Review: FiiO x Crinacle FHE:Eclipse – Well-Tuned Bass Monsters

Gentle black waves highlight the demure looks of the FHE:Eclipse.
Gentle black waves highlight the demure looks of the FHE:Eclipse.
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Tuned to bring “@#$% you, B A S S!” to the audiophile world.

Thank you to FiiO and SHENZHENAUDIO for providing the FHE:Eclipse for review purposes.

If you are reading this review, then chances are you are familiar with the current IEM and headphone celebrity reviewer/influencer Crinacle. Corin Ako, or as he’s better known, Crinacle, maintains the largest IEM measurement database on the internet and has recently made a successful jump to YouTube stardom.

Crinacle has his own favorite sound signature and lately, several companies (including Moondrop, KZ, Fearless Audio, and SeeAudio) have leveraged Crinacle’s popularity to have him tune new IEM revisions or models to better fit his tastes. The ‘x Crinacle’ moniker and his eyeglass-clad icon are becoming near-ubiquitous on IEM boxes these days.

The Crinacle collaborations span a fairly wide variety of price points, from sub-USD$50 to almost 30x that amount. The FiiO x Crinacle FHE:Eclipse are priced around $150 and are the second most-affordable model after the KZ x Crinacle CRN. Where the CRN are marvels of cost-cutting and bang-for-the-buck, the FHE:Eclipse are priced to bring a higher-end experience in included accessories and sound.

Gentle black waves highlight the demure looks of the FHE:Eclipse.
Bottom Line

The FHE:Eclipse are not going to be for everyone. They’re neither neutral nor balanced. They are unabashedly a basshead’s pair of IEMs, but with audiophile aspirations of clarity and tonality. All of this is filtered through Crinacle’s lens of preferred audio tuning. So no, they aren’t going to be universally loved all-rounders. Rather than pursuing the same target as everyone else, the FHE:Eclipse are trying to define themselves within a special subset of bass-heavy IEMs for discerning listeners.

What We Like
  • Very well constructed
  • Excellent included accessories and cable
  • Big bass sound is well controlled
  • Upper frequencies provide balance to maintain clarity
What We Don't Like
  • Bass-heavy profile will not suit every taste or genre
  • Not for critical listening audiophiles
  • Upper midrange boost gives vocal energy but can be occasionally harsh
  • Somewhat long nozzles may not fit smaller ears
The FiiO FHE:Eclipse is a SHENZHENAUDIO exclusive.

This time, Crinacle modified the FiiO FH3, originally released around July 2020, and tweaked them to “bring BIG BASS trending back to the audiophile community, one head at a time.”

It seems the FHE:Eclipse are unapologetically designed to be a basshead’s IEM.

BASS REFINED

The “Eclipse” has been tuned with more bass power compared to its predecessors, and one of the bassiest in the market in terms of volume at the lowest octaves.” – SHENZHENAUDIO

It’s time to find out if the FHE:Eclipse can bring anything new to the affordable end of the IEM market. Are they for more than only huge bass lovers? Does that Crinacle house sound shine through? Armed with my best big beats, I intend to find out.

Company Overview

Guangzhou FiiO Electronics Technology Co., Ltd. (FiiO for short) was established in 2007 in Guangzhou City, China. FiiO has developed many portable music products including high-resolution digital audio players, portable headphone amplifiers, DACs, and earphones. FiiO adheres strictly to ISO9001 standards in quality management and, according to the website, works hard to attain the lowest repair-related product returns rate.

“The brand name FiiO is composed of Fi(fidelity from HiFi) and iO(number 1&0), representing the real feeling and convenient life that digital brings to life. Meanwhile, the Chinese “飞傲” is the transliteration of FiiO, indicating the positive and innovative spirit as thriving as spring.” – FiiO

According to FiiO, they strive to bring innovation, quality, and great service to affordable audio products. FiiO positions themselves as “HiFi with style.”

