FiR Audio Xe6: The Great Frontier

Closing thoughts

If Bogdan and his FiR Audio team wanted to make a bold statement about the state-of-play in the IEM market, Xe6 is about as bold as it gets. Here’s an IEM that doesn’t shy away from a smorgasbord of red flags: eye-watering cost, unapologetically boosted bass, unashamedly coloured sound…

And yet here we are. Xe6 is an enigma, an IEM that goes against the grain and yet garners far wider appeal than it has any right to. It ended 2022 as the number one IEM as voted for by members of the most popular thread on the world’s most popular portable audio forum. Having spent well over a month exploring my music library with this brilliant IEM, I can totally understand why. 

Xe6 challenges how I listen to music, but it does so with an uncompromising degree of quality. From its meticulous build, the attention to detail in the design, and the cleverly creative technologies used to shape its sound, Xe6 delivers something completely different but also utterly engaging. It also compromises very little that’s important to the high-end audiophile in doing so. 

Still, this is not an IEM for everyone. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it as a blind buy. If you’re a one-IEM user, if your preferences lean more reference, if bright and light is your catchphrase, then Xe6 will more likely horrify than excite you. I’ve spoken to many who literally pulled Xe6 out their ears before the first song was done. 

But, this type of reaction is nothing new for such a brave challenger to the status quo. I believe Xe6 will reward those who take the time to both find the parts of their library that work best with its presentation, and allow their brains to adjust to the way it presents those parts of their library that don’t. 

There’s no question that, with some music, Xe6 will sound too thick, or too warm, or too relaxed up top. But, unlike many IEMs that bump the midbass and/or lower mids as much as Xe6 (are there any?), it doesn’t sound veiled, or bloated, or muddy. Sure, if you’ve just come off a session with a thin, bright IEM, your brain will need to re-calibrate. But once it does, you’ll hear how Xe6 lets all the detail through, creates a sense of space, and does it all without pulling back on its excesses. 

This is an IEM that lets you have your cake and eat it too, even though it sometimes feels like it’s stuffing the cake into your ears and mouth and nose. It’s the most fun I’ve had with an IEM since I started in the hobby, and while I don’t think I can live on a diet of Xe6 alone, I can’t help but feel that a premium collection without it would be always be missing something special.



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


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