Long Live the Bunny – King of Treble!
Pros: Top-tier Treble
Excellent soundstage/Imaging/Instrument Separation
Good quality bass
Cons: Lacking bass QUANTITY, but not quality
2.5mm balanced cable with MMCX connectors
Packaging is minimalist, which can be a plus or minus
Up for review today is the FiR Audio VxV (pronounced Five by Five). FiR Audio has been hitting it out of the park lately with their universal IEMs. Previously, the Belonoshko brother worked at 64 Audio designing and manufacturing IEMs for that lauded brand. They brought their knowledge to FiR Audio and began producing fantastic IEMs in both universal and custom formats for both musicians and audiophiles. Mine are a used set, so they’ve been fully burned in before I got them.
Normal FiR Audio IEMs come with the ATOM venting/tuning system and a bunch of other cool technology, but the VxV is really designed to be a more simple everyday carry IEM. As such, there are no fancy faceplates or gold coloring, or the kinetic bass port you’ll find on their higher-end models. What you do get is 5 drivers, 1x 6mm DD for the lows, 2x BA mid-drivers, 1x BA high-driver, and 1x BA Ultra-high driver per ear. The focus here is the best possible sound without the advanced tech of the M series or frontier series at a more approachable price – and spoiler alert, they pull it off. On with the review!
The stock box is really minimalist, just a small regular cardboard box with the FiR VxV Bunny logo on it. It’s very plain compared to IEMs like the Elysium and Mezzo LE. Inside the box is a really nice package though, with a black leather case with everything inside it. There is normally a 3.5mm cable included, though you can get a balanced 2.5mm balanced cable if you like, and 5 pairs of ear tips. The tips come with one set of foamies, a set of double-flanged, and 3 sets of silicone. They should fit just about any preference, but I personally used the Spinfit W1s since I know they give me a good fit and good isolation/sound quality. The case also includes cleaning materials.
Oh, and you get awesome bunny stickers including an astronaut bunny with a FiR flag. I have to give a bonus point for the best stickers I’ve seen come with an audio-related product. So yes, it doesn’t come with a lot, but this is also their “budget” offering, so it comes with everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It’s just as nice as the kit that comes with the more expensive Fibae 5, but it doesn’t really hit the amount of stuff that comes with the $80 TRUTHEAR HEXA. So, if you really need more ear tips, you can just buy your own set, Final, AZLA, and Spinfit make nice ones. Still, it’s nicer than the kit that comes with the Fibae 5, which is the bare minimum anything near $1k should come with, and approaching the JH Audio ROX kit. 7/10 points here. As always, I’m using my Spinfit W1 tips since they’re the best I’ve found (You can buy them here if you want a set: https://amzn.to/3WDrNIk.)
The cable that comes with the VxV is better quality than a lot of cables I’ve seen come with IEMs costing 2-3x as much. The biggest downside here is that it comes with a 3.5mm stock (mine is the 2.5mm), oh, and MMCX instead of 2-pin. So, if you’re looking for a 4.4mm balanced, which at this point is the gold standard of balanced cable connections, you’ll have to find one from an aftermarket company because there’s not even an option for a 4.4mm from FiR. Additionally, if you have an extra 4.4mm laying around, it likely won’t fit the MMCX connectors unless you’re a Campfire Audio fan. Luckily, you can grab a pretty nice Zonie cable from Linsoul off Amazon for only $20. Or, if you want, FiR will build you an 8-strand one for around $325.
If for some reason your DAP or DAC/amp actually has a 2.5mm balanced port, you can get your included cable terminated in that connector. Or, you can use an adapter, which is what I had to do since mine came with the 2.5mm cable. I had to add a 2″ adapter to use the 2.5mm cable since I’ve only ever owned one DAP with a 2.5mm port. The problems with 2.5mm will still exist though, compatibility, and durability – the 2.5mm are super easy to break since they’re so thin. The cable itself is silver-plated copper, and it’s a 2-strand instead of a 4 or 8-strand. The cable is soft and lightweight and one of the nicest stock cables I’ve seen in this price range, previous connector issues aside. Personally, I really like MMCX – it doesn’t have a lot of the issues that 2-pin has. It is harder to find though, and some people hate it for some reason, so if that’s you, avoid FiR and Campfire products I guess (you’ll be missing out).
Build Quality/Comfort (9/10):
The build quality on these is really good. The chassis itself is aluminum while the faceplate surround makes me think of glow-in-the-dark roller blade plastic – no clue why, but sadly they don’t glow (missed opportunity FiR). The inner part of the faceplate feels a little like a tough sticker, and while I love the logo, the black part scratches easily with tiny, almost imperceptible scratches. You can only see them if you angle them in the light a certain way, but I’d be remiss not to mention it. Overall, these feel like really durable IEMs and I would feel OK tossing them into a bag and using them as their intended EDC IEM. I don’t think there are any other IEMs in this price range with this sound quality I can say that about – not the Fibae 5, and certainly not the Monarch Mk2.
The comfort of the VxV is extremely good since they are lightweight and tiny IEMs. They remind me of the Symphonium Meteor with their size and shape. I can wear these all day long with no issues. They will sit inside your outer ear with no issues, and while they won’t sit just inside your inner ear like the Final A5000, the nozzles are long enough to get a good seal. After wearing TOTL IEMs like the Ronin and Mentor, these are a nice change – they’re about the same size as the Fibae 5 (F5), though the F5 has longer nozzles. 9/10 points – 1 point off for the weird, hard-to-see scratches on the faceplate.