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Drivers: 10mm beryllium-plated dynamic driver, Knowles ED30262 for mid frequencies, Knowles RAD33518 for high frequencies
  • Impedance (Ohm): 21Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity (dB): 111dB ([email protected])
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 10Hz~40kHz
  • Max Input Power: 100mW
  • Removable Cable: Y, High-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper, 1.2m
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm
  • Cup/Shell Jack: MMCX
  • Mic: N
  • Weight (g): 7.3g (single unit)
  • Housing material: Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy
Even the box is very understated.
Even the box is very understated.

Packaging

The packaging is clean, attractive, and professional. A cardboard box with product photos, logos, specifications, and a frequency response curve diagram opens like a book to display the IEMs ensconced in black paper-covered foam. Underneath you will find a generous assortment of accessories.

Open it up and BAM! More plain black.
Open it up and BAM! More plain black.

In the box

  • FHE:Eclipse IEMs
  • 2x Memory foam ear tips
  • 3x White / Red – Vocals ear tips (S, M, L)
  • 3x Grey / Black – Balanced ear tips (S, M, L)
  • 3x Grey / Red – Bass ear tips (S, M, L)
  • Silver-plated copper cable – 1.2m, mmcx/3.5mm
  • Velcro cable tie
  • Soft carry case
  • Clear hard case
  • Paper instructions
Under all that plan black packaging is a wealth of nice accessories.
Under all that plan black packaging is a wealth of nice accessories.

Now, this is an impressive set of included accessories, regardless of price point! This level of add-ons is near what I’ve come to expect with far more expensive IEMs. Somehow, FiiO is able to include 14 different pairs of ear tips, as well as two types of cases!

Labelling the purpose of the ear tips (as was done with the FH3) would be appreciated.
Labelling the purpose of the ear tips (as was done with the FH3) would be appreciated.
Unfortunately, unlike with the FH3, the ear tips aren’t labeled as to their purpose: white/red: vocals, grey/black: balanced, grey/red: bass.

The clear hard case is a rare treat, although it is not quite of the quality of a genuine Pelican case, such as the one included with the Audeze Euclid. Regardless, it’s perfect for backpacks, if not quite robust enough for white-water kayaking.

Cable

I’m genuinely very impressed with the included cable. It’s relatively thick, covered in a tough feeling transparent plastic, and it doesn’t hold bends when uncoiled. The silver-plated, high-purity monocrystalline copper, appears a silvery grey and looks great with the matching titanium-colored metal, 3.5mm right-angled TRS plug, y-split, and cinch slider. The clear plastic MMCX connectors have red and blue color-coded metal rings to indicate the proper side.

A cable fit for a king! Or, at least, premium enough for far more expensive headphones.
A cable fit for a king! Or, at least, premium enough for far more expensive headphones.

The cable is non-microphonic and has a high-quality feel that could be appropriately paired with far more expensive IEMs. The whole included accessory package feels far more premium than the modest price tag implies.

Design

If you’ve seen the FiiO FH3, you are going to be very familiar with the FHE:Eclipse. Back again is the semi-custom shape of the CNC-machined aluminum and magnesium alloy shells, clad in the same semi-gloss black paint. Visually the only difference is the two wave-shaped ridges on the FHE:Eclispe faceplates; the FH3 has three.

There is no branding on either shell, beyond small L and R markers on the inside surface. There are also subtle red and blue rings surrounding the flush MMCX connectors – a nice touch. There is a small vent on the inside surface as well.

The right IEM has a red ring around the MMCX connector, while the left IEM sports a blue ring. A match for the excellent cable.
The right IEM has a red ring around the MMCX connector, while the left IEM sports a blue ring. A match for the excellent cable.
Initially I found the MMCX connectors to be quite tough to remove. Use caution when disconnecting the cable from the IEMs.

The nozzles are a standard size and a touch longer than average with metal mesh screens on the inside and a raised ring around the edge to better retain ear tips.

Comfort

The somewhat extended nozzle may be off-putting to some purchasers. However, the ear tips vary in overall length allowing the user to tailor the feel and fit as well as the sound. My average-sized ears do just fine with the stock M grey ear tips, but YMMV.

