FiR Audio VxV MSRP: $999 Hybrid 4ba, 1 Dynamic FiR Audio, a relatively new in-ear manufacturer, was founded in 2018 and released their first in-ears in 2019. However, the man behind it, Bogdan Belonozhko, was previously part of 64 Audio (and previously 1964 Ears). I haven’t had opportunity to hear any other models from FiR, so the VxV will the first. Fir Audio graciously provided the unit for review. Specs: The VxV (or 5x5), coming in at a price tag of $999, is one of the cheaper models in the FiR lineup and was recently on Drop for $799. It looks like the VxV is the only one in the lineup that only comes as a universal. Apparently it is a limited run but I’m unsure of the number of units that will be made. The VxV consists of a 6.8mm dynamic driver and 4 balanced armatures: 2 for midrange, 1 for treble and 1 for super-high frequencies. The VxV is equipped with a pressure releasing vent system. Rather than being placed on the faceplate, its tucked away under the cable connector near the top of the housing. As far as I know, these aren’t user replaceable like the larger faceplate mounted options in 64 Audio in-ears. The 2 treble armatures are spoutless and I assume are positioned inside the housing bore, as described on FiR’s TECH page: https://www.firaudio.com/tech. The housing are reminiscent of 64 Audio housings in shape but I really dig the simplicity of the design on the VxV. As shown above, FiR has created a little character whose face is the VxV model name. The character is known as Firry but I affectionally refer to him as the drunk moon bunny! Firry is on the right faceplate and the FiR Audio logo on the left. The white-ish band around the faceplate made me think it might have glow-in-the-dark capability but alas it does not. The monochrome graphics really look superb. Accessories: The cable is a very nice and soft, thin gauge wire consisting of 8 cores. It’s not bulky at all. I’m not a fan of the brown color (whiskey on the website; told you the bunny is drunk) but you can get it in silver/white and black. All in all, one of the best stock cables I’ve had come through my hands. The silver/white version would have looked great on the VxV. This is a cable I wouldn’t mind for a few of the in-ears in my own collection either. Ergonomics and aesthetics are all top notch. The connectors are an unusual raised version of MMCX (RCX). The case is a round, leather affair that is a bit on the large side. However props to the idea of having the foam holding the tips and cleaning brush being able to fit in the bottom of the case and still leave enough room for the IEM and cable. Unfortunately the case is not pocketable and the size allows for quite a bit of movement of the IEM housings inside. Sound: FiR uses the following terms to describe their VxV: welcoming and full-bodied. These are terms I can agree with. The VxV is mostly comfortable sounding: it’s warm, rich and full. Bass is dense and meaty with strong impact and rumble. The warmth isn’t suffocating or overbearing, rather it’s separated pretty well from vocals and doesn’t negatively impact vocal weight. Treble is mostly tame and easy going with one modest lower treble peak and some upper treble energy between 10 and 12k. The overall effect is a thinner, lighter weight treble. It’s not bright in the traditional sense but it can be pretty incisive. I would say the pressure vents do a very good job of keeping it fatigue free and giving it a slightly open sound. Don’t think open back vent open sound but it also doesn’t have the boxiness some fully sealed in-ears can give. Comparisons: via Mac Mini >> Pi2AES (via AES) >> RME ADI-2 PRO FS R Vs. Campfire Andromeda (OG) Most noticeable is the warmth and richness VxV has over Andromeda. Andromeda note weight almost seems light in direct comparison. And of course you have the bigger dynamic driver rumble down low that also lingers longer and provides better texture than Andromeda’s armature bass. Both male and female vocals are a little more forward on VxV, with noticeably better clarity and nuance. I do pick up a bit more enhanced sibilance with the VxV over Andromeda. However, rock guitars have more crunch and attack with the OG Andromeda. The VxV here sounds more rounded and slightly richer in comparison. Andromeda has more middle treble sparkle. Cymbals have more weight and more realistic timbre. VxV treble while lighter in weight, sounds more incisive and precise. While Andromeda comes across as airier in presentation with its middle treble peak, the VxV does sound more extended. Andromeda sounds wider left to right, however the VxV sounds perhaps a bit more evenly proportioned overall with more height and depth to match its width. While the VxV is warmer it does carry more midrange clarity over the OG Andromeda which can carry a slightly haze in comparison, so imaging is more precise on the VxV. Vs. Campfire Solaris (OG) The warmth and richness of the VxV is a bit less noticeable against Solaris. The dynamic in the VxV carries a bigger and broader elevation over the more linear sounding Solaris. When listening to electronic music, the VxV rumble is louder and more forward. However Solaris easily extends just as deep and it’s texture is a little more nuanced against the denser and harder hitting VxV. When listening to Rap, vocals are closer to the same level as the bass on VxV; on Solaris the vocals are brought forward on a layer in front of the bass. On acoustic music, the VxV is back to bringing vocals forward and upfront, however Solaris also takes it up another notch, where the vocalist is right there with you. The Solaris is more nuanced, bringing more attention to small details like throat inflections and pursing of lips, as well as having a slightly cupped hands in front of the vocals effect (similar to Etymotic at times). Both can be revealing of sibilance with some songs, with the VxV accentuating sibilance a bit more-so. OG Solaris has similar traits as Andromeda in how it presents treble, if a bit more subdued in comparison. Since Solaris is more subdued than Andromeda, the VxV can present treble sounds more upfront and just sound brighter overall. The VxV treble is lighter and thinner in weight, while Solaris treble has a more natural brassiness to it. Both sound very controlled, but VxV has a more incisive edge. While the VxV sounds relatively open and on the bigger side of average staging, the Solaris OG just sounds more three dimensional with better separation and layering, more space around performers and instruments. That being said, the Solaris OG is still the reigning champ for me when it comes to staging and not many come close. The VxV is more than competent in its own right but next to the Solaris OG, everything on the VxV is just must more upfront together and more on the same plane with less space in comparison. Wrap Up: While the housing shape fit my ear well enough, they are more flat than contoured, so they do move around a bit. I found myself reseating them quite often but never experienced any ear fatigue. Build quality seems very good, I do wonder how the venting system will fair long term; will it clog over time with sweat and debris, and how will this impact the sound? Aesthetics are great and the monochrome simplicity is very appealing to me. Sure wish white elements would glow in the dark after long exposure to light! The VxV is a fun and engaging in-ear, that’s really good at lower volume listening where dynamics can suffer in others. In many ways it reminds of the U18T we had on tour here, however, the VxV is much better tuned with better technical performance all the way around. Warmth and richness without midrange creep and suffocation and very good treble extension. While I would prefer more weight to the treble and a bit more brassy timbre, the clarity of the midrange, in conjunction with the bass elevation is very satisfying and enjoyable. Fir Audio has been gracious enough to supply this review unit for an SBAF tour, so @ChaChaRealSmooth will be posting the details in the loaner section soon. If you prefer a meatier, richer sounding in-ear, this is worth checking out.