When wearing the earphones during commute, I also noted that the modules relieve the thud of each footstep for an uninterrupted listening experience relative to conventional sealed in-ears.
On the flipside, they do introduce some wind noise, not a huge amount but noticeable when outdoors. They also slightly lower passive noise isolation through not by much. The VxV isolates only slightly less than a fully-sealed monitor but remain a very strong performer easily sufficient for frequent travellers or those listening in noisy environments. The DD also helps to retain a full voicing though I would still recommend custom or foam tips for those wanting to maximise isolation.