The VxV is an EDC (everyday-carry) according to Fir Audio. However, are they as good as their near $1000 price suggests?
Before the official launch of the VxV, Fir Audio created stories and dolls for a bunny named Firry. This turned out to be a successful marketing strategy as it generated lots of talk about the VxV. Now launched, they are advertised as an “everyday-carry” and priced at about $1000.
Let’s see if the VxV are worth the kilo buck price tag and carrying around every day.
- Versatile and balanced sound signature
- Good both ends extensions
- Detailed and refined sound
- Comfortable to wear
- Good selection of eartips and cable
- Funky design (this may be a pro or con depending on your taste)
- Funky design (this may be a pro or con depending on your taste)
- Mediocre unboxing experience
- The quantity of bass and treble may not be satisfying for the bass-heads and treble-heads
About Fir Audio
They only started producing IEMs in 2019. However, their founder Bogdan Belonozhko has tons of experience in the IEMs market, as he was the CEO of the 64 Audio before he left and founded Fir Audio.
- Drivers: 1 x 6 mm dynamic driver + 4 x balanced armature drivers
- 2 x Mid-driver balanced armature drivers
- 1 x High-driver balanced armature driver
- 1 x Ultra-high driver balanced armature driver
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 100dB/mW
- Frequency response: 20 – 20000Hz
- Chassis: Hybrid 6000 aluminum and DuPont ® engineering plastic
- Cable: Specimen 25 Silver-plated copper cable
- Connector: MMCX
- Headphone Plug: 2.5mm TRRS
Packaging and Accessories:
The Fir Audio VxV comes in an unusual yet interesting box. On top is the infamous logo of Firry the bunny. On the back of the box, you will find all the specifications about the VxV.
When you open the lid of the box, you find a black leather carrying case. This is a high-quality case, and it is the same one that comes with the TOTL Fir Audio M5, only in a different color.
The ear tips and the earphones are all stored in the case. There is sufficient space for you also to hold the cleaning brush inside, which I found very helpful and practical for day-to-day usage.
Fir Audio provides five pairs of ear tips with the VxV. There are one pair of foam tips, one pair of double-flanged tips, and three pairs of standard silicone tips in different sizes. While five pairs of ear tips are most certainly enough for you to get a good fit, I do wish they provided more choices, such as double-flanged tips in different sizes. Especially considering the price of the VxV.
That basically sums up the whole unboxing experience of the VxV. While everything seems adequate, I do wish there was more. The VxV come in at a premium price, so the whole experience should be premium, not merely “that will do”. When compared to the M5 (which shares the same box with all of the M-series), the VxV packaging and accessories do not warrant their price.
On the upside, you may think that this means that all you are paying for is good sonic performance. Spoiler alert. You are! But, more on that later.
Nonetheless, the cable provided is of high quality. It is (interestingly) a different cable than the one that comes with the M5 and is terminated with a 2.5mm balanced plug. This means that I can fully utilize the balanced outputs of my audio players without needing aftermarket cables. However, it also means that if you only have devices with a 3.5mm socket, you will have to get yourself an adapter (none are included).
The cable material is silver-plated copper, and whether or not that matters depends on you. What is interesting, though, is its coaxial design. This means the cable only has 2 strands instead of the more common 4. The VxV cable is light, soft and supple, making it very manageable and comfortable for daily usage.
Design and Comfort
The Fir VxV have one of the most unique and funky designs I’ve seen in universal IEMs. I have heard that some people think that they are too unusual looking, but I quite like them, and it is good to stand out amongst other products. The Firry bunny logo allows the VxV to be recognized easily, and I find the overall design cute and refreshing.
Comfort is good. Obviously, they are no match for custom earphones. However, they do sit in my ears fairly well without forming any hotspots even after hours of listening. With the right choice of ear tips, they will not fall out because of their lightweight nature.
The chassis material is 6000-series aluminium, which is known for being lightweight, easy to work with, and also fairly strong.
