If you’re a fan of 64 Audio, it’s likely that you’ve discovered FiR, a relatively new and quickly emerging IEM brand, started with the help of 64 Audio’s ex-CEO, Bogdan Belonozhko. FiR’s latest flagship, the pricey Xenon 6 takes some cues from 64 Audio’s design, but sounds nothing like a traditional 64 Audio IEM. So, what can you expect from the Xenon 6 in terms of performance and personality?
What’s in the Box?
- Braided Black 1.2m IEM cable with 4.4mm jack
- Hard Leather Case
- 3 Pairs Silicone Ear Tips
- 3 Pairs Foam Ear Tips
- ATOM XS Interchangeable Modules
- IEM Cleaning Tool
- ATOM Module Tool
- FiR Audio “Space Force” Patch
- Warranty Card
- User Guide
Look and Feel
These are some glitzy or classy (depending on your tastes) shells that stand out in all their brassy gold glory. The shell is actually composed of stainless steel, but the shiny gold gives it that extra bit of pizzaz, reminiscent of some of the more hyped up models on the market. (I won’t name names). As for the Xenon 6, I had to really buff up the steel for the photos because the shells smudge easily, making it look like you’ve gone to town on some chicken wings.
Putting aside the initial cold rush you get when you put a frigid steel shell in your ear, the Xenon 6 offers a super comfy fit. I like that FiR borrowed 64 Audio’s approach to the shell design, avoiding any bulbous, super rounded contours, and instead opting for a simpler, no nonsense shape. The shells were perfectly curved to my ears, and the nozzle didn’t feel too obtrusive, despite its relatively wide circumference. So, no complaints here.
In addition to its 5 BA drivers, the Xenon 6 employs FiR’s kinetic Bass technology, which basically means that the dynamic bass driver emits lower frequencies through a vent on the chamber side of the IEMs, targeting the cartilage and pinnae. This differs from most other bone conduction methods, which aim for the ear canals. This design is meant to more accurately reproduce frequencies that usually only open-air speakers could reveal.
The Xenon 6 IEMs incorporate a tubeless, open driver design, again, similar to what we’ve seen from 64 Audio. This design helps prevent fatigue caused by air pressure build-up in the ear canals. Additionally, the IEMs come with ATOM modules that can be easily swapped in and out to adjust the tuning of the Xenon 6. For the purposes of this review, I went with the default modules out of the box.
The soundstage presents a highly authentic picture of the space. That is, don’t expect an incredibly vast soundscape with soaring heights and depths. This stage is more intimate and natural, positioning instruments at a realistic distance from the ear. But this is no way takes away from the vibrant color of the imaging, Tiny gradational shifts in height came through clearly, and the same was true for the horizontal axis, where instruments seemed to be placed into “spaces within spaces”. So, the imaging is thoroughly nuanced and dimensional, even if the scale of the stage is less than immense.
The bass of the Xenon 6 is profoundly beefy, round and deep, leaving even the most fervent bass enthusiasts pissing their pants. If you have a penchant for that head-smacking sensation, the Xenon 6’s low-end capabilities should satisfy your cravings. Kick drums and bass thumps exhibit impressive impact, while the sub bass frequencies also make their presence felt, eliciting a resonating rumble that I could feel in my jaw and neck. The bass remains consistently balanced throughout this range, avoiding any noticeably weird bumps or dips. When it comes to string instruments in the lows, they emanate a grand and majestic quality, albeit with a slight deficiency in texture, instead prioritizing richness over transparency. And overall, the bass reproduction exudes more opulence than intricate detail.
While the low-end of the Xenon 6 generally maintains its cleanliness, there are instances, particularly in big pop-rock songs, where the bass tends to occupy a significant amount of space, encroaching into the mid-range frequencies. This results in a slight drawback concerning the low-mids, which feel somewhat recessed within this range. But this issue was less problematic on more intricate, acoustic and folk tracks. And as for the upper-mids, while they don’t possess an excessive amount of snap or overwhelming prominence, they do exhibit a slight emphasis over the low-mids. This accentuation lends snares an added snap and creates a steady, yet dynamically energetic drive to the overall song. And certainly, one we creep into the treble frequencies, the profile starts to clean up significantly, revealing an impressively realistic and nuanced presentation of instruments.
The highs is probably where the Xenon 6 feels the most natural. Acoustic and string instruments are given plenty of space to breathe and resolve. Brass reveals ample nuance in timbre. Percussion strikes up here with tons of air and buoyancy. Vocals also have a deliciously light, floating quality. And in general, this frequency range seems to reveal the most amount of detail. At the same time, I didn’t find the treble peaks too uncomfortable, and overall, the sound remains easy listening in the highs. For sure, the Xenon 6 executes the treble beautifully.
The Xenon 6 is nothing if not memorable, which is saying a lot in this crowded sea of IEMs. A v-shaped beast that boldly embraces its powerful low-end without any apologies, the Xenon 6 compensates for its audaciousness by delivering exceptionally natural and smooth treble frequencies. So, whether you’re a bass enthusiast or a sucker for sweet highs, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this IEM. Still, if you can’t live without a prominent, evenly balanced midrange should keep looking. This ain’t Beyerdynamic.
You can buy the FiR Audio Xenon 6 at Audio 46.
|FiR Audio Xenon 6
|(1) 10mm Kinetic Bass DD
(2) OpenDriver BA’s for mid range
(1) OpenDriver BA for high mids
(1) OpenDriver BA w/ Sound Reflector for highs (1) OpenDriver EST for “ultra-highs”
|20 Hz – 20 kHz