FiR Audio E12 Review - Indranil Mitra's Take

Disclaimer:

The following review has been thoughtfully crafted by Mr. Indranil Mitra from Kolkata, a cherished supporter, customer, and friend of The Audio Store. We express our gratitude to Mr. Indranil for generously sharing his personal insights into the FiR Audio E12 IEM. It is important to note that this review is entirely unbiased, reflecting Mr.Indranil's genuine experiences and preferences. No benefits or exchanges have influenced the content of this review. His valuable contributions significantly enhance our blog, and we sincerely appreciate his unwavering dedication to the audio enthusiast community.

Build Quality & Fit
This is my first encounter with a Fir Audio product and it is indeed quite expensive at 1800 USD, so I will be critical of it. At that price point I expect nothing short of a unique experience.

Fir Audio has given names to all the features available to their products like SwapX Assembly, ATOM Venting etc. In simplified language, it means that the faceplates, the connectors can be easily swapped out. The design seems to be modular in some ways which is good news for longevity and repair. The build quality itself is very good and the included cable is really good but only at 4.4mm which is a let down. I expected a modular cable or adaptors to 3.5mm/2.5mm at this price point. Regarding fit, I had no trouble.

FiR Audio E12 Review - Indranil Mitra's Take



Amp Needs
It's 16 ohms and the sensitivity isn't quoted but through my usage it doesn't need a dedicated amplifier, but as is the case with good earphones- a good dac is a must.

Sound Quality
I have two other earphones with me at this time: the Sennheiser IE900 and TangZu Xuanwu Gate; both of which are high end in terms of price. I will be drawing a comparison between the three as I feel that is the best way to draw out the sound of the E12 as it has an interesting sound.

FiR Audio E12 Review - Indranil Mitra's Take



E12 VS IE900
The IE900 is one of my personal favorites due to not only its performance but also due to its diminutive size and ergonomics. The difference in sound is substantial though. IE900 is smoother, refined and more balanced sounding than the E12. The E12 is more raw and aggressive sounding throughout. In comparison, the IE900 is more laid back. Neither of the two sound unnatural to me but if you held me at gunpoint, i'd pick the IE900 for tonality and timbre. But it's a small difference. What the E12 does instead is provide an outright more energetic and vibrant listening experience that is more thrilling and exciting at all times. The bass hits harder than the IE900 (and the bass on IE900 is hands down one of the best that I have heard in an earphone yet) and is more palpable. The midrange is more forward on the E12 and it shows textural variances more evidently than the IE900. The exact same thing can be said for the treble. By no means is it sibilant or grating but it is more forward and can be a bit up in your face sometimes if the recording quality is of poor quality. With this forward nature of portraying music, you do lose a bit of refinedness in the final sound. Excluding this aspect, they go toe to toe in terms of headstage, resolution and overall performance.

FiR Audio E12 Review - Indranil Mitra's Take



E12 VS Xuanwu Gate
These two are more different than they are similar, even in terms of price. The Gate is at 650 USD which is considerably cheaper than the E12. The sound profiles are also drastically different. The Gate is designed for a relaxing listen. It is significantly warmer than the E12 or the IE900 with a gentle roll off in the treble and with that you get a smooth treble. In fact the entire sound is smoothened in comparison to the E12. The E12 is more detailed overall than the Gate and it has better bass attack as well. However when it comes to midrange I wil have to hand it over to the Gate. The mids are smoother and more lush sounding than E12 while retaining similar levels of resolution is a unique ability. The Gate can save a harsh recording given its sound profile but the E12 (and for that matter the IE900) will not do so as they are more resolving and upfront. Gate and E12 are very different flavors aimed at two different schools of thought.

FiR Audio E12 Review - Indranil Mitra's Take



Conclusion
After carrying out the comparisons I kept on hearing the E12 in isolation and it grew on me the more I heard it. It isn't the last word in refinedness but who cares? Its got soul and character. It made me forget about the "technicalities" and other "audiophile" terms. It's exciting and vibrant and makes me enjoy the music a bit more. That's all that matters, right?

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