Also, with the right tips, they offer a decent amount of isolation. Of course, they are not at the level of fully-sealed balanced armature earphones because of each side’s vents, but they offer more than enough isolation for my daily commute.
Usually, before reviewing something brand new, I will burn in the product first before I do the sound analysis. However, the VxV I’m reviewing today are dealer demo units, so they have already been used extensively.
To summarize the sound of the VxV, they have a fairly neutral and natural sound signature. Although they are neutral, they are far from being sterile or clinical. Instead, they are very musical and coherent, considering they are a 5-driver hybrid design. With the balanced signature and good detail retrieval abilities, I would say they are probably one of the best all-rounder IEMs around their price range.
The Fir Audio VxV are not bassy, unlike what some will expect from a dynamic driver. So, if you are an extreme bass head, the VxV will not satisfy you in the bass region. The quantity of the bass always remains calm and controlled.
This does not translate to bad bass response. Despite the controlled quantity, the VxV do show an impressive bass extension, just like the other Fir Audio IEMs.
The VxV do not roll off early and extend down to 20Hz (below that is probably limited by my hearing rather than the earphones). You can hear the presence of the sub-bass, but the quantity is limited.
The mid-bass provides good impact and body. This is the benefit of utilizing a dynamic driver and the VxV definitely take good advantage of that choice. The mid-bass sounds organic and natural with clean layering. In the 1812 Overture by Telarc, the cannons at the end always show an earphone’s ability to reproduce bass. Even some high-end gear may sound bloomy, but the VxV sound just right, with a great balance between control and impact.
The transition from bass to lower midrange is quite good for hybrid IEMs. Of course, if you compare them to a single driver unit such as the JVC FW01 that I have been using for years, the single-driver design shows a more coherent transition, whereas the VxV have a little bit of a dip. However, for a pair of hybrid IEMs, the VxV have done their job well. There are no unnatural dips or peaks.
Balanced and natural. The two traits of the VxV.
The midrange is a hair more forward than the bass response and the treble, but not to the extent which I would call mid-forward. They sound realistic and aren’t particularly thick or rich. At the same time, they retain vocal clarity and transparency. This makes the VxV sound good for multiple genres. With progressive rock such as Pink Floyd, or vocal-focused music, or even Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the VxV are able to handle them all.
Just like the transition from the upper-bass to the lower-midrange, the transition from the upper-midrange to treble also sounds refined and coherent. It is not boosted nor rolled off. Instead, the VxV have a liquidy treble response with a good sense of sparkle. The treble never sounds shouty or aggressive and even after hours of listening, there is no fatigue at all.
The lower-treble never sounds forward or boosted. As a result, it is very natural and non-fatiguing. The upper treble shows a good presence as well. It is not forced or harsh, and the extension up high is decent. However, because of the treble’s limited quantity, the VxV may not satisfy treble heads, who may wish for even more sparkle and treble presence in the mix.
Technicalities and sensitivity
Because of the good extension on both ends of the spectrum, the VxV layering ability is more than amazing. The soundstage of the VxV is decent but not quite class-leading. They sound more like a studio than a concert hall (to give an analogy), but they are still above average.
The VxV aren’t as sensitive as the Shanling ME80 that I have just reviewed or the Fir Audio M5. For these two pairs of earphones, the volume on the Lotoo sits comfortably at 25~27/100 in high gain. For the VxV, the volume is at 30/100. So, they aren’t quite as sensitive, but they are not far off.
So, you definitely do not require a powerful amplifier for the VxV to sound good. On the other hand, because the VxV aren’t as sensitive as some other IEMs, you also do not have to worry about the problem of hissing.
For most of the sources that I have paired the VxV with, there is no background noise or hiss. The only time I notice any hissing is when I paired the VxV with the iFi ZEN CAN in high gain with the volume turned all the way down. However, this is my extreme test for hissing, so I am sure that the VxV should be good to go in most cases.