Although all metal in construction, at a little over 7 grams per side, the FHE:Eclipse aren’t too heavy for long-term listening, and the smooth and contoured shape fits my ears well.

Internals

Like the FH3, the FHE:Eclipse uses the same hybrid combination of drivers.

FH3 = F (FiiO), H (Hybrid), 3 drivers. I’m assuming E is for Eclipse.

Bass frequencies are handled by a beryllium-plated 10mm dynamic driver. Mids are the purview of a Knowles ED-30262 balanced armature (BA) driver located in the nozzle, reportedly to minimize unwanted reflections. Treble duties fall to a Knowles RAD-33518 BA. There is a physical and electronic crossover system to divide the frequencies to the appropriate driver.

”High-frequencies: the Knowles RAD-33518 driver provides extremely clear sound with well-extended yet smooth treble.

Mid-frequencies: the ED-30262 gives sweeter and fuller vocals as well as a wide soundstage.

Low-frequencies: a 10mm-beryllium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver provides explosive bass with shocking authority. – FiiO

If you look really, really, really close, you still can't see through the aluminum/magnesium shells.
If you look really, really, really close, you still can’t see through the aluminum/magnesium shells.

FiiO FHE:Eclipse Sound

“I’ll be the first to say that the Eclipse is NOT competing against the all-rounders. You know, the ER2, the Aria, the Yume: I can’t fight on their turf.

Rather, I’m creating my own turf. I mean think about it, how many IEMs under $200 are both bass monsters and well-tuned bass monsters?” – Crinacle on Instagram

And there you’ve got it. Seldom do we get a clearer statement of intent. And just in case that isn’t quite crystal, Crinacle stated in a video that the FHE:Eclispe are “…not a balanced IEM… the unofficial tagline for the Eclipse is FUCK YOU BASS.” (Forgive the profanity.)

I listened to a wide variety of music on my typical portable setup of a Hidzs AP80 Pro DAP mated to a Chord Mojo DAC/amp while assessing the FHE:Eclipse. I stuck with the balanced ear tips for the majority of my listening.

Neutral? Nope. Bass-heavy? Yup. Mission accomplished for that part. Impressively, the rest of the frequency range is actually reproduced pretty well as well. Clarity is decent and not entirely done in by the murder bass. I wouldn’t go so far to say they sound natural, and certainly not uncolored, but the FHE:Eclipse provide an enjoyable listen.

The overall sound signature is a low-weighted v-shape, with a somewhat recessed midrange and decently extended treble response. They are warm and reasonably smooth and make no real attempt to be the ultimate in resolution or detail. A fun head bob, rather than a tool for critical analysis.

These are pretty average IEMs as far as soundstage or sense of space. The sound is anchored firmly between your ears.

Frequency response graph as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES)
Frequency response graph as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES)

Bass

“That’s right, I’m smacking you in the face with 12dBs of raw bass and YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT.” – Crinacle on Instagram

Bassheads, here you go. This is what the FHE:Eclipse are designed to do. The mid-bass frequencies are toned down in comparison to the sub-bass, so things sound DEEP rather than bloated or too boomy. EDM, electronica, and hip-hop lovers are the target audience for the FHE:Eclipse and they will find much to like with them.

Does all that bass bleed upwards into the midrange? Yup, but not a significant amount. It contributes some weight and impact, but somewhat at the expense of neutral or truly accurate tonality. Some listeners will love how they sound, while others will prefer a more balanced pair of IEMs. This isn’t to say they are a muddy-sounding mess. Far from it. There’s remarkable clarity on hand, just with plenty of bump in the trunk.

Midrange

“Apart from the bass, the “Eclipse” is also tuned to Crinacle’s proprietary “IEF Neutral” target from the mids up, ensuring that every instrument is as natural as it’s meant to be. BIG BASS requires no sacrifices here.” – SHENZHENAUDIO

The upper midrange has a little glare and become a touch shouty depending on the music and your sensitivity to these frequencies. Certainly, this area has extra energy to help voices jump out from the prodigious bassline, but it’s a trade-off. Loud listening volumes can tend to exaggerate this tonality, and listening fatigue can set in. Thankfully it’s not all the time, nor is it with all music.

