Review: FIR Audio Electron 12

Closing thoughts 

FIR Audio has been on a roll for the last few years. Not only have they come out swinging with a series of IEMs that unapologetically reflect the Belonozhko brothers’ flair for exciting, diverse tuning, Frontier also introduced a series of new technologies to advance the state of the art of the industry as a whole.  

With e12, the company has turned its attention to single dynamic drivers, with the stated intention of changing the perception of what’s possible from this format. To a large degree, e12 hits the mark. It’s certainly different to just about any other single dynamic IEM I’ve heard, and not just in its tuning and technical proficiency, but in the way it doesn’t necessarily sound like a single dynamic driver. 

The way this IEM images sometimes tricks me into thinking there has to be more than one driver throwing subtle sound cues around the stage, or at least some fancy sound chambers bouncing things around inside the shell. Regardless of how it does it, e12 is right on point for those wanting more nuance and complexity from their single dynamics, or even their hybrids.  

It’s not all sunshine and flowers, of course. Unlike the Frontier flagships, with their rich, organic tone, e12 leans more digital, with a cooler tonality that prioritises clarity, crispness and transparency over earthy warmth. Instruments and vocals still sound ‘correct’, but timbre does occasionally veer from what I consider natural. There’s also more energy in the upper midrange and mid-to-upper treble than I’d like, although as illustrated in this review, these issues can be mitigated.

That e12’s overall performance is exemplary is not in question, but as with most IEMs, preference is a different discussion altogether, and ultimately comes down to the type of music you listen to and how you like to hear it. If you’re into strings, orchestras, big band and acoustic music, there’s lots to like here, in my opinion. e12 won’t be my first choice for vocal-driven music, but if you prefer cleanliness to euphony, it might be yours. 

This is another well-made, well-specked and well-rounded top-tier IEM from FIR, and even though it doesn’t quite match the quality and refinement of the Frontiers, it’s at least priced accordingly to reflect that. The swappable faceplates are a cute touch for sure, and I have complete confidence in FIR’s Rigid system when it comes to longevity. 

If you’re in the market for a premium single dynamic driver monitor that eschews a bass-first approach for a more revealing, energetic sound, or a monitor that delivers better technical performance than you’d normally get from single dynamics, e12 is all that and more.      



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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