Check out the wolfhawk.squig.link frequency response graph below. I’m comparing these to the Custom Art Fibae 5 since I have both on hand and they’re very close in price. Obviously, the Fibae 5 are going to be your IEM if you want bass – that’s just not what the VxV is shooting for and it’s apparent when listening to EDM. The mids on these two are surprisingly close – almost identical – believe me, that’s a good thing. Lastly, while both appear to have pretty close highs, I’ll take the tuning of the VxV over the Fibae 5 for Highs quality any day since the F5 has some of the BEST highs I’ve heard on any IEM, let alone one in this price bracket. That said, the sibilance and sharpness on the VxV come as a trade-off to those detailed and pronounced highs.
I am powering these off of my HiBy RS8 on Medium gain through Tidal Hi-Fi with MQA enabled. They are easy to drive and I’m using about 20-30/100 volume through a balanced 4.4mm connection.
I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” The VxV starts off with some punchy bass and the clapping in the background is quite highlighted as well. The sub-bass windup is almost imperceptible and the sub-bass itself is present, but not mind-blowing. It’s a very muted sub-bass. These are very neutral-sounding IEMs and the mids are very forward and present (which I like, but it’s not great for a bass test.) 5/10 points.
Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids as that is just as important as how strong/good the bass is. Well, if the bass on the previous song is just average, then this song must score really well, right? Actually, yes. There’s still a present bass instrument in the background and it doesn’t overwhelm the excellent mids at all. This is about as good as this song can get. 10/10 points
Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is my test song for clean/dirty guitars and vocals with background instruments to see how clearly the vocals can be heard. The clean intro guitars sound great with excellent detail and separation. The dirt guitars also sound good with no blurring of the lines between the guitars and the other instruments. The vocals come in very clear and forward which pushes the guitars to the back a little. The high-hats can be clearly heard as well, and while this is not the highs section, it’s worth mentioning – along with a tad bit of sibilance I don’t normally get from this song. But, as this is not a highs test song, the VxV still ears a 5/6 on this.
Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests vocal quality and background noise. The intro guitar comes in quite clearly and with excellent musicality. Truly, the VxV is a mids monster – and I’m expecting great things from the highs detail as well. The vocals here are about as good as you can get in this price range, and only a step down from MUCH higher priced products. Yes, you can hear the fingers on the guitar strings on this song, do the detail is excellent as is the layering. 6/7 points.
To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” For headphones that don’t have a lot of sub-bass presence, the mid-bass and low-mids can still show up impressively as evidenced by this song. There is a ton of body on the lower instruments and the mids of course come in very clearly with the piano leading the show. The mid-strings also excel here. It is really rare for headphones to do so well on all 3 mids songs, especially under $1k. 7/7 points.
To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes. While I am expecting great things from the VxV on the next two songs, the fact that I heard sibilance on my mids test songs don’t bode well for this song. Yeah, it’s extremely sibilant – one of the worst I’ve ever heard – there’s always a trade-off, but it should mean the next song gets full points. 1/6 points.
Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” is the highs test song I use to see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare drum can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music (also good for instrument separation.) As expected, the highs on this song are excellent and easily some of the best I’ve heard. The cymbals come in very clearly and if that’s something you’re looking for, you’ll LOVE the VxV. You can even hear the cowbell in the background, which is very hard to hear on most IEMs. 7/7 points!
Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. Based on the two previous songs, this one can either come in really good or really sharp, it could go either way at this point. My guess is sharpness – and my guess is right. There is some definite sharpness, but it’s not too bad – the VxV controls it better than I was expecting – putting it just above the headphones I’ve tested with sharpness. 4/7.
Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (9/10):
I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. The separation on these is fantastic and so is the imaging and resolution. Once again, I am amazed at how these perform in this price range – they certainly give the Monarch Mk2 a run for their money. The soundstage is surprisingly large as well, not TOTL level, but better than just about anything else in the $1k price range I’ve heard.
The VxV are much easier to drive than the F5. I find the soundstage to be slightly larger on the F5, but the detail drops back a little bit and the mids are slightly more recessed on the F5. The Fibae 5 are not bass-shy like the VxV, and there’s almost too much bass on the Fibae, with some unwanted distortion. The sub-bass is also far more powerful on the F5, so if that’s your thing, get the F5 instead. If you want extremely detailed mids with a forward presence, grab the VxV. Additionally, if you want to hear every cymbal strike, the VxV is the IEM for you – some of the best detail and quality I’ve heard on highs, even up to the $3k bracket. Yes, there is a sibilance/sharpness tradeoff, which the F5 tames a bit, but the F5 still has both without the detail the VxV has.
In the end, it comes down to your preference between these two. If you can’t live without sub-bass, get the F5. If you can’t live without excellent highs and great imaging/instrument separation, get the VxV. The VxV is my best IEM under $1k while the Fibae 5 is my best IEM under $1,500. Do with that what you will.
The VxV are a massive surprise for me. They don’t quite hit that sub-bass itch that I’d like to hear (get the XE6 or Fibae 5 for that), but the mids are fantastic and the highs are top-tier, other than the inherent sibilance that pronounced highs bring with them. The VxV are easily my current recommendation under $1k for a mids-focused IEM with excellent highs, good detail, good separation, and an impressive soundstage. Everyone talks about the Frontier series from FiR, but really, for normal people who don’t want to spend $3k on an IEM, this is really the pinnacle as long as you can handle the missing sub-bass. Long live the BUNNY!
|Headphone Scoring (v3):|
|Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):||7|
|Cable (10 pts):||8|
|Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):||9|
|Lows (20 pts):||15|
|Mids (20 pts):||18|
|Highs (20 pts):||12|
|Soundstage / Instrument Separation / Imaging (10 pts):||9|