Treble

The treble is fairly smooth and extended, and it balances the low end quite well. The FHE:Eclipse manage to be bass-heavy without sounding muddy or too dark. The higher frequencies have enough presence to give the music detail and clarity. The FHE:Eclipse do maintain a balance between the lows and highs – big bass and power but still delicate enough to shine.

Comparing the IKKO OH10 to the FHE:Eclipse. My assistant could care less.
Comparing the IKKO OH10 to the FHE:Eclipse. My assistant could care less.

Comparisons

vs IKKO OH10

My go to bass-focussed IEMs in this price segment are the IKKO OH10. Frankly, I like them very much for their unapologetic v-shaped sound signature. They too have a big, weighty low-end, balanced by an energetic upper midrange and reasonably extended high end.

The OH10 sound surprisingly spacious. They sound BIG and weighty!

Unfortunately, their physical design is just as big. And at more than 16 grams per IEM (more than twice the weight of the FHE:Eclipse) the OH10 are going to be too heavy for some listeners. Their shape happens to fit my ears well and this offsets the weight, but this won’t be the case for everyone. For most folks, I expect the FHE:Eclipse will likely be more comfortable for this reason.

Frequency response graph as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES)
Frequency response graph as measured on a IEC 603118-4 compliant occluded ear simulator (OES)

The OH10 sound quite similar to the FHE:Eclipse to my ears, warm with a predisposition towards bass presence and impact. The OH10 plunge a little less deep and are slightly less low-end endowed, and as such come across as a smidge lighter sounding. Both pairs scratch the same itch, and if you already own the OH10, it’s likely not necessary to run out to replace them.

However, if you are considering the OH10, it’s worth adding the FHE:Eclipse as an alternate to the list.

The FHE:Eclipse cable is head and shoulders superior to the OH10 cable, as is the entire accessories package. The easy to tangle, thin cable, plus the unconventional and somewhat inconvenient leather accessories included with the OH10 are nowhere near the same league as the FHE:Eclipse options.

In the basshead IEM courtroom, the FHE:Eclipse make a hard case to dismiss.
In the basshead IEM courtroom, the FHE:Eclipse make a hard case to dismiss.

Where to Buy

Conclusion

The FHE:Eclipse are not going to be for everyone. They’re neither neutral nor balanced. They are unabashedly a basshead’s pair of IEMs, but with audiophile aspirations of clarity and tonality. All of this is filtered through Crinacle’s lens of preferred audio tuning.

So no, they aren’t going to be universally loved all-rounders.

But that’s ok. The IEM market moves ridiculously fast with new contenders near-daily, especially in the sub $200 market. Most of them seem to chase the same popular Harman target, differing in faceplate color, cable material, driver configuration, or anime mascot on the box.

I support it when a product tries to do something different to stand out. Rather than pursuing the same target as everyone else, the FHE:Eclipse are trying to define themselves within a special subset of bass-heavy IEMs for discerning listeners. Certainly, their outstanding included accessories and exemplary build quality elevate and differentiate the FHE:Eclipse within this price bracket.

The FHE:Eclipse are exceedingly well made with a fun, head-bobbing, kind of sound. If you are in the market for something different, or if you are a bass junkie, Crinacle’s new big-bottomed babies are worth a listen.

4 comments

  1. Lotta hype.

    The ‘x Crinacle’ moniker and his eyeglass-clad icon are becoming near-ubiquitous on IEM boxes these days.

    Yeah, ok….

    1. No hype intended. They are what they are. If you are a fan of the IKKO OH10 bass-heavy sound, they are well worth a listen. If you are looking for a more balanced sound signature, there are better options out there for you.

  2. Fantastic review thank you love my Obsidian but damn heavy and not that comfy, I was looking for a simular sound and you answed that perfectly.

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