Unfortunately, I do not have many earphones that I am familiar with around the price range of $1000. So, the earphones I am going to compare the VxV with are the 64 Audio A3e. The A3e have been my daily driver for two years because I love their warm sound signature and the comfort of custom IEMs.
I will also compare the VxV to Fir Audio’s flagship, the M5. Although the M5 are almost three times the price of the VxV, some say that the VxV are a pair of miniaturized M5. So, let’s see if that is really the case or not.
Fir Audio VxV vs 64 Audio A3e
The A3e are often overlooked by a lot of people in the market. They are entry-level custom IEMs from 64 Audio. However, just because they are entry-level does not mean that they sound bad. They are very natural-neutral, leaning very close to being warm-sounding. However, I love them because even though they sound warm, the details are not missing. Also, because they are custom IEMs means that they are very comfortable to wear.
When compared to the VxV, the A3e are noticeably warmer. Starting from the bass response, the A3e have a fuller mid-bass and the bass sounds even richer. The VxV have better bass extension and layering. Considering the A3e have a balanced armature for bass, this is quite impressive. The midrange in the A3e is thicker and richer than the VxV. The VxV, however, show better vocal clarity.
The A3e and the VxV are most simililar in the treble. Both are non-aggressive, with the A3e just a little bit smoother. They both have good sparkle and detail up top. However, the VxV shows better treble extension than the A3e
Fir Audio VxV vs Fir Audio M5
No, this is not a fair contest at all. The VxV are one of the entry-level IEMs in the Fir Audio lineup, whereas the M5 are the flagship. However, both are 5-driver hybrids, although the M5 have a bigger dynamic driver for bass response and an electrostatic driver for the upper-treble.
But anyway, let’s find out whether or not the VxV can come close to the M5.
Right of the bat, it is apparent that the VxV and the M5 are not as similar as some may suggest. While both have fairly neutral sound signatures, they have a different approach. Both of them aren’t bass-heavy and quantity-wise, they are similar. However, the M5 have better extension. The sub-bass of the M5 is much more noticeable and has better clarity. The VxV aren’t bad, just that the M5 are simply playing in another league, as expected.
For midrange, the M5 are slightly more recessed than the VxV. In the M5, the vocals are generally half a step behind the rest of the music. This gives a more airy sound, but at the same time, if you are looking for a vocal performance that is a bit more intimate and forward, the VxV may be a better option.
The treble performance between the two are quite different. The M5, because of the additional electrostatic driver, show technical superiority above the VxV. The treble extension is noticeably better on the M5. However, (although the custom version is already less aggressive than the universal-fit) the M5 may sound harsh up top at times. So, if you are treble sensitive and do not want any sharp treble sparkle, the VxV may be the more enjoyable choice.
You may feel bad for the VxV after seeing that the M5 basically bests the VxV in most aspects. Yet, you also need to bear in mind that the M5 are almost 3 times the cost of the VxV, and the VxV aren’t that far behind the M5 in some aspects.
Although both have a balanced sound signature, they are more different than alike.
Where to Buy
When I first saw the term “everyday-carry” describing the VxV, there are a couple of checklists that I was expecting. To be truly EDC, they need to be comfortable to wear, have excellent build quality, fairly good noise isolation, and most importantly, have a versatile sound signature that will sound pleasing with a wide range of genres.
That is basically a summary of what I think of the VxV. The only complaint I have is about the lack-luster unboxing experience. Come on, Fir Audio, I know you can do better than that! Otherwise, the VxV meet most if not all of my expectations, and as a result, I can fully recommend them.
Some have challenged the price of the VxV. They must think that as an everyday-carry, the price tag is too high. Yes, the VxV do not come cheap. However, and more importantly, the VxV do have many good qualities to justify their price tag.
Well done, Fir Audio! After owning the M5 and reviewing the VxV, I am becoming a hard-core fan.